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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

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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.

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

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.

What Makes Communities Safe? Debunking the Myth of “Sanctuary Cities”

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm

In my post yesterday, I discussed the 287(g) program, an agreement between state/local law enforcement agencies and ICE that allows deputized police officers to enforce immigration law.

While I talked about the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing in which the GAO submitted testimony regarding the lack of oversight of the 287(g) program and two law enforcement officers submitted contrasting views of the program, today I wanted to follow up on an issue that is frequently brought up when I talk about 287(g) programs: so-called “sanctuary cities.”

A “sanctuary city” is a city that follows strict community policing policies, or perhaps even passed a state or local “separation” ordinance, ensuring that police officers investigate a crime regardless of a person’s immigration status. In reverse, such “separation” practices ensure that immigrants feel comfortable reporting crimes to the police without fear of deportation.

The logic behind such ordinances is that immigration law is extremely complex, and as I said yesterday, not until 1996 were there even statutes allowing federal immigration agencies to deputize immigration enforcement to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Most immigration violations (all of which are federal) are civil, not criminal, offenses. This means, that to charge someone with an immigration offense, the officer actually has to see the person commit the civil offense–much like a speeding ticket in which the officer must catch you speeding.

While legally this is complicated by presence in the United States being a “positive right,” the point of a “sanctuary city” or a separation ordinance is to ensure that local law enforcement’s energy is focused on keeping communities safe and NOT on checking peoples’ status.

Now, I want to make clear that state and local police officers have ALWAYS had the authority to arrest someone suspected of criminal activity–regardless of their immigration status–and report that person to ICE. It’s only that programs like 287(g) go further by allowing/asking law enforcement to go after what one colleague of mine describes as “windex-wielding hotel maids”–i.e. not exactly the “criminal” that makes our streets unsafe.

In turn, amounting evidence shows that law enforcement officers in non-sanctuary cities spend more time (and money) looking into immigration status than carrying out the warrants of arrest for people who have truly made our communities unsafe.

“Sanctuary cities,” however, have received a lot of negative attention from anti-immigrant advocates. Some members of Congress have even proposed cutting off funds for cities which engage in sanctuary or separation practices. They argue that these cities provide “sanctuary” for foreign-born criminals.

As I pointed out above though, this is a myth that is absolutely not true.

For more information on the “myth” of sanctuary cities, check out Immigration Impact’s new report “Debunking the Myth of ‘Sanctuary Cities: Community Policing Policies Protect American Communities.

Obama Officially Commits to Reform Defense Contracting

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Okay, so this is not exactly related to immigration, but I do work for the Quakers so I can’t help but celebrate just a wee-bit here too (and I do plan to bring it full circle by the end of the post…I promise).

Today, President Obama joined a bi-partisan group of Congresspersons dedicated to reforming defense contracting. He has officially committed to this cause and rejected the false choice between “securing this nation and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.”

According to a GAO report last year, cost overruns in major defense projects totaled $295 billion. That’s a lot of wasted money. But we over here at FCNL have been saying that for a long time, and we’ve been saying a lot more about military spending too.

But now–to bring this full circle after all and perhaps prove my obsession with immigration issues–I can’t help but wonder: Will Obama’s commitment to reform defense contracting also include no-bid contracts with defense companies and contracting abuse on projects regarding immigration like the southern border wall or immigrant detention centers?

It’s Been a Busy Week on Immigration

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Hey everyone!

There is a lot to update you on today and so that all these posts don’t just get lost in cyberspace, I’m creating a content-guide post here to help you along the way.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Hopeful After Meeting with Napolitano

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2009 at 7:07 pm

After a meeting with DHS Secretary Napolitano, The Hill reports that Hispanic lawmakers are hopeful that she will end workplace raids by Immigration and Customs Enfocrement (ICE).

Yesterday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Congress (CHC) held a closed door meeting with Secretary Napolitano. According to members of the CHC, she raised the issue of the Bellingham riad on her own accord and said that she had “grave concerns” over what happened.

Congressman and CHC Immigration Task Force Chairman Luis Gutierrez said the meeting was “very, very constructive. We’re happy….We shared with her our concerns about the raid. She shared with us that she had grave concerns about the manner in which it was carried out and that it’s under evaluation. I think the most important words were that she had ‘grave concerns.'”

The CHC is made up of Hispanic members of Congress who work to advance national and international issues that have an impact on policies related to the Hispanic community. The CHC pushes for comprehensive immigration reform and, right now, they are also focused on scaling back intimidating and agressive enforcement tactics impletmented under the Bush administration.

More Posts on the Bellingham Raid