Tuesday, October 26, 2010
This has been a wild election season. California Republican candidate Meg Whitman proclaims that she will get tough on the employers of undocumented immigrants before it is revealed that she employed an undocumented immigrant in her home for nine years. In a battle for a seat in the Senate, an over-the-top immigration ad comes out of Louisiana.
Not to be outdone, Texas Governor Rick Perry's new campaign ad blames Houston's "sanctuary" policy -- and his opponent, former Houston Mayor Bill White -- for the tragic death of a police officer. To add fuel to the fire, the ad, which has generated a firetorm of controversy, features the officer's widow.
UPDATE (10/28): Not to be out-anti-immigranted, Houston Mayor (and Democrat) Bill White struck back in a new televison ad claiming that Rick Perry, not White, was soft on those mean ol' immigrants. White proves once again that anti-immigrant stances can come from both Democrats and Republicans (and do not ask me about the Tea Party or the American Independent Party). Thanks to Texas correspondent Cappy White for the latest from Tejas.
Racial profiling has long been a problem with law enforcement in the United States. Here is the latest in a long string of lawsuits challenging the practice, which affects Latinos as well as African Americans.
David Rosen and the Worker and Immigrant Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School filed a civil rights action today on behalf of nine Latino immigrants against the East Haven Police Department, the former police chief, and 19 officers. "The suit, the latest in a series of complaints by Latino residents, says the police in this town have practiced racial profiling and intimidated them with beatings, false arrests and unwarranted raids on legitimate businesses," reports the N.Y. Times. "Over the past two decades, the Hispanic population in East Haven has nearly quadrupled to about 1,900, or about 6 percent of the population, according to census estimates. The local police have a long history of tense relations with immigrants and minorities, and the federal Justice Department is investigating whether officers have practiced discriminatory policing."
As the United States emerges from its deepest recession since World War II, unemployment and job creation indicators are being watched with an even keener eye than usual. Immigration, while not an official economic indicator per se, is substantially influenced by changing economic conditions. Though difficult to assign the exact degree of influence the recession has had on immigration (factors such as stricter border enforcement also come into play), the US immigrant population remained virtually flat between 2007 and 2008 (38,059,694 vs. 37,960,935), in large part due to worsened economic opportunities. The decline of 100,000 people was not a noticeable change relative to the overall size of the immigrant population. But the drop was in sharp contrast with the rapid increase in the immigrant population — about 1 million per year — recorded during the last two decades. In this case, what could be seen as "no change" was in fact a fairly substantial change. Check out the Migration Policy Institute website for the latest immigration trend data.
The Cato Institute had an informative briefing yesterday on "Birthright Citizenship and the Battle over Illegal Immigration" in Washington, D.C. The panel includes Daniel Griswold, Director, Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute; and Margaret Stock, Adjunct professor of political science, University of Alaska — Anchorage. The moderator was Stuart Anderson, Executive Director, National Foundation for American Policy, and adjunct scholar, Cato Institute. Click here to see the briefing on video.
From guest blogger, Professor Evelyn Cruz, Arizona State University:
Le Bin Zhu v. Holder No. 10-1042
First Circuit Court of Appeals
Oct 14, 2010
Summary: Mr. Zhu entered the U.S. on June 21, 2001 in Miami, Florida. In a credible fear interview he indicated that his family had disowned him because he converted from Buddhism to Christianity. The asylum officer found him credible and referred his case to an immigration judge (IJ). On June 25, 2001 Mr. Zhu was served with a notice to appear but it did not list a date for hearing. He was released from custody and settled in Boston, Massachusetts.
Upon arriving to Boston, Mr. Zhu hired a lawyer right away. The lawyer informed him that he needed to file a motion to transfer the case from Miami to Boston before filing the asylum application. The attorney also told Mr. Zhu that the motion couldn’t be filed until the case was set for hearing. Two years later the case was finally set for hearing in the Miami court. Mr. Zhu’s attorney filed a motion to transfer the case to Boston and it was granted.
On September 16, 2003 Mr. Zhu and counsel appeared before the IJ and requested a continuance to file an asylum application. The IJ granted the continuance but asked the attorney to brief whether Mr. Zhu’s asylum claim was timed barred since it has been more than a year since Mr. Zhu entered the U.S. At the second hearing Mr. Zhu appeared with new counsel. The prior attorney had not filed the application or the brief. Mr. Zhu however filed an asylum application through new counsel at this hearing.
The IJ found that Mr. Zhu was ineligible for asylum because he had not filed within one year of arrival nor established an exception. Mr. Zhu’s argument, that his prior counsel’s errors had prevented a timely filing, was deemed vague and unsupported by the record. Mr. Zhu appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) but the BIA affirmed the IJ’s findings.
A year after the BIA denial, Mr. Zhu filed a motion to reopen with the BIA. Although motions to reopen must be filed within 90 days of a decision, Mr. Zhu argued that his case qualified for two exceptions—equitable tolling based on ineffective assistance of counsel, and changed country conditions. Mr. Zhu argued that his attorney’s failure to help him file timely, along with the fact that Mr. Zhu now had a child and intended to have additional children, were grounds to permit him to reopen his case. The court denied his motion to reopen and his subsequent petition to reconsider the refusal.
Commentary: Asylum seekers have to be careful with the one year filing deadline. It is very important to file timely. Many immigration judges are not easily persuaded by arguments against strict enforcement of the filing deadline; even in situations as this one where the asylum applicant relied on his/her attorney’s advice.
Cathleen Decker writes for the Los Angeles Times:
LOS ANGELES -- Repeated clashes over undocumented immigration have marked California's political races for years, but a new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll found that voters hold positive views about immigrants overall and favor accommodating illegal immigrants who have held down jobs in the state.
Asked whether immigrants represented a benefit or a burden to the state, 48 percent of voters likely to cast ballots in November said they were a benefit, and 36 percent said they strongly held that view.
Only 32 percent said immigrants overall were a burden to California because of their impact on public services, and only 22 percent felt that way strongly.
Separately, 59 percent of likely voters said that an undocumented immigrant who had lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should be allowed to remain here if discovered. More than two in five voters said they felt strongly that such an option should be available. Only 30 percent of likely voters thought the undocumented immigrant should be deported. Read more...
Monday, October 25, 2010
The number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts reached a new all-time high of 261,083 by the end of September 2010, according to very timely government enforcement data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General Report Critical of 287(g) Programs
A recently released report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on the performance of 287(g) agreements should prompt the termination of this deeply and persistently flawed program. This is the second report on the 287(g) program by the DHS OIG this year. A report released in March included 33 recommendations from the OIG to improve the program. The 287(g) program authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
The OIG report exposed the lack of general oversight of the program including weak management controls that fail to verify that funds given to ICE by Congress are being used as required. In addition, the report found inadequate training and supervising of 287(g) officers and the lack of processes to know if the 287(g) program is adhering to the stated goal of prioritizing the removal of dangerous noncitizens.
Click here for the National Immigration Forum's reaction to teh report.
Politico.Com reports that "It looks like the state of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer could be facing an uphill battle in their effort to overturn a judge's ruling that the state's law cracking down on illegal immigration, SB 1070, is unconstitutional." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit announced that the three judges assigned to the appeal, which is to be argued next Monday, John Noonan, Richard Paez, and Carlos Bea. For access to bigraphies, click here.
"Two of the three judges are of Hispanic descent: Paez was born in Utah of Mexican immigrant parents; Bea was born in Spain but grew up in Cuba before coming to the U.S. with his family." Judge Paez, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, is a former legal aid lawyer. Bea is an appointee of President George W. Bush. "To my knowledge, I am the only circuit judge to have been ordered deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service," Bea declared during a 2006 Senate hearing. Judge Bea won on appeal. Noonan was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, but is known "to be friendly to immigrants in asylum cases and has even written opinions defending some immigrants who were part of violent groups in their homelands."
Pro bono attorneys interested in representing low-income immigrants have a new resource with the launch of the Immigration Advocates Network’s Pro Bono Resource Center. The launch was timed to coincide with this week’s National Pro Bono Celebration.
Developed by Pro Bono Net and 11 leading immigration advocacy and legal support organizations, the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) launched in early 2008 to support legal advocates working on behalf of immigrants' rights. IAN’s Pro Bono Resource Center provides resources, trainings, technical assistance, volunteer opportunities, and networking tools for pro bono attorneys representing low-income immigrants.
With its nonprofit community of advocates now well-developed, IAN is prepared to reach out to a broader group of volunteer attorneys who are dedicated to increasing access to justice for low-income immigrants. Immigration law is complex, and pro bono attorneys new to this area will benefit from the wealth of resources available on IAN. For more information on IAN, contact Matthew Burnett, Associate Director, at email@example.com.
The latest Los Angeles Times-USC poll found that showed Democrat Jerry Brown with a 52% to 39% lead over Republican Meg Whitman in the race to be Governor of California. And, a majority of those questioned believed Whitman did not handle the controversy over her housekeeper's immigration status well.
It was a very close race when the candidates debated at UC Davis just a few weeks ago. In my book, the beginning of the end for the Whitman campaign was when Nicky Diaz went public and the voters -- with Latino voters especially attentive -- learned of Meg Whitman's cold treatment of Diaz, who she characterized as a part of her "family."
For further analysis, click here.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Members of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice File Amicus Brief in Support of Legal Immigrants Who Were Excluded From Massachusetts' Health Plan
WASHINGTON— Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Asian American Justice Center, and Asian American Institute, members of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, filed an amicus brief this week with Massachusetts’ highest court supporting legal immigrants suing the state for unlawfully cutting off their health insurance subsidies last year.
The state stopped offering subsidies for health insurance premiums to some legal immigrants who would otherwise be eligible last year, even though it continues funding subsidies for others and for residents born in the U.S.
“The Massachusetts law exacerbated existing inequities in access to health care between immigrants and non-immigrants,” said Julie Su, director of litigation for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “Thousands of immigrants were cut off from Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care significantly undermining the state's landmark efforts to make health care available to all. Massachusetts has sought to solve its economic problems by targeting immigrants, a move that is discriminatory and contrary to the state's constitutional mandate of equal protection for all.”
The Commonwealth Care health insurance program provides health-insurance premium subsidies to uninsured state residents who are without employer-sponsored insurance, who are ineligible for other state programs, and who have household incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2009, Massachusetts passed a statute that excluded nearly 30,000 legal immigrants from the program. Some who qualified were placed in a less comprehensive and less affordable “bridge” program, but several thousand were excluded entirely from coverage.
“These so-called ‘aliens’ are in this country legally and pay taxes that help fund Commonwealth Care, the state insurance program from which they are now barred,” said Marita Etcubañez, director of programs for the Asian American Justice Center. “This type of blatant discrimination is unconstitutional.”
In February, the public- interest firm Health Law Advocates, filed a class action lawsuit on these immigrants’ behalf.In their amicus brief, members of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice argue that the law’s classification based on immigration status should trigger the strictest standard of judicial review. This standard should apply because the statute’s discrimination against immigrants — a discrete and insular minority — strikes at the core of the equal protection doctrine that the Massachusetts constitution guarantees. Furthermore, the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 does not alter the traditional constitutional analysis requiring strict scrutiny of similar state statutes.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Los Angeles office, led by Daniel Floyd, Elaine Kim and Minae Yu, provided pro bono assistance on the amicus brief. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is set to hear the case early next month. The case is Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority.
Room for Hope in the Golden State? Californians hold positive views of immigrants; most oppose deportation
Read a powerful article about undocumented university students by Maggie Jones in the New York Times Magazine. The story of Leslie, an undocumented student who soon will graduate from UCLA, is as compelling as they come. When will Congress pass the DREAM Act?
On Thursday, Dave Schultz, considered one of the fiercest National Hockey League enforcers of all-time, became a U.S.citizen in a swearing-in ceremony in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, reports the News Journal. He is one of four "Broad Street Bullies" of the Phiadelphia Flyers who decided to naturalize and become U.S. citizens this fall. Bob Kelly and Orest Kindrachuk were sworn in as U.S. citizens in September. Bill Clement, a Canadian, has completed his naturalization process and will be sworn in before a Flyers' home game.
Schultz, who turned 61 last week, is from Canada, but has spent most of his adult life in the United States.
Friday, October 22, 2010
"Our immigration laws need to change—and change in significant ways. The current system isn’t working for either security or the economy. It’s not working for our country. Reform needs to be a priority." Remarks by U.S. Customs & Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin.
Tony & Janina’s American Wedding is a feature length documentary that gets to the heart of the broken, red tape ridden U.S. immigration system. After 18 years in America, Tony and Janina Wasilewski’s family is torn apart when Janina is deported back to Poland, taking their 6 year old son Brian with her. Set on the backdrop of the Chicago political scene, and featuring Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez at the heart of the immigration reform movement, this film follows the Wasilewski’s 3-year struggle to be reunited, as their Senator Barack Obama rises to the Presidency. With a fresh perspective on the immigration conversation, this film tells the untold human rights story of Post-9/11, that every undocumented immigrant in America faces today, with the power to open the conversation for change.
Check out this trailer for a movie (Precious Knowledge) being developed about the importance and emergence of Ethnic Studies in Tucson, Arizona. The producers are asking for donations to complete the film. An Arizona law banning the teaching Ethnic Studies in the public schools has been challenged in court.