Daily news updates from CIS
February 19, 2010
Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate
[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Conservatives seek to woo Hispanic voters
2. Sen. Harry Reid addresses immigration at Latino summit (link)
3. MIT study: Americans prefer skilled immigrants
4. GA sole state to see increase in illegals
5. TX in-state tuition policies under fire
6. Idaho State House kills enforcement measure
7. TX State House race highlights issue
8. CA schools to better track foreign kids' progress
9. FL county council passes wage theft law
10. AZ city proposal would require status checks
11. CO city hosts new ICE facilities
12. WA city property owners oppose new ICE building
13. SC city emphasizes Census response
14. Day laborers circumvent CA city restrictions
15. MD county urges Hispanics to respond to Census
16. NY Arabs press for 'immigration reform'
17. NC League of Women Voters discusses issue
18. CA amnesty activists rally outside senator’s offices
19. NY judge steps in to support former inmate
20. CO activists rally for 'reform'
21. CO rights activists expand operations
22. TX faithful pray for amnesty
23. AZ elementary kids witness citizenship ceremony
24. Father accused of 'honor killing' evades death penalty (link)
25. AZ sheriff rules illegal's death a homicide (link)
26. Two illegals accused of murdering Texas man (link)
27. Three illegals nabbed in Ohio county (link)
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Conservatives woo Hispanics
By Casey Curlin
The Washington Times, February 19, 2010
A conservative group has begun a new initiative to bring Hispanics into their movement by emphasizing traditional social issues, but the fight over immigration may prove this to be a futile effort.
The American Principles Project announced this week its Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a new initiative that will promote conservative values in the Hispanic community and attempt to persuade conservatives on immigration reform, opening doors to a possible untapped mass of support in the nation's growing Hispanic community.
'We believe that it is time that the conservative movement proactively and intelligently reach out to Latinos, because we believe strongly that Latinos are conservative, that Latino values are conservative values,' said Alfonso Aguilar, a spokesman for the partnership.
Clarissa Martinez De Castro, the director of immigration and national campaigns at the National Council of La Raza, agreed that Hispanics are traditionally socially conservative and pro-family.
But she said the immigration issue is so important to Hispanic voters that conservatives, who generally oppose paths to citizenship and favor tighter border security, would have to clearly change their stances to have many more Hispanics vote for them.
Many Republicans 'have used the issue in a way that has demonized the Latino community,' Ms. Martinez De Castro said.
Statistics appear to support Ms. Martinez De Castro's statement that immigration is the biggest factor in Hispanic political sidings. A 2009 study by America's Voice, an immigration reform organization, found that 82 percent of Hispanics said the immigration issue is 'very important' or 'somewhat important' to them and their families. Additionally, 69 percent said they personally know an undocumented immigrant.
But educating Hispanics on conservative political views is only half of the struggle, according to the Latino Partnership, which supports comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes undocumented immigrants, with a penalty for entering the country illegally.
The group said its initiative also would focus on educating conservatives about Hispanic values and immigration reform to achieve its goal, saying that people are angry with big government policies and the Hispanic vote is needed to see the conservative movement expand.
Mr. Aguilar was optimistic about conservative acceptance of immigration reform. He acknowledged that many conservatives may not come out in support of reform immediately but that as the Hispanic vote continues to increase, they will see the demographic necessity to back reform.
The U.S. Census Bureau in 2009 reported that the number of Hispanic voters increased by 2 million in the 2008 presidential election compared to the 2004 election, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters was not statistically different from 2004.
Although President George W. Bush's plan for immigration reform was not highly regarded among Democrats or Republicans in 2007, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a member of the Latino Partnership's board of advisers, said President Obama has yet to produce immigration reform legislation.
'We now have a Democratic president, an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate, an overwhelmingly Democratic House, and they've done nothing in the last year,' he said. 'It was Republicans like [President] Reagan, that began, and Bush, which we said, that started to get a handle on coming up with a reasonable immigration policy that benefits the country.'
Return to Top
Harry Reid speaks at Latino Summit
The Las Vegas Review Journal, February 18, 2010
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid speaks about Immigration reform, jobs and healthcare at the Latino Summit at UNLV on Thursday.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Senate Majority Leader's comments are available in video format at: http://www.lvrj.com/multimedia/Harry-Reid-speaks-at-Latino-Summit-84733002.html
Return to Top
Understanding anti-immigrant sentiment
In new research experiment, MIT political scientist shows Americans’ views on immigration may be less based on economic self-interest than is commonly believed.
By Peter Dizikes
MIT News, February 19, 2010
Immigration is a long-simmering issue in the politics of many countries, including the United States. A 2007 Pew poll found that three-quarters of all U.S. citizens want to further restrict immigration. But what’s behind such strongly held views?
Conventional wisdom holds that American attitudes toward immigrants are shaped by both economic and cultural considerations. In trying to explain the economic concerns of U.S. citizens, social scientists have pointed to two forms of self-interest: Fear over increased competition for jobs, and resentment over having to pay for the social services used by immigrants and their families.
A new public-opinion research experiment by MIT political scientist Jens Hainmueller and his Harvard colleague Michael Hiscox paints a very different picture. American citizens, they find, are not necessarily afraid of job competition or supporting public services. Instead, the striking thing about Americans’ attitude toward immigration is that they collectively tend to prefer immigrant workers with refined job skills instead of those lacking good training: Citizens will welcome, say, a computer programmer more readily than a manual laborer.
'People seem to be much more in favor of high-skill immigrants because they think they contribute more to society,' says Hainmueller. As a practical matter, that insight could help public officials find some new ways of gaining popular support for new immigration programs. In less predictable ways, the findings could alter public discussion of immigration by suggesting that Americans see immigration even more markedly as a cultural matter than previous thought.
'Policy-makers need to better understand what causes anti-immigrant sentiments because resistant public opinion is the key roadblock for immigration reform in the U.S. and many other countries,' explains Hainmueller. 'From this perspective our results are both bad news and good news. They suggest that public opinion should be less of a problem for immigration policies that specifically target high-skilled immigrants. But the results also suggest that a fair amount of the anti-immigration sentiment is driven by deep-seated cultural factors that are difficult to change with policy tools.'
And while in much public opinion research it is normally very difficult to assess issues of cultural perception directly, the results Hainmueller and Hiscox found — that economic concerns over immigration are either less significant or different in nature than previously assumed — thus indirectly reinforce the idea that culture powerfully shapes public perception of the immigration issue.
The finding that Americans tend to favor high-skill immigrants regardless of their own economic status upends conventional wisdom. Consider the idea that immigrants take jobs away — the 'labor market competition model,' in social-science argot. If true, Americans should be more resistant to immigrants with the same job skills as themselves. But as Hainmueller and Hiscox show, about half of Americans with college degrees 'disagree' or 'strongly disagree' that the country should allow more low-skilled immigrants into the country — yet only about a quarter say the same thing about highly-skilled immigrants.
Overall, in a study of 2,285 American citizens, conducted in late 2007 and early 2008, Hainmueller and Hiscox found that about 35 percent of all people strongly disagree with the statement that the U.S. should have more low-skilled immigrants, while about 20 percent 'agree' or 'strongly agree.' The numbers reverse when Americans are asked if more highly skilled immigrants should enter the country: about 20 percent strongly disagree, while about 35 percent agree or strongly agree.
The results appear in a new paper, 'Attitudes Toward Highly Skilled and Low Skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment,' which is being published in the February issue of the American Political Science Review. The data comes from a survey conducted on behalf of the researchers by the survey firm Knowledge Networks. Hainmueller and Hiscox used what social scientists call a 'cross-over' design for the research, randomly asking half the respondents first about either high-skilled or low-skilled immigrants, then reversing the questions two weeks later. This allowed them to see if individuals were providing consistent answers over time (they were).
Hainmueller and Hiscox also found reason to doubt the idea that the affluent resist immigration because they resent footing the bill for the welfare state — the 'fiscal burden model,' as social scientists call it. When the researchers analyzed the survey participants by education level — dividing them into high school dropouts, high school graduates, people with some college, and those with at least one higher-education degree — they found that at all education levels, the number of Americans who 'strongly disagree' with allowing low-skilled immigrants into the country was twice the number who share the same degree of opposition to high-skilled immigrants.
If the fiscal burden model were the sole driver of anti-immigrant sentiment among the well-off, then in theory, wealthier, better-educated Americans would oppose immigration more than poorer Americans, and there would be a declining relative tolerance for low-skilled immigrants as education levels rise. In short, neither of the two traditional ideas about economic self-interest is, by itself, a full explanation of people’s views.
'Overall the results suggest that economic self-interest, at least currently theorized, does not explain voter attitudes toward immigration,' write Hainmueller and Hiscox in the article.
An alternate idea Hainmueller would consider exploring in the future is how much attitudes depend on particular types of work. 'It could be very industry specific,' he says. 'In an industry where there is a lot of competition with immigrants, like the food service industry, there may be a great deal of variation in the support for immigrants.'
‘We don’t know stuff we thought we knew’
But colleagues say the findings of Hainmueller and Hiscox should re-open still larger debates about the core reasons why many Americans want to tighten immigration policy: Do attitudes depend primarily on cultural or economic concerns?
'The wider implication of their work is that we don’t know stuff we thought we knew about how material interests affect public attitudes toward immigrants,' says Ron Rogowski, a professor of political science at UCLA (and an editor at the APSR.)
If traditional notions of economic self-interest do not shape attitudes as much as previously assumed, Hainmueller acknowledges, we may want to examine more closely how cultural appeals to traditional notions of American values and identity shape public opinion.
'I think there really is something to this idea of culture, in that some people have a deep-seated skepticism of immigration,' says Hainmueller.
As a way of studying the culture-or-economy issue as it shapes attitudes to immigration, Hainmueller is currently engaged in a fine-grained study of immigration in Switzerland, where the admission of individual immigrants can be determined after debates and votes among local citizens. By studying that process, he says, 'We may be more able to get at the relative strength of these cultural and economic factors.' In the long run, Hainmueller thinks, the Swiss study may give him substantive or methodological insights he can apply back to the United States.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The American Political Science Review can be found online at: http://www.apsanet.org/content_3222.cfm
Return to Top
Georgia only state to add undocumented immigrants in 2008?
By Dan Chapman and Andria Simmons
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 18, 2010
In 2008, as the economy tanked and illegal immigrants were increasingly targeted by law enforcement, virtually every state in the nation witnessed a decline in the number of undocumented residents.
Every state, that is, but Georgia.
Georgia added 20,000 immigrants without papers in 2008, according to a surprising study by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Georgia’s unauthorized immigrant population rose 4 percent from 460,000 to 480,000.
Meanwhile, across the United States that year, the number of undocumented residents declined from 11.6 million to 10.8 million – a 7 percent drop.
'It’s shocking to see that Georgia is showing an increase based on the reports we’ve heard about the immigrant population leaving because of the recession and immigration laws,' said Millie Irizarry, CEO of the Latin American Association in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier this week about a perceived population decrease or shift of Latinos out of certain locations in metro Atlanta, including Cobb and Gwinnett counties.
The recession, and the implosion of jobs, officially started in December 2007. The ensuing two years saw the unemployment rate in Georgia reach double figures. Construction, landscaping and factory jobs – the bread-and-butter work for north Georgia’s Hispanics – evaporated.
And, starting in July 2007, Cobb County began turning over undocumented immigrants to the feds for possible deportation, a tactic that forced thousands of Latinos underground or out of Cobb.
Nonetheless, Ariel Robles witnessed an increase in the Latino population -- legal and illegal -- in 2008, giving credence to the Homeland Security study released last week.
'In my church I’ve seen a growing population of Hispanics, both documented and undocumented,' said Pastor Robles of History Makers International Ministries, a charismatic Pentecostal church in Marietta. 'Most have stayed. Atlanta’s economy is strong despite all the recession. And many are holding on at all costs for immigration reform.'
Nationwide, the unauthorized population – foreign-born non-citizens who are not legal residents – increased from 8.5 million to 11.8 million between 2000 and 2007, according to Homeland Security. They either came here illegally or overstayed visas. An estimated 62 percent hail from Mexico.
Between Jan. 1, 2007, and Jan. 1, 2009, though, as the economy cratered, one million fewer undocumented residents were tallied by Homeland Security.
Yet the report recommends 'caution in interpreting changes in the size of the unauthorized population.' DHS suggests that sampling error and the reliability of census data used to quantify the undocumented population raise questions about the overall accuracy of its report. The feds also note that state-to-state migration further muddies an accurate count.
Still, Homeland Security's overall number of undocumented immigrants matches a study by the Pew Hispanic Center. But while Pew agrees that fewer undocumented Mexicans illegally crossed the border the last few years, there has been no considerable increase in Mexicans returning home.
Jerry Gonzalez, who’s leading a statewide census initiative for Latinos, said that both Homeland Security and the U.S. Census Bureau typically under count the nation’s Hispanic population. He’s skeptical of DHS’s latest Georgia count.
'I don’t think you can look at those numbers in isolation and truly see any kind of trend,' Gonzalez said. 'Anecdotally, there have been stories of people moving away. But, by the same token, there have been stories of people doubling up in households like most Georgians trying to make it through the recession.'
Stepped-up immigration enforcement has reduced the Latino population in Cobb and Gwinnett counties, where deputies routinely turn over the undocumented to the feds for possible deportation. But many Latinos simply move to more immigrant-friendly counties like Douglas or DeKalb, Hispanic business, religious and community leaders say.
In those school districts, English-as-a-second language programs have grown substantially; they’ve leveled off in Cobb and Gwinnett.
If 2008 witnessed an increase in Georgia’s undocumented population, few Latinos expect the trend continued in 2009. Andrea Cruz, who runs a non-profit social services agency for Latinos in southeast Georgia’s onion country, said more and more families are requesting help obtaining passports for their children who are U.S. citizens.
'Fathers want to send their wives and children back to Mexico,' Cruz said. 'The undocumented population isn’t growing. We’re not seeing any new faces.'
EDITOR’S NOTE: The DHS report is available online at: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2009.pdf
CIS analysis of current population trends is available online at: http://cis.org/CurrentNumbers
Return to Top
In-State Tuition for Illegals?
New controversy brewing over an old bill signed into law by Rick Perry that allows illegal immigrants to attend Texas colleges at in-state tuition rates.
By Joe Gomez
The KTRH News (Houston), February 17, 2010
The bill signed into law in 2001 allows illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition so long as they intend to apply for permanent residency, but who's checking to make sure they go through with the process?
According to the governor during the last election-debate it's the Texas Education Agency, but Andy Kiesling with Texas Higher Education says that's not quite right. 'There's no provision in the statute that requires follow up.'
It's something that Alipac's William Gheen thinks is just part of a hidden movement to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.
'It's quite obvious that you've got some very powerful big business groups in Texas that love their illegal aliens and want more of them.'
The governor's office recently issued a retraction of Perry's statement.
Return to Top
1 of 3 Idaho immigration employment bills killed
Business Week, February 18, 2010
Boise, ID -- An Idaho House committee killed one of three illegal immigration-related bills in the 2010 Legislature, a move that bodes ill for two measures pending in the Senate.
The State Affairs Committee shot down a plan from Republican Reps. Raul Labrador and Phil Hart Thursday that could have meant suspending a business's license for a year, if it was caught knowingly hiring illegal workers.
Business groups including the Idaho Dairyman's Association and Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry opposed the measure, on grounds it could hurt Idaho's fragile economy and such immigration reforms remain a federal issue.
Hart said he was disappointed but suspects the other bills -- now in the Senate State Affairs Committee -- 'wouldn't do any better' than his own on the off-chance they survive the Senate and make it to the House committee.
Return to Top
GOP rivals for State House District 65 tangle over budget, immigration issues at forum
By Dianne Solis
The Dallas Morning News, February 19, 2010
Budget-balancing and immigration issues are fueling the campaign in State House District 65, where longtime incumbent Burt Solomons faces a challenge from former congressional candidate Mike Murphy.
In a candidate forum in Denton County last week, Murphy, a 36-year-old political consultant, lobbed a verbal punch at Solomons, a 59-year-old lawyer, on the Texas budget shortfall that could reach $19 billion.
Murphy said government 'intrusion' should be reduced, then he highlighted his endorsement by the conservative Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
'Why would they not endorse a 16-year incumbent?' Murphy asked.
Solomons, the veteran, used the opportunity to resurrect an icon. 'As Ronald Reagan said, 'There you go again.' '
The budget shortfall means 'we are going to have to do what we have to do,' Solomons said, before adding, 'There is a reason Dick Armey has endorsed me and every true conservative.'
Armey is a former House majority leader who has harnessed some of the energy of the Tea Party movement to his conservative group Freedom Works.
District 65 includes north Carrollton, Lewisville, western Frisco, a piece of western Plano and a small corner of Dallas. Voter turnout in 2008 was nearly 80 percent. It is a solidly Republican district that went for John McCain over Barack Obama by 11 percentage points in the 2008 presidential race.
Some in a crowd of nearly 200 at a Castle Hills community center said they're sick of RINOs, or Republicans In Name Only. Some say they're impressed with the Tea Party movement, which is preaching fiscal conservatism. Candidates aligned with the Tea Party message have popped up in Republican primaries all across North Texas.
'We want true Republicans,' said Joyce Goins, a homemaker who home-schools her children.
Murphy, a Frisco resident, ran for Congress in 2004 when incumbent Ralph Hall switched from Democrat to Republican. He lost but says he gained valuable experience.
Solomons, of Carrollton, is well-known in his district, where he was a municipal judge. As a state legislator, he has tried to moderate the power of homeowner associations. He chairs the House state affairs committee.
In the forum, Murphy said that Solomons didn't work hard enough to combat illegal immigration. In his campaign literature, he notes Solomons didn't support any anti-immigration legislation by state Rep. Leo Berman, a Republican who's proposed some of the toughest legislation against illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born citizen children. So when the question came up about a voter identification measure that would provide tougher screening of those in the U.S., Murphy pounced.
As a former election judge, Murphy said he learned it is too easy for undocumented immigrants to vote. 'We do need the proper ID when we vote,' Murphy said. 'We have so many illegals in this state that we need to know who can vote.'
Solomons agreed: 'We need a state voter identification law, and a national voter identification law.'
Afterward, Solomons said it's hard to pass legislation when the Texas House is nearly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. But there are other factors to consider, including those of businesses.
'Employers want some consistency,' Solomons said. 'Businesses need to have people here legally. ... I don't think it is onerous to say to a business to make sure you are knowingly hiring legal immigrants.'
Return to Top
State announces new tool to help migrant students
By Stephen Wall
The San Bernardino Sun (CA), February 18, 2010
California schools will be able to keep better track of migrant students under a new program intended to boost their academic performance.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced Thursday that California will participate in the Migrant Student Information Exchange system.
The system is a federal initiative designed to improve the electronic database of educational and health information for migrant children.
Data will be kept confidential and used only by authorized individuals, officials said. The information will help school staff to quickly access students' previous enrollment records, course history and tests to determine the most appropriate placement in the pupil's new school.
The system has been offered since 2007. About 20 states have signed up to use it, said Jorge Gaj, a consultant for the California Department of Education.
Every state with migrant students eventually will be part of the system, Gaj said.
'In the next couple weeks, we will be ready to upload the records of 200,000-plus migrant students,' Gaj said.
Gaj said that 11 students in San Bernardino County's kindergarten through 12th grade public school system are classified as migrant students.
The records maintained in the database are from educational institutions in the United States, Gaj said.
Migrant students often change schools and school districts and cross state lines during the year because their families are seeking temporary or seasonal work in the agricultural and dairy industries, officials said.
Return to Top
Miami-Dade County passes new wage theft ordinance
By Laura Wides Munoz
The Associated Press, February 18, 2010
Miami (AP) -- The county overwhelmingly passed a new ordinance to combat wage theft, making it easier for workers to bring legal action against employers who fail to pay them.
Thursday's vote comes after more than a year of work by a non-governmental task force of labor and immigrant advocates in Miami. San Francisco has a similar ordinance. Los Angeles and New Orleans are considering them.
The move permits workers to bring complaints against employers who fail to pay or don't pay overtime through a low-cost, streamlined process with public hearings.
Worker rights groups say the recession has increased wage theft nationwide. They say the local ordinances are a good start, but the federal government needs to step up investigations into problem industries.
Return to Top
Proposal: Let cops check immigration status
By Ari Cohn
The East Valley Tribune (Phoenix), February 18, 2010
A proposal to require Chandler police officers to ask whether some suspected criminals are in the country illegally will receive a public airing when the City Council meets Monday.
The existing Chandler Police Department guidelines governing the treatment of suspected illegal immigrants was adopted 12 years ago in the wake of an infamous Chandler Police Department sweep called the 'Chandler Roundup.' The rules give officers discretion on whether to notify federal immigration authorities if an undocumented suspect is arrested for a misdemeanor involving theft or assault, or for a felony.
Mayor Boyd Dunn said the current policy prohibits Chandler officers from asking about immigration status except in limited situations.
'It does bother me if there is a prohibition,' he said.
Last week at a City Council Public Safety Subcommittee meeting, police Chief Sherry Kiyler introduced a proposal to require officers to ask the immigration status of adults arrested for committing state or local crimes, juveniles charged with a felony, or if the suspect reveals information during an investigation that leads officers to believe he or she is in the country illegally.
Dunn said the change is intended to update an outdated policy and provide officers with more detail in dealing with suspected illegal immigrants.
'Everything has certainly changed. Times are different and approaches are different. We felt like we needed to update that area,' he said. 'It's a very carefully thought-out protocol.'
Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a Chandler Police Department spokesman, said officers will continue to refrain from asking the immigration status of people who incur civil penalties, such as traffic violations.
'Those are civil things. We will not ask their citizenship,' he said.
The prohibition also will remain on inquiring about the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses; juveniles, unless they've been charged with a felony; victims of domestic violence; and those seeking medical assistance, Favazzo said. Officers cannot stop someone solely to inquire about immigration status, he said.
In some cases, officers need the flexibility to ask about immigration status to inform suspects of their rights, such as contacting a foreign consulate, or if the suspect alludes that he or she does not intend to stay and face prosecution, he said.
'There are certain situations where we need to know,' Favazzo said. 'Therefore we need to ascertain their citizenship.'
The treatment of illegal immigrants has been a sore subject for Chandler since 1997. Over five days that year, the city's police department and the U.S. Border Patrol arrested and later deported 432 illegal immigrants. Many Hispanic U.S. citizens and legal residents were among those stopped and questioned. The roundup outraged the city's Hispanic community.
Even now, Chandler officials attempt to treat day laborers who congregate downtown - many of whom are thought to be illegal immigrants - gently. City officials objected when the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, an organization of local businesses, placed private video cameras last year in the historic square. Partnership officials said the cameras were installed in part to monitor day labor activity. The group quietly removed the cameras last May.
Dunn said the new policy likely will not have any effect on the dozens of day laborers who congregate in the city's downtown historic square. The days of city police conducting roundups are over, he said.
'We're not going to get into immigration enforcement as a law enforcement agency.'
Return to Top
Local lawmen already working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement office
By Chris Casey
The Greeley Tribune (CO), February 19, 2010
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Greeley is up and running — although it's only common knowledge within the law enforcement community.
The Greeley facility recently opened in an 11,000-square-foot office at 4645 18th St. It occupies a former business office which was remodeled to house a staff of roughly six to 10 federal employees. ICE does not disclose its exact numbers of agents.
A holding room for questioning suspects is inside the office, but no overnight holding cells are part of the complex.
In Greeley's case, the agency hasn't officially announced the opening. ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok told The Tribune last week that the office was ramping up and that an announcement would be made when it was fully operational.
However, local law enforcement officials say the facility is operating as planned.
'I think they've done a great job so far in helping us place ICE holds on the illegal immigrants in our county jail,' said Weld District Attorney Ken Buck. 'They've helped us with our illegal immigrants who are in gangs in Greeley through initiatives they've worked with the Greeley Police on. They've helped us with identity theft cases.'
Buck pushed for the ICE office in late 2005, drawing criticism from Latino activists who said such an office would be a divisive element in a city already simmering with ethnic tensions.
Jim Bensberg, an El Paso County commissioner and advocate for an ICE office in Colorado Springs, said fanfare heralded the opening of the Springs' facility on Nov. 1.
'It was well-received,' he said. 'We did a ribbon-cutting. We had a celebratory cake and had our pictures taken cutting the cake. And to put the icing on the cake, if you will, (the ICE agents) offered to come to a town hall meeting later in the year where they would explain to the public all of the functions that they perform.'
Buck said the Greeley office, like the one in Colorado Springs, will mainly investigate gang activity, drug trafficking and human smuggling. Agents will also investigate identity theft and child pornography cases.
Buck noted the quiet opening, and said he believes ICE took that approach out of sensitivity to the local climate regarding immigration issues.
'I think that's how the federal government intended it and exactly how we foresaw the opening,' he said. 'It isn't something where immigration agents are going to be in people's faces every day. It's not something that's going to be divisive.'
The ICE office in Brush closed and consolidated with the Greeley office.
Ricardo Romero, a Greeley Latino activist who runs the Al Frente de la Lucha Center, said the west Greeley office is not needed and is a waste of money.
'The ICE office in Brush made more sense because of I-76 and the drug traffic that happens from there to the Midwest and the borders and all those places,' he said. 'That made more sense than dropping money into this.'
ICE hasn't disclosed the local lease rate, but the agency is operating on a five-year lease with an option for another five years, a U.S. General Services Administration official Sally Mayberry said last year. The GSA was in charge of finding a site for the Greeley office and bidding out construction. The agency hit several funding snags and the office's opening comes about a year later than originally planned.
Romero said undocumented workers are here due to a dysfunctional federal immigration system that rewards companies for hiring cheap labor. Once here, he said, those workers are forced into hiding out of fear of deportation.
With the arrival of the ICE office, Romero said, 'they will be terrorized more, if there is such a thing that can happen to them.'
Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said the ICE office will assist the city's gang unit as well as provide expertise on immigration issues.
'It provides an additional resource for us,' he said. 'For example, if we're faced with a situation where we have either a vanload of people who appear to be being smuggled or an individual arrested for a serious crime and we're not sure of their nationality or their legal status in the country.'
He said ICE agents spend time investigating serious crimes. 'They're not out scooping people off the streets.'
Garner noted that human trafficking is a problem through Weld County, especially along interstates 76 and 25.
Bensberg has been keeping tabs on progress on the Greeley office from Colorado Springs.
'They don't necessarily advertise their presence, but I can understand why,' he said of ICE agents. 'I'm pleased to see Weld County got their (office) relocated and open, and any presence in this state is good for the entire state.'
Return to Top
Proposed ICE building hits another snag
By Mark Morey
The Yakima Herald-Republic (WA), February 18, 2010
Yakima, WA -- An environmental appeal has been filed over a proposal to construct an office building for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Yakima.
Yakima land-use attorney Jamie Carmody filed the appeal for property owners at Presson Place, the proposed location for the building.
A Yakima company, Jundt-Eglin LLC, has proposed building the nearly 24,000-square-foot building on a 4-acre plot on Presson Place, a private road off Washington Avenue and a short distance east of the main Yakima post office.
The city's hearing examiner will listen to the environmental concerns at the same time that he considers whether the building fits into the area's current light industrial zoning.
The building would house federal ICE investigators and staff for the agency's Office of Detention and Removal. It would contain four cells to temporarily hold suspects or civil detainees until they are transferred to the Yakima County jail or the federal detention center in Yakima.
Federal officials say they have not yet agreed to lease the building.
The proposal has prompted concerns from nearby residents and business owners over traffic and safety.
The city hearing is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 25 at the City Hall council chambers, 129 N. Second St.
Return to Top
Hispanics' fears over census could keep up to $1 billion from the state
By Ben Szobody
The Greenville News (SC), February 19, 2010
Roberto Belen is a taxpayer-funded troubadour.
Dressed down for the occasion, a guitar in his hands, the 55-year-old Air Force veteran will materialize at some church choir rehearsal, ask permission to play and get to know Gabrielle, Danielle and Martha.
He will go to the Spanish-speaking church on Sunday and prenatal classes during the week, still not breathing a word about his real job. Days or weeks later, he might bring up the census.
At least $500 million and as much as $1 billion for South Carolina hinges on the work of Belen and others like him who have become crucial cogs in a huge and unprecedented effort to convince Hispanics — particularly undocumented workers — to fill out a census form.
It’s a make-up effort a decade in the making.
South Carolina left more than 48,000 people uncounted in 2000 — the second-worst response rate in the nation — failing miserably at the constitutionally required act of counting people and guaranteeing that the state would fare badly in the $400 billion annual federal aid sweepstakes that is based solely on census data.
In light of a bleak economic landscape, the drain of federal funds is staggering: at least $1,200 per person missed each year over the last decade, or more than $100 million in 2007 alone, that would have helped revitalize a network of pock-marked roads, cash-strapped schools and underfunded vocational programs in a state struggling with all three, according to estimates from the state’s Complete Count Committee.
A large part of the undercount is due to a 'ghost' population of Hispanics, census workers say, who traditionally ignore the government forms en masse because of very different Latino ideas of census, fear of deportation, a severe lack of English and education or all of the above.
The new turnout effort is turning census workers into salespeople who describe huge cultural obstacles. An arsenal of tactics includes Belen’s guitar, advertising blitzes, talk radio shows, door-to-door work, long hours of simple listening and trips to street revivals, Latino festivals and health fairs.
If enough people are counted, South Carolina could be among seven states to get an extra U.S. House seat, according to an analysis by Election Data Services Inc.
'You have to use all the psychology possible to reach these people,' said Belen, who has honed the art of building trust through churches, which lead him to a sprawling network of Latino community leaders.
Among them is Martha Lucia, an impassioned, brightly dressed talk show host whose radio broadcast from McAlister Square on Pleasantburg Drive reaches up the East Coast and across the Midwest.
The Martha Lucia Show is underway every weeknight, and the census is a huge topic. Lucia takes questions. Will census workers give information to immigration officials? How do I know the person knocking at my door is from the Census Bureau?
She speaks in terms of local schools struggling for funding. She explodes myths that urge Hispanics not to fall for a census process that could usher immigration agents in the door.
Census officials send her information, and Lucia said she uses her credibility in the community to convince people otherwise.
Tracy Semenza, a state employee, volunteers at hospitals and mental health institutions, befriends immigration attorneys and visits Hispanic populations at work and in migrant camps.
Her tools are social and ultra-simple: listening, answering questions, bleeding off the mistrust and fear undocumented workers have of federal government.
Even the president, she tells them, can’t look at census forms. They are sealed for 72 years.
But even some of these messages don’t resonate. The average undocumented worker has a sixth-grade education, Semenza said, though she said one also finds aeronautics engineers picking pumpkins for a living.
It’s the educated ones who are both interested in better representation in Washington and are potentially conflicted about the act of being counted, Belen said. A Venezuelan, for example, is used to a census driven by the National Guard and used by President Huge Chavez to elicit taxes and soldiers for the military.
'We want this census to open the eyes of not only the population itself but people in positions of power,' Semenza said.
At a recent YWCA forum on collaboration with the Hispanic community, Greenville census worker Ashley Berkland told attendees census forms have been shortened to 10 questions and should take minutes to complete.
'We want to know how many, nothing more,' she said.
It’s not just federal dollars that hinge on the numbers.
Counties receive an additional $50 a year from the state per person counted, and the city of Greenville gets about $30 a person, said Rania Jamison, the public information coordinator for the State Budget and Control Board’s census turnout effort.
Wilfredo Leon, publisher of Latino Newspaper in Greenville, said he is acutely aware of the stakes.
'We’re losing money by not responding,' he said, pointing to what he said was about 100,000 Hispanics tallied in the 2000 Census, or fewer than Bi-Lo grocery stores have tabulated in their BonusCard system.
'Not every Hispanic shops at Bi-Lo.'
Belen finds women the most receptive. They understand food stamps, free school lunches and WIC services. They hear that the amount of money for this depends on population numbers.
Men, he said, want to know how to get their citizenship.
Sometimes he will build up weeks of progress only to lose ground when some other arm of the federal government makes its weight known.
A Mexican nun working in Conway on a religious visa went home on an emergency, then was barred from re-entry for some mysterious reason, he said. The spiritual heart of the community was gone, and Belen represented the federal government.
In Horry County, the head of a 7,000-player soccer league was deported, devastating the community and making Belen’s life 'miserable.'
Still, he’s intent on getting everyone counted, regardless of legal status. Public events don’t work. Radio shows and playing the guitar, looking at people and listening to their fears do.
'We lose so much if we don’t get it right because they’re using resources as we speak,' he said.
Lucia is 'absolutely' confident that more Hispanics will be counted this time than last.
However, none of these people actually deliver a census form or help anyone fill one out, Semenza said. That’s the job of a specialized census team that will, if necessary, mail forms twice and then visit a home as many as six times if necessary.
And that makes Semenza and Belen like people who plow for 12 months but never touch the harvest.
Return to Top
Day laborers holding 'Hire Here' signs in Costa Mesa
By Ellyn Pak
The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), February 18, 2010
Costa Mesa, CA -- Barred from soliciting work by distracting drivers, day laborers are holding 'Hire Here' signs and standing still on sidewalks throughout the city, according to the Daily Pilot.
A city ordinance adopted in 2005 prohibits 'active solicitation' by, of or from people in moving cars. It also bans solicitation in commercial parking areas that have signs prohibiting such actions.
However, the ordinance allows people to stand on sidewalks with signs, distribute literature to pedestrians and talk to others in lawfully parked vehicles.
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, along with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, filed a lawsuit against the city challenging its ordinance targeting day laborers.
Police officials have said the department constantly enforces the city's anti-solicitation ordinance. In September, police arrested a total of 12 day laborers for illegally soliciting work at three hot spots in the city, including the 7-Eleven at 2150 Placentia Avenue. The day laborers were ultimately deported.
The city has for years tried to tackle issues related to day laborers. In 2005, the city shuttered a job center, which citizens argued attracted illegal immigrants and wasted taxpayers' money. The center – formerly on Placentia Avenue – opened in 1988 in response to complaints about loitering, traffic problems and unsafe conditions when laborers searched for work on streets and at parks.
Return to Top
County executive makes census appeal to Montgomery Hispanics
By Brian Hughes
The Washington Examiner (DC), February 18, 2010
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett on Wednesday pushed for all county Hispanics to participate in the 2010 census, traditionally a hard sell for immigrants -- both legal and illegal -- wary of drawing attention to themselves.
County officials identified the 42 most difficult areas to count residents in the region, and will reach out to church leaders, apartment complex managers and employers to ensure compliance with the April population count.
'I want the census figures to reflect the growing and vibrant Latino community that we have here in our county,' Leggett said in a speech with Hispanic community leaders. 'If we fail to count all of our residents, we could lose millions of dollars of funds for important county programs and services.'
With $400 billion in federal funding tied to the census, county leaders say they can't afford for Hispanics to avoid the survey.
The county will work with community groups, such as CASA of Maryland and the Latino Economic Development Corporation, to coordinate a variety of events and education outreach.
Legal status has no bearing on inclusion in the census, which county officials have stated repeatedly.
'Answers are confidential, as the Census Bureau cannot share an individual's response with anyone, including welfare and immigration agencies,' the county said. 'Census takers will visit households in May that did not return a questionnaire.'
Officials are planning a 'census faith event' next month so church leaders can encourage their congregations to participate. And Leggett will travel by bus to a series of 'census festivals' in Gaithersburg, Wheaton and Takoma Park in late March. More than 100,000 census fliers have been printed in six languages, according to county officials.
Conducted every 10 years, the census dictates U.S. House representatives for each state. The Census Bureau will send population counts to President Obama for apportionment in December, and states will receive redistricting data next March.
Return to Top
Arab, Muslim Community Makes Case For Immigration Reform
By Shazia Khan
The NY1 News (NYC), February 18, 2010
For many Arab and Muslim Americans, learning how to navigate the immigration system is not an easy task. It was also one of the issues on the agenda at a town hall meeting in Brooklyn Wednesday night.
'People are applying for citizenship passing the exam and waiting two to three to even up to five years to get cleared,' said Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York.
Elected officials at the meeting said immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries face a system that treats them with suspicion.
'I've had instance in my own offices with constituents who have been detained unfairly for hours on end awaiting clearance. We have to come up with a system which is more effective and efficient,' said Congresswoman Yvette Clark.
Those on short visits have to register when entering the U.S. from largely Muslim countries or face deportation. Participants say that system needs to end.
'We're not even told about this from the Department of Homeland Security. There's nothing on their website. So our community is routinely targeted based on these programs, that they don't even know anything about,' said Samia Makhlouf of the Arab American Institute.
Some in the audience said they've faced discrimination since the September 11th attacks, and want to know that there is someone in their corner.
'I just want to hear from the officials that they don't think the same way as people in the streets,' said one recent immigrant.
Organizers who conducted the meeting said trust is the key to a solution.
'Some people have been here forever and some are new immigrants so they want to feel like they are part of the solution in keeping this country safe and that they are going to need people to come forward and help them maintain its national security. But you can't do that if you're treated like your suspicious right off the bat,' said Makhlouf.
New York was the first stop and organizers say they plan to host similar town hall meetings in other cities home to large Arab-American communities.
Return to Top
Growers focus on labor pool
By Jessica Goodman
The Times-News (Hendersonville, NC), February 19, 2010
Flat Rock, NC -- On Thursday, in a packed room at the Flat Rock Village Hall, the League of Women Voters of Henderson County held an immigration forum.
Bert Lemkes, general manger of Van Wingerden, with Adam Pryor, past president, and Anthony Owens, current president, of the Blue Ridge Apples Growers Association, spoke on immigration issues affecting their labor pool. The major issues employers contend with include verifying whether employees are documented or not.
'Our greenhouse business is seasonal. We're focused mainly on the spring season,' Lemkes said.
'The (labor) need is not based on quotas,' Pryor said. 'It's based on our crop, Mother Nature and the buyers.'
Lemkes explained there is a lot of red tape when trying to identify whether an employee is eligible to work in the United States. He uses E-Verify, an Internet-based system run by the Department of Homeland Security with the Social Security Administration, that allows an employer to determine the eligibility of an employee to work in the United States.
'You cannot use E-Verify to select people,' Lemkes said. 'You can only use it after you hired someone.'
If someone comes back as ineligible to work in the United States, that person then has eight days to come up with the proper documentation.
'We have to have a labor force we can legitimately work with,' Pryor said. 'When we need people, we need them then.'
Pryor said he would like to see an integrated system where an employer can line up workers and spend just one day verifying whether an employee is documented.
'Being an employer myself, we want to be careful,' Lemkes said. 'There's no desire of the agricultural employer to do anything illegal.'
'Whatever is done in immigrant reform, it needs to address the past, current and future,' he added. Lemkes said the government cannot deport all the illegal immigrants, and it should not create a bureaucratic system that does not account to the economic growth and need for jobs.
The program held Thursday focused on the need for immigration reform in Washington. The League of Women Voters, both on a national and local level, have focused on the issue of immigration since 2006. The league completed the study and has been holding forums to educate the public with their findings.
'The topic of immigration, as we've studied it for the past two years, often stirs more emotion than rational thinking,' said Lee Luebbe, chair of the League of Women Voters of Henderson County Immigration Study.
'Immigration speaks to the core of the nation's history, its identity and its value,' said Alma Rodriguez Jones, a member of the league and a presenter on Thursday.
The forum showed most immigrant workers come in for three types of work: agriculture, construction and service. Forty percent of immigrants make up this work force, according to the league.
About 11.9 million people in the United States are undocumented immigrants, just under 4 percent of the population. The process to be in the United States as a documented worker is a long and tedious journey.
'If you're an employer and you need somebody, you have to wait 5 years through the entire (legal immigration) process,' said Glenn Rodgers, a presenter at the league's forum.
During the forum and on the league's Web site, after the two-year study, the League of Women Voters stated 'immigration policies should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States; and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises. Provisions should also be made for qualified persons to enter the United States on student visas. All persons should receive fair treatment under the law.'
'Most of us believe this problem needs to be solved in Washington,' Rodgers added.
Return to Top
Rally at senators’ offices calls for immigration fix
By Jose Luis Jiménez
The San Diego Union Tribune, February 19, 2010
San Diego -- A group of about 100 people rallied in front of the downtown offices of California’s U.S. senators last night, calling for renewed attention to immigration reform.
The group gathered at St. Joseph Cathedral on Third Avenue near Beech Street and marched about two miles to a pair of office buildings on B Street near Seventh Avenue, where the offices of Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are located.
There they delivered a message calling on the lawmakers to work on legislation to legalize the millions of illegal immigrants in the country. Their speeches focused on the themes of unity, family and hope. They held signs, in both English and Spanish, with messages like 'Don’t destroy more families. Help families' and 'God does not separate families. The government does.'
Organizers said it was part of a campaign to coincide with Lent to bring renewed attention to the immigration issue. They are planning other events leading up to Easter Sunday, the end of Lent.
Return to Top
Judge Keeps His Word to Immigrant Who Kept His
By Nina Bernstein
The New York Times, February 18, 2010
The judge and the juvenile had grown up on the same mean streets, 40 years apart. And in fall 1996, they faced each other in a New York court where children are prosecuted as adults, but sentenced like candidates for redemption.
The teenager, a gifted student, was pleading guilty to a string of muggings committed at 15 with an eclectic crew in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The judge, who remembered the pitfalls of Little Italy in the 1950s, urged him to use his sentence — three to nine years in a reformatory — as a chance to turn his life around.
'If you do that, I am here to stand behind you,' the judge, Michael A. Corriero, promised. The youth, Qing Hong Wu, vowed to change.
Mr. Wu kept his word. He was a model inmate, earning release after three years. He became the main support of his immigrant mother, studying and working his way up from data entry clerk to vice president for Internet technology at a national company.
But almost 15 years after his crimes, by applying for citizenship, Mr. Wu, 29, came to the attention of immigration authorities in a parallel law enforcement system that makes no allowances for rehabilitation. He was abruptly locked up in November as a 'criminal alien,' subject to mandatory deportation to China — the nation he left at 5, when his family immigrated legally to the United States.
Now Judge Corriero, 67, retired from the bench, is trying to keep his side of the bargain.
'Mr. Wu earned his second chance,' the judge wrote in a letter supporting a petition to Gov. David A. Paterson for a pardon that would erase Mr. Wu’s criminal record and stop the deportation proceedings. 'He should have the opportunity to remain in this country.'
The letter is one of dozens of testimonials, including appeals from Mr. Wu’s fiancée, mother and sisters, who are all citizens; from the Police Benevolent Association, where Mr. Wu used to work; and from his employers at the Centerline Capital Group, a real estate financial and management company, where his boss, Tom Pope, calls Mr. Wu 'a shining star.'
But under laws enacted in 1996, the same year Mr. Wu was sentenced, the immigration judge hearing the deportation case has no discretion to consider any of it. For Mr. Wu, who remains in a cell in the Monmouth County Correctional Institute in Freehold, N.J., the best hope may be that the Manhattan district attorney will retroactively allow him the 'youthful offender' status that would scrub his record clean.
'The law is so inflexible,' said Judge Corriero, now executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City and the author of 'Judging Children as Children: A Proposal for a Juvenile Justice System.' The 2006 book calls for a justice system that reduces future crime rates by nurturing those who can learn from their mistakes, instead of turning them into career criminals.
That was his aim, he said, when he presided over the special court known as the Manhattan Youth Part, his views shaped by his own childhood. The son of a longshoreman and a factory seamstress, he grew up in a tenement across the street from the Tombs — the Manhattan House of Detention — and was schooled by both Roman Catholic missionaries in Chinatown and the Mulberry Street Boys. While he avoided serious trouble, he saw how easily a careless choice could lead to culpability instead of accomplishment.
The neighborhood pressures were not so different decades later, when Mr. Wu hung out at video arcades while his mother worked long hours in a garment factory and his father cooked at Chinese restaurants out of state. A friend from that period recalls seeing a shoe print on the teenager’s back from a street beating. He looked to his pals for self-defense that turned predatory.
In December 1995, he and two other teenagers, one of them pretending to have a gun, took a jacket from a young boy. In two episodes in April 1996, he and others robbed elderly men of money, knocking one down and punching another; he took part in a fourth mugging that June, records show.
'I’m sorry and I really hope that you will forgive me for all the pain and trouble I made them go through,' the teenager said when he was sentenced.
The judge called the case a tragedy, according to the court transcript. 'But this is not the end,' he told the youth, who had scored in the 98th percentile in mathematics. 'This is really the beginning of a new period for you. I want you to educate yourself. Continue to read, follow the rules.'
'You will want to get a job and become a meaningful, constructive member of society to help your family,' he added. 'I will be there to make sure that you can.'
Long after Judge Corriero had forgotten the case, Mr. Wu remembered those words. In 2007, confident that he had redeemed himself, he applied for citizenship, disclosing his record. Later, learning he was not only ineligible but also deportable, he tried to withdraw his application. But immigration authorities summoned him to their headquarters at 26 Federal Plaza.
'He said, ‘If I don’t show up, I’m going to be labeled a fugitive,’ ' his sister Jenny Gong, 31, recalled.
So he went to the interview, and was led away in shackles.
'Being permanently banned from the U.S., that’s the biggest stress I’m under,' Mr. Wu said in a telephone interview from jail. 'That’s the harshest penalty any person can ever receive.'
Under the 19th-century legal doctrine still at the heart of much of modern immigration law, however, neither detention nor deportation counts as punishment, just as administrative remedies for the failure to exclude an undesirable foreigner in the first place, experts say. The definition of undesirability has changed over time, but the 1996 laws eliminated most case-by-case judgment in favor of expanded categories of criminal convictions.
The shift was part of a national crackdown on crime, and the perception that immigration judges had been too lenient, allowing noncitizen felons to remain in the country and sometimes commit new offenses.
'This administration is committed to smart and effective immigration policies that place an emphasis on the deportation of criminal aliens,' Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Thursday. 'While we are not able to discuss any individual cases, ICE will enforce the law, and if an individual has been convicted of a serious or dangerous crime, we will take the appropriate action, including deportation.'
But the policy is hard for Mr. Wu’s supporters to understand. 'We’re losing a great guy — for nothing,' said Mr. Pope, director of Centerline’s Internet technology operations. 'Qing Wu is somebody you’d interview two or three times in your entire career. Nobody works as hard and as well as Qing.'
Mr. Wu’s mother, Floren Wu-Li, 57, blames herself. Interviewed in the tiny sixth-floor walkup on Spring Street where Mr. Wu lived with his fiancée, she acknowledged that he would have derived citizenship if she had secured it for herself while he was still a minor. But she was naturalized only four years ago, when she was allowed to take the test in Chinese.
'We were very poor and worked very hard and had no time to look after Qing when he was a child,' she said, weeping as her daughter translated. 'I had no time to learn English back then.'
Now widowed and ailing, she cleans at a casino in Connecticut but relies on her son’s financial help. His fiancée, Anna Ng, 27, a compliance officer for a hedge fund, said they had been scrimping to save for a place large enough for her parents and his mother to move in. Those savings are now going to legal fees.
Ms. Ng said she would want to follow Mr. Wu to China if he were deported, but speaks no Mandarin. 'What if we end up homeless?' she asked.
His sister spoke up: 'New York City is his home.'
To Judge Corriero, the case shows the long reach of laws that force judges to impose indelible convictions on adolescents — often, as in Mr. Wu’s case, based on guilty pleas made without knowledge of the dire immigration consequences to follow.
Efforts to free Mr. Wu, championed by the New York chapter of OCA, an Asian-American civil rights organization, now include a motion to vacate his 1996 guilty plea as legally defective because his lawyer wrongly advised him that it would not affect his green card. The group’s president, Elizabeth OuYang, also plans on Friday to meet with Peter Kiernan, counsel to the governor, to discuss the petition for a pardon, which Mr. Kiernan said was 'being seriously considered.'
The heart of the case lies in a letter Mr. Wu wrote to the judge when he was detained in November, recalling their pledges to each other years ago. When Judge Corriero checked the old court transcript, he said, he felt a mix of pride and anger.
'Here was a young man who did everything we expected of him,' he said. 'It really cries out for some kind of justice.'
Return to Top
Hundreds unite for immigration reform
By Sarah Mausolf
Vail Daily (CO), February 18, 2010
Edwards, CO -- About 200 people gathered at Battle Mountain High School's stadium Thursday night for an immigration-reform rally.
Waving white flags and chanting, 'Yes We Can,' in Spanish, area Latinos braved heavy snow to send a message to the government.
The Denver-based Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition organized five of the rallies in Colorado towns this week.
Brendan Greene, Rocky Mountain organizer for the coalition, said the point of the rally was to urge Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet to do everything in his power to get an immigration reform bill passed.
'We want to send a message to Sen. Bennet that we really need him to be a leader on this issue,' Greene said.
Green said the coalition supports 'a path to legalization' for the nation's immigrant population. One study suggests 4 million children in the United States have at least one parent who is living in the country illegally, he said.
'It's not a logical solution to divide those 4 million American citizens from their parents,' Greene said.
Waving a white flag in the stands, Edwards resident Maria Guerra, 33, explained why immigration reform is close to her heart. She said her husband and 12-year-old daughter from Mexico lack papers. She wants to see the laws changed so undocumented immigrants can get jobs safely and legally.
'We need to give people permission to work in the United States,' she said.
Avon resident Victor Trujillo, 36, said he wants to see reform so undocumented immigrants can 'get a driver's license, come out of the shadows and participate in the community.'
Patrick Tvarkunas, in-school suspension coordinator for Battle Mountain High School, spoke at the rally.
'We need immigration reform so the kids who have been here all their life can go to college,' he said.
For students who are living in the country illegally, college tuition can cost four to five times more money, and typically no financial aid is available, he said.
Also, several students at Battle Mountain High School have been unfairly penalized because they are living here illegally even though those students moved here at a young age, he said. One boy went to jail for 17 days, Tvarkunas said. Another girl was asking legal adults if they would adopt her so she could go to college, he said.
Teresa Paz, a spokeswoman for the Hispanic Movement of Eagle County, said that group helped spread the word about the rally to hundreds of locals.
'There are a lot of Hispanics who live here in Eagle County,' she said through a translator. 'We need reform so we can work here. We want our children to be able to go to the university. We want to be able to contribute everything economically that we can to this country.'
Return to Top
Immigrant Rights Coalition opens Montrose office today
By Charles Ashby
The Grand Junction Sentinel (CO), February 18, 2010
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is opening an office today in Montrose, the first for the Denver-based group to appear on the Western Slope.
Karen Sherman Perez, the group’s Western Slope coordinator, will run the office at 300 N. Cascade Ave. in downtown Montrose. She said the coalition is trying to reach out to as many Coloradans as it can to educate them about immigration issues.
The group began in 2002 during the height of an anti- immigration movement, and the issue continues to be debated statewide and in Congress. Sherman Perez said the main point behind the group is to show that immigrants, legal or not, should be treated fairly and with dignity.
She said the group is aware some communities on the Western Slope may not be as friendly to immigration issues as some Front Range cities, and that’s the point of opening the office.
'In the Denver metro area, there’s a whole slew of organizations that defend civil liberties and immigrant rights,' she said. 'Over here, there’s not much. People who are in a bind or just need information or support, they don’t have anywhere to go. We’re trying to change that.'
Although the office isn’t designed as a service provider, Sherman Perez and her volunteers will provide suggestions on where immigrants can go to receive the aid they need.
Beyond that, the group plans to hold more events to raise awareness among people from Durango to Craig about immigration issues.
'The important part of our work is to realize this is a human issue,' she said. 'We’re not talking about cattle. We’re talking about human beings, and we’re all treated equally. We’re trying to remind people of that.'
Return to Top
Valley faithful gather to pray for immigration reform
By Martha L. Hernández
The Monitor (McAllen, TX), February 18, 2010
Alamo, TX -- Bernardina Salinas remembered how hard it was when she illegally crossed into the United States 30 years ago.
'It was in December, it was raining and very cold, and I had to walk through water that was up to my neck,' she said in Spanish. 'I had doubts I was going to make it.'
Salinas was among some 30 people who participated Thursday in a prayer vigil for immigration reform organized by Equal Voice Network, Church Puerta Al Cielo, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Alamo, Sisters of Mercy and A Resource in Serving Equality, a faith-based colonia service and support organization better known as ARISE.
The event took place on the ARISE grounds at 1417 Tower Road, Alamo.
'We pray to the Lord for the politicians not to do what is politically correct, nor what is good for their careers,' the Rev. Alvaro Corrales said in Spanish at Primera Iglesia Bautista de Alamo.
'We pray for fair (immigration) laws that will benefit the majority' Corrales said.
Ramona Casas, a community organizer with ARISE, presented 1,889 signatures supporting comprehensive immigration reform to aides of U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
The prayer vigil was one of as many as 100 events happening across the country this month as part of 'Together, Not Torn: Families Can’t Wait for Immigration Reform,' a nationwide mobilization of people of faith standing up for families being torn apart by what critics say is a broken immigration system.
Legislators like U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said immigration reform is not likely this year. U.S. Reps. Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, and Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity legislation in the U.S. House on Dec 15. The bill, which has 93 co-sponsors, is being reviewed in committee.
Salinas, the woman who immigrated illegally decades ago, eventually gained legal status.
She and her husband, Juan, started working after sneaking into the country and were deported several times, but they stubbornly kept returning. Juan worked as a carpenter in the construction industry, and Salinas worked in the home. The couple was able to get their green cards during the 1986 amnesty. Their only son, who was born in the United States, went to college and graduated.
After her husband died, Bernardina learned English and became a U.S. citizen.
But Lupita Salas has not had the same fortune. Her experience further underscores the need for the type of reform immigrant advocates are pushing for.
Salas crossed into the U.S. illegally seven years ago, trying to reunite with her husband, who is a legal resident and had been brought to the U.S. by his sister after he became very sick.
'I had to come,' Salas said. 'My husband was sick. He was more dead than alive.'
Her husband survived, but Salas and three of her children living in the U.S. have not been able to apply for permanent resident status due to lack of money. She can’t work and her three grown children are employed only intermittently.
'They work in the construction field,' Salas said in Spanish. 'But there has not been much work lately.'
Return to Top
Kindergartners at Ahwatukee school watch citizenship ceremony
By Coty Dolores Miranda
The Arizona Republic (Phoenix), February 18, 2010
Ahwatukee residents Dipti Shah and her husband, Paresh Shah, perched nervously in children's plastic chairs in a Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School classroom, awaiting a 40-minute ceremony that would change their lives.
The Shahs, formerly of India and Foothills residents for four years, were among 11 people participating in Wednesday's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' naturalization ceremony at the Ahwatukee school.
Immigration Services Field Office Director John M. Ramirez said this was the first time a naturalization ceremony has been held in an elementary school during the actual school day. It was also the first to involve students in the program.
Three years ago, a naturalization ceremony was held at the Altadena Middle School campus, adjacent to Cerritos.
It came about after Ramirez, a yearlong Ahwatukee resident, met with Linda Wolf, his son Ian's kindergarten teacher at Cerritos, and learned that the school was devoting all February to a month-long study of citizenship and what it meant to be an American.
'We're trying to get out into the community; this is our first run getting the kids involved,' said Ramirez.
USCIS officers met with Cerritos students last week, explaining the citizenship process and answering questions about the naturalization ceremony. On Wednesday, only the kindergarten classes participated in the program that took place in the school gym.
More than 80 kindergarteners, clad in white t-shirts emblazoned with U.S. flags, regaled the 11 new citizens from five countries - India, South Africa, Mexico, Columbia and Poland - with patriotic songs, most included choreographed hand motions.
But it was the swearing-in ceremony in which the 11 recited the Oath of Allegiance that brought tears to the eyes of many participants.
'I'm honored to be an American,' said Heather Duncan, a pharmacist who came to Mesa with her family eight years ago from South Africa. 'This has been a long, long, long time coming. For these eight years, I really haven't felt like I had a country; now I belong.'
Her husband Dennis Duncan, a detention officer wearing his Maricopa County Sheriff uniform to the ceremony, gave a thumbs-up to his children in attendance after receiving his certificate that assured his U.S. citizenship.
Of the couple's three daughters, the youngest, Kimberleigh, 12, is a citizen and the other two, Andrea, 23, and Carley, 21, hope to become naturalized citizens in two weeks.
USCIS spokesperson Sharon Rummery said the agency here averages eight naturalization ceremonies monthly, and most have 100 candidates per session. The office also conducts special ceremonies like the annual Fourth of July program at South Mountain Community College.
She said the USCIS hopes to include more schools in the type of program inaugurated Wednesday.
Among those offering welcoming speeches to the new citizens - including a congratulatory video from President Barack Obama, was Karol Pacheco, who three years ago was sworn in at the Altadena ceremony.
A 16-year Kyrene School District employee and now an instructional aide with special needs children at Cerritos, Pacheco exhorted the new citizens to celebrate their new status with service.
'I've learned with this new citizenship comes civic responsibility,' said Pacheco, an Ahwatukee resident born in Hermosillo, Mexico. 'You now have a future that can only get better.'
She and her husband Ramiro, serving in the U.S. Air Force, have two children, Briana, 14, and Alan, 12.
'I strongly believe everything can be done if you don't give up on your dreams,' she said. 'My husband and my children were born in Arizona (and) I believe it's important to have the passion and humility to give back to that country the opportunities it has given you. This country has given me who I love the most: my family.'
Return to Top
Dad accused in 'honor killing' will not face death penalty
By Dustin Gardiner
The Arizona Republic (Phoenix), February 19, 2010
A Glendale man accused of killing his daughter in an 'honor killing' will not face the death penalty.
After sparring with the suspect's defense attorney over its death-penalty-review process, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has said it will not seek death for Faleh Almaleki, 49.
. . .
Return to Top
Sheriff: Homicide ruled in death of illegal immigrant found along Cochise Co. highway
By Brian J. Pedersen
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), February 18, 2010
A suspected illegal immigrant found dead along the side of a highway near St. David was the victim of a homicide, authorities said.
. . .
Return to Top
4 accused of nabbing Texas man later found slain
By Alicia A. Caldwell
The Associated Press, February 18, 2010
El Paso, TX -- Authorities filed aggravated kidnapping charges against four men in the abduction of a Texas man who was later found slain in a Mexican street with his arms chopped off.
Investigators haven't determined whether Sergio Saucedo was killed in the U.S. or Mexico, and they could bring further charges once they do.
Brothers Omar and Cesar Obregon, both 21-year-old illegal immigrants from Mexico, were arrested Wednesday by U.S. Border Patrol agents who spotted them trying to break into a house, El Paso County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Cross said Thursday. They were being held at the El Paso County jail on $250,000 bond each, Cross said.
Authorities are seeking the other two suspects — 26-year-old Rafael Vega and Ricardo Puentes Morales, whose age was unavailable. Both are U.S. citizens.
. . .
Return to Top
Three Illegal Immigrants Arrested in Ohio County
The men are reportedly from Mexico.
By Melissa Reid
The WTRF News (Wheeling, WV), February 18, 2010
Triadelphia, OH -- Three men from Mexico were taken to the Northern Regional Jail after being arrested for illegally being in the United States.
. . .
Return to Top
Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate
[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Canada: Gov't to open overseas offices to certify foreign credentials (story, link)
2. Canada: Quebec cracking down on immigration 'consultants'
3. U.K.: Council authorities raise tax to cover illegals' costs
4. U.K.: Forum to discuss immigration to N. Ireland
5. U.K.: Poll finds 77% of Brits want immigration cut
6. U.K.: Documentary posits life without immigrants
7. U.K.: Illegal jailed for killing daughter conceived to avoid expulsion (link)
8. France: Sarkozy's grandparents faced deportation (link)
9. Sweden: Integration Min. warns of home-grown Islamic violence
10. Sweden: Program to resettle refugees is failing
11. Sweden: Legislation would force localities to accept refugees
12. Italy: Southern Europe struggles with immigration
13. Nigeria: States band together for increased border security
14. Israel: Jewish Agency announces shift in mission focus
15. India: Gov't tightening visa restrictions upon conference attendees
16. India: British student visa ban to be lifted March 1 (2 stories)
17. Bangladesh: Burmese refugees face humanitarian crisis
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Canada to open office in India for degree recognition
The Economic Times (India), February 19, 2010
Toronto -- To help new immigrants get their credentials recognised in their country of origin before landing in the country, Canada on Thursday announced opening of new offices in India, China, the Philippines and Britain.
More that 250,000 new immigrants come to Canada each year from around the world, including over 30,000 from India.
As their foreign degrees and professional credentials are not recognized here, most of them initially struggle to get Canadian degrees to become eligible for jobs.
But since they are hard up and cannot pay for their education, engineers and doctors often end up as cab drivers on the roads of Toronto and other cities.
The Canadian government, which has recently taken a number of measures to ease the pain of new immigrants, Thursday announced to open offices in India, China, the Philippines and Britain to help fast-track the credential recognition process of prospective immigrants in their countries of origin.
The office in London will also serve Nordic and Arab countries.
The government will provide $15 million to the Canadian Immigration Integration Project (CIIP), run by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC), to expand credential recognition services in India, China and the Philippines, immigration Jason Kenney said in Vancouver Thursday.
The CIIP has already been offering orientation services in India, China and the Philippines on a pilot basis since 2007.
With the opening of new offices, the minister said, more than 70 per cent of skilled immigrants coming to Canada will be covered by credential recognition services being run oversees.
'We want newcomers to be able to use their skills as soon as possible in Canada. This funding will help them jump-start the credential recognition process before they arrive in Canada. It's good for them and good for the Canadian economy,' Kenney said.
The oversees initiative for credential recognition will supplement the two-year (2009-10) Economic Action Plan in Canada under which the government has allocated $50 million to fast-track foreign credential recognition to quickly integrate immigrants into the labour market.
In 2008, the government had also allowed foreign students to seek permanent residency if they get local employment after finishing their degree.
It is estimated that the Canadian economy loses more than $2 billion each year for not utilising the professional skills of new immigrants.
Feds to help immigrants adapt to workforce
By Elizabeth Thompson
The Toronto Sun, February 18, 2010
Return to Top
Quebec imposes tougher standards on immigration consultants
By Marian Scott
The Montreal Gazette, February 19, 2010
The Quebec government plans to close a loophole that allows virtually anyone to pass him or herself off as an immigration consultant.
Under regulations to take effect in June, only lawyers, notaries and consultants certified by the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) will have the right to represent clients in provincial immigration cases, Immigration Minister Yolande James announced yesterday.
The move comes more than six years after the federal government cracked down on fly-by-night immigration consultants, who bilked newcomers out of thousands of dollars, by requiring such advisers to be accredited by the CSIC.
The federal regulations do not apply to consultants who deal with provincial immigration authorities, however.
Quebec will also require consultants to pass an exam on immigration rules, to function fluently in French, and not have broken the province's immigration law in the previous three years.
To track down 'phantom consultants,' the government will require all immigrants to divulge the name of any immigration consultant they hire.
Consultants who break the rules can be disbarred or prosecuted.
The CSIC applauded the new regulations.
John Ryan, the society's chairperson and acting CEO, said the measures will guarantee consultants are 'held accountable to strict rules of professional conduct.'
Daniel Tardif, secretary of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Migration Institute, a subsidiary of the CSIC, also hailed the move.
'I think any measures to protect clients of immigration services from being exploited are welcome,' he said.
Of the several hundred immigration consultants operating in Quebec, only 156 are members of the CSIC.
Rivka Augenfeld, an immigration and refugee advocate with the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes, said immigration consultants are needed because it is almost impossible for the average person - let alone most new arrivals - to navigate immigration red tape.
'If you could get a clear answer, you wouldn't need them, but you can't,' she said.
Newcomers rarely have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with immigration officials, she added.
'The only time you see somebody is when they come to deport you.'
Return to Top
Rise in Council Tax to Pay for Migrant Crisis
By John Chapman
The Express (U.K.), February 19, 2010
The cost of coping with asylum seekers has forced an 'immigration frontline' area to drive up council taxes, it emerged yesterday.
Residents will see their council bills increase by 2.1 per cent after their local authority failed to convince the Government to hand over more than £7million which the council says it is owed for meeting asylum seekers’ needs.
Kent’s ferry port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal in Cheriton, near Folkestone, have long been the target of immigrant attempts to sneak into Britain leading to the county’s 'immigration frontline' reputation.
Thousands of immigrants arrive in Kent each year and have to be housed, fed and provided with local health care, education and social services.
The tax increase will see average bills for the county rise to £1,047.82 for householders in Band D homes – an increase of £22.39 on last year.
Kent County Council, which has an annual budget of around £2.2billion, had wanted to set a tax rise of just 1.86 per cent.
But only councillors said they could do so if the Government agreed to reimburse £7.3million in grants outstanding for looking after asylum seekers.
Despite intense negotiations, the Home Office has agreed to repay only about £3million and says it disputes the authority’s figures.
The Government claims it has increased grants by 3.2 per cent. But Kent County Council says that amounts to less than £8.5million – well short of what it says is needed to meet a rising demand for key services.
The authority has pledged that if the money is eventually recouped in full, it will carefully consider cutting bills next year.
Return to Top
Stormont to host immigration debate
The BBC News (U.K.), February 19, 2010
Immigration is to be discussed at Stormont later in an event attended by a minister from the Home Office.
Meg Hillier is among a number of ministers who will take questions on how immigration issues are affecting Northern Ireland.
Refugee and migrants groups will take part in the debate along with education providers, business representatives, faith groups and local councillors.
It is part of a series of UK-wide events to discuss immigration.
Ms Hillier is a parliamentary under secretary of state at the Home Office.
Return to Top
Poll finds 77% want immigration cut
By James Boxell
The Times (London), February 19, 2010
An increasing number of British people believe ethnic minorities are integrating well within local neighbourhoods even though most still want a sharp reduction in immigration, a government poll on social attitudes has found.
The latest update of the 'citizenship survey', which has sought people's views about community cohesion since 2001, showed that 77 per cent of people thought immigration should be cut, with slightly more than half saying it should be reduced 'by a lot'.
Those figures will be seized on by anti-immigration lobby groups, who argue that the mainstream political parties remain out of step with the electorate over the issue, with many voters saying it is one of their highest priorities.
However, the survey - conducted for the Department of Communities and Local Government - also showed that 84 per cent of people agreed that their local neighbourhood was a place where people from different backgrounds got on well together, up from 80 per cent in 2005.
The far-right British National party has made some electoral inroads in recent years by stoking up fears that 'ordinary white people' have become marginalised in the UK. But the survey of 15,000 adults in England and Wales showed that, even among white respondents, 83 per cent of people thought their community was cohesive - up from 81 per cent in the previous year. People living in the most deprived parts of the country were less upbeat, with only 69 per cent believing their community was well integrated.
The 2008-09 survey also showed that negative attitudes towards immigration were not softening. There was a small decrease in the number of people who want to see a big fall in immigration, but the number who want some kind of cut remains stable at more than three-quarters.
Students, better-paid workers and holders of degrees were far more favourable towards immigration than those further down the wage scale and people without qualifications, who often find themselves competing with migrant workers. The issue of immigration is shaping up as a key electoral battleground.
The Labour government argues that its points-based system for non-European Union workers is helping to cut migrant numbers after a period in which it has been accused of operating an 'open door' policy.
Alan Johnson, the home secretary, has admitted that the government has been 'maladroit' in addressing the concerns of voters over the issue, with Labour particularly worried about losing core support in its traditional industrial heartlands.
The Conservatives have promised a yearly cap on migrants, although it is unclear how much scope they would have to make a reduction, given that they will not be able to stop people coming from the EU.
The survey also raises questions about Tory claims that British society is 'broken', with nine out of 10 people saying that they 'definitely' or 'to some extent' enjoy living in their neighbourhood.
Return to Top
Evan Davis on what would happen if all immigrant workers left
Evan Davis is hosting a provocative TV experiment involving the jobless and the supposed jobs taken up by immigrant workers in Britain.
By Gerard O'Donovan
The Telegraph (U.K.), February 18, 2010
‘One of the assertions that I found least credible was that the immigrants are just taking, taking, taking. Which was belied by the fact that the immigrants appear to work harder than anybody else. It’s hard to see how people working that hard are bleeding us dry.'
It’s mid-afternoon and Evan Davis, the 47-year-old host of Radio 4’s Today and BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den, has already been working for 12 hours himself, but he’s showing no signs of flagging.
We’re talking about his latest TV documentary The Day the Immigrants Left, to be shown on BBC One on Wednesday. It explores the impact of the influx of migrant workers who arrived in Britain in recent years, especially since the labour market was opened to new European Union members in 2004.
The film focuses on one small town in particular – Wisbech, in Cambridgeshire. Wisbech was chosen, Davis says, 'because East Anglia is the region that had the largest number of central and East European immigrants. Wisbech saw a lot of people come post-2004.'
Some estimates reckon that, now, as many as one in four people in the area was born outside the UK, though Davis says the figures can be misleading: 'The area’s had about 9,000 immigrants. The labour force was something like 30,000 so that figure is very significant. But migrant labour comes and goes and so, probably, there’s about 3,000 to 4,000 working in the town at any one time.'
What the film sets out to discover is the impact on employment in Wisbech, where 2,000 locals are on benefits. What would happen, if all the immigrants packed up and went home – would it solve the town’s problems overnight?
To put it to the test, the production company Leopard Films invited 11 local unemployed men and women to take up jobs normally done by immigrants – on an asparagus farm, a building site, in a potato factory – to see how they got on.
'It’s a sort of reality programme but it’s at the sophisticated end of the spectrum,' Davis says. 'Because it’s such a contentious topic and arouses such passions, we were keen to be scrupulously fair at all times.' He insists that the people chosen were a representative sample, and not just 'the funniest dozen' or those 'with personality problems'.
On the other side of the equation were the employers. If Wisbech has local unemployment problems, you might ask why foreigners should be given jobs.
'The employers all say: ‘If you give us English staff who can cut it, we will take them on.’ So what we’re trying to do is challenge the British workers to prove they actually do have what it takes.'
And do they? 'I’m not going to tell you the results – you’ll have to watch it,' Davis laughs. 'The work is hard. The asparagus picking is back-breaking. In the potato factory, it’s 12-hour days with a one-hour break (two quarter-hours and one half-hour). There aren’t many people in the UK who are going to be attracted to that sort of shift pattern.'
One of the main questions the programme asks, Davis says, is whether employers seek to bypass Britain’s long-term unemployed and substitute them with highly motivated foreigners.
'What the employers argue is that the jobs wouldn’t exist if they weren’t of that type; that the jobs wouldn’t be viable if you tried to run them on the sort of namby-pamby basis that would suit the British workers,' he says.
The programme also explores the wider issues stemming from the influx, such as the pressure put on housing, medical and education services.
'There was huge resentment among the local population,' Davis observes. 'And not just among those who feel their jobs have been taken. You’ll also hear it among better-off people, I think because of the incredibly fast pace of change – which is understandable.'
But not everyone disapproved of the immigrants, he adds – perhaps also betraying his own views: 'We saw some terrific, positive people, who don’t complain and see the best of it.'
Davis believes the immigrants have actually created more middle-class jobs for the indigenous population. But that’s not a viewpoint explored in the show.
In fact, he says the show doesn’t come up with many definitive theories or conclusions. Except one, perhaps.
'I think the programme does dispel the myth that if you took an immigrant out of a job, there would be one more job for a British worker.'
- The Day the Immigrants Left is on Wednesday on BBC One at 9.00pm
Return to Top
Illegal immigrant killed six-week-old baby daughter he fathered in bid to remain in UK
The Daily Mail (U.K.), February 19, 2010
An illegal immigrant who murdered the daughter he had to avoid deportation was jailed for life today.
Olusola Akinrele, 34, was told he must serve at least 16 years in prison for killing six-week-old baby girl Leeya in December 2006.
Leeya died from brain damage 12 days after her apparently lifeless body was found at her home in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. She had 22 broken ribs, a fractured skull, a fractured thigh, and had also been bitten on the nose and both hands, the Old Bailey heard.
Judge Philip Clegg said: 'When she was not asleep, Leeya must have been in excruciating pain.'
He said Akinrele, a Nigerian, had 'little or no interest in his daughter'.
'You simply saw her birth as as something which might help you avoid deportation,' he told the killer.
. . .
Return to Top
Nicolas Sarkozy's immigrant grandparents faced deportation from France because they were 'under-educated'
By Peter Allen
The Daily Mail (U.K.), February 19, 2010
Nicolas Sarkozy's immigrant grandparents came close to being deported from France because they did not have university educations, it emerged today.
. . .
Return to Top
Sweden to tackle 'ticking bomb' of Islamic violence
The Local (Sweden), February 19, 2010
Sweden needs to do more to help young 'violence-affirming Islamists' turn their backs on extremist organizations, minister for integration Nyamko Sabuni said on Tuesday.
'Either society helps support their way back to a normal life, or we have a ticking bomb in our society,' Sabuni told Sveriges Radio (SR).
She added that she has tasked the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs (Ungdomsstyrelsen) to survey the needs of people who need assistance quitting Islamic extremist groups.
Sweden has previously supported people’s efforts to leave neo-Nazi groups, but according to Sabuni, similar programmes need to be developed for young people who are drawn to violent Islamic extremism.
'We’ve identified a number of networks and organizations which primarily recruit young people who feel excluded from society,' Sabuni told SR.
'We also know that there are many who want to leave these organizations, but who don’t always have support from society.'
Sabuni has also called on the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) to get engaged in preventative work against extremism.
'All kinds of preventative work works best on a local level, so the municipalities are very important,' she said.
Return to Top
Refugees staying put in problem spots
The Local (Sweden), February 17, 2010
A Swedish government project focused on enticing refugees to leave problem-ridden areas in Sweden's big cities has failed to achieve its goals. After two years, just 286 people have made use of the scheme, according to figures released by the Swedish Migration Board.
'While it seems to me that there are a lot more people who could probably benefit from moving, I realize it's very difficult when you've put down roots,' Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni told news agency TT.
The Migration Board received 6 million kronor ($830,000) over the course of 2008 and 2009 to stimulate outward movement from areas with heavy refugee populations, housing shortages, and high unemployment.
With new arrivals gravitating towards areas populated by family and friends, politicians in Malmö and Södertälje in particular have previously voiced concerns that their infrastructures cannot withstand a further influx of refugees.
But despite the relocation project's relatively low take-up level, Tomas Norberg from the Stockholm County Administrative Board's integration division urged observers to consider the lives behind the numbers.
'If you look at the Migration Board's figures, this appears to be a non-functioning operation. But in reality it is a very important operation that helps an awful lot of people improve their situation,' he said.
Furthermore, a survey carried out jointly by the respective county boards and the migration board indicates that many more refugees have moved than suggested by the relocation project's figures.
The government has previously indicated that the system for the reception and integration of refugees will undergo a major overhaul in December. Most significantly, the employment agency is to have its powers extended in a bid to encourage refugees to move to areas where jobs and accommodation are in plentiful supply as soon as they arrive in the country.
Nyamko Sabuni could not say whether the current project would continue to run concurrently with the proposed changes.
Return to Top
'Force councils to accept refugees'
The Local (Sweden), February 19, 2010
The opposition Social Democrats have called for legislation to force all of Sweden's municipalities to accept their share of refugees. The new integration policy proposal was presented by Luciano Astudillo and Anders Lago in newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Friday.
The party has called for a Lex Vellinge, named after the notorious southern Sweden municipality which has hitherto refused to accept any refugees despite being one of Sweden's wealthiest areas.
Their report, which will be presented on Friday, also proposes a new 'responsibility bonus' for the municipalities which accept a disproportionately high number of refugees and asylum seekers. Municipalities not pulling their weight will be given the financial incentive to do so.
After a new immigrant has been provided with a residence permit, the party wants to see the Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) take over responsibility for their establishment in the society. The proposal also includes women who arrive as relatives.
The Social Democrats are also prepared to review the SFI system of language classes for immigrants. The party proposes that the courses should be more adapted to the individual and to professional qualifications.
Return to Top
Southern Europe's Immigration Test
Millions of migrants have arrived in Greece, Italy and Spain over the past decade. To avoid serious social problems, those countries need to do a better job of making them feel welcome
TIME Magazine, February 18, 2010
Immigrants have been making their way to Europe for tens of thousands of years. The first modern humans — the first real immigrants — came north from Africa through the Middle East. Since then, periodic waves of migrants have helped redefine Europe's population, its food, its knowledge. After World War II, most migrants headed to northern Europe but as the south has prospered over the past 20 years, it has drawn in growing numbers of people looking for a better life. By the mid-2000s, migrants headed for southern Europe accounted for more than 60% of the continent's new arrivals. They swung the hammers during Spain's construction boom, changed diapers in Greece and worked Italy's fields.
European immigration policy has become more bureaucratic over the years. In the south, where enforcement of rules has been more lax and informal economies are large, working illegally is often easier than getting proper permits. (See pictures of immigration in Europe.)
The economic crisis will slow the flow but is unlikely to undo the demographic shift, not least because the birthrate among immigrants is much higher than the general population's. 'If there's a lesson that can be learned from the northern European experience, it's that temporary migrants tend to remain,' says Joaquín Arango, professor of sociology at the Complutense University of Madrid. Here's another: when a society marginalizes its newest members, trouble ensues. Southern Europe needed its immigrants. Now it needs to find a place for them. TIME takes a look at three countries just beginning to grapple with that fact.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The complete TIME Magazine series on immigration to Southern Europe can be found online at: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1964957,00.html
Return to Top
Nigeria: Abia, Rivers to Float Joint Border Patrol
By Ben Duru
AllAfrica.com, February 18, 2010
Umuahia -- Abia and Rivers governments have agreed to float joint border patrol teams comprising Nigeria Police Force and State Security Services to reduce kidnap and armed robbery in the states.
Abia governor, Theodore Orji, who disclosed this in Umuahia, stressed that the security agencies had been mandated to work out the modalities for the patrol to take-off.
He also said that a move was now in the offing to ensure that there was lasting peace in all the border communities with neighbouring states such as Akwa Ibom and Cross River in the face of the constant border skirmishes in the areas.
According to the governor, the rampant kidnapping and armed robbery at the borders especially at Ugwunagbo and Obigbo on the Port Harcourt/Enugu expressway had forced the governments to reappraise the border situation.
He maintained that he had discussed the matter with his Rivers State counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi, and that they had arrived at the conclusion that a joint patrol would stem the tide of kidnapping and armed robbery along the border areas.
Orji lamented the effect of kidnapping, stressing that 'those perpetrating the act may be from Abia or Rivers State but that once the border is secured; the issue would be permanently checked.'
He said what was needed was a proper coordination by the officials of the security agencies and that once they come up with their recommendations; the operation would swing into action to curb the menace.
'We want an intensified patrol along the borders through stop-and-search at all the entrances and exits. There would be a 24-hour surveillance and patrol by the security operatives and we are hopeful that it would help to curb the menace.'
On the imminent clashes in other border communities, the governor said the major problem that culminates in the skirmishes was usually land, saying that everything was being done to resolve them.
'We want to ensure that there is lasting peace in the border communities between Abia and its neighbours. We don't want to hear that this community or that community is not living in peace with their neighbours in the border areas,' he said.
Recently government was informed of the removal of the beacon separating Owoelu in Obingwa Local Government Area and Nka in Akwa Ibom State, as well as the destruction of the sign post erected by the community.
The community who besieged Government House, Umuahia, to register their protest maintained that they now live in fear and that some members of the community have already started leaving for fear of imminent attack.
However Orji reiterated that Abia was a peaceful state and would ensure that the people live in peace with their neighbours and called for restraint.
Return to Top
Sharansky puts Jewish identity ahead of aliyah on Jewish Agency agenda
By Cnaan Liphshiz
Ha'aretz (Israel), February 18, 2010
The Jewish Agency's main priority is no longer to bring more Jews to Israel, but to help preserve Jewish identity worldwide, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Shransky announced on Wednesday in a speech before American Jews visiting Israel.
Following Sharansky's statement, his predecessor, Ze'ev Bielski, said he hoped immigration to Israel would continue to be the Jewish Agency's main focus.
'If we have to think about the challenge we are facing, it's how to keep all as one family - it's not enough to speak about aliyah (immigration to Israel),' Sharansky said, adding that: 'It's almost prohibited for the head of Jewish Agency to say so, but it cannot be the goal to bring more Jewish people ... We have to think globally.'
These statements, which Sharansky made in a speech in Jerusalem before participants of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, were according to people from the Jewish Agency the first time that Sharansky publicly placed Jewish identity above immigration to Israel, though he did say before that the two issues were equally important.
Sharansky's announcement signals the first major policy shift of his year-old administration. While the Jewish Agency was first conceived by the 1922 League of Nations mandate to build the Jewish national home in Palestine and was set up in 1929 as the Yishuv's quasi-government, the emergence of independent initiatives like Nefesh B'Nefesh in the West and Nativ in Russia have eclipsed its role in the immigration business.
The chairman presented strengthening Jewish identity as the biggest challenge facing world Jewry. 'Our main challenge today in Russia, Ukraine, Argentina and elsewhere is how to bring more kids to informal Jewish education,' he said, adding: 'We have to build a school of proud Jews, connected to Israel.' He also said the Jewish Agency remains committed to bringing Jews to Israel.
Sharansky delivered his speech at an event dedicated to the presentation of a new document by two researchers from the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute - Avi Gil, a former director-general in the foreign ministry, and Einat Wilf, a Knesset member for Labor and former aide to Shimon Peres.
'It was breath of fresh air to hear Mr. Sharansky speak about his vision for the Jewish Agency,' said Wilf, whose document examines alternative scenarios for the Jewish people in 2030. 'I didn't think I would ever hear the head of the Jewish Agency talk about needing to go beyond aliyah, and having aliyah not being the first priority,' she told Sharansky and the crowd of approximately 150 people.
Wilf said Sharansky's speech was 'the first step toward leading a more egalitarian round-table relationship,' in which 'all Jews can contribute equally.'
One Israeli-born source with inside knowledge of the Jewish Agency said that these statements should be seen in the context of a plan favored by Sharansky to restructure the Jewish Agency so as to give Jewish education projects more emphasis at the expense of the agency's Aliyah department. A Jewish Agency spokesperson said this claim was unsubstantiated and incorrect.
'I agree with Mr. Sharansky that Jewish education and bringing young people closer is very, very important,' MK Ze'ev Bielski, Sharansky's predecessor, told Anglo File. 'But we should not forget that the Jewish Agency has always given aliyah top priority since its foundation. I'm happy Jewish education is receiving attention, but hope it's not at the expense of efforts to promote aliyah.'
David Breakstone, head of the Department for Zionist Activity of the World Zionist Organization, said he supported Sharansky's vision. 'There is not going to be any aliyah of choice without Jewish education,' he said, 'so even if aliyah were to be put forward as the preeminent goal of the Agency, the best way to get there would be through increasing budgets for Jewish education.'
Breakstone added: 'Sharansky's statement affirms that the Jewish Agency does not deny the legitimacy of Jewish life in the Diaspora. The centrality of Israel is an inviolable principle as far as I am concerned, but as such it needs to be concerned with enriching Jewish life everywhere and not only attracting Jews to it.'
Scenarios for 2030
The book by Wilf - who replaced Opher Pines-Paz in the Knesset last month - and Avi Gil, a former Foreign Ministry director-general, is the end product of a seven-year project which tries to delineate four possible futures for the Jewish people in 2030, ranging from an idyllic picture of Jewish prosperity in all continents, to a doomsday situation in which major Jewish populations in Israel are wiped out by hostile forces.
'The idea of this project is to use scenario planning - a methodology which is very common in the corporate world,' said Wilf, a researcher of the institution - which was founded in 2003 by the Jewish Agency as an independent think tank. She said that her 114-page book was the first structural attempt to apply these tools on the Jewish people as a subject.
In their book, Wilf, a former aide to President Shimon Peres, and Gil list a 'thriving' future in which 'Jewish momentum' - the vitality of Jewish life - is high worldwide, and in which 'external conditions' are positive. In this ideal future, 60 percent of the world's 14-million strong Jewish people live in Israel, where they form a 90-percent majority and enjoy an increase in solidarity.
At the other end of the spectrum, the 'nightmare' scenario lists the Jewish people at six million, following a wipe-out of major Jewish populations in Israel. Jewish identity is considered dangerous and unwanted, while American Jews see their political clout decline.
The two midway phases - drifting and defending - envisage, respectively, a future in which positive external conditions weaken Jewish kinship and increases assimilation and intermarriage, and a future in which negative conditions contribute to Jews forming a stronger connection with their identity and Israel.
In its practical recommendations chapter, the document identifies 'intervention points' to promote the idyllic scenario and avoid the catastrophic ones - including encouraging Jewish leadership, and encouraging partial immigration to Israel by people who divide their lives between Israel and another country.
One 'key decision' the Jewish people will have to take, is whether to rethink 'who's in and who's out,' Wilf said. 'Do we treat marriages between Jews and non-Jews as minus one or plus one for the Jewish people? These are critical decisions with tremendous impact on our future in 2030 because numbers are a critical element of our identity.'
Wilf said that she was going to push the recommendations and the document in Knesset. But a source who used to work with decision-makers in the field said Wilf's document appeared difficult to implant and that he doubted that Wilf would be able to get very far.
'The recommendation to decide who is Jewish is extremely contentious and hard to push,' the source said. 'The sad truth is that a Knesset member, especially a new one, has less clout than any aide to any department head in the treasury.'
Return to Top
India tightens visa for conference procedure
The Economic Times (India), February 18, 2010
New Delhi -- Tightening up visa procedures, the union home ministry on Thursday asked all central ministries and state chief secretaries to strictly adhere to the revised procedure for grant of visas to foreigners coming to India to attend international conferences and seminars.
Security clearance for grant of conference visa will be required for participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan and in respect of foreigners of Pakistani-origin and stateless persons, the home ministry said in a statement.
'These instructions have been issued so as to ensure that all organisers of such international events strictly adhere to the time line for submitting their proposals to this ministry at least six weeks before the commencement of the event,' the ministry said in a statement.
'This would ensure that security clearance for the event and for the participants could be suitably assessed. The issuance of these instructions had also become necessary because security vetting is a time-consuming process and most of the organizers of international events were not strictly adhering to the time schedules prescribed.'
Participants from other countries can obtain a conference visa from the Indian mission concerned on production of an invitation letter from the organiser, event clearance from the home ministry, administrative approval of the nodal ministry and political clearance from the ministry of external affairs.
In December, the home ministry had issued directions through the external affairs ministry to all missions abroad that any applicant for an Indian visa who has any sort of Pakistani lineage, even if it is two generations back, must be referred to Delhi for prior clearance.
This was after Laskhar-e-Taiba suspect David Coleman Headley, currently in detention in the US, made use of a multiple-entry business visa to make nine trips to India that included long periods of stay when he prepared footage of 26/11 targets.
Return to Top
'Ban on UK student visa application will be lifted from Mar 1'
The Economic Times, February 16, 2010
Chandigarh -- The ban imposed by the UK on student visa application at three centres in north India including Jalandhar, Chandigarh and Delhi will
'From March 1, this suspension will be lifted for all students wanting to study higher education courses whether foundation degrees, under graduate or post graduate,' British Minister for business, innovation and skills Pat McFadden said.
UK had temporarily suspended accepting visa applications from February 1 in view of surge in applications during a short period of time. However, the ban was partially lifted on February 13.
Speaking at a panel discussion on 'UK-India Partnerships in Education' here McFadden asked to put up a joint fight against terrorism in the wake of recent terror attack in Pune.
Indian students always welcome in UK: British minister
The Economic Times (India), February 16, 2010
Chandigarh -- Students from India are 'always welcome' in his country, British Minister Pat McFadden said Tuesday though Britain has stopped Indians in UK accepting student visa applications at its three centres in northern India.
'Students from India are always welcome in the UK. In fact, the UK universities are always very keen to get Indian students who are very talented. Presently, nearly 50,000 Indian students are studying in the UK,' said McFadden, business, innovation and skills minister, while talking to reporters here.
He added: 'We had to suspend our operations of processing student visa applications due to a huge surge in the number of applications for the lower level course. However, we have decided to resume the operations for the higher level courses, including university and undergraduate degree courses, from next month.'
The UK Border Agency had temporarily stopped accepting student visa application from Feb 1 at its three centres in north India for an indefinite period, after an unprecedented increase in the number of applications.
There was a 10-fold increase in the student visa applications during the period October-December, 2009, at three visa application centres of Chandigarh, Jalandhar and New Delhi.
Last year, they received 13,500 applications during the period, compared to 1,800 received in 2008 and 1,200 in 2007.
'We certainly want to continue our education ties with India but at the same time we want to protect the rights of genuine students. We want to make sure that we are following a proper procedure after the scrutiny,' stated McFadden.
Although Britain has announced it will resume the processing of student visa applications for higher-level courses from March 1, students who had applied for lower-level courses are fearing they will lose their money.
On this issue, McFadden said: 'In any such case, we have a provision where a student can apply for fees refund in 15 days, so that they don't lose their money.'
McFadden was here Tuesday to attend a panel discussion on UK-India partnerships in education. But he could not attend the discussion as he was not feeling well and had to return to his hotel room to consult his doctor.
He also attended a Punjabi wedding of his NRI friend's son in Zirakpur town in Punjab, around 15 km from here, Monday night.
Talking about his visit, he said: 'The British Council is already working with various schools and institutes here and we want to strengthen these ties. The focus of my visit is on exploring science and education opportunities.'
'I will also go to visit IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Ropar, as IITs are known for their high quality education throughout the world.'
Return to Top
No Refuge for Myanmar's Forgotten People
By Seth Mydans
The New York Times, February 19, 2010
Bangkok -- Stateless refugees from Myanmar are suffering beatings and deportation in Bangladesh, according to aid workers and rights groups who say thousands are crowding into a squalid camp where they face a 'humanitarian crisis' of starvation and disease.
In a campaign that seems to have accelerated since October, the groups say, ethnic Rohingya refugees who have been living for years in Bangladesh are being seized, and beaten and forced back to Myanmar, where they had fled persecution and abuse and which also does not want them.
'Over the last few months we have treated victims of violence, people who claim to have been beaten by the police, claim to have been beaten by members of the host population, by people they’ve been living next to for many years,' said Paul Critchley, head of mission in Bangladesh for the aid group Médecins Sans Frontières.
'We have treated patients for beatings, for machete wounds and for rape,' he said, quoting a report issued Thursday. Some had escaped after being forced into a river that forms the border with Myanmar. 'This is continuing today.'
Since October, he said, the unofficial Kutupalong Makeshift Camp with its dirt paths, flimsy shacks and open sewers has grown by 6,000 people to nearly 30,000, with 2,000 new arrivals in January alone.
They are among about 250,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh, a Muslim minority from neighboring Myanmar, where they do not have citizenship and are subject to abuse and forced labor, and cannot travel, marry or practice their religion freely.
Despite the hardships, people are continuing to flee repression and fear in Myanmar, and when they are deported, many return, several people said.
About 28,000 of them have been recognized by the government and documented as refugees. They receive food and other assistance in a camp administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and have not been subject to the abuses and forced returns described by other Rohingya, said Kitty McKinsey, a spokeswoman for the agency in Bangkok.
The government has not allowed the agency to register new arrivals since 1993.
Most Rohingya in Bangladesh have no documentation and struggle to survive, evading the authorities and working mostly as day laborers, servants or pedicab drivers. They have no rights to education or other government services.
'They cannot receive general food distribution,' Mr. Critchley said. 'It is illegal for them to work. All they can legally do in Bangladesh is starve to death.'
The current crackdown is the worst they have ever suffered, according to aid workers and the refugees themselves.
'Over the last month and in Cox’s Bazaar District alone, hundreds of unregistered Rohingyas have been arrested, either pushed back across the border to Burma or sent to jail under immigration charges,' said Chris Lewa, referring to Myanmar by its other name. Ms. Lewa closely follows the fate of the Rohingya as director of the Arakan Project, which also issued a report this week.
'In several areas of the district, thousands were evicted with threats of violence. Robberies, assaults and rape against Rohingyas have significantly increased,' she said.
A risky route to a better life, by sea to Thailand and then to Malaysia for work, has been cut off after the Thai Navy pushed about 1,000 Rohingya boat people out to sea last year to drift and possibly to drown.
More than a year later, more than 300 are known to be missing and more than 30 are confirmed to have died, Ms. Lewa said. No boats are reported to have landed in Thailand in the recent post-monsoon sailing season.
'The brutal push-backs and the continuous detention of the survivors seems to have stopped the Rohingya from doing it again,' Ms. Lewa said. 'That horrible action has had the effect of basically stopping people from leaving.'
In Bangladesh, the situation in the unofficial camp is becoming desperate, both aid workers and refugees said.
'We cannot move around to find work,' said Hasan, 40, a day laborer who lives with his wife and three children in a dirt-floored hovel made of sticks, scrap wood and plastic sheeting. He said he had no way to feed his family.
'There is a checkpoint nearby where they’re catching people and arresting them,' he told a photographer who visited recently. Like other refugees here, he asked that his last name not be used for fear of reprisals.
'We aren’t receiving any help,' he said. 'No one can borrow money from each other. Everybody’s in crisis now.' People do what they can to survive.
'When I visit the camp,' Mr. Critchley said, 'I see small girls going out in the forest to collect firewood, and we have treated young girls and women who have been raped doing this.'
In the Thursday report, Médecins Sans Frontières said that a year ago 90 percent of people in the makeshift camp were already 'severely food insecure,' in other words, that they were running out of food.
'Malnutrition and mortality rates were past emergency thresholds, and people had little access to safe drinking water, sanitation or medical care,' the report said.
The overcrowded camp has become an incubator for disease, Mr. Critchley said, and with the monsoon season peaking in late March and early April, medical workers fear a lethal spread of acute diarrhea.
'International standards would assume that a latrine is shared by 20 people,' Mr. Critchley said. 'With the number of latrines in the camp, over 70 people share each latrine. I’ve seen small children using piles of human feces as toys.'
The Rohingya know that they live at the very bottom of human society, that they are not wanted anywhere and that they are outsiders without legal standing or protection.
Abdul, 69, who has lived in Bangladesh for more than 15 years, said that these thoughts disturb his dreams.
'When I sleep I think that if someone kills an animal in the forest they are breaking the law,' he said. 'They are caught and punished. But as human beings it isn’t the same for us. So where are our rights? I think to myself that we are lower than an animal.'
Return to Top
Center for Immigration Studies
1522 K St. NW, Suite 820
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076
In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, any copyrighted work on this website is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for nonprofit research and educational purposes only. Ref.: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml