Tuesday, August 31, 2010
David Bacon on New America Media writes about life in a labor camp: "On a ranch north of the Bay Area, several dozen men live in a labor camp. When there's work they pick apples and grapes or prune trees and vines. This year, however, the ranch has had much less work, as the economic recession hits California fields. State unemployment is over 12%, but unemployment in rural counties is always twice what it is in urban ones. Unemployment among farm workers, however, is largely hidden. . . . In past, the ranch's workers were mostly undocumented immigrants. In the last several years, however, the owner has begun bringing workers from Mexico under the H2-A guest worker program. While there are differences in the experiences of people without papers and guest workers, some basic aspects of life are the same."
From the Center for American Progress:
Voters Want Solutions: Opposing Smart Immigration Policy Will Cause Latino Backlash
By Gebe Martinez
Primaries in key states this week may have made it seem like smart politics to oppose a smart policy like comprehensive immigration reform. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the godmother of her state’s severe immigration control law, won the Republican ticket for the November general election. And Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former immigration reform advocate, gave voters a rhetorical whiplash by grabbing onto immigration hardliners to stave off a primary challenge from a fierce immigration opponent.
But take a closer look.
Beneath the aura of party primary victories this year are the ashes of failed, scorched-Earth strategies against comprehensive immigration reform that all candidates should heed—regardless of party affiliation.
It might sound like right out of a sci-fi flick (Machete?) but Reuters reports that the U.S. government will have unmanned surveillance aircraft monitoring the whole southwest border with Mexico from September 1, as it ramps up border security in this election year. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said U.S. Customs and Border Protection would begin flying a Predator B drone out of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Wednesday, extending the reach of the agency's unmanned surveillance aircraft across the length of the nearly 2,000 mile border with Mexico.
Does the border feel more secure now? Will undocumented migration be reduced to 0?
Jerry Markon of the Washington Post reports the U.S. Justice Department filed another lawsuit against immigration practices by Arizona authorities, alleging that a network of community colleges (including the Maricopa County Community College District) acted illegally in requiring noncitizens to provide their green cards before they could be hired for jobs. The suit comes on the heels of (1) the DOJ's successful lawsuit enjoining major portions of the state's immigration law, SB 1070, from going into effect; and (2) an ongoing investigation of Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff in Maricopa County, who is known for tough immigration enforcemen for civil rights violations.
The new lawsuit claims that the colleges discriminated against nearly 250 noncitizen job applicants by mandating that they fill out more documents than required by the Immigration and Nationality Act to prove their eligibility to work.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Philip Wolgin on Huffington Post writes about the recent developments within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and how they relate to comprehensive immigration reform. It compares the current situation with that of the 1950s and 1960s, where a similarly long backlog of people waiting, led to a similar bout of small fixes to the immigration system. These minor changes ultimately paved the way for major reforms in 1965.
BOOMERANG: THE MOSQUE CONTROVERSY AND OTHER IMMIGRATION EXCESSES By Gary Endelman and Cyrus D. Mehta
Check out this story about the growing Islamophobia engulfing the country combined with a rise in xenophobia, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2011798,00.html. The Islamophobia has been unleashed as a result of the unfortunate controversy over the Islamic center and mosque that will be built within two blocks of Ground Zero. Much has been written about this controversy, but there has been scant commentary about its impact on immigration and immigrants. It is time to step into this lacuna, which we do so in this blog post to link this Islamophobia to the xenophobia against immigrants. We are especially motivated to write after an immigrant Bangladeshi cabbie in New York last week was almost stabbed to death after the passenger, his assailant, realized he was a Muslim. More recently, arson has been suspected at a proposed construction site for a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Anti-Islamic sentiment has suddenly flared in New York City after the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center, even though two strip clubs, liquor stores and criminal defense attorneys who represent suspected terrorists thrive within two blocks of the WTC site, http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2010/08/26/anti-muslim-bias-absent-after-911-surfaces-in-new-york/. Ironically, two mosques have always existed in the vicinity for years and not a word was said about them.
From the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights:
TULARE, CA -- The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (Lawyers' Committee), along with Reed Smith LLP, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Latino voters against the City of Tulare, charging that the City's at-large system that governs the selection of its City Council members is plagued by racially polarized voting and violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).
"More than a year ago, we called for the city to abandon its at-large voting system and move toward an area voting system," said Grace Calderon, lead plaintiff in this action. "Latino voters deserve an equal opportunity to have our voices be heard."
Latinos constitute nearly 55 percent of the total population and almost 40 percent of all eligible voters in Tulare; yet, over at least the past 20 years, only one Latino has served on the five-member City Council. The complaint charges that this is a result of the City's at-large voting system for electing council members. The Lawyers' Committee is also planning to seek a preliminary injunction to stop the next City Council elections in Tulare, currently scheduled for November 2010.
"The CVRA was enacted to provide a remedy when the electoral choices of the minority are being blocked by the majority," said the Lawyers' Committee's Director of Litigation, Robert Rubin. "Litigation is the last resort available to our clients. Ideally, cities and counties would be complying with the law without waiting to be threatened with a lawsuit. However, we are committed to using every legal tool available to ensure the full political empowerment of our clients and the communities in which they live."
Enacted in 2001, the CVRA allows voters to challenge at-large election systems that are characterized by racially polarized voting patterns. Once racial polarization is demonstrated, voters can demand that the jurisdiction convert to a different system such as a district system, which is generally thought to contribute to equal opportunity for all groups to influence elections and elect candidates of their choice. The CVRA applies to any governing body for any jurisdiction, including but not limited to, a city, a school district, a community college district or any other district organized pursuant to state law.
"Given the clear evidence that Tulare's at-large system is undermining the right to vote for a large segment of its community, the City needs to step up for its own citizens and change its system," said Ray Cardozo, a partner with Reed Smith, who is serving as pro bono co-counsel.
Responding to a request for help from Latino voters in Tulare, the Lawyers' Committee sent a demand letter to the City in April 2010 and again in July 2010, advising the City that it was in violation of the CVRA. The City rejected the Lawyers' Committee's demands for compliance with the law.
"This lawsuit against the City of Tulare is part of a continuing effort that started in the early 1990s to secure for Latinos access to the political process in Tulare County," added Joaquin Avila, a private practitioner who is also co-counsel on the case. "Armed with the state voting rights act, Latinos have an effective tool in systematically targeting and eliminating discriminatory at-large election systems."
Click here to read the official complaint.
From Roy Germano:
Dear Friends: Thank you for supporting The Other Side of Immigration, a documentary film that I shot and directed in rural Mexico in hopes of bringing a new perspective to our immigration debate.
I’m pleased to announce that DVDs of The Other Side of Immigration will finally be released on Oct. 26, 2010. Click here to pre-order a home use DVD from our website at the special price of $17. Pre-orders will ship on Oct. 12. You can also pre-order a DVD from our Amazon.com page. If you are a professor or librarian interested in ordering a copy for your college or university, please make sure to order a DVD that has been licensed for College/University Use.
Like last year, I will be on the road this fall presenting and discussing the film on campuses and in communities around the country. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in hosting a director’s visit and/or screening in your area.
As always, please check www.TheOtherSideOfImmigration.com and our Facebook page for the latest updates and tour schedule.
Director, The Other Side of Immigration
The NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and other lawyers have been challenging the practices of the Border Patrol along domestic train routes on the Northern border. The Clinic is also engaged in FOIA litigation to obtain documents and statistics. Some of the results of this work are reported today in the New York Times. Nina Bernstein reports that, in 2008, 95% of the arrests made by the Rochester station of Customs and Border protection were made on trains and buses. The story also includes data that three fourths of those arrested in Rochester on these train and bus operations have been in the United States for over a year. In fact, less than one percent had entered within the prior three days.
UPDATE (9/1): For a N.Y. Times editorial condemning immigration enforcement on trains and busses, click here.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
From the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project:
Join us October 1 to Celebrate NWIRP's 26th Anniversary!
Time: 5:30 - 8:30p - Reception
7:00p - Brief Program and Awards
Location: The Sky Bridge at Washington State Convention
Center (800 Convention Place, Seattle, WA 98101)
Tickets: $80 Early Bird (per person, through September 3);
$100 General Admission (after September 3)
Click here to learn more.
Andrew Becker in the Washington Post reports on internal tensions in U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement over changing enforcement and detention policy. ICE reportedly is struggling with internal divisions between political appointees and career officials over how to enforce laws and handle detainees facing deportation. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security has shifted its focus away from the worksite raids and sweeps employed during George W. Bush's presidency to deporting more criminals and creating less prisonlike detention settings. The changes are facing resistance from agency middle managers and attorneys, and the union that represents immigration officers.
"The internal conflict has grown increasingly public over ICE's plans, among them to expand a risk assessment tool to guide agents on detention decisions, cut down on transfers of detained immigrants, and open more `civil' detention facilities -- what field directors call `soft' detention. Immigration officers say the new measures limit their enforcement efforts and the revamped lockups will compromise their safety."
In June, their union representing ICE employees voted "no confidence" in ICE director, John Morton, and the official overseeing detention reform, Phyllis Coven.
Photo Courtesy of Boxing Scene
Our Immigrant of the Day is Giovanni Segura, originally from Mexico and now living in Bell Gardens, California. Segura, the WBA junior flyweight (108 pounds) champion, pummeled WBO king Ivan Calderon, on his home turf on Saturday night in Puerto Rico. Segura scored a knockout in the eighth round. Segura improved his record to 25-1-1 with his 21st knockout. One of the best technical fighters in boxing, Calderon had been undefeated and now is 34-1-1.
Segura, “The Aztec Warrior,” was one of seven children raised on the unforgivingly hot and dusty streets of Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero, Mexico. Years ago, Segura made the dangerous trek to the United States via Mexicali, Baja California.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
It should not be a surprise but, with border enforcement on the land borders tigteneing, migrants and their smugglers are looking to the seas. Elliot Spagat of AP reports on the new sea migrants on the Pacific in northern Baja/Southern California.
As this blog indicates, Migrants at Sea are worldwide.
From the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:
Dear NNIRR members, partners, allies & friends,
Migrant workers continue paying a heavy price as a result of the volatile mixture of the U.S. militarization of immigration control and border communities, the criminalization of migration, the expansion of NAFTA or “free” trade under the “Merida Initiative,” a war on drugs and national security.
On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, devastating news reports began trickling out about a horrific massacre of some 72 international migrants that took place in Mexico. Armed members of a drug cartel had kidnapped these Central and South America migrants. The cartel gunmen were trying to extort ransom money from them to let them continue on their dangerous journey to the U.S. with the hope of reuniting with their families and seek work to survive.
The drug traffickers had tied the migrants’ hands behind their backs and then executed them by shooting them in the back. One migrant who survived the execution, although gravely wounded, dragged himself miles when he stumbled upon a military checkpoint on a highway and alerted them. Some 200 soldiers were mobilized and went to the farmhouse where a heavy gun battle ensued, leaving one soldier and three drug cartel gunmen dead. Then the soldiers made the grisly discovery of the migrants’ bodies, 58 men and 14 women—migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Brazil—who been slaughtered inside a farmhouse close to San Fernando, a small farming community in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas and about a 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.
Epidemic of Abuse and Exploitation of Migrants
The Mexican government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reports that more than 10,000 migrant kidnappings have been reported in the first six months of 2010 in Mexico. Yet, the CNDH and the Mexican government have not worked to effectively protect migrants, expose the abuses and prosecute the traffickers and their collaborators in the police, military and other government entities.
Drug traffickers and smugglers, as well as police and military, often hold migrants hostage and force them to pay high ransoms before they are allowed to continue usually on the last leg of their journey to the U.S. The CNDH said that in the first half of 2009, when only some 9,000 migrant kidnapping cases had been reported, corrupt government officials and police, organized crime, traffickers and other criminals extorted as much as $25 million dollars from kidnapped migrants.
When migrants make it to the U.S.-Mexico border, they fare no better. The U.S. deliberately funnels migrants into the deserts and mountains of Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Texas. Here at the border they are subjected to another layer of abuse. They are thrown into the hands of smugglers and other traffickers who have no second thoughts about abandoning individuals, who are often injured or suffering severe exhaustion, in the wilds, where migrants face a certain death either by extremes of heat or cold.
As a result of criminalization and few if any options to regularize their status or migrate with rights, U.S. and international migration control policies make migrant workers easy targets for exploitation and criminal attacks and extortions, where they live and work or whether in they are in transit or in the U.S.
Although Mexico is a signatory to the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,” the Mexican government’s de facto policies and treatment of migrants is a bloodied mark on the convention. The U.S. is not a signatory to the migrant workers’ human rights convention. U.S. immigration enforcement and services, bound up to the U.S. politics of national security, are rife with abuses and human rights violations.
Mexican and U.S. policies, collusion through inaction, and their own impunity have created a situation where thousands of migrants are being subjected to extremes of abuse. The massacre of migrants in Mexico shows that drug traffickers have “diversified” their wares to include humans. They act with impunity, either as a result of official corruption or collusion that turns a blind eye to the exploitation, and results in the unfortunate death of migrants “funneled” by U.S. policies through the deadly desert and mountainous areas of the border.
Migrants who survive the journey only slightly fare better. Once out of the clutches of traffickers and smugglers they face a gauntlet of unscrupulous police, elected officials and employers who prey upon them. Or they are further criminalized and are hunted down, filling the dungeons of prisons, euphemistically called “detention centers.”
What is to be done?
What is to be done? Certainly, we should call for the investigation and prosecution all the abusers and those in government who collaborated in this heinous crime. But even this will not be enough. To prevent further abuses will take historic efforts on our and the immigrant rights and justice movements’ part. It will mean organizing to make the U.S. and Mexican governments decriminalize migration and demilitarize immigration control and border communities. These demands also have to expose the root causes and push back on economic and trade policies that undermine communities and forcibly displace workers and divide families.
For now we ask everyone to take a minute to reflect on this horrendous massacre of innocents and to respect those migrants among us who have survived this odyssey – just to be with their families, to work and support their families and communities back home.
According to the Associated Press:
A U.N. panel is demanding that France stop rounding up Gypsies to force them back to Romania, saying the practice violates human rights.
The recommendation comes a day after the archbishop of Paris called France's crackdown a "circus" as the country expelled nearly 300 minority Roma.
The U.N. anti-racism panel said Friday that France should avoid "collective repatriation" of Gypsies while findings solutions that respect human rights.
It expressed concern that Gypsies in France weren't receiving full voting, education and housing rights.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's government links the Roma to crime such as prostitution and child exploitation. Critics say the policy amounts to racism against one of the European Union's most impoverished minorities.
Seehere as well.
Human Rights Watch Report: Detained and at Risk: Sexual Abuse and Harassment in United States Immigration Detention
The US government needs to strengthen its protection of people in immigration detention to prevent sexual abuse and to ensure justice for victims, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The 24-page report,"Detained and at Risk: Sexual Abuse and Harassment in United States Immigration Detention," describes documented incidents and allegations of abuse. It also discusses recent proposals by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to address the issue. Human Rights Watch emphasized that the agency should make improvements swiftly to improve oversight of the entire detention system and ensure accountability.
Watch for the release of the Robert Rodriguez film Machete. Here is the plot summary:
The highly skilled Federale Machete is hired by some unsavory types to assassinate a senator. But just as he's about to take the shot, he notices someone aiming at him and realizes he's been set up. He barely survives the sniper's bullet, and is soon out for revenge on his former employers, with the reluctant assistance of his old friend Cheech Marin, who has become a priest and taken a vow of nonviolence. If you hire him to take out the bad guys, make sure the bad guys aren't you!
Here is the official website.
The cast is amazing:
Danny Trejo as Machete, a legendary ex-Federale with a deadly attitude and the skills to match.
Steven Seagal as Torrez, a druglord.
Michelle Rodriguez as Luz aka Shé, a taco-truck lady with a rebellious spirit and revolutionary heart.
Jeff Fahey as Michael Benz, a ruthless businessman with an endless payroll of killers.
Cheech Marin as Padre, a priest who's good with blessings, but better with guns.
Lindsay Lohan as April Benz aka The Sister, a socialite with a penchant for guns" and a nun with a gun."
Don Johnson as Lt. Von Stillman, a twisted border vigilante leading a small army."
Jessica Alba as Sartana, a beautiful Immigrations Officer torn between enforcing the law and doing what is right."
Robert De Niro as Senator John McLaughlin
Rose McGowan as Ginger, hired by Benz Electra and Elise Avellan as The Nurses at the hospital where Machete is treated.
Cheryl Chin as Torrez' Henchwoman.
Stacy Keach as Doc Franklin.
Friday, August 27, 2010
In response to the backlog of cases pending before the Immigration Courts, on August 20, 2010 ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton issued a memorandum on "Guidance Regarding the Handling of Removal Proceedings of Aliens with Pending or Approved Applications or Petitions." The memo discusses the steps that the ICE Office of Chief Counsel (the attorneys representing DHS/ICE in removal proceedings) should take in cases of detained and non-detained individuals who are the subject of pending applications or petitions that, upon approval, would provide an immediate basis for relief. In those cases, the Office of Chief Counsel is first advised to request expedited adjudication of the application or petition from USCIS. Second, the Office of Chief Counsel is advised to pursue termination of the removal proceedings. In general, termination may be requested by either party to removal proceedings, including U.S. ICE or the Respondent, but the decision is ultimately made by the Immigration Judge. In cases involving detained individuals, the memo also advises ICE to issue a release under certain circumstances following the termination of the removal proceedings.
The Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) has compiled a library on this issue. It contains:
The memo on handling certain removal cases is available in the deportation and removal library at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?15968
A previous ICE memo on civil enforcement priorities, which includes a discussion of detention and removal, is available at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?15969
The immigration court practice manual, which provides guidance on motions and related immigration court procedures, is available at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?15970
A report from the ABA Commission on Immigration entitled, "Reforming the Immigration System," which includes a discussion on the caseload burden in immigration court, is available at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?15971
The "News" section contains:
An article from the Houston Chronicle about ICE's focus on the termination of removal cases at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?15972
A Washington Post article on the backlog of cases pending before the Immigration Court at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?15973
Other resources on removal proceedings:
American Immigration Council The American Immigration Council (AIC) Legal Action Center issues practice advisories addressing a variety of immigration law issues to assist practitioners representing immigrants in removal proceedings at http://www.legalactioncenter.org/practice-advisory-topics
ASISTA ASISTA offers resources related to cases in proceedings/immigration court at http://www.asistahelp.org/index.cfm?nodeID=25162&audienceID=1
Executive Office for Immigration Review The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which houses the Immigration Courts, maintains a page of resources, including forms, news, and information about Immigration Courts nationwide at http://www.justice.gov/eoir/