Monday, May 31, 2010

Immigrants Contribute to the U.S. Military

Brett Hunt writes in the Arizona Republic:

"I'm a Cuban refugee who came to this country when I was 10 years old and flunked the sixth grade because I couldn't speak English." That's a quote that won't surprise many Americans on both sides of the immigration debate.

In fact, many opposed to immigration reform would point to it as proof that giving a path to citizenship for immigrants in this country right now would only serve to somehow lower the quality of people inside our borders.

They would be wrong. The quote above is from Army Brig. Gen. Bernardo Negrete, a former special-operations officer with four combat tours of duty, who rose up to become one of the few Hispanic generals in American history.

KNegrete
General Negrete is a shining example of what immigrants have to contribute to our country - living proof of the American Dream. In today's flawed immigration system, we don't know how many future military leaders live in the shadows due to their immigration status.

What we do know, however, is that by perpetuating a flawed system that forces those immigrants to lay low, we're keeping scores of them from the pride and honor of military service. Today's military offers a leg up to all young people and particularly to immigrants who are attracted to the guarantee of education, a living wage, health care and pensions.

Our Armed Forces are fighting two tough wars in distant lands, and the tragedy in Haiti reminds us that our military is also required for duties other than fighting wars.

Currently, soldiers and Marines, in particular, are forced to go on their fifth and sixth tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with little rest, leading to a military that is stretched to the breaking point.

By creating an accountable, fair and realistic path to citizenship, we could potentially add tens of thousands of new service members, thus providing relief to our men and women in uniform.

During my time as an Army officer, the units I served in benefited directly from the diversity they reflected. I served with soldiers from Kenya, Honduras, Mexico, Vietnam and the Ukraine, and they were some of the most dedicated and patriotic troops I came in contact with.

Immigrant soldiers were on the green at Lexington, on the sunken road at Shilo, at Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima and Da Nang. Right now, in fact, immigrant troops are holding the line in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.

Our leaders have a solemn vow to honor this history of sacrifice in the name of liberty by doing what is right. Comprehensive immigration reform is what is right for our Armed Forces, for our nation's security and for America's fighting men and women and their families.

Brett Hunt is a veteran and former captain in the U.S. Army who served in the Iraq war.

bh

May 31, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DREAM Act Students Lobby Massachusetts' Senator Brown

The provision in the DREAM Act that would grant legalization to students who are willing to join the military is controversial. But some DREAM students are willing to support the provision:

Maria Sacchett writes for the Boston Globe:

Hoping to appeal to Senator Scott Brown's commitment to the military, young undocumented immigrants who wish to enlist in the armed forces gathered [last week] at the State House and then marched to the Brown's office to urge him to support federal legislation that would grant them legal residency.

Several dozen people gathered, including some wearing T-shirts that said "Brown is Beautiful'' and others waving US flags.

"We don't want a handout, just the opportunity to prove ourselves,'' said Carlos, a 22-year-old from Cape Cod who has been in the country since he was 8. He declined to give his last name because he is undocumented.

The Dream Act, which has been pending since 2001, would grant legal residency to youths who arrived in the United States before they turned 16, lived here for five years, and enrolled in college or the military. Brown has been a member of the Massachusetts National Guard for nearly three decades. Click here for the rest of the article.

bh

May 31, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Happy Memorial Day!

May 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Arizona Protest Attracts Thousands

Jonathan J. Cooper writes for the Associated Press

Marchers carrying signs, banners and flags from the United States and Mexico filled a 5 mile stretch of central Phoenix, demanding that the federal government refuse to cooperate with Arizona authorities trying to enforce the law.

Police declined to estimate the size of the crowd, but it appeared at least 10,000 to 20,000 protesters braved 94-degree heat. Organizers had said they expected the demonstration to bring as many as 50,000 people.

Opponents of the law suspended their boycott against Arizona and bused in protesters from around the country. Some used umbrellas or cardboard signs to protect their faces from the sun. Volunteers handed out water bottles from the beds of pickup trucks, and organizers set up three water stations along the route.

About 20 people were treated for heat or fatigue-related symptoms, and seven of them were taken to a hospital, said Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson. There were no arrests or other incidents, he said.

The law's opponents also gathered at capitols in states including Texas and Oregon, and about 300 people protested at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City demanding legalization for undocumented Mexican workers in the United States.

"Many of us have relatives or friends in the U.S. and we must now stand up and speak out on their behalf," said Elvira Arellano, who gained international attention in 2007 when she was deported without her U.S. citizen son.

In San Francisco, about 500 people gathered Saturday night outside AT&T Park, where the Giants were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks. Leaders of the rally said it was organized to help push for a boycott against Arizona.

Click here for some video.

bh

May 30, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Protect the Children of Immigrants

From Wendy Cervantes of MomsRising Blog

Children of immigrants currently comprise nearly 1 in 4 of all U.S. children. It is estimated that more than 5 million of these children, the majority of whom are native-born U.S. citizens, live in mixed-status families with one or more undocumented parent. While the debate over comprehensive immigration reform has often overlooked these citizen children, inaction on immigration reform and ongoing enforcement measures are having a significant impact on thousands of America’s most vulnerable children.

Immigration enforcement activities by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement agencies operating under ICE have significantly increased over the past decade. According to a report by the DHS Inspector General’s Office, over 108,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were removed from the U.S. between 1998 and 2007. Furthermore, a 2007 report by the Urban Institute reveals that on average, one child is affected for every two adults arrested in a worksite raid. Findings such as these resulted in ICE’s adoption of humanitarian guidelines to minimize the instances of family separation for enforcement activities involving more than 25 arrests. However, these humanitarian guidelines do not apply to targeted home raids and individual arrests, which are the types of immigration enforcement currently experiencing rapid growth.

The impacts on child well-being and family unity resulting from such enforcement activities are immeasurable. They include separation (sometimes permanent) from one or both parents due to detention and/or deportation, interruptions in schooling, short and long-term emotional trauma, and economic hardship due to the loss of the family breadwinner. In many cases, schools, early learning and child care centers, social service agencies, and communities are unprepared to respond adequately to protect the best interests of children left behind. Often, detained parents are not able to make child care arrangements, resulting in the unnecessary placement of their children in the child welfare system. Once a child is placed into foster care, it is extremely difficult for a detained parent to reunify with his or her child, especially if that parent is transferred to an out-of-state detention facility or deported before regaining custody of his or her child.

Protecting Children and Keeping Families Together. Ultimately, the enforcement of our immigration laws should not conflict with our obligation to protect the rights of children. ICE should ensure that parents and primary caregivers of minor children are identified and, when appropriate, released into the community on bond or parole, or into non-custodial alternatives to detention programs. Every effort should be made to ensure that children are not present or engaged in enforcement activities, and families, social workers, and lawyers should be able to locate those who are detained. Additionally, children consequently placed in the foster care system should receive appropriate care, and parents should be able to participate in all court proceedings and case plans involving the care and custody of their children.

bh

May 30, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

O'Connor: Arizona Must Prove It Is Not Biased

From Huffington Post:

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says Arizona must figure out how to show it appreciates, respects and admires the Hispanics who live there after passing a tough new immigration law.

O'Connor tells ABC's "Good Morning America" that Hispanics have lived in Arizona since long before it was a state, and Arizona must now show it is not "as a whole, a biased state."

The former Arizona state senator and judge declined to say whether the law is constitutional, but says she is sure

bh

May 30, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Arabesque Hip-Hop Video Explores Plight of Immigrants

Hip-Hop recording artist Arabesque explores the plight of landed immigrants. Telling the story of 4 immigrants and their trek to North America, and the struggle to find their feet. The song examines their hurdles in absorbing the country's culture and values. This is unfortunately a common tale, with work ready adults facing uphill battles.

Arabesque
A special thank you to every association, non profit, activist group, government outreach, community centre, church, temple and mosque for fueling a growing movement to defend immigrants' rights. What they have done for the community is beyond admirable.

ARABESQUE "Understand" Video >>Click here to watch <<
bh

May 29, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Arpaio Gets Sued by County Supervisor

From La Frontera Times:

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and her husband filed a notice of claim against county officials Thursday, saying she was illegally targeted in an investigation by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

The claim alleges Arpaio and Thomas launched the high-profile investigation to retaliate for her vocal criticism of their efforts to combat undocumented immigration. The Wilcoxes will settle for $4.75 million.

The claim, filed by an attorney representing the Wilcoxes, names Arpaio, Thomas and others in their offices. Notice of claim is the first step toward filing a lawsuit against a government entity.

Wilcox joins Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, Supervisor Don Stapley and his business associate Conley Wolfswinkel in filing notices of claims against the county because of investigations by Arpaio and Thomas. An attorney for Stapley's executive assistant, Susan Schuerman,is expected to file her notice of claim later Thursday or Friday.

The Sheriff's Office declined comment.

"I felt just so preyed upon," Wilcox said. "I stood up on an issue that, as an elected official, I have a right to speak out on. I was crucified for it. This was the worst time in my life."

Criminal charges against Wilcox and Stapley were dismissed after a judge ruled Thomas had a conflict of interest in investigating her.

Repeat after me: Sheriff Joe has got to go!

bh

May 29, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rebellious Lawyering Institute: Standing Up To Arizona

SAVE THE DATE! SAVE THE DATE! SAVE THE DATE!

STANDING UP TO ARIZONA – AND TO ANY COPYCAT STATES

The Rebellious Lawyering Institute

RebelliousLawyering
September 23-25 2010/Bishop’s Lodge, Santa Fe, New Mexico

On every front, Arizona presents major challenges: how do we influence public perceptions? litigate effectively? lobby to avoid similar laws or to enact better ones? organize communities? learn and teach about law enforcement practices? assess the wisdom of and ways to implement boycotts?  Not surprisingly, no one group or no single strategic scheme dominates current thinking about and action in Arizona – much less across the United States or in other countries. Instead an often heated and fractured debate shapes compatible and divergent paths. 

Because of the significance of this crisis, the Rebellious Lawyering Institute has specially designed a training focusing on (1) how we can best stand up to Arizona and (2) what the Arizona experience can teach us about preparing for and avoiding the copycat actions of anti-immigrant and racist forces in other states.   In designing this special training, we have drawn on the wisdom of many and look forward to working with you in Santa Fe. 

A Big Heads-Up about Hotel Reservations:

New Mexico’s beautiful fall attracts lots of events and guests to Santa Fe, so please do book early.  If you book a room at Bishop’s Lodge on or before July 15, 2010, you can secure a special conference rate (mention Rebellious Lawyering- http://www.bishopslodge.com/index.cfm?gclid=CM244NXf7aECFRBLgwod-XfgJA.)  From July 15 forward, you may still reserve a room at Bishop’s Lodge but only if rooms are available and only at the regular rate.  Or of course you may book your stay elsewhere in Santa Fe.  Please do book early, though. 

See you in September,

Kip Bobroff, Tara Ford, Bill Ong Hing, Gerald P. López, Shauna Marshall – and the many close friends and allies who will be with us in Santa Fe.

bh

May 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Will Boycott of Arizona Yield Results?

From Julianne Hing of Colorlines:

It has been four weeks since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the state’s controversial SB 1070, and efforts to boycott the state have been mounting ever since. Calls for a boycott actually began days before SB 1070 even became law, when Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva warned the business community to prepare for backlash.    Boycott

“We’re asking organizations, civic, religious, labor, Latino, organizations of color to refrain from using Arizona as a convention site, to refrain from spending their dollars in the state of Arizona,” he said on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show that week, “until Arizona turns the clock forward instead of backwards and joins the rest of the union.”  

SB 1070 requires that people show proof of their immigration status if they’re questioned by police, and empowers police to ask for such proof when they’re enforcing local and state laws, and even civil code. Civil rights groups have called SB 1070 unconstitutional; five separate lawsuits are now challenging it.   
But while lawyers head to court, immigrant rights organizers are funneling the national outrage into a widespread, multi-pronged boycott against Arizona. Calls to move next year’s baseball All-Star Game out of Phoenix have drawn the most attention. But the boycott effort is gaining ground among convention planners and in local governments, too, particularly in cities with significant immigrant communities.  

On Tuesday, Seattle passed the latest city resolution declaring a boycott of Arizona--and became the eleventh locality in the United States to do so. Seattle joined the ranks of cities like Austin, Texas; Boston; Los Angeles; Oakland; St. Paul, Minn. and Washington, D.C., who’ve all vowed some form of economic response, ranging from clear travel bans for employees to more vague contracting commitments. (See graphic at end of article for details.)  

City officials in Dallas are mulling their own resolution, as are New Yorkers. Cook County, which encompasses Chicago, is considering its own boycott. Cities are folding their arms, turning up their noses and giving nasty looks at the Grand Canyon State. They don’t want to be part of a club that proudly relies on racial profiling to crack down on immigrants.   

But all of this begs an important question about boycotting as a tool for reform: Does it work? And if so, under what conditions? 

“Boycotts are tricky business,” warns Dana Frank, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  

Precedent shows that if they’re carried out in a strategic way, boycotts can be effective—the famous thirteen-month Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955 is a favorite example among historians of a smartly executed campaign. But efforts that do not have clearly outlined objectives and pathways of transmitting pressure often collapse. “Boycotts historically are most effective when they have a very specific target, or when they are part of a multi-pronged approach,” says Frank.  

Boycotts are also notoriously easy to start and hard to finish. Lawrence Glickman, a professor of history at the University of South Carolina and the author of Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America, cites the NAACP’s 1990s boycott of South Carolina as an example of what can happen when targets and objectives aren’t clearly outlined. The NAACP announced a boycott of South Carolina in 1992 because the state refused to stop flying the Confederate flag at the capitol building. But when the state moved the flag from the top of the dome to the capitol grounds in 1999, there was confusion about whether they’d found an acceptable compromise.   

As recently as March of this year, people have debated whether the South Carolina boycott’s still going on, and disagreements have led to public tussling between the NAACP and other Black community leaders. “There was a lot of ambiguity, and that led to a loss of momentum,” says Glickman.  

bh

May 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AMERICANS IN THE YELLOWHAMMER AND MAGNOLIA STATES: Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are a Growing Economic Force in Alabama and Mississippi

The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an important part of Alabama and Mississippi's economies, labor force, and tax base. Immigrants and their children are a growing economic force as consumers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs. With the nation working towards economic recovery, Latinos, Asians and immigrants will continue to play a key role in shaping the economic and political future of the Yellowhammer and Magnolia States.

Highlights from Alabama include:

Immigrants made up 3.0% of Alabamans (or 137,275 people) in 2007.

The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $3.1 billion and Asian buying power totaled nearly $1.8 billion in Alabama in 2009.

If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Alabama, the state could lose $2.6 billion in economic activity and $1.1 billion in gross state product.

Highlights from Mississippi include:

Immigrants made up 1.7% of Mississippians (or 49,483 people) in 2007.

The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $1.6 billion and Asian buying power totaled $862.1 million in Mississippi in 2009.

If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Mississippi, the state could lose $583 million in economic activity and $259 million in gross state product.

There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make in Alabama and Mississippi and the important role they will play in the states' economic futures.

KJ

May 28, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

U Visa Manual for Immigrant Victims of Crime

From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

UPDATED PUBLICATION

The U Visa: Obtaining Status for Immigrant Victims of Crime

2nd Edition

By Sally Kinoshita, Susan Bowyer, and Catherine Ward-Seitz

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

The U Visa: Obtaining Status for Immigrant Victims of Crime will guide you through the entire process of handling an immigration case for a U visa applicant – from eligibility screening through adjustment of status to assisting eligible family members. In addition to providing a thorough explanation of the requirements and process, this manual includes numerous sample materials to help you in handling your client’s case. These include the immigration forms you will need, sample checklists, declarations, receipt notices and other correspondence you can expect to receive from USCIS, motions to submit to the immigration court, and more.

This second edition of this manual is almost 50% larger (more than 200 pages) than the first edition. The entire manual has been updated and includes expanded sections on the visa process for U nonimmigrants abroad, adjustment of status, stays of removal and more. There are also many more sample materials including applications and declarations for adjustment applications, motions for use in removal proceedings, and explanatory materials for clients obtaining a U visa at a consulate abroad.

This manual contains the following eight chapters and an extensive appendix:

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION covers an overview of benefits and eligibility for U nonimmigrant status, the contents of this manual and how to use it, and resources to assist you in navigating this topic.

CHAPTER 2 U NONIMMIGRANT STATUS ELIGIBILITY covers eligibility for U nonimmigrant status including a detailed discussion of the eligibility requirements for the visa, red flag issues and screening tips and practice pointers.

CHAPTER 3 U NONIMIGRANT STATUS PROCESS details step-by-step how to apply for U nonimmigrant status, including details on how to fill out the Form I-918, information about additional documentation required to obtain U nonimmigrant status, what to expect from the process, how to obtain work authorization, and how and when to communicate with CIS about your client’s case.  It also describes issues that arise after U nonimmigrant status is approved, including traveling and consular processing.

CHAPTER 4 INADMISSIBILITY GROUNDS AND WAIVERS provides information about the various grounds of inadmissibility applicable to the U nonimmigrant status applicant, the standard for overcoming them with a waiver, and strategies for how to apply for the inadmissibility waiver.

CHAPTER 5 ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS ELIGIBILITY details the requirements for U nonimmigrants to obtain lawful permanent residence, as well as how jurisdictional issues, inadmissibility grounds, and prior removal orders may affect your client’s case.

CHAPTER 6 ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS PROCESS is another step-by-step chapter providing details to guide you through completing the adjustment packet, including the I-485 and supporting documentation, for a U nonimmigrant.

CHAPTER 7 ASSISTING FAMILY MEMBERS is dedicated to providing information on how to help family members obtain immigration status—either as derivative family members with U nonimmigrant status or through the family petitioning process at the adjustment phase.

CHAPTER 8 REMOVAL ISSUES discusses issues impacting clients who are currently in removal proceedings and those with prior removal or deportation issues, including information on motions and stays.

The APPENDIX found at the end of this manual provides numerous sample materials, screening sheets, checklists, USCIS memoranda and other materials that advocates may find useful in helping a client successfully obtain U nonimmigrant status.

bh

May 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Teen Sentenced in Hate Killing of Marcelo Lucero

Yesterday, the teenager convicted of killing a Latino immigrant in a 2008 hate crime attack in Patchogue, NY was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Jeffrey Conroy, now 19, was told by Justice Robert W. Doyle that the proof of guilt of killing Marcelo Lucero, an immigrant from Ecuador, was “overwhelming” and that he was convicted of “senseless and brutal crimes.” Evidence showed that the teens had went out that evening to find "some Mexicans" to beat up.  The 25-year sentence was the longest possible for first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.  For the N.Y. Times story on the sentencing, click here.

KJ

May 28, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Minuteman Gilchrist Endorsement Comes With A Pricetag

From Doug Gibson of the Standard-Examiner:

There’s a very interesting story in The Politico Web site about allegations that Minuteman Project leader Jim Gilchrist has required that money be given to a firm, Election Impact Group, allied with him before an endorsement is given to a political candidate. Utah Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Tim Bridgewater, who has been endorsed by Gilchrist and has provided money to that firm, is mentioned.

Gilchrist
In the article by Ben Smith, candidates who failed to get an endorsement from Gilchrist, described as gold for candidates, “were told bluntly that they would need to hire a consulting firm closely linked to the Minuteman founder and run by the project’s political director, Mississippi political consultant Howie Morgan. When they didn’t hire Morgan, the endorsements didn’t materialize — and in one case, Gilchrist went on to endorse a rival,” the article reads.

In an Alabama U.S. House race, Republican challenger Mo Brooks was approached by Morgan, who told Brooks he wanted to help defeat “imposter” Parker Griffith, the incumbent Republican who had been a Democrat. However, Brooks balked at paying many thousands of dollars to Morgan’s firm. A few months later, the Minuteman endorsed Griffiths, who election records show paid Morgan’s firm $6,500. Two other candidates in other races told Politico that efforts to get Gilchrist’s endorsement failed after negotiations with Morgan broke down.

In Utah, Bridgewater’s campaign admits it has provided money to have Gilchrist help the campaign but denies that it was inappropriate. “What we paid them for was basically to get Jim Gilchrist out to stump for us and all the costs — the plane tickets and the fees and the help with drafting press releases,” said Tiffany Gunnerson, a spokeswoman for Utah Senate candidate Tim Bridgewater. “We didn’t think there was anything suspicious or underboard about it, and we didn’t think we would have lost out to a competitor if we hadn’t brought him out,” the article reads.

No one’s accusing Bridgewater of any bad behavior. This is politics after all, and this kind of stuff is tolerated too often. But there seems to be evidence that an endorsement by political right-wing superstar Gilchrist has to come — in most cases — with a deal with Morgan’s firm. And that tarnishes the myth of grassroots activism that the Minuteman Project organizers and supporters try to pitch.

The Washington Post asks whether Gilchrist is selling endorsements.

bh

May 27, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Unauthorized Aliens in the United States

The Congressional Research Service recently released a report entitled “Unauthorized Aliens in the United States.”

KJ 

May 27, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Border Enforcement Amendments Defeated

From the Center for American Progress:

Three border enforcement amendments to the military supplemental bill were soundly defeated in the Senate today. Seeking to redirect nearly $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funding, the amendments would have mandated deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the southwest border; massively increased border personnel, technology, and infrastructure; and expanded a program mandating 100 percent prosecution of misdemeanor immigration offenses, regardless of impact on other prosecutorial priorities.

CAP Action Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy Angela M. Kelley issued the following statement:

“Cooler heads prevailed today in the U.S. Senate as extreme Republican enforcement measures fell one by one. Led today by Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Democrats successfully stymied the Republicans’ brazen political move to post an extraordinary 6,000 troops at the border, paid for by money that has been set aside for new jobs and military operations.

“While the National Guard is not an answer to the broken system, the President’s announcement earlier this week to post 1,200 National Guard troops along the border provided a sober and strategic way forward rather than the hyperbole and hysterics that have taken hold of the debate.

“With their votes today, the Senate asked and answered the question of whether enforcement alone will fix our broken immigration system. Now leaders of both parties, particularly Republicans with a track record in support of broad reform, should turn from heated rhetoric to smart solutions and begin bipartisan conversations. As poll after poll tells us, Americans are hungry for a solution that is tough, practical, and fair. Surely our leaders can find a way to satisfy the public and solve the problem.”

bh

May 27, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Language Access and Due Process

From Appleseed:

Model Court Rule for Language Access 
 
People with limited proficiency in the English language face a number of barriers to social justice. As such, many Appleseed programs, both local and national, include important language access initiatives, one of which is gaining traction in Louisiana.

Louisiana Appleseed, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) and the Louisiana Language Access Coalition, is currently advocating for better interpreter services in the state's court system.  In January 2010, the LSBA House of Delegates adopted a resolution supporting the creation of Language Access Guidelines; shortly thereafter, the Louisiana Public Defender Board passed a similar resolution.
 
At the Language Access Coalition's request, Christy Kane, executive director of Louisiana Appleseed, engaged volunteer attorneys from Phelps Dunbar law firm to prepare a memo analyzing other states' standards for courtroom interpreters and draft a model court rule for consideration by the Louisiana Supreme Court.  That rule, drafted by volunteers Jackie Brettner and Stephanie Villagomez, and attached to the LSBA resolution, would govern the certification and appointment of interpreters, as well as their use in legal proceedings. 
 
Among the most notable of the proposed measures are:

  • The creation of a Language Access Administration to develop a certification program, a list of certified court interpreters, and a systematic method for recording costs and data related to the use of those interpreters;
  • The appointment of an interpreter in any court proceeding in which a non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficiency person is a litigant or the accused;
  • The adoption of a code of professional responsibility for interpreters and the administration of an oath at each proceeding.

In order to better assess interpreter services in state courts, the
Language Access Coalition has engaged law firm Fowler Rodriguez, with volunteer Cristi Fowler Chauvin working to develop survey questions for judges to determine the prevalence of language access issues.
 
The project mirrors an effort by National Appleseed and Chicago Appleseed to address translation problems on the federal level in U.S. immigration courts. As documented in Assembly Line Injustice, lack of fluent, unbiased interpreters represents a severe impediment to due process for immigrants.  The production of essential materials in non-English languages - from financial education brochures to legal guidebooks to remittance receipts - has likewise been a part of many Appleseed projects.
 
For Louisiana Appleseed's commitment to language access and other important efforts to promote justice, the LSBA this week presented the Center with a Friend of Pro Bono Award!  For more information, contact Christy Kane at ckane@appleseednetwork.org.

bh

May 27, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Will Justice Department Pull the Trigger and Challenge the Arizona Law?

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Many news outlets are reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. are seriously considering  filing a legal challenge to the Arizona immigration law on the grounds that it intrudes on the federal power to regulate immigration.  Holder on Wednesday met with a group of police chiefs who expressed concerns about the impacts of the Arizona law on effective policing.

We will wait and see if the U.S. Department of Justice weighs in on the Arizona immigration law. 

KJ

May 27, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summary of Friendly House v. Whiting

My research assistant prepared a summary of the complaint in the MALDEF, ACLU, and NILC lawsuit challenging the Arizona immigration law.  Here it is.  Download Summary of Friendly House v Whiting

KJ

May 26, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Could you pass latest citizenship test?