Monday, December 31, 2012

Tamale Lady Stays in U.S., Mitt Romney Sent Packing


I remain committed to ending 2012 on a positive note. 

Last summer, immigrant Juana Reyes-Hernandez, known as the "tamale lady" was picked up for selling tamales outside a Walmart in Sacramento and was facing removal from the United StatesAs the year ends, the good news is that the press surrounding the case favored Juana, who had lived in the United States for many years without incident and was selling tamales to pay her rent and support her two U.S. citizen children.  The immigration court closed her removal case.  Juana remains in the United States with her children, taking private orders for her tamales and does not sell them in front of local business.


December 31, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

President Signs Private Bill for Nigerian Overachiever (and Future M.D.) Victor Chukwueke

Maybe we should try to end the year with some upbeat immigration news.  Here is a nice story about a hard-working immigrant, a sensible and humane U.S. Congress, and a stand-up President.

While the United States stands at the precipice of the fiscal cliff (and, incidentally, has frittered away a decade failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform), President Barack Obama signed into law a private bill passed by Congress granting Victor Chukwueke permanent residency in the Unites States. Victor came to the United States 11 years ago to undergo treatment for face tumors. He graduated from Wayne State and plans to attend an Ohio medical school. The U.S. Congress passed a private bill this month granting him permanent residency. Obama signed the bill Friday. Chukwueke's is the only private bill to pass in Congress in two years.

Read Victor's inspirational story.  This is the short version.  In 2011, Victor was selected to address his fellow graduates at the Wayne State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences commencement.  While earning his degree in Biochemistry/Chemical Biology, he was on the dean’s list, ran a marathon to raise money for charity, volunteered in a research lab working to determine how tumors spread, and aspires to become a doctor so he can alleviate the pain and suffering of people in developing countries. As a boy growing up in Nigeria, Victor developed a benign tumor growing on the top and right sides of his face. His mother took him to hospitals throughout Nigeria seeking medical treatment for neurofibromatosis, but none had the facilities or expertise to treat him. Without surgery, the facial tumor continued to grow unchecked leaving him with a severe facial deformity. Victor said as uncomfortable as the tumor was, the teasing and ostracism by other children was more painful. In 2001, a missionary nun in Nigeria who ran a center for the mentally and physically challenged arranged for Victor to work with a Southfield, Michigan plastic surgeon who agreed to operate on him for free. At age 15, Victor left his family and his small village in Nigeria and came to Michigan. Ten years and many surgeries later, he lives with nuns in Oak Park, Michigan.

Courtesy of Victor's

Happy New Year, Victor Chukwueke!


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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Credibility and the Asylum Process by Scott Rempell


Credibility and the Asylum Process by Scott Rempell

Last week, federal law enforcement agents in New York arrested numerous people for their involvement in a massive asylum fraud scheme. The scheme involved lawyers, paralegals, translators, and even a deacon, who helped to concoct and carry out fake asylum claims for Chinese nationals. The most common fabricated stories concerned individuals forced to undergo abortions and those persecuted for their Christian beliefs.

The case highlights the ongoing difficulties adjudicators face when trying to determine the credibility of asylum applicants. The INA permits an immigration judge to essentially consider anything he or she believes is relevant to assessing truthfulness, including: inconsistencies (between prior interviews and the hearing, between an asylum application and a hearing, between direct and cross-examination, etc.); omissions of significant information that surface for the first time at the hearing; the plausibility of the applicant’s story; elusiveness of testimony, such as non-responsiveness to the question posed; and the applicant’s demeanor while testifying.

The task of measuring credibility in cases outside of the asylum context is hard enough. We all have certain beliefs about whether various so-called credibility cues are really indicative of a lie.  Chances are, whatever our beliefs, there is a study out there that calls into question the causal connection between veracity and a particular cue. For example, in Mitondo v. Mukasey, the Seventh Circuit cited credibility studies when it noted that “if you want to find a liar you should close your eyes and pay attention to what is said, not how it is said or what the witness looks like while saying it.” In another study, the researchers found that participants often associated overly pronounced or abrupt movements with deception even though liars tend to move less when providing deceptive answers (according to that particular study).

Within asylum proceedings, several factors compound the difficulty in credibility assessments.  For one, the cases concern events that purportedly took place in foreign countries, which makes the information much harder (if not impossible) to verify. Additionally, translation problems can create the appearance of deficiencies that are not really there. Moreover, cultural divergences can lead adjudicators to misinterpret asylum applicants’ visual and verbal cues, along with the plausibility of their stories. Take the fraud scheme mentioned above as an example. Based on what has come to light, we know that a number of Chinese asylum applicants lied about their religious backgrounds. However, in a number of cases, the federal appellate courts have criticized immigration judges for using their own understandings of religious observance to find asylum applicants’ claims implausible. Are applicants lying about their religious convictions because they are unable to readily recite the central tenets of Christianity or key biblical passages? Not necessarily. (I would probably fail such a test if someone quizzed me about my religion.) Even more so in countries where certain religious practices are banned or significantly curtailed, sometimes religion is more about freedom of expression and the desire to worship without government interference. Conversely, as the uncovered scheme shows, applicants’ ability to memorize key information about a particular religion does not necessarily mean that they practiced that religion prior to coming to the United States.

Further compounding the problem is the fact that some asylum seekers who do have legitimate claims still lie because they are coached by people who say they will have a better chance with a made-up story. For an asylum applicant who knows nothing about the criteria for meeting the definition of a refugee, the advice of a so-called expert coaching them will be particularly compelling. After all, true fear of future persecution is an understandable motivator to do whatever is necessary to avoid deportation. Applicants who go down this road often get themselves into trouble because the dire circumstances of their actual pasts are more likely to surface when they testify about their made-up stories. Ironically, those who did not suffer any harm in their pasts might have an easier time sticking to their scripts because they do not have to worry that they will confuse two stories.  

The recent scandal in New York is problematic for asylum applicants because it raises the skepticism adjudicators and attorneys have regarding these claims and may, in turn, make it harder for those with legitimate claims to obtain asylum relief. Adjudicators should be careful not to let the realization of such fraud skew the way they evaluate any one claim. Every asylum applicant deserves to have his or her case decided on the merits. At the same time, this event should serve as a wake-up call. The government should invest more resources to assess asylum claim trends to spot these schemes before they get as far as this one did. I remember seeing a few red flags when I was working at DOJ. But my sample (as with the sample of any one attorney) was far too limited to verify one way or the other. The resources the government would spend proactively monitoring such trends are far less than the amount it will take to go back and reassess all of the potentially affiliated cases after a widespread scheme is uncovered.

The stakes are simply too high in asylum cases to ignore measures that could improve the system. Both the government and those with legitimate claims would benefit from increased oversight. Admittedly, the humanitarian in me does sympathize with all those who come here in search of a better life. But if I had to choose between asylum applicants who really would be persecuted if deported and those who would not, I’d rather ensure that applicants with legitimate claims have the greatest chance possible to obtain protection

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

Immigration Fellowship Opportunity

The Institute for Justice and Journalism is accepting applications for its 2013 Immigration in the Heartland professional fellowship program, which will focus on children in immigrant families, who count for one in four of all U.S. youngsters. The program will explore the economic and educational challenges these children face and how immigration policies have deeply impacted them, even though about 88 percent are U.S. citizens.


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

College-Educated Immigrants in the United States

In College-Educated Immigrants in the United States, Qingqing Ji and Jeanne Batalova note that college educated immigrants represented nearly 28 percent of physicians, more than 31 percent of computer programmers, and over 47 percent of medical scientists in the United States in 2011.  Contrary to a widely held view, immigrants in the United States have an expansive range of education levels, with about one in three immigrants having obtained a college degree. According to the US Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), immigrants accounted for 16 percent of the 58.8 million college-educated persons. However, their numbers were much higher among workers in certain occupations: Immigrants represent nearly 28 percent of physicians, more than 31 percent of computer programmers, and over 47 percent of medical scientists.

This spotlight provides a brief demographic and socioeconomic profile of college-educated natives and immigrants (age 25 and older) in 2011 and those who were engaged in the US civilian labor force.


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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A New Year's Message of Hope for Immigration Reform by Robert Gittelson, President, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Over the past several years, I have made it a personal tradition to offer a New Year's Message of Optimism regarding the chances for CIR in the upcoming year. However, this year I am more hopeful than ever that next year - 2013 - will finally be the year that brings true legislative relief to our long broken immigration system. I sincerely feel that the "stars are alligned," and the political odds favor CIR sooner rather than later. The stars actually began to allign in 2012, and the thoughts that I wrote for last year's New Year's message have proven to be, in theory, correct.

Last year I wrote, "I would also offer my guarded optimism about a possible comprehensive immigration reform in the not too distant future. While I do not expect to see a CIR pass in 2012, I do see that Congress is, quietly but sincerely, moving in that direction. Again, there remains a long way to go, and the fact that 2012 is an election year makes any serious discussion of CIR a topic that can probably only be addressed after the election... I believe that there exists cause for optimism for advocates of immigration reform. Many conservatives are moving cautiously in the direction of a CIR solution. There exists in this country, and importantly in our Congress, an emerging consensus that we must address the inequities that are inherent in our current and outdated immigration policies. However, we will still need time for the politics in this country to catch up to the policy. Again, I urge patience. However, I am reasonably certain that our patience on this issue will soon pay off. 2012 should be the year in which we see the beginnings of movement toward a more just and efficient immigration policy."

Indeed, 2012 has proven to be a year in which we did see the beginnings of a bipartisan conversation about finally addressing CIR legislation in a meaningful and serious way. 2012 did bring us some relief, of sorts, with the President's Defered Action for Children of Arrivals, or DACA. I must admit, I didn't fully see that coming in last year's message, although I did predict some action toward relief for "DREAMers." I wrote, "All year, I have been discussing with (members of Congress and the Administration) the importance of passing the DREAM Act, or at least a version of the DREAM Act that will help hundreds of thousands of hard working, high achieving, and innocent young men and women to emerge from the shadows, and to live their lives in dignity and legality, in the light of day. Importantly, I have been meeting primarily with Republicans, and quietly but sincerely, many of them have been listening. It is still too early for me to say publicly exactly what will happen or when, but I am convinced that something positive will indeed happen, and soon."

DACA has, in fact, been something positive from a policy point of view, (if not politically). It does offer important protections to some small percentage of undocumented people. However, it is only a small percentage of the problem, it is not law, just policy, and at the end of the day is only a small bandaide, where major surgery on our broken immigration system is required.

Therefore, I believe that we have significant cause to hope for comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. Conversations that have not happened in years are now happening on both sides of the Hill in Washington. Several of the participants from the discussions in 2005 - 2007 are no longer serving, and there are new faces and fresh ideas that are being brought to bear. Still, to date the conversations are preliminary. No consensus yet exists as to how we solve our immigration problems, or even if the new legislation will offer a path to citizenship or simple legal status. Furthermore, no consensus exists as to the legislation itself. Should it be a series of piecemeal measures, or a larger comprehensive bill?

However, I am confident - even in light of the dysfunctional "fiscal cliff" fiasco - that as the days and weeks go by, consensus will take shape, and we will see legislation soon. Furthermore, I think that the public will have a serious role to play as this legislation unfolds. I urge everyone that cares about this issue - pro or con - to make their voices heard. The public should get involved. Write your Congressmen. Go to rallies. Attend coffee clatches with your representatives. Write Letters to the Editor. Be proactive. If you believe that their should be a pathway to citizenship, say so. If you don"t believe that there should be a pathway to citizenship, then make your argument to that effect.

Finally, we should all make our opinions known to our representatives, but I caution everyone to please keep an open mind, and please be respectful of the opinion of others. This is a difficult and contentious issue, and tempers are sure to be hot. At the end of the day, this is an American problem, and we need an American solution. The question is, is Washington ready to provide that solution? I think that the answer will prove to be yes, they are. But our legislators will need our support, and our backing for them to make a controversial vote. Many on the right will be looking over their shoulders at primary opponents waiting in the wings. Many on the left will be looking over their shoulders at their traditional supporters, who might not like some of the concessions that will need to be included in what will surely be a bipartisan piece of legislation. At the end of the day, we must all realize that a compromise means that both sides must give up some of what they want, in order to be able to give our country what it needs - an "exceptional" immigration solution that is fair, that is just, and that actually solves the problems for decades to come. Are we up for this? I think that we will find out in 2013 that we truly are, and it will be a great, great, day for America. More importantly, it will be a great, great day for Americans - both new and old.

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

Ann Coulter Blames Republican Loss of White House on U.S. Immigration Policy, Hispanics


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

A few weeks ago, conservative firebrand Ann Coulter in a blog post entitled "AMERICA NEARS EL TIPPING POINTO" explained why she rejects the idea that Republicans need to reach out the Latino voters.  She crticizes U.S. immigration policy for allowing a Latino "underclass" to grow as a percentage of the U.S. population.  Here is a passage that offers a flavor of Coulter's analysis:

"In 1980, Hispanics were only 2 percent of the population, and they tended to be educated, skilled workers who got married, raised their children in two-parent families and sent their kids to college before they, too, got married and had kids. (In that order.)

That profile has nothing to do with recent Hispanic immigrants, who -- because of phony "family reunification" rules -- are the poorest of the world's poor.

More than half of all babies born to Hispanic women today are illegitimate. . . . [T]he birthrate of Hispanic women is twice that of the rest of the population, and their unwed birthrate is one and a half times that of blacks.

That's a lot of government dependents coming down the pike. No amount of "reaching out" to the Hispanic community, effective "messaging" or Reagan's "optimism" is going to turn Mexico's underclass into Republicans."

 For a response to Coulter's diatribe against Latinos, click here.


December 27, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From the Bookshelves: A Wicked War by Amy S. Greenberg


A Wicked War by Amy S. Greenberg

Often forgotten and overlooked, the U.S.-Mexican War featured false starts, atrocities, and daring back-channel negotiations as it divided the nation, paved the way for the Civil War a generation later, and launched the career of Abraham Lincoln. Amy S. Greenberg’s skilled storytelling and rigorous scholarship bring this American war for empire to life with memorable characters, plotlines, and legacies. When President James K. Polk compelled a divided Congress to support his war with Mexico, it was the first time that the young American nation would engage another republic in battle. Caught up in the conflict and the political furor surrounding it were Abraham Lincoln, then a new congressman; Polk, the dour president committed to territorial expansion at any cost; and Henry Clay, the aging statesman whose presidential hopes had been frustrated once again, but who still harbored influence and had one last great speech up his sleeve. Beyond these illustrious figures, A Wicked War follows several fascinating and long-neglected characters: Lincoln’s archrival John Hardin, whose death opened the door to Lincoln’s rise; Nicholas Trist, gentleman diplomat and secret negotiator, who broke with his president to negotiate a fair peace; and Polk’s wife, Sarah, whose shrewd politicking was crucial in the Oval Office. This definitive history of the 1846 conflict paints an intimate portrait of the major players and their world. It is a story of Indian fights, Manifest Destiny, secret military maneuvers, gunshot wounds, and political spin. Along the way it captures a young Lincoln mismatching his clothes, the lasting influence of the Founding Fathers, the birth of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and America’s first national antiwar movement. A key chapter in the creation of the United States, it is the story of a burgeoning nation and an unforgettable conflict that has shaped American history.

Watch the author give a very interesting talk about the book on PBS.


December 26, 2012 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gay Marriage Pioneer, Richard Adams, Dies

Elaine Woo of the L.A. Times tells the immigration story of gay marriage pioneer, Richard Adams who 37 years ago, made history when he and his partner, Anthony Sullivan, became one of the first gay couples in the country to be granted a marriage license. For a profile of the couple, click here.


In Boulder, Colo., a county clerk issued licenses to six same-sex couples in 1975. Adams hoped to use his marriage to secure permanent residency in the United States for Sullivan, an Australian who had been in the country on a temporary visa and was facing deportation.

Colorado's attorney general declared the Boulder marriages invalid. Several months later, Adams and Sullivan received a letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that denied Sullivan's petition for resident status in terms that left no doubt about the reason: "You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots," the notification read.

Adams, who later filed the first federal lawsuit demanding recognition of same-sex marriages, died last Monday at his home in Hollywoody. He was 65.

Born in Manila on March 9, 1947, Adams immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 12. He grew up in Long Prairie, Minnesota, studied at the University of Minnesota and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1968. By 1971 he was working in Los Angeles, where he met Sullivan and fell in love. On April 21, 1975, they obtained their license and exchanged marriage vows at the First Unitarian Church of Denver.


After their marriage, Adams and Sullivan filed a petition with the Immigration & Naturalization Service seeking permanent residency for Sullivan as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. In November 1975, they received the immigration agency's derogatory letter and lodged a formal protest. Officials reissued the denial notice without the word "faggots." They took the agency to court in 1979, challenging the constitutionality of the denial. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Adams v. Howerton (1982) refused to recognize a same-sex marriage for purpoises of the U.S. immigration laws.   In a second lawsuit, the couple argued that Sullivan's deportation after an eight-year relationship with Adams would constitute an "extreme hardship." In 1985, the Ninth Circuit rejected the appeal.

Because Australia had already turned down Adams' request for residency in that country, the couple decided the only way they could stay together was to leave the United States. In 1985, they flew to Britain and drifted through Europe for the next year. The pair returned from exile to the U.S. after a year and lived in Los Angeles to avoid drawing the attention of immigration officials.


"Limited Partnership," a documentary on Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan, is scheduled for release next year.


The struggle to ensure that the U.S. immigration laws recognize same-sex relationships continues.


December 23, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sleeping While Latino? ICE Settles Home Raids Case

Last week, attorneys announced the settlement of a home raids case against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Seven men and women and one child brought the case in 2008 against more than thirty individual ICE officers for a series of predawn raids of their homes undertaken without consent or a warrant. They are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Seton Hall University Law School, and Lowenstein Sandler PC.


Said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy, who began the litigation while at Seton Hall Law School, “Sleeping while Latino is not a crime. Agents cannot lie or force their way into people’s homes in the middle of the night, point guns at children and use force, all without a warrant or consent. This settlement provides accountability for discriminatory policing by immigration officials and shows that ICE is subject to the same restrictions as every other law enforcement agency.”

According to the complaint, in almost every raid armed ICE agents entered the home by force or deceit, rounded up everyone from their bedrooms, and used force, threats and intimidation, all in an effort to apprehend immigrants for deportation. One of the agents was yelling at legal permanent resident Ana Galindo, insisting that she tell him where the nonexistent “illegals” were hiding in her house, when her nine-year-old son ran in from his bedroom to see who was screaming at his mother. The agent drew his gun and pointed it at the boy’s chest. Ana spread her arms to shield him. “Other than when my mother and father died,” she said, “this is the worst thing I’ve ever lived through. They could have killed my only child.” Ana’s husband, Walter Chavez, added, “This settlement shows that when the government acts like this in America, we should not be quiet about it. We should speak up to stop them from doing this to other people.”

The case, Argueta v. ICE, charged that the individual ICE agents violated the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from nonconsensual, warrantless entry into their homes and from shocking and abusive governmental conduct once agents were inside the home. In 2006, ICE officials in Washington created a policy called “Operation Return to Sender,” under which seven-member Fugitive Operations Teams (FOTs) were ordered to increase their quota of arrests of so-called alien fugitives with outstanding deportation orders by 800 percent over the course of one year. The FOTs were permitted to count toward that quota so-called “collaterals”— aliens the FOTs happened to encounter as part of their raids. According to activists and attorneys, the increase in warrantless intrusions into immigrants’ homes followed directly from the policy. The raids became so notorious that one of the first acts of the new Obama administration was to remove the quotas. The lawsuit sought to attribute liability to the high-level policy makers who devised Operation Return to Sender for failure to anticipate the consequences of their arrest quota and for their failure to modify the policy once reports of widespread abuses became known to them through the media and congressional and local political leaders.

Under the settlement, the eight plaintiffs will receive a total of $295,000 in compensation.


December 23, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Graduate Honors Immigrant Mother at Commencement

Here is a happy holiday story.  Michelle Tran, a first-generation college graduate, graduated from UC Davis last week.  Her mother, Yen Nguyen, came from Vietnam with a sixth-grade education and raised her five daughters on her own, making many sacrifices so they could all go to college. All five are graduates. Tran, an English major, recalls something her mother has always said: "Education is a way to give yourself opportunity."

The December 15 commencement took place on Yen Nguyen's birthday — and she received a surprise gift when Tran stepped forward as the class speaker.




December 22, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Exporting Detention: Australian-Funded Immigration Detention in Indonesia by Savitri Taylor


Exporting Detention: Australian-Funded Immigration Detention in Indonesia by Savitri Taylor La Trobe University - School of Law, Journal of Refugee Studies, 2012

Abstract: Since 2000, Australia has provided significant levels of funding and resources to encourage Indonesia to use immigration detention to deter asylum seekers from making the onward journey to Australia. In this way Australia has effectively extended its domestic policy of immigration detention beyond its own national borders. The provision of Australian funding for detention in Indonesia has resulted in an increased propensity of Indonesian officials to detain. This article examines the outcomes and implications of this transfer of immigration detention policy for asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia. It draws on interviews conducted with individuals who have spent time in Indonesia’s immigration detention centres, and Indonesian immigration officials, to assess the conditions of the detention centres. The particular arrangement between Australia and Indonesia, however, fails adequately to protect the human rights of immigration detainees. Ultimately, the detention of asylum seekers in Indonesia serves as one more barrier to finding effective protection in the Asia-Pacific region.


December 22, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Black Migration Film List


Here (Download Black Migration Films_Clip) is alist of films and clips (w/synopses & links) on Black migration, which was posted on the Immprof listserve.  


December 22, 2012 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama administration sets U.S. deportation record: Deports Nearly 410,000 Noncitizens (Presumably 75%-plus from Mexico)

Yesterday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton announced the agency's fiscal year (FY) 2012 year-end removal numbers.

In FY 2012 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 409,849 individuals. Of these, approximately 55 percent, or 225,390 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — almost double the removal of criminals in FY 2008. This includes 1,215 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,557 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 40,448 aliens convicted for crimes involving drugs; and 36,166 aliens convicted for driving under the influence. ICE continues to make progress with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Some 96 percent of all ICE's removals fell into a priority category — a record high.  ICE reportedly prioritizes the identification and removal of recent border crossers and conducts targeted enforcement operations with the U.S. Border Patrol.

THe ICE press release fails to mention that the nearly 410,000 of removals breaks the U.S. removal record of about 393,500 in fiscal year 2009. See Fiscal Year 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2011 p. 102.  The ICE news release also did not report the nationalities of those removed.  However, in fiscal year 2011 (and for several years running), about 75 percent of those deported were from Mexico. The administration may have downplayed the new deportation record in light of past criticism of its removal records, which heavily impact the Latino community and have removed many parents from families for relatively minor criminal violations.

For more enforcement data, click here.

As Bill HIng blogged yesterday, ICE also issued new national detainer guidance. This guidance limits the use of detainers to individuals who meet the department's enforcement priorities and restricts the use of detainers against individuals arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic offenses and other petty crimes, helping to ensure that available resources are focused on apprehending felons, repeat offenders and other ICE priorities. It is applicable to all ICE enforcement programs, including Secure Communities.


December 22, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Breaking News: ICE Changes Detainer Policy

Today ICE Director John Morton issued orders to ICE officials that give in to much of the criticism on ICE detainers that has been voiced by officials in Santa Clara County, CA, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Cook County, IL, and elsewhere.

Morton's memo contains the following language:

Consistent with ICE's civil enforcement priorities and absent extraordinary circumstances, ICE agents and officers should issue a detainer in the federal, state, local, or tribal criminal justice systems against an individual only where (1) they have reason to believe the individual is an alien subject to removal from the United States and (2) one or more of the following conditions apply:

-the individual has a prior felony conviction or has been charged with a felony offense;

-the individual has three or more prior misdemeanor convictions;2

the individual has a prior misdemeanor conviction or has been charged with a misdemeanor offense ifthe misdemeanor conviction or pending charge involves-
   -- violence, threats, or assault;
   -- sexual abuse or exploitation;
   -- driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
   --  unlawful flight from the scene of an accident;
    --unlawful possession or use ofa firearm or other deadly weapon;
   -- the distribution or trafficking ofa controlled substance; or
   -- other significant threat to public safety;

-the individual has been convicted of illegal entry pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1325;

-the individual has illegally re-entered the country after a previous removal or return;

- the individual has an outstanding order of removal;

-the individual has been found by an immigration officer or an immigration judge to have knowingly committed immigration fraud; or

-the individual otherwise poses a significant risk to national security, border security, or public safety.

This is an important, partial victory against the Secure Communities program.


December 21, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Unauthorized Aliens Residing in the United States: Estimates Since 1986

Last week, the Congressional Research Service released "Unauthorized Aliens Residing in the United States: Estimates Since 1986" by Ruth Ellen Wasem.  Below is the summary:

"Estimates derived from the March Supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) indicate that the unauthorized resident alien population (commonly referred to as illegal aliens) rose from 3.2 million in 1986 to 12.4 million in 2007, before leveling off at 11.1 million in 2011. The estimated number of unauthorized aliens had dropped to 1.9 million in 1988 following passage of a 1986 law that legalized several million unauthorized aliens. Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Research Center, has been involved in making these estimations since he worked at the U.S. Bureau of the Census in the 1980s.

Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) reported an estimated 11.5 million unauthorized alien residents as of January 2011, up from 8.5 million in January 2000. The OIS estimated that the unauthorized resident alien population in the United States increased by 37% over the period 2000 to 2008, before leveling off since 2009. The OIS estimated that 6.8 million of the unauthorized alien residents in 2011 were from Mexico. About 33% of unauthorized residents in 2011 were estimated to have entered the United States since 2000, but the rate of illegal entry appears to be slowing. The OIS based its estimates on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Although increased border security, a record number of alien removals, and high unemployment, among other factors, have depressed the levels of illegal migration in recent years, the number of unauthorized aliens residing in the United States remains sizeable. Research suggests that various factors have contributed to the ebb and flow of unauthorized resident aliens, and that the increase is often attributed to the “push-pull” of prosperity-fueled job opportunities in the United States in contrast to limited job opportunities in the sending countries. Accordingly, the economic recession that began in December 2007 may have curbed the migration of unauthorized aliens, particularly because sectors that traditionally rely on unauthorized aliens, such as construction, services, and hospitality, have been especially hard hit.

Some researchers also suggest that the increased size of the unauthorized resident population during the late 1990s and early 2000s is an inadvertent consequence of border enforcement and immigration control policies. They posit that strengthened border security curbed the fluid movement of seasonal workers. This interpretation, generally referred to as a caging effect, argues that these policies raised the stakes in crossing the border illegally and created an incentive for those who succeed in entering the United States to stay. More recently, some maintain that strengthened border security measures, such as “enforcement with consequences,” coordinated efforts with Mexico to reduce illegal migrant recidivism, and increased border patrol agents, may be part of a constellation of factors holding down the flow.

The current system of legal immigration is cited as another factor contributing to unauthorized migration. The statutory ceilings that limit the type and number of immigrant visas issued each year create long waits for visas. According to this interpretation, many foreign nationals who have family in the United States resort to illegal avenues in frustration over the delays. Some researchers speculate that record number of alien removals (e.g., reaching almost 400,000 annually since FY2009) may cause a chilling effect on family members weighing unauthorized residence. Some observers point to more elusive factors when assessing the ebb and flow of unauthorized resident aliens—such as shifts in immigration enforcement priorities away from illegal entry to removing suspected terrorists and criminal aliens, or well-publicized discussions of possible “amnesty” legislation." (emphasis added).


December 21, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Breaking News: Senator John Kerry to be Next Secretary of State


CNN reports that President Barack Obama today will nominate Sen. John Kerry, the former presidential candidate who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to be the next Secretary of State. The senior senator from Massachusetts would succeeed Hillary Clinton, the outgoing Secretary.


December 21, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

What do you say President Obama? Indefinite detention: Echoes of World War II internment


Powerful words from the editorial pages of the San Francisco Chronicle:

"In awarding a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gordon Hirabayashi in May, President Obama spoke of the courage of the University of Washington student who refused an executive order to be among the 120,000 Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. Obama expressed his admiration for Hirabayashi as a champion of civil rights.

"In Gordon's words, 'It takes a crisis to tell us that unless citizens are willing to stand up for the (Constitution), it's not worth the paper it's written on,' " Obama said at a White House ceremony. "And this country is better off because of citizens like him who are willing to stand up."

The president's words were poignant, appropriate - and in direct contradiction with his own administration's insistence on a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes the U.S. military to indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, without due process if the government suspects them of supporting terrorism.

Neither Obama, his predecessor George W. Bush nor the U.S. Congress has shown a willingness to stand up for due process and civil liberties on this issue. Just this week, a House-Senate conference committee preserved the government's ability to detain people indefinitely without trial in the latest version of the bill."

We should never forget the lessons of the internment of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II.



December 21, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration reform in the U.S. will happen - once several major issues are resolved

Allan Wernick predicts that "immigration reform with a path to citizenship is a certainty, barring a major catastrophe or upheaval. The question now is what form it will take. The basic outline is clear: legalization of undocumented immigrants, a special program for undocumented youth, increased sanctions against employers who hire undocumented workers (with mandatory electronic verification of employment authorization), expanded visa opportunities for highly-educated professionals and an updated non-immigrant visa program for agricultural workers. Here are some predictions on how the debate on these issues will play out."

Read more.


December 21, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Examining Maryland's Views on Immigrants and Immigration by Elizabeth Keyes


Examining Maryland's Views on Immigrants and Immigration by Elizabeth Keyes University of Baltimore - School of Law December 10, 2012 University of Baltimore Law Forum (Forthcoming)

Abstract: This article consider's the politics of immigration from the perspective of one state grappling with divergent and confusing federal immigration policies. Although Maryland is not a state that attracts national attention for its treatment of immigrants, its many jurisdictions (with their varying histories and demographics) offer an interesting contrast in approaches taken in response to differing federal initiatives. When immigration regulation moves to the state-level, it reveals the sharp divides that exist within states; it does not resolve the federal-level contradictions, but simply shifts their playing field. The divergence of policies even within a generally pro-immigrant state like Maryland reveals the difficulty for states when the federal government devolves significant enforcement responsibility to the states, with no ability to concurrently devolve responsibility for benefits. The article concludes that recent Congressional paralysis on matters of immigration has inexcusably moved a contentious political conversation to a level of government with no authority to address its real substance. Maryland’s difficulties finding state-wide solutions to the regulation of immigrants within its borders offers a cautionary tale, making it all the more essential that the federal government, and Congress in particular, summon the courage to create a more sustainable framework.


December 21, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)