Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Introduced in the Senate

From the Immigration Policy Center:

Washington D.C. – On Wednesday, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S.B. 3932, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010. The bill takes a broad approach to solving the wide range of problems that plague our broken immigration system. It offers proposals on border, interior, and worksite enforcement, on legalization, and on future flows of immigration. Now the Senate and House both have a vehicle (Congressman Luis Gutierrez previously introduced a CIR bill in the House last December) for generating a serious discussion on immigration reform in the coming weeks. These bills are a direct response to the overwhelming public demand for solutions to our broken immigration system. Both political parties have acknowledged that this broken system is no longer sustainable, and is disrupting America’s businesses, families, and long-term economic recovery.

“It is hard to turn ideas into legislation and legislation into good law, but Senators Menendez and Leahy have injected new life into the immigration reform debate,” said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. “At a time when every social issue we care about bumps up against immigration – healthcare, national security, and the economy – this bill is a step in the right direction. However, attention now turns to the rest of the Senate and House – where there are serious comprehensive proposals which lawmakers can react to and build upon – and the question remains; will they embrace this challenge or kick it down the road once again?”

The Immigration Policy Center has prepared a summary of the The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 which can be accessed at:

For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at wsefsaf@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524.

Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution is Official

Fred Korematsu, a man who challenged the World War II internment of Japanese Americans will be honored in California every year under a bill signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The governor on Thursday signed legislation designating Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in California.

Korematsu, who died in 2005, was arrested in Oakland in 1942 after refusing to enter an internment camp. His case led the U.S. Supreme Court to examine the internment order’s legality.

About 120,000 Japanese-Americans and resident aliens were sent to so-called relocation centers. California was home to two of them — Tule Lake and Manzanar.

From the Korematsu Institute:

IT’S OFFICIAL! On Sept. 23, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Fred Korematsu Day bill into law! This follows the bill’s passage in the California legislature (Aug. 24), and a series of unanimous votes on the Senate Floor (Aug 9, 34-0), the Senate Education Committee (June 30, 8-0), the Assembly Floor (May 20, 69-0) and the Assembly Education Committee (May 5, 8-0) .

MANY THANKS to the bill’s co-sponsors, Asm. Furutani and Asm. Block, as well as their staff, to Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature, to the wonderful group of people who launched this bill and to the 50+ organizations and 250+ individuals who sent in support letters during this process. Lastly, many thanks to Karen Korematsu, Fred Korematsu’s legal team, and to the staff and interns at the Korematsu Institute and Asian Law Caucus. You have all helped us make history!

The full name of the bill, AB 1775, is the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Co-sponsored by Assemblymember Warren Furutani (D – South Los Angeles County) and Assemblymember Marty Block (D – San Diego), the bill encourages schools across the state to teach students about Fred Korematsu’s story and its relevance today. The first Fred Korematsu Day will be celebrated on January 30, 2011, on Fred Korematsu’s birthday. Scroll down for details!

Federal jury convicts Texas bar owner for sex trafficking and harboring aliens

A Texas woman was found guilty late last week on three counts of sex trafficking, conspiracy to harbor aliens, and six counts of harboring aliens. The charges stem from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI). Beleal Garcia-Gonzalez, 34, of Mission, Tex., was convicted Sept. 23 after a 3-day jury trial. During the trial, ICE HSI agents testified they learned in January 2010 that underage undocumented immigrants were being forced to work at a bar and were being prostituted by the bar’s owner, Garcia-Gonzalez. Subsequent investigation revealed that three minors, ages 17, 15, and 14, were working at the bar and being prostituted by Garcia-Gonzalez.

McALLEN, Texas – A local woman was found guilty on Thursday on three counts of sex trafficking, conspiracy to harbor aliens, and six counts of harboring aliens. The charges stem from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI).

Beleal Garcia-Gonzalez, 34, of Mission, Tex., was convicted Sept. 23 after a 3-day jury trial. During the trial, ICE HSI agents testified they learned in January 2010 that underage undocumented aliens were being forced to work at a bar and were being prostituted by the bar’s owner, Garcia-Gonzalez. Subsequent investigation revealed that three minors, ages 17, 15, and 14, were working at the bar and being prostituted by Garcia-Gonzalez.

Each of the minors testified during trial that while in Honduras they were promised jobs in the United States working at a restaurant making $700 a week. However, once they arrived in the United States, they learned they would be working at the bar that Garcia-Gonzalez owned, earning $120 a week, much of which was taken to pay the smuggling fees of $4,500 each owed to Garcia-Gonzalez. The minor victims testified that Garcia-Gonzalez told them they could make $3.00 for every beer that a customer bought them. She also told them they would make even more money if they had sex with customers because they would be able to keep whatever money they decided to charge the customer for sex, minus a $50 fee.

After the minors began working at the bar, they realized they were not making any money because Garcia-Gonzalez never paid them. Needing money, they turned to the other option that Garcia-Gonzalez had offered – prostitution. One minor testified she had been with men on six different occasions for which she was paid for having sex.

To read the ICE press realease, click here.

Border governors call for US immigration reform

U.S. and Mexican border governors called Monday for reform of U.S. immigration policies, but New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said it’s unrealistic to expect Congress to act on the hot-button political issue before the November general election.

The border governors meeting was held in New Mexico after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer canceled the event in Phoenix because of a planned boycott by Mexican governors over Arizona’s new immigration law. Richardson was the only U.S. governor to participate along with the governors of six Mexican states. California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado filled in for ailing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governors of Texas and Arizona did not attend.

A joint statement by the governors said they “recognize the need for comprehensive immigration reform” in the United States and for a deportation process “based on the fundamental premise of respecting the human dignity and human rights of individuals being repatriated.”

Supreme Court asked to review deportation of U.S. citizen

In a N.Y. Times article by Adam Liptak describes a case in which the U.S. government is accused of wrongfully taking her U.S. citizen daughter from U.S. citizen Monica Castro and then transporting the baby across the border with his undocumented father:

“Ms. Castro later sued the government, saying the agents had no legal authority to detain, much less deport, her daughter. Nor should Border Patrol agents, she said, take the place of family-court judges in making custody decisions. The last court to rule in the case, the full United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, rejected Ms. Castro’s arguments, over the dissents of three judges. The brief unsigned majority decision, echoing that of the trial judge, said the appeals court did not `condone the Border Patrol’s actions or the choices it made.’ But, the decision went on, Ms. Castro could not sue the government because the agents had been entitled to use their discretion in the matter.”

Here is the cert petition in the case, which was filed by Pamela Karlan and Jeffrey Fisher at the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Download Castro cert petition

A Halt on DREAM Act

Oscar Hidalgo for The New York Times In Miami Beach, students who are illegal immigrants sent messages to senators considering a measure called the Dream Act.

From the National Immigration Law Center:

WASHINGTON, DC — In a party-line vote today, the Senate failed to take up the Department of Defense authorization bill, which was the first hurdle in moving to a vote on the DREAM Act. This means that there will not be a vote on the DREAM Act this week. It is now unclear when the bill will come up. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today, we witnessed an outrageous lack of leadership among Senate Republicans, who once again showed that politics ultimately trumps the will of the people. Rather than vote to allow for the Defense bill to move forward and bring the DREAM Act to the table, a minority of senators instead have chosen to quibble disingenuously over procedures. Ultimately, those in opposition voted not in favor of process, but against young immigrants who have shown more leadership than some of our elected officials. As a result, the dreams of the young men and women who have been waiting to fulfill their highest potential and contribute to America will continue to be on hold, and our country will suffer. “DREAM students and their allies showed their true power. Under the inspiring leadership of Dreamers, we have made more than 100,000 calls, participated in 70 events in 26 states, and sent 90,000 faxes. Those in our ranks range from former Secretary of State Colin Powell to current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Religious leaders have prayed for Congress to do the right thing. “This battle may be over for this week, but we cannot walk away from the fight. Congress must not let the small but vocal minority thwart the will of 70 percent of Americans who believe in the DREAM Act. We applaud Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin for their leadership. As Sen. Reid stated on the floor today, ‘We will vote on the DREAM Act — the only question is when.’ We hope Sen. Reid doesn’t delay. Students can’t wait any longer.”

A summary of the DREAM Act can be found at www.nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/dream-bills-summary-2010-09-20.pdf. If you have questions, please contact Adey Fisseha at fisseha@nilc.org

Immigration and Nativism

From the Immigration Policy Center:

The Unwanted: Immigration and Nativism in America

Washington, D.C. – As another 9/11 anniversary passes, marked by heated controversy surrounding a proposed Islamic Cultural Center in New York City and a Florida preacher’s threats to burn a copy of the Quran, writer Peter Schrag draws parallels between present-day fear-mongering by the restrictionist and nativist movements in America and similar movements throughout U.S. history.

In a new Perspectives piece, entitled “The Unwanted: Immigration and Nativism in America,” Schrag writes: “In another few years the nation may look back on the first decade of the twenty-first century, and especially the years after 9/11, as another of those xenophobic eras, like the Red Scare of the twenties or the McCarthy years of the fifties, when the nation became unhinged, politicians panicked, and scattershot federal, state, and local assaults led to unfocused, albeit often cruel, harassment of non-Anglo foreigners.”

Envisioning a way forward, Schrag points out: “America…is famously a nation of immigrants. What’s Anglo-European about it are the institutions and ideals of equal rights, constitutionally guaranteed due process, and democratic government.  But now all of us are also immigrants to the new cosmopolitan multi-ethnic, perhaps post-ethnic, society that’s grown around us, whether we’re Mayflower descendants, Sons of the Golden West, or the most recent arrival from Kenya or El Salvador.  The diverse nation that those immigrants and their children and grandchildren made, contra all the warnings from the Know Nothings, the eugenicists, the Klan, the Pioneer Fund, and our latter-day radio and TV talkers, refutes not only their dire predictions but the very premises on which they were based.  The society whose immigration policy now begs to be reformed, and the history that made it, are not the society and history that most of us, much less our parents, imagined a generation or two ago.  The more the nation and its policymakers excavate that history out of the myths of their imagination, the more rational, humane, and productive the debate will be, and the better the uniquely American future that grows from it.”

For more on this article:
The Unwanted: Immigration and Nativism in America

Making the DREAM into a Reality

President Obama met privately in the Oval Office today with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) whom he assuring them that he would push to help get the DREAM Act passed.

“The president made it absolutely clear to us that he would leave no stone unturned in order to accomplish an approval in the Senate of the DREAM Act,” Gutierrez said from the White House driveway this afternoon. “We asked them to put the full weight and might and the full influence of the White House and his personal energy and commitment behind it.”

In a recent TIME article, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he wants to attach an amendment to an upcoming defense policy bill that would help young people in the country illegally become legal U.S. residents. The Nevada Democrat said at a Capitol news conference that the legislation known as the DREAM Act is long overdue. But he wouldn’t say whether he has the votes for the amendment. The act allows young people who attend college or join the military to become legal U.S. residents.

This news has also been making headlines with organizations such American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) stating that “The DREAM Act is Back! Voice Your Support TODAY! The DREAM Act will be offered as an amendment to the Senate Defense Reauthorization Bill and your Senators need to hear from YOU! Calls and emails are needed to express support for this fair and humane legislation that will allow thousands of students to live the American dream they’ve earned the opportunity to pursue!

There will be an AILA hosted event “AILA Celebrates DREAM Students and the DREAM Act” on Friday, September 24, during the Fall CLE conference in San Antonio. You can hear from DREAM supporters and students who will share their experiences as a call on Congress to pass the DREAM Act.

Rise in Deaths of illegal immigrants in Arizona: Migrants say Arizona worth risk of crossing

Chart shows the number of illegal immigrants who died crossing the US-Mexico border (D. Kempton - AP)

According to the Associated Press, “Deaths of illegal immigrants in Arizona have soared this summer toward their highest levels since 2005 – a fact that has surprised many who thought that the furor over the state’s new immigration law and the 100-plus degree heat would draw them elsewhere along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.”

But at the Pima County morgue in Tucson, Ariz., the body bags are stacked on stainless-steel shelves from floor to ceiling. A refrigerated truck has been brought in to handle the overflow at the multimillion dollar facility.

In July, 59 people died – 40 in the first two weeks when nighttime temperatures were the hottest in recorded history, hovering around the low 90s. The single-month death count is second only to July 2005, when 68 bodies were found.

Of this July’s deaths, 44 were on the Tohono O’Odham Nation, a reservation the size of Connecticut that shares 75 miles of Arizona’s border with Mexico. The tribe is opposed to humanitarian aid on its lands, believing it invites violence.

Eighteen more people died in the first 23 days of August.

Even with the prospect of a torturous death, and the bitter wrath they face in Arizona, immigrants, including Ortega, say the state’s vast, sparsely populated terrain is still the best place for border jumpers.

For more on this story, click here.

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