Saturday, March 31, 2012

More Than 20 Briefs Oppose SB 1070

Proponents of Arizona SB 1070 often insist that the infamous immigration law enjoys considerable public support. Yet even if such claims are correct, one would hardly know it from the flood of briefs filed at the Supreme Court this week opposing the measure. Unlike the monolithic set of briefs filed last month in support of SB 1070, the briefs opposing the law were submitted by a strikingly broad range of parties—from commissioners of the former INS, to more than 40 cities and counties, to a group of law enforcement officials that includes an Arizona sheriff whose county shares a border with Mexico. Read more...


March 31, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Expansion of Prosecutorial Discretion Review

The Washington Post and Huffington Post are reporting that ICE’s ongoing review of existing deportation cases will expand to six new cities in the coming months. Initially launched in Baltimore and Denver in 2011, the initiative will soon expand to Seattle, Detroit, New Orleans and Orlando, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. The idea behind the initiative is to clear historic backlogs in the immigration courts by administratively closing cases that ICE considers to be low priority.Read more....


March 31, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 30, 2012

UCLA Symposium: Southeast Asian Americans and the Law

Claiming Our Rights:
Southeast Asian American Communities
Making Change Through the Law
Friday, April 6, 2012 | UCLA School of Law
Free Online Registration Here
5.5 MCLE Hours

The UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal (APALJ) invites you to join us on Friday, April 6, for a free, one-day symposium on Southeast Asian American communities creating change through the law.  Register for Claiming Our Rights by clicking here. 

UCLA School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.  This activity qualifies for 5.5 hours of general MCLE credit.

For additional information and updates about Claiming Our Rights, visit our website, email us at, and follow us on Twitter at @apalj. 

Registration                                           8:30-9:30 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks           9:30-9:45 am
Rachel F. Moran, Dean, UCLA School of Law
Jasleen Kohli, Director, UCLA Law Critical Race Studies Program

Panel 1: Criminal Deportation:              9:45-11:15 am
The Harmful Impacts and Strategies
for Reform
Moderated by: Helly Lee, Policy Director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Bill Hing, Professor of Law, USF School of Law
Shiu-Ming Cheer, Immigration Attorney, National Immigration Law Center
Jacqueline Dan, Staff Attorney, Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Mia-lia Kiernan, Co-Founder and Organizer, One Love Movement
David Ros, One Love Movement
Lunchtime Speaker                               11:15-11:35 am
Doua Thor, Executive Director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Lunch                                                    11:35-12:35 pm
Keynote Speaker                                  12:35-12:55 pm
Judge Jacqueline Duong, Santa Clara County Superior Court

Panel 2: Community Safety:                 12:55-2:25 pm
Challenging Profiling and
Moderated by: Jyoti Nanda, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Khin Mai Aung, Director, Educational Equity and Youth Rights Project, AALDEF
Lian Cheun, Interim Executive Director, Khmer Girls in Action
Angela Chan, Managing Attorney, Criminal Justice Reform Project, Asian Law Caucus
Hiroshi Motomura, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Break                                                        2:25-2:40 pm
Panel 3: Community Lawyering               2:40-4:10 pm
for Environmental, Housing, and
Economic Justice

Moderated by: Jerry Kang, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Sissy Trinh, Executive Director, Southeast Asian Community Alliance 
Serena Lin, Senior Staff Attorney, Community Development Project, Public Counsel
An Le, Community Engagement Project Director, APALC
Chancee Martorell, Executive Director, Thai Community Development Center
Kathleen Kim, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School

Reception                                                 4:10-5:30 pm


March 30, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: To License or Not to License? A Look at Differing Approaches to Policing the Activities of Nonlawyer Immigration Service Providers by Career Shannon


"To License or Not to License? A Look at Differing Approaches to Policing the Activities of Nonlawyer Immigration Service Providers" Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, p. 437, December 2011 Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 366 by CAREEN SHANNON, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. 

Abstract: State (and some local) governments have struggled to find ways to protect immigrants from exploitation by persons falsely holding themselves out as immigration lawyers or claiming expertise as notarios or immigration consultants. Existing legislation ranges from attempts to regulate the activities of nonlawyer immigration service providers (ISPs) by delineating prohibited practices; to requiring ISPs to post a bond or register with the state; to specifically restricting the provision of immigration assistance for compensation by any nonlawyer who is not accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to transcription, translation, document procurement and related clerical tasks. A comparative look at the current law in New York - and at suggestions that enforcement would be enhanced if ISPs were required to obtain a license - on the one hand, and at a new law in the State of Washington that seeks to ban the activities of ISPs altogether on the other hand, highlights both the advantages and shortcomings of these approaches. To sidestep the pitfalls associated with licensing or otherwise regulating ISPs, officials might consider an alternative approach, and replace laws regulating ISPs with laws that specifically target, and ban, the unauthorized practice of immigration law and that mete out serious punishment for egregious, willful violations - while providing legitimate nonprofit religious, charitable, and community-based organizations with no mens rea to do harm with the opportunity to avoid sanctions if they seek recognition and accreditation by the BIA.


March 30, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Achievement Awards

The American Immigration Council Announces 
Honorees for the 2012 Immigrant Achievement Awards 

Washington D.C. - The American Immigration Council is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Immigrant Achievement Awards. The Awards celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of immigrants in innovation and entrepreneurship. The Council will celebrate the honorees on March 29, 2012, as part the 17th Annual Washington D.C. Immigrant Achievement Awards. The honorees include: 
Immigrant Achievement Awards:

Dr. Jane E. Shaw, Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation and Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Assoc. Prof., Neurosurgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

Immigrant Youth Achievement Award: Vineet Singal, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Anjna.

Stephen K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award: The Vilcek Foundation, Founders, Jan and Marica Vilcek.

“Each year we receive dozens of nominations that highlight immigrants who are making remarkable contributions to America” said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “This year’s focus is on the important mark immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators are making on America. However our event seeks to remind everyone about the enduring and significant contributions immigrants make, in all fields, and at all levels, every day."### For more information, contact Wendy Sefsaf at or 202-507-7524.

March 30, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mississippi Can’t Afford Alabama’s Mistake

Say NO to HB 488!

By Cathy Montoya, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

A recent study from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama found that because of HB56 (Alabama’s new immigration law), Alabama’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could shrink by up to $10.8 billion.  Prof. Addy estimates that a loss of 40,000 to 80,000 unauthorized immigrants who earn between $15,000 and $35,000 annually could result in: • 70,000 to 140,000 lost jobs;• $2.3 to $10.8 billion reduction in Alabama GDP, or 1.3 to 6.2 percent of the state’s $172.6 billion GDP in 2010;• $57 to $264 million loss in state income and sales tax collections; and• $20 to $93 million loss in local sales tax collections.

Can Mississippi afford such a law?

House Bill 488:  “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.” by Reps. Becky Currie, Arnold, Boyd, Brown (20th), Carpenter, Chism, Formby, Gipson, Huddleston (15th), Massengill, Monsour, Moore, Staples, Turner, Zuber. Referred to House Judiciary B & Education Committees. In it’s opening paragraph it states  that “the intent  of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state agencies and local governments in Mississippi.” Is this not ethnic cleansing?

HB488 includes:• State mandated racial profiling – if during a lawful stop, arrest of detention, any law enforcement official, be they municipal or state, if such official has reasonable suspicion that individual is residing in the United States without authorization, the official will make a reasonable attempt to determine.• Undermining the education of all students in Mississippi – schools will determine the resident status of children at the time of enrollment, and then collect and compile such data.  • State elimination of local control – no government entity shall restrict a government official from providing or maintaining information regarding peoples’ immigration status for purposes of certain official business.  No government employee shall limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration law.  • State interference with business – all must prove their authorized resident status before making any transaction with any municipal or MS state entity (automobile-related, business license).• Tying the hands of law enforcement – mandates that law enforcement must verify immigration status when making a warrantless arrest.  • Hampers business – requires employers to federally verify new employees and keep records for at least three years, while granting the authority to any government entity to bring sanctions or seek penalties against businesses for hiring unauthorized foreign nationals.
Mississippi has the opportunity to keep moving forward or to return to its dark past. We urge the legislature to vote NO on HB488!. . .Urgent Request for Funds!Can you help the struggle against HB488?MIRA's continued fight against against this legislation is depleting our resources.
Since the takeover of the entire state government by public officials who want to drive immigrants, and particularly Hispanics, out of our state, we have been engaged in an intense battle to defeat their efforts.

You can see the work we've been doing in what you've read in the previous issues of MIRA Weekly Action. You may also have received our emergency communications, so you know what immigrants are up against.

The struggle to protect and expand the rights of immigrant workers in Mississippi depends on your support. Your contributions are vital.

URGENT! Please donate now.
Send donations to:
Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA)P.O. Box 1104Jackson, MS  39215-1104601-968-5182 (voice)601-968-5183 (fax)


March 30, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Immigration Article of the Day: Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit: Bureaucratic Incorporation of Immigrants in Federal Workplace Agencies by Ming Hsu Chen


"Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit: Bureaucratic Incorporation of Immigrants in Federal Workplace Agencies" U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-03 MING HSU CHEN, University of Colorado Law School.

ABSYRACT: This article integrates legal scholarship on immigrant workers with social science theory about the role of bureaucracies in the construction of rights. More specifically, it contends that immigrants’ rights can be protected when workplace agencies integrate immigrants into their law enforcement activities, in accordance with their professional ethos and without regard to personal politics. Building on the concept of bureaucratic incorporation, I argue that regulatory agencies will resist contractions of workers’ rights when their staff’s commitments as civil servants and lawyers clash with judicial interpretations of immigrants’ rights. The implication is that strongly pro-immigrant politics are not necessary for the recovery of immigrants’ rights. Instead, entrenched institutional commitments to the rule of law and legal ethics sometimes suffice. Empirical evidence of regulatory responses to immigrant workers after Hoffman Plastic v. NLRB in three federal agencies serve as comparative case studies: the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board. Characterizing the regulatory responses to Hoffman Plastic variously as “buffering,” “mitigating,” and “reconfiguring,” the article contends that social science theory and empirical data about bureaucracies illuminate opportunities for understanding and protecting immigrant workers’ rights missed by immigration scholars in the legal academy.


March 29, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

From the Bookshelves: A Titanic Love Story: Ida and Isidor Straus by June Hall McCash


A Titanic Love Story: Ida and Isidor Straus by June Hall McCash (2012)

This book traces the life of Isidor and Ida Straus, both German Jewish immigrants who arrived as children in America in the early 1850s. Isidor s father, Lazarus, was an itinerate peddler in Georgia, but within one generation the family became the wealthy owners of Macy s Department Store in New York. A Titanic Love Story follows the Strauses life from Talbotton, Georgia, where an anti-Semitic incident caused them to move to nearby Columbus. The devastation of Columbus at the end of the Civil War brought the family to New York, where Isidor met and eventually married the young Ida Blun. Ida and Isidor balanced the demands of business, family, and service to others and carved out their individual roles in those domains.  A Titanic Love Story emphasizes their work together as a couple, focusing not only on Isidor s important roles as businessman, member of congress, and philanthropist, but also on Ida s contributions as an intelligent partner, the soul of the household, and matriarch of the family, as well as a stalwart supporter of her husband and one who engaged in philanthropic and creative activities of her own. The Strauses were wealthy Jews within their New York community, and as people committed to the welfare of their family, their city, their country, and those less fortunate than themselves, they dealt with their own grief, illness, and occasional brushes with anti-Semitism. Ironically, their final happy days in the south of France lead to their unexpected sailing on the Titanic. Both died as they had lived, with dignity, honor, loyalty to one another, and compassion for others. The public outpouring of grief at their deaths, even by today s standards of over-the-top journalism, was remarkable.


March 29, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Are Republicans Pushing for the DREAM Act?

Washington –  Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate are preparing a version of the DREAM Act to legalize undocumented students as a type of "lure" to capture the Hispanic vote in November.

Although no details of the prospective bill have filtered out, Sen. Marco Rubio is working along with other Republicans on an "alternative version" of the DREAM Act, which became stalled in the Senate in 2010.

Rubio told the daily The Hill that for now there is nothing new to announce but that his goal is to arrive at a "responsible" solution to the presence of undocumented immigrants in the United States and announce it "quickly."

In remarks to Efe, a spokesman for Rubio, Alex Burgos, said Tuesday that the Florida senator "wants to help these young people and do it in a more limited way than the DREAM Act would do."

"He will continue working with his colleagues to achieve a bipartisan solution," Burgos added.
Rubio said in a March 1 interview with Efe that he is maintaining his commitment to achieving a bipartisan solution to illegal immigration.

Among the possible ideas he is weighing, he said at that time, is creating "a student visa so that they can stay to finish their studies until they can apply legally."

Without citing any names, Rubio also complained that some politicians, instead of conducting a bipartisan dialogue, are only seeking to use the problem of undocumented immigrants "as a political weapon in November."


March 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lamar Smith Up to No Good on Detention

From the Detention Watch Network:


Washington, D.C. – While nearly 400,000 immigrants are incarcerated each year in an expanding archipelago of punitive and life-threatening detention centers, Congress continues to deny the moral and human rights crisis caused by mass detention. Wednesday afternoon Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) will convene a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement to continue his callous assault on immigrants and immigrant communities. The pretext for the hearing is the recent announcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that it will implement a revised version of its internal guidelines on the treatment of immigrants detained in ICE facilities. Detention Watch Network (DWN) condemns this latest round of anti-immigrant showboating by the Republicans and calls upon Congress to repeal mandatory detention, which is the root cause of mass immigrant incarceration.

“ICE’s new guidelines are intended to help address well-documented civil and human rights abuses that continue to occur daily in immigration detention, abuses that Smith apparently finds laughable,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director of DWN. “The very title of Wednesday’s hearing, ‘Holiday on ICE,’ mocks the seriousness of the suffering that immigrants in detention experience and mischaracterizes ICE’s new guidelines as mandating cushy resort-like conditions for those in detention.”

Far from being “hospitality guidelines,” as Congressmen Smith has called them, the 2011 Performance Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) fall short of providing the necessary protection for immigrants held by ICE. In 2009, after a scathing government report outlined the inhumane conditions and rampant fiscal waste in detention, the Obama Administration promised to address these problems in the only way possible: by moving away from locking up immigrants and towards new models of custody and supervision that reflect the “civil” nature of immigration proceedings. So far that has not happened. If anything, ICE’s latest standards represent the abandonment of that goal. In the 2011 PBNDS, like the 2000 and 2008 versions, ICE continues to rely on penal standards rather than re-envision a truly civil system. As a result, immigrants will continue to be held behind bars, often hundreds of miles from their families, with minimal if any access to legal services, vulnerable to the same substandard medical care and abuses that have prevailed in detention to date. Most important, the PBNDS are not enforceable or even legally binding, and there is no independent oversight of facilities to ensure compliance.

But Congressman Smith and the Republicans have chosen to grandstand and lambast the new guidelines as coddling immigrants and increasing detention costs, rather than looking for real solutions to address the detention crisis head-on.

“If Lamar Smith is concerned about taxpayers footing the bill for detention, he should consider dedicating his energies to the repeal of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), the legislation he helped pass 16 years ago, which has been almost single-handedly responsible for the tripling of the number of people in detention,” said Black. “As a result of IIRIRA’s draconian mandatory detention provisions, the government needlessly incarcerates thousands of immigrants every year to the tune of $122 per person per day.”

Detention Watch Network calls on Congress to pass legislation to reduce the unnecessary, inhumane, and wasteful detention of immigrants. Until Congress acts, the Obama Administration must renew its commitment to urgent reform of the detention system by closing the most egregious detention facilities, by aggressively working with non-governmental organizations to promote community-based supervision programs for those in proceedings, and by pushing for legal regulation and third party oversight of the remaining detention centers.


March 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ARC Facing Race Conference November 15-17

From the Applied Research Center:

Keynote speakers for Facing Race have inspired us with their vision of a better world. The struggle for racial justice doesn’t start with a closed worldview – it starts with a community sharing their hopes and aspirations. ARC has presented thought-provoking speakers over the years, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Van Jones, Walter Mosley, Eddie Palmieri, and Sherman Alexie. Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz continues in this tradition.

Our 2010 keynote speech, presented by Tulane professor Melissa Harris-Perry, defined the current realities of racial discourse while pointing to a greater goal. She reminded us that “we lack a collective vision of a racially just future. These are the aspects of race that we must face, working in communities across America among people of good faith. That is why I am so pleased to be a part of the Facing Race conference.”

This year, we welcome author Junot Díaz to the convsersation. His varied influences -- which blend science fiction, Caribbean culture, and the immigrant experience -- explore popular narratives with skill and empathy. Diaz says, “events like the Facing Race conference are of paramount importance. Not only for the important activism and theorizing that they engender but because it is in these spaces of deliberations that we come in contact with the promise of a just anti-racist future.”

This critical conversation among leaders, educators, artists, journalists, and activists will continue this year in Baltimore. Register now to connect with a community working towards an equitable society.

P.S. There are only 2 days left for Early Bird registration – save now!

March 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Superman Had Nothing on Keith Aoki


"Superman Had Nothing on Keith Aoki" UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal, 2012 by BILL ONG HING, University of San Francisco - School of Law.  ABSTRACT:  In this tribute to the late Keith Aoki, Professor of Law at U.C. Davis, I point out that at the heart of much of Keith Aoki’s humanity and scholarship is a call for us to be on guard against institutional, public, and private strategies operating to disadvantage people of color and other subordinated groups. Much of his life and body of work inspires us to stand up to racism and subordination of those who are disadvantaged. In that context, I discuss recent attacks on Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities, and underscore our responsibility to speak the truth about these injustices, as Keith would have us do. In the process, I use a few cartoons as an homage to Keith, who often used his drawings to make salient points. Just as racial profiling by government action has seemingly sanctioned vigilante racism or, worse still, perpetration of hate crimes, Keith’s leadership and creative advocacy has deputized all of us to stand up to profiling, bigotry, racial hatred, and the wrong-headed souls who would challenge a broad and inclusive vision of America.


March 28, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The White House Highlights Cesar Chavez “Champions of Change” Recognition

• On Thursday, March 29th at 1:30 p.m. EDT, watch and engage live on Facebook through the White House Live App. You can also watch live on

On Thursday, March 29th, the White House will honor ten leaders being recognized as Champions of Change who, like Cesar Chavez, have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others throughout their community and across the Nation. One of our Nation’s great civil rights leaders, Cesar Estrada Chavez camfe of age as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the injustice that pervaded fields and vineyards across California. Yet amidst hardship and abuse, Cesar Chavez saw the promise of change—the unlimited potential of a community organized around a common purpose.

The Chavez Champions of Change recognition is part of an Administration-wide effort to celebrate the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez as we approach what would have been the civil rights leader’s 85th birthday on March 31st. President Obama also signed a Presidential Proclamation affirming that, “On the 85th anniversary of Cesar Chavez’s birth, we are reminded of what we can accomplish when we recognize our common humanity…Today, we celebrate his courage, reflect on his lifetime of advocacy, and recognize the power in each of us to lift up lives and pursue social justice.”

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Actress America Ferrera, who will be playing Helen F. Chavez in the upcoming biopic called CHAVEZ to be filmed this Spring, will participate in Thursday’s Champions of Change event. To learn more about our Champions go to and to watch the event live, go to at 1:30 p.m. ET on March 29th. To read the full proclamation, click HERE.

In addition to the Champions of Change program, on Monday, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis led an Induction of the Pioneers of the Farm Worker Movement into the Labor Hall of Honor. During that event the Secretary also dedicated the Department of Labor’s auditorium in honor of César E. Chávez. Administration officials including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz were in attendance. On Thursday, April 5th, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will also address the 12th Annual César Chávez Legacy Awards Dinner in Los Angeles, CA. In May in San Diego, CA, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Juan Garcia will keynote a U.S. Navy ceremony to christen the USNS Cesar Chavez in recognition of the civil rights leader’s service during World War II.

The White House’s “Champions of Change” are:

Rev. Eve Nunez Rev. Eve Nunez has dedicated her life to public service and has embodied the values of Cesar Chavez since she was a young adult. At the age of 17, Rev. Nunez volunteered and protested alongside Cesar Chavez. Even in her adolescence, she understood the importance of human rights, and public service. Since her early years of volunteering with Chavez, she has led a life devoted to public service, the fight for human rights, and faith. Rev. Eve Nunez is the Founder and President of Help 4 Kidz, which is an organization she founded after the passing of her beloved son Frankie. This non-profit organization has received local and national awards for her work with at risk children and young adults. Help for Kidz is a National Partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has a SNAP satellite that also provides food boxes for homeless families in the valley. Help 4 Kidz served approximately 1,680 meals per week last summer for The First Lady's "Let’s Move" Initiative. Help 4 Kidz is also a HUD approved site. The Help 4 Kidz HUD office provides services where clients can apply for, and participate in, Rental Assistance, First-Time Home Buyers Program, Foreclosure Prevention, Loan modifications, HARP AND HEMC. Rev. Eve Nunez is also a Founder and President of Arizona Latino Commission, which is also a non-profit. Arizona Latino Commission is a HUD approved agency that serves clients with housing needs and foreclosure prevention/ first time home buyers program, and HARP. Rev. Eve Nunez is Vice President of Networking for National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference NHCLC which has over 34,000 churches and 16 million members. She is also an Executive Board member for NHCLC. She has recently become a member and citizen lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. She received the National Service Award from Former President George W. Bush 2001 and Volunteer Service Award from President Obama 2012.

Mary Jo Dudley Mary Jo Dudley is a faculty member in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University and is the Director of the Cornell Farmworker Program. As director of the Program her work focuses on improving the living and working conditions of farmworkers and their families by educating farmworkers and their employers on health, safety, cultural, and immigration issues and by conducting research that examines the contributions of farmworkers to the economic and social fabric of New York State. She directs a summer internship program through which Cornell and other students conduct research, prepare educational materials, and conducting trainings with farmworkers. She is a founding member of the Tompkins County Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, and is a member of the New York State Governor’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force. In 2010 she received the James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial Understanding and Harmony, and the Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Service-Learning Award, both from Cornell University.

Rob Williams Rob Williams is the director of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project. Established by Florida Legal Services in 1996 and funded by the Florida Bar Foundation, the Project’s mission is to provide access to justice for the more than 150,000 farmworkers who live and work in Florida. Williams began his career as a legal services lawyer in Immokalee, Florida in 1975. For more than a decade he has represented the United Farm Workers in their campaign to enact the AgJOBS immigration reform legislation which would benefit the one million undocumented workers and their families who harvest America’s crops. The Migrant Farmworker Justice Project also vigorously defends the rights of US workers and guest workers under the H-2A program, and has litigated dozens of cases in federal and state courts to enforce farmworkers’ rights to fair wages and working conditions.

Nita Gonzales, M.ED. Nita Gonzales, of Denver, Colorado, is a noted community activist, educator, and nationally recognized leader in the struggle for social justice and equality. Nita is the President/CEO of Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios, a nationally recognized model for Chicano/Mexicano and indigenous education located in Denver, CO. Escuela Tlatelolco was originally founded over forty one years ago to provide culturally competent and socially conscious education to predominantly Latino youth. Nita also has a long record of supporting causes and activities that promote the economic, political, social, and educational strength of Latinos and underserved populations. She is a founder of the Chicano/Mexicano Education Coalition, the Denver Youth Employment and Education Task Force, and co-founder of the Colorado Latino Forum. She also is a board member of numerous organizations working to promote the welfare of the Latino community including Clinica Tepayac, the Denver City and County Community Oversight Board, and a member of the President’s Cabinet for Metropolitan State College.

Rogelio Lona Rogelio Lona is a farm worker, activist, community organizer and a leader. He has worked in the fields of California for more than 47 years and for 32 of those years he has been a member of the United Farm Workers. Just like his mentor, Cesar Chavez, Lona experienced and lived the struggles of the early farm worker movement. And, although the struggle is not over, Lona has also been able to savor some of the victories that farm workers had been able to accomplish through the work of the UFW to improve the working conditions of the men and women who labor in the fields. Until this day, Lona practices the legacy and values that Cesar Chavez left him: non-violence, respect, dignity, organization and empowerment of others.

Bernarda Wong Bernarda Wong, better known as “Bernie,” is a founder and the President of the Chinese American Service League (CASL). Under Bernie’s leadership, CASL has grown from a one-person shop in 1979 with an annual budget of $30,000 to $12 million. She spearheaded the initiative to build a $6.7 million Senior Housing facility as well as CASL’s new adjacent facility, the $7 million Kam L. Liu Building, a community service center that combined all of CASL’s disparate sites. Prior to founding CASL, Bernie served as Director of Social Services for a community center and a Head Start Day Care Program in a predominantly African American community. Bernie truly understood what poor new immigrants face when confronted by a completely different culture and language, which gave her the courage to gather a few friends and begin the difficult task of building the Chinese American Service League from the ground up in 1979. Bernie chaired the Chicago Mayor’s Advisory Council on Asian Affairs and was the first Asian appointed to the Boards of United Way of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library. She also served on the Governor’s Asian Advisory Council and the Leadership of Greater Chicago Board. Currently, Bernie serves on committees including the Chicago Commission Human Relations (CCHR), the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) Board, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Board, and Council for the Illinois Department on Aging. Bernie is also founding member of Chinese Immigrant Service Agencies Network International (CISANI).

Melinda Wiggins For over 15 years, Melinda Wiggins has served as the Executive Director of Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), a nonprofit whose mission is to bring students and farmworkers together to learn about each other’s lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change. Before that time, she coordinated SAF's summer internship program and was a SAF intern with the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry. Melinda has taken the lead in creating and developing two key statewide immigrant and farmworker coalitions: The Adelante Education Coalition and the Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN). She has brought her core values of transparency, accountability and profound systemic change to these coalitions, and as a result SAF has a very strong network of individual and organizational allies from around the state. Melinda is also active with several other social justice groups such as Zomppa and the Windcall Residency Program.

Rose Garcia Rose Garcia is the Executive Director of Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation, a New Mexico nonprofit corporation and a leading regional affordable housing and community development organization. She has worked for over 30 years to improve the quality of life for the rural poor, minorities, farmworkers and the elderly individuals in small towns and rural areas along the United States – Mexico border. She works closely with partners in both the public and private sectors to deliver services and meet the needs of people of New Mexico and the Southwest.

Nancy M. Cubano Nancy M. Cubano is a native of Puerto Rico. She was born in Arecibo but grew up in the small town of Utuado where she lived with her family. She is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico and Shippensburg University. Prior to coming to KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program, a network of public charter schools), Philadelphia, Nancy taught for 13 years as a Spanish teacher in Harrisburg where she taught Spanish to elementary school students, and in Gettysburg where she became passionate about her community and her teaching. She volunteered as an English tutor and advocated for the Gettysburg area's migrant-workers. After a few years she moved to Philadelphia where she gain experience teaching elementary, middle and high school. In 2005 she became an Educational Advisor to the National Youth Leaders State Conference (NYLSC) in Pennsylvania. Nancy is a founding member of the KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy faculty. Nancy now serves as the Foreign Language Department Leader and Spanish II, III and AP teacher for KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy. Her goal and big project is to see her Chavez Advisory Students make it “To and Through College”. The mission is to prepare students with the academic skills, intellectual habits, and character traits that are necessary for success in high school, college, and the competitive world beyond. In pursuing this mission, she aims to serve her community as a whole by educating students who will make a difference in our community and the world.

Elvira Diaz Elvira Diaz was born in México City, immigrated to the United States in 1986 and became a US citizen in 1992. She has been working for the pharmaceutical industry and involved in the Catholic Church for several years. She has a Spanish TV show “El Pan de Cada Dia” and has been a radio personality in two local radio stations in Reno, Nevada. She also writes a Spanish column in a local newspaper, Ahora Latino Journal. She has been working at PLAN (Progressive League Alliance of Nevada) since 2010 organizing health care events, advocating on behalf of immigration and LGTB communities, and works to help Latinos register to vote.


March 28, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mocking Humane Immigration Detention Standards House Hearing Makes Light of Necessary Detention Reforms

Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on new immigration detention standards recently issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Cynically entitled “Holiday on ICE,” the hearing reflects Chairman Lamar Smith’s allegation that the new standards—which set minimum requirements for medical care, access to counsel, and other living conditions—are a “hospitality guideline” for detained immigrants.

Roughly 34,000 immigrants, including lawful permanent residents, and many immigrants who have never been convicted of a crime, are detained under civil immigration laws each day. It is anticipated that the hearing will be a vehicle for promoting mandatory detention proposals sponsored by Chairman Smith, who maintains that more detention, rather than less, should be the goal of our civil immigration system. Unfortunately, this critique ignores the often life-threatening problems that have plagued the U.S. detention system, which routinely places asylum-seekers, vulnerable women and children, and thousands of non-criminal immigrants into jails and prisons where they are locked up with dangerous criminals. Well-documented incidents of deaths in detention, sexual assault, and substandard conditions have led the Obama administration to prioritize detention reform. Among the steps taken to improve the current system has been a comprehensive update of current detention standards in consultation with the immigration community. Even these modest improvements are too much for immigration critics who seek to institutionalize two systems of justice that tolerate different standards of care depending on whether one is incarcerated by the criminal justice system or the civil immigration system.

While today’s House Judiciary hearing seeks to poke fun at the new standards, it is far more likely to highlight just how callous many of our lawmakers have become towards immigrants and immigration. The following is a statement from Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council:

“Most Americans are surprised to learn that every day our country detains thousands of men, women, and children for civil immigration violations, where they are often housed with dangerous criminals or forced to endure prison-like conditions despite the fact that they pose no risk to society. Obviously our laws must be enforced, but the vast majority of those who face deportation are otherwise law-abiding, decent people who came here to find a better life for themselves or their families. Their punishment for violating our immigration laws is deportation and there is no rationale or justification for forcing them to also endure grueling and often inhumane conditions while they await deportation.”

For background on the immigration detention system and efforts to further expand its reach, see: Locked Up Without End: Indefinite Detention of Immigrants Will Not Make America Safer by Michael Tan, IPC Special Report, October 6, 2011.


March 28, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Immigrant in IIRIRA Retroactivity Case

In an opinion by Justice Ginsburg, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the lawful permanent resident in Vartelas v. Holder.   The majority opinion encapsulates the holding as follows:

This case presents a question of retroactivity not addressed by Congress: As to a lawful permanent resident convicted of a crime before the effective date of [the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA)], which regime governs, the one in force at the time of the conviction, or IIRIRA? If the former, Vartelas’ brief trip abroad would not disturb his lawful permanent resident status. If the latter, he may be denied reentry. We conclude that the relevant provision of IIRIRA, §1101(a)(13)(C)(v), attached a new disability (denial of reentry) in respect to past events (Vartelas’ pre-IIRIRA offense, plea, and conviction). Guided by the deeply rooted presumption against retroactive legislation, we hold that §1101(a)(13)(C)(v) does not apply to Vartelas’ conviction. The impact of Vartelas’ brief travel abroad on his permanent resident status is therefore determined not by IIRIRA, but by the legal regime in force at the time of his conviction.  (emphasis added).

Justice Scalia dissented in an opinion joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.

In the coming days, I will be offering my analysis of the Supreme Court's decision in Vartelas v. Holder on SCOTUSblog and will post a link here.  For a recap of the issues in the case, as well as my prediction based on the oral arguments that Vartelas would prevail, click here.

Here are my initial impressions of the Court's decision in Vartelas.  The holding that pre-1996 law applied to a plea bargain and criminal conviction before the 1996 amendments seems consistent with Supreme Court precedent. When Vartelas entered into his plea agreement, the law was such that he could reasonably expect to make a brief trip to visit his parents in Greece. As the Supreme Court ruled, the 1996 amendments to the immigration laws crated a new “disability” attached to Vartelas criminal conviction. The Court declined to apply the change in law retroactively, applying basic retroactivity principles from its decision in Landsgraf v. USI Film Products (1994). The Court also closely followed its approach in INS v. St Cyr (2001), which held that a form of relief from removal that was repealed in 1996 was still available for on criminal convictions entered before 1996. I do not think that the decision will have broad impact, although it may affect a significant number of noncitizens with criminal convictions entered before 1996. At most, the decision allows this group the freedom to visit their native country for a brief period of time. I do not see the Vartelas decision as having any broad impacts in terms of immigration law, statutory interpretation, or administrative law.

So far, the noncitizen has won in two of three immigration cases decided this Term.  In December, the Court in Judulang v. Holder found that the agency decision finding a lawful permanent resident ineligible for relief from removal was "arbitrary and capricious."  In February, the Court found in Kawashima v. Holder that a tax crime was an "aggravated felony" subjecting a lawful permaent iresident to removal. 

There are two (technically three) more immigration cases on the docket for this Term.  In the consolidated cases of Holder v. Sawyers and Holder v. Gutierrez in which the Court has heard oral argument, the Court will address technical statutory questions about calculating time for eligibility for cancellation of removal.  On April 25, the Court will hear oral arguments in the potential blockbuster immigration case of Arizona v. United States.


March 28, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

American Students Studying Abroad

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Immigrant Achievement Awards

The American Immigration Council is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Immigrant Achievement Awards. The Awards celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of immigrants in innovation and entrepreneurship. The Council will celebrate the honorees on March 29, 2012, as part the 17th Annual Washington D.C. Immigrant Achievement Awards. The honorees include:

• Immigrant Achievement Awards: Dr. Jane E. Shaw, Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation and Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Assoc. Prof., Neurosurgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

• Immigrant Youth Achievement Award: Vineet Singal, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Anjna.

• Stephen K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award: The Vilcek Foundation, Founders, Jan and Marica Vilcek.


March 27, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ABA Amicus Against Arizona in SB 1070 Case

From the ABA:

ABA Disputes Arizona Immigration Provisions in Brief to High Court

Citing its expertise in immigration law and experience in immigration detainee programs, the American Bar Association is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that four provisions of Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law, known as S.B. 1070, are unconstitutional because they are pre-empted by federal immigration law.

The four provisions were enjoined by lower federal court rulings before the law went into effect. In an amicus brief filed late Monday in State of Arizona et al. v. United States of America, the ABA urges affirmance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, stating that none of these provisions can be implemented by Arizona without inevitably conflicting with the federal system of statutes and regulations that is carried out by federal agencies and specialized courts.

“The ABA urges this Court to conclude that the four enjoined provisions of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 are preempted because immigration law and policy are and must remain uniquely federal, with states having no role in immigration enforcement except pursuant to federal authorization and oversight,” the ABA states.

Significantly informing the ABA’s brief, and the ABA policy on which it is based, was the experience of the ABA Commission on Immigration in establishing and operating pro bono service programs for immigration detainees in South Texas, Seattle and San Diego. The ABA also included in its arguments the commission’s 2010 study, Reforming the Immigration System.

Utah, Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina are among states that are contemplating or have joined Arizona in passing immigration laws, the ABA notes.

“If enforcement of state laws that are inconsistent with federal immigration law and policy is permitted,” the brief warns, “the result will be a patchwork of statutes and regulations under which decisions about arrest and detention may well depend on whether enforcement activity is being conducted directly by federal authorities, by a state under federal supervision, or by a state under its own, possibly unique, immigration laws.”

The brief is available online here. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 25.


March 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

70% Favor Farmworker Guestworker Program

From the Western Growers Association:

In a groundbreaking new survey on the public's views of agriculture and immigration, 70 percent of voters surveyed said they would support a streamlined and sensible guest worker program allowing immigrant farm workers to come into the country legally. In fact, a similar majority does not believe migrant workers cause unemployment or take jobs away from Americans. Those findings are from a new Western Growers survey conducted by The Tarrance Group, a well known and respected national polling firm.

The guest worker program in the survey includes: a requirement to first offer jobs to U.S. workers, restrictions on entry points and length of stay, market-based limitations on visas awarded, strict oversight of participating employers and withholding of worker payroll taxes. The program also allows existing workers to participate in the program without receiving amnesty.

"It is clear that American voters aren't caught up in the harsh rhetoric claiming immigration reform should be about punishing hard working farm workers or leaving American family farmers without a work force. Americans know that we need a practical and well-regulated national program that allows immigrants to come out of the shadows to work here on our farms," said Tom Nassif, Western Growers president & CEO. Read more...
. . .
Western Growers Holds Press Call Highlighting New Data on National Program for Farm Labor Wednesday, March 28

Call information:Wednesday, March 28 8 a.m. Pacific/11 a.m. EasternCall-in # 877-331-8458Speakers:Tom Nassif, president & CEO of Western GrowersBrian Nienaber, vice president at The Tarrance GroupDave Puglia, Western Growers senior vice president of communications & government affairsKen Barbic, Western Growers senior director of federal government affairs


March 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Police Groups Oppose Anti-Immigration Proposal in Mississippi

From FoxNews Latino:

Four police and public official groups in Mississippi oppose the state's immigration measure, which they worry will have an adverse impact on police and local government.

The Associated Press obtained a letter given to senators Monday by the president of Mississippi Sheriffs' Association and the executive directors of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, the Mississippi Municipal League and the Mississippi Association of Supervisors.

The letter raises questions about whether local law enforcement agencies would have to keep interpreters on staff and whether violent offenders would have to be released from jails to make room for undocumented immigrants.

It also asks what should be done with children of undocumented if the parents are taken into custody, and it says the bill could force increases in local taxes. Recent news reports show thousands of children around the country have been put in foster care following the arrest by immigration officials of their parents. Read more..


March 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)