Daily news updates from CIS
March 16, 2010
Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate
[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Labor unions take stand against White House amnesty push
2. TPS has attracted fewer Haitians than expected
3. Census targets 'hard to reach' foreigners
4. GOP threatens 'war' over health care (link)
5. Study: New immigrants avoiding large cities
6. NE lawmakers seek temp. means to provide prenatal care to illegals
7. MN bill would allow illegals to access licenses
8. OK bill would require count of illegal students
9. AZ enforcement bills draw protests
10. CA GOP gubernatorial hopefuls touch on issue (story, link)
11. CA county to screen all inmates
12. NY city council urges Congress to enact amnesty
13. Funding for CT city ID card dries up
14. So Cal. cities are failing to use E-Verify
15. Catholic leaders press Sen. Cornyn for amnesty
16. Activists hope for thousands at DC amnesty march
17. Former House majority leader panders to amnesty movement
18. CA activists spar over Census strategy
19. Faith-based movement presses for amnesty
20. Former Soviet gymnastics star seeks reprieve
21. Ex-DHS official accused of harboring illegal
22. MT restaurateur admits hiring illegals (link)
23. Sex offender arrested at Arizona border (link)
24. Illegal arrested for DUI in New York (link)
25. Rumors send Trenton illegals into hiding (link)
26. People smuggler gets 10 years for illegal's death (link)
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Labor opposed to immigration deal
By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times, March 16, 2010
Sen. Lindsey Graham walked out of his immigration meeting with President Obama last week and said the president needs to pressure labor unions to accept a temporary-worker program as part of any bill.
Less than a day later, the AFL-CIO said that was a no-go.
Among all the other potential pitfalls, the divide over how to handle the future flow of foreign workers, which has bedeviled the immigration issue for years, once again threatens to halt any progress on immigration reform.
'By taking this position, the AFL-CIO ends any realistic chance of legislation this year,' U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Randel K. Johnson said this weekend, only deepening the rift between businesses and unions.
Businesses say they need to make sure they can get access to foreign workers because there are jobs Americans won't take. But labor unions fear such a program would depress wages for American workers, and in the current economy, with unemployment hovering at 10 percent, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said a new temporary-worker program 'would be political suicide.'
It's such a bitter dispute that those who are fighting against an immigration bill say they can sit back and watch the two sides implode while fighting each other.
'Can you feel my smile? It's great not to be needed,' said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations at NumbersUSA, which rallied opponents to flood senators' offices with calls and faxes during the 2006 and 2007 immigration-reform debates.
Josh Bernstein, director of immigration for the Service Employees International Union, which is heavily involved in negotiations, said he doesn't read too much into the back-and-forth between the AFL-CIO and the Chamber, saying the business group overreacted to one part of a statement.
He has sat in on many of the key immigration conversations, and said he's encouraged.
'The vast majority of those in labor and the vast majority of those in business really desire to come up with a solution, a comprehensive solution, for immigration reform, because it's good for the economy, and that's good for all of us,' he said.
In recent weeks, the White House, lawmakers and immigrant rights activists have raised hopes that the Senate may once again tackle the issue this year. Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, are working on writing a bill to legalize illegal immigrants and boost enforcement.
Adding to the pressure, tens of thousands of immigrant rights activists are scheduled to come to Washington on Sunday to rally for a bill.
The temporary-worker program is not the only deal-breaker. Mr. Graham said. Mr. Obama must prove the administration is already taking steps on enforcement, and said the entire immigration debate could come to a halt if Democrats push a health care bill through Congress using the budget process to avoid a Senate filibuster.
'For more than a year, health care has sucked most of the energy out of the room. Using reconciliation to push health care through will make it much harder for Congress to come together on a topic as important as immigration,' Mr. Graham said.
In his meeting with Mr. Obama on Thursday, Mr. Graham specifically called on the White House 'to become engaged with the unions on the creation of a temporary-worker program which meets the needs of business community.'
Nick Shapiro, a White House spokesman, said they have not committed to a solution yet.
'The administration is talking to a wide range of stakeholders on all of the issues in this debate, including the AFL-CIO. There are a number of creative ideas on the table for ways to deal with the future flow of migrants, and we remain open to a variety of options as legislation takes shape,' he said.
Future workers have been a sticking point for years.
In 2006, the bill the Senate debated allowed hundreds of thousands of new workers in each year, and put them on a path to citizenship — violating one of President George W. Bush's key demands that any future workers be temporary. That 2006 bill passed the Senate, but was never taken up by the House.
A year later, when the issue came back to the Senate, a key fight was over how many temporary workers would be let in. The original bill called for 400,000 temporary workers a year, but an amendment passed that slashed that number in half. The 2007 bill failed when a bipartisan majority of senators joined a filibuster.
This year, unions have floated the idea of having a commission to set the level of future workers. But that could be a problem for the Chamber, which says a commission cannot be in charge of the numbers of workers.
'The hardest piece to figure out is future visas,' said Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, a group of companies pushing for an immigration bill.
'I think there's a recognition we need workers in a variety of fields, I would argue at the top and bottom of the economy. The question is how do you make sure employers try to hire Americans first and that you have a flexible flow.'
Ms. Jacoby said there should be ways to bridge the gap by looking for a solution that isn't one-size-fits-all. One approach would be to allow workers who want to come, toil and return home to do so. Those workers that want to stay could be evaluated based on their work history.
Ms. Jenks, who is fighting against any bill, said there is a reason businesses and unions might find an agreement: They know they have a limited window to get something done. She said that means there's incentive for both sides to give a little and to be open to a deal that gives them each a half-victory.
'This fight has been ongoing, and let's face it, neither side is in this on principle; they're in it for greed,' she said.
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Immigration Offer Draws Few Haitians
By Anne Barnard
The New York Times, March 15, 2010
Within days of the devastating earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, the United States government declared that Haitians living illegally in the United States were eligible for temporary protected status, a special immigration designation that temporarily allows them to work here legally.
While advocates and government officials alike said that this was one of the most effective ways to get help to needy quake victims, the number of applicants has fallen short of expectations.
Two months after the earthquake, and a third of the way to the July deadline to file for the special status, just 34,427 of the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 undocumented Haitians who were in the United States before Jan. 12 have applied, said the Department of Homeland Security. The protected status allows 18 months of legally working.
Charitable groups blame the lag on the application fees, which total about $500. The average monthly amount that Haitians abroad send to relatives in Haiti — a pillar of the country’s economy — is just $150, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. On Monday, a broad coalition of charities called on the government to make it easier for applicants to have the fee waived.
Haitians who are granted the special immigration designation could add as much as $1 billion to the Haitian economy over the next three years, Hunton & Williams, a law firm for Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services, wrote in a letter backed by the Episcopal bishop of Haiti and 49 American charity groups. The letter was sent to Congress and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the program.
Applicants for the special status are usually working class and, because they are working illegally, may not be receiving fair wages, said Debi Sanders, a government liaison for Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services. And the cost is not the only obstacle: To get the fee waived, applicants must supply extensive financial information, a challenge for workers who have 'gone out of their way not to have anything on paper,' she said.
Ms. Sanders said the charities were optimistic that the government would adopt their suggestion to make the fee waiver process simpler, because department officials have told advocates privately that they want to see more applications. Just 1,657 people have applied for waivers so far, said Luz Figuereo Irazabal, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services. Only 696 were granted, partly because applicants offered little proof beyond saying, 'I don’t have the money.' She said about 10 percent of the 34, 427 applications had been rejected because of simple mistakes like forgetting to sign a form. Her agency’s Web site, uscis.gov, lists common filing mistakes.
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Area census workers out for the count of minorities, immigrants
By Dianne Solis
The Dallas Morning News, March 16, 2010
Irving -- A conga line shimmies to a Bhangra beat as revelers throw magenta- and marigold-colored powder in an Indian celebration of spring known as Holi.
Among the guests here are U.S. Census Bureau workers, eager to spread the word about the government's own mission of renewal. The biggest ever decennial head count of the nation begins in full force this week with the mailing of 10-question census forms to more than 130 million addresses.
Texas' population is now more than 50 percent minority. Nearly a fifth of the Dallas-Fort Worth area's population is foreign-born. Worries are high that immigrant, minority and young populations won't be accurately counted, so the census is using more resources to make sure it reaches hard-to-count populations.
'There is a fear of government in people,' said Kay Jain, a census specialist working in immigrant communities. 'I tell them that there are no questions on the form about residency, immigration status or Social Security numbers.'
In 2000, an undercount cost Dallas County $156 million in federal funds, and Texas more than $1 billion, according to a PriceWaterHouseCoopers study commissioned by an independent board monitoring the Census Bureau.
An undercount could mean less funding renewed for government programs ranging from schools to roads to foster care to hospitals. Each year, the federal government allocates more than $400 billion to states and communities based in part on census data.
It might also mean that Texas doesn't gain four congressional seats that redistricting after the census is expected to bring.
In January, a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults found that 11 percent of respondents believed that census data will be shared by the government to 'locate illegal immigrants for arrest.'
To allay those fears, Jain, a naturalized citizen born in India, reassures immigrants in temples, mosques, churches and community festivals that the census is safe.
To put folks at ease, she sometimes speaks Hindi, passes out forms in Gujarati, Nepali and Urdu. She'll dress in a sari at Indian events and a salwar kameez tunic-and-pant ensemble at mosques filled with Pakistanis and other immigrants.
If there's fear in this Indian community, it didn't show at this Holi festival.
'Fear?' said Swati Pandit, at the Hindu temple gathering. 'We have people working at the Pentagon now.'
At the immigration services offices of Dallas Catholic Charities on a crowded Saturday morning, director Vanna Slaughter planted herself in the middle of a crowd of Mexicans, Jamaicans, Liberians and Cubans. 'Es completamente confidencial y importantísimo,' Slaughter said to those in the Dallas office. ('It's completely confidential and really important.')
'Catholic Charities supports the census, and it is important you do, too,' Slaughter said, switching to English.
Penalties for census workers disclosing confidential information to other agencies or individuals are high: A violator faces a federal prison sentence of up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Not everyone is on board with the census push.
Last year, a group of evangelical preachers, members of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, urged Latino immigrants to boycott the count. They sought to hold back participation until Congress passed immigration reform. The effort never gained steam in Texas.
This month, immigrant-rights groups asked Homeland Security officials to halt enforcement activities during the census count. They said immigrants wouldn't cooperate if they feared detection of someone in their home who is in the U.S. illegally – especially during the intensified crackdown of the last few years.
Last October, Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter tried to get a citizenship question on the form. That effort was blocked by Democrats, who argued it would discourage immigrants from responding. Vitter wanted only citizens counted and not the total population as required by the U.S. Constitution.
A citizenship question is asked in a much smaller sampling of the U.S. population known as the American Community Survey of the Census Bureau. It doesn't ask if a person is in the U.S. illegally or legally though.
At Catholic Charities, San Juanita Ramírez, a 26-year-old from Mexico, clutched a red canvas bag with the census logo and her immigration documents. She planned to fill out the forms and skip any questions that worry her, she said.
'It's important to cooperate so that funds come here,' Ramírez said.
Radio and television advertising blares from broadcast outlets in multiple languages, ranging from local radio stations geared to Indian and Pakistani listeners to those targeting Latino youth.
A Mexican soap opera on the Telemundo network even featured a census worker named Perla in a show titled Más Sabe el Diablo (The Devil Knows Best).
Yelina Ravelo, a 28-year-old originally from Cuba, knew about the census before Slaughter started her talk.
'It's on so much on the television,' she said.
And, she said, she likes the idea of a census that helps spread federal money to cities – something she never saw in Cuba.
Census officials said Dallas and Harris counties have the largest number of hard-to-count residents in Texas. They are often found in groups that speak little or no English, or are new immigrants or among ethnic populations. Sometimes these areas have highly mobile college students, overcrowded housing or have had low response rates to the census in the past.
There is also worry because participation rates are sinking among censuses worldwide.
In the 2000 census, Texas participation was 64 percent – lower than the 72 percent nationwide. Dallas County came in at 65 percent, Collin County at 74 percent, and Denton and Tarrant counties at 69 percent. The city of Dallas had a 62 percent rate, and Plano had a 76 percent rate. Carrollton had a rate of 75 percent and Irving a rate of 62 percent.
'The less people who are counted the less power and money you have,' said Gabriel Sanchez, regional director for the Census Bureau, who's been to Islamic festivals, rural colonias on the border and Chinese New Year events in Grand Prairie for the census cause.
'We simply say that this is about power and money. If you care about that, get counted.'
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'It could be war'
By Manu Raju
The Politico (Washington, DC), March 16, 2010
Republicans are threatening to make life difficult for Democrats if they try to push health care reform through the Senate using the budget reconciliation process.
The response from Democrats: What else is new?
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) told POLITICO on Monday that it will be 'much, much harder' to reach bipartisan consensus on anything if Democrats push ahead with reconciliation.
Financial regulatory reform 'could easily fall victim,' Kyl said.
'I don’t think immigration reform was realistic, but this certainly doesn’t enhance its prospects at all,' he added. 'And even something like climate change legislation and, I’m sure, any of the tax legislation we’ll have to deal with later — all of these things will be impacted by the mood of the Senate, and it’s not going to be good if this reconciliation process is used.'
. . .
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New immigrants avoiding big cities, study finds
By Daniel B. Wood Staff writer
The Christian Science Monitor, March 15, 2010
Los Angeles -- US immigrant populations are spreading out, a study released Monday found.
New immigrants and their US-born descendants are expected to grow by 117 million by 2050, making up 82 percent of the US population growth over that period, and will 'have important implications for housing demand at a time when aging baby boomers are expected to retire and leave the housing market,' the study predicts.
New immigrants who once flocked to the large 'gateway' cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago are now heading for smaller metropolitan areas like Detroit and Minneapolis, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sarasota, Fla., and El Paso, Tex., according to the study, released by the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California. The census data used for the study didn't take into account respondents' legal status.
'Every city in the US is getting a sizable immigration population,' said Gary Painter, director of research at the Lusk Center and co-author of the study, in a phone interview. 'We are no longer a country where immigration is largely confined to just a few places.'
The typical immigrant seen in these new places is likely to have been in the US fewer than 10 years, he says, whereas the typical immigrant in a larger city has likely been here much longer. The implication of this is that new immigrants probably have less English language skills, are less likely to be integrated, and are less likely to own a home.
'We found that the immigrant communities in these smaller metro areas are much less developed,' Mr. Painter said. 'The questions we need to ask ourselves are 'what sorts of policies do we want to pursue because of this?' '
The study, 'Immigrants and Housing Markets in Mid-Size Metropolitan Areas' by Painter and co-author Zhou Yu, an assistant professor at the University of Utah, looked at census data from 2000 to 2005 in 60 cities with housing priced lower than in the major gateway cities. Over those five years, these mid-size areas showed an average 27 percent rise in new immigrant population at the same time that more traditional gateways registered a 6 percent decline.
Painter and Yu found that immigrants continue to have lower homeownership rates than native-born Americans having the same income and education levels. 'Many of these immigrants may be waiting for other family members to join them before setting down more permanent roots,' explained Painter, who plans future research into the disparity in homeownership rates.
Immigration watchers draw various lessons from the findings.
'Newly arriving immigrants are likely to settle where there are job opportunities and affordable places to live,' says Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. 'It also dispels one of the key assertions of the immigration enthusiasts [who] often look at the fact that immigrants tend to congregate in areas of the country where the economy is most robust, and conclude that immigration is the cause of economic growth. This study suggests that they are confusing cause and effect. If a robust economy exists, the effect will be an influx of immigrants.'
Others point to wider trends. 'I’m not sure how much this says about immigration, per se, that immigrants are avoiding – like the rest of us – large cities which are clogged with employment, the cost of living is higher, taxes are higher, and the quality of life is deteriorating,' says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.
Some immigrants' rights groups say the move to smaller cities makes sense.
'Given the negative attitudes towards immigrants, the incessant persecution by immigration agents, and the lack of jobs,' says Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, 'immigrants may believe that smaller cities offer all the right options: a place to live unnoticed, a somewhat welcoming environment, and less competition for lower-paying jobs.'
Still others question whether it’s too soon to draw too many conclusions because of the heated political climate, the recent downturn in the economy, and the coming 2010 census.
'This study is only looking at home ownership and may be overtaken by the next census,' says Karthick Ramakrishnan, who studies immigration patterns and demographics at the University of California, Riverside. 'There are many variables that need to be examined because of the push and pull over immigrants – some declaring that they drag the economy down and others saying it props them up.'
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Lusk Center for Real Estate can be found online at: http://www.usc.edu/schools/sppd/lusk/index.php
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Prenatal plan deal emerges in Neb. Legislature
By Nate Jenkins
The Associated Press, March 16, 2010
Lincoln (AP) -- A lack of votes to permanently provide prenatal care to illegal immigrants and some other women who don't qualify for Medicaid has Nebraska lawmakers working on a short-term compromise.
Under the new plan, only the 1,500 women who lost coverage early this month after federal officials said the state couldn't allow unborn children to be eligible for Medicaid would continue to get state-funded prenatal care. The funding would cease at the end of this year.
The original plan from state Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln would have established a permanent program to provide state- and federal-funded coverage to the not-yet-born babies.
It would have used a different federal program to essentially continue the same type of prenatal coverage women had received in Nebraska for nearly 30 years, until the federal government said late last year that the state had been breaking Medicaid rules.
The state had allowed women who weren't eligible for Medicaid to get Medicaid-covered care because, the state claimed, their children qualified. Children born in the U.S. are citizens, regardless of their parents' immigration status.
Campbell polled fellow lawmakers and discovered that she didn't have enough votes to pass a bill that would continue coverage under another program using that same rationale as the old Medicaid practice.
Gov. Dave Heineman was opposed to that proposal because he said it amounted to giving illegal immigrants taxpayer benefits. Overriding his veto would have taken votes from 30 of the Legislature's 49 senators.
Normally, it takes 25 votes to pass a bill, and some supporters of continuing prenatal coverage started to question whether they had even that many votes.
'I never underestimated how difficult this would be,' Campbell said.
Some senators who had been undecided on the original proposal, she said, tilted against it after hearing from constituents over the weekend who were opposed to providing benefits to illegal immigrants.
Supporters of Campbell's bill including most major medical organizations in the state and the major anti-abortion group in the state, Nebraska Right to Life argued that the unborn babies, not illegal immigrants, would be the main beneficiaries the bill.
Another possible factor decreasing support for the original bill was the upcoming election. Thirteen senators face challengers in re-election bids this year, and a vote in favor of the bill could have been interpreted as helping illegal immigrants.
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Immigrant driver's license bill moves on to March 16 hearing
By Caitlin Burgess
The Twin Cities Daily Planet, March 15, 2010
Members of the Transportation and Transit Policy and Oversight Division of the Minnesota House of Representatives met March 10 to hear testimony on a bill that would change Minnesota drivers license requirements. House Bill 1718, presented by co-author Rep. Karen Clark, would modify application procedures and requirements for individuals, allowing even undocumented residents to qualify for a license.
According to Patricia McCormack, Director of the Driver and Vehicle Services division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, an individual is required to have 'legal presence' in the state to qualify for a license. Immigration documents, a valid driver's license or a certified United States birth certificate are among the documents used by the state to authenticate a person's identity. According to McCormack, identification cards and documents from foreign governments are not accepted forms of ID because all countries have different requirements.
'A lot of these identification cards are easy to replicate and they may not have security features, so we cannot authenticate that individual,' she said.
Under the provisions of the new bill, an ID from the individual's home country and proof of residency, such as a Minnesota tax document, would be accepted to prove one's identity. Some legislators were concerned about immigration issues.
'Saying they are who they say they are is one thing, but legal or illegal is a different situation,' Rep. Marty Seifert said.
The DVS supports the current policy of legal presence.
'Most states are trying to abide by the immigration laws and also trying to be able to license their drivers,' McCormack said.
Witnesses in favor of the bill included Jovita Morales of Mujeres en Liderazgo, attorney Bruce Nestor, and Jonatan Gudino, who works at the University of Minnesota. Nestor urged committee members 'not to get caught up in the rhetoric and politics of immigration,' but to focus more on public safety, the potential revenue benefits and the historic importance of being the fifth state to implement this change.
'I view this as a public safety issue,' Rep. Clark said. 'We would not be the first state to do this.'
Of the 16 members of the committee eight voted yes, five voted no, one abstained, and two were not present. After the vote, members of Mujeres en Liderazgo, who had come to support the bill, rejoiced in the hallways.
'This is an historic moment,' Rep. Clark said. 'This is a first step.'
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Hispanics decry House bill
The proposal would require schools to verify and report all students' immigration status.
By Randy Krehbiel
The Tulsa World (OK), March 16, 2010
A bill that would require Oklahoma public schools to verify the immigration status of all students and report it to the state Department of Education drew fire from Tulsa Hispanic leaders Monday as well as criticism from Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard.
'I don't think it's wise to make schools responsible for gathering that kind of information,' Ballard said. 'It would be a huge undertaking and detract from our mission, which is to teach kids.'
Earlier in the day, representatives of the Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said the measure, House Bill 3384, by Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, would create an unfunded mandate for already-strapped schools and is a step toward shutting illegal immigrants out of public education.
'The American people have always regarded education as a matter of supreme importance and a primary vehicle for transmitting American values,' chamber spokesman Mario Lizana said. 'By denying undocumented students a basic education, we deny them the ability to live within civic institutions and structure and foreclose the possibility they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of this state.'
Terrill denied that HB 3384 would infringe on any child's access to public education or that its cost to schools would be significant. He said his only purpose is gathering accurate information about the cost of educating illegal immigrant children.
'Certainly, some schools are gathering this information already,' Terrill said.
In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prevented Texas public schools from barring illegal immigrants. The court said the law imposed a penalty against children who had little or no control over their immigration status.
The majority opinion also stated that barring illegal immigrants from public schools likely would lead to 'the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates.'
Terrill said he has no firm plans for using the data that would be collected by the schools. He did say, however, that he expects the data to show the cost of educating illegal immigrants to be 'stunningly high.'
Such figures could be helpful in a challenge of the 1982 decision, which was based in part on the court's finding that Texas had not proved that a 'substantial interest' would be served by excluding illegal immigrant children from public schools.
Terrill also denied that schools would become extensions of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, something opponents of the bill believe is suggested by a section that says disclosure of information about individual students is forbidden 'except for purposes permitted pursuant to 8 U.S.C., Sections 1373 and 1644.'
Those sections of federal law deal with the exchange of immigration information between state and federal officials.
Terrill said his bill 'does not change federal immigration law,' but he stopped short of saying federal agencies could not demand individual student information.
'There is some basis by which (federal authorities) can access that information on a very limited basis now,' he said.
University of Tulsa immigration law expert Elizabeth McCormick said, 'My reading of that section is that it prohibits public disclosure of personally identifying information but would not prohibit disclosure of that information to federal immigration authorities, whether or not the information was requested by a federal agency.'
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Proposed new Arizona immigration bills draw concern
By Larry Hendricks
The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff), March 16, 2010
Phoenix -- Dozens of demonstrators rallied last week at the State Capitol against bills that would make it trespassing to be in the country illegally and require local law enforcement to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws. Both bills also would make it illegal to pick up and hire undocumented workers.
But just how the proposed legislation could impact local law enforcement will be the subject of tonight's presentation by the Flagstaff Police Department.
Flagstaff Deputy Chief Josh Copley said that he will answer questions from councilmembers and members of the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council about the proposed bills during a city council meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m.
NAIC is an organization that publicly opposes anti-immigrant bills that are proposed at the Legislature.
NAIC members have stated in the past that legislation like SB 1070 and HB 2632 would have a devastating effect on the ability of immigrants to report crime to the police.
'If that law does come into play, then we'll deal with it when it does,' Copley said.
He added that he is not able to speculate on what the laws will mean for the city, but there will be an impact on law enforcement. What that impact will be remains to be seen.
'We're going to do our best to focus on our mission as a police department,' Copley said.
County Sheriff Critical of Proposed Bills
Coconino County Sheriff Bill Pribil said he believes the bills are a bad idea.
'At this point, I see it interesting on the one hand counties are being eviscerated by the state Legislature when it comes to budget ... and yet they continue to find ways for us to spend our precious resources on programs we can't support,' Pribil said.
He added that the department has experienced a 10 percent reduction in certified commissioned officers. And those officers who are left are being asked to do more with less.
'This just one more unfunded mandate that is being put onto counties,' Pribil said. 'And now we're being asked to put another layer of duties onto law enforcement that we cannot support.'
Implementation of the proposals are going to be costly and won't be effective in protecting residents in Coconino County, Pribil said.
The reason for the bills is the total frustration of states at the failure of federal government to take any action on the issue of immigration, Pribil said. The bills are motivated by the violence in Mexico created by drug cartels, and violence in U.S. cities committed by undocumented immigrants.
'We're going to continue to see these types of bills introduced throughout the country until the federal government can get its act together,' Pribil said. 'It's frustrating.'
In Phoenix last week, members of several organizations carried signs and chanted outside the Executive Tower where Gov. Jan Brewer's office is located. They delivered hundreds of letters urging her to veto SB 1070 and HB 2632 if they reach her desk.
Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator, said it would be unconstitutional to charge people in the country illegally with trespassing.
'These are people who aren't even jaywalking,' he said. 'It is merely their presence and their status of being undocumented that will make them criminals.'
Anna Gaines, founder and chairwoman of American Citizens United, was among a group of counter-demonstrators who carried signs supporting the bills.
'We need to protect the jobs for Americans that live here,' Gaines said.
But Daniel Rodriguez of Phoenix said allowing law enforcement to ask for a person's immigration status would make undocumented people reluctant to seek help from police.
'If people are afraid to call the police, then that's a big threat to our national security,' he said.
Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said it would be a mistake to make police enforce federal immigration laws.
'This forces police officers to prioritize immigration enforcement over other public safety duties and I think that is a move in the wrong direction,' she said.
SB 1070, sponsored by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, won Senate approval and was awaiting action by the House. HB 2632, sponsored by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, was awaiting a vote by the full House.
Assistant City Editor Larry Hendricks contributed to this report.
Quick facts about bills on illegal immigration
Here are key provisions of SB 1070 and HB 2632:
-- Would require law enforcement officials to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws.
-- Would make being in the country illegally a trespassing offense in Arizona.
-- Would make it illegal for undocumented workers to seek work in public places.
-- Would make it illegal to stop at a street to pick up and knowingly hire undocumented workers.
-- Would make it illegal to transport or conceal undocumented immigrants
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Long-anticipated first debate between Whitman, Poizner mostly echoes stump speeches
By Ken McLaughlin
The San Jose Mercury News (CA), March 15, 2010
After months of dodging calls for debates, GOP front-runner Meg Whitman went toe-to-toe with Steve Poizner on Monday night in an Orange County showdown between former Silicon Valley executives that offered surprisingly little confrontation but appeared to answer one big question in the race for governor: Is Whitman ready for prime time?
The former eBay CEO seemed to be on Monday if only for a limited Web audience. In her first debate, Whitman appeared confident and more than comfortable in the hourlong duel with Poizner from a theater in Costa Mesa.
Spelling out her vision for creating jobs, cutting spending and restoring the state's once-prized education system, Whitman went largely unchallenged and launched the most notable attack of the evening, depicting Poizner as a flip-flopper on immigration.
She also was steely in her response to how she would handle one of the state's most seasoned politicians in the general election: Democrat Jerry Brown. In her harshest words of the night, Whitman said she would offer a 'stark contrast' against a career politician. 'Everywhere he's gone there's been a record of failure,' she said.
Despite trailing by more than 30 points in the polls, Poizner looked nothing like a desperate candidate determined to expose Whitman's political inexperience in a high-stakes debate. Instead, the state's insurance commissioner seemed content with leisurely telling his own story, twice recalling his year spent teaching at San Jose's Mount Pleasant High School.
For all its anticipation, the debate sponsored by New Majority California, a Republican donor group, amounted to mostly excerpts of stump speeches instead of memorable political theater.
Each candidate spoke at length about turning around California, with Whitman saying her well-oiled managerial skills would rein in a state that is being strangled by what she called the power of public employee unions.
'I know how to balance budgets,' Whitman said. 'I know how to make the difficult trade-offs.'
Poizner, a former valley entrepreneur who earned his fortune by putting GPS in cell phones, tried to portray himself as the only real conservative in the race, suggesting Whitman is too soft on illegal immigration and not willing to cut taxes across the board or make 'big, bold, comprehensive reforms' to turn state government inside out.
Bill Whalen, a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, said a lack of a clear winner in Monday's debate was a win for the front-runner.
'The needle didn't move,' Whalen said. 'Nobody made a dramatic gain or a dramatic loss, so I guess you have to give it to Whitman.'
On many issues, the two mostly echoed each other, especially when it came to education both expressed support for vocational education, charter schools and more local control and both came out swinging against the state's aggressive efforts to stop global-warming emissions, which they said would only hurt business and kill jobs.
Whitman took the anti-regulatory theme one step further, calling for a one-year moratorium on all new regulations.
The most heated moment of the debate came more than a half-hour in, when Whitman called out Poizner for tacking to the right on immigration.
Poizner set up the exchange by bearing down hard on the issue, saying that he supported Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot initiative aimed at reducing the flow of illegal migrants, while Whitman opposed it.
'These are wonderful people who come here,' Poizner said. 'But we have to stop illegal immigration. We have to turn the magnets off. You can't build a fence high enough.'
In recent weeks, Poizner surprised many political analysts as he moved further and further to the right to get the attention of GOP primary voters who tend to lean strongly in that direction.
Whitman fought back with a 'fact check,' saying that 'today he says he wants to turn off the magnets' that attract illegal immigrants, such as free health and social services. But, Whitman pointed out, when Poizner unsuccessfully ran for Assembly in 2004 he supported President Bush's comprehensive immigration reforms, which called for giving illegal immigrants with roots in this country a 'path to legalization.'
And just last week, Whitman said, Poizner told a Spanish-language newspaper that he supported the federal law that requires school districts to provide children here illegally with an education through the 12th grade.
'It's a complete about-face,' Whitman said.
Poizner used the opportunity to chide Whitman for running an expensive negative ad campaign against him on radio and TV.
'They're nasty. They're wrong,' Poizner said of the ads
'I know politics is a rough business, but we have to get the facts straight here,' he said.
Poizner, who six years ago portrayed himself as a '100 percent abortion rights' candidate when he ran for an Assembly seat on the Peninsula, also attacked Whitman for supporting public funding of abortions.
The next debate will be broadcast on Comcast on May 2. It's currently the only other scheduled debate, and the location hasn't been decided. But Poizner, whom many are counting out of the race, used his final remarks Monday to relish another shot at Whitman: 'Thanks, Meg, for a lively debate. We should do more of these.'
GOP hopefuls spar over immigration, climate change
By Jack Chang
The Sacramento Bee, March 16, 2010
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All O.C. jails to start checking immigration status of inmates
By Cindy Carcamo
The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), March 16, 2010
All inmates booked into Orange County jails will have their immigration status checked starting Tuesday morning, part of a national effort to identify and deport people who are in the country illegally and suspected of or convicted of committing crimes.
At 6 a.m. Tuesday, law enforcement officials at jails from Santa Ana to Laguna Beach began running inmates' fingerprints through Department of Homeland Security databases.
The program, called Secure Communities, determines whether inmates have had any contact with the immigration system. It flags immigration officials, who can put a hold on those who are believed to be in the country illegally. Those inmates are detained for 48 hours to give immigration authorities a chance to pick them up.
'It's a tool that allows us to do our jobs more effectively,' said David Venturella, executive director of the Secure Communities initiative within Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 'It’s just one piece of an overall comprehensive strategy to help local law enforcement … allowing us to better identify alien criminals and remove them from the United States. It’s a monumental improvement in the way we do business.'
Orange County joins 119 other counties in the nation already using the system, which has sparked controversy and praise from both sides of the immigration debate. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials hope to launch the program in all counties by 2013. The program is provided at no cost to local agencies.
Locally, immigration officers already work at the Costa Mesa city jail; at the county jail, deputies already screen inmates’ immigration status under a partnership with the federal government. At both jails, inmates who say they are foreign-born receive additional screening to check legal status.
The new program is more accurate because all inmates – not just those who say they are foreign-born – are now screened for immigration status, Venturella said.
'This is more automatic,' Orange County Sheriff's Cmdr. Dave Wilson said. 'Currently, people come in off the street and folks interview if they don't self-proclaim residency or legal status outside of the United States. We don't have a real way of confirming unless they trip up or something like that.'
While deputies who received immigration cross-training could tap into federal databases before the program’s launch, Wilson said it didn’t work as quickly as it does now and some inmates may have slipped through the cracks.
The new system still misses people who are in the country illegally but never had contact with the immigration system. That’s where the cross-trained screeners could step in and ask more questions to find an inmate’s true legal status, Wilson said.
How it Works
Instead of allowing only state and local law enforcement agencies to check the FBI database for criminal history during a fingerprint scan, the program is now also linked to federal immigration databases to screen a person's immigration record.
The FBI and federal immigration checks happens simultaneously. When there is a fingerprint match, the system automatically flags immigration officials.
In most cases, inmates will finish serving their sentences before they are transferred to immigration custody for possible deportation.
Still, federal officials said they don’t have enough resources to pick up everyone in the system as an illegal immigrant.
'We have a limited amount of resources,' Venturella said. 'Our objective would be to identify and remove all criminal aliens from the United States. Like any governmental agency or business, you have a limited amount of dollars coming in.'
He said the agency is focusing on the 'worst' criminal offenders who are in the country illegally. This means those who are arrested on suspicion of committing violent crimes, such as rape or homicide.
Immigration officials may get some non-violent offenders to leave the U.S. voluntarily while others may end up back in the community.
From October 2009 until the end of February, immigration officials arrested or issued detainers against 21,556 people nationwide who were identified as being in the country illegally and charged or convicted of crimes. Of those, 4,523 were arrested on suspicion of or convicted of violent crimes – such as murder, rape and kidnapping.
About 14,741 have already been removed from the country. The program first launched in October 2008.
Most have been identified but not yet removed; they are completing their sentences.
Critics on Both Sides of Immigration Debate
Immigration officials said the new screening avoids concerns about racial profiling because everyone's fingerprints are checked.
However, critics say the program doesn't stop law enforcement officials from making arrests based on racial profiling, said Joan Friedland, immigration policy director for the National Immigration Law Center, an immigrant advocacy group.
In addition, she said she was concerned about immigration agents deporting people who don’t have serious criminal convictions.
Other critics said they worry that immigration officials are too preoccupied with identifying criminals who are in the country illegally and aren’t placing enough emphasis on deporting them in an efficient manner.
'It's not enough to just find people. You have to wonder what good it does to identify all these people if they are not going to be removing everyone who should be removed. We're not getting real bang for our buck, yet,' said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.
While immigration officials have enough funding to identify people, the funding for infrastructure to house and ultimately deport them is unsustainable and lacks funding, she added.
Venturella acknowledges that for now, the program only has enough funding to process the most serious offenders.
Still, he said the program is in its early stages and that the resources and funding are ultimately determined by Congress.
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Ithaca Urges Congress to Pass Immigration Reform
By Brynn Leopold
The Cornell Daily Sun (Ithaca, NY), March 16, 2010
The City of Ithaca Common Council this month addressed the nationally contentious issue of immigration by unanimously passing a resolution on March 3 that calls on Congress to replace the enforcement-only policy, cease raids and provide a pathway for legal citizenship.
Alderpersons Eric Rosario (I-2nd Ward) and Maria Coles (D-1st Ward) introduced the bill after working for months in conjunction with the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition, Catholic Charities Immigrant Center and Tompkins County Workers Center.
The resolution condemns the current laws, stating that 'our nation’s immigration system continues to be broken, with the federal government pursuing an ineffective enforcement-only strategy that attempts to make the nation’s antiquated immigration laws fit current realities.'
'Ithaca is quite progressive, so the City of Ithaca, at least theoretically, is a safe-haven for immigrants, but it is quite different in some of the outlying counties,' Ute Ritz-Deutch of the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition said. In 2007, Ithaca supported moratoriums on raids and deportations, unless conducted by federal law enforcement officials. Local police are prohibited from investigating people for the sole purpose of checking immigration status.
In upstate New York there are an estimated 65,000 undocumented farm workers, and Ithaca has the highest proportion of non-US citizens — more than Syracuse and Rochester, according to Ritz-Deutch.
'What was so powerful about it is that a lot of people in our local government have either family members or people that they know that have undocumented status. A lot of people are really personally affected by this,' she said. The resolution notes that one in ten people over the age of 18 in Ithaca is a non-US resident, based on the 2000 census.
According to the resolution, addressing an issue that 'engenders an atmosphere of divisiveness and mistrust' discourages the reporting of crimes because of 'well-founded fears of immigration enforcement action against them, thereby putting entire communities at risk and undermining public safety for all.'
The resolution also cites two influential think-tank reports from the Center for American Progress and the Cato Institute on the economic impact of immigration laws, stating that instead of the negative impact expected based on increased job competition, the economy would be stimulated by increased wages and tax revenues.
Rosario addressed his constituents’ concerns about these economic impacts.
'Our Congressional representatives are facing pressure from constituents who believe that creating a pathway for legal status and naturalization for 12 million people, at a time where we are suffering a national unemployment rate of 10 percent, would be an economic disaster,' Rosario said. 'These reports show otherwise, and the fact that two ideologically very different organizations, the Center for American Progress and the self-described 'libertarian' Cato Institute, reached the same conclusions is compelling, and can help our representatives make the case for reform to their constituents.'
Ithaca’s passage of a resolution for immigration reform comes at a time of renewed national pressure because of the recession forcing more workers to compete for jobs and more stress on the health care system.
'There is a very sizeable underclass in the U.S. who are in the shadows and do not feel free to exercise their rights because they feel that they can be deported at any given time ...,' said Prof. Gustavo Flores-Macias, developmental sociology, who has studied migration in labor-exporting countries. 'On a public health logic it is better for these people to feel comfortable to go to a hospital whenever they get sick because if not they will spread whatever illness they have.'
Other cities are now confronting the issue of immigration reform as well. The Santa Clara, Calif. City Council on Mar. 10 took a hard line against illegal immigration and voted to support seven bills that restrict immigrant rights, including requiring English to become the official language of the city. The Chicago City Council unanimously demanded on Mar. 10 that President Obama seriously address immigration reform. Like the City of Ithaca in 2007, the Chicago City Council has supported moratoriums on raids and deportations by local law officials.
Despite being smaller and less populated than these cities, Ithaca has, according to Rosario, a major stake in just and fair immigration system at the federal level.
'It is no coincidence that every administration faces this problem,' Flores-Macias said. 'It is very contentious and during a recession it is even more contentious because people associate immigration with a lack of opportunities for people who are already in this country,' he said.
According to Flores-Macias, business sectors are generally in favor of reform so that they can use legal labor at lower wages. Human rights agencies also favor reforms on the basis that providing immigrants with special pathways to citizenship allows them to receive proper education and public health benefits that they otherwise would do without.
The Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition is organizing a phone campaign to call Representative Maurice Hinchey’s (D-N.Y.) office on St. Patrick’s Day and urge for comprehensive immigration reform. On Sunday, 10,000 New York residents will join 100,000 citizens on the Washington Mall in 'March for America' to call for the passage of reform in Congress.
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Grants for ID cards are used up
By Elizabeth Benton
The New Haven Register (CT), March 15, 2010
New Haven, CT -- Grants that paid for the first three years of the Elm City ID card have dried up, and, for the first time, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. is proposing that the program be paid for with general funds.
While it has previously been sustained by annual grants of more than $200,000, the current budget includes only $35,000 for a processing clerk in the office of vital statistics, and $8,500 for supplies, said city spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga. Under the proposed budget, the Office of New Haven Residents that produced the card would close.
The city has offered the identification cards to residents, regardless of immigration status, since 2007. The cards are accepted identification at several local banks, and can be used for parking meters and to access the city beach, golf course, recycling center and libraries.
About 4,000 cards were issued last year, as well as 400 within the last two months, Mayorga said.
'The initial intention was not to fund the Office of New Haven Residents using general fund dollars,' Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said. 'But there is significant public demand for the ID card so we have made the choice to maintain capacity and continue to produce it. The card has become a mainstream document in the city, no different from birth certificates and death certificates.'
The program has been a source of controversy, drawing intense criticism from suburban anti-illegal immigration activists and praise from those saying the card offers immigrants a way to safely open bank accounts.
In 2008, it took two-and-a-half hours for the Finance Committee of the Board of Aldermen to vote to accept $150,000 for the program from three private foundations.
Funding for the cards has not been mentioned at recent public hearings on the proposed $476.3 million 2010-11 city budget.
But Alderman Darnell Goldson, D-30, who made the card a focus of a brief mayoral campaign, said he will not support the funding. 'The argument they had before was we weren't paying for it, somebody else was,' he said.
'I don't think the taxpayers should be paying for that ID card. I will strenuously argue against it,' he said. 'I don't think it should be a top priority.'
Finance Committee member Jorge Perez, D-5, said he also was assured the card would be privately funded.
He served on the board when the card was unanimously approved, and called the program an issue of social justice at that time.
But he said the city needs to consider whether it can afford the program.
'We really have to start looking and say can we really afford this or can we figure out another creative way to provide the service without increasing expenses to the general fund,' he said. 'I'd like to see my street swept every week, but I can't afford that.'
Finance committee Chairman Alderman Yusuf I. Shah, D-23, said he supported continuing the ID program and said it makes sense to house it in the Office of Vital Statistics, where birth, marriage and death certificates are handled.
'They all link up in some sort of fashion,' he said. 'I think it's a good move. I'd rather not eliminate it because it's something we did so well with. ... But again, we struggle with what we want and what we need in New Haven. That's always the big debate.'
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Most O.C. cities not using worker-legality tool
By Cindy Carcamo
The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), March 16, 2010
Costa Mesa, CA -- At the height of the immigration debate about four years ago, Mayor Allan Mansoor propelled himself and his city into the front lines with his tough stance against illegal immigration.
He garnered national headlines when he aligned himself with the Minuteman Project, targeted day laborers and pushed for a program that trained officers to perform some duties of federal immigration agents.
That's why some question why the city of Costa Mesa – noted for leading the way in the county's fight against illegal immigration – isn't using a 6-year-old federal program called E-Verify, which is intended to weed out employees who are working in the country illegally.
'Some other issues have taken the forefront,' Mansoor said, referring to the budget crisis and the fairgrounds sale. 'E-Verify and some other types of enforcement measures are certainly on our radar. I am supportive of them.'
Costa Mesa, however, isn't alone. Most cities in Orange County don't use the free system, which allows employers to check the validity of a new hire's Social Security number to determine whether he or she is authorized to work in the United States.
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Clergy to Cornyn: We've got your back
By Rich Casey
The Houston Chronicle, March 14, 2010
When U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and his aides walked into Cardinal Daniel DiNardo's conference room at the Catholic Chancery one afternoon three weeks ago to talk about immigration reform, they were greeted by the archbishop, Lutheran Bishop Michael Rinehart and a dozen rabbis and clergy members from a variety of denominations.
They were also greeted by about 6,000 postcards piled in stacks on the large conference table around which the group would sit.
The men of the cloth wanted to talk to him about what they see as the biblical and moral imperative of immigration reform. But they also wanted to send a practical political message.
At a time when anger is the currency of the political realm, much of it aimed at illegal immigrants, the religious leaders were saying to Cornyn that they will have his back if he risks becoming a target of that anger by helping craft and pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The meeting and the postcards are part of a number of organized movements bubbling up around the country, a stirring that led President Barack Obama this week to hold meetings with two senators, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and some immigration activist groups to reassert his commitment to reform.
The church- and synagogue-based community organization TMO has been working with churches in the area for more than a year to educate members on the painful realities of immigration. Presentations include experts like veteran immigration attorney Charles Foster, who was working with President George W. Bush on an immigration reform law when 9/11 doomed it.
Foster is fond of explaining to people that to tell illegal immigrants to go home and get in line doesn't deal with the fact that about 10 million of them would be getting into a line that moves at a pace of 5,000 a year, many leaving citizen spouses and children here as they did so.
Cornyn told DiNardo and the other religious leaders, as he has repeatedly said in public, that it is up to Obama to make immigration reform a priority. He also noted that he had expected to hear from Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who has been working with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on crafting a bill.
At that point members of the group, who were impressed with Cornyn's grasp of immigration issues, decided to challenge him. Why should a senator from Texas be waiting on New York and South Carolina to craft a bill?
'We appealed to his Texas pride,' said Rinehart.
After all, Texas has the longest border with Mexico and a great deal of experience and accumulated wisdom from dealing with immigrants from the south.
What's more, Cornyn is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee.
Could he initiate a meeting with Schumer and Graham?
It wasn't much to ask, and Cornyn met with Schumer about a week later. He wanted to see the draft language Schumer and Graham had worked up.
According to a Cornyn staffer, he learned that there is no draft yet.
But Cornyn had already warned the group that a bill would not be passed this year.
That was set when Graham announced after meeting with Obama that efforts on immigration were dead if the president insisted on passing health care reform by a simple majority in the Senate.
But several of the religious leaders who met with Cornyn said they were glad to see the conversation begin in Washington again. And they plan to keep it going in their churches, building an ever larger constituency for reform.
'It's a Bible witness,' said Rinehart. 'You shall love the stranger and treat him like a citizen.'
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Mission District Mobilizes for Immigration Reform
By Rigoberto Hernandez
Mission Local (San Francisco), March 16, 2010
In what some are calling the largest march in the Obama presidency, a projected 100,000 people will gather in Washington D.C. this Sunday to demand immigration reform
About a half-dozen of the marchers will be from the Mission District. Tomorrow they will embark on a seven-day bus ride, stopping in eight cities along the way to hold press conferences and fill the 55 spaces on-board. Their bus will be one of the 18 that will bring more than 1,000 people to Washington from the Bay Area.
The march is part of a week of action organized by several local and national groups, ranging from faith-based organizations to labor unions. Activists said their goal is to get Congress to pass a bill this year that will lead to the legalization of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide.
Some riders are longtime activists, while others, like Oscar Mangandid, a 20-year-old City College student, are newcomers to the cause. 'I just want to be part of the momentum,' said Mangandid, who got involved three months ago.
A U.S. citizen and Mission resident, he said he is going on this trip for his mother, who came here from El Salvador and recently told him the hardships she underwent when she was undocumented.
Another new activist is Jose Palacios, a legal resident originally from El Salvador. Palacios is not going to Washington but is helping organize the San Francisco effort. Saying that there is 'too much injustice,' he first became involved because people in his neighborhood were being deported.
Palacios will be among the estimated dozens who plan to have 'constant contact,' meaning there will always be someone present in Senators Barbara Boxer’s and Diane Feinstein’s San Francisco offices tomorrow. He will also be part of the estimated thousands of people expected to demonstrate in front of the senators’ offices on March 24, along with those who will have returned from Washington D.C.
Eric Quezada, the executive director of Dolores Street Community Services and an immigrant rights activist since 1990, said the march is just the beginning. 'Justice doesn’t come in a one-time march,' he said, adding that the protest will only intensify if Congress doesn’t pass immigration reform.
Quezada and others say they are encouraged by the announcement last week that Obama has met with Senators Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. The two senators have been working for six months on an overhaul of the current immigration system.
Activists said they believe that, unlike the 2006 protest when millions took to the streets to demand immigration reform with little results, this effort will be more successful because the movement is better organized and there is a Democratic president and congress.
Lorena Melgarejo, an organizer for the trip to Washington, said she cast her first vote in 2008 and expects Obama to fulfill his promise on immigration reform. Melgarejo, who works for the Mission Asset Fund, a non-profit that helps working families, said that the fund estimates some 40,000 currently permanent resident immigrants in San Francisco are eligible to become citizens. The fund intends to help them become citizens before the November election so they have a say in immigration reform, she said.
This would send a strong message to Democrats, activists said.
Still Quezada questioned why Democratic leaders are 'scared' about the tea party protesters when they did not vote for them to begin with, he said.
'[Democrats] are not worried about their base — the millions of votes they got from the Latino community,' he said.
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Armey says GOP alienates Latino voters
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), March 16, 2010
Washington, DC -- Republicans are alienating Hispanic voters with their rhetoric on the immigration issue, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said Monday.
'These guys are trying to blow it,' Armey, a Texas Republican who now works closely with Tea Party activists, said at a National Press Club luncheon.
Armey, one of the creators of the 'Contract with America' that launched the 1994 Republican revolution, says the party needs to be more careful when it discusses immigration reform - which he strongly supports.
Armey said the issue needs to be handled with 'sensitivity.'
He described the hard-edged, immigrant-bashing rhetoric of former Republican congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, who spoke at a recent Tea Party convention in Tennessee, as 'destructive.'
'Republicans have to get this right and get off this goofiness,' Armey said. 'Ronald Reagan said, 'Tear down this wall.' Tom Tancredo said, 'Build this wall.' Which is right?'
With Latinos forming the fastest-growing electoral bloc in the nation, Armey says the GOP seems to be saying, 'Let's go out and alienate them.'
Armey blamed the U.S. government, not Hispanics, for the dysfunctional immigration system.
'The way they treat these people is rude and callous and cruel,' he said of the U.S. immigration services reconstituted in the Department of Homeland Security after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Armey said socially conservative Latino and African American voters are natural constituents for the GOP - if Republicans don't push them away.
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Census flares immigration feud
By Cindy Carcamo
The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), March 15, 2010
In Santa Ana, faith-based groups are teaching church leaders to preach the gospel of the U.S. census, encouraging legal and illegal immigrants to participate in hopes it will lead to immigration changes.
At the same time, a Huntington Beach group that opposes illegal immigration is urging U.S. citizens to fill out only one census question saying they don't want to be counted alongside those who are in the country illegally.
As the U.S. prepares for the government's count this month, the census is fast becoming the latest battleground in the heated immigration debate. Nationally and locally, groups on both sides of the issue are urging their troops to boycott or participate in the census to send a message to decision makers in Washington, D.C.
Immigration activists have tried to politicize the census since the 1980s, said Vincent Barabba, a former Census Bureau director who served under President Ronald Reagan.
Still, others say this year's census is particularly a lightning rod for immigration activists because of the faltering economy, which is fanning already flared tensions about the issue.
'I think there is a very deeply felt anti-immigrant mood. I think it's deeper and more intense than past census periods,' said Doris Meissner, who was the Immigration and Naturalization Services commissioner during the 2000 census and is now a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Migration Policy Institute.
Immigrant-rights activists urging legal immigrants and those in the country illegally to be counted are tying the count to a possible immigration overhaul. At the same time, a group of church leaders on the East Coast is pushing for immigrants to boycott the census unless an immigration overhaul is approved. And then there are those calling for a halt to immigration enforcement actions until the count is done.
On the other side of the aisle, a legislator unsuccessfully pushed census officials to amend the questionnaire to ask the respondent's legal status. The proposal excited illegal-immigration opponents, who launched an e-mail campaign to push for the measure.
Those same people are blasting e-mails to their members, asking them to send a message to Washington by answering only one of 10 questions asked by the census.
The census, done once every 10 years, is a source of contention because it helps determine federal representation, dollars and services for municipalities.
'It's sort of a political event because the representation of the country is based on it,' Barabba said. 'However, it is not partisan. That's the key point. It doesn't favor any one party and any one group. It is what it is - a count of the inhabitants of the states.'
Local groups are using the count to make a statement.
While the census won't ask respondents about legal status, immigrants-rights groups are urging legal immigrants and those in the country illegally to be counted in Orange County.
About a week ago, faith-based immigrant activists held training sessions with church leaders from Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, where the majority of parishioners are legal immigrants or in the country illegally.
Tying the census to an immigration overhaul is a new approach, said Moises Escalante, an organizer with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. The organization is training church leaders how to encourage immigrants to be counted.
'The most important issue for these people ... is the issue of having a just and comprehensive immigration reform,' Escalante said. The census 'may help to bring immigration reform into discussion in Congress.'
Escalante said his group is training church leaders at three predominantly immigrant churches in the county - La Puerta Abierta in Westminster, Getsemani Presbyterian Church in Anaheim and Templo Calvario - to get their message out to parishioners.
'If we are asking people to be counted, we need to be telling people why it is important,' he said.
That's where immigration change comes in, Escalante said.
That's also one of the reasons The Orange County Dream Team is pushing their members to participate in the census. The group supports the DREAM Act, which would allow students in the country illegally to apply for legal permanent resident status. The act would also protect students from deportation and make them eligible for student loans and federal work study programs.
'The country, once again, will see how we are represented in large numbers and how much immigration reform would make sense,' said Vanessa Castillo, advocate chair for the organization supporting the DREAM Act.
Even the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana is taking a more active role in promoting the census than in years before.
On a recent Friday a couple of census representatives spoke with the dozens of people waiting at the consulate's lobby.
They passed out a Spanish-English booklet that had emblazoned on the front: 'Ya es hora. Hágase contar!' ('Now is the time. Make yourself count!')
Meanwhile, in Huntington Beach, California Coalition for Immigration Reform members are still upset about the failure of a proposal that would have asked the respondent's legal status. The group believes people who are in the country illegally should not be counted, said coalition leader Barbara Coe.
'We've tried in the past to negate the effort of counting illegal aliens and quite obviously never been successful,' Coe said. 'At least at this point in time we can urge people to not give them any additional information.'
Coe said this is the first time she has asked her members not to fully participate in the census. She plans to launch an e-mail blitz soon about boycotting all but one question in the census to thousands of her members, she said.
'We should not be represented in any way, shape or form with the illegal aliens in our community.' Coe said. 'The number of illegal aliens in our various and assorted district will have the ultimate impact on how many representatives are from the state of California.
'I do not care if there are fewer representatives of California when the number would include people who do not represent loyal Americans but represent illegal aliens,' she said.
The point of the census is to count those who live in the country, regardless of legal status, said Stephen Buckner, spokesman for the Census Bureau in Washington, D.C.
'It's pretty clear what the Constitution says. ... We must count every single resident living within the United States,' Buckner said. 'It doesn't distinguish between citizens and noncitizens or people who are not here with documents. The census is an apolitical organization.'
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Faith-based Hispanics push immigration reform
By William Gibson
The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), March 15, 2010
Esperanza, a Hispanic faith-based network, plans to launch a grassroots campaign in South Florida and other parts of the country on Tuesday to push for comprehensive immigration reform this year.
It starts with an announcement in the Capitol.
Participants will include Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Miami, who is running this year in a district that includes Broward County. Also on hand will be Jose Dugand, pastor of a 2,500-member church called Ekklesia Global in Miami.
Backers include Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; and Senator Robert Menendez, a Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey.
Esperanza and other Hispanic groups are eager to enact a bill that would give millions of unauthorized immigrants a path to legal status and citizenship.
Such a bill remains relatively high on President Obama’s agenda, but signs from the White House and Congress indicate that it won’t come to pass this year.
Obama has focused instead on health-care reform and financial regulation. Immigration reform may have to wait for 2011, a non-election year.
Esperanza’s network is spread across 42 states and 12,000 Hispanic churches and community non-profit groups. The campaign will enlist individuals and organizations to pressure elected officials to support reform.
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Former Soviet Olympian tries to stay here after visa expires
By Jeb Phillips
The Columbus Dispatch, March 16, 2010
Natalia Laschenova was once 'an alien of extraordinary ability,' her attorney says, the kind of immigrant the United States can fast-track to permanent-resident status.
At 14, she was a member of the Soviet Union women's gymnastics team that won an all-around gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. If she had come to the United States then, there might have been no problem, said Gus Shihab, the attorney.
But she last competed in 1991 and didn't arrive in the United States until 1999. She lives in Marysville and coaches at Integrity Gymnastics and Cheerleading in Plain City.
Her boss and her attorney argue that she still is someone of extraordinary ability.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services disagrees.
Laschenova, now 36, received a final denial in January of her petition to become a permanent resident under immigration law's 'alien of extraordinary ability' preference.
She has applied for permanent residency since 2000, in one way or another. The visa that allowed her to work in the United States expired in 2007.
She now has no legal status in this country and could face deportation. Her husband, 20-year-old daughter and 17-year-old daughter are citizens of Belarus, as is Laschenova. They are her legal dependants and could face deportation as well.
None has received an order of deportation.
Laschenova and her husband, Roman Kravchenko, have a 2-year-old son and a 3-week-old daughter who were born in the United States. Although the two younger children are U.S. citizens, they would leave if their parents are deported.
'We are American in every way except on paper,' Laschenova said yesterday. 'My children were raised here. My family has worked hard to assimilate to become part of America.'
Her attorney and the national group Reform Immigration for America held a news conference yesterday to draw attention to Laschenova's situation. Speakers talked about a 'broken' immigration system that would allow the parents of U.S. citizens to be deported.
They also talked of a narrow definition of 'extraordinary ability' that would not include an Olympic gold-medal winner.
'She's an amazing coach,' said Dori Aurelius, who owns Integrity Gymnastics and Cheerleading along with Olympic silver medalist Blaine Wilson. 'An extraordinary coach.'
Aurelius said nine of Laschenova's students have received full gymnastics scholarships to college.
Marilu Cabrera, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said she is familiar with the case but could not comment on specifics of it.
Shihab said he is studying taking action for his client in federal court.
'She doesn't have any other options available to her,' he said.
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Boston immigration trial starts for Homeland boss
The Associated Press, March 15, 2010
Boston (AP) -- A trial has begun in Boston for a former top U.S. Department of Homeland Security official accused of encouraging her Brazilian housekeeper to remain in the United States illegally.
Lorraine Henderson was a regional director of homeland security, customs and border protection. She was responsible for stopping illegal immigrants from entering the country through Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
During opening statements in Henderson's trial in U.S. District Court on Monday a prosecutor told jurors she violated the immigration law she had taken an oath to uphold. The charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.
Henderson's lawyer didn't make an opening statement.
The trial resumes Tuesday.
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Restaurant owner pleads to hiring illegals
The Associated Press, March 16, 2010
Billings, MT (AP) -- A 54-year-old Billings restaurant owner who had been charged with helping illegal immigrants obtain fraudulent immigration documents has pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring illegal workers.
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Sex offender arrested at Arizona border
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), March 15, 2010
U.S. Border Patrol agents say they have arrested a convicted California sex offender following a vehicle stop near Quartzsite.
Agents from the Yuma sector stopped a car on Highway 95 at about 5 p.m. Saturday and determined that the passenger, Juan Manuel Chavez-Jimenez, was in the country illegally.
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Man trails suspected drunken driver in Brewster; illegal immigrant arrested
By Terence Corcoran
The Journal News (White Plains, NY), March 16, 2010
Brewster, NY -- Village police today are praising a motorist who followed a suspected drunken driver and notified police after nearly being struck by the man.
Chief Officer Jon Del Gardo of the village police said that the motorist was driving on Main Street around 12:15 a.m. Sunday when he was nearly struck by a car driven by Giron Adelso Nectaly Vasquez. 36, of 138 Main St., Brewster.
The motorist turned around and followed Vasquez to a Gulf gas station on Main Street and notified police. Officer Stephanie Perro responded and was assisted by Officer Wayne Peiffer.
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False word of fed immigration bust has Trenton Latinos in hiding
By L.A. Parker
The Trentonian, March 16, 2010
Trenton -- It might have been bogus, but a rumor that federal agents raided a city shopping center in search of Latino illegal aliens forced many immigrants into hiding over the weekend.
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10 years for coyote charged in immigrant death
The Monitor (McAllen, TX), March 15, 2010
A Houston immigrant smuggler blamed for the death of one of his clients during a 2008 attempt to evade arrest pleaded guilty to murder charges March. 9.
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Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate
[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. U.K.: ESL schools plan to challenge restrictions on student visas
2. U.K.: Group lobbies on behalf of Filipino elderly care workers
3. Ireland: Filipino family faces deportation over participation in strike (link)
4. Finland: Researchers worry of de-facto censorship forced by harassment
5. Malta: Gov't offering Libyans visas without access to Schengen Zone
6. Malta: Scholarship to benefit Maltese living abroad
7. Israel: Gov't seeks to reverse 'brain drain' with special incentives (link)
8. Israel: Min. of Education, municipality to pay reparation to Ethiopian families
9. India: Gov't to implement registration requirements for foreign employers
10. Japan: Gov't may loosen restrictions on foreign care givers
11. Japan: Filipino transsexuals apprehended for illegal entry (link)
12. Philippines: January remittances likely exceeded projections
13. Australia: PM folds on on-shore processing for detainees (story, 3 links)
14. Australia: Opposition, Greens call for study of population targets
15. Australia: Foreign students challenge reports from private colleges
16. Australia: Imm. Min. mulls fate of Iranian sheik (link)
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
English language schools plan legal challenge on tightening of visa rules
Institutions warn that thousands of jobs and £400m in income will be lost in crackdown on illegal entry
By Owen Bowcott
The Guardian (U.K.), March 16, 2010
English language schools are planning a legal challenge against the Home Office over fears that the UK will lose thousands of jobs and £400m in income through tighter visa regulations this year.
English UK, the body that represents most language schools, says it will seek a judicial review of home secretary Alan Johnson's decision to prevent students with only beginner's English from entering Britain for English language courses.
The regulations, announced last month, were in response to concerns about illegal immigration and radicalisation of students at UK institutions following the bombing attempt on a US-bound aircraft on Christmas Day by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a British-educated Nigerian.
Announcing the rules, Johnson said they would also prevent scams involving applications from older women 'who had long ceased education' and were trying to bring dependant husbands into the country.
The clampdown coincides with sharp cuts to university funding. Vice-chancellors have also warned that a decision in January to suspend student visa applications from large parts of the Indian subcontinent because of suspected abuse of the rules has affected enrolment numbers.
English UK, which represents 440 schools and colleges, describes the government's insistence that those who come to learn English must already be competent in the language as 'an absurdity'. The association says the home secretary has acted unlawfully because he has not brought the changes before parliament.
The schools claim that as many as 100,000 students will be deterred from entering the UK to study, that £400m in income and 3,400 teaching jobs will be lost, and a further £1bn forfeited in university fees because higher education institutions recruit as many as 70% of their students from among those already studying English language and foundation courses in the UK.
Such an impact would not justify the rule change, lawyers for English UK contend. Making language colleges in effect part of the government's immigration control machinery is also illegal, they say.
'It's clearly absurd requiring students to know English before they come here to study it,' said Tony Milns, chief executive of English UK, 'We are already seeing evidence from agents, who book students onto courses, that they are saying the UK doesn't want students any more and they will send them to Canada or elsewhere.
'I'm hearing that bookings for April and May are already very low. I reckon we will lose around 25% of students. If those who want to come here for longer courses cannot now get visas then some [colleges] may be faced with closure. We are therefore planning to launch a judicial review of the regulations.'
Many English language schools are based on the south coast, particularly in Brighton and Bournemouth. Others are in Oxford, Cambridge and London. Students come from countries such as South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Turkey, Japan, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Milns said his association would suspend its legal action if the government backed down and reconsidered its visa regime. The Home Office has so far indicated no change in policy. Mark Lindsay, managing director of St Giles International, an English language college with sites around the UK, said: 'With a forthcoming general election in mind, the government wants to be seen as 'tough on immigration'. This is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and will exacerbate already severe problems of unemployment in the UK.'
He added: 'The UK Border Agency has been encouraged by the government to clamp down on 'bogus colleges'. But a number of wrongly accused colleges had recently had their accreditation restored.'
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Pinoy senior carers in UK to file for judicial review
By Rose Eclarinal
The ABS-CBN News (Philippines), March 16, 2010
London -- It is time to extend compassion and care to Filipinos who came to the UK to care for Britain’s elderly. This is just one of the goals of Kanlungan, a non-profit, charitable institution, in taking cudgels for embattled senior carers who were denied Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.
Thirty-three year old Jenny Labaria was denied the application of ILR because of the 5-month gap in her work permit. She came to the UK as a care worker in 2004.
'(I’m) very stressed actually. Wala kang peace of mind. Financially nadi-drain na. Kasi nagbabayad ka ng fee for the solicitor. Yes, very unjust towards us,' said Labaria.
Senior carers Evelyn Bolano and Mary Sorilla are also intending to apply for their Indefinite Leave to Remain but are worried that just like the fate of many Filipino senior carers in the UK, their application will also be denied.
'May problem kasi sa work permit ko at visa. May gap sila na 20 days. Ang problem kasi when I apply in September, I might be refused or denied the approval of my residency because of the 20-day gap. So ayaw ko ng ma-experience ng ganung problem again,' said Bolano.
‘Yung visa ko, nag- end nung Oct 12, 2009 at ang bagong visa ko na process at na-approve noong January 19 kaya may gap akong almost 4 months,' said Sorilla.
Sorilla and Bolano have already sought the assistance of Kanlungan. They are supporting the cause of Pinoy senior carers in the UK who are petitioning for a judicial review of their case. The judicial review will challenge in the UK court the way decisions concerning the senior case workers have been made.
UK Immigration toughens up
In the last 10 years, the UK Home Office has issued more than 20,000 work permits to those who want to work as senior care worker in the UK. It has paved the way for migrant workers to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, after working here for 5 years.
In 2004, the UK, in accordance with EU rules, restricted the employment policy of citizens from non-EU countries. The changes were seen in the refusal of UK Home Office to grant 5-year work permits to senior carers, who can apply for permanent residency in the UK. When the UK Home Office refused the renewal of Pinoy carers’ visas, many senior carers were left with no option but to go back to the Philippines. There were also cases of deportation.
Those who remained in the UK continued to challenge the new regulations. With intense pressure from trade and campaign groups and ardent support from Members of Parliament (MPs), the Home Office softened and allowed extension of work permits. It also offered a lifeline to senior carers.
In 2007, the Home Office issued new requirements for the renewal of work permits for senior carers, which include, among others, £7.02 per hour minimum pay. Those whose employers were not willing to take the new going rate had to find new employers which proved difficult.
Gap in work permit
In a desperate attempt to meet the requirements of the Home Office, many senior carers shift from one employer to another. During the transition, it leaves a gap in their work permit visas. It means losing the chance to qualify for a permanent residency which requires 5 years of successive, no-gap work permit visa.
This is problem faced by Labaria, Bolano and Sorilla. While Bolano and Sorilla are about to apply for their ILR and are hoping they will be given consideration, Labaria is only pinning her hopes on the result of the petition for a judicial review.
Labaria already spent almost 2,000 pounds for her application. Some Filipinos have already spent up to 8,000 pounds for their application for ILR.
Kanlungan said the case of senior carers is a classic tale of abuse and injustice against migrant workers.
'Istorya ito ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng manggagawa. Una, naabuso sila dahil sa pagbabago ng batas. Ang proteksyon at karapatan ng migrante pinaglalaban ng mga organisasyon. Hindi yan basta binibigay sa kanila. So yun ang case ng senior carer ngayon,' said Jam Fagta, case worker for Kanlungan.
Kanlungan is hoping to get more senior carers to join them in the plight.
'Ang mga Pinoy, hindi nagrereklamo, hard workers yan kaya ano na lang ang panahon nila sa sarili nila. Ang mga issue nila, di pa nga nila naiintindihan. Kaya ang panawagan ng Kanlungan sa kanila, mag-allot ng panahon para intindihin at suriin ang kanilang issue at tutulong ang organisayon,' said Facta.
UK has amended its immigration rules, which include, among others, limiting working visas to foreign workers and implementation of stricter guidelines for the application of permanent residency. But to Filipino senior carers, the new regulations are discriminatory against them and others who are making an indispensible contribution to UK society.
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Ireland may deport OFW family for joining strike
By Jerrie M. Abella
The GMA TV News (Philippines), March 12, 2010
A Filipino family that has been staying in Ireland for eight years is now facing possible deportation by Irish authorities due to the father’s participation in a recent workers’ action in a food factory at County Kildare, Ireland.
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Immigration experts face racist harassment
The Helsingin Sanomat (Finland), March 16, 2010
Finnish researchers into issues related to immigration have increasingly become victims of online threats against themselves and their families. Some of them have withdrawn from public discussions rather than face the intimidation.
University of Helsinki Chancellor Ilkka Niiniluoto does not know of a time when the Finnish scientific community had faced such attacks.
'It could be compared with situations in history such as the Soviet Union of the time of Stalin, or when Galileo Galilei was victimised by the Inquisition', he says.
'Few know the kind of direct harassment that researchers undergo today', says Veronika Honkasalo, a researcher at the Youth Research Network.
Honkasalo pointed out that Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen (Nat. Coalition Party) said last spring that people should be able to speak critically about immigration issues without being labelled a racist.
'With that excuse it would be possible to say anything at all', Honkasalo said.
Withdrawing from the public eye would mean conceding victory to the attackers, which is why Honkasalo feels that it is the duty of researchers to counter the negative tones in the debate.
'One has to be ready for powerful reactions, but there has to be a limit', she says.
Niiniluoto says that if fear goes so far that experts avoid expressing opinions, society has to react.
The Finnish constitution guarantees that university researchers are free to choose their topics, apply for funding, and defend their views with scientific arguments.
But how is society to make sure that a researcher is not victimised by threats. An anonymous contributor wrote in the Helsingin Sanomat letters to the editor column on Monday that police did not investigate online attacks against the writer, saying that the process would be expensive, and that the matter is of little societal importance.
'I cannot take a stand on this individual case, but I am surprised at what was said. The cost of the process is not an argument in our investigative culture. Many forget that it is possible to commit largely the same crimes on the Internet as in life in general', notes Robin Lardot, Chief Inspector of Police at the Ministry of the Interior.
Illegal threats and libel on the Internet are crimes that require a complaint from the victim before police can investigate.
However, Lardot says that the police understand the seriousness of the problem of online racism. On Thursday last week the police introduced the 'blue button' tipoff system, which makes it easy to report to police all types of improper content.
'It is possible to collect evidence from the Internet. The police has agreed with prosecutors on how to make sufficient note of racist motives', Lardot says.
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Malta starts issuing 'Malta only' visas for Libyan visitors
The Times of Malta, March 16, 2010
Malta has started issuing Malta-only visas for Libyan citizens, while it has formally called on four other EU countries to join it in issuing Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visas for as long as the visas stalemate between Schengen Area countries and Libya persists.
The Foreign Ministry said today that Foreign Minister Tonio Borg had over the past few hours had meetings with ambassadors of EU countries resident in Malta, where he briefed them about Malta's position and his talks in Tripoli last week with the Libyan Prime Minister.
Dr Borg said he would again raise the issue at the EU Foreign Ministers' meeting on Monday.
Malta, Dr Borg said, is proposing that the EU Mediterranean states should issue visas limited to their territories until the current dispute is settled.
He also formally made the proposal in letters to the foreign ministers of Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.
Dr Borg told the ministers that the current situation was leading to a serious rift in relations between the EU and Libya which would undermine the process of negotiations for an EU-Libya Framework Agreement.
It was in the EU's interest to continue to strengthen relations with Libya, particularly to safeguard progress achieved so far in areas such as the fight against illegal immigration and trade arrangements, Dr Borg said.
While Malta and other countries were continuing to seek a solution to the issue between Switzerland and Libya, an interim solution was urgently needed.
Dr Borg quoted from various provisions of the Schengen Agreement under which party states could issue visas with limited territorial validity 'on humanitarian grounds, for reasons of national interest, or because of international obligations' .
He told the ministers that given the exceptional circumstances in which the citizens of their countries had found themselves in when being denied access to Libya, Malta was proposing cooperation between the five EU countries in the form of limited territory visas.
He said that his talks in Tripoli showed that Libya would consider the issuing of such limited Schengen visas as a satisfactory solution.
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Education Ministry offers scholarships for Maltese living abroad
By Annaliza Borg
The Malta Independent, March 16, 2010
The Education Ministry yesterday proposed five scholarships per year for Maltese of the first, second and third generations living abroad and who have the necessary qualifications to read for a Bachelor of Education degree with a specialisation in Maltese.
Education Minister Dolores Cristina announced the scholarships yesterday during the second day of the Convention for Maltese living abroad. The Convention is being held at the Exchange Building in Valletta all week.
She explained the scholarships cover tuition fees as well as a stipend granted to Maltese citizens reading for the same degrees. Accommodation should not be a problem, she believed, as Maltese relatives will probably host students enthusiastically.
Minister Cristina said the government understood that Maltese living abroad often feel detached from their home land. She also applauded the Emigrants’ Commission’s initiative of setting up a Migration Museum.
She announced the Director for Social Services was in the concluding phases of signing a reciprocal agreement with New Zealand’s authorities on social security to protect Maltese people living there.
While acknowledging the work of Maltese language schools and non-governmental organisations, she listed proposals to help strengthen ties and particularly the dissemination of language.
For this reason, the government will be encouraging qualified Maltese people to teach the language in countries where Maltese people live and which have the necessary structures to support teaching.
Audio-visual productions on the Maltese language and its teaching will be produced and distributed to schools and Maltese organisations abroad with the help of the national council for Maltese language, the University of Malta and the Department for Curriculum Development within the Education Directorate. The Ministry promised it will be sending at least five publications a year.
It also proposed that the National Book Council helps mitigate expenses to send books abroad when a number of orders for the same publication are received.
She believed Maltese books of literature, cultural or folkloristic value should be recorded and sent abroad. Meanwhile, information technology could be put to better use for distance learning of Maltese language.
The history of Maltese migration as part of history classes will be considered in the revision of the national curriculum which is ongoing. The Minister also called for the University of Malta to consider the possibility of offering history of migration as a credit by the Faculty of Arts.
A number of other keynote speakers participated in the convention.
Mr Alfred Fenech spoke on maintaining Maltese culture and heritage in Australia through increased migration from Malta.
He explained the Maltese migrant community was rapidly ageing and 'basically dying out'. The average age of Maltese community was 60 while the general Australian average age was 36. This was mainly because very few migrants had created a living in Australia since the seventies.
'We must ensure that the Maltese language and culture continue to be a thread in the fabric of the Australian society,' said Mr Frank Scicluna, from Adelaide, Australia.
In presenting the Federation of Maltese Language Schools’ wish list, Mr Scicluna spoke of several problems they were facing, including lack of Maltese language teachers, the high costs of operating language schools and the declining number of students.
He therefore called for assistance from Malta.
Prof. Joe Friggieri spoke of better collaboration and shared learning with the use of the internet. He believed school children could create links with other students belonging to the same age groups, with the help of teachers to develop joint computer projects in any subject. This kind of collaboration could be extended to include people from all walks of life and belonging to different parts of the community.
Mark Caruana spoke of Maltese heritage in Australia while Dr Joseph Bezzina discussed Gozo’s cultural and folkloristic heritage towards niche tourism among migrants.
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Cabinet Votes to Invest NIS 450m in Reversing Brain Drain
By Maayana Miskin
Arutz Sheva (Israel), March 14, 2010
On Sunday, the cabinet approved a plan aimed at reversing 'brain drain' and luring scientists and academics back to Israel. The plan combines three projects:
* At an investment of NIS 450 million, the government will establish 30 academic centers, which will aim to hire young Israeli scientists and researchers currently living abroad.
* Israeli universities will combine Master's and Doctoral degrees in an attempt to synchronize with the American system.
* The Immigration and Absorption Ministry will create a database to aid returning scientists or potential immigrants with job placement.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the plan was inspired by a recent meeting with Israeli scientists working in American universities. The scientists told Steinitz they hoped to return to Israel, but were unable to find work in their fields due to the shortage of job openings for scientists.
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Ministry ordered to pay NIS 280,000 compensation to Ethiopian children removed from Arad preschool
By Or Kashti
Ha'aretz (Israel), March 14, 2010
The Be'er Sheva Magistrate's Court has ordered the Arad municipality and the Education Ministry to pay NIS 280,000 in compensation to five Ethiopian immigrant families whose children were removed from kindergartens during the school year. The authorities had argued that the ratio of immigrant to non-immigrant pupils was too high.
In his ruling last week, Judge Gad Gideon criticized the municipality's 'arbitrary decision' to remove the children from the kindergartens 'and its refusal to allow them back for many months.' The judge also criticized the Education Ministry for 'not doing enough to foil the [municipality's] decision.'
The court said the Arad municipality will pay two-thirds of the fine. Sources said yesterday that the Education Ministry was considering challenging the verdict.
'I am very happy we won the trial, after we were told there were too many Ethiopians in kindergartens,' said Adana Almayahu, one of the fathers who took legal action. 'We were treated like foreign workers. It was very humiliating.'
The suit was handled for the families by the nongovernmental organization Tebeka - Advocacy for Equality and Justice for Ethiopian Israelis.
The five children had emigrated with their families from Ethiopia in 2003-2004 and were settled in Arad. In September 2004 three of them were sent to pre-kindergarten and two to kindergarten, in institutions controlled by the religious state system.
A month later the municipality decided to remove 23 immigrant children, including those whose families had sued, from the kindergartens and send them to regular state kindergartens, against their parents' wishes.
The city argued that 'adding children who do not speak Hebrew means withdrawing the veteran children from the collective and moving them to Shas-controlled education systems,' Arad Mayor Motti Brill told the court at the time, referring to the ultra-Orthodox party.
However, not only did the immigrant parents request that their children go to religious schools, they were obligated to do so because they were undergoing a process of being 'restored to Judaism,' which meant that the families had committed to send their children to religious schools.
Due to their removal from the kindergartens, the children were essentially left out of school for five to seven months.
In his ruling, Judge Gideon wrote that the Arad municipality 'was negligent in its actions, and in its actions it discriminated against the plaintiffs because of their origins, even if this was done inadvertently. Consequently, it ought to pay compensation.'
The judge wrote that 'the point is that it is the parents' right to decide whether their children will be educated in a public school or a public religious school, a right that is enshrined in law. And regulations cannot be altered because of systemic, economic or other considerations of the authorities.
'The municipality did not evade its responsibility for damages to the plaintiffs and admitted its negligence' from the onset, the judge wrote.
Officials from the Education Ministry argued that the parents were also to blame because 'they opted to fight the municipality instead of accepting the alternative of sending their children to public school.'
The judge rejected this argument and said that 'it would have been to the benefit of the defendants not to have raised this.'
The court also rejected the Education Ministry's claims that it had done everything possible.
'The fact that the plaintiffs were left at home, against the law, and the fact that every day that passed added to their suffering should have led the Education Ministry to undertake effective and practical enforcement actions,' the court said.
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New emigration law coming, employers to register
By Manash Pratim Bhuyan and Ajay Kaul
The Press Trust of India, March 14, 2010
New Delhi, Mar 14 (PTI) Seeking to prevent exploitation of Indian workers abroad, the government is planning to make it mandatory for foreign employers from certain countries to register in India under a new Emigration Law.
The Emigration Bill that will replace the legislation of 1983 is expected to be introduced in Parliament during the ongoing Budget session.
The draft bill has been sent to various ministries including Law Ministry and Home Ministry for their comments and once the process is completed, it will be taken up by the Cabinet for consideration.
Under the new law, an Immigration Authority would be set up to oversee all the aspects related to movement of workers, mainly to Gulf countries and Malaysia.
'Foreign employers from notified countries will have to register with the authority,' Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told PTI in an interview.
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Work visa restrictions lifted?
Agence France Presse, March 15, 2010
Tokyo (AFP) -- Japan may lift work visa restrictions for foreign nurses and dentists, to help care for its fast-ageing and shrinking population, the government said on Monday.
The immigration bureau is considering a plan to abolish visa limits for hundreds of nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia that currently restrict them to working in Japan for only seven years. A bureau official said it may also soon invite nurses from other countries.
The changes may come as early as this month and as soon as the bureau formally endorses a new five-year policy plan, the official said. 'We are considering abolishing the limitation,' he said. 'As we are facing an era with a shrinking population, it is important to accept fresh blood from other Asian countries, which are growing rapidly.'
Japan may also lift a six-year work limit for foreign dentists after it already did so for overseas medical doctors in 2006, to ease a shortage, said the official.
Japan's population fell by about 75,000 in 2009, the biggest drop since World War II, while the country had a record 28.98 million people aged 65 or over last year, according to latest government data.
According to the immigration plan, Japan would also consider accepting foreigners who graduate from Japanese universities and other institutions with national nursing and other relevant qualifications.
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Filipino transexuals nabbed for illegally entering Japan
Agence France-Presse, March 16, 2010
Tokyo (AFP) -- Three Philippine nationals have been arrested in western Japan for entering the country on forged women's passports after undergoing sex change operations, local media reported on Tuesday.
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Jan. remittance growth likely topped 6% — BSP
The GMA TV News (Philippines), March 13, 2010
January remittance growth likely topped the full-year forecast as demand for skilled workers has risen in line with a global economic rebound, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) chief said on Friday.
'This year we are projecting 6% [growth] for the whole year, but [based on] the initial data I have seen it looks like the figure for January could be in excess of the projection for the year,' central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. told reporters at the sidelines of a Chamber of Thrift Bank forum on Friday.
Official remittance figures for the month will be released on Monday.
The amount of money sent home by migrant Filipinos barely moved in January last year. Remittances were up by only 0.1% to $1.26 billion and officials pointed to the global downturn as a factor. Overall, however, full-year remittances grew by 5.6% to $17.1 billion, exceeding the BSP’s projection of a 4% expansion.
On Friday, Mr. Tetangco said: 'We continue to experience demand for ... skilled workers like engineers, medical practitioners, teachers ... these workers are paid higher so they are able to remit more.'
The BSP chief added that local banks have also been more aggressive in opening remittance centers abroad and tying up with foreign partners, which is why a larger volume of overseas Filipino worker money is being coursed through formal channels.
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PM Kevin Rudd backtracks on mainland processing of boatpeople
By Mark Dodd
The Australian, March 17, 2010
Asylum seekers whose claims have not been finalised will be moved to the mainland, overturning the government's policy of insisting almost all claims be dealt with on Christmas Island.
The Australian understands asylum-seekers in the final stages of processing for refugee status could soon be moved from the island detention centre to Darwin for eventual resettlement.
There are now 1997 asylum-seekers on Christmas Island, leaving room for only 65 new arrivals.
But the government has ruled out any 'imminent plans to transfer hundreds of asylum-seekers to Darwin'.
Sources close to Border Protection Command also denied claims that two large boats carrying hundreds of asylum-seekers were about to arrive.
The new immigration ruling gives the government flexibility to continue offshore processing at the Christmas Island detention centre, which is now at bursting point.
Asylum-seeker policy dominated question time in federal parliament yesterday.
Under attack by Tony Abbott over his promise to take a 'very hard line on people-smuggling', Kevin Rudd replied that unauthorised boat arrivals had reached a peak under the Howard government.
'The highest number of boats arriving in Australia in any one year was, in fact, in the year 1999, when 3700 asylum-seekers arrived on 86 boats,' the Prime Minister said.
'The highest number of asylum-seekers arriving in Australia in any one year was in 2001 under the previous Howard government.
'This government will continue to implement a responsible policy - one which deals with the challenges that present themselves through global circumstances.
'We continue to maintain a policy which includes offshore processing, which includes mandatory detention, which includes stringent health, identity and security checks, which protects our national security and one in which we also act consistently with this country's international obligations.'
The opposition then moved for a debate on border protection failures, which was gagged by the government.
'They were super-sensitive to any criticism . . . it was a spirited, heated debate but it ended with the government using its numbers to shut it down,' opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison told The Australian.
In a related development, the government and the Australian Red Cross have signed an agreement formalising arrangements for the organisation to monitor immigration detention on Christmas Island.
The Red Cross would provide independent scrutiny to ensure people in detention were being treated fairly and reasonably and within the law, Immigration Minister Chris Evans said.
Christmas Island asylum seekers may be moved to Darwin, says O'Connor
By Joe Kelly
The Australian, March 16, 2010
More asylum seekers under Howard, says PM
By Emma Rodgers
The ABC News (Australia), March 16, 2010
PM branded 'a border protection sceptic'
The Australian Associated Press, March 16, 2010
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Opposition backs call for population inquiry
The ABC News (Australia), March 15, 2010
The Federal Opposition is supporting a call by the Greens for an independent national inquiry into Australia's population target.
The population is projected to reach 36 million by 2050 but the Greens say the nation cannot sustain that many people.
The Opposition's immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, says there should be an inquiry into how many people the nation can support.
'It's about what the carrying capacity is,' he said. 'We need to get that perspective from regional areas as well as metropolitan areas, where issues of congestion and housing affordability are major problems as well as public transport.
'What's more important, is the process for planning. For example, the states and territories have no input into questions of immigration and migration intakes but they're the ones at the end of the day that have to service the needs that are created by it.'
On Sunday, Greens Leader Bob Brown said he was writing to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this week to ask him to set up an inquiry into the issue.
'So that politicians do have an idea of the carrying capacity of this country, its infrastructure, its ability to deal with those quite worrying projections of 35 million people by 2050,' he said.
'We've got to do better than just say well let it happen.'
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College records hard to find
By Bernard Lane
The Australian, March 17, 2010
A private college that protested its vast storeroom made it 'nearly impossible' to find student records has been rebuked by a federal tribunal.
The Sydney-based International Institute of Business and Information Technology defended the accuracy of its attendance records before the tribunal while at the same time implying there was nothing to stop students changing them.
In a string of cases, the Migration Review Tribunal cited serious concerns about record-keeping and upheld challenges by fee-paying overseas students whose visas had been cancelled after the college reported them to immigration authorities for poor attendance.
The federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations had found grounds for concern in 14 of the 17 student cases it investigated in 2007-08, the tribunal said. Asked about any sanctions, the department yesterday said its policy was not to comment.
Surender Etikala, chief executive of the college's vocational education arm, said the concerns were news to him and the college had received a clean bill of health from NSW regulators as recently as this month. 'My records are in a good state, actually,' he said.
Universities and colleges have done lucrative business ever since the Howard government allowed students to stay in Australia after graduation and parlay their local qualifications into skilled migrant visas.
Courses at the IIBIT college include accounting, IT and English. It also delivers programs in partnership with Ballarat University in Sydney and Adelaide. The tribunal cases seen by the HES did not involve Ballarat students.
In a case last year involving a dispute about the accuracy of records, the college said attendance sheets 'are stored in a storeroom which is very vast and it is `nearly impossible' to get any particular student attendance from it', the tribunal said.
In another case, the college insisted its records were error-free but at the same time implied fakery by a student claiming good attendance.
The account given by the college was 'lacking in detail, confusing, contradictory and points to errors', the tribunal said.
Meanwhile, the tribunal said it had 48 cases affected by a Federal Court ruling this month on a defect in the legal machinery that allows automatic cancellation of the visas of students who fall behind in attendance or academic performance.
Sydney lawyer David Bitel said it was possible the Department of Immigration and Citizenship could use another method to cancel the visas.
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Immigration minister to decide sheik's fate
By Nicola Berkovic
The Australian, March 16, 2010
Immigration Minister Chris Evans is considering whether to allow Iranian sheik Mansour Leghaei to stay in Australia, after receiving a formal plea to intervene in the cleric's case.
Dr Leghaei has been given until Friday to leave the country or be deported. Senator Evans will review all evidence regarding Dr Leghaei's case, including any security assessments by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, before deciding whether to intervene in the case.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Senator Evans said he had received a formal request from Dr Leghaei to use his ministerial authority to intervene in his case.
. . .
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