Thursday, January 27, 2011

EOIR Announces the 10th Anniversary of the Board of Immigration Appeals Pro Bono Project

In a press release on the U.S. Department of Justice website, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) reminded us that it today is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Pro Bono Project. EOIR implemented the Project in January 2001, to improve access to legal information and increase pro bono representation for individuals whom the Department of Homeland Security is detaining while their immigration cases are under appeal. The Project is a joint effort between EOIR and a non-governmental organization (NGO). Since its start, the Project has succeeded in securing pro bono representation for more than 700 aliens around the country - individuals who would not have otherwise had representation.


January 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2010 Immigration-Related Laws and Resolutions in the States

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that state legislatures enacted a record number of laws and resolutions addressing immigration issues in 2010: 46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions, for a total of 346. An additional 10 bills passed legislatures but were vetoed by governors. During the same period in 2009, 44 states enacted 202 laws and adopted 131 resolutions, for a total of 333. An additional 20 bills were vetoed.


January 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Federal courts in Arizona declare judicial emergency

Amanda Bronstad of the National Law Journal reports that the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona has declared a judicial emergency that will temporarily lift the deadline for moving criminal defendants to trial.  Chief Judge Roslyn Silver acted on the late U.S. District Judge John Roll's request last year to declare an emergency in the district, which has one of the highest caseloads in the country due to actions involving illegal immigration and drug smuggling. Roll was killed in the recent shootings in Tucson, Arizona.

The order took effect immediately and will last until February 19.  For links to various documentes related to trhe order, see here.

In the District of Arizona, criminal case filings have increased by 65% since 2008, when federal authorities ramped up enforcement near the border. The bulk of the caseload is assigned to the Tucson division, where three judges handle about 1,200 cases each and two of the district's three vacancies are located. The district has 13 authorized judgeships and is eligible for five additional judgeships. Visiting judges from other courts have been assisting the district.


January 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AZ Legislators' media blitz on plans to introduce bills challenging the 14th Amendment's interpretation

Today, AZ legislators announced that they would be introducing four bills that challenge the 14th Amendment's interpretation of birthright citizenship.  No bill has actually been introudced despite this being the second time that they have announced their impeding introduction.  A link to the story on the local paper can be found here


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Aggressive ICE Raid in Ellensburg, WA

Lornet Turnbull writes for the Seattle Times:

Kixcia Barrientos awoke early Thursday morning to a flashlight shining through the mobile home she shares with her parents and 15-year-old brother. There was someone shouting at her parents to get on the floor.

Her next image was of her mother and her father, a local pastor, walking down the hallway toward the living room — their hands cuffed.

"They asked if they should handcuff me and my brother, and someone else said 'there was no need,' " said the 11-year-old, who was born in this country.

Kixcia, a sixth-grader at Morgan Middle School in Ellensburg, said the agents searched the home for documents, photographed some of what they found and carted away other things. "Then they took my mom and dad away."

She and her brother are staying with relatives.

Her parents were among 30 people arrested in a raid in Ellensburg early Thursday morning by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)'s Homeland Security Investigations following a year-and-a-half-long probe into an operation that involved the manufacture and sale of counterfeit ID and work documents.

"Those who create and sell fraudulent documents compromise our nation's legal identification system," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Washington state. Fourteen people — 13 of them women and all of them Latino — were arrested on criminal warrants following grand-jury indictments. They made their initial appearances in federal court in Yakima on Friday.

The other 16 people had been identified during the course of the investigation and were arrested Thursday on immigration-violation charges, ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said.

Thirteen of them were transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, and the three others were released on humanitarian grounds.

The early-morning raid and arrests rattled the central Washington town of 17,000 people, home to Central Washington University.

Census figures show about 7 percent of Ellensburg residents are Latino.

Residents described helicopters circling mobile-home parks, and the community buzzed with fantastic tales about agents busting through doors of a middle school to haul students from their classrooms. Read more...


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Save Ethnic Studies, Inc.

On January 1, 2011, HB 2281 became effective in Arizona, a law passed in April 2010 that potentially bans ethnic studies programs in Arizona public high schools. A group of concerned individuals hasestablished a non-profit (501(c)(4)) to raise funds for a legal fight against HB 2281. To find out more about their efforts and the law in question click here.


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

House Subcommittee Name Change Signals Enforcement

From the Immigration Policy Center:

House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement: A Preview of What's to Come

Washington D.C. - Yesterday, the newly named House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held its first hearing of the new session entitled, "ICE Worksite Enforcement - Up to the Job?" The name change seems to be a signal that Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly will focus on enforcement, rather than immigration reform this session. It is hardly surprising, then, that the first hearing of the year was designed to challenge the Obama administration's decision to move from the massive worksite raids of the past to the use of employer worksite audits.

The following statements were made today during a pre-hearing press conference call organized by the Immigration Policy Center:

Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center said:

The Obama Administration's stepped up worksite enforcement efforts include conducting a record numbers of I-9 audits and collecting millions of dollars in fines. While this is an improvement over the arrests and round-ups involved in large-scale raids, which targeted workers, this new strategy is not without controversy. Across the country, I-9 audits, when not carefully conducted within the guidelines ICE has set for itself, can inadvertently lead to hardships for employers and workers alike, leading to the firing of thousands of workers, and leaving employers without the workers they need.  If today's hearing is any indication of the committee's long-term vision, then we are in for sound bites rather than substance, and a call for the good old days of immigration enforcement first and forever."

Emily Tulli, Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center said:

"This enforcement-only agenda, with military-style raids as its centerpiece, may make for good PR, but it is ineffective policy. These raids terrorize communities, shutter businesses, and hurt our local economies. This enforcement-only model is not only unsustainable and inhumane, but also doesn't fix our broken immigration system. Instead of looking backwards, we need to focus on practical solutions that help American workplaces thrive. ICE has a unique opportunity to meet their goals while helping to support labor law enforcement. Our economic recovery depends upon allowing good employers to thrive, while ensuring that bad apple employers who exploit workers are appropriately punished. ICE should use its significant enforcement dollars to target and penalize the worst employers, helping to create an incentive for employer compliance with immigration and labor law."

Javier Morillo-Alicea President of Service Employees International Union Local 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota said:

"We are going to see more and more small business going underground and paying people off the books as a way not to be audited. The assumption that an ICE audit results in unauthorized workers being replaced by authorized workers should be checked. It's time for us to look at the problem and understand that we cannot deport our way out of illegal immigration nor can we audit our way out of illegal immigration."

Dan Siciliano, Senior Lecturer in Law and Associate Dean for Executive Education and Special Programs at Stanford Law School said:

"There is no evidence to support the idea that worksite raids open up jobs for U.S. workers. Most immigrant workers-mid-skill, low skill, documented and undocumented-don't compete with American workers. The 2010 Census is showing us that this trend has accelerated over the last decade. We have a low-skilled worker gap in the country. The overall skill level of US workers is increasing, which means those low skill jobs are becoming harder to fill. It isn't right to look at the economy and workforce as a set of little boxes whereby you pluck someone out of workplace, leaving a perfect empty seat for someone to fill. Labor force dynamics are much more complex than that."


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AALS Immigration Program Podcasts

Here are podcasts of the immigration programs at the 2011 Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, courtesy of AALS President Michael Olivas.

The Effect of Globalization on Children:

Immigration and Higher Education:

Due Process in the Era of Mass Immigration Detention


January 26, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Changes at the Refugee Survey Quarterly

This New Year brings new directions for the Refugee Survey Quarterlya peer-reviewed journal focusing on the challenges of forced migration from multidisciplinary and policy-oriented perspectives. Refugee Survey Quarterly provides a vehicle for wide-ranging analyses and exploration of forced migration related issues. The RSQ also acts as an authoritative forum for the dissemination of ideas and expertise between the academic community, policy- and decision-makers, and practitioners.

Published four times a year, the RSQ will continue to publish one thematic special issue each year, but the other three issues will now be open issues, publishing articles across a broad range of subjects and disciplines. A complete description of the journal, including the sort of articles we are looking for, can be found at the link above. More information for authors can be found here.


January 26, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The State of the (Immigration) Union


President Obama delivered the State of the Union Speech last night.  (For the CNN video and a transcript, click here.).  His focus was on the U.S. economy but, much like last year's State of the Union, he made a couple of fleeting -- and, in the end, disappointing -- references to immigration:

"That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here."

"Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation."

Some observers of the President's speech quickly commented that words are not enough on immigration reform.  Like last year, words without detailed proposals, hard work, and political action will not result in immigration reform.  Admittedly, the repeated failure of congressional passage of immigration reform and the DREAM Act, along with the steady increase in detentions, deportations, and border enforcement, have been deeply disappointing for those who had hoped that the Obama administration would bring improvements to the U.S. immigration system.  The State of the Union address only reminds us of that disappointment with little real hope for reform.

Even though focusing on the economy, the President could have emphasized in detail as one blogger suggested before the speech, rather than the ever-so-brief suggesting, that

--  immigrant entrepreneurs, businesses, and investors can help the U.S. economy rebound;

--  foreign students and researchers can help our universities and colleges and promote innovation in the American marketplace;

--  immigrants have and can revitalize depressed urban areas and cities and they pay taxes;

--   immigrant workers can contribute labor, skills, and tax revenues to the U.S. economy; and

--  anti-immigrant measures at the state and local level cost millions to defend in court and hurt, not help, state and local economies and communities.  If an example is necessary, take a look at what has happened in Arizona over the last year.

Before the global economic downturn, the European Union, which had engaged in the grand experiment of integrating national economies and labor markets, had seen great economic successes.  Now, with the United States raising the drawbridge, nations other than the United States are successfully competing for graduate students, researchers, innovators, and workers.  And our economy has suffered.   

The bottom line is that immigration should not be viewed in isolation but as an an integral part of what makes up U.S. society, the U.S. economy, and the very fabric of America.  President Obama and our political leaders must remind the nation of that and in fact do something more than include a few words in a speech to meaningfully address the various issues that need to be addressed in the current U.S. immigration system.


January 26, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Federal Immigration Worksite Enforcement: Background and Principles

Tomorrow, the House Immigration Subcommittee will hold its first hearing of the new session on the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in worksite enforcement efforts. In order to provide additional perspective and context in advance of the hearing, the Immigration Policy Center is releasing two papers:

A Framework for Effective Immigration Worksite Employer Enforcement (IPC, Jaunary 25, 2011) This paper provides background on immigration worksite enforcement efforts and lays out principles that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the administration's immigration worksite enforcement program. The principles include: accountability to stated priorities, accessibility of information, uniformity and consistency of standards, and proportionality of sanctions.

After the Raid is Over: Marshalltown, Iowa and the Consequences of Worksite Enforcement Raids (IPC Special Report, January 25, 2011) This paper examines the effects of a large immigration raid on a single company in America's heartland. It reviews the ICE raid on the Swift & Company pork processing facility in Marshalltown, Iowa in 2006 and the toll it has taken on the community's financial, social, and human capital.


January 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Job Opening: ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project Director

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
Center for Equality, New York or California
The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), founded in 1920, is a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization, with more than 500,000 members and is dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the U.S. Constitution.   Founded nearly twenty-five years ago, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project (IRP) is dedicated to expanding and enforcing the civil liberties and civil rights of non-citizens and to combating public and private discrimination against immigrants. For more than two decades, the Project has been at the forefront of almost every major legal struggle on behalf of immigrants' rights through class action lawsuits, law reform litigation, judicial rulings and legal advocacy. At this important moment in the nation’s history, the ACLU invites applications for the next Director of its Immigrants’ Rights Project.  
The Immigrants’ Rights Project is part of the ACLU’s Center for Equality which works to uphold the federal Constitution’s promise that all Americans will receive equal protection of the law. The Center also includes the ACLU’s Racial Justice, Voting and Disability work.  The Director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project will report to the Director of the Center for Equality and will manage project offices located in both New York and California.
The Project Director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project will oversee a team of litigators and support staff with an active docket of cases in federal district and appellate courts throughout the country, and in the Supreme Court.  The cases cover access to the courts, immigrant detention, racial profiling of immigrants, due process in immigration proceedings and strategic challenges to state and local anti-immigrant laws and practices. 
The Immigrants’ Rights Project has successfully litigated  many major regional and national class action suits, argued landmark cases in the United States Supreme Court, established historic precedents, won many major appellate rulings in virtually every court of appeals,  and achieved major settlements benefitting hundreds of thousands of class members and individuals. 

Currently, the Project is leading the national legal strategy against state and local anti-immigrant laws, including Arizona’s SB1070; pursuing major challenges to immigration detention laws and practices; pursuing appellate cases to establish core constitutional principles related to habeas corpus, Fourth Amendment remedies, and due process rights; pursuing several cases challenging post-9/11 policies and practices that violated constitutional rights; and is litigating numerous cases in Arizona and elsewhere on racial profiling and police abuse of immigrants.  In addition, the Project supports and helps to coordinate the immigration litigation of the ACLU’s 53 affiliates.

The Project Director also plays a major role in developing and coordinating the ACLU’s non-litigation advocacy on immigration issues.  Through the ACLU’s Equality Center, the Project works closely with the ACLU’s Affiliate Support and Advocacy Department to develop and implement advocacy strategies for the ACLU’s 53 affiliates.  Working with the Communications Department, the Project helps to develop the ACLU’s strategy and messaging on immigration, and its staff provides leading ACLU spokespersons on the issues.  Working with the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, the Project works to inform both federal legislation and administrative initiatives. 

• In collaboration with the Center Director, determine the ACLU’s vision and priorities on civil liberties and human rights issues on behalf of immigrants;
• Engage with immigrant communities and advocacy groups in shaping the Project’s vision and priorities;
• Develop and oversee implementation of strategic litigation plans to achieve the Project’s vision and priorities;
• Supervise a team of litigators and support staff, who work to protect and advance the civil rights and constitutional protections of non-citizens; 
• Work with other departments of the ACLU to develop and coordinate the ACLU’s non-litigation advocacy on immigrants’ rights;
• Ensure that the Project’s resources are used effectively in support of Project priorities, including developing and administering a budget for the Project and overseeing overall project administration;
• Advise, support and inspire ACLU state affiliates to pursue and expand work on immigrants’ rights issues in their own jurisdictions independently and in collaboration with the National ACLU;
• Work with the ACLU’s Development Department to communicate the Project’s goals and successes to foundation and individual donors and prospects;
• Collaborate with other departments of the ACLU, particularly the other projects within the Center for Equality, to strengthen constitutional values and protection for non-citizens as well as identifying issues of racial justice with particular impact on non-citizens;
• Partner with sister organizations and advocates to further immigrants’ rights and to enhance the role of due process and constitutional values in the debate over immigration policy and law;
• Be a public spokesperson in speeches, debates, the media and other settings to advance the ACLU’s vision of the constitutional and civil liberties principles that apply to non-citizens.

The ideal candidate will be strategic, ambitious, and creative, and should have the following experience and qualifications:

• A J.D. degree strongly preferred; it or other training and background appropriate to the Director’s roles and responsibilities required; 
• Significant experience either litigating complex constitutional cases or experience in immigration policy development and advocacy; 
• A demonstrated dedication to civil liberties and human rights and a familiarity with and commitment to issues relating to the constitutional and civil rights of immigrants;
• An ability to develop and implement multi-faceted advocacy campaigns that include litigation, lobbying and advocacy, communications, public education,  and community organizing;
• Experience working with immigrant communities preferred;
• Demonstrated leadership skills including experience supervising and mentoring a strong and diverse team of highly-talented lawyers and/or other professional advocates;
• Excellent interpersonal and communication skills including the ability to write and speak persuasively to diverse audiences, including lawyers, advocates, funders, donors and opinion leaders;
• A strong record of working in coalition with other public interest advocates and organizations;
• A demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences, including the general public, national and local media, policy makers, and others;
• An ability to anticipate and act on events and opportunities decisively and resourcefully, to advance the Immigrant Rights Project’s vision locally, regionally, and nationally;
• Excellent analytic and writing skills; 
• Willingness and ability to travel;
• Fluency in spoken and written Spanish a significant asset.


The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale.
LOCATION:  Either the New York City or San Francisco ACLU office.


Please send a cover letter, resume and writing sample by email to - reference [IRP-05/WACLU] in subject line – or by mail to:

Human Resources
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this job posting.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, which will not be before February 26, 2011.


January 25, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Policy and Less-Skilled Workers in the United States Reflections on Future Directions for Reform by Harry Holzer

From the Urban InstituteImmigration Policy and Less-Skilled Workers in the United States Reflections on Future Directions for Reform by Harry Holzer:  This paper reviews the evidence on the effects of less-skilled immigration to the U.S., and considers the implications of this evidence for immigration reform ideas. It begins with a review of the costs of less-skilled immigration, in terms of competition to native-born American workers and fiscal costs; as well as the benefits of such immigration in the form of lower prices to consumers, higher profits for employers, and greater efficiency for the U.S. economy. The paper then reviews various reform ideas that have been proposed in Congress in recent years, and also considers a range of other ideas, that would likely raise the net benefits associated with less-skilled immigration to the U.S.


January 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Seventh Circuit finds BIA summary affirmance procedure to benefit noncitizens and not just DHS

Ward v. Holder No. 10-2063

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

2011 U.S. App. Lexis 1184 (January 21, 2011)

Ms. Ward and her daughter entered the United States on a K visa march 2004. Ms. Ward married her U.S. citizen fiancé May 2004. The marriage dissolved shortly thereafter without a filing of an adjustment of status application. Ms. Ward was placed in removal proceedings November 2006. Ms. Ward submitted a VAWA self petition which was denied April 2007. In December 2008 an immigration judge denied her application for VAWA cancellation finding that Ms. Ward was by "clear and convincing evidence" ineligible for cancellation. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s decision on March 31, 2010; a single board member issued a three page decision.

Ms. Ward’s counsel appealed to the Seventh Circuit arguing that the lengthy opinion demonstrated that the board member went beyond the scope of his power to affirm, modify, or remand an immigration decision in a "brief order" pursuant to 8 CFR Sec. 1003.1(e)(5). In other words, if the case merited a decision of such length, then it merited a three-judge panel review.

The Seventh Circuit in Martinez-Camargo v. INS 282 F.3d 487 (7th Cir. 2002) established a two-pronged test to evaluate whether the failure to adhere to an immigration administrative guideline rendered the underlying action taken invalid. The first prong is to ask whether the regulation in question serves a "purpose of benefit to the alien." The government in the present case argued that Sec. 1003.1(e)(5) was a case management regulation to help the Board handle cases and therefore not intended to benefit the alien. The Seventh Circuit disagreed stating that "The fact that the presence of a ‘need to review a clearly erroneous factual determination’ is a basis for three-member panel review underscores that the regulations were designed in the interest of justice as well as efficiency."


The second Martinez-Camargo prong requires the court to determine whether the alleged violation of the regulation set forth therein prejudices the petitioner. The Circuit found that there was neither prejudice nor a violation. 8 CFR Sec. 1003.1(e)(5) has been found not to be prejudicial in general. As to the plaintiff’s contention that the fact that the BIA board member issued a longer than average decision was not conceivable under the regulatory scheme, the circuit countered that "To require referral to a three-member panel in each case that lends itself to more than a cookie-cutter order would be contrary to the plain language of Sec. 1003.1(e)."



January 25, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

University of Miami Immigration Clinic Does Good!

The Immigration Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law, directed by Professor Rebecca Sharpless, sought guidance from USCIS about whether certain criminal dispositions constitute misdemeanors within the meaning of the Temporary Protect Status statute and regulation. Last week, USCIS issued guidance stating that a conviction in which criminal court had certified that the defendant would receive no jail time does not constitute a misdemeanor for TPS eligibility.

The Clinic had requested guidance because Florida courts routinely certify in minor cases that the defendant will not receive any jail time, thus taking away indigent defendants' right to an attorney at government expense.  Because the TPS regulation specifies that a misdemeanor is a crime "punishable by imprisonment for a term of one year or less," there was an argument that convictions obtained after a "no jail" or "no incarceration" certification fell outside the TPS definition of misdemeanor.

In its January 21, 2011 guidance, USCIS agrees with this position. The guidance states:

"The Department has concluded that a Florida "no jail" or "no incarceration" certification . . . fundamentally changes the maximum possible sentence for an offense by removing the possibility of incarceration for that offense. As a result, the Department has further concluded that an offense with such a certification . . . does not meet the definition of a misdemeanor under 8 CFR 244.1 because it would not constitute an offense punishable by imprisonment."

The guidance goes on to remind TPS adjudicators that "they are to request USCIS counsel to review any case where it appears that the applicant may be ineligible for TPS on the basis of two misdemeanors" and cites to its previous guidance about certain New York infractions (a result of advocacy by NYU's Immigrant Rights Clinic).


January 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town: Nativist Laws and the Communities They Damage


Courtesy of Southern Poverty Law Center website

Read the report from the Southern Poverty Law Center about the impacts of the state and local immigration laws promoted by newly-elected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  The four towns and one state examined in this report all saw a crisis in race relations as conflicts between Latino immigrants and mostly white natives escalated. Latinos reported being threatened, shot at, subjected to racial taunts and more. Police are having trouble getting cooperation from any in their Latino communities. Pro-immigrant activists have been threatened with notes that promise to “shed blood” to “take back” communities. The mayor of one town had his house vandalized after opposing a proposed law and was warned by federal agents to be careful; he ended up retiring after four terms in office. Angry protests and counter-protests, along with dangerously rising tensions, have rocked one town after another. In some communities, business districts have largely collapsed.

Behind all of this stands Kris Kobach, a former Kansas City law professor who was just elected Kansas secretary of state. For the better part of the last six years, Kobach has been chief legal counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). He helped to write and defend in court the laws in Hazleton, Valley Park, Farmers Branch, Fremont and Arizona.



January 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Sues Border Patrol for Retaliating against Agent for Political Beliefs


Courtesy of ACLU-NM website

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent who was fired because of his political opinions.  Bryan Gonzalez was an agent with two years of experience and excellent performance reviews when the Border Patrol terminated his employment after learning that Gonzalez held certain political opinions pertaining to drug legalization and immigration. 

Patrolling near Deming, New Mexico in April 2009, Gonzalez pulled his vehicle up next to a fellow CBP agent who was in the same vicinity. In the course of a casual discussion concerning the drug-related violence in Mexico, Gonzales remarked that he believed that legalization of drugs would be the most effective way to end the violence. He also related to the other agent that, as a former dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, he understood the economic factors that drive migrants to cross the border without documentation to seek work.

Here is the complaint in the case.


January 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: A Growing Phenomenon with Few Easy Solutions

In Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: A Growing Phenomenon with Few Easy Solutions of Migration  Information Source, Amanda Levinson provides an overview of unaccompanied child migration and the context within which children migrate. She analyzes legal and policy responses in the United States and the European Union, focusing in particular on why children migrate alone and where they originate from, how unaccompanied minors are processed through the immigration system, and the treatment they receive while in custody. The feature also examines trends in asylum decisions in both the United States and EU Member States, and relevant legislation pertaining to the phenomenon of unaccompanied child migration.


January 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The High Cost of Local Immigration Law Enforcement

From the Center for American Progress:

Unconstitutional and Costly
The High Price of Local Immigration Enforcement
By Gebe Martinez

Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the leader of the court fights for local immigration enforcement, is in the tank for at least $2.8 million with some estimates totaling $5 million as it defends its ordinance.

Read and download the full report.

A handful of local communities across our nation enacted unconstitutional, discriminatory, and costly immigration controls in recent years in an effort to chase away undocumented immigrants and their families and friends, many of whom are American citizens. This growing backlash against immigrants was driven by fear, economic uncertainty, and cultural differences in these localities: small towns in New Jersey, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Texas, and one county in Virginia.

Congress must enact a comprehensive immigration plan that realistically addresses illegal immigration. Until then, cities that act on their own will find a high price to pay. This report looks at five communities that threw anti-immigration statutes onto their books without fully considering their impact.


January 24, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

House Republican Agenda: Mass Deportation of Workers

From SEIU, NILC, AFL-CIO, and America's Volce:

House Immigration Leaders Camouflage Anti-Labor History with Pro-Worker Rhetoric

Labor and Immigration Leaders Expose their True Agenda: Mass Deportation of Immigrant Workers and Families

Washington – This week, leaders of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) are launching the GOP’s approach to immigration for the 112th Congress with a series of Immigration Subcommittee hearings that use our nation’s jobs and economic crisis to peddle a mass deportation agenda.  Labor and immigration experts highlighted the hypocrisy behind the Judiciary Committee approach, given the fact that these Members of Congress have long track records of voting against pro-worker policies, and oppose comprehensive immigration reform that would bring more employers and workers onto the tax rolls and level the playing field in the workplace. 

On the call, America’s Voice Education Fund released a new report that analyzes the Judiciary Committee members’ voting records on worker and immigration issues.  The report finds that 100% of the veteran House Judiciary Republicans earned an “F” grade from America’s leading labor unions, while the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a notorious anti-immigrant organization that has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gave each of these members an “A” grade. 

In fact, the current immigration system, designed by Rep. Smith and his colleagues in the mid-1990s, has led to a dramatic increase in spending on enforcement every year, and yet the number of undocumented immigrants in our country has grown to 11 million.  If the nation followed through on the radical mass deportation plans of Smith, Gallegly, and King, it would cost American taxpayers nearly $300 billion more to implement, and blow a $2.6 trillion hole in our nation’s economy.  Instead, requiring undocumented immigrants to be legal would ensure that they and their employers are paying their full and fair share of taxes and end the stranglehold that abusive employers have on workers.  Comprehensive immigration reform would add $5 billion in new revenue to our nation’s tax coffers and boost the overall economy by $1.5 trillion.

By cloaking themselves in a pro-worker coat but consistently voting against any real, positive labor reform, the veteran Republican leaders are engaging in dangerous policy and bad politics. 

“The scorecards don’t lie,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “These members want to expel millions of Latino immigrants – which is why they are so highly regarded by extremist organizations such as FAIR – and consistently vote against the interests of American workers – which is why they are given failing grades by the labor movement.  Their hypocrisy is blatant, their strategy of ‘attrition through enforcement’ policies is unrealistic and un-American, and the fact they are becoming the face of the Republican Party in the run up to 2012 may well doom the Republican presidential nominee.” 

“The proposals set forth by Smith, Gallegly, and other members of the House Judiciary committee are simply mass deportation masquerading as economic stimulus,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC).   “If they were truly concerned with workers’ rights and providing Americans with economic security, the House Judiciary Committee would work with members on both sides of the aisle to focus on sound policy proposals, like comprehensive immigration reform and strong labor and employment laws that will create a shared prosperity for all Americans. It’s time to stop shopping piecemeal immigration enforcement-only measures and start working together on real solutions to fix our broken immigration system and faltering economy.”

Arlene Holt-Baker, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO, continued, “With these hearings, House Republicans are attempting to recast their agenda as pro-worker but do not realize they are at risk of losing all credibility if they continue down the path of mass deportation and the status quo.  Without comprehensive immigration reform, the new leaders of the House Judiciary Committee are making this bad situation even worse.  American workers need a policy that will level the playing field, turn workers into taxpayers, and restore the rule of law.”

Eliseo Medina, International Secretary Treasurer, SEIU, concluded, “Rep. Smith, Gallegly, and King are false prophets with no interest in helping working families, they have consistently opposed policies that help workers and the American taxpayers. By failing to deliver a solution, the GOP is backing itself into a corner with Latino and labor voters that it may never be able to get out of. We cannot 'enforcement-only' our way out of this problem and doing so, as they suggest, will waste tens of billions of dollars our country doesn't have on programs that only hurt the small business owners and workers who follow the rules.”

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January 24, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)