Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ry Cooder to Donate "Quicksand" Proceeds to MALDEF

Ry Cooder
created his new single “Quicksand” in response to Arizona's immigration law SB 1070, wjich requires police to demand "papers" from people they stop who they suspect are "unlawfully present" in the United States. "Quicksand" tells the story of six migrants making their way from Mexico to the Arizona border. Today, Ry Cooder's "Quicksand" went on sale exclusively on iTunes, and Cooder has pledged to donate all proceeds from the song to the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), one of the civil rights organizations that has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona law.

“Quicksand” features Cooder's son Joachim on drums, with backup vocals by Lucina Rodgriguez and Fabiola Trujillo of the Mexican roots band Los Cenzontles. The artwork for the single features the piece "Nuthin' To See Here, Keep On Movin'!" by frequent collaborator Vincent Valdez.

A link to Ry Cooder’s page featuring “Quicksand” is here. To show your support for Ry Cooder and MALDEF, visit the iTunes store to purchase “Quicksand” here.


June 30, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

President's Speech on Immigration Reform

As Bill Hing reported earlier today, President Barack Obama claims to be pushing for immigration reform.  He is set to deliver a speech about immigration policy tomorrow at 10:45 AM on the campus of American University.  Watch it live!  For some pre-speech speculation from Alex Wagner at Politics Daily, click here.

Here is how the White House is touting the speech: 

"The President believes that we must have a practical, common-sense approach that reflects our heritage and our history -- as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Government must be accountable for enforcing the law, businesses that seek unfair advantages over competitors must be accountable for exploiting the system, and those who break the law must be accountable as well. But as always, the President will put it more eloquently than I can, so tune in for the speech streamed live at at 10:45 a.m. EDT. If you miss it, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, you can still join Cecilia Muñoz, one of the President's closest advisors on this issue, who will be taking questions from Americans all over the country in a unique online roundtable."

UPDATE (JULY 1):  Here is a transcript to the speech.  In it, the President seemed to try to build support for immigration reform by appealing to the "better angels of our nature," to quote Lincoln.  He emphasized  the humanity of immigrants as well as the good they have done for the U.S. economy and the nation (through military service).  In terms of policy proposals, there was nothing especially new in the speech, although (1) President Obama did acknowledge his support for earned legalization (for immigrants who register, pay their taxes and a fine, and learn English; and (2) recognized the need to reform the provisions of the U.S. immigration laws dealing with legal immigration.  Reaction to the speech has been decidely bipartisan.  Supporters of immigration reform have tended to voice support (for Jesse Jackson's positive reaction, click here) for the President's speech with others were more critical about "where's the beef?"


June 30, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama, Labor, and Activists Will Target Republicans and Push Reform

Erica Werner writes for the Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is enlisting activists and labor leaders in a push for comprehensive immigration legislation that will showcase Republican opposition and include a speech by the president.

The strategy was discussed during a meeting Monday by a range of prominent labor leaders and activist groups. Participants said Obama reiterated his support for immigration legislation but noted the political realities that have stalled it in Congress.

Latino leaders say they will work in coming months to pressure Republicans to give way and support an immigration bill - and make opponents pay at the ballot box if they don't.

"We're going to make absolutely crystal clear who's at fault here," said Eliseo Medina, a leader of the Service Employees International Union.

Prospects for passage of comprehensive immigration legislation look bleak this election year, and even many Democrats are wary of wading into the hot-button issue. But Obama, who pledged as a candidate to make immigration reform a top priority during his first year in office, faces pressure from the Hispanic community to act - or at least to try. Click here for the rest of the story.


June 30, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Asylum Cases Can Truly Mean Life or Death

Julia Preston in a New York Times article reminds us that asylum cases, in this instance a young Salvadoran man who fled gang violence in El Salvador but was ordered deported there after his asylum claim was denied in the United States, can have life-or-death consequences.


June 30, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Arizona Immigration Law Comes Up in Kagan Confirmation Hearings

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Seth Freed Wessler of ColorLines
writes on the immigration questioning directed by Arizona's John Kyl to Solicitor General Elena Kagan at her Supreme Court confirmation hearings yesterday:

" Day one of Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings have wrapped up and she's already heard a mouthful of criticism, some of which is plain inaccurate. In a notable example, Arizona Sen. John Kyl, while suggesting that President Obama picked Kagan because `he wants justices who will use the bench to advance progressive goals,' pointed to a brief from the solicitor general's office clarifying the government's position on U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria. The case, recently taken up by the Supreme Court, challenges a 2006 Arizona law that punishes businesses for hiring undocumented immigrants. In his comments, Kyl said he is `deeply troubled' by a brief released by the solicitor general calling for the Court to overturn the 2006 law, which takes business licenses away from employers found to have hired undocumented workers. But Kagan did not write the brief. The brief was released by an acting SG after Kagan's recusal, following her nomination to the court." (emphasis added).

It is good to know that ColorLines' authors read ImmigrationProf blog, which reported very clearly long ago the facts surrounding the brief submitted on behalf of the United States in the Candelaria case.  It unfortunately appears that Senator Kyl and his staffers do not read our blog!


June 29, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Securing America’s Borders: The Role of the Military

The Congressional Research Service has released a paper entitled Securing America’s Borders: The Role of the Military (June 16, 2010), which includes helpful background on the subject.  This is an especially topical paper given that President Obama recently deployed more than 1000 troops from the National Guard to the U.S./Mexico border.


June 29, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Research at ASU

Arizona State University's College of Public Programs has created a website presenting research about how communities are responding to unauthorized immigration. We focus particularly on the challenges that confront local police departments in communities where immigration has become a political issue. The website includes a summary of the results of a national survey of police executives, as well as related work by this research team and other sources. Also included is a reference list of relevant research and policy information related to immigration, communities, and policing.


June 29, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dynamic Diaspora: Women and Immigration

Women’s eNews have a Dynamic Diaspora: Women and Immigration series that highlights the experiences of immigrant women, exploring topics such as: domestic violence, prenatal care, and access to the workforce. The full articles can be found here and here (Spanish).


June 29, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Strong Bipartisan Support for DREAM Act

From First Focus:

A poll released today reveals strong bipartisan support for the DREAM Act, federal legislation introduced by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) that would provide undocumented students brought to the United States as children with the opportunity to earn permanent legal status upon meeting certain requirements.

According to the survey results, 70% of Americans favor the DREAM Act, a notable increase in support compared to a similar 2004 poll that placed public support at 58%. Under the DREAM Act, students would be eligible to earn legal status if they came to the U.S. when they were very young, lived here for at least five years, stayed out of trouble, earned a high school diploma or GED, and completed at least two years of college or military service.

The poll also demonstrates significant bipartisan support (69%) for a provision within the legislation that would restore a state’s authority to determine whether or not to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students residing in their state. While the DREAM Act would not mandate states to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students, it would allow states to determine whether or not immigration status should be a factor for in-state tuition eligibility purposes.

“This research confirms the strong public support across the country and across party lines to move forward with the DREAM Act, a common-sense solution to address the hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the United States as children and are left unable to pursue the American dream,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, the bipartisan child advocacy organization that commissioned the poll. “The future success of our country lies in our ability to cultivate an educated workforce capable of competing in the global economy. We cannot afford to continue losing the talent of so many students who have already been educated in American schools. We strongly urge Congress to take action this year to pass the DREAM Act.”

Every year, approximately 65,000 students graduate from American high schools facing an uncertain future. If passed, the DREAM Act has the potential to provide these young people with improved access to a higher education and a legal means by which to contribute to society.

The telephone survey was commissioned by First Focus and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, using a national probability sample of 1,008 adults comprising 506 men and 502 women. The survey was completed during the period of June 10-13, 2010. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3%.

Click here to download a breakdown of the poll results.


June 29, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Samuel Dalembert (Haiti)



Born in Haiti, Sacramento Kings' player Samuel Dalembert is our Immigrant of the Day.  Dalembert recently received the Human Spirit Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The award is presented to those who have honored the game of basketball by virtue of their personal growth and life-long accomplishments. Dalembert was recognized for his charitable work in his native Haiti. Dalembert is the UNICEF national ambassador for Haiti and has donated more than $125,000 for relief efforts following January's earthquake. Dalembert started the Samuel Dalembert Foundation in 2007, which looks to improve the quality of life in Haiti. Dalembert is also an active in the NBA Cares program and has worked with Basketball Without Borders.


June 29, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Special Report, Reforming America's Immigration Laws: A Woman's Struggle

There are roughly 19 million immigrant women and girls currently in the U.S. Immigrant women, particularly the undocumented, are often more vulnerable than their male counterparts, lack the same economic opportunities, and experience exploitation while crossing the border, while working and even in their own homes. In short, immigrant women have become the silent victims of a broken immigration system. In the Immigration Policy Institute's latest Special Report, Reforming America's Immigration Laws: A Woman's Struggle, immigration attorney Kavitha Sreeharsha lays out the economic and social disparities, legal barriers and the many dangers hard-working immigrant women living in the U.S. are forced to endure. The report also explores how women are distinctly harmed by heightened enforcement of immigration laws. Abusers, traffickers, and exploitative employers keep immigrant women from seeking local law-enforcement protection by convincing them that police officers are working in partnership with DHS and will deport victims instead of protecting them. Essentially, these enforcement measures increase the likelihood of abuse and assault against immigrant women by cutting them off from help and giving their perpetrators a powerful tool to silence their victims and escape prosecution. Ultimately, the author concludes, only through a comprehensive immigration reform package - one that includes a path to legalization and values the contributions immigrant women make as mothers, wives and workers - can we reconcile these disparities.


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

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Arizona Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Candelaria and will review the constitutionality of an Arizona law statute that imposes sanctions on employers who employ undocumented immigrants.  Arizona's Legal Arizona Workers Act allows the  courts of Arizona to suspend or revoke the business licenses of employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented immigrants.  The Act also makes participation in the federal E-Verify mandatory for all employers.  The Ninth Circuit held that the Arizona Act is not preempted by federal law.

Last fall, the Supreme Court asked the United States to submit a brief articulating the position of the United States on the cert petition.  The Solicitor General 's office submitted a brief after Solicitor General Elena Kagan was nominated by President Obama to the Supreme Court. (Kagan's confirmation hearings began today.).  The brief sought to limit the questions reviewed by the Court but the Court granted cert without limitation.

The decision by the Court on the scope of federal preemption of state immigration laws will likely have a significant impact on the outcome of the litigation challenging Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which has provoked a firestorm of controversy.  My speculation is that the controversy helped convince the Justices to grant cert and to offer guidance on the room, if any, for state and local governments to attempt to regulate immigration and immigrants.


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

Massive Border Enforcement Falls Short

Gebe Martinez, Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress:

Politicians continue to pander to the public by calling for more spending on enforcement with a vague promise that once the border “is secure,” then maybe they will debate comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The hard truth they do not accept is that “enforcement only” is a failed strategy.

CAP supports strong enforcement of immigration laws at the border and at the worksite so that law-breaking employers are reined in and forced to pay taxes. But some of the initiatives have been counterproductive and contrary to our basic values. For instance, the 287(g) program was ostensibly designed to make communities safer by enabling local police to help with specific immigration enforcement efforts. But that program has been rife with abuse and has made communities less safe by destroying trust between the local police and the immigrant communities they serve.

Other programs, such as Operation Streamline, demonstrate the pitfalls of policy rigidity. The program mandates criminal prosecution of 100 percent of captured border crossers and increased immigration prosecutions exponentially. But the lack of flexibility has diverted limited resources away from the prosecution of far more serious crimes.

Read the full column here.


June 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants and African Americans

Stephen Piggott writes for

Anti-immigration forces were, and are, on the front lines of racism in America. Today’s most powerful web of anti-immigrant groups, the John Tanton Network, uses the issue of immigration to drive a wedge between communities of color by perpetuating the myth that immigrants and African-Americans must compete for economic opportunities.

The Tanton Network attempts to divide Black leaders from community leaders. An example of this can be found in a report by Tanton-founded Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) titled, An Examination of Minority Voters’ Views on Immigration.

In the report CIS portrays “leaders of minority groups” as an elite bunch who are out-of-step with voters. To quote directly from the report, CIS states, “When some leaders of minority groups speak on immigration and argue for legalization, they are merely offering their own personal opinions, not necessarily those of voters in these communities.”

The Tanton Network also falsely claims that the anti-immigrant movement is diverse. To mask this fabrication, it establishes groups like Coalition for the Future American Worker and Choose Black America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “just another FAIR product attempting to improve public perceptions of the overwhelmingly white anti-immigration movement.”

By far the biggest lie the John Tanton Network promotes is that immigrants and refugees are taking jobs that should go to African Americans.

According to Professor Steven Pitts who teaches at U.C. Berkeley there is no connection between immigration and the lack of jobs for Blacks. He surveyed major metropolitan cities, where 70% of Black Americans live, and found that what is really getting in the way of Black economic opportunity is a two-dimensional job crisis – unemployment and low wage work. This very real crisis is a result of employment discrimination, substandard education at K-12 school levels and continuing attacks on organized labor.

Worse than just distracting from the real problems facing the Black community, the John Tanton Network’s elected leadership has one of the most extreme voting records against Civil Rights in Congress, and it has never supported one single piece of legislation seeking to lessen the economic plight of Black America.

The anti-immigrant movement has systematically dismantled voting rights, crafted racist state legislation, supported armed border vigilantes, and is seeking to destroy the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Click here for video.


June 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Abolishing Birthright Citizenship is a Bad Idea

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2010: CIR DOA?

There are growing numbers of signs that comprehensive immigration reform is dead this year.

Eight senators sent a letter to President Obama demanding that he refrain from circumventing the will of Congress on immigration. The letter, signed by Senators Grassley, Vitter, Inhofe, Isakson, Chamblis, Bunning, Cochran, and Hatch, alleges some kind of conspiracy to allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.  Now, CIR champion Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Il) says that there are not enough Democratic votes for Congress to pass immigration reform this year.

Reformers have been hard at work for months -- years, in fact.  Is there any more room for hope for reform of the U.S. immigration laws that the country so desparately needs?


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

Immigrant of the Day: Camille Nelson (Jamaica)

Born in Jamaica, Camille Nelson, who has been named the new dean of Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, is our Immigrant of the Day.  An accomplished amd imfluential scholar, Camille, who I am lucky to count among my friends, will be the first woman and first person of color to be dean of Suffolk, which is a law school that really is on the move.


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

From the Bookshelves: Glass of Water by Jimmy Santiago Baca

A Glass of Water by Jimmy Santiago Baca
(Grove Press 2009).  Award-winning memoirist, poet, and activist, Jimmy Santiago Baca has established himself as an inspiring and important spokesperson for the Chicano experience, continually giving voice to the voiceless. His first novel, A Glass of Water is a gripping tale of family, loyalty, ambition, and revenge that takes us inside the tragedies unfurling along our country's borders. Having made the nearly deadly journey across the border from Mexico, Casimiro and Nopal spend their days in the chili fields, building a life for their young sons. But when Nopal is brutally murdered, the boys are left to navigate this capricious new world without her. The elder son, Lorenzo, follows his father's footsteps, devoting himself to the land, and falling in love with a strong-minded young woman who's come to their migrant camp to study the lives of its workers. But Vito, hot-blooded and restless, breaks away to find fame as an itinerant boxer, gaining notoriety inside the ring and out. Eventually, the brothers' journeys converge, bringing them face to face with a common enemy. A Glass of Water is a searing, heartfelt tribute to brotherhood, and an arresting portrait of the twisted paths people take to claim their piece of the American dream.


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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Governor Brewer Makes Up Data

Ginger Rough writes for the Arizona Republic:

Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday reiterated her assertion that the majority of illegal immigrants are coming to the United States for reasons other than work, saying most are committing crimes and being used as drug mules by the cartels.

Brewer's remarks are an expansion of comments she made last week during a televised debate between the four Republican gubernatorial candidates.

In the first exchange, she was responding to opponent Matt Jette of Apache Junction, who opposes the state's tough new immigration law and is pushing a moderate platform that includes calls for comprehensive immigration reform.

In the debate, Jette said that most people who cross illegally into Arizona are "just trying to feed their families." Brewer disputed that, saying, "They're coming here, and they're bringing drugs.

And they're doing drop houses, and they're extorting people and they're terrorizing the families." The governor, who has become a national media figure since signing Senate Bill 1070 into law on April 23, went further on Friday, saying that the "majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming (into) the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels."

When pressed, Brewer said that even those who do come to the United States looking for work are often ensnared by the cartels.

"They are accosted, and they become subjects of the drug cartels."

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday that they could not provide statistics on criminal-smuggling activity; U.S. Customs and Border Protection referred all calls to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Washington, D.C., press office, where no one was immediately available to comment.

But local advocacy groups and other data dispute the validity of Brewer's claims.

According to a February 2007 report from the University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, "most immigrants who come to the United States illegally – especially those from less-developed nations – do so because U.S. employers hire them at wages substantially higher than they could earn in their native countries."

And data from the Washington, D.C.,-based Pew Hispanic Center suggests that visa violators represent nearly half of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. According to the center, as of May 2006, 4 million to 5.5 million people had entered the U.S. legally and then remained after their visas had expired. An additional 250,000 to 500,000 people entered legally with temporary border-crossing cards and then stayed.

The numbers represent the most recent data available.

"I find the (governor's) statements embarrassing," said Jennifer Allen executive director of the Border Action Network. "They are so without basis or fact. There is more than likely a case where that has happened, but not to the extent that the governor should be making that assertion." Click here for the rest of the story.


June 26, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Asian American Civil Rights Groups Announce Co-Branding

Leading Asian American Civil Rights Organizations Announce New Shared Brand at the 2010 Advancing Justice Conference
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four leading Asian American civil rights organizations announced during their annual conference today that they are formally affiliating under a new name, Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. 
The announcement coincides with the second annual Advancing Justice Conference, a three-day event focusing on issues of special interest to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The four affiliating organizations—the Asian American Institute (AAI), Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC)—jointly host the conference, which has brought together hundreds of participants from across the country.
“This represents a tremendous opportunity not only for the Asian Law Caucus and our sister organizations, but for the larger Asian American community,” said Titi Liu, executive director of ALC, the nation’s oldest Asian American civil rights organization. “Through Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, we will have a larger platform from which to speak about issues that affect our community.”
Asian American Center for Advancing Justice will address many of the issues that are currently the focus of headlines across the country, including immigration, LGBT, civil rights and worker’s rights. 
“We are very excited to be part of this partnership of equals at a time when Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a greater presence—both in numbers and in prominence—than ever before,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of APALC, the nation’s largest organization addressing the civil rights and legal services of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The four groups will adopt their shared identity in stages over the coming years, explained AAI Executive Director Tuyet Le. “By affiliating gradually, we will maintain our identity and presence in our local communities.  AAI is the leading pan-Asian organization in the Midwest, and we will continue to speak to local issues. Asian American Center for Advancing Justice gives us a voice to speak to national ones as well.”
Each organization will continue to be based in its home city:  AAJC in Washington, D.C., APALC in Los Angeles, AAI in Chicago and ALC in San Francisco. AAJC will continue to serve as the lead on federal policy as well as other areas in which it has expertise. However, all member organizations do some work at the national level. On a given issue or area, any one of the member organizations may be the national lead for Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.
“As independent organizations coordinating around a set of shared vision and values, we will work to promote a fair and equitable society for all; strengthen civil and human rights; and empower the Asian American, Pacific Islander and other marginalized communities’” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of AAJC, one of the premier national Asian American civil and human rights organizations.  “In formalizing relationships that have existed for many years, we are expanding our reach and effectiveness and speaking with one unified and powerful voice.”
For more information on Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, please visit

June 26, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)