Daily news updates from CIS
April 12, 2010
Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate
[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Amnesty initiative faltering on Capitol Hill (story, 2 links)
2. State Dept. reduces length of Mexican visas
3. Sen. Reid reiterates amnesty promise
4. McCain says loss to Obama weakened border
5. LSU study: Latino immigration has hurt black community (story, link)
6. CNN poll finds majority against easier 'pathways'
7. CA gubernatorial contest may turn on issue
8. GA English-only license exam measure stirs debate
9. AZ enforcement bill meets further resistance
10. AZ bill would fund volunteer enforcement group
11. Cost to TX city over enforcement dispute continues to grow
12. SC city deputies train in immigration enforcement
13. Multi-city protests press for amnesty (story, link)
14. Latinos grow in political influence in L.A.
15. Enforcement hawk activist seeks permission for border watch airstrip
16. Firms settles over $18m illegal-hire dispute (story, link)
17. IL businesses press 'reform' as stimulus
18. Infant fights for life as mother fights expulsion
19. DC educator strives hard for foreign students
20. Iraqis struggle to access ESL classes
21. Man credited with helping to subdue shoe bomber becomes citizen (link)
22. Rancher's death reignites intense border security debate (story, link)
23. Wife convicted of hiring hit man appeals decision (link)
24. Smugglers 'cloning' Border Patrol vehicles (link)
25. Missing, pregnant illegal found in detention (link)
26. Authorities nab several illegals on TX border (link)
27. Sheriff Arpaio to launch another sweep within three weeks (link)
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Immigration reform lessens in priority
By Michael Collins
The Ventura County Star (Camarillo, CA), April 9, 2010
Washington, DC -- Immigration reform advocates stood patiently in the background while the White House and Congress battled for a year over plans to redesign the nation’s health delivery system.
Now that healthcare reform is done, advocates have a message for President Barack Obama and federal lawmakers: No more delays. Get moving on immigration reform. Now.
'Immigration reform needs to happen; it needs to be comprehensive, and it needs to happen now,' said Gilbert Guevara, Ventura County district director for the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Some analysts, however, say Congress is unlikely to take on comprehensive immigration reform this year because lawmakers will be preoccupied with other matters, such as passing banking reform and reworking the No Child Left Behind school-reform law.
Another complication: This fall’s elections, which are expected to be brutal contests for many incumbents. Lawmakers may be unwilling to take on another bitterly divisive issue such as immigration reform when they are trying to persuade voters to return them to office.
'If we just didn’t have to have an election every two years, it would pass,' said Stephen Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. 'It’s this pesky election thing that seems to keep coming up.'
Last month, Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., released what they called a blueprint for immigration reform in an effort to get the issue back on lawmakers’ radar.
The senators called for a system for stepping up border security and enforcement, creating a process for allowing temporary workers into the country, requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs, and implementing what they said was a tough but fair path to legalization for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already here.
The senators have not yet put their proposals into formal legislation. Graham has been unable to find another Republican to sign onto the senators’ proposal, apparently dashing hopes for bipartisan reform.
Even Graham harbors doubts about getting immigration reform done. After Democrats shoved healthcare reform through on a fast-track procedure, Graham said, the bitter feelings left behind have pretty much killed any chance of immigration reform passing this year.
But supporters aren’t ready to give up just yet.
'We want to call on Congress and the president to uphold America’s tradition of accepting immigrants, and we want them to pass comprehensive reform as soon as possible,' Guevara said.
Supporters of immigration reform had high hopes when Obama came into office, 'particularly given the promises made to the Latino community and the immigrant rights community that he would address this in the first year of his administration,' said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles.
Since then, those same groups have watched in disappointment as immigration reform was placed on the back burner and the Obama administration worked with state and local officials to step up immigration enforcement, Hincapie said.
Patience is running out, Hincapie said, and Obama and congressional Democrats risk losing the support of the immigration rights community if they put off immigration reform again.
'There has been a growing frustration and a lot of fear, frankly, as a result of the growing anti-immigration sentiments in the country,' she said.
Rep. Lois Capps, a Santa Barbara Democrat, thinks it’s possible Congress could pass immigration reform this year. Congress has many other issues on its agenda, she said, 'but this is urgent as well.’’
'There’s no reason why we can’t push the different bills through,' Capps said.
Rep. Elton Gallegly, a Simi Valley Republican who is an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, said he would not be surprised if Democrats try to pass immigration reform this year.
'A year ago, if you had told me we would be trillions more in debt, more than any time in the history of the world, I would have said you’ve got to be out of your mind,' Gallegly said.'But I don’t rule out any attempt by this administration to try to pass any number of things.'
Gallegly has long opposed any efforts to grant citizenship to foreigners who entered the country illegally, and he said he would not support the proposal offered by Schumer and Graham.
'It is amnesty, no matter how you look at it,' he said.
Guevara said immigration rights groups are working with Capps and other supporters in Congress to get the issue moving and hope to eventually win over some Republicans.
GOP Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana, George Voinovich of Ohio and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas all are believed to be open to immigration reform and are being heavily courted by advocates who want to see the system fixed, Hincapie said.
As for Gallegly, 'we’re giving up on him,' Guevara said. 'I don’t think we are going to be able to convince him one way or another.’’
Hispanics skeptical that Obama, Democrats will deliver immigration overhaul
By Sandhya Somashekhar
The Washington Post, April 11, 2010
US Immigration Reform Legislation on Hold
By Chris Simkins
The Voice of America News, April 12, 2010
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Mexicans facing reduced U.S. visa limits
By David Hendricks
The San Antonion Express News, April 9, 2010
The State Department has quietly changed its policy on many of its visas for Mexicans, reducing the amount of time those visas are valid from the three to five years that had been common to one year.
The changes would apply mostly to visas for Mexicans who own, or want to own, businesses and houses here and who do not intend to immigrate.
San Antonio Immigration lawyer Nancy Shivers said the policy change, which caught immigration lawyers by surprise, applies to applications filed on or after Feb. 22.
'I found out about this when a client applied in March for a renewal of his E-2 visa that had been issued previously for five years,' said Shivers, a San Antonio immigration lawyer. 'The client's investment (in a U.S. business) has increased significantly, and I anticipated he would be issued a five-year E-2 visa. The client was told by the U.S. consul that the visa was being issued for only one year and that it was a new policy.'
Mexicans in the United States on E-1 and E-2 visas, which require putting their investment money at risk in U.S. businesses, will have to prove each year that their businesses are viable, said immigration lawyer John Meyer, partner in the Houston-based FosterQuan firm that operates a San Antonio office.
The change applies both to Mexicans seeking to come to the U.S. and to Mexicans already in the U.S. and seeking visa renewals.
Lawyers say the new policy increases hassles, as Mexicans already in the U.S. will have to visit a U.S. consulate in Mexico each year to renew their visas. It also increases the risk of denials and adds uncertainty for Mexicans about how long they can stay in the U.S.
New businesses often lose money the first year or two because of start-up costs, but can turn profitable in later years.
'There will be a higher risk of being denied,' Meyer said.
One visa holder agrees.
'I believe for sure this is going to make it harder to start up a business,' said one newly arrived Mexican business owner.
The man, who owns a textile manufacturing company in San Antonio, asked not to be identified for fear of jeopardizing future visa applications.
'This law seems to be focused on being more selective and to have more control over the people who obtain their visas and to avoid any attempt to reside in the United States with a different purpose than the visa specifically allows,' the man said.
Meyer said the change will upset Mexicans in the U.S., but not prevent them from coming, especially in the country's current state of violence.
'If there's a shootout down the street (in Mexico), Mexicans are not going to think, ‘Well, the United States gives visas for only one year, so I'm staying here,'' he said.
Some Mexicans are switching strategies, said another San Antonio immigration lawyer, Alfredo Lozano. Instead of pursuing visas requiring large business investments, they instead are applying for visas that lack those requirements because other visas are for one year anyway, Lozano said.
'If the business climate is good here, they are still going to come,' he added.
The State Department said the policy was changed to conform to the reciprocity agreement it has with Mexico. For years, Mexico's work visas for U.S. citizens were good for one year.
When Mexico recently decided to raise its visa fees for U.S. citizens, the U.S. State Department decided to remove the multi-year option from the visas it gives to Mexicans, a spokesman said.
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From Senate Majority Leader, a Promise to Take Up Immigration Overhaul
By Julia Preston
The New York Times, April 10, 2010
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, told an exuberant crowd at an immigration rally Saturday in Las Vegas that Congress would start work on an immigration overhaul as soon as lawmakers return this week from a recess.
'We’re going to come back, we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform now,' he said in a speech to more than 6,000 people, mostly immigrants, gathered downtown.
'We need to do this this year,' Mr. Reid said, drawing cheers from the crowd, which included many Latinos. 'We cannot wait.'
Mr. Reid surprised immigrants and advocates with his direct commitment to moving forward with legislation on the volatile issue, with the Senate already divided by the passage of a health care overhaul. Also, as a result of Justice John Paul Stevens’s announcement last week that he would retire, the Obama administration and the Senate will have to focus this summer on winning confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee.
The Democratic leader was nearing the end of a week of hard campaigning in his bid for re-election in Nevada, which is facing record unemployment and the nation’s highest foreclosure rate. After seeing small turnouts at several campaign stops, he appeared elated by the boisterous gathering in Las Vegas.
'We’re going to pass immigration reform, just as we passed health care reform,' Mr. Reid said in a five-minute speech. Latino voters, who strongly support an overhaul, were crucial to President Obama’s upset victory in the state in 2008.
The rally was the largest among demonstrations Saturday in seven cities nationwide, with immigrants pressing Congress and the administration to pass an overhaul bill this year.
Organizers said they planned the rallies, on the last weekend before lawmakers return to Washington after the Congressional recess, to follow up a big rally on March 21 on the Washington Mall. They are battling to keep immigration overhaul on Congress’s agenda, even as the political odds have appeared to worsen almost daily.
The demonstrations were tinged by growing criticism of the administration from immigrant groups and labor unions that support the overhaul. They say it has continued to pursue tough enforcement leading to thousands of deportations, but has made no progress on legislation to open a path to legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.
'I’m very unhappy with President Obama because he said this would be the first thing he did when he was elected,' said Rafael Lopez, 21, an immigrant living in Las Vegas. 'I’m worried because the Republicans are anti-immigrant,' he said, adding that he feared that Republicans could make important gains in the elections in November.
Mr. Reid told the crowd that he believes he has 56 votes in the Senate in support of the immigration legislation. 'We need a handful of Republicans,' he said, calling on immigrant groups to help mobilize support among them for the overhaul.
He outlined legislation that would include border security measures and a temporary guest worker program for future immigrants. To gain legal status, illegal immigrants would face 'a penalty and a fine, people will have to work, stay out of trouble, pay taxes, learn English,' he said. 'It’s not so bad, is it?' he asked the crowd.
Opponents of such legislation said yesterday that they thought the chances for passage of an overhaul remained slim while the country is facing high unemployment.
'It just doesn’t look very feasible as the next big thing,' said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, an organization that favors reduced immigration. 'I don’t think even Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are radical enough to go back to their districts and say American workers don’t have priority when it comes to American jobs.' Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, is the speaker of the House.
In Chicago, at a rally that drew more than 1,000 people, Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, the No. 2 leader in the Senate, echoed Mr. Reid’s promise to try to enact the overhaul this year. Speaking of President Obama’s role in pressing for health care legislation, Mr. Durbin said, 'We need that same determination and that same commitment to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.'
He said he would work to bring Republicans to support the legislation.
Senators Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, have been working on an immigration bill. Mr. Graham said recently that he did not believe there was sufficient support among Republicans to move forward.
'That is our challenge,' Mr. Durbin told the rally in Chicago, 'to bring together the Democratic voices as well as good-thinking Republicans to make this a reality of immigration reform. We can do this.'
More than one thousand people also turned out for a rally in Seattle, and there were smaller events in El Paso, New York City, Philadelphia, and Providence, R.I.
In the past week, some immigrant advocates had become openly angry with the Obama administration, saying its enforcement policies had led to thousands of deportations.
The advocates said they were reacting to news reports that agents were working to meet deportation quotas, even after senior immigration officials had said they were no longer guided by such numerical goals.
In several California cities, members of the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest labor organizations supporting immigration overhaul, protested Thursday and Friday in front of immigration agency offices.
Eliseo Medina, an executive vice president of the union, said the group had been expecting Mr. Obama to shift enforcement policy after the high-profile workplace raids of the Bush administration. But Mr. Medina said that thousands of immigrants in the union who do not have work authorization had been fired from jobs in recent months while deportations continued.
'It’s pretty clear that our optimism about a change of policy was misplaced,' Mr. Medina said in an interview. 'What they are doing makes no sense, so we are just basically mobilizing to fight back.'
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McCain: Inadequate border security a result of 2008 election loss to Obama
By Sean J. Miller
The Hill (Washington, DC), April 10, 2010
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) attributed Washington's failure to provide 'proper security' along the United States-Mexico border to his losing the 2008 presidential election.
McCain was asked about securing the border and providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants during an interview with the Arizona Daily Star.
'If I were president, I would have come forward with a proposal. And people keep coming to me and saying what's your proposal? I say look, I lost the election. Hello. You know, I'm reminded of that every day,' McCain said.
The Tucson paper's editorial board noted that he represents a border state affected by Washington's inaction.
'Yes. Yes. I do. But so does the senator from New Mexico and the senators from California and all the border states all along. But it seems to me that the proposal should come, it's the obligation of the president of the United States to come forward with what he thinks is a proposal and then maybe we can all work together and get it resolved,' he said.
'So what have I done?' he added. 'Not enough.'
Still, McCain said he expects to hold hearings on border security when the Senate reconvenes next week.
'We hopefully will get some better indication what the administration is going to do or not to or whatever their plans are,' he said. 'I do know that Janet Napolitano takes [the recent death of an Arizona rancher] very seriously, she is very concerned about it. They did say they were going to have like a mini surge of sending customs and border people down here. So she is not oblivious to the impact of this murder. And we have a very good relationship. Talk about partisanship, we have an excellent relationship. And I think she is doing a good job.'
McCain's primary opponent accused him of being unwilling to take action on border issues.
'As a Senator he holds the power to introduce bills, to bring solutions to problems, and to rally support,' former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) said in statement. 'I don't think he's powerless to get anything done, I think he's unwilling. He doesn't want to lose that darling status.'
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LSU Study: Latino Immigration Creates Problems In Black Community
Authors Link Influx of Hispanic Workers, Increase In Violence Among African-Americans
The WDSU News (New Orleans), April 12, 2010
Baton Rouge -- A study by an LSU sociology professor and doctoral student suggests the influx of Latino workers into a city increases unemployment and violence in the African-American community.
The findings are published in the journal 'Social Forces.'
Professor Edward Shihadeh and Ph.D. Candidate Raymond Barranco conclude the arrival of large numbers of immigrant workers in an urban area displaces blacks from low-skill jobs. That, in turn, leads to an uptick in violence.
'This is an unintended but significant result of immigration policies,' Shihadeh said. 'This is not a blame game. We do not advocate restricting the flow of Latino migrants in either direction.
'Our study simply describes how immigration policy opened a new chapter in the history of the U.S. labor market and how that harmed black communities.'
The study notes that Latino workers who enter the United States illegally are less likely to return home than in years past for fear they won't be able to get back across the border at a later time.
'Blacks and Latinos both feel singled out and put upon, but few will address these issues because they're politically explosive,' Shihadeh said. 'The public mood makes this subject a live wire.'
EDITOR’S NOTE: The journal can be found online at: http://socialforces.unc.edu/
LSU researchers publish immigration report
The Advocate (Baton Rouge), April 12, 2010
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Should path for citizenship be made easier for illegal immigrants?
The CNN News, April 12, 2010
Two-thirds of Americans don't want to make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, even though a slight majority is sympathetic towards their plight, according to a new poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday indicates that 66 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, with 33 percent disagreeing.
Forty-two percent of Democrats questioned say the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants should be made easier. That number drops to 33 percent for independents and 16 percent for Republican respondents.
'Virtually all major subgroups oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, at least in the abstract,' says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. 'Specific legislation that puts limits on the ability to gain citizenship has sometimes met with favor in the past if it restricts the number who can apply and penalizes them for staying in the country illegally. But the overall principle remains unpopular.'
According to the poll, 52 percent are sympathetic to illegal immigrants and their families, down five points from 2006, with 47 percent unsympathetic, up eight points from four years ago.
'There are minor demographic differences on the sympathy question,' says Holland. 'For example, women appear slightly more sympathetic than men. But the biggest difference is the partisan breakdown. Two-thirds of Democrats say they sympathize with illegal immigrants, compared to roughly half of Independents and only one in four Republicans.'
On Saturday, thousands of people attended rallies in several cities across the country to urge Congress to act quickly on immigration reform. Tens of thousands of people turned out last month for an immigration rally held at the National Mall in Washington. In a video message to that crowd, President Obama vowed he would do 'everything in my power' to get a bipartisan deal to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.
Then-President George W. Bush supported a bipartisan effort to overhaul U.S. immigration laws four years ago, proposing to set up a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million people currently in the United States without authorization.
But those measures were criticized as establishing 'amnesty' for illegal immigrants, and legislation Bush supported died with a Senate filibuster – one led by members of his own party but joined by more than a dozen Democrats.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted March 19-21, with 1,030 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
EDIOT'S NOTE: The poll synopsis is available online at: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/10/rel5o.pdf
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Governor's race could be about illegals
Social services issue surfaces 13 years after Prop. 187 killed
By Valerie Richardson
The Washington Times, April 12, 2010
Thirteen years after a federal judge struck down California's Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative banning social services for illegal immigrants, the measure has resurfaced as a top issue in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary.
State insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has used his support for the initiative to position himself as the stronger candidate on border security, emphasizing that he backed Proposition 187 - while his chief rival, former eBay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman, did not.
During a March 15 debate, he called for cutting off 'taxpayer-funded benefits for people who are here illegally. Meg doesn't want to go that far. I support Prop. 187 — she opposes it.'
Mrs. Whitman has said that she wouldn't have voted for Proposition 187 due to concerns over removing children from the public education and health care system. While she has made efforts to reach out to Hispanic voters, she is hardly conceding the immigration issue, coming out in favor of tougher border security and against sanctuary cities.
Even so, it's Mrs. Whitman who is drawing the wrath of Hispanic activists. Her decision to name former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson as her campaign chairman has inflamed Hispanic groups that still view the former governor as the face of the anti-illegal immigration movement.
During the 1994 campaign, Mr. Wilson was the most prominent supporter of Proposition 187, which passed with 59 percent of the vote. The measure was credited with helping Mr. Wilson win re-election against Democrat Kathleen Brown, the sister of former Gov. Jerry Brown, who is running for this year's Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
While Proposition 187 was never enacted, it became a rallying cry for Hispanic activists and was credited with triggering a jump in Democratic voter registration. Later, Democrats and even some Republicans blamed the initiative for the state GOP's subsequent downward spiral in legislative and statewide elections.
'Proposition 187 is the first thing Latinos think about when they think Pete Wilson,' said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Los Angeles. 'Anyone who was around in 1994, and even among young people, Pete Wilson continues to be the boogeyman.'
His role in the Whitman campaign suggests that 'she's either completely tone-deaf or she's decided she doesn't need Latinos to win the primary or the general election,' Mr. Vargas said. 'I find that very problematic for anyone who wants to lead the state of California.'
Given that one in three Californians is now Hispanic, he said, the Republican candidates may have miscalculated by placing so much emphasis on illegal immigration. But, at the same time, the issue remains crucial to conservative Republicans who dominate primary elections, not to mention the 'tea party' activists now swelling Republican ranks.
Barbara O'Connor, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at California State University at Sacramento, said the Whitman campaign undoubtedly weighed the pros and cons before choosing Mr. Wilson.
'She needs to prove herself with the establishment voters, and he brings a whole cadre of experience she lacks,' said Ms. O'Connor. 'And yes, it does incur the ire of Hispanic voters, but the question is, would they have voted for her anyway?'
She said that in a hypothetical matchup with Ms. Whitman, Mr. Brown is likely to grab the lion's share of the Hispanic vote in the general election. About 19 percent of California voters are Hispanic.
Meanwhile, Democrats have seized on the issue by demanding Mr. Wilson's ouster. A group called the Democratic Governors Association Non-Candidate Committee has launched a YouTube video and Web site calling for his removal.
'If Meg Whitman wants to earn the trust of California's Latinos, the right thing for her to do is send Pete Wilson packing,' says the ad.
No surprise there, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
'The Democrats have successfully turned him into a hate figure, so it made sense when she picked him that they were going to use it against her,' Mr. Krikorian said. 'The irony is that Pete Wilson is a moderate. He isn't a restrictionist by any stretch of the imagination.'
He added that cutting off most benefits to illegal immigrants remains popular in California and elsewhere. Ten states have passed laws restricting benefits to illegal immigrants since Proposition 187, according to the Poizner campaign.
'Proposition 187 would probably pass again if they put it on the ballot, especially if they took out the education component,' Mr. Krikorian said. 'So I'm not really sure Pete Wilson is the lightning rod for primary voters that the Democrat elites think he is.'
Poizner's illegal alien agenda faces limits
By Bob Egelko
The San Francisco Chronicle, April 9, 2010
Steve Poizner has a strong position against benefits for illegal immigrants in his campaign for governor. He's also got a fallback position whenever anyone asks how much of his agenda he could actually carry out if elected - most of his proposals, he says, are barred by laws that he'd like to change.
The state insurance commissioner, trailing Meg Whitman in the Republican primary campaign, is trying to appeal to his party's conservatives by stressing his opposition to illegal immigration. He's particularly reminding audiences of his whole-hearted support for Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative denying all state services, including public schooling, to illegal immigrants.
The only way to stop illegal immigration, Poizner declared during a March 15 debate, 'is to turn the magnets off by ending, once and for all, the taxpayer-funded benefits for people who are here illegally. Meg doesn't want to go that far. I support Prop. 187; she opposes it.'
'I'm going to be the truth-teller in this campaign. As governor, I'm going to stop illegal immigration once and for all,' Poizner told a cheering convention crowd March 13.
The state can no longer afford educational and health care benefits for illegal immigrants, he told The Chronicle a few days later. At various times he's estimated California's subsidies for the undocumented at $4 billion to $6 billion, and at $10 billion.
What Poizner didn't say on those occasions was that a governor can't do much about immigration, and can't do anything to remove immigrant children, legal or not, from public schools.
Prop. 187's restrictions never took effect because a federal judge ruled that the initiative interfered with exclusive federal regulation of immigration. And in 1982 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Texas case that states must educate all children, regardless of immigration status.
More modest moves
When asked what actions he could take within the law, Poizner speaks more modestly, as he did at a March 12 news conference.
'There's certain federal laws that we have to follow, and of course the governor can't change those,' he said. 'There's federal laws that require providing a seat for every student. ... There's also federal laws about providing emergency care to people, no matter what.'
The state, Poizner said, could eliminate some optional benefits, like California's in-state tuition for illegal immigrants attending public colleges, and some health benefits that other states have dropped.
That would save the state $109 million a year it now spends on nonemergency Medi-Cal services for undocumented immigrants, mostly for prenatal care, and perhaps another $20 million to $30 million on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who attend California high schools and move on to a public college.
Poizner has also promised, on his campaign Web site, to deploy California's National Guard along with other states' 'to secure the southern border,' and to withhold state funds from cities like San Francisco whose 'sanctuary' policies forbid reporting suspected illegal immigrants to federal authorities.
Those changes are not clearly illegal or beyond a state's authority. Yet on a television ad his campaign launched March 23, Poizner promises simply to 'stop taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants,' without distinguishing between benefits he could lawfully end and those he couldn't.
So is the candidate misleading campaign audiences by making promises he knows he can't keep?
Not at all, said campaign spokeswoman Bettina Inclan. 'Steve has been consistent with his message,' she said, describing his plan as 'a constitutionally viable version of Prop. 187.'
Working with Congress
Lanhee Chen, the campaign's policy director, said Poizner as governor would work with Congress to clarify federal immigration law and see whether there's a way to revive some of Prop. 187, including its ban on public schooling.
Poizner's attempt to use the immigration issue to boost his campaign angered Los Angeles attorney Peter Schey, who represented immigrants in the successful challenges to both Prop. 187 and the Texas public school ban.
'Most of his anti-immigrant promises are vacuous, empty promises that he knows he couldn't fulfill,' Schey said. 'But he knows they press buttons of racism and fear and xenophobia during the economic downturn.'
Whitman, meanwhile, has staked out her own position, saying she is tough on illegal immigration but opposes withholding services from children. She also cites Poizner's praise in 2008 for the immigration stance of President George W. Bush, who had proposed allowing many illegal immigrants to gain legal status.
A Poizner ad quotes comments from Whitman in October that endorsed 'a path to legalization' for illegal immigrants who paid a fine and took other steps to qualify for residency.
That's actually also the view of two-thirds of Californians, according to a Los Angeles Times-USC poll released this week that indicated a shift in public attitudes since the passage of Prop. 187 in 1994. Another recent survey, by the Public Policy Institute of California, also raised questions about immigration as a game-changer in this year's campaign.
That poll asked likely voters to name their most important issue. Only 3 percent chose illegal immigration.
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English-only driver's test bill stirs up debate
By Kate Brumback
The Associated Press, April 11, 2010
Atlanta (AP) -- Supporters of a bill before the Georgia Legislature that would require that driver's license exams be given only in English say the measure would improve public safety, but opponents say it discriminates against legal immigrants.
The bill's sponsor, Republican state Sen. Jack Murphy, chairman of the public safety committee, says drivers need to have at least a basic knowledge of English so they can read roadside warnings and communicate with police in an emergency. Immigrant rights and civil liberties groups say the law has so many exceptions that it instead would discourage potential foreign investment.
'The opponents of this bill are trying to paint this as a discrimination bill, which is not true,' Murphy told The Associated Press. 'It's a public safety issue.'
Georgia's current law requires applicants to take the driving test and road signs test in English. But the written test is offered in 12 other languages, said Susan Sports of the Department of Driver Services. The agency doesn't track the number of tests taken each year in different languages and currently has no plans to add any other languages, she said.
The proposed law would apply only to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, but those with non-immigrant visas — for example, students or people here on business — would still be able to take the written test in one of the other languages. The law does not affect illegal immigrants because they aren't eligible for a driver's license.
'This is an economic development killer for the state of Georgia,' said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Alliance of Latino Elected Officials. 'This bill is about open hostility toward legal immigrants. It is open xenophobia.'
Gonzalez was one of about two dozen representatives of immigrant rights, civil liberties, religious and refugee resettlement groups who spoke at a news conference protesting the legislation Wednesday at the Capitol.
In 2008, the most recent year for which numbers are available, the number of nonimmigrant visas granted for people coming to Georgia was 474,429, more than double the number of legal permanent residents at the time, estimated at 220,000. Under the proposal, the former would be allowed to take the written driver's license test in another language and to obtain a temporary driver's license valid for the duration of their visa, while the latter would have to take the test in English.
There's no data to indicate how many of those nonimmigrant visa holders or legal permanent residents or how many U.S. citizens living in Georgia are not proficient in English.
The law also allows native English speakers who are illiterate to have the test read out loud to them.
'The exemptions themselves undermine any public safety concerns that Sen. Murphy has raised,' Gonzales said.
Murphy said that most English speakers who are illiterate can decipher basic sentences and would likely be able to read warning signs over the highway, but he acknowledges the exception allowing temporary residents who aren't proficient in English to drive is a problem.
'It is dangerous, but we can't just cut off temporary licenses,' he said, adding that requiring legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens to understand enough English to take the test would at least reduce the number of drivers on the road who aren't proficient in English.
'We had to have exceptions to get the bill passed,' said Phil Kent, a board member of Arlington, Va.-based ProEnglish, which advocates English as the official language. 'Is it a perfect bill? No. But is it a good bill? Yes.'
Georgia is one of several states considering such legislation. A similar bill with similar exceptions is making its way through the legislature in neighboring Tennessee. The Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga chambers of commerce have come out against that bill, saying in a letter to lawmakers that it would send a message that the state is unwelcoming to foreigners. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce declined to comment on the bill.
A similar bill passed both houses of the legislature last year, but time ran out before the two chambers were able to hash out minor differences. This year's version passed the Senate by a vote of 39-11 last month, and Murphy said he is confident differences have been ironed out and the bill will make it to the governor's desk this year.
Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue hasn't said whether he would sign the bill.
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Two Lawmakers Question Details of Immigration Bill
The Associated Press, April 11, 2010
Phoenix (AP) -- A proposal at the Arizona Legislature that would draw local authorities deeper into the fight against illegal immigration has been met with skepticism by a pair of lawmakers who questioned whether it would violate freedom of association rights.
Their questions arose last week over a provision that would make it illegal for people to transport illegal immigrants if the drivers of vehicles know their passengers are in the country illegally and if the transportation furthers their illegal presence in the country.
Two lawmakers questioned whether a driver who brings people to church or parents who give rides to their child’s friends would be committing a crime if their passengers were illegal immigrants. 'It is basically asking Arizona citizens to check your friends’ papers,' said Republican Rep. Adam Driggs of Phoenix, an attorney who has expertise in immigration law.
The proposal also would ban so-called soft immigration policies at local police agencies, create the state crime of willfully failing to complete or carry an immigrant registration document, and prohibit people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on street corners.
The bill won approval in February from the Senate, but its momentum has slowed in the House. It’s not clear whether the questions raised by Driggs and others will hurt the bill’s chances of becoming law.
Supporters of the proposal said the criticism made by Driggs is incorrect and that the bill will be changed in the coming days to respond to those concerns. 'This is overreaching on their part,' said Republican Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, the bill’s sponsor.
Pearce said the change would specify that drivers would be committing the crime of transporting illegal immigrants if they furthered the illegal presence of their passengers and if the drivers were engaged in criminal activity.
Republican Rep. Cecil Ash of Mesa, who raised the question about transporting people to church, said he will vote for the bill if it’s changed to ease his concerns.
Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, an opponent of the measure, said there are a fair number of lawmakers from both parties who have objections to the bill, but she doesn’t know if those concerns were enough to sink it.
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Bill would put border volunteers in Cochise
By Tim Steller
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), April 10, 2010
A new measure introduced by State Sen. Al Melvin would give Cochise County $200,000 to send 'a volunteer security force to the United States-Mexico border.'
Melvin, a Tucson Republican, introduced the bill, which would also establish a 'border security commission' as part of a strike-all amendment, meaning it replaces a bill introduced earlier and doesn't go through as many steps of consideration.
'There are many of us, including me, who would like to see the concept of the Minutemen come back. I think there's a way to make it work,' Melvin said Friday in explaining the effort to establish a volunteer force.
Under the bill, the $200,000 would be taken from the state's 'Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission' task force. It would be distributed to the Cochise County Sheriff's Office for equipping and establishing a pilot program using volunteers on the border.
Told of the proposal Friday afternoon, Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said he hadn't heard of it and isn't sure whether he'd support it. But, he added, 'I always have been all for a well-trained, well-regulated reserve organization.'
Sen. Paula Aboud, a Tucson Democrat, was the only member to vote against the measure in the Senate Appropriations Commit-tee this week. She opposes the creation of what she calls 'a posse, or a vigilante group.'
'You have to be so careful when you're bringing volunteers in to do the work of the state,' she said Friday. 'You take a huge risk in terms of liability of the state' in case one of the volunteers acts inappropriately or commits a crime.
The amendment would also create a border-security commission, whose conclusions are largely predetermined. The commission would be made up of 16 members, including state appointees and federal-agency representatives, and would be assigned to meet monthly. The measure also requires certain conclusions from the commission, among them:
* To recommend the establishment of 12 forward operating bases along the Arizona-Mexico border between the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation and New Mexico.
* To recommend the immediate deployment of operational units of the United States military to Arizona's border with Mexico.
* To recommend the addition of 3,000 more U.S. Border Patrol agents in Arizona.
Aboud found that procedure strange.
'Typically you create a commission and you ask them to study something. He's creating a commission and telling them what to do,' she said.
But Melvin argued that such recommendations are a way give the commission a head start, so it's not just another do-nothing task force.
'We wanted to put some teeth in it,' he said.
Aboud also criticized the fact that the bill arose as a strike-all amendment, which didn't allow, she said, for adequate deliberation.
'This is an emotionally charged plan,' she said.
But Melvin said he worked that way because he wants to get the bill passed before the approaching end of the session. He acknowledged working with the Arizona Cattlemen's Association, state Sen. Russell Pearce and others to put the bill together in the wake of the March 27 killing of border-area rancher Robert Krentz.
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Farmers Branch legal costs rise in immigration fight
By Dianne Solis
The Dallas Morning News, April 10, 2010
Legal fees continue to climb over the Farmers Branch ordinance regulating rentals to illegal immigrants.
The Bickel & Brewer Storefront law firm submitted a bill for $850,000 this week in federal court for its share of costs in the successful challenge to the constitutionality of the ordinance. A second legal team is expected to submit a bill for a similar sum this month.
Already, Farmers Branch has spent about $3.2 million to defend itself since September 2006, when it launched the first of three ordinances. The city has budgeted $623,000 for legal expenses through the rest of the fiscal year related to the ordinance defense.
The city also has been sued in state court for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act involving the crafting of the ordinance.
That means legal costs on immigration ordinances could exceed $5 million by the end of the 2010 fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Farmers Branch Mayor Tim O'Hare called the latest bill from the Bickel & Brewer firm 'ridiculously inflated.'
He said the City Council would probably take a vote on whether to appeal the latest federal court ruling at its April 20 meeting.
'This matter is far from over,' O'Hare said.
Bill Brewer, whose firm first challenged the ordinance, said the city should give up the fight.
'They already owe $3 million just to their cavalcade of lawyers, who keep getting it wrong. It is clearly 'OPM' for O'Hare,' Brewer said, defining his acronym as 'other people's money.'
Window for appeal
The city's annual budget is about $96 million, including a $44 million general fund.
Farmers Branch has a population of about 26,000, according to a Census Bureau estimate for 2008, and about 28 percent of that population is foreign-born. The Census Bureau doesn't ask who is in the country illegally.
Farmers Branch has 30 days to appeal the March 25 ruling by U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle of Dallas. It was the second Dallas federal court decision against a version of the ordinance.
Boyle ruled that U.S. immigration laws can only be enforced by the federal government and wrote that the Farmers Branch ordinance was an attempt by a local government to regulate immigration.
The fight has injected the city into a national debate over who will regulate illegal immigration. The city of Farmers Branch has been assisted by the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Washington-based advocacy group supports restrictions on both illegal and legal immigration. It said it is providing its legal services to the city pro bono in the current lawsuit, said Mike Hethmon, general counsel of the law affiliate.
A similar fight over a rental ordinance is on in Hazleton, Pa., which has a population of 22,000. Hazleton also has been assisted by FAIR and its legal affiliate.
The Hazleton ordinance also was struck down in the lower courts and oral arguments were heard in October 2008 before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
O'Hare said he has his doubts as to whether the 3rd Circuit will back the Hazleton ordinance. A better chance of winning an immigration-related case can be had in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which would handle a Farmers Branch appeal, he said.
'The difference in the political climate in the 3rd Circuit compared to the 5th Circuit is pretty wide,' O'Hare said.
In May 2007, the City Council put one version of the ordinance to a vote. Nearly 6,000 cast ballots and supported the measure by a 2-1 ratio. The city also started a legal fund to defray legal costs. As of March 1, the fund had $43,460.
Still to come is the bundled bill from lawyers of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas, and the National ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.
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6 deputies trained in immigration law
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), April 12, 2010
Six Charleston County sheriff's deputies were among 13 law enforcement officers to complete training in the enforcement of immigration laws, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
By Thursday, the Charleston County Sheriff's Office plans to have deputies capable of determining the immigration status of those at the county jail and initiating removal proceedings for those here illegally.
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Thousands rally for immigration reform across US
The Associated Press, April 11, 2010
Las Vegas (AP) -- Thousands of people rallied Saturday in several cities in a bid to urge Congress to act swiftly on immigration reform.
Outside a federal building in Las Vegas, demonstrators cheered Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who told them they're committed to making immigration reform a top priority. In the crowd, activists waved American flags while others held signs with slogans such as 'Stop Tearing Our Families Apart,' 'Reform Now' and 'Workers, Taxpayers, Voters.'
Reid, fresh from the recent health care reform fight and facing a tough re-election campaign of his own, told the crowd that there's urgency to pass immigration reform legislation, which would include border security and a guest worker program for seasonal workers.
Demonstrators also cheered Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who has introduced immigration reform legislation that includes the path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants.
'We're looking forward to the bill being introduced in the Senate and to Sen. Reid to help push it through the Senate,' said Shu Ohno of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign. 'We believe immigration reform is a necessary component of economic recovery.'
Police estimated the crowd at the three-hour rally at roughly 3,500, while organizers said put the figure at 10,000.
In Seattle, thousands gathered at Occidental Park, where U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray addressed the crowd by video and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was speaking in person. In Chicago, more than 1,000 activists attended a rally on the city's West Side calling for reform.
Lawmakers failed to agree in 2006 and 2007 when they last tried to overhaul the immigration system.
Last month, tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied and marched through the streets of Washington in an effort to prod congressional action on immigration reform.
In Pioneer Square, thousands rally for changes in immigration
Waving little American flags and chanting in Spanish and English, thousands of people rallied for a comprehensive change in the way the nation deals with immigration at a boisterous rally in Pioneer Square Saturday.
By Katherine Long
The Seattle Times, April 10, 2010
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Latino power comes full circle in L.A.
Once there was only Edward Roybal in a position of power. Today, as it did long ago, authority rests in many Latino hands.
By Cathleen Decker
The Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2010
The announcement last week that Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio will replace Cardinal Roger Mahony as head of the local Catholic diocese capped an assertion of power on the part of Latinos in Los Angeles that is remarkable in its seeming speed.
For decades, only one Latino held unquestioned public power: Edward R. Roybal, the first Latino to win a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. He spent 13 years there, then moved to Congress to serve 30 years, most of that time as the region's only Latino representative.
Now the power positions held by Latinos in the Los Angeles area are multiple and manifest. Besides the Mexico-born archbishop, who is in line to become the first U.S. prelate of Latino heritage to become a cardinal, there is the mayor. The speaker of the Assembly. The sheriff. A county supervisor. Several members of the City Council, of Congress, of the Legislature, of the Los Angeles school board. The head of the most influential civic entity, organized labor.
'It is coming full circle,' said UC Berkeley associate professor Lisa García Bedolla, the author of two books on Latino politics. 'That's what Los Angeles looked like before becoming part of the United States.'
It is hardly accidental, however. The moves to the top in politics and other endeavors have required equal parts population shifts, hard-fought legal pursuit and political strategizing.
Population numbers are only the most obvious propellant for the ambitions of both the community and its leaders.
In 1960, according to a USC demographic study, fewer than 10% of the people in the Los Angeles County area were Latino. By 2008, according to federal census estimates, almost half were Latino. Roughly the same was true in the city of Los Angeles.
While trailing the population levels -- because of lagging citizenship numbers -- the ranks of Latino voters also swelled over those decades.
But their efforts to win elections were thwarted by political lines drawn to diminish their heft. In the mid-1980s, legal challenges began to chip away at those hurdles. First came a legal assault on the Los Angeles City Council's district boundaries, which led to the creation of what was called at the time a 'Latino district.'
Next came a federal court fight over the Board of Supervisors. A judge ultimately decided that the board had drawn its lines to intentionally discriminate against Latinos. The judge's ruling led directly to the election, in early 1991, of Gloria Molina to the board.
As inspiring to the community as the two legal moves were, however, they essentially accounted for a single seat each. A more prosaic development, term limits, would ultimately do far more, according to García Bedolla.
Beyond the churning of legislative and council seats was the coincident rise of organized labor as a factor benefiting Latinos and other minority candidates. Miguel Contreras, who took over the county labor federation in 1996, ran it like a powerhouse until his death in 2005. His widow and fellow union leader, Maria Elena Durazo, now heads the labor organization.
'They explicitly included immigrants . . . [which] made the Latino community a political force in progressive politics in a way they hadn't been before,' García Bedolla said.
A conspiring assist came, at the same time, from the non-Latino head of the local Catholic Church. Mahony had made a name as a friend of immigrants and Latinos before he arrived in Los Angeles in 1985. As the Latino population of the area swelled, he waded into a host of civic entanglements on their behalf.
He publicly defended janitors during a nasty strike. He came out early and forcefully against Proposition 187, the 1994 measure to strip state services from illegal immigrants. (It passed overwhelmingly but was largely struck down by the courts.)
Kenneth Burt, the author of 'The Search for a Civic Voice,' a history of California Latino politics, credited Mahony for keeping peace in Los Angeles between groups seeking power and those afraid of losing it.
'He had a tremendous impact in empowering the Latino community and in sending a powerful signal that the rise of Latinos should not be seen as a threat,' he said. 'Even though he's Irish, he's the first Latino cardinal in spirit.'
All told, the taking of power has been stunning in its breadth. A Loyola Marymount University study of the top 100 elected positions in Los Angeles from 1959 to 2009 found that for years, only one man -- Roybal -- made the list. The numbers increased only gradually until 1991, when altered political lines and long-thwarted ambition pushed the percentage of Latino seats to 18%. By last year, 33% were held by Latinos.
More subtle, perhaps, has been the more or less tranquil way that change has been accomplished. Although there have been periods of contention, the flow of power from whites and blacks to Latinos has happened with far less gnashing than might have been expected years ago.
In part, that is because both politicians and interest groups have worked at it. Los Angeles' mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, won election in his second attempt by attracting African American voters to go along with the Latino and Jewish voters who had earlier supported him. One of the main forces behind the career of former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, an African American now running for Congress, has been the Latino-dominated labor movement.
Still, tensions are never far from view. The Republican primary for governor is currently aboil with the subject of illegal immigration, a perennial flash point. Although so far the issue has been of little consequence in the campaign, its presence suggests that some element of the public remains uncomfortable.
'I don't think you can get rid of so many decades of that competition and animosity quickly,' said García Bedolla. 'I think it's going to be a while before we stop having that sense that anything that is good for me is bad for you.'
Burt, who is the political director for the California Federation of Teachers, pointed to a continued backlash against President Obama and the illegal immigration ads as indications that tension persists.
'Much of society is beyond that point, but the transition is not complete,' he said. That said, he added, 'Los Angeles has transitioned a lot better than I'd thought.'
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Airstrip worries Border Patrol, residents
Planning and Zoning Commission to consider several permit requests
By Shar Porier
The Sierra Vista Herald/Review, April 11, 2010
Bisbee, AZ -- A request for a special use permit to legitimize facilities for a man who operates a border watch group in Palominas may face stiff opposition from surrounding neighbors and community residents.
Glen Spencer will go before the county Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday and explain why he did not seek a permit for an existing 70-by-1,200-foot private airstrip, a 3,000-square-foot office/shop and a 900-square-foot hangar when they were constructed.
Spencer, of the American Border Patrol, is well know in the county for his efforts, keeping a close watch on the section of border along his 61-acre parcel on Apache Sky Road through sensors, video cameras, ultra-light aircraft and even remote-controlled planes.
The American Border Patrol is a non-governmental organization.
The Border Patrol has expressed concern that the airstrip could 'cause confusion and draw resources away from curbing illegal activity along the border … there has been an increase of illicit aerial activity crossing into the United States along a good portion of the international border in southern Arizona.' BP asks that Spencer let the authorities know when flights are planned.
'I am not comfortable with having an almost 1,000-pound air vehicle operating in such close proximity to my property,' writes Thomas Kelly in a letter of opposition. 'My concerns include: safety, privacy, and chemical and noise pollution.'
A letter of opposition from Randy Garland states, '… This neighbor is a threat to his surrounding neighbors … we are subject to his cameras mounted high above his roof line invading our privacy … These individuals who hide and profit from this online want-to-be border watchers are only interfering with the professionals from completing their missions.'
Other concerns are increased aerial activity, disturbance of wildlife, invasion of privacy, disruption of peace and loss of property value. Thirteen residents have notified the county of their opposition and two approve of the request. Therefore, staff has recommended denial of Spencer’s request.
New Tribes Mission Aviation in McNeal plans to construct a gymnasium, a six-bedroom guest house and six single-family residences to house pilots, employees and volunteers on a 640-acre
parcel. New Tribes runs aviation training sessions for pilots who perform mission work in other countries.
With six letters of support, the staff is recommending approval.
Still another request for a special use permit seeks to legitimize a mini-warehouse/self-storage facility with RV storage on 2.1 acres in Bisbee on Taylor Road run by Christopher Borchard.
The commissioners will also discuss a special use permit for an agricultural metal fabrication and welding operation on Shelton Road in Kansas Settlement. Planner Keith Dennis states in documentation, the business operates in an existing 1,297-square-foot Quonset building, but Daniel Doberstein wants to expand the business with a 3,200-square-foot building, a 320-square-foot office building and a 405-square-foot storage container. Staff recommends the commissioners grant the permit.
J.C. Mutchler is requesting a special use permit to operate a goat-cheese production business on a 40-acre parcel on Triple Ranch Road in Palominas. He also plans to install two 55-foot-tall wind turbines. Dennis recommends approval.
Lastly, commissioners will go over the hazard abatement ordinance changes dealing with public health hazards, who pays for the remedy and ways to recoup money spent on clean-up. The changes cover the removal process for properties with rubbish, trash, weeds, filth, debris and dilapidated buildings.
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Mohawk lawsuit settled for $18 million
The Dalton Daily Citizen (GA), April 9, 2010
Calhoun, GA -- After battling in court for six years, Mohawk Industries and attorneys for current and former employees who sued the firm claiming their wages were depressed by the hiring of illegal workers have settled the suit for $18 million.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs will seek a third of that award, according to Howard Foster, one of those attorneys.
Approximately 48,000 former and current hourly-paid Mohawk employees will be able to file claims from the remaining portion of the fund. Foster said they will receive a claim form in the mail.
'If they are a legal worker, they will receive a portion of the settlement fund depending on the number of hours they worked at Mohawk during the class period,' he said. 'The longer you worked, the more you’ll get back.'
If 48,000 workers divide $12 million, that would work out to an average of $250 per worker.
The majority of the settlement funds will be contributed by Zurich American Insurance Co., Mohawk's insurance carrier. Mohawk has also agreed to conduct training regarding the verification of employment eligibility.
Mohawk did not admit to any of the plaintiffs’ claims.
'Mohawk is pleased to have reached a settlement that allows the company to put behind it the expense and distraction associated with this case,' said company attorney Juan Morillo in a press release. 'Mohawk has always trained its employees to comply with the immigration and workplace laws, and this settlement affirms the company’s commitment to a continued culture of compliance.'
Foster said he is pleased with the results of the case.
'The class will receive significant monetary relief and the company has agreed to train its personnel regarding the verification of employment eligibility,' he said in the press release.
A Mohawk official said he could not elaborate beyond what was in the joint press release.
U.S. District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy in Rome will now be asked to preliminarily approve the settlement. Attorneys for both sides said they are confident the settlement should be approved. Upon preliminary approval, notice of the settlement will be mailed to the class members, and Murphy will then hold a hearing to consider final approval of the settlement.
Mohawk shares ended Friday at $55.12, up $1.16.
Mohawk Industries Inc. and a proposed class of plaintiffs have reached a settlement agreement in a six-year old lawsuit that was filed in federal district court in Rome in 2004 and heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006.
The plaintiffs are legally-authorized, hourly-paid workers who alleged that their wages at Mohawk’s facilities in Northwest Georgia were depressed by the hiring of illegal immigrants. The settlement entitles approximately 48,000 former and current hourly-paid Mohawk employees to claim awards from an $18 million settlement fund. Mohawk is responsible for contributing a portion of the settlement funds, and the majority of the funds will be contributed by Zurich American Insurance Co., Mohawk's insurance carrier. Mohawk has also agreed to conduct training regarding the verification of employment eligibility.
In commenting on the settlement agreement, Mohawk's attorney Juan Morillo said, 'Mohawk is pleased to have reached a settlement that allows the company to put behind it the expense and distraction associated with this case.' In settling the case, Mohawk does not admit any of the plaintiffs' allegations of wrongdoing.'Mohawk has always trained its employees to comply with the immigration and workplace laws, and this settlement affirms the company's commitment to a continued culture of compliance,' Morillo commented. 'Mohawk has provided and continues to provide good jobs with great benefits to tens of thousands of workers in Georgia and elsewhere,' said Morillo.
Howard Foster of Foster P.C. in Chicago, who argued the employees’ case in the Supreme Court, said, 'We consider this a hard-fought case and are pleased with the settlement for the class. The class will receive significant monetary relief and the company has agreed to train its personnel regarding the verification of employment eligibility.' Class counsel John Floyd added, 'This settlement would not be possible without the efforts of the of law firms that represented the plaintiffs, Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP; Cook & Connelly; Johnson & Bell, Ltd.; Foster PC; and Matthew D. Thames, Attorney-at-Law, LLC.'
Foster noted the lengthy procedural history of the case, which included three years of litigation to resolve Mohawk’s appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy’s 2004 ruling that the plaintiffs stated a claim under the federal and Georgia RICO laws. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed that ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case in 2006. The Supreme Court ultimately returned the case to the Eleventh Circuit, which ruled that the plaintiffs could proceed in 2007.
The parties then undertook discovery on whether the case should be granted class action status. In 2008, Judge Murphy denied the plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification, precluding the proposed class of employees from obtaining relief in this case. The Eleventh Circuit accepted the plaintiffs’ request to review that decision, and in May 2009, vacated the decision denying class certification and sent the case back to Judge Murphy to reconsider the question of class certification. Settlement discussions occurred after the two sides agreed on a mediator. The parties reached agreement on the terms of a settlement in December 2009 at the federal courthouse in Rome and then prepared a settlement agreement.
Judge Murphy will now be asked to preliminarily approve the settlement. Mohawk and class counsel are confident that that the settlement should be approved. Upon preliminary approval, notice of the settlement will be mailed to the class members, and the court will then hold a hearing to consider final approval of the settlement.
Mohawk settles workers' suit for $18 million
By Péralte C. Paul
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 9, 2010
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Illinois businesses push for immigration reform to boost economy
By Brianna McClane
The Medill Reports (Northwestern University, Chicago), April 9, 2010
The pursuit of life, liberty and a steady paycheck is what brings immigrants to this country -- 12 million of those are here illegally.
To deal with that problem, more than 200 Illinois businesses are forming the first business organization to support comprehensive immigration reform as a step toward a better economy and fulfillment of the American Dream.
'This is America, this is a nation that was built on immigrants,' former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar said Thursday at the launch of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition. 'If we had had the current immigration policy in place for the last 200 years, most of us, including me, would not be here.'
The coalition says the U.S. would generate $1.5 trillion through immigration reform, such as providing a path to citizenship, while mass deportation would cost $2.6 trillion. Illinois would spend $11.4 billion deporting the undocumented workers who make up 5 percent of the metropolitan Chicago workforce.
'Never in the history of the world, no matter how ruthless the dictator has been, have you moved 12 million people out of one country into another,' Edgar said, 'and I don’t think America wants to have that distinction.'
A second-generation immigrant in the crowd Thursday illustrates Edgar’s point.
Rodolfo Alvarez immigrated from Mexico 40 years ago, 20 years after his father came to America. A member of the Pilsen 'Together' Chamber of Commerce, Alvarez believes immigration reform will generate revenue because of taxes and citizenship application fees.
'Believe me that everybody’s going to be willing to pay whatever amount of money to become legal,' he said.
As for Americans who worry about immigrant competition in a time of job shortages, immigrants take jobs most Americans don’t want, Edgar said, but immigrants won’t stay in these entry-level positions as they search for the American dream.
'This issue will help stimulate the economy,' Edgar said. 'They will create businesses and create jobs for other people. They’ll spend money, and that’s really what we got to get going: We’ve got to start spending money, we’ve got to create jobs.'
The coalition is on the right track to economic improvement, said Dan Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a non-partisan libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. He said immigrants take entry-level positions that complement, not compete, with native-born Americans. This allows Americans to take higher positions.
'We are coming out of a steep recession, but immigrants don’t tend to come when there aren’t jobs,' he said. 'They come when there are jobs available.'
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Mother's deportation could have dire consequences for her son
By Jazmine Ulloa
The Brownsville Herald (TX), April 10, 2010
Brownsville, TX -- Angel de Jesus Barrera will turn 3 next month. But at 22 pounds and 8 ounces, he is fighting for his life as his mother faces deportation later this month.
He was born with congenital craniofacial dysmorphism, an abnormality in fetus development, which left part of his cranium and face disfigured. Angel de Jesus looks more like a 1-year-old given his size and weight. He has a whole list of medical conditions, some of which include Down’s syndrome, scoliosis, mental retardation, seizure disorder and a serious case of glaucoma that recently resulted in the removal of his left eye.
Any infection could prove fatal, doctors say. Every medical and physical treatment is critical. But whether Angel de Jesus makes his next doctor’s appointment in Houston at the end of this month depends not only on his delicate state. It hinges on his mother’s immigration status.
Alma Lerma, his mother, crossed into Brownsville from Matamoros illegally in 1995 and has been fighting deportation since last year. This week, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official denied her request for permission to stay in the United States for another year based on her son’s medical case.
Lerma will have to voluntarily leave the country by April 20 or be forcibly removed. She has eight children, including Angel de Jesus, all of whom were born in the United States. Their future is now uncertain.
'My son’s life is hanging by a thread,' Lerma said Friday at her home in Southmost. 'Doctors have told me he will not live much longer if I take him with me to Mexico. But I do not know of anyone who can take care of him for me if I leave.'
For immigration attorneys, stories like Lerma’s are not uncommon. Applications for Stay of Deportation or Removal — the requests undocumented immigrants must file for permission to stay in the United States if ordered to be deported — are rarely approved, even in cases where the applicant has a child with a severe medical condition or who is terminally ill, attorneys say.
'You submit a document, like this thick, of all the problems that the children has and all the reasons why they can’t get medical care in their home country, and you get this back,' said Jodi Goodwin, an immigration attorney in Harlingen, pointing to a copy of the one-page denial letter sent to Lerma. 'It is a death sentence.'
Goodwin does not represent Lerma, but she said ICE’s response to Lerma’s case was all too familiar.
'This is the exact same language that I have received in every single case that I have ever requested any type of discretionary action from the government,' she said. 'It is the exact same boilerplate language.'
What is Discretion?
All undocumented immigrants ordered deported or removed from the United States can file the Application for Stay of Deportation or Removal, or form I-246. An ICE officer evaluates the applications on a case-by-case basis and decides whether to enforce the law against an individual, using 'his (or her) own discretion based on the circumstances of their case,' said Nina Pruneda, spokeswoman for the agency.
Individuals granted permission to stay in the country have cases that warrant a 'favorable action of discretion' and meet the following criteria:
Since January 2009, 76 people have filed the form for stay of deportation. One application is still pending and 26 have been approved, Pruneda said.
Lerma first filed an I-246 form in April 2009, after she was detained at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Sarita on her way to take her son to a Houston hospital for surgery. She was granted permission to stay in the United States for a year.
But last month, Lerma’s attorney, Jaime Diez, sent a packet to the federal immigration agency with Angel de Jesus’ medical documents and reasons why Lerma should be allowed to stay with her son for another year. He explained Angel de Jesus’ condition had not changed. The boy is still on numerous medications and uses a feeding tube to eat and an oxygen tank to breathe. He also stated Angel de Jesus needs the care of a nurse at his home nearly every day.
The denial response faxed back to Diez on Wednesday stated no reason why Lerma’s application was denied.
'I have carefully reviewed your request and your client’s immigration history. Your supporting documentation was given full consideration. I have conducted an inquiry into your request and based on the documentation reviewed, I have determined that your client’s case does not warrant a favorable action of discretion,' stated the letter signed by ICE Field Office Director Michael J. Pitts.
Lack of Discretion
Part of the reason federal immigration officials limit their use of discretionary action is because it has been so 'flagrantly abused' in the past, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that favors tighter control on immigration. Through immigration reform legislation in 1996, Congress tightened the system, making it less flexible, he said.
'We had and still have an immigration policy that is just a collection of lots of exceptions,' he said. 'With immigration lawyers committed almost fanatically to opposing immigration enforcement, it is hard to allow that flexibility (in the immigration system) because they will take advantage of it, and they do, all the time.'
Those who have suffered from what Krikorian described as immigration attorneys’ and judges’ 'exploitation of loopholes' are 'the people who need flexibility the most.'
But immigration attorneys said ICE’s mentality geared toward filling deportation quotas is tearing families apart and affecting the most vulnerable — hundreds of thousands of children. Like Lerma, many undocumented parents ordered for deportation have no criminal history, one attorney said.
'Legally, technically, under the law, are those people here illegally? They are,' Goodwin said. 'But legally, technically, under the law, is that the kind of person you want to deport? Our country based on family values wants to leave children without parents when they are terminally sick?'
Once parents’ requests to stay in the country are denied, Goodwin continues to fight for their cases pro bono — without payment and as a public service — often filing motions to reopen their cases based on an asylum theory, which has kept her clients in the United States. But she says she has never won a case; the proceedings just 'drag on and on and on.' She has helped some clients for the last 10 years.
'Those are the cases that really make me depressed,' Goodwin said. 'You want to fix their problem, but a lot of times fixing their problem is not winning their cases — it is losing it as slowly as possible.'
Lerma, 32, crossed illegally into Brownsville from Matamoros, where she was born, when she was seven months pregnant with her first daughter. She wanted to escape what she described as an abusive relationship with her former husband. She is currently unemployed, and Medicaid covers all the medical expenses for her son.
Doctors first told Lerma the boy was going to have a congenital disorder five months into her pregnancy. They suggested abortion, but she said she wanted 'to give him a chance at life.'
When he was born, they did not bring the baby to Lerma right away because they said he looked 'like a little monster,' she said. And within hours of his birth, he was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Corpus Christi, where doctors 'gave him minutes, hours to live.'
'They only brought him to me for a few minutes to say good-bye, because he might not ever wake up from the surgery,' she said. 'They told me to be strong.'
Almost three years later, Angel de Jesus is now interacting and can acknowledge the world around him, said Dr. Elsa Mendoza, who has served as the child’s primary pediatric physician since birth.
He smiles when his mother kisses him. He attempts to wave when someone says his name. In the last four months, he has also begun to grab his toys and is now learning to sit up on his own.
'We have made a difference in the child’s life,' Mendoza said. She is unsure if he would be able to receive the best care in Mexico, but moving him out of the United States is certainly not the best option.
Leaving him in the United States on his own also puts him in danger, however. The child’s prognosis is poor, Mendoza said, and 'he would not be able to survive in the United States without his mother.'
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The Visionary: How Maria Tukeva helps immigrants succeed in D.C. schools
By V. Dion Haynes
The Washington Post, April 11, 2010
To the nervous high school senior presenting her research project in the school library, this feels like an 'American Idol' moment, and Principal Maria Tukeva is the judge she most wants to impress.
The student, Lizbeth Macias, 17, rattles off data about the slave roots of Georgetown's Mount Zion Cemetery and laments all the ways it has fallen into disrepair. She tells the judges she even volunteered as a tour guide at the historic site and shared her knowledge with visitors for the class project. But not even a quarter into her talk, Macias loses her composure.
'I'm sure I'm blushing. I'm a really, really shy person,' she says, fiddling with her note cards. She pauses, sucks in a deep breath and regains control. There's good reason for her angst: She must get a passing grade on her portfolio presentation to graduate.
When Macias is done, the other judge -- Denise Harrison, a manager at a local State Farm Insurance office -- offers a sweet, Ellen DeGeneres-like endorsement for the attempt at such an ambitious project. But today, Tukeva is Simon Cowell, albeit wrapped in a soft-spoken, non-sneering package. Tukeva tells Macias she was shaky on some details of a lawsuit involving the cemetery.
'One suggestion is to get more familiar with the court case. I think you were confused about who was whom,' Tukeva says calmly before sending Macias off to review the case further and present again another day.
This is the Tukeva the students at Columbia Heights Educational Campus, formerly Bell Multicultural High School, know well: tough but fair. She has high expectations for them, they say, but she makes sure they have the resources they need to succeed. The portfolio project is just one of the programs Tukeva has implemented over the years to shape the school into a cross-cultural institution known for transforming poor minority students and non-English speaking immigrants from El Salvador, Ethiopia, Vietnam and about 50 other countries into scholars. Nine out of 10 seniors from the school are accepted into college.
In its near-30-year existence, the school has had numerous iterations, three names in four locations. It began as a federally funded program for troubled immigrant high school students, quickly grew into a full-fledged D.C. public school, and three years ago moved from its rodent-infested, century-old building to a gleaming new campus that now enrolls 1,300 sixth- through 12th-graders. But the school has had one constant: Tukeva. Her tenure is unprecedented in the modern world of the city's school system, where principals serve at the will of the central office and are lucky if they keep their jobs for three years, let alone three decades.
In some ways, Tukeva has been able to fly below the radar. She enjoys the background, preferring not to draw attention to herself. She works alongside parents and teachers, rather than using a top-down style. She resists taking credit, attributing the school's success to the students, parents and community members who through the years fought off the system's repeated attempts to close the school, and the corporate 'amigos' who raised millions of dollars and used their political muscle to get a new campus built.
'Good organizations that survive do not just depend on a leader that's out in front,' she says. 'It's not healthy for an organization to develop that way.'
In a show of confidence, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in August 2008 added Lincoln Middle School -- the feeder school that shares the new campus -- to Tukeva's responsibilities as principal. Now, the low-key leader is working to do for the middle school what she has done for the high school.
Tukeva was not long out of graduate school, working as an administrative assistant at a Hispanic mental health agency in Northwest Washington -- called Centro Hispano de Salud -- in the late 1970s, when she began noticing similar complaints from immigrant parents: Their children had been good students in their native country but were being referred to special education by their schools. That was before bilingual education courses were widely offered, and Tukeva knew the schools simply didn't know what to do with the students. At the same time, Tukeva said, word was circulating that some schools were asking for students' green cards, discouraging many from enrolling. She believed strongly that the school system was disenfranchising immigrants from the education process.
'They were being mislabeled,' says Ricardo Galbis, the center's director at the time. The school system 'lacked the cultural competence to see what was normal and abnormal.'
The complaints resonated with Tukeva, who grew up in Pennsylvania with a father of Finnish descent and a mother from Spain. Tukeva was in sixth grade when her dreams were dashed by a teacher who wouldn't believe she was capable of writing a poem she'd authored.
'So I was in the lunchroom, and she was telling all the teachers at the lunch table: 'She copied this poem. She could never write it herself. She doesn't have the ability to do that,'' Tukeva recalls, fingering her thin-rimmed glasses. Her narrow face is framed by straight, shoulder-length brown hair. 'Up until then, I thought I wanted to be a writer and a poet. It's the kind of thing that happens, and you get over it, but at the time it was really ...' Her voice trails off. 'School was an uncomfortable place for me,' she continues. 'The teacher had low expectations for me. That made me want to be involved in a school where that would never happen to anybody.'
After earning a degree in Spanish literature and journalism at Pennsylvania State University, Tukeva received a master's degree in linguistics and bilingual education at Georgetown University. She then landed the job at Centro Hispano de Salud. When she moved on to work as an educational specialist developing curricula for dropout prevention programs targeting Hispanics nationwide, she kept the complaints she'd heard from the immigrant parents in the back of her mind. Eventually, she started thinking about starting her own alternative high school.
Tukeva worked with a team of educators and used as the model a successful alternative school that mainly served black students in Philadelphia. The Department of Labor funded the experiment, and in 1981 Tukeva launched the Multicultural Career Intern Program. She obtained permission from the school system to use space at the Marie Reed Learning Center in Northwest Washington and to recruit Hispanics who had either dropped out or were on the verge of dropping out, essentially the students the schools didn't want. Forty students enrolled, and Tukeva served in every role: executive director, principal, teacher, curriculum developer and fundraiser.
About the same time, the population in Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant and Adams-Morgan was changing dramatically. In the two decades following the 1968 riots sparked by Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the neighborhoods had transformed from mostly white to predominately black and were becoming heavily Latino. By 1987, the city would have 80,000 immigrants from Central America alone, mostly El Salvador, local officials said at the time. The program grew rapidly, and a nonprofit board Tukeva formed to support it raised money to supplement the federal grant. But Tukeva pushed to become a part of the D.C. school system and in 1989 merged with Bell Career Development Center in Columbia Heights, forming Bell Multicultural High School. Tukeva kept the nonprofit board, which continued raising money to support the school.
Some of the teens Tukeva enrolled had fled poverty and civil wars with their families and had tragic stories. To this day, Rosalba Bonilla-Acosta, 42, remembers vividly when three military men in green uniforms and rifles took over her family's home in El Salvador and used it as a staging area for their battle with the guerrillas. Then 15, she crouched on the kitchen floor with her father, older sister and younger brother as the soldiers and guerillas exchanged gunfire. She also watched in horror when a bullet struck her 12-year-old brother in the face.
He survived, but when their father died two years later, the three children moved to Washington to join their mother, who had been living here since 1978. Bonilla-Acosta says she and her peers found a sanctuary at Bell -- Spanish-speaking teachers, a culturally sensitive curriculum and job internships. Tukeva also opened the school at night so parents could get English lessons and information on housing, community services and public schools. Bonilla-Acosta even met her husband, Salustio Acosta, at Bell. The school placed her in an internship at a community group called CentroNía, where she has worked the past 24 years, now serving as director of a child-care and community center. 'If it wasn't for this place that supported me and gave me the guidance and gave me the coaching and role modeling, it would have been impossible to make it,' she says.
When rioting broke out in the Mount Pleasant area after police shot an unarmed Latino man in 1991, the city's black leaders found themselves targets of the kinds of human rights complaints black residents had lodged against the white establishment during the civil rights movement. Tukeva joined the Latino Civil Rights Task Force and demanded more bilingual programs citywide. When a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights included such programs among its recommendations to improve conditions for the city's immigrants, Tukeva was enlisted to help. But during a budget crisis just two years later, the school board moved to close Bell and relocate students to nearby Cardozo Senior High.
The community, which believed the city was dragging its feet in implementing the civil rights commission's recommendations, marched in the streets and packed school board meetings, prompting the administration to back down. Students, supported by Tukeva, demonstrated again when it seemed the city had broken its promise to add a gym and cafeteria to the rundown school. They protested once more in 1997, when a judge temporarily closed Bell and other city schools because of leaky roofs.
The school's nonprofit board, which included some powerful and wealthy people Tukeva had recruited, began searching for a solution to the school's infrastructure problems. First, the board sought to acquire a ratty auto repair shop next door for expansion. But the board dropped that idea in favor of building a new school, despite resistance from a cash-strapped school system and a city reluctant to provide land in the gentrifying neighborhood.
'I got some building experts to tour the building with me. The consensus was it was not worth trying to upgrade the 100-year-old building,' said then-board chairman Richard England, president of the Lois & Richard England Family Foundation and former chairman of the defunct Hechinger Co. He contributed $1 million for the new building, helped raise $5 million more and negotiated with the city and school system to build the school.
Tukeva sold him on her goals, he said. 'But she's not been a headline seeker. Her interest is in doing what's best for the child.'
Still, the project initially generated criticism among some Latinos because it destroyed a soccer field that had been a popular gathering spot for neighborhood youths -- a public space that has not been replaced.
'There was a lot of disappointment,' says Olivia Cadaval, curator of the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. A new field, sitting behind a wrought-iron fence, is confined largely to the school's championship soccer team. Tukeva 'has an enclave there and decides who comes in and who doesn't,' Cadaval said.
These days, Tukeva spends much of her time at the middle school, which has a long history of dysfunction and underachievement. Shortly after moving onto the new campus, the middle school students damaged the property, kicking in lockers, scrawling graffiti on computer terminals and destroying bathroom sinks.
Tukeva made dramatic changes right away, splitting boys and girls into separate classes and introducing the school system's Capital Gains program, which pays students for good grades and behavior. Already, Tukeva said, she has noticed a significant drop in the number of students referred to the office for discipline problems. Now, every day at lunchtime, she assigns herself to cafeteria duty to get to know her middle school students.
She also is working with her administrators to develop a middle school version of the high school portfolio. 'This will give them a sense they are making a big transition to ninth grade,' Tukeva said. 'And they will see what will be expected of them.'
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English classes can’t meet demand
Iraqi refugees struggle to find necessary lessons
By Anne Krueger
The San Diego Union Tribune, April 12, 2010
East County, San Diego -- The hundreds of Iraqis arriving in San Diego County each month face a frustrating problem as they try to create a future here.
They need to learn English to get a job and to keep their welfare benefits until they find work, but English classes have been overwhelmed and unable to provide spaces for many.
Saif Matti, 29, who arrived in El Cajon six months ago, recently stood in line to register for an English-language class at the El Cajon Adult School at El Cajon Valley High School. Matti said he hasn’t been able to find work and struggles to find the classes he needs to learn English.
'All the classes are full,' he said. 'Every school is full, full, full.'
The United States began allowing Iraqi refugees to resettle in this country in 2006, and the numbers exploded from 202 that year to 18,838 in 2009. San Diego County, with its established Iraqi community, has taken in more recent refugees than anywhere else in the United States.
About one in four Iraqi refugees arriving in the U.S. comes to San Diego County, according to a March study by San Diego State University demographer John Weeks.
About 17,000 people of Iraqi descent lived in San Diego County as of October 2008. According to Weeks’ study, an additional 6,400 Iraqis had arrived since then, or about 400 a month, a rate that is expected to continue for at least two or three more years.
Most come to East County, which is home to many Iraqis who arrived decades ago, two Chaldean Catholic churches and more affordable apartments. Those who have recently arrived are finding few jobs available in a down economy — especially if they don’t speak English. As many as 80 percent of the non-English speakers are unemployed, Weeks said.
Without jobs, the new arrivals apply for welfare, which offers $862 a month for a family of four and $359 a month for a single person. To keep receiving government money, they must spend 35 hours a week looking for work, taking English classes or doing other things to improve their job skills. Couples are allowed to divide the 35 hours between them.
The demand for English-language classes has swelled attendance in the programs around East County and has led to a shortage of classes at cash-strapped schools.
'It’s terrible to have to turn them away,' said Alicia Muñoz, the coordinator of the English as a Second Language program at Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego. 'They are hungry to learn. It’s really heartbreaking.'
The Grossmont Union High School District provides free English-language classes for more than 3,000 students — about 85 percent of them from Iraq, said Robyn Wiggins, ESL principal of the El Cajon Adult School.
Wiggins said classes intended for 30 students now have up to 45 students each. Even those class sizes don’t accommodate everyone who wants in, she said.
Immigrants who take English-language classes at East County’s community colleges usually wait a year so they are eligible for the California resident fee of $26 per unit instead of the international student fee of $190 per unit.
Grossmont College in El Cajon offered three English-language classes for about 75 students this semester but hasn’t been able to add more classes because of state budget cuts, said department chairman Chuck Passentino.
'They really need the help, and we can’t provide it,' Passentino said. 'That’s what’s killing me.'
Cuyamaca College provides English-language classes for about 800 students — triple the number of two years ago, said Muñoz, the coordinator. To serve students who need basic instruction, the college has canceled more advanced classes on using English in the workplace and on computer vocabulary, she said.
Muñoz said some students who can’t get into English as a Second Language classes are signing up for freshman English, which isn’t intended for students unfamiliar with the language.
'They’ll be in the class and they won’t understand a single word,' Muñoz said. 'They did that in desperation because they couldn’t get in the (English as a Second Language) classes.'
Guillermo Colls, an ESL instructor at Cuyamaca College, said 27 of 29 students registered for his reading class are from Iraq. An additional 40 students are on a waiting list for the twice-weekly classes.
One of his students, 52-year-old Basim Shroin of El Cajon, said he worked as a welder in Iraq but hasn’t been able to find work in San Diego County. Shroin needs to take the class to keep his welfare benefits, but he said that’s not the main reason he’s there.
'I came here to study, not just for the hours,' Shroin said.
Colls read a textbook passage to the class, stopping to discuss vocabulary words that included 'functional,' 'adjustable' and 'ergonomic.' He told the students an 'efficient' worker was careful and didn’t make errors.
'I give you the easiest meaning possible and you get the overall idea,' Colls said.
In addition to classes offered by high schools and colleges, some students are taking classes wherever they can find them. License To Freedom, an El Cajon nonprofit group that aids Iraqis, has about 100 students in an English-language class that has grown from 30 students a year ago. Dilkhwaz Ahmed, an Iraqi immigrant who runs the group, said many students are taking classes at several locations to fulfill their requirements for financial assistance.
'Welfare is putting too much pressure on them,' Ahmed said. 'They want to go to class, but they can’t find any.'
A group of East County residents has arranged to offer training for volunteers who want to teach English to immigrants. The program is part of a project by business leaders and the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce to provide more interpreters for immigrants at clinics and hospitals.
Debra Palmer, a nurse practitioner at an El Cajon clinic, said new arrivals have difficulties communicating with health care workers.
'These people are going without services because there’s nobody there to advocate,' Palmer said.
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Hero Who Helped Subdue Shoe Bomber Becomes Citizen
The Associated Press, April 10, 2010
Atlanta (AP) -- Kwame James waited nearly 10 years to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen, a long time compared with the time he spent helping subdue would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid on a trans-Atlantic flight.
James, now 32, wore a gray pinstriped suit and blue tie this week during the ceremony, which ended years of immigration limbo that began after he helped thwart the terror attack aboard a Paris-to-Miami flight in December 2001.
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Killing of Ariz. rancher roils immigration debate
By Amanda Lee Myers
The Associated Press, April 9, 2010
Phoenix (AP) -- Cattle rancher Rob Krentz often helped illegal immigrants he found stranded on his sprawling Arizona ranch.
Then two weeks ago, he and his dog were gunned down shortly after he reported spotting someone who appeared to be in trouble. Foot tracks were followed from the shooting scene about 20 miles south, to the Mexico border, and authorities suspect an illegal immigrant.
The killing of the third-generation rancher has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate as politicians cite the episode as further proof that the U.S. must do more to secure the violent U.S.-Mexico border.
The governors of New Mexico and Arizona took a public tour of the border this week in support of more security. The subject has ignited endless discussion on blogs, and has been politicized in the U.S. Senate Republican brawl between J.D. Hayworth and incumbent John McCain.
Hayworth has accused McCain of not doing enough to protect U.S. citizens from growing border violence. McCain, for his part, has called for increased security in response to the killing.
'The federal government must do all it can within its power to curb this violence and protect its citizens from criminals coming across the border from Mexico,' McCain wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor.
Krentz will be remembered at a funeral Saturday in Douglas, about 35 miles southwest of his 35,000-acre ranch and the home where he raised three children with his wife of 33 years, Sue.
Investigators have not definitively tied the killing to the drug trade, but the slaying comes at a time when well-armed cartel factions have battled each other and federal authorities in several Mexican border cities, resulting in thousands of brutal killings.
The violence has been concentrated in Mexico's Ciudad Juarez on the Texas border and Tijuana, just south of San Diego, and hasn't yet spilled over into Arizona's remote border region.
Krentz's death sparked fears that was changing.
The Krentz family was no stranger to the problems of illegal immigration. Their home was robbed, and Krentz once found the carcass of one of his calves that had been killed for food, presumably by starving immigrants.
But the soft-spoken rancher bore no ill will toward illegal immigrants, according to friends and family.
They say Krentz sympathized with their desire for a piece of the American pie. He gave them food and water if they were in distress, and sometimes he'd call the U.S. Border Patrol, which meant deportation but also guarantees of medical assistance and escape from possible death.
'If they come and ask for water, I'll still give them water,' Krentz once told PBS' Religion & Ethics Newsweekly in 1999. 'You know, that's just my nature.'
Wendy Glenn, who has a ranch south of the Krentz property and is a good family friend, said she believes she heard some of Krentz's last words when he used a radio to talk to his brother the day he was killed.
'He says, 'I see an immigrant out here, and he appears to need help. Call the Border Patrol,'' Glenn, 69, said she heard Krentz say at about 10:30 a.m. on March 27. 'He was not frantic. He was not calling for help.'
After Krentz went missing for hours and hadn't communicated with anyone, Glenn said she and others assumed he'd been robbed and stranded somewhere on his property. But his body was found just before midnight in a remote area of his land.
After he was shot, the 58-year-old Krentz managed to drive away in his all-terrain vehicle before losing consciousness and dying from his wounds. Nothing had been stolen from him, and his gun was still in its holster. His dog was killed, too.
Glenn and those who knew Krentz say he never would have confronted anyone he thought was dangerous. Most likely, he was just trying to help, they say.
'There are a lot of people out here who are unarmed that need help, and I'm sure Rob didn't realize he was armed,' Glenn said. 'I think he approached to see if he could help him and the guy thought maybe he was going to get arrested, that maybe Rob was the law ... I don't know what the guy thought, but he never gave Rob a chance.'
She said Krentz was modest, honest and an unwavering friend, and that everyone who knew him is 'absolutely devastated.'
'I keep expecting to see Rob walk in the door,' she said. 'The reality now is very hard to face. That man is gone forever.'
Krentz's family members declined requests for comment, but released a statement saying he was a humanitarian 'who bore no ill will toward anyone' and instilled in his children the importance of honesty and fair dealing.
The family said they hold no malice toward the Mexican people and blame the U.S. and Mexican governments for the killing.
'Their disregard of our repeated pleas and warnings of impending violence toward our community fell on deaf ears shrouded in political correctness,' according to the statement. 'As a result, we have paid the ultimate price for their negligence in credibly securing our borderlands.'
Gun sales on the rise after AZ rancher's death
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), April 11, 2010
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Wife Who Hired Cousin to Kill Husband Appeals Conviction
By Anne Barnard
The New York Times, April 9, 2010
In a last-minute decision, the judge ordered defense lawyers to cram overnight and deliver closing arguments the next morning, but gave prosecutors the weekend to write theirs.
And after the defendant — accused of ordering her husband’s murder in 2007 and facing life in prison — decided to testify, the judge forbade her to explain why she did certain peculiar things, like buy a spy camera and secretly record conversations.
He also let prosecutors introduce another judge’s scathing order from a child-custody case that called the defendant a 'smothering' mother, although that judge and the social workers he cited were not witnesses who could be cross-examined. No one disputes that those twists and turns took place during the six-week trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova, the Queens doctor convicted last year of hiring a relative to fatally shoot her husband outside a playground, in front of their 4-year-old daughter, during a bitter custody battle.
These are just a few of the points her lawyers have raised to call Dr. Borukhova’s trial 'fundamentally unfair' and argue that a 'fiercely partisan' judge, State Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Hanophy, fostered a 'toxic atmosphere' in the Queens courtroom. The defense includes Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who has represented O. J. Simpson and Patricia Hearst. He is 'of counsel' on Dr. Borukhova’s fiery 126-page appeal, filed by the law firm of Nathan Z. Dershowitz, his brother.
Once prosecutors submit their response, due on May 21, Alan Dershowitz plans to deploy his flashy oratory in arguments in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, in Brooklyn. That all but ensures that the case of Dr. Borukhova and her cousin, Mikhail Mallayev — which embroiled the close-knit Bukharian Jewish community where she and her husband, Daniel Malakov, a dentist, had been a proud example of immigrant success — will go another round in the spotlight.
. . .
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Feds say Border Patrol vehicles being 'cloned' by Mexican smugglers
By Sara A. Carter
The Washington Examiner (DC), April 12, 2010
Federal agents along the Texas border were warned by the Department of Homeland Security that Mexican drug cartels are using 'cloned' Border Patrol vehicles to smuggle drugs into the United States, according to documents obtain by the Washington Examiner.
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Missing pregnant woman found safe - in Aurora jail
By Tammy Vigil
The KDVR News (Denver), April 10, 2010
Aurora, CO -- We now know what happened to an Aurora woman, 7-months pregnant, and missing since Thursday afternoon.
For two nights, Sergio Campos-Cabrerra went to bed wondering if his wife, Delmi Vasconselo-Monterrosa was alive or dead.
For two nights, he heard nothing.
Then, Saturday afternoon, he got the news he'd been praying for--but he didn't hear it from her.
Campos-Cabrerra posted fliers of his missing wife Friday night--asking anyone who'd seen her to call him.
And someone did.
Little did Campos-Cabrerra know his wife was safe--behind bars.
A detention officer at the Aurora City Jail saw her picture on our newscast and told police. Officers confirmed it was her Saturday morning.
She's facing a charge of criminal impersonation, a felony.
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Illegal Immigrants Busted in Laredo
Border Patrol agents received assistance from other agencies in the fight against human smuggling.
By Francisco Diaz
The Laredo Sun (TX), April 11, 2010
Laredo, TX -- In a special operation between Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection air units, several illegal immigrants were detected trying to cross into the United States.
. . .
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Arpaio says he'll launch next sweep within 3 weeks
The Associated Press, April 9, 2010
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he will launch his next crime and immigration sweep within the next three weeks in Phoenix.
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[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Canada: Gov't opens special visa program for Mexican travelers
2. Canada: Locality seeks to retain foreign students as residents
3. Canada: Nearly two dozen have applied for asylum following Winter Games (link)
4. Canada: Second woman expelled from school over Islamic veil (link)
5. Cayman Isles: New immigration administrator appointed (link)
6. U.K.: Native English speakers are minority pupils in 1,500 schools
7. U.K.: City's elections spotlight immigration (story, link)
8. Netherlands: Mosque seeks integrated fit within community
9. Poland: Expats worldwide mourn loss of leader in air tragedy (story, 2 links)
10. Hungary: Nationalist party continues growing European trend (link)
11. Kuwait: Seventeen Egyptians deported following political activism (link)
12. China: Illegal immigration from Vietnam surging
13. Taiwan: Crackdown targets 'runaway' foreign workers
14. Taiwan: Caregivers on track to be primary class of foreign worker
15. Malaysia: More than 200 illegal Indonesians arrested at sea
16. Australia: Gov't seeks to ease strain on offshore detention center
17. Australia: Amnesty International dismayed by restrictions on Afghans, Sri Lankans
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Canada begins special visa program for Mexican business travellers
The Canwest News Service (Canada), April 10, 2010
Could the 'visa war' be over?
Almost a year after finding itself in a spat with Mexico over visas, Canada has set up a special invitation-only program for Mexican business travellers.
Participants in the program will be able to get their visa requests processed within 24 hours, the federal government said, as it announced the program this week.
'Canada welcomes travellers from Mexico and has been looking at ways to provide enhanced services to applicants,' Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a news release.
'Canada and Mexico are among each other’s largest trading partners,' added Peter Van Loan, minister of international trade, in the release.
'This program will help Canadian and Mexican companies do business together and continue to fuel our economic recovery.'
The welcoming comments are a different tone than the government was taking last year, when the it announced that Mexicans visiting Canada would need visas, a requirement it also placed on residents of the Czech Republic.
The move prompted an outcry from both countries.
The Harper government said it was imposing the rules to help stem the waves of refugee claimants from those two countries, which were at the time Canada’s top two sources of refugee applicants.
Critics and experts said Canada had sparked a 'visa war' that could hurt trade relations with the European Union, because of the Czech Republic’s membership in the EU, and with Mexico, a North American Free Trade Agreement partner.
Mexico retaliated by saying it would require visas of all Canadian diplomats, holding off for putting the requirement on the more than 1.3 Canadians tourists who come to the country each year due to economic considerations.
The Canadian government said the new program — being established at this country’s visa office in Mexico City — is meant to help employees of Mexican companies who must often travel to Canada.
It will reduce paperwork and provide priority processing of visa applications.
Participation in the program will be by invitation only. Businesses with key connections to Canada will be identified by the Canadian Embassy or Export Development Canada, and then invited to take part.
Businesses will have to have good records of sending employees to Canada and having them behave themselves while in the country to get such an invitation, the Canadian government says.
The embassy has already invited 113 companies to enrol in the program and 12 businesses have registered.
The program is modelled on a similar and successful program introduced in New Delhi, India, in June 2008.
Last month, Kenney proposed $540 million worth of new measures to overhaul the system for dealing with refugee claims from foreigners who arrive on Canadian soil.
Kenney has said the changes, once implemented, will cut the time it takes for a refugee claimant to get a hearing to two months from the current 19 and reduce to about two years from the average 4 1/2 years it now takes to evict a rejected applicant from Canada.
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C.B. immigration campaign targets foreign students
The CBC News (Canada), April 12, 2010
Cape Breton needs help turning international students into permanent residents who can kickstart the economy, an island investment group says.
Greg MacLeod, spokesman for BCA Holdings, said immigration is the way to offset the effects of a declining population on the island.
He said BCA is already helping a few foreign students who wish to stay in Cape Breton after they graduate, but doing more requires a co-ordinated effort.
'It doesn't happen automatically,' he said. 'If you want immigrants to come to Cape Breton and to build up businesses and to live and work here, the community has to help them.
'I say government agencies should be helping. I hope they're going to change their mind because I think now that CBRM have said that immigration is a priority, I think the federal and provincial governments will have to come onside.'
MacLeod said federal and provincial immigration programs aren't specifically aimed at Cape Breton.
John Lill, a foreign student from China, applauds BCA's efforts. He graduated from Cape Breton University, focusing on electronics. After five years in Sydney, he wants to stay in a place where he's comfortable.
'I would like to stay in an environment that is … with a lot of nice people and an environment that I'm familiar with, because if I go to any of the big cities I will be lost for sure,' Lill said.
MacLeod said Lill is exactly the type of young person he wants to keep in Cape Breton — educated, enthusiastic and enterprising.
MacLeod said BCA is pleased that Cape Breton regional council plans to focus on immigration as a way to boost the local economy. His group has approached the municipal sustainability committee to discuss ways they can co-operate.
Committee chair Ray Paruch said he's eager to get started.
'What we'd like is try to keep some of those students, match some of those students with our own students to get them involved in business and also to incorporate the families. Maybe they'll move their business here,' he said.
Paruch said he has already contacted the Cape Breton County Economic Development Association for its help.
The majority of immigrants to Nova Scotia want to go to the Halifax area, according to statistics from the provincial Office of Immigration. Between 2002-06, only 146 immigrants chose Sydney, compared to 5,288 for Halifax, 980 for Dartmouth and 401 for Bedford.
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22 people make refugee claims after Vancouver Olympics
By Terri Theodore
The Canadian Press, April 10, 2010
Vancouver, BC (CP) -- Twenty-two people who came to Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics have made refugee claims in Canada, seven of them members of the 'Olympic family.'
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Niqab gets 2nd Quebec student expelled
The CBC News (Canada), April 12, 2010
For the second time in the space of a few months, a Quebec woman has been thrown out of a French-language course after she refused to remove her Muslim veil.
The woman, who wants media to refer to her only as Aisha, is a 25-year-old permanent resident from India. She was enrolled at the Centre d'intégration multi-services de l’Ouest de l’Île in the Montreal suburb of Pointe-Claire, which works with the province to integrate new immigrants.
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Immigration Deputy Chief named
Cayman Net News, April 12, 2010
Mrs Samantha Bennett, who holds a holds an MSc degree in human resource management from the University of Portsmouth, has been named the new Deputy Chief Immigration Officer for Administration, which will be effective Monday, 12 April.
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Children speaking English in minority in 1,500 schools
Children with English as their home language are among the minority of pupils in more than 1,500 schools across England.
The Telegraph (U.K.), April 12, 2010
The impact of immigration since 1997 has been disclosed by official figures which show a sharp rise in the number of schools where more than half the students have a foreign language as their mother tongue.
Statistics released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families show that in 1997, when Labour came to power, there were 866 schools in England where more than 50% of pupils had English as a second language.
By 2009 this figure had climbed to 1,545 schools, a rise of 78 per cent.
It means that on the latest figures there are 1,284 primary schools, 210 secondary schools and 51 special schools where more than half the pupils come from a non-English speaking background.
Around one in seven youngsters in primary schools almost 500,000 - do not have English as their first language. In Secondary Schools the figure stands at 364,000, just over one in ten.
Critics say the high proportions are another sign of the impact Labour's open door on immigration and risks hampering integration. It also has serious implications for already-stretched schools resources.
Across England the number of schools having to accommodate more than 50% of pupils who have English as a second language has risen by 679, but the increase has not been evenly spread across the country.
Figures show that London, frequently the arrival point for immigrants into the country, has been the hardest hit.
Birmingham has 116 schools where more than 50% of pupils have English as a second language. In Bradford the figure is 60 and in Leicester, 34.
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Immigration debated by Peterborough candidates
The BBC News (U.K.), April 12, 2010
Peterborough has seen large numbers of immigrants arrive in the city in recent years, particularly since the European Union expanded in 2004.
Many have come to the region to work, finding jobs in sectors such as food processing and packaging.
But there have been concerns that the growing population of the city has put a strain on public services.
The BBC spoke to the candidates to get their views on immigration and the impact it has had on Peterborough.
Conservative candidate Stewart Jackson, elected MP for Peterborough in 2005, said immigration is a key concern for local people.
'We've imported people to do low skilled jobs while allowing people to languish on benefits,' he said.
Mr Jackson said he sees showing that immigration can be addressed in a 'responsible way, without rabble rousing' as a key part of his job.
'Need for skills'
Labour candidate Ed Murphy said that immigration has been 'very, very beneficial' to Peterborough.
'Lots of new industries have been expanded and manufacturing and service industries have done quite well,' he said.
But Mr Murphy said that some unqualified workers in Peterborough had found it more difficult to find work and said there was a need to 'skill people up' and bring industries such as engineering back to Peterborough.
Nick Sandford, the Liberal Democrat candidate, accepted that immigration was an issue that some people had concerns about.
He said new jobs had been created in the area in recent years but they had largely been in retail and warehouse operations with many of the vacancies filled by Polish migrants.
'If we're going to regenerate the Peterborough economy, we have to bring in more highly skilled jobs… We really need to focus on green industries [and the] development of renewable [energy],' he said.
The general election will be held on 6 May.
The candidates announced so far for Peterborough include: Conservative: Stewart Jackson; Labour: Ed Murphy; Lib Dem: Nick Sandford; English Democrats: Rob King; UK Independence Party: Frances Fox; Green: Fiona Radic; BNP: Dave Strickson.
Immigration: the 'silent' election issue
By Tom Baldwin
The Times (London), April 12, 2010
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Woman Mosque Leader Seeks New Muslim in Europe
The Associated Press, April 12, 2010
Amsterdam (AP) -- Yassmine el Ksaihi doesn't see herself as a feminist rebel. She covers her head and wears modest clothing. She learned to read the Quran at age 5 and promotes traditional Muslim values.
Yet there is something pioneering about her nonetheless: At age 24 she is the administrator of a large mosque, an unusual position of authority for a young woman in the world of Islam, even in Europe.
In a first for the Netherlands, men and women pray together in the Polder Mosque -- albeit segregated, with the women praying in the back of the red-carpeted prayer hall. Sermons are in Dutch rather than Arabic. Non-Muslims are welcome.
Across Europe, Muslims are seeking a formula that lets them fit into their country while maintaining loyalty to their faith, and el Ksaihi's mosque, which melds some Western secular values with deep attachment to Islam, is one solution toward resolving such tensions.
Experts say it's part of a European trend: many young Muslims on the continent are staying away from traditional mosques and meeting in more casual settings for prayer and study groups.
Fitting into European society while remaining rooted in Islam is no easy task among native populations that often resent the growing number of Muslims, and -- many Muslims feel -- discriminate against them in jobs and education.
Across Europe, conservative politicians are pushing to limit further immigration or to compel Muslims to abandon foreign ways.
In the Netherlands, where Muslims comprise 6 percent of the country's 16.5 million people, an anti-Islam party has become the country's fastest growing political movement. Its leader, Geert Wilders, complains that Muslims reject European liberalism, that they deny women equal rights and that they are intolerant of alternative lifestyles like homosexuality.
Wilders' popularity is partly a reaction to a spate of Islamic radical violence that sent shudders through the nation a few years ago. In 2004, a young Muslim from the Slotervaart neighborhood murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who had produced a short film portraying alleged oppression of Muslim women. Police have broken up other alleged radical networks, and the Dutch secret service has warned that Holland remains a potential target for homegrown terrorism.
The Polder Mosque tries to find middle ground between Islamic radicalism and rightwing xenophobia. And it may be at the forefront of the effort to find, if not a European style of Islam, at least grounds for coexistence with European norms.
El Ksaihi seeks to make Islam more accessible to young Muslims born in a secular nation and make Muslims more acceptable to their neighbors. She wants congregants to embrace the religion and culture while extracting it from the homeland of their immigrant parents.
''We choose Dutch as the main language because we focus on the young people. Most of them can only speak Dutch,'' she said. ''If non-Muslims enter the mosque, they will hear what we are discussing. There is nothing scary about what we do.''
As administrator, El Ksaihi is in charge of finances and hires the imams who lead the prayers and deliver sermons. She says she finds imams that reflect the diversity of the Amsterdam Muslim community, including preachers from Malaysia and Indonesia as well as from Morocco and Turkey where most Dutch Muslims come from.
The mosque is a cultural center as much as a house of worship. ''This is a traditional model of Islam. It's not new,'' she said. ''We are going back to the roots. There is only one Islam.''
Mona Siddiqui, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Glasgow, says the Amsterdam mosque is part of wider movement that is just beginning to be felt in Europe.
''The mosque does stand for something -- namely that Muslims in Europe are carving out new ways of addressing their own communities away from traditional and sometimes oppressive structures,'' she said in an e-mail.
''That is a good thing in my opinion, but I am not sure that it is a defining moment. There are a huge variety of different Muslim communities in Europe and women have been making and continue to make their voices heard in all kinds of ways, even if this journey is a struggle sometimes,'' she wrote.
Europe has an estimated 20 million Muslims, making Islam the continent's second largest religion.
''Many young people have moved away from traditional mosque settings and organized their own ways of conducting worship,'' said Siddiqui. That ''bears witness to the changing pattern of worship in Europe.''
Little evidence of change can be seen in France, however, home of western Europe's largest Muslim population. For years, authorities have been prodding Muslim leaders to inculcate what they call an ''Islam of France'' that would fit seamlessly into French society -- and embrace moderate interpretations of the religion.
They have found it is easier said than done.
The estimated 5 million Muslims in France reflect a multitude of tendencies within Islam, from moderates to Salafists seeking an uncompromising return to Islam's origins. In addition, imams often do not speak French and mosques are funded with money from foreign benefactors -- often seen as a source for terror cell funding.
Financing is another departure from the European norm for Amsterdam's Polder Mosque, which refuses to accept foreign money. ''That is one of our main pillars,'' El Ksaihi said. ''It's a Dutch initiative so we have to keep it 100 percent Dutch.''
Slotervaart, the neighborhood where the mosque is located, was the first district to benefit from the government's euro28 million ($38 million) grant in 2007 to combat radicalism through education and dialogue.
El Ksaihi's mosque is a one-story former community center set amid tall apartment buildings in an overwhelmingly Muslim neighborhood, but it has no minarets. Young men, some with long beards and robes and some in Western garb, mingle together at the mosque entrance ahead of the Friday prayers.
It takes its name from a uniquely Dutch feature: a polder is an area of land that has been reclaimed from the marsh or sea and often turned into rich farmland. Historically, it is a symbol of cooperative effort.
Apart from fighting entrenched discrimination against women, which she considers an affront to Islam, El Ksaihi says her mosque provides a platform for interfaith dialogue.
A non-Muslim Dutch woman, Marloes Kuijer, is a member of the board of directors.
''I am not religious,'' said Kuijer. ''I feel at home here because it's a meeting place for everyone, young or old, Muslim or non-Muslims.''
It also invites Muslims of all views, even sympathizers with the ''jihadists,'' or radicals. ''We don't discriminate,'' said El Ksaihi. ''You have to let everyone in, regardless of their views. You can only help someone if you understand their views.''
That all-embracing policy may have a positive impact, says Jean Tillie, a University of Amsterdam political scientist, who conducted a six-year research project on the radicalization of Muslim youths in Amsterdam. ''The chance that they will become more moderate is bigger than the chance that if you exclude them they will become extremists,'' he said.
Momamed Choupi, an imam who preaches at the Polder Mosque, says the people who brought Islam with them to Holland from Turkey and Morocco must adapt to the local context and find ''a Dutch way of experiencing Islam.''
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Polish Immigrants Worldwide Mourn Crash Victims
The Associated Press, April 11, 2010
Chicago (AP) -- Polish immigrants and their descendants around the world shared the anguish of their mother country on Sunday, mourning the 96 victims of a devastating plane crash as they crowded into Polish-language Masses.
Millions of Poles have emigrated over nearly two centuries, establishing large communities in the United States and Britain. They coped with Saturday's death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of other military, church and government officials through vigils, prayer and writing.
''It was like losing a family member,'' said Blanche Weigand, whose mother immigrated from Poland to Chicago in 1950. ''I'm from Chicago, but my heart is in Poland.''
Weigand grew up speaking fluent Polish and eating her mother's pierogi, and stays in touch with her Polish cousins each week through Skype.
The nation is in mourning after the crash, which occurred in Russia near Katyn forest. The dignitaries had been on their way to Katyn to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre there of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet forces.
Weigand said the crash makes her want to go to Poland, while her 88-year-old mother hasn't been able to talk about the tragedy at all. Instead, she cries, is plagued by headaches and recounts painful memories of being captured by Nazis.
''She's reliving all of it and it hurts,'' Weigand said.
Families of Polish descent packed churches in Chicago, London and elsewhere. At London's St. Andrew Bobola Polish Roman Catholic Church, parishioners mourned one of their priests, Monsignor Bronislaw Gostomski, who died in the crash, along with Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last president of a Polish government-in-exile based in London during World War II and the communist years.
''When the Polish people have any kind of a tragedy, they pray, they go to church,'' said Anna Szpindor, who was born in Poland and went to medical school there but lives in South Barrington, Ill.
''They feel this solidarity, this unity in a church environment,'' the 55-year-old said before she entered Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Chicago.
In New York, several hundred people stood outside St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, unable to squeeze into its Polish-language Mass.
There are also significant populations of Polish descendants in Argentina and southern Brazil. In Curitiba, Brazil, special Masses were celebrated Sunday morning to honor those killed in the plane crash, the Rev. Zenon Sikorski said.
The Argentine-Polish Cultural Association issued a statement saying it shares Poland's ''profound pain over the tragic accident.''
An estimated 300,000 Poles emigrated to Argentina between 1897 and 1950. Laborers mostly went to larger cities like Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Rosario, while those with farming backgrounds principally settled in the northeast.
Dozens of mourners in the Chicago area, home to the largest concentration of people of Polish descent outside of Poland, came Sunday to the largely Polish St. Adalbert Cemetery in suburban Niles, Ill. They paid homage at a memorial sculpture to the 1940 Katyn massacre, which was designed by Chicago artist Wojciech Seweryn, who was also killed in the crash.
The sculpture -- featuring the Virgin Mary holding a wounded officer -- was covered with hundreds of candles, flowers and Polish flags. Two journals lay at the memorial sculpture, filled with hundreds of entries in Polish expressing sorrow, grief and shock.
''It is a great disappointment for Poland, this tragedy happened with Polish officers in 1940, now with the president in 2010,'' one read.
Another read simply, ''Never Forgotten.''
Many immigrants said they still have strong ties to Poland, with family or property there. Many make regular trips home, and some plan to eventually move back.
''The Poles keep their ties to Poland, that's just a fact,'' said the Rev. Anthony Bus, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, the first Polish parish in Chicago. It opened in 1867.
Maria Balcer, 65, a recent immigrant, sat in a pew at Polish National Catholic Church in Brooklyn and cried. She had been up until 2 a.m. watching television coverage of the crash, she said.
''The tragedy is terrible, a horrible feeling in my heart,'' she said.
Teresa Karwowska, 56, her husband, Antoni Karwowski, 56, and their family attended a Polish Mass on Sunday morning and planned to attend a memorial service that day for the crash victims.
''What happened on Saturday, it kind of opened people's eyes to what happened in the Katyn massacre,'' Karwowska said, in Polish translated by her son. She said the family would observe a week of mourning for the plane crash victims with no music, no sports and prayer.
Polish tragedy resounds locally
Churches filled with mourners of crash victims
By Jeannie Nuss
The Boston Globe, April 12, 2010
Polish immigrant: 'It's almost like we're cursed'
Chicago area Poles struck by memories of Katyn Massacre as they mourn plane victims
By Mark J. Konkoland and Lewis Lazare
The Chicago Sun Times, April 12, 2010
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Far-right party poised to make gains in Hungary
By Pablo Gorondi
The Associated Press, April 11, 2010
Budapest (AP) -- A far-right party backed by black-clad paramilitary extremists was poised to make dramatic gains in Hungary on Sunday in national elections mirroring recent advances by anti-immigrant parties across Europe.
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EGYPT: Kuwait deports 17 ElBaradei supporters
The Los Angeles Times Babylon and Beyond Blog, April 11, 2010
Seventeen Egyptians, working and living in Kuwait, were deported Saturday for violating the emirate's labor and immigration law, a Kuwaiti security official said.
The decision came one day after as many as 25 Egyptians -- including the deported -- were arrested in a Kuwait suburb following their organizing of a gathering to support potential Egyptian presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei and his National Front for Change.
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Illegal immigration from Vietnam surges
China Daily, April 12, 2010
Naning, China -- In a detention house in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on the Vietnam border, Hai Li, 18, an illegal immigrant from Vietnam, represents her fellow townspeople as they communicate with the police.
In Vietnam, many young people want to work in China because the pay is much better, Hai says. 'I earn 800 yuan a month here. Back home, I could only get 450 yuan at most.'
Hai came to work at a cellphone shop in the southern Hainan Province two years ago and learnt to speak fluent Mandarin, even some Hainan dialect. She was caught by border police when returning to work after the Spring Festival vacation.
Hai and the others who came with her will be deported to Vietnam. But she says, 'I will come back to China with a visa. My boss in Haikou City has promised to raise my wages.'
Guangxi border police have seized 1,820 illegal immigrants, stopped 4,839 others from entering and deported 2,218 people since 2009, says a spokesman with Guangxi border police.
However, at least 10,000 illegal immigrants have come to Guangxi's Chongzuo City alone, says Mo Shaoren, deputy head of Chongzuo's human resources and social security department.
Large numbers of illegal immigrant workers from Vietnam had been found in factories and farmlands of south China cities. Most came through Guangxi's Dongxing and Pingxiang border cities, the police spokesman says.
Most local young men have gone to work in larger cities, leaving a shortfall of 30,000 farmers in normal times and 50,000 during busy seasons. Vietnamese nationals often come to fill the gaps, Mo says.
Vietnamese nationals are welcomed in Chongzuo, where they are seen as hard-working and cheap, accepting only half the wages of a Chinese worker.
A local worker can cost an employer 80 yuan a day while the Vietnamese are usually satisfied with 40 yuan a day, Mo says.
On Chongzuo City's 553 km border with Vietnam, only 260 border police are deployed, far from enough to curb the illegal immigration on 123 routes, says Li Zuozheng, chief of staff of Chongzuo's border police.
By March 20, Chongzuo's border police had stopped 420 illegal Vietnamese immigrants this year, of whom 175 were detained and investigated and 10 deported, Li says.
But no authority can tell the exact number of illegal immigrants from Vietnam working in the Pearl and Yangtze river deltas, he says.
The situation has worsened with the severe drought plaguing northern Vietnam, which has driven many farmers to seek work in China, said Fan Qi, head of Fangchenggang City's border police.
On a mountain road just 30 meters from China's official entry in Pingxiang City, groups of Vietnamese cross the border without any checks.
In just 10 minutes, 14 people in three groups came into China through the route while six people left carrying large bags of goods.
A spokesman with the regional police says a crackdown was launched in March to curb the immigration, with stricter identity checks and searches at customs and border check stations.
The border police of Fangchenggang City apprehended 56 illegal immigrants from Vietnam, as well as one Vietnamese and eight Chinese organizers on March 24, the spokesman said.
On April 4, the police seized 19 Vietnamese illegal immigrants in a railway station of regional capital Nanning City, he added.
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Council steps up efforts to tackle runaway workers
By Shelley Huang
The Taipei Times, April 13, 2010
Rising numbers of missing migrant workers have prompted Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) officials to step up surveillance efforts and issue heavier fines to violators who hire illegal foreign workers.
While the need for foreign labor has increased in recent years, the number of foreign workers who are either missing, performing undocumented work or on the run has also been on the rise. Council statistics show that since 1992 — when foreign workers were first permitted to work in Taiwan — to the end of January, the aggregate number of missing foreign workers totaled 28,487 and is increasing at a rate of about 1,000 per year. The majority of the missing migrant labor came from Vietnam, with the figure standing at 12,845.
The council’s investigation showed that the most common reasons runaway workers gave for escaping included contracts that are about to expire, contact from other labor brokers, being persuaded by other migrant workers to do so and high broker fees.
The council said it planned to crack down on violations and urged local governments to step up inspection efforts and issue the heaviest fines possible to violators.
Those who illegally employ undocumented workers can be fined up to NT$750,000 (US$24,000). Employment agencies that deal with undocumented workers are liable to fines of up to NT$500,000, and undocumented workers can be fined up to NT$150,000.
Undocumented workers who run away from their legitimate employers or employment agencies are at risk of having no protection from working rights infringements and have no health or labor insurance, the council said.
Migrant workers who are contemplating fleeing their current legitimate jobs because they feel they may have been mistreated or have other issues should call the 1955 hotline to seek help, rather than running away, CLA officials said.
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Caregivers to form backbone of foreign work force in Taiwan
Focus Taiwan, April 12, 2010
Taipei -- Caregivers will eventually become the mainstay of Taiwan's foreign work force if the government fails to quickly launch a well-devised long-term care system to deal with the country's aging population, a labor affairs official said Monday.
According to the latest figures from the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) , foreign caregivers outnumbered foreign manual laborers in February for the first time ever in Taiwan, 177,926 to 177,210.
Although the trend reversed itself in March, with the 180,000 migrant workers in manual labor jobs slightly outnumbering the 179,000 migrant caregivers, the CLA official expected that caregivers will form the backbone of the foreign work force in the long run.
'The demand for caregiving services will continue rising along with the aging of our population, if no long-term care system is put in place soon, ' said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Taiwan began to import migrant workers in 1989 to make up for labor shortages in manufacturing and construction sectors where harsh working conditions existed.
Early on, the number of foreign workers in the manufacturing sector consistently far exceeded that of foreign caregivers, with laborers outnumbering caregivers by a 10: 1 ratio as recently as 1995.
Taiwan's rapid economic growth in the second half of the 1990s only increased the demand for foreign manual laborers, pushing their numbers above 200,000. The gap between the two categories of migrant workers reached a peak of 170,000 in 1997.
But even then, the number of foreign caregivers entering Taiwan was also growing rapidly, and the gap between the two groups has narrowed as the number of foreign manual laborers remained flat over the past decade and even declined recently amid a global economic slump.
In 2009, the number of migrant workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors decreased to 176,000 while the number of foreign caregivers increased to more than 174,000.
Over the past 15 years, the CLA official said, the number of foreign caregivers has grown 13-fold, from 13,000 in 1994 to 174,000 at the end of last year.
During the same period, the number of foreign manual laborers has only risen 25 percent.
The lackluster growth in the manufacturing sector was partly related to the exodus of labor-intensive industries to China and other countries with cheaper labor and the government's inability to stimulate industrial innovation and nurture new industries, local scholars said.
But the rapid growth in the number of migrant caregivers has also signified the aging of the local population and the absence of a long-term care system, they added.
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205 Indonesian Illegal Immigrants Arrested Off Tawau
Bernama (Malaysian National News Agency), April 12, 2010
Tawau, Malaysia (Bernama) -- A total of 205 illegal immigrants from Indonesia were arrested Monday evening for attempting to leave the country illegally Monday.
Tawau Immigration spokesman Surend Jayshee Praser said the illegal immigrants, of whom 55 were women and 31 children, were picked up onboard a ferry off here as they were about to leave for Nunukan, Indonesia, at 5.15pm.
'All of them were brought by pete-pete (a type of boat with an outboard engine) from the coast to the ferry which was moored offshore,' he told Bernama.
He said the illegal immigrants, aged between three and 58 years, were without documents.
Also arrested was the ferry's skipper, he said.
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Darwin prepares for asylum seekers
By Jacob Saulwick and Yuko Narushima
The Sydney Morning Herald, April 13, 2010
The Immigration Department could start using detention facilities at Darwin to house asylum seekers as soon as this week, as it seeks to take pressure off hard-pressed facilities and staff on Christmas Island.
The department was last night flying Indonesian crew to the Darwin centre, and is lining up charter flights to remove more asylum seekers from the island later in the week.
Christmas Island's detention facilities are stretched, and are testing the capacities of immigration staff. For instance, there are just 23 case managers on the island who are responsible for overseeing the applications of 2160 asylum seekers.
The Herald understands that case managers on the mainland typically deal with about 20 applicants at any one time. On Christmas Island, the workload is some multiples of that.
Case managers can determine whether asylum seekers are successful or not in their bid for protection visas.
Jim Carty, a Marist priest who recently returned from three months on Christmas Island, said managers were doing three interviews a day on the island and were under strain.
''Maintaining a consistent program of screening is extremely difficult in such an isolated place,'' Father Carty said. ''My sense is that everybody's under pressure, no doubt about that.''
The co-ordinator at the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, David Manne, said the general issue was about quality of staff, not quantity.
''Obviously people work with different capacities or levels,'' he said.
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Migrants being denied by Australia says Amnesty
Baltimore News Net, April 10, 2010
Amnesty International has condemned Australia's government for suspending the processing of new asylum claims by Afghan and Sri Lankan nationals.
The rights group has said the denial of entry processing is fundamentally inconsistent with Australia's international obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
Amnesty International has also expressed grave concerns that the move will result in the arbitrary detention of people who have genuine protection claims.
The decision by the Australian government to suspend processing the claims of Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers pre-empts the UN's official review of the security situation on the ground in those countries.
The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said security conditions in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have improved to such an extent as to justify the blanket suspension.
Amnesty International said it believes the possibility now exists that as a result of the Australian decision, other governments within the region will also begin to cease the processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan nationals.
The Australian Government has a rigorous process of assessing asylum claims for individuals who are found to be at risk of torture, persecution or death, but has been trying to stop illegal boat smuggling.
Many people rescued from boats, who are not found to have genuine claims, are returned to their country of origin.
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