Saturday, July 16, 2011

Building U.S. economic competitiveness through immigration reform



Gary Locke
, U.S. commerce secretary, and Carlos Gutierrez, commerce secretary under President George W. Bush (and previous ImmigrationProf Immigrant of the Day), contend that America’s economic future depends on the strength and innovative capacity of the American people. Besides educating and training our people, it means "ensuring we continue to bring to our shores those individuals with the skills, innovative capacity and entrepreneurial energy to create the jobs of the future. America in the 21st century needs a 21st-century immigration policy that meets our national security needs, but also our diverse economic needs. It’s an economic imperative."


July 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Migrants in Mexico Face Violence

From Amnesty International:

Despite a violent “war on drugs” that started five years ago, Mexicans are experiencing an increase in organized crime and drug-related violence along the Mexican border. Other criminals are not the only, perhaps even primary, target of violence.

As it has become more difficult to conduct drug trafficking due to efforts from the Mexican government, organized crime is targeting migrants from Southern Mexico and Central Americans who are attempting to reach the United States.

Already poor, migrants are kidnapped, some are tortured and many are held hostage until their families in the United States provides tens of thousands of dollars, raised in communities and second mortgages on their homes. If a migrant does not have family in the U.S. who can pay for her/his release, the migrant may well be tortured and killed as an example to other kidnapped migrants and their families on the phone. Read more...


July 16, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Guillermo Linares (Dominican Republic)

Guillermo Linares
, a member of the New York Assembly, is the first Dominican-born elected to public office in the United States.  He served from 1992 to 2001 in the New York City Council, where he advocated for education, health services, affordable housing, and immigrant rights. On November 2, 2010, Dr. Linares was elected as a member of the New York State Assembly, 72nd District, representing Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill in Northern Manhattan.

Linares served as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (2004-09). He shares the experiences and aspirations of immigrant New Yorkers, having left his native Dominican Republic and arrived in the Bronx in 1966.  Assemblyman Linares drove a taxi for long hours to support his family and at the same time pursued a higher education.

Linares earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s of Science degree from City College and a professional diploma in administration and supervision from Fordham University. He recently achieved his doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Linares is married to a public school principal, has two children and a granddaughter.


July 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 15, 2011

A U.S. Citizen Child in a Mixed Immigration Status Family

NPR tells an interesting Astory of Alicia Martinez's family that illustrates some of the complexities of the debate over illegal immigration. Martinez's parents and her older sister came here illegally, while she was born in the U.S. and is a citizen.


July 15, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ninth Circuit Abandons Lujan-Armendariz Re: Minor Drug Offenses

From Kathy Brady of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

[Yesterday] the Ninth Circuit en banc withdrew from the Lujan-Armendariz decision and held that "rehabilitative relief" will no longer eliminate a first conviction for simple possession or a similar other minor drug offense.   Generally, rehabilitative relief is expungement or other withdrawal of plea after successful completion of probation, such as, in California, under DEJ, P.C. 1203.4, or Prop 36.   See decision in Nunez-Reyes v. Holder at

The good news is that the opinion will apply only PROSPECTIVELY.  Convictions received after the date of publication of the opinion -- i.e. beginning July 15 or perhaps today -- will not get the benefit.   The Court held:

"For those aliens convicted before the publication date of this decision,  Lujan-Armendariz applies.   For those aliens convicted after  the   publication date  of   this  decision,   Lujan-Armendariz is overruled."

Example:  Marcy pled guilty to possession of meth in April 2011.  She will get it expunged in January 2012.  The expungement will get rid of the conviction for immigration purposes. For example, Marcy will be able to immigrate through a family visa petition. 
But if Tracy pleads guilty to the same offense on July 15, 2011, an expungement never will help.   She will need to get the conviction vacated on grounds of legal invalidity -- a difficult and expensive process.

In addition, the court held that being under the influence of a drug is not subject to Lujan, and it will apply that rule retroactively.

Example: Maurice pled guilty to being under the influence of methamphetamines, not to possession.  He completed probation and withdrew the plea in 2009, and thought this was all right under Lujan.  The Lujan rule still would apply to his conviction, because it occurred before July 14, 2011.   However, the court has held that under the influence never should have been covered by Lujan in the first place. Therefore in any immigration proceedings taking place today, he will have a conviction.

We'll analyze the decision later, but we want to get the word out, especially to immigration and criminal defense advocates in Ninth Circuit states.  Many thanks to the many people who worked so hard on amici briefs in Nunez, and who at least got the prospective-only ruling.

Katherine Brady
Senior Staff Attorney
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
1663 Mission Street, Suite 602
San Francisco CA 94103


July 15, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Diversity Visa Lottery Winners to be Announced

The Washington Post reports: Federal officials in Washington today will announce the results of a new drawing for the program, which attracts millions of applicants worldwide and each year provides about 50,000 immigrants a legal route to permanent residency in the United States.

The would-be winners had filed a class-action requesting that a federal court reinstate their selection and block the new drawing. But on Thursday afternoon U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied the injunction and dismissed the case.

The mix-up over this year’s drawing for the program, the Diversity Visa Lottery, comes as some lawmakers question whether it should continue. On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee will discuss a bill to do away with the lottery.

To read more of this story, please visit


July 15, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Striking Out in Phoenix: MLB's Lack of Respect for Latinos by Alvaro Huerta

Alvaro Huerta Ph.D. Candidate at UC Berkeley’s Dept. of City & Regional Planning and Visiting Scholar at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig recently struck out, big time, by stubbornly refusing to relocate the 82nd All-Star Game from Phoenix, Arizona, to another city due to the desert state’s racist immigration law, SB 1070. Although the core of this draconian law remains under a federal court injunction, if Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has her way, it can go all the way to the conservative-dominated Supreme Court and set a devastating legal precedent against 50 million Latinos in the U.S..

Petitioned by numerous civil rights and immigrant advocate groups to take a moral and financial position against a law that promotes racial profiling against all Latinos, especially since SB 1070 allows for police officers and other government officials to demand legal documents against individuals under the guise of “reasonable suspicion.” The fundamental problem here is that those most likely to be targeted will be brown-skinned individuals and those with Spanish-surnames. Despite this fact, Segil and the owners of the major league baseball teams don’t care that almost 30% of the MLB baseball players—those of Latin American decent with Spanish surnames like Gonzalez, Mariano and Rodriguez—will be directly impacted by this racist law that has spread like wildfire to other states, such as Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

Taking the so-called apolitical position that America’s greatest pastime will not get involved in a law that should be settled through the political process, Segil conveniently ignores the fact that locating the All-Star Game in Phoenix in the first place represents a political act. It’s no secret that major U.S. cities compete against each other to secure the next major sports event like the MLB World Series, National Football League Super Bowl or National Basketball Association World Championship.

Not only do governors and mayors get involved in this competitive process on behalf of their states and cities to capture the financial and publicity benefits of major professional games, but also key business interests that benefit directly from those individuals and families who purchase tickets, consume food, drink alcohol, rent hotels, attend tourist attractions and buy memorabilia.

This is not the first time that the Latino community has been taken for granted by major league baseball. In the mid-1900s, for example, then-Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley and his friends had no problem in displacing an entire Latino community, Chavez Ravine, to make room for the new tenants: the Los Angeles Dodgers. By labeling the barrio as “blighted,” the Housing Authority of Los Angeles in cahoots with the federal government utilized eminent domain—the legal practice of taking private property from individuals for the common good—to forcefully clear the land of its longtime residents. While originally intended for public housing projects, O’Malley and his power friends in City Hall eventually prevailed by locating a professional baseball team in a major market like Los Angeles. To the present, living family members who lost their homes vividly remember this tragic American story.

Despite this dark history, Latino fans continue to wear Dodger blue, spend their hard-earned money on tickets, parking, over-priced beer and Dodger Dogs. And what do the Latino baseball fans get in return for their loyalty? A dysfunctional owner, Frank McCourt, and an insensitive commissioner who refuses to meet one simple demand from Latino and Latina leaders: to relocate a major league baseball game to another state on the basic premise that we, as a society, can’t reward racist and inhospitable states against Latinos.

Is this too much to ask? Didn’t the NFL relocate the Super Bowl in 1993 from Phoenix to Pasadena, California, since this same desert state refused to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a paid holiday?

How can the MLB continue to boast about being a leader in the civil rights movement with the historic case of Jackie Robinson—the first great African American baseball ball player in 1947 to break the dehumanizing color line—when it ignores Arizona’s institutional racism against Latinos in general and immigrants in particular?

While it’s too late for the MLB to reverse its course on the recently played All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011, it’s not too late for the millions of Latino baseball fans in this country to sit on the bench, permanently, when the next baseball game takes place in any field. Instead of pleading for change, Latinos need to learn from the brave African American men and woman who refused to take the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955, until they received the dignity and respect that they deserved.

July 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Border Safer than Ever, Quality over Quantity Will Move us Forward

USA Today released on Friday an in-depth analysis of FBI crime data revealing that rates of violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border have been declining for years. The analysis uses more than a decade of crime data compiled by more than 1,600 local law enforcement agencies in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas showing that “U.S. border cities were statistically safer … and have maintained lower crime rates than the national average.”  This investigative report stands in stark contrast with politicians’ accounts of a border out of control and overrun with violence. Simply put, the political rhetoric does not match the border reality.

Amid a growing national debate about immigration, Americans keep hearing the Washington mantra of “Border security first. Then address immigration reform.” This shortsighted argument not only ignores the fact that, as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has stated, “the border is as secure as it’s ever been” but it has become a stumbling block to much-needed discussions on how to effectively reform our immigration system. The National Immigration Forum has compiled an extensive Resource Guide with information on border security for members of the press.


July 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

California Dream Act Goes to Governor's Desk

From California State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo:

I am pleased to report that Assembly Bill (AB) 130, one half of the California Dream Act, just passed the State Senate floor [yesterday] and is now headed to the Governor's desk for his hopeful signature. AB 130 allows AB 540 students full access to California's higher education system. It enables these hard-working students who have met the UC, CSU or community college academic requirements to receive scholarships from private sources.

Although the passage of AB 130 from the legislature to the Governor is a monumental step towards providing educational opportunities to AB 540 students, the task is not complete until both portions of the California Dream Act, AB 130 & 131, are signed into law. We have to continue to work together, as a community of Angelenos and Californians, to get these bills passed, because AB 540 students represent both our present and our future.

We can never achieve our highest aspirations as a state if we cannot guarantee access to higher education for the children of our state who, through no fault of their own, happen to be in the country without documentation. AB 540 students will one day be the doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs that return to the California communities they came from hoping to make a difference. As such, I am proud to author AB 130 & AB 131.

Assemblymember, 45th Assembly District


July 15, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Dinaw Mengestu (Ethiopia)

Dinaw Mengestu is an award-winning American novelist and writer, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In addition to two novels, he has written for Rolling Stone on the war in Darfur, and for Jane Magazine on the conflict in northern Uganda. His writing has also appeared in Harper's, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications.

Mengestu's family left Ethiopia when he was two years old; he was raised in Peoria, Illinois and, later, the suburbs of Chicago. He received his B.A. in English from Georgetown University, and his MFA in fiction from Columbia University.

Mengestu's début novel, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, was published in 2007. It tells the story of Sepha Stephanos, who seventeen years ago fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States.

Mengestu's second novel, How to Read the Air, was released in 2010.Part of the novel was excerpted in the July 12, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, after Mengestu was selected as one of their "20 under 40" writers of 2010.


July 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Labor Standards Enforcement Should Become a Pillar of Federal and State Immigration Policymaking Agendas

As the United States struggles with high rates of unemployment and involuntary part-time employment, enforcement of labor laws should become a higher priority, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) concludes in a new report that recommends federal and state governments and other stakeholders make labor standards enforcement a pillar of their immigration policymaking agendas. The presence of vulnerable workers, including unauthorized immigrants, influences labor standards compliance, as does the necessity of many businesses to cut costs. Low-wage workers, especially unauthorized immigrants, face significant challenges, ranging from nonpayment of wages to poor working conditions and unrealized collective bargaining rights. Yet budgetary limitations constrain the ability of enforcement agencies — at both federal and state levels — to carry out their mandates.

The MPI report is Labor Standards Enforcement and Low-Wage Immigrants: Creating an Effective Enforcement System.  IT analyzes the elements necessary for an effective labor standards enforcement system and details the enforcement records of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The report, by MPI Vice President for Programs Donald Kerwin, focuses on enforcement in industries and firms with heavy concentrations of low-wage immigrant workers, such as the fast-food, garment manufacturing and agriculture industries.

The report includes data from 13 states that completed an MPI survey of their labor standards enforcement practices: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington state. The report finds that state resources devoted to labor standards enforcement rival the nearly $1.1 billion appropriated by the federal government in fiscal 2010 for WHD, OSHA and NLRB enforcement activities, and recommends that the federal and state governments work more closely with each other and with local governments, business and trade associations, labor unions, worker centers and others to leverage knowledge and resources.

The report, which highlights gaps and anomalies in labor protection, recommends that Congress extend core labor protections to categories of workers now exempt, to unauthorized workers and to others not meaningfully afforded protections. It also argues that Congress should strengthen penalties for labor standards violations in order to promote compliance and deter violations.

The MPI report queries whether enhanced labor standards enforcement might lead to reduced illegal immigration and employment of unauthorized immigrants, and suggests further study is necessary.


July 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Re-Thinking Illegal Entry and Re-Entry by Doug Keller

Re-Thinking Illegal Entry and Re-Entry by Doug Keller Georgetown University Law Center

Abstract: This Article traces the history of two federal crimes that have long supplemented the civil immigration system and now make up nearly half of all federal prosecutions: illegal entry and illegal re-entry. Little has previously been written about the historical lineage of either crime, despite the supporting role each has played in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, particularly along the U.S.-Mexico border. This Article takes a critical look at the use of each crime -- from when they were initially conceived of as a way to deter illegal immigration, then as a way to target dangerous aliens, and most recently as a way to do both. These shifting strategies, however, have all had one thing in common -- ineffectiveness. The crimes have never meaningfully deterred illegal immigration, and the government’s poorly designed proxy to determine if an alien is “dangerous” has ensured that prosecutions have not made the public safer. The most recent period has been particularly troubling -- over 75,000 combined prosecutions a year, at the cost of well over a billion dollars a year and at the expense of prosecuting more serious crimes. Despite these huge costs and the related human carnage, the criminalization of illegal entry and re-entry is invariably left out of the discussion of comprehensive immigration reform, which is emblematic of the silent treatment these crimes have received in the literature on immigration policy and criminal law more generally. By reviewing eight decades worth of ineffective strategy, this Article makes a case for why the enforcement of the crimes of illegal entry and re-entry warrants more attention and a fundamental re-thinking.

BLOGGER'S NOTE:  I am not sure that there could be a hotter topic than this one in all of immigration law.


July 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

House Judiciay Hearing Today on Restrictive Proposals

From the Immigration Policy Center:

More Fear and Loathing from the House Judiciary Committee
Committee to Take Up Reps. Smith and Goodlatte's Restrictive Immigration Bills

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up two immigration bills that supposedly address community safety, but in reality are simply the latest attempts to restrict immigration and limit due process for immigrants. Neither Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) “Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011,” or Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) “Security and Fairness Enhancement for America Act of 2011” (SAFE Act) offer solutions to the immigration crisis. Instead, Chairman Smith’s bill would authorize indefinite detention for a wide range of immigrants, while Rep. Goodlatte’s bill would eliminate the diversity visa—a lottery that offers 50,000 visas per year to immigrants from countries that send few people to the U.S. Once more, the House Judiciary Committee is using fear to restrict our immigration system.

While studies have repeatedly shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, “The Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011” attempts to exploit the public’s fear of crime to advance an anti-immigration agenda. The bill would expand the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to subject certain immigrants to indefinite—that is, potentially life-long—detention, even though the Supreme Court has held that such detention raises serious constitutional concerns. The bill relies on the continued detention of immigrants—many of whom have never committed a crime—as a stand-in for fixing the underlying problems of our broken immigration system. Similarly, the deceptively titled SAFE Act simply eliminates 50,000 visas that currently go to immigrants from many countries in Africa and elsewhere that have less of a tradition of immigrating to the U.S. 

Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center, noted:

“The cynical use of public safety to justify dramatic changes in our immigration laws is a tired argument that must be put to rest. Whether the issue is eliminating visas in the name of public safety or justifying the detention of thousands in order to avoid dealing with institutional barriers to returning some individuals to their countries, the bills before the House Judiciary Committee offer no real solutions to our immigration problems. Proposing a bill that would increase governments costs, fail to use DHS resources against actual threats to public safety, put further strain on the judicial system and weaken due process protections by sanctioning indefinite detention does not make us safer. The pressure is on Congress to pass practical solutions to our very real immigration problems, not to use demagoguery and rhetoric—while ignoring the facts—to advance an anti-immigrant agenda.”

For more information, see:

Rep. Lamar Smith’s “Keep Our Community Safe Act of 2011” Creates More Problems than Solutions (IPC Fact Check, July 2011)


July 14, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Prosecutorial Discretion and the Legacy of John Lennon By Leon Wildes and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Prosecutorial Discretion and the Legacy of John Lennon By Leon Wildes and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Most remember John Lennon as a former Beatle, a brilliant musician, husband to artist Yoko Ono, and target for deportation by the Nixon Administration. Less known is the story of how Lennon’s immigration saga enabled the first public discussion on prosecutorial discretion in immigration law. After Lennon was placed in deportation proceedings, his immigration attorney, Leon Wildes, tried to obtain information for more than a year about INS’ policy for exercising prosecutorial discretion without success. A favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion refers to the agency’s decision to not assert the full scope of enforcement authority available to the agency in a given case. Unable to get far in his correspondence with INS, Wildes filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. As a result of the lawsuit, in 1975, Wildes received copies of the cases that had been granted prosecutorial discretion as well as the agency’s policy on prosecutorial discretion (then dubbed non-priority status). The policy became public for the first time and appeared as an “Operations Instruction,” identifying youth, elderly age, long-time presence in the United States, a physical or mental health condition requiring care in the United States, and family ties as reasons why the agency should consider exercising prosecutorial discretion favorably. Subsequent agency memoranda from the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service and Department of Homeland Security have continued to favor prosecutorial discretion when these sympathetic factors are present. Our research of cases over several years also indicates that the favorable factors articulated in the 1975 Operations Instruction continue to be significant indicators for a favorable grant of prosecutorial discretion.

The role of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law was highlighted most recently in June 2011. Immigration Enforcement chief John Morton issued a comprehensive memo on the use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters.

Building on the factors published as a result of the Lennon case, the Morton Memo lists several circumstances that should trigger a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion, noting that “particular care and consideration” should be given to long-time green card holders; minors and elderly individuals; those present in the U.S. since childhood; persons suffering a serious medical condition; and victims of domestic violence, trafficking, or other serious crimes; among others. The Morton Memo also clarifies the authority of Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys to exercise discretion in any immigration removal hearing even when the charging officer is from outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This authority is significant because it allows the agency’s trial to serve as a “check” within a system where nearly every immigration officer (including those from the services agency known as United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has the authority to bring charges against a noncitizen. The Morton Memo also empowers Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees to consider cases for prosecutorial discretion early in the enforcement process and without relying on an affirmative request by an attorney. This clause is important because prosecutorial discretion has largely operated as a program reserved for seasoned private immigration attorneys with special relationships within the agency. The Morton Memo brings potential to level the playing field for individuals to qualify for prosecutorial discretion if a specific set of equitable factors are present. Like with previous memoranda, the Morton Memo highlights the relationship between prosecutorial discretion and ICE’s limited monies to remove the entire unauthorized population, and further concludes that any exercise of prosecutorial discretion is tenuous at best and does not result in a right or benefit to the noncitizen.

Nevertheless, critics believe the Morton Memo serves as a new backdoor “amnesty” or circumvention of Congress in the wake of failed congressional action on immigration. Select members of Congress have gone so far as to announce legislation to prevent the administration from exercising prosecutorial discretion. But that is politics. The importance of prosecutorial discretion was revealed long ago with the case of John Lennon. More than thirty-five years later, prosecutorial discretion continues to serve as a smart enforcement policy that allows the immigration agency to prioritize its limited resources and place sympathetic cases on the backburner. Ultimately, the impact of the Morton Memo is important and can be measured only with diligent oversight by the private bar, Congress and the agency’s own watchdogs.



July 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

9/11 Registration and the Morton Memo by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Penn State)

On June 17, 2011, Immigration Enforcement chief Head John Morton issued an important policy memo on the use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters. Prosecutorial discretion authorizes immigration officers and attorneys to channel their limited enforcement resources towards the most dangerous, while placing sympathetic cases involving individuals with favorable qualities like full-time fathers, serious medical conditions, long-time employees and students with strong ties to the U.S. on hold. The use of prosecutorial discretion dates back to the 1970s, but Morton’s new memo is significant because it affirms the equities agents should consider in its discretion, empowers ICE attorneys to drop charges in low priority cases, and encourages ICE to consider prosecutorial discretion without waiting for an attorney to file a request.

So what does the Morton Memo mean for the Muslim men and boys caught up in the 9/11 dragnet called special registration? Shortly after 9/11, former Attorney General Ashcroft announced and later regulated a special registration program in which individuals were fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated by local immigration officers at airports and local immigration offices. The program was controversial from the start by attempting to find potential terrorists by religious and nationality-based profiling. The program was also riddled with other due process concerns ranging from the lack of notice (who reads the Federal Register with their breakfast?), hurdles for lawyers denied access to these registrations, and overbroad criminal and immigration consequences for non-compliance. Controversy turned to chaos as thousands of men who voluntary reported were detained, served deportation papers and removed in exchange for their compliance. Ironically, the agency’s decision to place 13,000-plus law-abiding teenagers and young men in removal proceedings because of an NSEERS snafu or status violation was a great abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

While the NSEERS program was scaled back in 2003 and most recently this past April, the problems associated with NSEERS linger nearly ten years later. Imagine, a now 25 year old married to a U.S. citizen or working for a U.S. employer who perhaps had no knowledge about registration at the ripe age of 16 and as consequence is denied a green card because he “failed” to register under NSEERS. Imagine, a now breadwinner and primary caretaker to elderly parents or U.S. citizen living in the U.S. who is facing removal because he was afraid to register under NSEERS based on the detentions and deportation faced by his neighbors or relatives. And consider, Mohammed G. Azam, a Bangladeshi man with compelling qualities who was placed in removal proceeding after complying with NSEERS in 2003 and only after years of counsel from a top immigration lawyer and an article in the New York Times, is no longer a priority for DHS.

Short of a complete repeal of the punishments associated with these registrations, it is critical that ICE apply the Morton Memo on Prosecutorial Discretion favorably towards NSEERS branded people who have laid down roots in the U.S., built families, and contributed to the U.S. economy and in short, possess the equities listed in the Morton Memo.

July 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Yakov Smirnoff (Ukraine)

Yakov Smirnoff
, is a Ukrainian-born comedian. He was popular in the 1980s for comedic use of  irony and word play to contrast life under the Communist Soviet Union with life in the United States. He has a theatre in Branson, Missouri, where he performs regularly.

Yakov has taught a class at Missouri State on "The Business of Laughter."



July 14, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


Fewer Mexican immigrants returned home from the United States during 2008 and 2009 than in the two years prior to the start of the recession, a finding that contradicts the notion that the economic downturn has hastened return migration to Mexico, according to a new RAND Corporation study. The study, published online by the journal Demography, is the first to track return migration trends by analyzing household survey information routinely collected by the Mexican government.

“The recession in the United States and the global financial crisis did not increase the number of immigrants returning to Mexico,” said Michael Rendall, the study’s lead author and director of the RAND Population Research Center. “Migration in both directions between the United States and Mexico slowed during the recession, but our findings show there was no rush by Mexican immigrants to return home.”

The researchers found declines in return migration among labor-migrant groups of men and 18- to 40-year-old migrants who have less than a college education, as well as a decline in total return migration in the fourth quarter of 2008 immediately after the triggering of the global financial crisis. For example, while return migration to Mexico during the fourth quarters of 2006 and 2007 totaled 117,120 and 133,490, the numbers dropped to 95,238 and 79,959 during the fourth quarters of 2008 and 2009, according to the study.

The researchers say the findings are broadly consistent with earlier studies about migration patterns between Mexico and the United States during the U.S. recessions of the early 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The results also are consistent with findings from Europe that found no exodus of immigrants from France and Germany during the 1973 oil crisis or from Spain during the current financial crisis.

“Experience shows that economic troubles slow migration in both directions across a border,” Rendall said. “The Mexican immigrants who are in the United States have not been returning to Mexico in larger-than-usual numbers, but inflow into the United States has fallen sharply.”

The researchers say one explanation for the findings is the “target earner hypothesis,” which is based on the belief that an immigrant chooses the date of return to their country of origin based on when he or she achieves a planned savings level. “This theory suggests that immigrants stay in the United States until they have achieved a certain levels of savings, even if they face a period when their earnings drop and employment becomes harder to find,” Rendall said.

The study is based on information collected by Mexico’s National Survey of Occupation and Employment, a quarterly survey of 100,000 households that asks a wide variety of questions about family members. Among the questions asked is whether households have new members who were in another country during the previous quarter. Since the RAND study is the first to use the Mexican survey as a basis for evaluating return migration, researchers first conducted analysis to validate the National Survey of Occupation and Employment as an appropriate tool to use for tracking return migration.


July 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lamar Smith Flip Flop on Prosecutorial Discretion

The N.Y. Times editorial board has called Rep. Lamar Smith on an immigration flip flop.  Smith criticized ICE head for his June memorandum asking his officials to exercise prosecutorial discretion in removal cases and to take factors into account, such as an immigrant’s family ties in the United States and education status, when deciding which deportation cases to pursue.   But, "Back in 1999, Mr. Smith was one of several members of Congress who wrote the attorney general and the head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, arguing that `unfair' deportations had caused `unjustifiable hardship' for otherwise law-abiding immigrants who had jobs and families and close citizen relatives."

I agree with Rep. Smith's 1999 position.

Representatiove Smith long has been a fan of immigration enforcement and currently is pushing a bill directed an increased detention of "criminal aliens."  For a critical analysis of this bill ("Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011,” or H.R. 1932), see here.


July 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration detainees: Lost in America

Talia Inlender, a staff attorney at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, in this L.A. Times op/ed tells the human costs of the failure of the immigration court system to ensure the basic due process rights of immigrant detainees with mental disabilities.

Inlender is part of a team, which includes the ACLU, the law firm of Sullivan Cromwell and immigrants' rights and mental health organizations, litigating Franco-Gonzalez vs. Holder, a class-action lawsuit seeking appointment of counsel for immigration detainees with severe mental disabilities.


July 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Control the Border: Invest in Mexico

From my Huffington Post column:

If you believe that undocumented Mexican migration is a problem, and you believe that the reason most undocumented migrants come to the United States is to work, then it really does not take a brain surgeon to understand that the way to address the challenge is to help Mexico with its economy and its own unemployment problem. This is especially so if you realize that Mexico has lost countless jobs since NAFTA went into effect in 1994.

The effect that bailing out the Mexican economy would have was illustrated in a long-term survey of emigration patterns done by Douglas Massey of Princeton showing that interest in heading to the United States had fallen to its lowest level since at least the 1950s. "No one wants to hear it, but the flow has already stopped," Massey told the New York Times. "For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative." The primary reasons: The Mexican birth rate has fallen to about two children per woman from nearly seven in 1970; Mexico's education system and economy have improved to a point more young people choose to stay (per family income is up 45 percent this decade); and drug violence along Mexico's border is likely deterring those who do think of crossing. It seems that stepped-up border enforcement and Arizona SB1070-type laws have little to do with the decline.

Whether or not you believe that "net traffic has gone to zero," for those who advocate control of the borders there is everything to gain by pushing for greater investment in Mexico. Read more....


July 13, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)