Immigrants Would Help Reduce the Deficit

From Derek Thompson of the Atlantic Business:

President Bill Clinton spoke at the Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C., about how he would advocate for fiscal responsibility were he running for office in 2010. His big pitch boils down to two ideas: (1) the future and (2) immigrants.

Here were his self-transcribed (read: rough, but directionally accurate) statements.

On reducing the deficit

“The end result works. Look what happened to Bill Clinton. America has got to get back into the future business. We can’t do it if we keep mortgaging our future to other countries … to our children and grandchildren. Then I’ll tell them I’ll be careful. I’ll do everything I can to help the old and the poor and we have to change the way we do health care.

“We need more immigrants. We need to reverse the age ratio. I see that as part of fiscal responsibility. [Congress] need to pass something. I don’t like that Arizona bill, but I get why it happened. It’s horrible what happening along the border.”

“The great virtue of this country, the thing we have over China and India is that we have somebody from everywhere here, and they do well. This country still works for immigrants. The reason there is anti-immigrant sentiment is white-collar factory workers got killed in the last decade. The burdens of the last decade’s economic downturn was basically on white male high school grads, or who didn’t graduate from high school or a couple years of college, who got shivered in this economy. Their taxes can be lower if we get more taxpayers. The changes we make will be less draconian if we get more people into the system. I don’t think there’s any alternative than to increase immigration. I don’t see any kinda way out of this unless that’s part of the strategy.”

Click here for the rest of the piece.

Unjustified Racial Profiling in Arizona

Who in the world carries their birth certificate? Guess when driving through AZ, make sure you have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of citizenship. Unjustified racial profiling in Arizona was officially kicked off with the detainment of a Mexican-American truck driver who is a born and bred American citizen.

The truck driver, who would only give his name as Abdon, made a stop at an Arizona weigh station. According to the recently passed anti-immigration law SB 1070, a police officer may detain anyone of who he has “reasonable suspicion” of being an illegal alien, (you know like being brown.) The officer demanded to see his birth certificate to prove that he had been born in America and when Abdon could not provide it [Ed. Note: Who the hell carries around their birth certificate?] he was taken into custody.

The problem is that Abdon was born in Fresno, CA which, if you remember from 2nd grade geography, is in America. Abdon’s wife Jackie raced home to get his birth certificate and when he got to the police station she asked why her husband had been detained and was told:

“Because he didn’t answer the questions correctly. He stated that, you know, his mother is in Mexico currently. That’s where she lives. And I asked them, you know, is it a crime for his mother to be in Mexico? And he said it’s not but, he just thought it would be suspicious.”

Abdon was released, but it is a sign of things to come. Governor Jan “Not-Palin” Brewer has repeatedly said that she will not tolerate racial profiling in enforcement of the law but has not defined how police are supposed to determine if a person is an illegal immigrant on site without racial profiling.

If you are Hispanic and are driving through Arizona you might want to try to look and act more Americany so you don’t go to jail.

Immigration Reform Taking Center Stage

More immigration policy updates from UPI.com:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has given Democratic and Republican point men three weeks to reach bipartisan agreement on immigration reform aides said.

Aides told The Washington Post Thursday that Reid, D-Nev., told Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., if they can’t get it done by then, Democrats will forge ahead with their own bill. Click here for the rest of the article.

More Immigrants Have Doctorates

From the N.Y. Times:  “Immigrants, who account for a disproportionate share of Americans without a high school diploma, also made up nearly one-third of Americans with doctoral degrees in 2009 — a sharp increase compared with five years earlier, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.”

Another piece of evidence that not all immigrants are poor and unskilled.

Reason Number 1001 for Keeping Local Law Enforcement OUT of Federal Immigration Enforcement: 10 ACLU Sues Jefferson County Sheriff for Illegally Imprisoning Colorado Resident Suspected of Immigration Violations

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit in federal court today against the Sheriff of Jefferson County in Colorado arguing that he unjustifiably and illegally imprisoned a Colorado resident for 47 days last year simply because federal immigration officers suspected that the man was here in violation of federal immigration laws.

“Without any legal authority whatsoever, Sheriff Ted Mink imprisoned our client and kept him in legal limbo for 47 days, with no charges pending, no opportunity to see a judge, and no opportunity to post bail,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “Our fundamental constitutional values prohibit depriving any person of liberty without due process of law.”

Luis Quezada, the ACLU’s client, was arrested and taken to the Jefferson County Jail in May 2009 for failing to appear in court on a traffic charge. He promptly resolved the traffic charge, and the county court judge ordered him released. Quezada was not released, however, because Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent the jail an Immigration Detainer advising that it was investigating whether Mr. Quezada was violating immigration laws. An Immigration Detainer instructs a jail or prison to hold a particular inmate an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after the inmate’s release date. The detainer states that its purpose is to provide adequate time for ICE agents to determine whether to take the inmate into federal custody and begin formal deportation proceedings. When ICE finally took Mr. Quezada into custody in mid-July, 2009, the agency immediately allowed him to be released on bond while he defended himself in immigration court.

“By allowing Mr. Quezada to post bond and be released, ICE determined that our client poses no danger to the community and is not a flight risk,” said Dan Williams, of Faegre & Benson and cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Colorado. “No right is more firmly ingrained in our Constitution and our understanding of freedom than the right not to be left in jail indefinitely without charges filed or an opportunity to post bail,” continued Williams. “Yet that is what happened here. This suit seeks to compensate Mr. Quezada, and we hope that it will serve as a wake-up call to law enforcement throughout Colorado to stop this lawless deprivation of liberty.”

The Colorado ACLU has received multiple complaints of similar cases in which Colorado jails held suspected immigration violators without legal authority. To address the recurring issue, the ACLU of Colorado wrote to all Colorado sheriffs in the fall of 2008, advising that any legal authority of an Immigration Detainer expires after 48 hours. The ACLU also asked Colorado sheriffs for copies of any written policies instructing jail deputies how to proceed when the jail receives Immigration Detainers. The Jefferson County Attorney responded that the sheriff’s office had no applicable written policies. ICE routinely issues immigration detainers to law enforcement agencies around the country as part of various immigration enforcement initiatives, including Secure Communities, the Criminal Alien Program, and 287(g). In addition to causing racial profiling and harming public safety, those initiatives raise the risk that agencies and officers will face increased claims for damages as a result of cases like Quezada’s.

“ICE is issuing detainers by the thousands in an attempt to use state and local police and sheriffs as adjunct federal immigration officers,” said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “However, police officers and jailers are always required to obey the Constitution and they simply cannot imprison a person in this way, even if an immigration detainer exists. States and municipalities open themselves to liability when they treat ICE detainers as if they were sentences imposed by a court.”

Attorneys on the case, Quezada v. Mink, include Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Silverstein and Taylor Pendergrass of the ACLU of Colorado; and Williams, of the law firm of Faegre & Benson. More information about the case including a copy of the complaint can be found online.

Obama Falters on Immigration Reform Promises

Peter Nicholas, reporting for the L.A. Times in Washington,  reports what we already fear:  “A White House commitment to overhaul the nation’s immigration system this year is collapsing, with the Obama administration undecided about the best way to proceed on an issue the president had identified as a top priority.”

With the President and Congress avoiding immigrtaion reform like the plague, it apprently will be left for the Arizonas, Hazletons, Oklahomas, and Farmer’s Branches to act on immigration.

Non-Citizen U.S. War Vets Facing Deportation Despite Military Promises of Citizenship

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now “take[s] a look at the threat of deportation that non-citizen veterans of American wars continue to face despite US military promises of citizenship. We talk to Rohan Coombs, a Jamaican-born U.S. vet who was in the US marine corps for six years and served in the Persian Gulf War. He spent eight months in prison for a marijuana-related conviction. The day he was to be released he was told he would be deported. He speaks to us from an immigration jail. We also speak with immigration attorney Craig Shagin.”

US Labor Secretary sends message to America’s under-paid and under-protected: Solis announces national campaign and commits to bringing justice to nation’s working poor

WHD News Release: [04/01/2010]

US Labor Secretary sends message to America’s under-paid and under-protected:‘We Can Help!’

Solis announces national campaign and commits to bringing justice to nation’s working poor

CHICAGO — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today used the historic setting of Chicago’s famed Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, on the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois, to unveil the U.S. Department of Labor’s “We Can Help” campaign. Solis committed to helping the nation’s low-wage and vulnerable workers, and reminded them that her agency’s personnel will not waver in protecting the rights guaranteed by law to every worker in America. “I’m here to tell you that your president, your secretary of labor and this department will not allow anyone to be denied his or her rightful pay — especially when so many in our nation are working long, hard and often dangerous hours,” Secretary Solis told an energized crowd of workers, community advocates and leaders. “We can help, and we will help. If you work in this country, you are protected by our laws. And you can count on the U.S. Department of Labor to see to it that those protections work for you.”

Today’s event marked the beginning of the “We Can Help” nationwide campaign. The effort, which is being spearheaded by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, will help connect America’s most vulnerable and low-wage workers with the broad array of services offered by the Department of Labor. The campaign will place a special focus on reaching employees in such industries as construction, janitorial work, hotel/motel services, food services and home health care. It also will address such topics as rights in the workplace and how to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division to recover wages owed. Through the use of Spanish/English bilingual public service announcements — featuring activist Dolores Huerta and actors Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales, the launch of a new Web site at http://www.dol.gov/wecanhelp and a toll-free hotline, 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), the department is renewing its emphasis on reaching and assisting workers who often find themselves denied the pay legally guaranteed to them by law.

The campaign also underscores that wage and hour laws apply to all workers in the United States, regardless of immigration status. “The nation’s laws are for the protection of everyone who works in this country,” said Secretary Solis, speaking from the site where President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Labor Secretary Frances Perkins once worked. “It is appropriate and correct that vulnerable workers receive what the law promises, and that no employer gain a marketplace advantage by using threats or coercion to cheat workers from their rightful wages. I have added more than 250 new field investigators nationwide — an increase of a third — to help in this effort. If you are a worker in America, on this day, we promise you a new beginning and a new partnership to ensure you receive the wages you deserve.”

Chicago’s Hull-House opened in 1889 when Jane Addams, the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, rented the site to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises to improve conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago. By its second year of existence, Hull-House was host to 2,000 people every week and today remains a central force in reaching out to Chicago’s poor.

Deportation and Child Welfare

From the UC Davis Immigration Clinic:

Deportation of Lawful Immigrant Parents Harms Well-Being of U.S. Citizen Children

New report finds 88,000 U.S. citizen children lost lawful immigrant parent within ten year period
The U.S. has deported the lawful immigrant parents of nearly 88,000 citizen children in just a decade, according to a new report released today from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Davis law schools. The report, In the Child’s Best Interest?, finds that forced removal of lawful permanent resident parents (or green card holders) convicted of relatively minor crimes can lead to psychological harm, behavioral changes, and disruptions in the health and education of tens of thousands of citizen children.

The report, based primarily on new analysis of data provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is a joint project of the International Human Rights Law Clinic and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; and the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California, Davis, School of Law.

Drastic revisions to U.S. immigration laws in 1996 have led to large numbers of deported lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who now make up nearly 10 percent of immigrants deported from the U.S. More than 68 percent of this group is deported for minor crimes, including driving under the influence, simple assault, and non-violent drug offenses.

The revised immigration laws now severely restrict the ability of judges to consider the impact of deportation on children. In the Child’s Best Interest? recommends restoring judicial discretion in all cases involving the deportation of LPRs with U.S. citizen children.

“As Congress considers immigration reform, it’s time to focus on how the current system tears apart families and threatens the health and education of tens of thousands of children,” said Aarti Kohli, director of immigration policy at Berkeley Law’s Warren Institute. “This report makes a strong case for restoring judicial discretion so immigration judges can weigh the best interests of children when deciding whether to deport a parent.”

The report found that, in the decade between April 1997 and August 2007, the U.S. deported nearly 88,000 lawful permanent residents for mostly minor criminal convictions. These deported legal residents had lived in the U.S. an average of 10 years, and more half of them had at least one child living at home. Approximately 50 percent of the children were under the age of 5 when their parent was deported.

In 1996, Congress also significantly broadened the category of crimes considered an “aggravated felony.” Although this category initially included only the most serious offenses, it now includes non-violent theft and drug offenses, forgery, and other minor offenses, many of which may not even be felonies under criminal law. Lawful permanent residents convicted of an aggravated felony are now subject to mandatory deportation and other severe immigration consequences.

“Parents who are deported on the basis of criminal convictions are being punished twice for the same mistakes,” said Raha Jorjani, clinical professor at the Immigration Law Clinic at UC Davis. “Even after successfully completing their criminal sentences, they are subject to penalties within the immigration system—and risk losing their families. It’s often the children in these families that suffer the most. This nation should take into consideration the impact on families of uprooting individuals with such strong ties to the U.S.”

Families interviewed for the study reported negative health impacts, such as increased depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Children also reported plummeting grades, increased behavioral problems, and the urge to drop out of school to help support the family.

The study compares U.S. immigration policy to international standards that more adequately address potential family separations in deportation hearings.

“The rights to health and education are firmly entrenched in international human rights law, and nearly every major human rights treaty recognizes the need for special protection of children,” said Laurel Fletcher, director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at Berkeley Law. “The U.S. should consider revising its policy to mirror European human rights standards, which permit judges to balance a nation’s security interest with the best interests of the child when considering deporting a parent.”

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