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Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

The Administration is Saying the Right Things and Promising to “Always Be Listening”

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Last night, President Obama appeared on “Premio Lo Nuestro,” a Latin music awards show, and thanked Latino voters for coming out to vote in November (even if they didn’t vote for him). He also encouraged Latinos to keep coming out and making their voices heard, promising that he would “always be listening.”

This appearance follows the President’s announcement last week that he is still committed to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform this year. We hope that this is only one of many such appearances (to both Spanish- and English-speaking audiences) that will help garner political support for CIR.

Check it out:

In other encouraging news from the administration, Dora Schriro–special advisor to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano for ICE and Detention and Removal–wrote on the USA Today blog yesterday promising to carefully consider the Amnesty International report that was released yesterday decrying immigrant detention standards in the United States.

Schriro acknowledged the sense of urgency needed in her review of detention standards and detainee treatment and promised that she and Secretary Napolitano were committed to “measurable, sustainable progress.”

All good news from the administration. I hope I can keep saying that more and more as time goes by.

Hold Fast to DREAMs

In legislation on March 27, 2009 at 4:10 pm
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, S. 729/H.R. 1751) is back.

Today, a bipartisan group* of lawmakers in both the House and Senate reintroduced the DREAM Act, a bill which would offer undocumented children who grew up in the United States a path to legal status and eventual citizenship through pursuing higher education.

As Representative Roybal-Allard said in her remarks as she introduced the bill, “The Act’s premise is simple and just: Undocumented students deserve the same opportunities as the 2.8 million others who graduate from this country’s high schools every year. We cannot afford to waste our investments in these talented, motivated young people who are products of our schools and our communities…the millions of high school students who comprise the Class of 2009 are mere months away from graduation. Among them are thousands of kids who have the potential to become doctors, lawyers and even members of Congress but face insurmountable legal obstacles. We have a moral obligation to remove these impediments so that all of our young people can accomplish their goals.”

The DREAM Act, which by providing a path to citizenship through pursuing education works to mend a gaping hole in the United States immigrats’ and children’s rights, is only one fix to a much broader problem. At FCNL, we believe the education portion of the DREAM Act should be a critical component of comprehensive immgration reform and we hope to see Congress work with the Obama administration in the coming year to pass humane CIR.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
For when dreams die
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow
~Langston Hughes

* On the Senate side, DREAM was introduced by Senators Richard Durbin (IL), Richard Lugar (IN), Russell Feingold (WI), Edward Kennedy (MA), Patrick Leahy (VT), Joe Lieberman (CT), Mel Martinez (FL), and Harry Reid (NV).

On the House side, DREAM was introduced by Representatives Howard Berman (CA), Joseph Cao (LA), John Conyersr, Jr (MI), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Devin Nunez (CA), Jared Polis (CO), Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA).

Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention as Bad as Gitmo

In enforcement on March 26, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Yesterday, Amnesty International released its new report “Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA.”

This report documents the horrific conditions of the United States’ immigrant detention centers. It reports that immigrants frequently do not have access to legal council, their cases are denied judicial review, they live in substandard conditions being denied basic hygiene, cleanliness, and medical attention, and on average are held in detention for at least 10 months.

The most horrific part, as Keith Olberman of MSNBC news says, is that no one at DHS or ICE denies any of it.

Check out Keith’s coverage on Amnesty’s new report (coverage begins 1 min 23 sec into the clip):

For more information, go to “Immigration Impact: Guilty Until Proven Innocent in Immigration Detention.”

Alex Talks Immigration on Peace and Politics’ Podcast

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Last week, I met with Caroline and Maggie here in our office to talk about immigration on the Peace and Politics (FCNL’s intern blog) podcast.

Immigration is an issue which FCNL has worked on for many years. Ruth, our legislative secretary, has been at meeting after meeting on the Hill with other faith and secular groups to lobby for comprehensive reform in the last three Congresses, which–trust me–have not always been the prettiest discussions. But immigration is also not an issue which has received the most prominent profile here at FCNL.

In this podcast, I talk about where FCNL is now in its work on immigration, both what we’re working towards and what “small-fix” stuff we’re doing in the meantime.

Check it out:

Secretary Clinton Goes to Mexico

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Mexico today to discuss a wide range of issues regarding US-Mexico relations. At the top of this list will be the current border violence caused by drug cartels and arms trafficking into Mexico, but immigration will also be a key point of discussion.

Secretary Clinton will be in Mexico for two days, paving the way for upcoming visits by Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and (in mid-April)President Obama.

As I’ve posted before, let’s hope Secretary Clinton remembers Leoluca Orlando’s model of empowering civil society as the best model for addressing drug cartels and violence.

TAKE ACTION: Thank Rep. Pelosi for Supporting Immigration Reform, Ending Raids

In legislation on March 26, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a strong stance against immigration raids and for humane, comprehensive immigration reform. Standing with hundreds of families in San Francisco’s Mission District, Pelosi made it clear as she has not before that she will make immigration reform a priority in the House.

Please thank Nancy Pelosi for her statements about immigration reform. Urge her to continue to use her leadership role in the House to ensure that Congress passes just and humane comprehensive immigration reform this year. Without her support, Congress will likely be unable to pass a bill which prevents the separation of families, creates a path to legal status for undocumented workers, protects workers rights, and respects due process and human rights for all persons.

Already, people who oppose such immigration reform are criticizing her for her statements. Your words of support can help her continue to be a leader for comprehensive immigration reform.

UFCW Says New CIS Report Demonstrates Complete Lack of Knowledge

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm

A recent Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)–an independent “think tank” that promotes restricting immigration and has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a nativist group–report claims that harsh immigration enforcement tactics, like the raids on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in 2006, have contributed to a rise in wages and improved working conditions.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) refutes this claim, stating that the report has flaws in both the manipulation of its data and its historical analysis of the meatpacking industry.

Read the press release below.

For Immediate Release: Media Contact:
March 19, 2009 Scott Frotman 202-466-1537

NEW CIS STUDY DEMONSTRATES A COMPLETE LACK OF
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT MEATPACKING INDUSTRY

UFCW cites serious flaws in group’s analysis of historical industry data and finds its conclusion about Swift raids absurd

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest meatpacking and processing union in North America, released the following statement today in response to serious flaws in a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) regarding immigration enforcement efforts at meatpacking facilities:

“Mark Twain once noted, ‘Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.’ This new report by the Center for Immigration Studies is a case study in the misinterpretation and manipulation of data to reach a totally biased and flawed conclusion.

“The report demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about the history of the meatpacking industry. Throughout history, immigrants from across the globe have helped strengthen the U.S. meatpacking industry by organizing around increased wages and improved industry standards.

“During the 1980’s, consolidation, mergers and company induced strikes helped drive down wages. Employers forced workers onto the streets to fight unacceptable concessions.. During the strikes, companies aggressively recruited strike breakers—who were not immigrants but individuals who came from the decimated farm industry—to cross the picket lines. Many of these workers soon realized that the jobs were too difficult, particularly at the wages companies were offering, and they left the industry. But the damage was done. Ever since that time, the UFCW has been fighting to rebuild wages and standards for these jobs.

“In the case of Swift, the UFCW had negotiated wage increases prior to the raid. This fact disproves CIS’ central argument that wages and benefits increased as a result of a change in workforce at the plant.

“In addition to these historical inaccuracies, the CIS report fails to address the devastating impact that the Swift raid had on thousands of workers –both immigrant and native born. In the aftermath of the raid, the UFCW documented numerous examples of racial profiling, U.S. citizens harassed and detained by armed agents and a sheer disregard for the constitutional rights of
workers.

“The UFCW filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of these raids and formed a commission to examine the ramification of ICE raids, including Swift. A report documenting the commission’s findings will be made public in the next few months.

“The raids at Swift, and across the country, have done nothing to protect workers or to raise standards in our industries. They have done nothing to address our broken immigration system.. They have been a complete travesty of justice.

“If our immigration system is going to work for the benefit and betterment of our nation it is critical that our laws are upheld. That applies to both immigrant workers and government agents. If the last eight years have shown us anything, it is that enforcement-only strategies do not work. Yes, we need enforcement, but to truly reform our immigration system, we need to
address trade relationships, workforce needs, family unification, legalization, workers’ rights and living standards, and 12 million undocumented individuals suspended on the edge of hope. And we need to do it in a comprehensive manner.

“The enforcement-only stance routinely endorsed by CIS is a short-sighted view that fails to take into account our larger national interest. It is as if they worked backwards on this report. They started from their rigid immigration stance and tried to make the facts fit their view. The problem is that it doesn’t add up. It is basically 16 pages of unproductive scapegoating, cherry picked quotes, and historical misinterpretations.

“The irony is that if you take an objective look at the data being presented, free of the author’s slanted view, it makes a pretty clear and compelling case for comprehensive immigration reform.

“There is the saying that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Well, you can seek out a respected journalist to write a report for the Center for Immigration Studies, but at the end of the day you end up with the same old, tired, anti-immigrant extremist drivel.”

# # #

The UFCW represents 1..3 million workers, 250,000 in the meatpacking and poultry industries. UFCW members also work in the health care, garment, chemical, distillery and retail industries.

To read more about CIS’s flawed analysis, see Immigration Impact- New CIS Study: Easy Answers and Half-Baked Solutions

-or-

Immigration Policy Center- Press Release: CIS Report Gets Diagnosis Right, Cure Wrong

Last Week: In Our Community (Mar. 16-23)

In community impact on March 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday, March 16 through Monday, March 23.

Stop the Raids
In his blog “God’s Politics,” evangelical leader and activist Jim Wallis tells people that ending immigration raids is a matter of conscious.

End Immigration Raids, Cardinal Tells President
On Saturday, Cardinal Francis George called on President Barack Obama to end immigration raids and pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. He said, “We cannot strengthen families when people live in fear from day to day.”

A Slippery Place in the U.S. Workforce
This article talks about the experiences of immigrants in Morristown, a small factory town in east TN, in light of the economic crisis. Covering the historical demographic changes of the area, to the anti-immigrants struggles spurred by ESL classes in the education system, to disparate access to career centers and additional job training, this article provides insight into how immigration can affect communities and the economy as a whole.

Martinez Heats Up Immigration Debate
Florida Senator Mel Martinez began heating up the debate over comprehensive immigration reform last week. A leading Republican voice for CIR, Martinez wants to get CIR done fast as he has plans to retire at the end of his term. He also seems to believe that other republicans have begun to see immigration as a human rights issue.

Immigration Agency Is Criticized Over Healthcare
After another death in immigration detention was reported last week, Human Rights Watch and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center have stepped up their critique of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigrant detention practices. The groups argue that deaths and other forms of substandard treatment are the result of “unskilled or indifferent staff, overcrowding, bureaucracy, language barriers and limited services available to detainees.”

The Competition for Low-Wage Jobs
This week the NY Times blog Room for Debate discusses how the current economic crisis affects both legal and undocumented immigrants. The blog brings together six differing perspectives, ranging from labor economists, anti-immigrant activists, migration policy experts, day laborer, and employment activists.

Ana’s Choice: Can Congress reform immigration law to make it more humane?
This article is a summary of larger piece published in the Winter 2009 issue of Ms. Magazine. It provides one of many feminist perspectives on immigration, focusing on family unity and a pathway to legal status.

Migrant Workers Sending Less Money to Latin America
This Wall Street Journal article discusses the decline in remittances being sent to Latin America due to the economic recession. Many Latin American countries depend on remittances sent from the U.S., Europe, and Japan and are likely to be hard-hit with this decline.

Cities and Counties Rely on U.S. Immigrant Detention Fees
These days, most local governments are having to cut their budgets. But many local law enforcement agencies have found a new source of income–immigrant detention. This article talks about how many South California jails are nearly able to pay for the entire cost of running their facility off of the income they make on housing immigrant detainees.

UFCW States that Recent CIS Report Demostrates A Complete Lack of Knowledge

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2009 at 7:46 pm

A recent Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)–an independent “think tank” that promotes restricting immigration and has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a nativist group–report claims that harsh immigration enforcement tactics, like the raids on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in 2006, have contributed to a rise in wages and improved working conditions.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) refutes this claim, stating that the report has flaws in both the manipulation of its data and its historical analysis of the meatpacking industry.

Read the press release below.

For Immediate Release: Media Contact:
March 19, 2009 Scott Frotman 202-466-1537

NEW CIS STUDY DEMONSTRATES A COMPLETE LACK OF
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT MEATPACKING INDUSTRY

UFCW cites serious flaws in group’s analysis of historical industry data and finds its conclusion about Swift raids absurd

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest meatpacking and processing union in North America, released the following statement today in response to serious flaws in a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) regarding immigration enforcement efforts at meatpacking facilities:

“Mark Twain once noted, ‘Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.’ This new report by the Center for Immigration Studies is a case study in the misinterpretation and manipulation of data to reach a totally biased and flawed conclusion.

“The report demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about the history of the meatpacking industry. Throughout history, immigrants from across the globe have helped strengthen the U.S. meatpacking industry by organizing around increased wages and improved industry standards.

“During the 1980’s, consolidation, mergers and company induced strikes helped drive down wages. Employers forced workers onto the streets to fight unacceptable concessions.. During the strikes, companies aggressively recruited strike breakers—who were not immigrants but individuals who came from the decimated farm industry—to cross the picket lines. Many of these workers soon realized that the jobs were too difficult, particularly at the wages companies were offering, and they left the industry. But the damage was done. Ever since that time, the UFCW has been fighting to rebuild wages and standards for these jobs.

“In the case of Swift, the UFCW had negotiated wage increases prior to the raid. This fact disproves CIS’ central argument that wages and benefits increased as a result of a change in workforce at the plant.

“In addition to these historical inaccuracies, the CIS report fails to address the devastating impact that the Swift raid had on thousands of workers –both immigrant and native born. In the aftermath of the raid, the UFCW documented numerous examples of racial profiling, U.S. citizens harassed and detained by armed agents and a sheer disregard for the constitutional rights of
workers.

“The UFCW filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of these raids and formed a commission to examine the ramification of ICE raids, including Swift. A report documenting the commission’s findings will be made public in the next few months.

“The raids at Swift, and across the country, have done nothing to protect workers or to raise standards in our industries. They have done nothing to address our broken immigration system.. They have been a complete travesty of justice.

“If our immigration system is going to work for the benefit and betterment of our nation it is critical that our laws are upheld. That applies to both immigrant workers and government agents. If the last eight years have shown us anything, it is that enforcement-only strategies do not work. Yes, we need enforcement, but to truly reform our immigration system, we need to
address trade relationships, workforce needs, family unification, legalization, workers’ rights and living standards, and 12 million undocumented individuals suspended on the edge of hope. And we need to do it in a comprehensive manner.

“The enforcement-only stance routinely endorsed by CIS is a short-sighted view that fails to take into account our larger national interest. It is as if they worked backwards on this report. They started from their rigid immigration stance and tried to make the facts fit their view. The problem is that it doesn’t add up. It is basically 16 pages of unproductive scapegoating, cherry picked quotes, and historical misinterpretations.

“The irony is that if you take an objective look at the data being presented, free of the author’s slanted view, it makes a pretty clear and compelling case for comprehensive immigration reform.

“There is the saying that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Well, you can seek out a respected journalist to write a report for the Center for Immigration Studies, but at the end of the day you end up with the same old, tired, anti-immigrant extremist drivel.”

# # #

The UFCW represents 1..3 million workers, 250,000 in the meatpacking and poultry industries. UFCW members also work in the health care, garment, chemical, distillery and retail industries.

To read more about CIS’s flawed analysis, see Immigration Impact- New CIS Study: Easy Answers and Half-Baked Solutions

-or-

Immigration Policy Center- Press Release: CIS Report Gets Diagnosis Right, Cure Wrong

Obama Extends Liberian DED

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Thank you, Mr. President!

On Friday, President Obama extended Liberian Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for 12 months. This extension grants Liberians the temporary right to live and work in the United States.

Obama’s granting of Liberian DED is a welcome decision by immigrant and refugee rights groups.

Liberians were first given Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 1991 when Liberia was in the midst of a bloody civil war that was tearing the country apart. Liberian TPS was then extended each year until 2007, by which point the war had ended and democratic elections had taken place. President Bush, however, granted an 18-month extension (delayed enforced departure) due to the high unemployment rate and welfare circumstances in the country.

Bush’s extension was set to expire on March 31st.

Advocates have been pushing for another extension of Liberian DED because of the impact deportation would have on both communities in the United States and in Liberia. Many Liberians currently given status through DED have resided in the U.S. for nearly two decades. They own businesses, have families, and are an integral part of the communities in which they live. To deport Liberians now would rupture both families and local economies.

On the other side, Liberia still has an unemployment rate that soars at about 85% and many Liberians are dependent on remittances from family members in United States in order to survive.

Now, advocates will work to create a path to legal status for Liberians.

Thank you, Obama, for extending Liberian DED.