Thursday, January 31, 2013

Support for Film on Gay Asylum Seekers

Dear Friends,

I'm a documentary film maker -- and have worked for PBS, Nat Geo, CNN, and HBO, among others.

Over the last four years, I've been making a film documenting the lives of two gay Jamaicans, who were forced by homophobic violence -- and the threat of violence -- to flee their homeland.   

The film, which we are calling "An Abominable Crime" (after the language in the Jamaican law that criminalizes homosexuality), is a gripping and emotionally powerful story with two incredible characters.

Simone Edwards is a brave lesbian mother, who barely survives a murderous attack -- and then is forced to choose between a life in hiding in Jamaica with her young daughter -- or a life alone as an asylum seeker abroad. 

Maurice Tomlinson, Jamaica’s leading human rights activist and an active member of the MCC Church, is also forced to flee his homeland when he is publicly outed by a Jamaican newspaper -- shortly after filing a legal challenge to Jamaica's destructive anti-gay laws.

We are with Maurice when he decides to risk his life by returning home to continue his work ...

We are now on the verge of completing the film and have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to get us across the homestretch!

Please watch the trailer and visit the film's Kickstater page here:

For as little as $1, or as much as you can afford, you can make a difference!

You can also support this campaign by sharing this email with any family or friends in your social network who might be interested in helping to get this remarkable story of hope, hatred and homophobia out into the world!  

Very best regards,

Micah Fink
Producer/ Director
Common Good Productions


January 31, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration and Nationality Law Review Call for Papers

Submission season is upon us!  Here's a journal for immigration and citizenship scholars to consider.  The Immigration and Nationality Law Review at the University of Cincinnati College of Law is soliciting articles. Download INLR Call for Papers

The Editor-in-Chief wrote: "This year we are continuing to expand by publishing our first original Feature Article, the author of which will be invited to speak at our Spring Speaker Event this coming April. We are currently soliciting entries for the Feature Article. Only ONE will be chosen. Papers on any immigration or nationality related topics are welcome. The Feature Article will be selected for its quality, relevance, and practical import. We are accepting submissions over ExpressO, and have extended the deadline to Monday February 11, 2013. Please email any questions to Yosef Schiff, the Editor-in-Chief, at


January 31, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Dark Justice: Australia's Indefinite Detention of Refugees on Security Grounds under International Human Rights Law by Ben Saul


Dark Justice: Australia's Indefinite Detention of Refugees on Security Grounds under International Human Rights Law by Ben Saul University of Sydney - Faculty of Law January 21, 2013 Melbourne Journal of International Law, Forthcoming Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/02

Abstract: This article examines Australia’s security assessment and related detention of refugees in the light of international human rights law. The current domestic legal process typically denies refugees any or adequate notice of the allegations and evidence against them, precludes merits review by an independent administrative tribunal and fails to provide genuine and effective judicial review of security assessments or detention (including a sufficient degree of procedural fairness and disclosure of essential evidence). The result is often indefinite detention of recognised refugees who cannot be removed from Australia and thus remain in a legal black hole where security decisions are immune from scrutiny. The current regime results in systematic violations of Australia’s obligations under arts 9(1), 9(2) and 9(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These violations are not remedied by the High Court of Australia’s fairly narrow, technical decision in the 2012 case, Plaintiff M47/2012 v Director-General of Security, or by the creation of the non-binding Independent Reviewer of ASIO assessments.


January 31, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nearly 300 wrongful arrests by Border Patrol and almost $1 million in cash and other incentives

Today, the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and Families for Freedom released a report on the impact of Border Patrol policies on persons with lawful status. The report, which draws from documents and testimony obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, provides the first release of information about Border Patrol’s cash bonus system as well as a statistical portrait, based on internal Border Patrol documents, of persons with lawful status who have been arrested by Border Patrol and in many cases held for hours in the middle on the night.

The report makes three main findings: 1. The Border Patrol distributes cash award bonuses, time off awards and gift certificates in a system that does not require any written justification and is therefore not subject to oversight.

2. Despite telling a federal court that it did not even maintain annual arrest statistics at a station by station level, Border Patrol operates on an arrest driven culture in which arrest rates are monitored and reported on a daily basis by each station in the Buffalo Sector.

3. In one program (train and bus arrests) in one station (the Rochester Station of the Buffalo Sector) Border Patrol documented the arrest of almost 300 persons with a form of legal status between 2006 and 2010. Those arrested included US citizens, lawful permanent residents, holders of work and student visas, asylees, refugees, recipients of TPS and tourists. The overwhelming majority of those arrested were from countries that are predominantly made up of persons of color. There were persons arrested from over eighty countries. The report provides detailed accounts drawn from Border Patrol documents of the persons arrested and held for hours before Border Patrol concluded that they had proper status.

In addition, the report shows that Border Patrol presumes that it can arrest any noncitizen who is not carrying a passport or a permanent residency card and fails even to acknowledge an Employment Authorization Document as sufficient proof of status. Thus, for example, the report document instances in which a recently arrived tourist traveling domestically was arrested for failure to carry passport. The report traces the history of the registration laws and regulations to show the fallacy with Border Patrol’s assumption that it can arrest on nothing more than a noncitizen’s failure to carry a passport. Co-authors of the the report are Anna Schoenfelder (NYU ’13), Natasha Rivera Silber (NYU ’13), and Professor Nancy Morawetz (NYU).


January 30, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Manufacturing in the United States, Mexico, and Central America: Implications for Competitiveness and Migration

The manufacturing sector is a significant source of employment for workers from Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle — with an estimated 17 percent employed in manufacturing in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and immigrants from these countries making up 8 percent of the US manufacturing workforce.

Despite different manufacturing histories and contexts, these countries’ manufacturing sectors are increasingly interdependent, and the prospect of moving up the value chain by building human capital holds great potential for improving both individual livelihoods and overall regional competitiveness.

In Manufacturing in the United States, Mexico, and Central America: Implications for Competitiveness and Migration, authors Peter Creticos and Eleanor Sohnen examine how aggressive manufacturing-attraction strategies have benefited the economies of Mexico, and to a lesser extent, the Northern Triangle. Yet the achievements of the maquiladora development strategy have masked important flaws that threaten to stymie the promise of even greater economic growth.

The authors make the case that these countries need to achieve a post-maquila transformation. They also outline the need for the regional workforce to gain the skills to compete with counterparts in advanced manufacturing regions such as northern Europe and Japan. Credentialing standards, training systems, and outcome measures that are comparable to those in industrialized economies will serve as the basis for attracting talent from outside the region as well as expanding employment options for homegrown talent.


January 30, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Data on the Foreign Born and Immigrants

The Migration Policy Institute Data Hub has updated a national and state-level profile of the foreign born in the United States. Using statistics from the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) data, this analysis of immigrants and natives across the country covers their demographic and social, language and education, workforce, and income and poverty characteristics. This month's updates are to the "Demographic and Social Characteristics" fact sheets.

Using 2011 ACS data, the highlights include analysis on top countries of birth for the US foreign born, US citizenship status, state-to-state mobility, and more. (The fact sheets also showcase companion data on the US-born population and, in some cases, comparison of key trends in 1990 and 2000.) Some interesting facts you will find:

* Mexico, India, and China were the top three countries of birth at the national level. Close to 40.4 million immigrants resided in the United States in 2011, with most emigrating from Mexico, India, and China. In comparison, the three largest source countries in 1990 were Mexico, the Philippines, and Canada.

* About 45 percent of all immigrants in the United States are naturalized US citizens. Eligibility requirements (visa status, length of residence, English skills, etc.), naturalization rates (how fast an eligible person chooses to apply for naturalization), and processing time (including background checks) determine for the most part which immigrants are more likely to become US citizens.

Children of immigrants account for one-quarter of all children under 18 but almost one-third of those in low-income families.

In addition, the nation's immigrant population reached a record 40.4 million in 2011, including an estimated 11.1 million who are unauthorized, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. The overall number of immigrants in the U.S. continues to grow steadily; it is up by more than 9 million since 2000. By contrast, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. grew for decades before peaking at 12 million in 2007. It was 11.1 million as of 2011, the last year for which an estimate is available.

The 40.4 million total, which includes legal as well as unauthorized immigrants, made up 13% of the total U.S. population in 2011. While the 40.4 million is a record, immigrants' share of the total population is below the U.S. peak of just under 15% during the period from 1890 to 1920 — a high-immigration era dominated by arrivals from Europe. The modern wave, which began with the passage of border-opening legislation in 1965, has been led by arrivals from Latin America (about 50%) and Asia (27%).

Besides this new analysis of the nation's immigrant population, the Pew Hispanic Center also is publishing today a statistical portrait of the nation's foreign-born population. It is based on the Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey and features detailed characteristics of the U.S. foreign-born population at the national level, as well as state population totals. Topics covered include age, nativity, citizenship, origin, language proficiency, living arrangements, marital status, fertility, schooling, health insurance coverage, earnings, poverty and employment.


January 30, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Making Legal: The Dream Act, Birthright Citizenship, and Broad-Scale Legalization by Hiroshi Motomura


Making Legal: The Dream Act, Birthright Citizenship, and Broad-Scale Legalization by Hiroshi Motomura (UCLA) January 15, 2013 16 Lewis & Clark Law Review 1127-48 (2012) UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 13-01

Abstract: Some of the most controversial topics in immigration and citizenship law involve granting lawful immigration status - or citizenship itself - to persons who might otherwise be in the United States unlawfully. In this Article, I examine arguments for and against three ways to confer lawful status: (1) the DREAM Act, which would grant status to many unauthorized migrants who were brought to the United States as children; (2) the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, under which almost all children born on U.S. soil are U.S. citizens; and (3) broad-scale proposals to grant lawful immigration status to a substantial percentage of the current unauthorized population. I first explain how arguments both for and against the DREAM Act reflect some mix of fairness and pragmatism. Though birthright citizenship seems different from the DREAM Act, the arguments are similar. I next show that although children figure much more prominently in the DREAM Act and birthright citizenship, similar patterns of argument apply to broad–scale legalization, and the arguments in favor are just as strong. Finally, I explain that the “rule of law” is a highly malleable concept that provides no persuasive case against any of these ways to confer lawful immigration or citizenship status. Rule of law arguments in favor of conferring status are stronger than rule of law arguments against doing so.


January 30, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

President's Outline for Immigration Reform

A couple major differences between President Obama's framework for reform and that presented by Senators yesterday include the recognition of the right of same sex couples to qualify in the marriage immigration category and the metrics for determining when the border is secure prior to legalization seem more reasonable. Here is the President's outline for reform that was posted following his speech in Las Vegas today.

From the White House:

FACT SHEET: Fixing our Broken Immigration System so Everyone Plays by the Rules

America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows.  Neither is good for the economy or the country.

It is time to act to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from the workers here illegally and those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules. 
President Obama’s commonsense immigration reform proposal has four parts. First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers. 
Together we can build a fair, effective and commonsense immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
The key principles the President believes should be included in commonsense immigration reform are:
Continuing to Strengthen Border Security: President Obama has doubled the number of Border Patrol agents since 2004 and today border security is stronger than it has ever been.  But there is more work to do.   The President’s proposal gives law enforcement the tools they need to make our communities safer from crime.  And by enhancing our infrastructure and technology, the President’s proposal continues to strengthen our ability to remove criminals and apprehend and prosecute national security threats.

Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: Our businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United States.  Businesses that knowingly employ undocumented workers are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by the rules.  The President’s proposal is designed to stop these unfair hiring practices and hold these companies accountable.  At the same time, this proposal gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.

Earned Citizenship: It is just not practical to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants living within our borders.  The President’s proposal provides undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship that will encourage them to come out of the shadows so they can pay their taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else.  Immigrants living here illegally must be held responsible for their actions by passing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, going to the back of the line, and learning English before they can earn their citizenship. There will be no uncertainty about their ability to become U.S. citizens if they meet these eligibility criteria. The proposal will also stop punishing innocent young people brought to the country through no fault of their own by their parents and give them a chance to earn their citizenship more quickly if they serve in the military or pursue higher education.

Streamlining Legal Immigration:  Our immigration system should reward anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules.  For the sake of our economy and our security, legal immigration should be simple and efficient.  The President’s proposal attracts the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here and helping the most promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in this country after graduation, rather than take their skills to other countries.  The President’s proposal will also reunify families in a timely and humane manner.
Continuing to Strengthen Border Security

Strengthen border security and infrastructure.  The President’s proposal strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and continues supporting the use of technologies that help to secure the land and maritime borders of the United States.

Combat transnational crime.  The President’s proposal creates new criminal penalties dedicated to combating transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, and money, and that smuggle people across the borders.  It also expands the scope of current law to allow for the forfeiture of these organizations’ criminal tools and proceeds.  Through this approach, we will bolster our efforts to deprive criminal enterprises, including those operating along the Southwest border, of their infrastructure and profits.

Improve partnerships with border communities and law enforcement.  The President’s proposal expands our ability to work with our cross-border law enforcement partners.  Community trust and cooperation are keys to effective law enforcement. To this end, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will establish border community liaisons along the Southern and Northern borders to improve communication and collaboration with border communities, boost funding to tribal government partners to reduce illegal activity on tribal lands, and strengthen training on civil rights and civil liberties for DHS immigration officers.

Crack down on criminal networks engaging in passport and visa fraud and human smuggling. The President’s proposal creates tough criminal penalties for trafficking in passports and immigration documents and schemes to defraud, including those who prey on vulnerable immigrants through notario fraud. It also strengthens penalties to combat human smuggling rings.

Deporting Criminals. The President’s proposal expands smart enforcement efforts that target convicted criminals in federal or state correctional facilities, allowing us to remove them from the United States at the end of their sentences without re-entering our communities. At the same time, it protects those with a credible fear of returning to their home countries.

Streamline removal of nonimmigrant national security and public safety threats.  The President’s proposal creates a streamlined administrative removal process for people who overstay their visas and have been determined to be threats to national security and public safety.

Improve our nation’s immigration courts.  The President’s proposal invests in our immigration courts. By increasing the number of immigration judges and their staff, investing in training for court personnel, and improving access to legal information for immigrants, these reforms will improve court efficiency.  It allows DHS to better focus its detention resources on public safety and national security threats by expanding alternatives to detention and reducing overall detention costs.  It also provides greater protections for those least able to represent themselves.

Cracking Down on Employers Who Hire Undocumented Workers

Mandatory, phased-in electronic employment verification. The President’s proposal provides tools for employers to ensure a legal workforce by using federal government databases to verify that the people they hire are eligible to work in the United States.  Penalties for hiring undocumented workers are significantly increased, and new penalties are established for committing fraud and identity theft.  The new mandatory program ensures the privacy and confidentiality of all workers’ personal information and includes important procedural protections.  Mandatory electronic employment verification would be phased in over five years with exemptions for certain small businesses.

Combat fraud and identity theft.  The proposal also mandates a fraud‐resistant, tamper‐resistant Social Security card and requires workers to use fraud‐and tamper‐resistant documents to prove authorization to work in the United States. The proposal also seeks to establish a voluntary pilot program to evaluate new methods to authenticate identity and combat identity theft.

Protections for all workers. The President’s proposal protects workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights.  It increases the penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers to skirt the workplace standards that protect all workers.  And it creates a “labor law enforcement fund” to help ensure that industries that employ significant numbers of immigrant workers comply with labor laws.

 Pathway to Earned Citizenship

Create a provisional legal status.  Undocumented immigrants must come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass criminal background and national security checks, and pay fees and penalties before they will be eligible for a provisional legal status.  Agricultural workers and those who entered the United States as children would be eligible for the same program.  Individuals must wait until the existing legal immigration backlogs are cleared before getting in line to apply for lawful permanent residency (i.e. a “green card”), and ultimately United States citizenship. Consistent with current law, people with provisional legal status will not be eligible for welfare or other federal benefits, including subsidies or tax credits under the new health care law.

Create strict requirements to qualify for lawful permanent resident status.  Those applying for green cards must pay their taxes, pass additional criminal background and national security checks, register for Selective Service (where applicable), pay additional fees and penalties, and learn English and U.S. civics.  As under current law, five years after receiving a green card, individuals will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship like every other legal permanent resident.

Earned citizenship for DREAMers. Children brought here illegally through no fault of their own by their parents will be eligible for earned citizenship.  By going to college or serving honorably in the Armed Forces for at least two years, these children should be given an expedited opportunity to earn their citizenship.  The President’s proposal brings these undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.

Create administrative and judicial review. An individual whose provisional lawful status has been revoked or denied, or whose application for adjustment has been denied, will have the opportunity to seek administrative and judicial review of those decisions.

Provide new resources to combat fraud. The President’s proposal authorizes funding to enable DHS, the Department of State, and other relevant federal agencies to establish fraud prevention programs that will provide training for adjudicators, allow regular audits of applications to identify patterns of fraud and abuse, and incorporate other proven fraud prevention measures.
Streamlining Legal Immigration

Keep Families Together. The proposal seeks to eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers.  The proposal also raises existing annual country caps from 7 percent to 15 percent for the family-sponsored immigration system.   It also treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner. The proposal also revises current unlawful presence bars and provides broader discretion to waive bars in cases of hardship.

Cut Red Tape for Employers.  The proposal also eliminates the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system.  Outdated legal immigration programs are reformed to meet current and future demands by exempting certain categories from annual visa limitations.
Enhance travel and tourism.  The Administration is committed to increasing U.S. travel and tourism by facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining our nation’s security.  Consistent with the President’s Executive Order on travel and tourism, the President’s proposal securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing.  It also strengthens law enforcement cooperation while maintaining the program’s robust counterterrorism and criminal information sharing initiatives.  It facilitates more efficient travel by allowing greater flexibility to designate countries for participation in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of designated countries to visit the United States without obtaining a visa.  And finally it permits the State Department to waive interview requirements for certain very low-risk visa applicants, permitting resources to be focused on higher risk applicants and creates a pilot for premium visa processing.

“Staple” green cards to advanced STEM diplomas.  The proposal encourages foreign graduate students educated in the United States to stay here and contribute to our economy by “stapling” a green card to the diplomas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) PhD and Master’s Degree graduates from qualified U.S. universities who have found employment in the United States.  It also requires employers to pay a fee that will support education and training to grow the next generation of American workers in STEM careers.

Create a “startup visa” for job-creating entrepreneurs.  The proposal allows foreign entrepreneurs who attract financing from U.S. investors or revenue from U.S. customers to start and grow their businesses in the United States, and to remain permanently if their companies grow further, create jobs for American workers, and strengthen our economy.

Expand opportunities for investor visas and U.S. economic development.  The proposal permanently authorizes immigrant visa opportunities for regional center (pooled investment) programs; provides incentives for visa requestors to invest in programs that support national priorities, including economic development in rural and economically depressed regions ; adds new measures to combat fraud and national security threats; includes data collection on economic impact; and creates a pilot program for  state and local government officials to promote economic development.

Create a new visa category for employees of federal national security science and technology laboratories.  The proposal creates a new visa category for a limited number of highly-skilled and specialized immigrants to work in federal science and technology laboratories on critical national security needs after being in the United States. for two years and passing rigorous national security and criminal background checks.

Better addresses humanitarian concerns. The proposal streamlines immigration law to better protect vulnerable immigrants, including those who are victims of crime and domestic violence.  It also better protects those fleeing persecution by eliminating the existing limitations that prevent qualified individuals from applying for asylum.

Encourage integration. The proposal promotes earned citizenship and efforts to integrate immigrants into their new American communities linguistically, civically, and economically.


January 29, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Border Coalition Response to Senate Proposal

Southern Border Communities Coalition Responds to Senators' Principles for Immigration Reform
Contact: Ricardo Favela, (760) 659-3620
Southern Border Region: We are pleased to see that the framework proposed by the bipartisan group of Senators includes a pathway to citizenship. However, this pathway to citizenship should be contingent on creating a better border and should not be burdened by unnecessary border enforcement.
A better border is efficient, humane, and a cornerstone of economic prosperity for all. The Senators’ proposal begins to outline what a better border looks like by “strengthen[ing] prohibitions against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force, enhanc[ing] the training of border patrol agents, increas[ing] oversight, and creat[ing] a mechanism to ensure a meaningful opportunity for border communities to share input, including critiques.”
“Rather than continuing years of wasteful spending, the Congress and the Administration must begin holding border enforcement agencies accountable for their bloated budgets, flawed policies, and abuses of human and civil rights,” said Christian Ramírez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition.

“Border enforcement policy decisions must include mechanisms that holds agencies accountable and provides oversight as well as reflecting the perspectives of border communities,” says Vicki Gaubeca, co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition and director of ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights.

She continues, “Now is the time to halt further construction of costly, deadly and  ineffective border infrastructure or unproven technologies, and stopping the expensive, overzealous prosecution of migrants through programs like Operation Streamline.”  This operation is a “zero tolerance” border enforcement program that orders federal criminal charges for every person who crosses the border without documentation, overloading U.S. courts  and undermining the best values of our judicial system.

Due to the focus on border enforcement, U.S. ports of entry have been neglected, turning them into bottlenecks for travelers causing wait times to reach as long as five hours. If ports of entry continue to be neglected, the U.S. Commerce Department projects that the average time to get through these ports to enter the United States will continue to rise, resulting in a delay the Department estimates could cost a total of $12 billion by 2017. We want better ports of entry.

In a live press conference today covering the principles introduced by the bipartisan group of Senators, New York Senator Schumer said he does not want immigration reform to be a wedge issue, yet a border enforcement component is precisely a wedge issue that falls short of addressing the realities of the border region.

The Border Patrol is out of control. Incidents of excessive use of force are on the rise, with at least 20 people killed and 3 seriously injured by CBP officials since January 2010.  There is little accountability and oversight on the part of CBP for these systemic abuses.

Border Patrol’s use-of-force incidents have attracted international scrutiny with the government of Mexico, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights weighing in to urge the U.S. government to investigate CBP’s involvement in each fatality. 

“Policymakers must break away from the shortsightedness of border enforcement and view the border in its entirety, as the home to 6 million people, as a cornerstone of the US economy, and as a vibrant corridor for millions of travelers and shoppers,” says Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego and Co-Chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. “A better border is needed to go hand in hand with immigration reform.”
Southern Border Communities Coalition


January 29, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Laws by the Numbers in 2012: Down, But Still High

A new National Conference of State Legislatures report finds that the number of immigration-related bills introduced and passed at the state level in 2012 dipped in comparison with the last five years, yet remains high overall. There are several explanations for the dip, including the May 2012 Supreme Court Arizona v. United States ruling, and the fact that four state legislatures did not meet in 2012, including Montana, North Dakota, Nevada and Texas.


January 29, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Law Teaching Fellow Position at Michigan State University

Michigan State University College of Law invites applications for a two-year teaching fellowship in its Immigration Law Clinic to start on or about June 1, 2013. We would appreciate your help in forwarding this posting to potential candidates among your colleagues and former students. The Immigration Law Clinic provides opportunities for students to learn the practice of law in a well-supervised and academically rigorous program. Students directly represent clients and manage a diverse and challenging docket. Though a core of immigration law content is always present, the clinic varies in its selection of cases with attention to pedagogical concerns, community need, and impact.

In its first two years, the Immigration Law Clinic has represented clients from 53 different countries, both defensively in removal proceedings and affirmatively in applications for relief with slightly more than half of its work focused on unaccompanied minors and domestic violence victims. Defensively, students appeared in 110 Immigration Court hearings on behalf of unaccompanied minors. Of these, 43 have obtained lawful permanent resident status to date. Affirmatively, applications for U-visa, VAWA or asylum have resulted in relief for 29 clients. Recently, the clinic prevailed in its first case before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Through this varied casework, students build not only knowledge and skills, but also learn to exercise judgment, form professional identity and develop critical and reflective perspectives on legal systems.

See Download Msu clinic


January 29, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Domestic Violence as a Basis for Asylum: An Analysis of 206 Case Outcomes in the United States from 1994 to 2012 by Blaine Bookey

Domestic Violence as a Basis for Asylum: An Analysis of 206 Case Outcomes in the United States from 1994 to 2012 by Blaine Bookey University of California Hastings College of the Law November 1, 2012 Hastings Women's Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1, 2013 UC Hastings Research Paper No. 17

Abstract: The recent granting of asylum in the United States to the women in the highly publicized Matter of R-A- and Matter of L-R- cases has opened doors for other women fleeing horrific violence at the hands of their husbands and partners. Some immigration judges have begun to accept domestic violence as a basis for asylum as a result of the U.S. government’s approach in these cases. However, the absence of binding jurisprudential and regulatory norms remains a major impediment to fair and consistent outcomes for women who fear returning to countries where they face heinous abuse, or even death. While disparities in asylum adjudication in the United States have been well documented, exposing failures in the administrative system has had minimal impact on creating accountability, in part due to the continued lack of transparency in decision making. Decisions by immigration judges and many appellate agencies are not published or available in any publicly searchable database.

This article aims to shed light on decision making trends and to provide greater transparency to the asylum system by analyzing 206 outcomes in domestic violence asylum cases from December 1994 to May 2012 collected by the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. The analysis will show that some adjudicators have acted consistently with developments in the Matter of RA- and L-R- cases, whereas others have been reluctant to follow the developments without official guidance, and yet others have acted with an erroneous understanding or ignorance of the events, especially where those developments were in favor of the asylum seeker, creating a haphazard record of inconsistent jurisprudence on whether domestic violence can be a basis for asylum. This article argues that, without clear guidance, the United States will continue to shirk its international obligations to protect women who present bona fide claims for relief.


January 29, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama to Back Immigration Reform in Speech in Las Vegas Today


Following up on a proposal by eight U.S. Senators, President Obama today will voice his support for immigration reform in a speech in Las Vegas at 11:55 PST todayCNN reports that, according to senior administration officials, the President will not introduce new legislation at this time; rather, he will press for quick action on immigration reform and share more details about his own reform proposal. The White House may consider introducing its own legislation should the Senate plan fall apart.

UPDATE (1/29 12:45 p.m.): Here is the speech and a fact sheet on the President's proposal.


January 29, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 28, 2013

We Need an Iconic Immigrant Rights Moment

Will there be a pivotal moment in the immigrant rights movement?

In President Obama’s second inaugural address last week, he reminded us of powerful, iconic moments that have made a difference in the country’s social, political, and civil rights movements:

“We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”

The Seneca Falls Convention, held over a two-day period in 1848, was the first women's-rights convention organized by women in the Western world. For many, the Convention marks the beginning of the women's movement in America. The Stonewall reference is to an uprising that took place in 1969 at the Greenwich Inn in Greenwich Village after police raided the unlicensed bar that was known to serve gay persons. Fed up with the harassment, customers resisted violently and arrests were made. Gay rights demonstrations and resistance ensued for six days, in this pinnacle event for modern gay and lesbian rights.

Selma was the 1965 starting point for three attempted civil rights marches to the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery, initially to protest the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson and the denial of voting rights. State and local police attacked marchers with clubs and tear gas. The marchers, with growing numbers of supporters, finally reached the capitol under the protection 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was among the marchers; of course, he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 on the U.S. Capitol Mall where Obama was sworn in on Monday. These are prominent events in the civil rights movement.

The immigrant rights movement apparently is missing such powerful a moment—a moment or event that becomes the turning point in making important strides in fair and humane immigration reform. A moment that can be referenced in an inauguration speech.

I thought that moment came on May 1, 2006. For weeks in the spring of 2006, television and newspapers featured spectacular images of masses of humanity lined up for miles in marches across the United States. The marches were overwhelmingly pro-immigrant. On May 1, many immigrants took to the streets, answering the spontaneous call by Spanish-speaking radio hosts and immigrant leaders to forego one day of work to protest.  Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and immigrants peacefully marched in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles; thousands more took to the streets in other cities across the country. In San Jose, California, the protest brought freeway traffic to a standstill. These immigrant rights demonstrations were unprecedented in American history.

The first round of protests targeted a punitive bill, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2005, popularly known by the name of its sponsor Representative James Sensenbrenner. Among other things, the Sensenbrenner bill would have made the mere status of being an undocumented immigrant a felony subject to imprisonment as well as deportation from the United States. That was the final straw as far as countless immigrants and their supporters was concerned. The Sensenbrenner attack struck at the heart of every day, immigrant workers who were here to earn an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work and to put food on the table for their family, because opportunities had dried up in the native countries.

Over time, the mass pro-immigrant protests of 2006 died down. However, we have seen indications of potential momentous actions in the last couple of years, largely through the efforts of DREAMers, who have fought so shrewdly and courageously for their right to be legalized. President Obama responded to their efforts by granting them temporary administrative relief, and he even alluded to DREAMers and migrants like their parents in his inauguration speech on Monday:

“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began, for our journey is not complete until . . . we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”

We can hope and pray that policy makers do the right thing and legislate fair, comprehensive immigration reform out of a sense of justice and compassion or even to curry political votes in future elections. But why not give policy makers more to think about? More political action will be necessary to secure social change. It’s time for the immigrant rights movement to have its iconic Selma, Seneca Falls, and Stonewall moment. The marches of May 1, 2006 need to be repeated over and over again until immigrant voices are finally heard more broadly. DREAMers provided a glimpse of broad potential accomplishments that can be achieved, but only if the original immigrant dreamers—the parents, aunts, and uncles—make their voices heard.


January 28, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Bipartisan Group of Senators Propose Compromise Immigration Reform Plan

Numerous news outlets report that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators has agreed on a plan to grant legal status to eligible undocumented immigrants, which could form the basis for an overhaul of the immigration laws. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), who heads the Senate subcommittee that handles immigration legislation, briefed the White House on Sunday. The eight senators scrambled over the weekend to come to an agreement before Obama unveiled his plan later this week.

At a news conference on Sunday, Schumer noted that "the devil is in the details," but said that he and the other senators in the group had made good progress. The group included Senators Schumer, John McCain (R-Ariz.),  Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeff Flake (D-AZ).  So far, the group has negotiated legislative language on implementing the legalization program and on increasing border security. The senators will turn their attention next to details on how to increase the flow of legal immigration to reduce the incentive for illegal border crossings.


January 28, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Immigration Reform Must Cover Trade Agreements and Structural Adjustment Programs

From: Cathi Tactaquin and Gerald Lenoir

Nowhere in the debate on immigration reform is there a mention of the root causes of migration—including free trade agreements and structural adjustment programs (SAPS).  Multi-national corporate and U.S. foreign policies continue to devastate economies throughout the Global South. Wars, climate change, persecution abound. For survival, to support themselves and their families, people have been forced to move.  The United Nations says that there are 215 million people who do not reside in the country of their birth. Immigration reform, with all its limitations, will not address the destructive economic and foreign policies that contribute to unprecedented global migration.

All this said, it is incumbent upon immigrant communities and their allies to fight tooth-and-nail for fair, humane immigration reform.  And we cannot harbor any illusions that justice is just around the corner; whatever gets signed into law will set the stage for a new round of struggle for fair and just immigration laws and policies.

In the short and the long term, the immigrant rights movement will benefit by coming together with the parallel movements for racial equity and economic justice to push for a comprehensive agenda that benefits all poor and working class communities.  It is no accident that in the 2012 election exit poll conducted by the Washington Post, African Americans polled the highest in support for legal status for undocumented immigrants (81%), even higher the Hispanics (77%)!  It is their long history of struggling against white supremacy and economic exploitation that explains why African Americans have greater empathy and support for immigrants facing the same forces of oppression.  And while there is still a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment among African Americans to be overcome, they can be strategic allies in the continuing struggle to build a new human rights movement capable of winning social and economic justice for all. Read more...


January 27, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Immigration Priorities from SIREN

From Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network:

Dear Friends and Partners of SIREN,

Happy New Year!  Thank you again for investing in and partnering with SIREN.

Every year SIREN board, staff and community leaders determine how to improve the lives of immigrants in Santa Clara County by identifying key focus areas.  While there are a number of issues to address, priorities are based on SIREN values, capacity, and platform.

This will be an exciting year!  We hope that you will be able to partner with us to ensure immigrants are valued, integrated, and seen as essential to our society.  Our 2013 issue priorities are:
                ♦ Just Immigration Policies and Civil Rights: SIREN will work with local organizations to
                    develop a Santa Clara County Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) strategy.  In addition,
                    SIREN will continue working with other advocates to protect the current detainer policy, which
                    was a policy that minimizes collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration
                    enforcement officials.
                ♦ Quality Immigration Services: As the site leader for the New Americans Campaign, SIREN
                    will hold large scale collaborative events throughout the year at diverse locations across Santa
                    Clara County, bringing citizenship resources to historically underserved and underrepresented
                    communities.  With CET, we will lead the planning and coordination of the annual Citizenship
                    Day.  Additionally, we will continue providing quality and affordable deferred action (DACA)
                    services to young immigrants, and providing free eligibility screening and document review on
                    a weekly basis.
                ♦ Immigrant Empowerment: In strengthening and deepening the participation level and
                    leadership of immigrants, SIREN will continue to focus on the Seven Trees community and
                    engage them in advocacy efforts to bring about the changes they see necessary in their lives
                    such as the detainer policy, and participating in Immigrant Day and April Action Days in the
                    capital.  In addition, SIREN will launch its “Welcome to Silicon Valley” public safety campaign,
                    where community leaders will be meeting with law enforcement officials to address priorities
                    in the Seven Trees community, increase trust, and find common sense solutions to ensuring
                    public safety.
                ♦ Ensure quality, equal and affordable health care regardless of status: SIREN will
                    develop community education materials to address the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and
                    will launch an education campaign to ensure that immigrants understand the benefits and
                    services available.
                ♦ Affordable and Culturally Appropriate Safety Net Programs: SIREN will continue to
                    organize around increasing revenues to preserve the safety net in California.

Again, thank you for investing in SIREN.  We hope that you will continue being a partner with SIREN in our efforts to advance immigrant rights!  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Patricia Diaz, Executive Director, at (408) 453-3003, extension 106.

In Solidarity

From the SIREN Team,
Patricia Diaz, Executive Director
Viridiana Reyes, Finance & Administrative Assistant
Zelica Rodriguez-Deams, Policy & Organizing Program Director
Vanessa Sandoval, Immigration Legal Services Program Director
Jazmin Segura, Federal Policy Advocate
Tiffanie Le, Immigration Program Associate
Blanca Hernandez, Community Organizer
Lucila Ortiz, Leadership Development Coordinator


January 26, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

District Court Rules That ICE Agents Have Standing to Challenge the Morton Memo and Deferred Action Policy

The United States Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled yesterday in the case of Crane v. Napolitano that ICE agents have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the policies regarding the exercise of discretion in cases involving deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA).

ICE agents (as well as the State of Mississippi) sued Secretary of State Janet Napolitano to stop the implementation of the Morton Memorandum (issued on June 17, 2011), the directive entitled "Exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children (issued on June 15, 2012) and subsequent guidance and operating procedures for processing DACA applications. 

ICE agents argued that they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and their legal obligation under federal law to arrest or issue a Notice to Appear when they encounter an unauthorized noncitizen who are not "clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted," as stated in 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(A). They contended that (1) the Morton Memo and DACA policies violate their oaths, (2) that they have the burden of complying with the policies, and (3) that they will face adverse employment action if they choose not to comply with the policies. The State of Mississippi sued to halt the policies because of the significant "'fiscal costs" that result from undocumented immigrants residing in Mississippi who are permitted to remain in the state as a result of the Morton Memo and DACA policies. 

Judge Reed O'Connor rejected the first two of the ICE agents' arguments but ruled that ICE agents met the constitutional requirements for standing under the third argument. Judge O'Connor found that the ICE agents could potentially face disciplinary action from failing to comply with the Morton Meo and DACA directives.  

Notably, the court rejected Mississippi's argument, stating that the alleged injury the state faced was too speculative. 

Here's the link to the opinion: Download Crane v. Napolitano.


January 26, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Senate and Obama Begin Immigration Reform Push

From ABC News:

The White House and a bipartisan group of senators next week plan to begin their efforts to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

President Barack Obama will make an announcement on immigration during a Tuesday trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, the White House said on Friday. The Senate group is expected make their plans public around the same time, the Associated Press reported.

See Also: Where Do Labor Unions Stand on Immigration?

For Obama, immigration reform is a campaign promise that has remained unfulfilled from his first White House run in 2008. During his 2012 re-election campaign, the president vowed to renew his effort to overhaul the nation's immigration system. It has long been expected that Obama would roll out his plans shortly after his inauguration.

The president's trip to Las Vegas is designed "to redouble the administration's efforts to work with Congress to fix the broken immigration system this year," the White House said. Read more...


January 25, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: How the Charter Has Failed Non-Citizens in Canada – Reviewing Thirty Years of Supreme Court of Canada Jurisprudence by Catherine Dauvergne


How the Charter Has Failed Non-Citizens in Canada – Reviewing Thirty Years of Supreme Court of Canada Jurisprudence by Catherine Dauvergne, University of Bristish Columbia - Faculty of Law 2013 McGill Law Journal, Forthcoming

Abstract: This paper presents a study of all of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charter-era jurisprudence addressing the rights of non-citizens. It traces the jurisprudential evolution from early decisions strongly supportive of non-citizens’ rights claims, to more recent rulings where non-citizens’ rights claims are rejected, sidelined or even ignored. Patterns in decision making are discernible and the decline in protections for non-citizens follows logically enough from a series of interpretive stances made relatively early on. There is evidence here of what I have termed ‘Charter hubris.’ This is a leading factor in explaining the current state of affairs, which works alongside other explanations such as the traditionally broad ambit of discretion in immigration matters and the securitization of all immigration matters in the early twenty-first century.


January 25, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)