Saturday, December 27, 2008

Roping in Sheriff Joe

A new attempt is being made to rope in the maverick sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Sheriff Joe Arpaio calls out his deputies and volunteer posse for "crime sweeps' of heavily Hispanic neighborhoods. They'll stop anyone for the slightest infraction and, if he or she happens to be without papers, they're turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- almost 1,500 already. Those booked at Sheriff Joe's county jail, however trivial the offense, if they are without papers are also turned over to ICE. Sheriff Joe has a contract with Homeland Security. Many immigrant advocates have denounced this practice and have gone to court, charging "racial profiling". They have been joined by Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix and now by the Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board. They have asked Homeland Security to rescind Sheriff Joe's contract. He protests he's only doing his job faithfully and effectively. But since he mostly stops Hispanics and does his sweeps in their neighborhoods, his critics are asking federal courts to stop all sweeps. The Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board members, incidentally, are selected and appointed by the governor -- in this case, Janet Napolitano, the Obama nominee to be new Secretary of Homeland Security. (See Arizona Republic article.)
One Way Ticket Back to Mexico

ICE is not the only one's issuing one-way tickets back to Mexico. Many
immigrants, laid off their jobs or facing foreclosure, are returning to
their hometowns in Mexico for the holidays -- and intend not to come
back. The Washington Post reported travel agents have seen a jump in
one-way tickets (see posting on the blog for Dec.22, 2008). And the
Chicago Tribune hitch a ride in a Ford pick-up to Michoacan. "It's the economy.
Experts think the phenomenon is real, but not that large or permanent. It's just
one more indication of the slowdown in the movement to the north and its adverse
effect on the Mexican economy -- especially the reduces flow of remittances.

Citizenship Backlog Shrinking

The Washington Post reports that the Citizenship and
Immigration Services -- a notoriously inefficient and cumbersome
bureaucracy -- has reduced the waiting time for the swearing in as citizen from
18 months to 10. But editorially the paper felt that's no big deal.
USCIS had promise by this time to bring it down to 5 months. The backlog
is still enormous -- still almost a half million. The Post urges the new
administration and Congress to give USCIS more money, so that it can
speed the process and lift the burden of paying extravagant fees off the
backs of the applicants.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Travel by Hispanics Down

Mexicans and other Latino immigrants were wont to celebrate Christmas or Easter "back home". The kids are off from school and the used SUV could easily make the trip south. But the Washington Post reports that, for D.C. area and for the nation as a whole this, this is a bleak holiday southward travel. More Latinos in Washington are from Central and South America or the Caribbean and so fly back home. Travel agents reports holiday sales down significantly. They also report a new phenomenon -- purchasing one-way tickets. It's not so much the travelers don't intend to come back, rather they're telling the travel agents of their intention to sit out the U.S. recession back home. There are also reports that remittances and gift packages are down significantly.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Economy Vs. Immigration Reform

Both advocates for immigration reform and anti-immigration restrictionists have been floating opinion polls, but tweaking them to serve their purposes. The nativists warm that American workers will not tolerate loosening of immigration restrictions during a recession and growing unemployment. Immigration advocates, admitting that the economic doldrums will hamper some of their proposed reforms, nonetheless argue that the American public is accepting of comprehensive reform. A better argument the advocates make is that president-elect barack Obama r recently renewed interest in comprehensive reform and his selection to key positions have been of peoiple friendly to immigrants. But clearly immigration reform will take its place behind economic revival and only appear in 2010 at the earliest. (See LA Times article.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hispanic Chosen New Secretary of Labor

Rep. Hilda Solis (D, CA) is expected to be chosen President-elect Barack Obama's new Secretary of Labor. Her constituency now is East Side of Los Angeles and East L.A.. (See Washington Post article.) In her new capacity she would have cgreat influence on forming the labor aspects of any immigration reform -- such as the H-2A program for guest-workers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Latino Workers and the Recession

During the current economic downturn more than 160,000 Hispanic immigrants in the construction industry have lost jobs. A sign of the times. A recent Pew Hispanic Center study deduce from that figure and others reported by the Census Bureau and the Labor Department that significant numbers of Latino workers have disappeared from the labor market -- supposedly to return to Mexico. There is an irony here -- the number of Latino workers is growing, but at a greatly reduced rate. Still overall unemployment rate of Latinos -- 7.9& -- is significantly higher than the overall rate -- 6.1%. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

H-2A Changes: A Cheap Shot at Workers

The New York Times' editorial has condemned the proposed changes in the guest-workers program, H-2A, as a cheap shot against workers -- both native and immigrant. (See posting for December 12, 2008.) The need to attract temporary agricultural workers has led the Bush administration to relax requirements for visas. The Times, labor and immigrant advocates claim these changes will not help workers -- or most growers for that matter. They deny the rights of U.S. citizens and legal aliens by by-passing the requirement to recruit first in the local job market, and also they refuse for opportunity for current undocumented workers, who may have worked here for years and developed not easily replaceable skills. A better answer to the need of guest-worker in agriculture would to AgJobs, a program agreed between growers and farm-worker advocates that was part of the comprehensive reform in the Senate.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bush Administration to Publish Changes in the Guest Workers Program

Changes in the H-2A guest worker program are to be published shortly by the Bush administration
and go into effect two days before Barack Obama is to be inaugurated. The Labor Department claims these changes will streamline the recruiting of workers. There had been a serious drop-off in agricultural workers last summer. But the changes seem to please no one. Many farmers do not participate in the H-2A program because of its bureaucracy and so are responsible for the wide use of undocumented workers. The new regs allow for a relaxation of the requirements to seek U.S. workers first and they allow for a reduction in wages and the obligation of employers to provide amenities, such as housing. Immigrant and labor activists strenuously denounce the changes, but agree with agricultural interests that they miss the real need -- that of legalizing the state of the undocumented workers already in U.S. fields. (See NY Times article.) California is the largest agricultural state and employs 40% of farm workers, yet few farmers use the H-2A program. (See LA Times article.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ICE's Boss Hired Illegals

Shocking headline -- that the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, one of whose main jobs is to keep America free of" illegals" -- had them cleaning his house. Actually he didn't" hire" undocumented workers, but rather contracted a cleaning firm to do his house. Some of the workers they sent were undocumented wh evaded the scrutiny of the Secret Service. Not as brazen as the ICE boss in New England who knowingly hired an undocumented Brazilian woman to clean house for years; and it was known to her colleagues who warned her against it. It only goes to show that the presence of the illegals is so pervasive, because we need them and want them. Now let's be fair to them. (See Wagington Post article.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jamiel's Law on Los Angeles Ballot

Jamiel Shaw was a promising high school football star in Los Angeles till shoot down by an undocumented Central American gang member. The killing stirred a controversy about LA's practice of not inquiring into immigration status -- known as Special Order 40. (See posting for April 4, 2008.) Jamiel's father has led a campaign to overturn the policy and allow the police to arrest gang-bangers here illegally. The LAPD and immigrant advocates have opposed the law, since they fear it could to extend so far as to amount to racial profiling. The LA order already allows the police to work with ICE in criminal cases involving the undocumented. Rebuffed by the City Council, proponents of Jamiel's law have gather enough signatures to place it as a referendum measure on the May municipal election ballot. (See LA Times article.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Border Patrol Jumps to Over 18,000

The Associated Press reports that the Border Patrol now exceeds the number of new recruits promised by President George W. Bush in 2006. There are currently more than 18,000 agents. Many have just been recruited or have less than two years on the job. That raises suspicions as to how effective the new recruits will be. Even the Center for Immigration Studies, no friend of the immigrant, is skeptical. Immigrant activists along the border have long complained about the excess of violence by the Border Patrol and the level of corruption in it. The Government Office of Accountability had questioned the ability of the agency to absorb so many new agents.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Developed World Needs Migrant Workers

The UN's International Organization for Migration reports that, even in the current economic slow-down, the rich, developed countries will need foreign workers. (See Washington Post article.) Not only will they need high-skill workers to pick up the slack in the professional workforce, but also low-skill workers for jobs native workers will not do. Already there are 200 million migrant or foreign worker throughout the world -- an estimate 45 million in North America. The report sees demand only growing as native population grow declines and baby-boomers retire.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Napolitano at Homeland Security

The nomination of Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona, to be Barack Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) and so take responsibility for immigration issues has gained mixed reviews from immigration advocates. A NY Times editorial praises the appointment and suggests how she could go about promoting true immigration reform. A LA Times article suggests her history as governor makes for some ambiguity in what she'll be doing. Actual reform will have to come through the Congress, where quick passage of at least the DREAM Act is expected. Still administratively, as the NY times editorial suggests, she can do much good. Napolitano is seen by her friends as "a realist" in Arizona -- e.g., signing the employers' sanction bill lest the state legislature came up with something worse. Others will await her performance at DHS skeptically.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Attitudes Changing on Immigration

The Washington Post, using pre-election polls, reports that anti-immigration sentiment played an insignificant role in the recent election in Virgina. The one candidate most identified with the issue was defeat. The Post deduced it was the same for most of the country, quoting an observation from the Wall Street Journal that of the 13 Republican House members to lose their seats in the electiont en had been members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, which was generally hot on throwing the undocumented out of the country. The Post also pointed to the recommendations of a Virgina state commission on immigration advising against stringent anti-immigrant measures and for extending some state benefits to the undocumented.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Phoenix Sweeps To Get Greater Scrutiny From Obana's Justice Department

The much publicized "crime sweeps" of Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff Joe Arpaio is likely to come under greater scrutiny under president-elect Barack Obama' nominee for U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. Already the Justice Department is looking into allegation that the sweeps amount to racial profiling. It was initiated by a letter from Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. Immigrant and Hispanic advocacy groups have also filed lawsuits to stop the sweeps. Holder, when in the Justice department during the Clinton administration, was especially active in racial profiling cases. Stopping "America's toughest sheriff" from using his badger as a weapon against immigrants would be a good first step for the new president to acknowledge the overwhelming support Latino voters gave him in the election. It 's only a matter of justice and fairness. (See Arizona Republic article.) Maybe the Justice Department will also do something more about the treatment of those held in Sheriff Joe's jail.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Wind on Immigration

The furious wind that swept through some states over undocumented immigration during the presidential campaign seems to be subsiding. If the State of Virgina, a scene of site of the sharpest resentments and attacks on immigrants is any indication, a gentler wind is blowing. A state commission has put aside ideas for stiffer restriction and policies and will soon receive recommendation from the Democratic Governor, Timothy M. Kaine, to ease up and provid some benefits previously denied -- like in-state tuition to all graduates of Virginia's schools. (See Washington Post article.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Napolitano on Immigration

Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, the expected nominee to be the new Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), has been characterized as "a moderate" on immigration. (See Arizona Republic article.) What does that mean? On immigration, a major responsibility of DHS, she has pleased some people and has angered others. Latinos in Arizona are not her greatest admirers. But for nativists nationally she is soft on immigration. Early she seemed sympathetic to comprehensive reform, to allowing the undocumented get drivers licenses, and spoke against "the fence". But since the collapse of comprehensive immigration reform, she seems to have shifted toward tougher border enforcement. The governor was first to ask for the national guard to assist in patrolling the border and seems to favor a continued role for it. (See Washington Post article.) She signed the toughest state legislation on employers-sanctions. But even these tough measures only perplex the nativists. Napolitano's call for the national guard came after a crime spree along the border, and some believe she signed the employers-sanction bill only to frustrate tougher measures from the Republican-dominated state legislature. The governor has taken on Maricopa County's anti-immigrant sheriff, Joe Arpaio, and took state money away from him and his raiders and vigilantes. Most observers believe she is qualified for the divergent priorities of DHS and probably reflects president-elect Barack Obama's own views. She may continue ICE raids, but direct them more at employer's. The nativists fear she would harness ICE in the neighborhood.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Arizona Governor Expected to be Secretary of Homeland Security

The Democratic governor of Arizona, Janet Nepolitano, is reported by a number of news services to be Barack Obama's choice to be new Secretary of Homeland Security. As a governor of a border state, she is well versed in immigration issues. Yet she was the first to ask for the use of the National Guard to help the Border Patrol police the border. She also has extensive experience as a federal prosecutor and so is aware of the criminal justice issues related to the border. Despite her support of stepped-up border security, she generally supports immigration reform similar to the Kennedy-McCain Bill . (See Washington Post article.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Secretary for DHS

Not much speculation has risen about Barack Obama's choice for the new secretary for the Department for Homeland Security. Still a new agency and beset by organizational problems, its mandate is immense, covering such a wide berth of responsibilities as seaport security and building "the fence". While the president elect had address a few specifics during the campaign, immigration was somewhat neglected. Eventually Obama will get around to immigration reform, but the choice of a new secretary will signal his priorities for the new agency and how far back behind economic recovery he pushes it. Still some things he can due early by executive order -- like slowing down the fence or stopping factory raids. (See Washington Post article.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama's Aunt Deied Deportation Order

Just before the election it was revealed that one of Barack Obama'a Kenyan aunts was living in Boston despite an order to leave the country. She had been denied asylum by an immigration judge and ordered deported. She was released to get her affairs in order, but did leave. There are a half million similar cases. To defy deportation places the immigrants in little danger so long as they do not call attention to themselves -- like get swept up in a workplace raid or stopped for a traffic violation. In Obama's aunt's case, a lawyer will take up an appeal. (See AP article.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Homeland Security Accused of Mistreating Undocumented Minors

A study by the Center for Public Policy Priorities has accused the Department of Homeland Security of mistreating unaccompanied minors it holds in custody for deportation. The charges include denying most legal representation, providing inadequate health care, and transporting children in shackles and even animal cages. DHS denies the report's accusations, but these come from interviews and direct observation. (See Washington Post article.)

One body that seems to get the attention of the Department of Homeland Security is the business community that bids for federal contracts. All contractors were to be required to use the E-Verify system to check on the immigrant status of their workers. The system itself is controversial because it depends on a Social Security data-base that is often incorrect. But under protest from groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, DHS has modified the requirement. Contractors who provide more than $100.000 of services to the federal government would be bound and only for new programs. Previously the requirement extended to all contracts over $3,000 and to all the company's workers. The new regulation is seen by some critics as a way to preclude any action by the new Obama administration to cancel the program. (See Washington Post article.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"The Fence" -- Not Much o a Deterrent

Homeland Security keeps at the task of putting up "the fence", hoping to have most of it done by January. But it's proving to be not much of a deterrent. Border-crossers are devising all kinds of make-shift ladders to scale even 18 feet high barriers. Arrests by the Border Patrol for unauthorized crossings have declined by 18% over the last year-- no thanks to the partially built fence. Rather it's the sad state of the economy that most credit for the decline. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Latinos Plan Post-Inaugural Rally

Immigrant rights groups met in Washington to plan a rally on the Mall the day after Barack Obama is inaugurated. The crowds will ask the new president to stop immediately the workplace raids and to start on legislation to speed the reforms he promised in the campaign. Much of what will be asked requires Congressional action -- legalization to provide the undocumented a path to legalization and citizenship, a revision of the visa quota system to promote family reunification, and a guest-worker program. Still the immigrant advocates point out that Obama can do much by executive orders -- to stop the workplace raids and to speed up the visa and citizenship application process. (See Washington Post article.)

The FBI reported that hate crimes against Latinos/Hispanics grew 40% between 2006 and 2007,- as generally assumed, because of the anti-immigrant sentiments aroused by the immigration debate. (See Washington Post article.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Brain Waste" -- Immigrant Professionals

There have been jokes over the years about Ph.D.s from Nigeria driving taxis in New York City or MDs from South America walking dogs for the rich and famous in Los Angeles . Now the Migration Policy Center has released a report on college-educated and professional immigrants that quantifies the phenomenon -- there are 1.3 million such immigrants in the country not practicing the profession for which they were educate. The Los Angeles Times calls it a "brain waste", especially at a time when their services sorely are needed, The Times points out that more than a third of Californians are Latinos, yet less than 6% of doctors and nurses are. That places a heavy burden on the medical system in providing effective health care. Much of the problem is due to the difficulty for immigrant professionals to get credentials. It's not impossible, but standards are high, tests are complex, and the process is costly and time-consuming. The immigrant professionals are discouraged and often have to take menial jobs or jobs below their qualifications to survive. The Migration Policy Center urges a national policy to streamline the certification process with programs to enhance English skills and provide support.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Post-Mortem on the Hispanic Vote

After every election "experts" stir the entrails of the successful candidate's vote to determine its make-up. One conclusion shoutng loudly from the Obama victory is that the Hispanic vote went overwhelmingly for him, contributing significantly to wins in four states -- Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Immigration was up front for many Hispanic voters, but in the last days they were spurred as much by the downturn in the economy and so went to the polls in droves. (See AP analysis.) This should position Hispanic organizations and immigrant advocates to press the new president to move quickly on immigration reform. Obviously, that will have to wait till after dealing with the financial crisis and the need for an economic stimulus. It will compete for attention with other issues that impact on the Hispanic community -- health care and education reform.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Deporting Uninsured Immigrants

Undocumented aliens have a right to emergency care in the ERs of hospitals, but not to sustained care. Because these patients are without insurance, the cost of sustained care must be absorbed by the hospitals. As a consequence, many hospitals have taken to "repatriating the patient" -- that is, hiring an ambulance plane and shipping the patient back home. The New York Times (see posting for August 5, 2008) had publicized the practice and uncovered a number of abuses. Many repatriations are voluntary, but others have been done involuntarily. Some American citizens have been wrongly repatriated. The New York Times printed a lengthy follow-up report on the problem with specific case studies.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

USCIS to Have Major Overhaul

The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration has approved an IBM-led consortium to plan a drastic makeover of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. USCIS has long been known as among the most antiquated, dilapidated, and inefficient federal agencies. This was evident over the last year as thousands of immigrants sought to become citizens. The overhaul will not come cheap. The first stage will cost nearly $500 million and eventually, if Congress approves, as much as $3.5 billion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kosher Plant Files for Bankruptcy

The ICE raid at Agriprocessors, Inc, an Iowa kosher meatpacking plant, netted over 300 workers who were undocumented aliens. But it also netted a host of problems for Agriprocessors -- charges that it violated state labor and wage laws, a federal indictment for the manager, a campaign to get it decertified as a kosher plant. Now comes an attempt by management to stave off foreclosure by filing for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (See NY Times article.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Mexicanization of the Hispanic

There is an amusing scene in the movie El Norte. A Guatemalan village elder is schooling a young couple for their journey to the United States by teaching them to swear. Black out and the next scene begins with a stream of curse words from the Mexican truck driver who has given the young couple a lift. Since Central Americans, especially Salvadorans, have streamed into Los Angeles -- living, working, schooling and worshiping in the same neighborhood as Mexican immigrants -- they have had to adapted not only to the Anglo way of doing thing, but also to the Mexican. The adaptation has been necessary to get and hold jobs. But it hasn't been easy. This is especially true of mixed marriages -- a Central American to a Mexican -- and of their children -- e.g., the "Salvi-Mexicans". Often it is a question of how one speaks or what word one choses. Some Central Americans go along to get along; others resent to additional pressure to assimilation and regret the loss of their distinctive culture. (See LA Times article.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Manager of Kosher Slaughterhouse Arrested

The former manager of Agriprocessors in Postville, IA, which was raided by ICE in the spring was arrested for violations of immigration law. Already the State of Iowa had fined the kosher meat processing plant for violation of child labor and wage laws. The manager was released after putting up a million dollars bail. (See NY Times article.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Health Care for Undocumented Varies State to State

A LA Times article reported on the varying provision of health care to the undocumented across the country. Federal law demands that all states provide care in "emergencies", but that's defined so vaguely that each state seems free to interpret the obligation as it sees fit. Using the example of kidney dialysis, the Times found that in California and a few other states this is routinely provided -- even Kidney transplants. The federal government through emergency Medicaid pays part of the cost. In other states patients wait till near death before going to an ER for emergency dialysis. In some states, however, practice may vary. Texas does not provide for routine dialysis, but Houston does using local tax dollars. It's no mystery why some states deny routine medical care to the undocumented -- they don't belong here and medical care would attract more. But the economics of the issue seems to favor routine care, since it's cheaper to deal with ailments of the undocumented routinely than in an ER.

Undocumented Guatemalan immigrants seemed to have become easy targets to muggers. On weekends, just have cashing paychecks. they are accosted in the streets and asked to turn over their money. The muggers act with impunity, since they know their victims will not go to the police. Both the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Phoenix Police have signed agreements with ICE to share information on the undocumented that are detained for criminal acts. No telling what Sheriff Joe Apraio would do, but the Phoenix police say they do not share information on crime victims. The message either hasn't go through or is not believed. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Homeland Secretary Pushes for E-Verify

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has urged a U.S. federal court to lift an injunction on the so-called "no match" rule. The rule was one part of the Bush administration's stepped-up enforcement. To the fence and the ICE raids was to be added a requirement that employers fire all employees who names did not match the Social Security Administration's records. It would apply to all workers -- legal or illegal. Suit was brought by such immigrant advocates as the American Civil Liberties Union and business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This unusual alliance argued that the rule will catch in "no matches" citizens because of mistakes at SSA's records and would place an unfair burden on employers. The court agreed enough to place the "no match" in limbo. Now Chertoff wants it restored to join the other strategies which he claims have reduced, if not stopped, undocumented migration. (See LA Times article.)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America", has been called to task by a federal judge. Whether he's the toughest sheriff or not, the court seems to thinks he's the meanest -- especially in handling prisoners in the county jail. He has been ordered to improve conditions -- health care, quality of food and living conditions. These issues antedate his headline-grabbing campaign against the immigrant. (See NY Times article.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hispanic Vote Update

A NY Times article updated the quest for the Hispanic vote. As previously reported, it's going heavily for Barack Obama. Though Republican strategy in the past has been to cut into, but win, that vote, it's not working for John McCain. While the immigration controversy initially triggered the drift to the Democrats, as the campaign has progressed Hispanics have cited the economy, education and health care as priority issues.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Supreme Court to Hear Identity Theft Case

The Supreme Court has accepted the case of East Moline, IL, undocumented steelworker charged with two counts of identity theft. (See NY Times article and post for October 19th.) A decision will influence how and how effectively ICE can carrying out plant raids. It uses the threat of a identity-theft charge to win easy cooperation in a deportation proceeding.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Intentity Theft Cases May Go To Supreme Court

Monday, Oct 20th, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to accept an appeal on one of two identity theft cases in Iowa brought against undocumented aliens. Those rounded up in the Postville raid were given a choice -- either plea guilty to a lesser charge and serve five months in prison and then be deported or face full prosecution on identity theft and be liable to two years in prison. The issue the two cases that might go before the Supreme Court is whether the government has a greater burden to prove that the accused knowingly used another person's identity. For the most part, they didn't. Yet a district federal court and an appeals court found for the government did not. This is the issue the Supreme Court might take up. There are serious consequences if the higher court reverses the decision. ICE and federal attorneys would not be able to use identity theft as a tool to fight illegal immigration. Just the possibility of prosecution intimidated many rounded up at Postville.(See Washington Post article.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Latino Protestants as Swing Voters

President George W. Bush made great progress in attracting Hispanic votes in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Many of those votes, if not most, are attributed to Hispanic Protestants who made up nearly a third of that block. This year, according to a recent survey, more than half favor Barack Obama, only a little more than a third opting for John McCain. Religiously conservative, they were outraged and hurt by the nasty tone of the House Republicans in 2006. McCain's support of comprehensive reform helped, but his shift to stressing enforcement and border security first seems to dampened their interest. Catholic Hispanic voters tend, like earlier immigrants, to be Democrats through the first generations. (See LA Times article. Note you can click to get to the survey.)

Sherriff Joe Arpaio took his "crime-suppression" circus to Mesa's, second largest city in Maricopa County, city hall and the public library. He did it early in morning, long before business hours. His deputies and assorted volunteers came in with bullet-proof vests and automatic rifles. Who did they corral?Mostly the Hispanic and undocumented cleaning crew. The mayor and the chief of police were incensed, but nonetheless intimidated. Incidentally, Sheriff Joe's on the ballot November 4th. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Tensions in the Meatpacking Plants

The undocumented workers picked up and deported because of ICE raids on meatpacking plants has led to replacing them with Somalis. This happened in the wake of the raid on Agriprocessors in Postville, IA. Most of the Somali workers entered the U.S. legally as political refugees. Yet they have create tensions with Hispanic and Anglo fellow workers. The difference are religious and cultural mostly -- stopping work to accommodate prayer, handling pork and celbrating holidays. The Somalis are recruited by labor brokers. This pattern to a lesser extent is found among Sudanese political refugees -- only they are Christian rather than Muslim. (See NY Times article.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fighting Sheriff Joe -- Not Directly

Some community leaders have long had issues with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ, even before his immigration sweeps. But the self-proclaimed "toughest lawman/sheriff in the country" has beaten off previous critics and is inclined to punished them for second-guessing him. Note the way he treated Guadelupe, AZ. (See posting for Oct. 14, 2008.) Now a new group -- an alliance of community organization, labor unions and church groups known as Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability-- is giving up frontal assaults against Sheriff Joe. Since his operations are funded by Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors, MCSA is going after the board that has been docile to the sheriff's harsh treatment of prisoners and immigrants. They pack meetings of the board and raise issues of neglected areas of law enforcement. Whether the strategy is not likely to work, at least before the election. (Sheriff Joe is on the November ballot.) But organizers for MCSA intend to be around as a thorn in Sheriff Joe's side. fo a long haul (See Arizona Republic article.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guadelupe, AZ, vs. Sheriff Joe

A small town outside Phoenix, Guadelupe, had been the dramatic scene of one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "criminal sweeps". The mayor and most townsfolk vigorously protested the round-up of undocumented for minor tariff violations. Sheriff Joe struck back by cancelling police protection to Guadelupe. The town has six months to find alternate policing. Settled originally by Yakqui Indians feeling persecution in Mexico, now it is half Hispanic and poor with a high crime rate and gang activity. Now that it must find their own policing, many residents are having second thoughts about defying Sheriff Joe. (See LA Times article.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sheriff Joe's Round-ups Illegal Says Former U.S. Attorney

A former U.S. Attorney for Arizona says Sheriff Joe Arpaio's round ups of Hispanics are clearly illegal and the Justice Department should stop them. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Senators Ted Kennedy (D. MA) and Robert Menendez (D. NJ) have introduced legislation to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who have been swept up in ICE raids. This is common enough, as in the recent ICE raid in Greenville, S.C. Often some who are detained are unable to prove citizenship because they carry no documentation. ICE agents would be required to advise the detainees of their rights, especially to remain silent. This would be similar to the "Miranda" rights afforded in criminal arrests. (See Washington Post article.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Business Learders Launch a Campaign for Legalization

Business leaders in Arizona and three other states are starting a media campaign to turn attention from securing the borders to advancing legalization and a guest-worker program. They argue that there as been much progress on the border, but this has led also to a shortage of workers. The campaign is supported by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and such ad-hoc groups like Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

ICE Raids in South Carolina

ICE rounded up more than 300 undocumented workers at a chicken processing plant in Greenville, S.C. Some were charged with aggravated identity-theft. Another aspect of the raid is ICE's claim to going after the employers as well as the workers. (See Washington Post article.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Undocumented Homeowners Better Risks

The Los Angeles Times reported that undocumented homeowners seem to be better risks to lenders than U.S. citizens. This conclusion comes from a comparison of delinquencies of those who submitted ITINS numbers in processing the loans and those who used Social Securities numbers. An ITINS number is simply the tax number one receives from the Internal Revenue Service. It is legal for lenders to accept such verification in stead of the Social Security number. Undocumented aliens generally apply and receive such numbers. That's what is submitted for a home loan. Delinquencies on ITINS loans is 1.15% compared to 3.5% on other loans. Lenders that do accept the ITINS still set tougher qualifications for undocumented borrowers. As a consequence few undocumented homeowners took subprime loans and so few face foreclosure. Many undocumented also look on homeownership as one of their primary goals in establishing roots in U.S.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Border Crossings Drop

The Border Patrol has reported a significant drop in arrest of those crossing the border without documentation. This it attributes to its tough enforcement, and so claims an indication that illegal entry is declining as a consequence. (See NY Times article.) The Pew Hispanic Center also released a report to similar effect, but attributes it more to the downturn in the economy and the industries that attract the undocumented. The Inter-America Development Bank which monitors the flow of monies between countries of the hemisphere reports that last year remittances to Mexico and other countries have dropped drastically. This is another indication of the decline in "unauthorized immigration."

The U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, has decried the detention of millions of immigrants and asylum seekers throughout the world, but focused especially on the growing practice in the European Union (EU). She argued that these people are not criminals and should not be treated as such. She also lamented the growing practice of detaining unaccompanied minors. (See Reuters article.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Immigrants Uneasy about New Citizen Test

On October 1st, candidates for citizenship will be asked to take a new civics test to qualify. There are other aspects in the process, such as English fluency, that are tested. But the new test makes immigrants nervous. Critics think it's too abstract, though the intent was to raise it above the trivia of the current test. As a consequences, immigrant advocacy groups are organizing tutorials to prepare. (See NY Times article.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Calif. Court Threatens In-State Tuition Break for Undocumented Students

A Cakifornia state appeals court ruled that a break given to undocumented students in state universities violates a federal law that requires the same break must apply to out-of-state students who are U.S. citizens. (See LA Times article.) Any student who graduates from a school in the state and has been there for three years was entitled to in-state tuition rates. This was challenged in a class action suit on behalf of out-of-state students. The court found the practice in violation of The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1991. The ruling restricted only to California will probably lead to similar suits in the other seven states (Illinois included) that also provide an in-state break for all graduates of their schools.

A study of California immigrants by the U.S. Census estimates that they now make up a fourth of the state's population and a third of Los Angeles County's. While nativists give the impression that these hordes will create "a separate nation" -- a charge against German and Scotch-Irish immigrants before the Revolutionary War -- the study also found that the process of assimilation has quickened. More immigrants have become citizens and the English fluency of most Spanish speaking immigrants has increased. Some think this is because the new undocumented are driven to other states because of the economy and those who remain have been here longer. (See LA Times article.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Ad War for the Hispanic Vote

A NY Times editorial decried the shabby politics being played by both presidential candidates in their television ads in Spanish. John McCain started by accusing Barack Obama of killing comprehensive reform by adding "poison pills" to last year's Senate bill. The Obama campaign responded by "sliming" McCain "as a friend and full-bore ally of restrictionists like Rush Limbaugh". The Times does not think the Bush administration is helping with its ICE raids and ignoring of labor law when it comes to immigrants. It asks that the candidates return to a rational tone as they used in the early campaign.

A recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that Hispanic voters are favoring Barach Obama very strongly. While forty percent of Hispanic voters had supported George W. Bush in 2004, less than a third favor John McCain this year. That explains his targeting ads to Hispanics in the swing states of Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, The appeal of Obama, who they did not support in large numbers during the primaries, reflects the fear in Hispanic communities of the raids and economic stress because of joblessness and the foreclosures. Interestingly, substantially more Hispanics think race is an asset rather than a hindrance for Obama.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

AZ Employer-Sanction Law Upheld on Appeal

The Arizona state law that would withdraw licenses from companies that employed undocumented workers was upheld by a Federal Appeals panel in San Francisco. It ruled that a state can use its licensing powers to enforce immigration related policies and that a state can require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to screen new hires. While the lawyers who challenged the law will ask for a hearing by the full Appeals Court, they do not seem ready to go to the Supreme Court. There is a somewhat mitigated employer-sanction proposal on the ballot in November, but the decision has sparked interest in the current law in other states. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain AD Revives Immigration Debate

John McCain went fishing for Hispanic votes in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado by releasing a TV ad that accuse Barrack Obama of being no friend of them. The Democratic candidaye holds a substantial lead among Hispanic voters. But if the Republican candidate could shave a 5% or 10% of those votes in these critical states, McCain could carry them.

The ad attributes the failure of last year's comprehensive reform bill in the senate to Obama's support of some "poison pills" -- amendments that caused some on one side or the other to abandon the whole reform effort. Specifically the ad singles out the Democrats' support for a system of family preferences over education and skill for allotting visas and Obama's support for restrictions on the guest-worker program.

Immigrant advocacy groups were quick to denounce the ad, saying the real cause for defeat of reform was the wave of nativist hatred created by talk radio and spoked the Republicans. (See Arizona Republic article and NY Times analysis of the ad.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Immigrants' Advocates Organize to Spot ICE Raids

Immigrants' advocacy groups around the country have organized to deal with the aftermath of ICE raids by providing legal aid, shelter and help for affected families, transport of families to detention centers and the like. They have also done some preparation for raids by asking local agencies to stock food and clothing and schooling possible detainees or their families on their rights. Now advocacy groups have turned to gathering intelligence on when and where ICE will raid. This information is used to alert the undocumented of possible raids. (See LA Times article.) So far the watch seems not to have been very effective. Groups had warnings beforehand of the raids in Postville, IA, and more recently in Laurel, MS, yet hundreds were arrested.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bishops Ask Homeland Security to Stop ICE Raids

Bishop John C. Wester, as chair of the Bishops' Committee on Migration, has asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop the worksite raids of its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Such raids have "humanitarian costs , , , unacceptable in a civilized society". He specifically points to the burdens of family separation and asked that, if DHS continues the raids, it
  • refrain from raiding churches or places that provide humanitarian aid to migrants,
  • release caregivers so they may provide for dependents,
  • provide access to legal representation to detainees,
  • allow for families to locate relatives after raids.
  • allow families to communicate with detainees.
The raids have demonstrated the power of the state to enforce the law, but Bishop Wester writes it does "little . . . to solve the broader challenge of Illegal Immigration." It only reveals "the failure" of the current immigration law. (See press release and the statement at USCCB website.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Agriprocessors in Danger of Losing Kosher Certification

The woes mount for the Iowa kosher meatpacking plant, Agriprocessors Inc. of Postville. Ever since the raid by ICE in May, charges have been raised about its treatment of workers -- e.g., failure to pay overtime, child labor violations, safety violations. But they were kosher. That seal of approval is now in jeopardy because of these justice issues. Conservative Jews will consider these as an element in kosher certification. But more importantly, the Orthodox Union which is the most respected certifier of kosher has demanded changes at Agriprocessors or it will withdraw certification. (See NY Times article.)

"The Fence" along the U.S.-Mexican border -- both the physical and virtual -- is taking longer to put up and is getting more expensive. Homeland Security has admitted as much to Congress, citing the rising costs of materials and the resistance of landowners to welcome it. (See NY Times article.) The virtual fence in Arizona has run into technical problems and the resistance of the Interior Department. (See Arizona Republic article.) Homeland Security was hoping to finish 670 miles by year's end. About half has been completed so far.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Iowa Goes After Kosher Meatpacker on Child Labor

Agreprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, IA, and the scene of a big and controversial ICE raid in May, has new legal troubles. Already faulted by Conservative rabbis for not including justice to workers in their slaughtering and cutting of animals, and bing investigated by the feds on wage and safety law violations, now the State of Iowa is charging them for violations of child labors laws -- specifically, hiring under-age workers and allowing them to work with dangerous equipment. Agriprocessors denies knowingly employing under age workers. (See NY Times article.)

After peaking this summer, the number applying for citizenships has declined because of the higher fees. (See AP article.)

The U.S. Department of State has been denying passports to applicants who claim to have been born in South Texas and delivered by a midwife. These are mostly poor and rural. Their birth certificates signed by midwives are useless, notwithstanding the applicant may have other documentation such as baptismal certificate, school records, even discharge papers from the military. This is no minor inconveniece to those denied, since by next June a passport will be required to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. The assumption of fraudulency arises from some court cases against midwives who sold birth certificates after 1960. The American Civil Liberties Union has initiated a class action suit on behalf of those denied passports, since in many instances individuals with a right to them have been denied. (See Chicago Tribune article.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lawyer Shortage in Deportation Hearings

An estimated half of those facing deportation hearings are represented by attorneys. The crush of cases in immigration court makes it difficult to find lawyers who will take on cases pro bono. Unlike criminal cases the government does not have to provide legal assistance. There are efforts to increase the number of attorneys volunteering to represent impoverished aliens, but pro-immigrant activists insist that only a "public-defender" system would work. The results for the immigrant -- deportation, family disruption and the like -- are serious enough that care should be made that their rights are represented by counsel. (See LA Times article.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Texas Hospital Turns in Job Applicant

An undocumented woman was hoping to be hired for work in the cafeteria at Trinity Medical Center outside Dallas. During the prescreening process it was discovered that her Social Security number was counterfeit, and so the hospital reported her to the local police for identity theft. She eventually accepted deportation. Actually employers are not obligated to report undocumented workers that might show up in hiring or even reviewing payroll. They are only obligated not to hire or keep them on. Whether Trinity was being nervous because of the recent raids by ICE or sympathetic to the anti-immigrant sentiments of the surrounding suburbs is yet to be determined. (See AP article.)

The LA Times report that more and more undocumented day-laborers are drifting from the shape-ups at Home Depot back home to Mexico or Guatemala -- especially in the construction industry. The State of California estimates that more 84,000 jobs were lost in construction last year. Anecdotal reports tell of only 10-15% of those shaping up each morning for day-jobs are being hired.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Black and Hispanic Divide in Mississippi

The recent raid by ICE of an electronics factory in Laurel, MS, had all the ear-marks of previous raids, but it also uncovered an underlying tension between black and Hispanic workers. The LA Times reports that black co-workers applauded as ICE agents hauled Latino workers away. The Hispanic population of Laurel has grown rapidly. These tensions are basically over jobs. Hispanics seem to be preferred to black, and American-born workers feel they have kept wages low at Howard Industries. The Times article goes on to speculate that such raids will decline in Obama administration, though it is doubtful what would happen under McCain.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mississippi Raid Opens New Debate on E-Verify

The Mississippi electronics plant that was raided by ICE recently, netting over 400 for deportation, has complained that it has followed the law by passing its new hires by a E-Verify check.It claims not hire undocumented workers. Whether that is true or not may be besides the point. The E-Verify system is a check of a prospective hire with the Social Security Administration. Some critics argue that the system is replete with error and can cause an injustice to legal workers. Other, more cynically, dismiss as an opportunity to peddle fake Social Security cards. Congress must reauthorize the program by the end of October. The House has done so overwhelmingly, but has added some restrictions. The Senate has yet to act. (See Washington Post article.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ICE Raids Mississippi Plant

ICE raided an electronics manufacturing plant in Mississippi, detaining more than 350 workers. It is not clear yet if ICE will process the worker swiftly much as they did after the Postville, Ia, raid. Nor is it clear they will charge identity-theft, a felony charge. (See NY Times article.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kosher Debate

The ICE raid on Agriprocessors, Inc."s kosher meat-packing plant in Postville, IA, has set off a debate between Conservative and Orthodox Jewish organizations on the ethics of the plants treatment of workers. Already federal and state agencies have cited the plant for violations of child labor, wage and hour, and safety laws. Agriprocessors has not acknowledge any wrong-doing, but has changed policy and practices to compile with immigration and labor laws. Conservative rabbis had joined the demonstration in July, asking for food processing that followed not just kosher rules but also justice. Many Orthodox have since rabbis rallied to Agriprocessors side, toured the plant recently and found it "kosher". (See NY Times article.)

The debate within the Jewish community points up to a larger issue in the plight of the undocumented -- exploitation. The Postville raid, along with the herding of the detained into a stock yard and a swift processing of the undocumented workers as felons, is only most egregious injustice. Just as painful is the fear the families of the undocumented have to live with and the exploitation workers must accept to find work and avoid detection. Postville -- at least prior to the raid -- was a good example of such -- workers under-aged, unpaid overtime, neglect of safety regulations. As we approach Labor Day, the plight of the undocumented seems to mirror more and more the struggles of earlier generations of immigrants in the workplace. More than one observer has referred to Postille as "The Jungle revisited", recalling Upton Sinclair's novel about the shocking conditions of workers in the Chicago stock yards.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

R.I. Bishop on Conscientious Objection in ICE Raids

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote the regional office of ICE asking for an end to the raids and to allow ICE agents to opt out of participating. R.I. is more than half Catholic, including a governor who recently instructed state law enforcement to turn in the undocumented to ICE. The bishop presents a moral choice to ICE agents in the sweeping raids, but not in pursuit of alien felons. (See AP article.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ICE Sued over Health Care

The bunk-mate of a Chinese detainee, who died in custody of ICE and whose case is being investigated by the House Judiciary Committee, is suing Home Land Security and the companies contracted by it to hold detainees for deportation. (See NY Times article.) Marino De Los Santos, a Dominican facing deportation for drug activities, was in the bunk below Hui Liu Ng till the pain from what turned out to be cancer became so excruciating for him to get in the upper bunk that they had to swap places. De Los Santos also suffered from back pains, and like Ng had his complaints dismissed as faking and like Ng was denied use of a wheel chair. (See posting for August 13, 2008.) Now De Los Santos is suing in federal court in Providence, RI.

The virtual fence being planned for the Mexican-Arizona border has been put on hold indefinitely because the Interior Department refuses to accept the environmental impact statement sent to it by Homeland Security. Permission has been asked to place much of the surveillance infrastructure (towers, sensors, et al) on government lands mangered by Interior. See Arizona Republic article.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mexican Births and the U.S. Population

The Census Bureau reported Monday that what growth the U.S. has in population is due largely to immigration and the birth rate of Mexican women. (See Arizona Republic article.) Together with its earlier projection of population growth (See posting for August 14, 2008.), this report underscores the strategic significance of the growth of the Hispanic population. As non-Hispanic whites age, they will become more dependent on support of a Social Security system that is propped up on the labor of an Hispanic workforce.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Border Governors Call for Curbs on Guns to Mexico

A joint meeting of the U.S. and Mexican border governors met in Los Angeles. The Mexicans spoke desperately about the flow of guns from the U.S. to drug cartels in their states, feeding a vicious drug war. (See blog for August 10, 2008.) Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department is on the case and assured the governors that it will make greater efforts to infiltrate the smuggling organizations for better intelligence. Not mentioned is any curbs on gun dealers and gun shows in the U.S. Perhaps Homeland Security should also infiltrate the NRA. (See NY Times aticle,)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Browning of the U.S. Accelerated

The U.S Bureau of the Census released a demographic report projecting that the current n0n-Hispanic white population of the U.S. (now 66%) will be transformed into a minority by 2042. It had previously projected that this would happen after 2050. (See NY Times article.) California and Texas have already got to that point. The speed up of the day minorities -- Hispanic whites, Asians, blacks, Native-American, Pacific Islanders, and mixed-race -- become the majority will be due mostly to continued immigration and the birth-rate of Hispanics. Currently there are 47 million Hispanics in the U.S., but by 2050 the Census Bureau expects 133 million. The U.S. will have grown to more than 400 million, making Hispanic around a third of the population. Demographic projections is no an exact science, since cultural attitudes and public policy can make a difference. Still the report comes as a jolt. Already nativist groups are calling for an end to immigration. The immigrtion debate after the elections will reflect the new projections.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Death of Chinese Immigrant Revives Concern for Health Care at Detention Centers

The death of a Chinese immigrant while awaiting deportation hearings has revived concern as to how quickly and thoroughly authorities respond to the health needs of detainees. The man complained of back pains, but ICE and his keepers felt he was faking. He had appealed his deportation. Yet while in excruciating and growing pain, ICE pressured him to drop his appeals and submit to deportation. Finally a federal judge ordered the man be taken to a hospital where terminal cancer was diagnosed. Even then ICE delayed family visits. The case is added to earlier revelations of needless deaths while in ICE hands (See posting for July 3, 2008) that is spurring a congressional investigation. (See NY Times article.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The U.S.-Mexico Border: A Iron River of Guns

While U.S. politicians focus on the flow of immigrants and drugs across our southern border, Mexican law-enforcement officials complain about the guns coming the other way. While the U.S. provides 16,000 Border Patrol agents, it has only 100 or so Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents to check the reverse flow of guns south. These guns ended up in the hands of the drug cartels, are often superior to what the Mexican police or army have, and are responsible for more than 4,000 violent deaths in the drug wars. In the border states -- where the National Rifle Association jealously protects gun-dealing -- there are more gun dealers than federal ATF agents. Only California provides any stiff state enforcement. In the other states, especially Texas and Arizona, the gun culture reigns supreme. Beside it makes for a tidy profit as Mexicans flock to gun shows, where sophisticated weaponry can be easily -- thanks to the NRA vigilance. Mexico has consistently asked the U.S. to stem the flow of guns. Its appeals are getting desperate as the cartel goons out-gun and out-shoot the federales. (See LA Times article.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Postville Convictions Were Scripted

The quick justice to undocumented immigrants rounded up in the Postville, IA, raids (See post for June 24 and August1, 2008.) seems to have been scripted beforehand by the Justice Department with the approval of the chief judge and federal prosecutor in Iowa. It was supposedly to assist defense lawyers prepare their cases -- so says the Justice Department. Critics, however, suspect the script -- a series of documents and possible scenarios -- was meant more to wring out guilty pleas to criminal charges. An ACLU attorney characterized the process as leading to "fast-track guilty pleas". A congressional subcommittee is investigating with prospects of hearings. While some attorneys were not upset with the script and found it helpful, others smell collusion between judge and prosecutors. (See NY Times article.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Labor Department Goes After Postville, IA, Employer

Among the demonstrators protesting the ICE raids at Postville. IA, (See posting for July 28, 2008) were a few Jewish rabbis and labor activists equally protesting how the employers generally treated their workers. The Labor Department has finally gotten around to charging the kosher meat plant, Agriprocessors Inc., with hiring under-aged workers. (See NY Times article.) The charges only point up that undocumented workers are vulnerable not only to deportation, but also to exploitation by employers who trade on their uncertain status.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

US Hospitals Repatriate Ill and Injured Aliens

A little known practice of some U.S. hospitals is to repatriate seriously injured and ill immigrants with whom they are stuck because nursing homes will not take them off their hands for long-term care. It's all a matter of cost -- cheaper to pack them into an ambulance plane and ship them back home. There is supposedly an after-care plan. Whether that's followed or not is no longer the hospital's concern. These repatriations are done without the involvement of ICE and apply to legal and undocumented immigrants. Only American citizens qualify for long-term care under Medicaid, though the hospitals are required by federal law to provide for after-care. Some critics have called this "international patient dumping" -- similar to the practice that outraged the country a decade or so ago, of loading an uninsured patient in an ambulance and sending him off to another hospital. There is no federal agency overseeing the practice. The New York Times has published an in-depth article on medical repatriations along with case studies. Perhaps this will alert the Congress, at least to hold hearings.


The death of a undocumented Mexican in a street fight has stirred the small town of Shenandoah, Pa. The old coal-mining town was built by European, and for the most part Catholic immigrants. The tension that affected Hazleton, Pa, earlier this year seems to have spread through central Pennsylvania where the Hispanic population has grown recently. National Hispanics organizations do not view the incident as isolated and call it as a "hate crime". Local officials were stunned by the death, but have begun to hear of earlier incidents in the newly arrived Hispanic community. (See NY Times article.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

ICE Goes After Legal Immigrants

Last year Immigration and Custom Enforcement deported more than 270, 000. In that number there were 95,752 "criminal aliens" -- not all of them undocumented and not all of them murders, gang-bangers, felons. Some were here legally and some were subject to deportation for relatively -- no, ridiculously -- minor misdemeanors. One man faces deportation for walking out of a grocery store with the pen he used to sign a check. His charge: theft of a thirty-cent pen. Still a 1997 law meant to get tough with alien criminals is now being interpreted at such extremes by ICE -- usually as the immigrant returns to the States. Often people who have lived in this country for years peacefully are caught for some minor discretion, and some have even paid penalties for their crimes. Yet they face exclusion from this country. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Justice Department's Conduct at Postville, IA, Challenged

The Justice Department's swift prosecution of undocumented workers at Postville, IA, has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union as a denial of basic rights of the immigrants. It seems the department prepared and distributed a manual that scripted a process for quick prosecution -- even to how the judge would respond to questions. (See LA Times article.)

The New Times editorially raised another unfairness in the Postville incident -- that the Bush administration had dragged its feet on workers' complaints of safety and labor violations at the raided plant while swiftly moving against the undocumented workers. Some Jewish activists that joined the protest at Postville (See posting for July 28, 2006.) have come to call the plant "a kosher Jungle" after Upton Sinclair's description of the Chicago stock yards a hundred years ago.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Undocumented Migration Drops, But Why?

The Center for Immigration Studies, a research center that favors reducing legal migration as well as stemming illegal, has released a report that the number of undocumented immigrants has declined by 11.%. Researchers more favorable to comprehensive immigration reform do not deny a decline, but question the rate of decline -- and why. CIS insinuates that it is because of more vigorous enforcement at the border and at plants. More of the same should get even better results. Nativists on Capitol Hill have been waving the report around as vindication of the tougher strategy. Critics of the report admit tougher enforcement and the fear it has created in the immigrant community may play a part, but the major factor in the decline of undocumented migration has been the economy. Loss of work at construction sites has more to do with migrants' return to Mexico than plant raids. Also most of those leaving seem to be new arrivals that had yet to put down roots in the U.S. (See Washington Post article,)

The Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency has offered a kind of "amnesty" to those undocumented aliens known as "fugitive aliens". These have received a court order of deportation but have ignored it and remained in the country. Their number may be more that a half of million. Whether such fugitives will take up the offer is questioned by immigrant advocates. While there is some advantages, these are so few that most "fugitives" will not be enticed. As it is, ICE's round-ups of fugitives has not been especially effective and generates more headlines because of its violation of the rights of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants during its raids. (See Washington Post article.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Immigrant Activists Demonstrate in Postville, IA

About 1500 demonstrators appeared in the streets of Postville, IA, to express their contrasting views on the ICE raids in May at a kosher meat-processing plant. The pro-immigrant group vastly outnumbered the nativists. But the protest had a quirky twist. Some Jewish activists were there also to protest the alleged labor and safety violations of Agriprocessors, the employer of the detained workers. (See NY Times article.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

PEW Hispanic Center on the Latino Vote

The Pew Hispanic Center released a poll of Latino voters on their preference in the presidential race. (See Chicago Tribune article.) Obama won hands down -- as he has in other polls. Pew, however, asked questions about whether Latinos would vote for a black -- they will -- whether there is any lingering resentment about Hillary Clinton's failed campaign which Latinos supported strongly -- there isn't -- and who's the most popular politician -- Obama. The survey hints at issue that might affect the election. On the question of race, some question whether any voter will be candid. Also McCain doesn't have to "win" the Latino vote, only cut into the margin of difference as George W. Bush did in 2004. None of those issues will be definitively resolved until after the election.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Murders in San Francisco Threatens Sanctuary Status

San Francisco is the quintessential "sanctuary city" in which all official business, especially law enforcement, is done without regard to legal status. A recent road-rage murder by an undocumented Salvadorean gang member has raised questions and calls for the Justice Department to take over. (See AP dispatch.) The accused had previous run-ins with the law, and critics claim that the city's sanctuary prevented authorities from turning him over for deportation sooner.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Immigrants and Employers

The Bush administration has taken a tougher line on enforcement of immigration law by threatening undocumented workers rounded up in ICE raids with criminal prosecution. (See post for May 24 and July 18, 2008.) It also has taken to bringing criminal charges against employers. The New York Times quotes in an editorial a California lawyer representing two companies: "The system is just as broken for employers as it is for immigrants." Only justice has not been equal. After the Potsville, IA, raids hundreds of immigrant workers were prosecuted for using false documents, while only three supervisors are being charged with any crime. (See Washington Post article.)

The Times observed that the business community that has benefited from the labor of undocumented workers had given tepid support to comprehensive reform til local and state governments started enacting or thinking of enacting laws that would penalize employers and deprive them of immigrant labor. Now the employers are aroused. Some of them deserve no sympathy, since they do exploit undocumented workers. Still, as the Times observes, honest and by-the-book employers need their own "path to get right and stay right with the law."

The Los Angeles Times reports that deportation cases are overloading the local immigration court. The volume has easily doubled over the last two years, yet only two judges were added to the court since 2000. The situation is similar around the country. The overload raises questions about the kind of justice the undocumented are getting.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nashville: Npt so Friendly to Immigrants

Nashville maybe a "y'all come down" city. But not for immigrants. The city and county have signed an agreement with ICE to enforce immigration laws. But the locals do so with a fervor and insouciance embarrassing even to ICE. The NY Times reports of an incident of a pregnant undocumented woman arrested for driving without a license -- a misdemeanour in Tennessee usually let off with a citation. She was hauled in, and when she went into labor was shackled to her hospital bed and guarded. The only concession was a release from her shackle at the time of delivery. In a royal snafu she was parted from new born the first few days while her misdemeanour was heard in court. Only after that was she united with her child. ICE's policy is not to separate a nursing mother from her child. Critics believe this case demonstrates the dangers of having local police enforce immigration law.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fewer Deaths at the Border

The Border Patrol reports a decline in deaths of those trying to sneak across the U.S.-Mexican border. The decline has been substantial in the Arizona desert. (See Arizona Republic article.) The number of fatalities is still high -- 256 over nine months. The reasons for the decline are varied -- stepped-up enforcement, the economy, fear of the coyotes or the hardships of the desert. But one new element is the fact that many undocumented workers are staying put because of the economy rather than return home for short visits.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Citizens Sue Sheriff Joe

U.S. citizens who were stopped in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "criminal suppression sweeps" have joined a suit charging racial profiling. Maicopa sheriff's deputy has stopped and detained them for fours during the sweeps, he only reason they they looked Mexican. The plaintiffs were born here and are American citizens. Still it's a long-shot that they'll make their case, since it is hard to discern the intent of the deputies. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McCain Before LaRaza

John McCain took his turn speaking before the convention of the National Council of La Raza in San Diego. He reiterated his priority for border security over other aspects of immigration reform. He chided Barack Obama for his tepid support of a comprehensive reform, but the LA Times noted that he misrepresented the Democrat's position. McCain was well received, though many would prefer that he revert to his earlier position on comprehensive reform. (See LA Times article, Also see Arizona Republic article.)

Mericopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio conduct another of his "criminal round-ups" of Mesa, AZ, -- this time without informing the local police. At a press conference -- there can be no sweep without the press -- America's "toughest sheriff" responded to criticism with anger and sarcasm. (See Arizona Republic article.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama to La Raza

Barack Obama followed John McCain before the National Council of La Raza at its annual convention in San Diego, looking for crucial Hispanic votes. While the Gallup Poll has him comfortably ahead of McCain, the swing states of Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado are not yet in his pocket. There Hispanics may be the swing vote. McCain held to his "border security first" policy, but also addressed other concerns of Latinos -- most notably, their success as small business entrepreneurs. So Obama not only renewed his support of "comprehensive" reform, but also spoke to the needs of small Hispanic businesses -- especially the burden of providing health care insurance to employees. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rough Justice in Waterloo

The NY Times editorially blasted ICE and the Bush administration for the rough justice handed down to the undocumented workers rounded up at a kosher slaughtering house in Potsville, IA, They were herded into a livestock exhibition center in Waterloo, where the U.S. attorneys charged many with the felony of using false documentation. From the beginning lawyers protested the swift justice, but now a legal interpreter charges that many of those who plead to a felony did not really understand what was happening. (See posting for July, 11, 2008.)

The city of Escondido, in northern San Diego County, has given up trying to drive out the undocumented through sanctions on landlords or employers. Now it will charge them directly as a "public nuisance" -- for messy garbage cans, illegal parking, leaving abandoned cars in the back yard and the like. The police are checking all arrested or motorists stopped for traffic violation to check on immigration status. Those caught up in the net are turned over to ICE for deportation. (See LA Times article.)

Arizona, both to slow illegal immigration and strike at the coyotes that trade on smuggling immigrants, had had some success at hurt the smugglers where it hurts -- their money. But now it seems the coyotes -- a nasty lot, but not dumb -- have devised alternates to routing the money. (See Arizona Republic article.) The smuggling of undocumented immigrants is unquestionably one of the worse features of the immigration crisis on the border. The coyotes system arose out of the desperation of immigrants to get here and from the needlessly harsh barriers this country has raised against a poorer neighbor. Since the coyotes are not in it for humanitarian purposes, they strike a hard bargain with the border-crossers. Payments are high, and if the migrants don't pay in full, they are often held hostage til they do. Coyotes are known to abandon crossers, even to kill them, if the border patrol gets to close. Gangs of coyotes are known to fight each other over over control of migrants much as their cousins the drug smugglers.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

McCain Wooes Latino with Ad

The NY Times has a watch on advertising in the presidential campaign. One recently by John McCain released in the west with its rich lore of Hispanic votes links Hispanic military service to his own.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Legal Interpreter Questions Justice at Potsville, IA

A legal interpreter, Professor Erik Camayd-Freixas of Florida International University, faulted the legal process after the ICE raid recently in Potsville, IA. (See posting for May 24, 2008.) He charged that many of those detained did not understand that they were being charged with felonies and that prosecutors rushed proceedings. (See NY Times article.)

The Times also described the responds of St. Brigid's Catholic Church in Potsville after the raids.