Oh the irony here is really nice. Dobbs, who rails every night about unlawfully present immigrants who have violated US immigrations, seems to have no problem with defending convicted felons where he happens to dislike the law that led to their punishment. I'm talking about his campaign to free two Border Patrol officers convicted by a jury for shooting an unarmed fleeing Mexican. Salon.com reviews the case. And Dobbs is coming under fire from a hate crimes monitoring group.
Laurie Gindin Beacham (ACLU): 212-549-2666
Rosa María Santana (MALDEF): 562-833-5333
Lawsuit alleges new state law will conflict with federal immigration law and the U.S. Constitution
PHOENIX, AZ - The law firm of Altshuler Berzon, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arizona, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) joined together to file a lawsuit in federal court today on behalf of Chicanos Por La Causa and Somos America challenging Arizona's new law that threatens employers with permanent loss of business licenses based on invalid new state requirements.
The lawsuit alleges that the new law conflicts with federal immigration law and the U.S. Constitution. The Legal Arizona Workers Act" requires that employers verify the employment eligibility of an employee through a flawed federal verification database (the Basic Pilot Program) that was intended by Congress to be voluntary and imposes sanctions beyond what the federal government allows.
Under federal law, participation in the Basic Pilot Program is voluntary. By requiring Arizona employers to use this program, the Legal Arizona Workers Act runs afoul of the Constitution and will subject all Arizona employees regardless of legal status - Latinos in particular - to potential discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin, said Kristina Campbell, Acting Los Angeles Regional Counsel and lead MALDEF attorney on the case.
"Arizona's statute attempts to override national law and policy on the employment of immigrants," said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "If states like Arizona could pass their own immigration laws, workers and employers alike would face a patchwork of conflicting and incompatible requirements based on local politics and conditions, and it would be impossible to have a meaningful national policy."
The state law also violates the Constitution's 14th Amendment because it deprives workers of due process, according to the groups filing the lawsuit. "It becomes easier and safer for Arizona business owners to discriminate against anyone they suspect of being foreign rather than risk the fines and penalties associated with a failure to comply with this law," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "That's not the way this country works. We make laws to prohibit discrimination. We don't create laws that require people to discriminate."
The law requires employers to sign onto the Basic Pilot Program, recently renamed "E-Verify," a voluntary, experimental program that has gradually expanded to cover approximately 17,000 employers nationwide. "The Basic Pilot has been plagued with problems, including failing to identify legally authorized workers due to its reliance on the error-ridden databases of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, and the DHS' lack of resources to monitor employer compliance with the rules of the program," said Linton Joaquin, Executive Director of NILC, also representing the plaintiffs on the case. "The Arizona law requires 130,000 - 150,000 Arizona employers to join this flawed program, and this is truly a recipe for disaster and will cause grievous harm to legally authorized workers."
In addition to Campbell, Jadwat, and Joaquin, lawyers on the case include Stephen Berzon and Jonathan Weissglass of Altshuler Berzon; Cynthia Valenzuela of MALDEF; Marielena Hincapié, Monica T. Guizar, and Karen C. Tumlin of NILC; Daniel Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona; and Lucas Guttentag and Jennifer Chang of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.
The ACLU is a nationwide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with more than 500,000 members dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the Constitution. Its Immigrants' Rights Project works to defend the civil and constitutional rights of immigrants through a comprehensive program of impact litigation and public education. The ACLU website is www.aclu.org.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF, the nation's leading Latino legal organization, promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through litigation, advocacy, community education and outreach, leadership development, and higher education scholarships. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.
Since 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has been dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of low income immigrants and their family members. In the past 20 years, NILC has earned a national reputation as a leading expert on immigration, public benefits, and employment laws affecting immigrants and refugees. Our extensive knowledge of the complex interplay between immigrants' legal status and their rights under U.S. laws is an essential resource for legal aid programs, community groups, and social service agencies across the country. NILC's website is www.nilc.org.
A thoughtful reader sent this article from the NY Times. In response to a lack of labor in the US in the wake of the immigration crackdown, some farmers are simply buying land in Mexico and moving their farms there. If you like depending on imported oil, you're going to LOVE depending on other nations for our food. By the way, if you think this is just one or two little farms, the Times is reporting American farmers are now running farms on 46,000 acres in just two Mexican states.
"WHY WOULD ANYONE WHO IS A REASONABLE, RATIONAL THINKER WANT TO REDUCE RESOURCES AND PROTECT INEFFICIENCIES?"
So sayeth Sebastian Teunissen, an international business professor at University of California, Berkeley who was speaking to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter at a meeting organized by Sun Microsystems to discuss the talent visa crisis in Silicon Valley.
The article does a good job as well of pointing out another troubling trend - serious competition from abroad for these workers. It used to be the case that the US was far ahead of every other country as far as being the destination for immigration. Worker shortages in many countries are forcing those countries to open up and welcome these talent workers. And now living standards are catching up in many other countries and the need to immigrate to achieve a better life is not as urgent.
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: ZUBIN MEHTA - CONDUCTOR
Most Americans cannot name a symphony conductor, but for those that can, one of the names they are very likely to know is Zubin Mehta, an Indian American. Maestro Mehta has been the conductor and the musical director of many of the world's great symphonies including the New York Philharmonic, the Israeli Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Zubin has has a long and interesting career that has included conducting concerts that not only were great musically, but important politically. In 1991, during the height of the first Gulf War, he became a hero in Israel when he chose to remain in the country with his orchestra and conduct a concert while scud missiles were reining down on the country. Audience members wore gas masks. In 1994, he conducted a concert at the ruins of Sarajevo's National Library to raise money for the victims of the Bosnian conflict. In 1999, he conducted a joint concert of the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic near the site of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in a concert meant to heal wounds. In 2005, he conducted a concert in Madras that was a major fundraiser for victims of the 2004 tsunami. But you really know he's an icon when you've got a Muppet named for you.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: US SETS UP UNWORKABLE REFUGEE PROGRAM FOR IRAQIS AIDING THE US WAR EFFORT
I was in a bit of disbelief a few weeks ago when I was contacted by an Iraqi fellow who was working as an accountant for a US contractor who was genuinely in fear for his life for assisting the US government. He asked what his options were and when I contacted HIAS, the refugree agency on whose board I served, I learned that the only option for this individual was to escape Iraq and seek refugee status in a neighboring country, something that is extremely difficult. The New York Times today offers an editorial taking the White House to task for not taking care of these folks - approximately 69,000 of them - who are putting their lives at risk to help our country. Whether you are for or against the war in Iraq, most Americans would agree that we should take care of these folks. In the words of the Times, we have a moral obligation to help them. The US needs to establish a procedure to process these folks for refugee status inside Iraq and then to help them get out of the country. Why we're wasting time when people are getting killed everyday is a question that deserves an answer.
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: MARTINA NAVRATILOVA - TENNIS LEGEND
OK, I'm a lousy tennis player, but I've always been a tennis fan and enjoy watching a good Grand Slam tournament. I've been lucky enough to attend a couple of Wimbledons and US Opens though it has been many years. So I'm in bed this weekend with a cold and my laptop and my new high def television watching the US Open matches. And I'm reminded of a US Open match I went to several years ago where I was lucky enough to be in the stands and watch the great Chris Evert play her final match ever against Zina Garrison, also a great American tennis player. Evert's famous rival for nearly two decades, Martina Navratilova, also was playing in that tournament and made it to the finals where she lost against the legendary Steffi Graf (who I'm sure I'll profile in a later post).
Martina is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time. She won an astounding 59 Grand Slam titles in Women's Singles (18), Women's Doubles (31) and Mixed Doubles (10). Despite playing in an era with greats like Evert, Graf, Monica Seles and Billie Jean King, Navratilova set a record winning 74 matches in a row. Navratilova played an amazingly long career only retiring last year at Wimbledon just a month shy of her 50th birthday. Most of her opponents and even some of their parents were not even born when Navratilova was winning tournaments.
Navratilova's immigration story is not dissimilar to other athletes from Eastern Bloc countries. She was a citizen of Czechoslavakia and defected to the US in 1975 when she was just 18 years old. She became a naturalized US citizen in 1981.
REPORT: AMERICANS WILL NEED IMMIGRANTS FOR OUR LONG TERM NURSING HOME CARE
Will all the anti-immigrants out there please sign a pledge that they will only live in nursing homes that employ American-born workers? And, uh, add, American-born home health care providers to that list. Then it will be fun to watch their kids ship them off to a Mexican or Indian nursing home (both of those countries are now becoming popular destinations for Americans looking for more affordable and high quality service).
OK, I'm being a little mean, but the report just issued by Brandeis University Professor Walter Leutz makes it pretty clear that we're going to be completely dependent on immigrants to care for us when we're old. I have no doubt we'll come to that realization eventually. The only question is whether we change immigration policies soon enough to head off a lot of the damage.
AMERICA'S BEST FOREIGN RELATIONS TOOL GETTING STRONGER
Well, for all the criticism you can throw at the diplomatic skills of the State Department (either this Administration's or previous ones), the one institution that has helped America's image abroad perhaps more than any over the generations has been our university system. I don't think I'm being overly pro-American when I say that the US has more outstanding universities than any country in the world. We certainly have more foreign students than any other country. And those students generally leave the US with a positive impression of the country. Many foreign students have gone home and eventually became leaders in their countries (some even becoming Prime Ministers and Presidents). Others have gone home to developing countries and brought vital knowledge back to their homelands. And many choose to make America their permanent home and provide critically needed skills to the US workforce. Also, one of the lesser known benefits of foreign student admissions to the US is the fact that the students often subsidize their American counterparts by paying out of state tuition rates with no financial aid.
So while he intended it or not, Osama bin Laden scored an important political win when his terrorists successfully hijacked the student visa system as a key part of his 9/11 attack. In the years after 9/11, foreign student enrollment in the US dropped significantly, bottoming out in 2004. There were many causes. Many were tied to new security measures and visa restrictions that made the process tougher. Security clearances were taking months on end and the word was out that the US was too unwelcoming. And universities in other countries quickly moved in to try and persuade the world's brightest students that they should look at their institutions.
Over the last few years, however, the new system got more efficient and America's universities got more competitive in attracting international students. The number of graduate students coming to the US is now back on the upswing. Admissions today are still down (though slightly) from a few years ago. But a new report from the Council on Graduate Education is mostly upbeat in its assessment of foreign student admissions in the US. Aside from increased admissions, the report's authors are also encouraged by the increased number of collaborative programs between US institutions and those in other countries.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY #2: EVER HEARD OF FINGERPRINTS?
Another day and another American citizen mistakenly jailed as an illegal immigrant. This time it is Alicia Rodriguez, a mother of three and an accountant in Texas. She was mixed up with a woman of the same name who was deported three times back to Mexico. So presumably the deported was fingerprinted when she was removed from the country which would mean that ICE could easily have figured out they had the wrong woman.
But wait, it wasn't ICE who detained the woman. It was the Arlington, Texas police who were acting under a 287(g) agreement where they could detain people and transfer them over the ICE. And that means we're going to see more of this kind of nonsense as police forces around the country enforce immigration laws but lack the competence and the tools to do the job properly.
[MEANT TO THANK READER TX FOR THIS TIP. THANKS TX]
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: WIDOW PENALTY TO FORCE DEPORTATION OF HERO'S WIFE
Speaking of the widow penalty, here's an example that shows why we need change. The widow of a San Francisco lifeguard who died saving someone from drowning is facing deportation because her husband died before her green card was finished being processed. Efforts are being made to get a private bill passed in Congress, but a better solution would be to pass Senator Nelson's bill to end the widow penalty and let these folks complete their green card applications.
SUIT FILED TO END THE WIDOW PENALTY
A few weeks back I wrote about an organization advocating for widows and widowers who found themselves facing deportation because their spouses died in the middle of the green card application process. I was happy to learn that they're pressing their case in court as well as in Congress.
BREAKING NEWS: JUDGE ISSUES ORDER HALTING IMPLEMENTATION OF NO MATCH RULE
Wow, that was fast! Yesterday I wrote about the lawsuit filed by the AFL-CIO to stop the implementation of the no match rule. Today, a court issued an order siding with America's largest labor union. The National Immigration Law Center's press release is included below.
Judge Issues Order After Lawsuit Is
Filed by AFL-CIO, ACLU, and
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 31, 2007
CONTACT: Ana Avendaño, AFL-CIO, (202) 431-9743; firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Archuleta, ACLU, (917) 892-9180; email@example.com
Stella Richardson, ACLU-NC, (415) 845-3042; firstname.lastname@example.org
Marielena Hincapié, NILC, (415) 845-3403; email@example.com
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge today issued an order temporarily blocking the government from implementing a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule that would cause U.S. citizens and other authorized workers to lose their jobs, and which would illegally use error-prone social security records as a tool for immigration enforcement. The judge's order also stops the Social Security Administration (SSA) from beginning to send notices on Tuesday to approximately 140,000 employers across the country notifying them of the new rule, which would impact approximately eight million workers.
The order comes as a result of a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Central Labor Council of Alameda County along with other local labor movements. A hearing on the groups' request to permanently bar the implementation of the DHS rule is scheduled for October 1 before U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer.
"We are very pleased that the judge recognized the need to halt the implementation of this ill-advised DHS rule," said John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO. "Employers have historically used SSA 'no-match' letters to exploit workers and this rule would only give them a stronger pretext for doing more of the same."
In the lawsuit, the groups charge that the misguided rule violates the law and workers' rights and imposes burdensome obligations on employers who receive SSA "no-match" letters that inform them of alleged discrepancies between employee records and the SSA database.
U.S. District Judge Maxine M. Chesney found that the groups "raised serious questions as to whether the new Department of Homeland Security rule is inconsistent with statute and beyond the statutory authority of the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration."
"The court found the balance of hardships tips sharply in favor of staying the rule while it is being challenged," said Scott A. Kronland of Altshuler Berzon LLP, who argued at today's hearing. "We are confident we will prevail when the court hears the case on the merits."
Currently, employers who receive "no-match" letters stating that their employees' identification documents don't match SSA records are not required to take any action. The new DHS rule would impose liability on employers based on failure to respond to an SSA "no-match" letter, even though SSA errors are caused by many innocent factors such as typographical errors and name changes due to marriage or divorce, and the use of multiple surnames, which is common in many parts of the world. According to the Office of the Inspector General in SSA, 12.7 million of the 17.8 million discrepancies in SSA's database - more than 70% - belong to native-born U.S. citizens. Under the DHS rule, employers might be required to fire employees whose erroneous SSA records are not fixed within 90 days after the "no-match" letter is sent. The DHS rule would threaten jobs of U.S. citizens and other legally authorized workers simply because of errors in the government's inaccurate social security earnings database.
"This is a crucial and significant first step in challenging this rule, which would be a bureaucratic and costly nightmare for employers and many U.S. citizens and other legally authorized workers," said Lucas Guttantag, Director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.
"Today's ruling takes us one step closer to an eventual finding that the DHS rule is unlawful. This is a great Labor Day victory for the millions of workers who would have been affected by no-match notice letters being sent out next week," said Marielena Hincapié, Staff Attorney and Director of Programs at NILC.
Today's order was handed down in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
In addition to the AFL-CIO, which is represented by the law firm of Altshuler Berzon, LLP, other parties bringing the lawsuit include the Central Labor Council of Alameda County, represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Northern California, and NILC, as well as the San Francisco Labor Council and the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, represented by Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.
In addition to Guttentag and Hincapié, lawyers on the case include Stephen Berzon, Scott Kronland, Jonathan Weissglass, Linda Lye and Danielle Leonard of Altshuler, Berzon; Jonathan Hiatt, James Copess and Ana Avendaño of the AFL-CIO; Jennifer Chang, M?nica M. Ramírez, and Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project; Alan Schlosser and Julia Mass of the ACLU of Northern California; Linton Joaquin and Monica Guizar of NILC; and David Rosenfeld and Manjari Chawla of Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.
The complaint can be found at: http://www.nilc.org/immsemplymnt/SSA_Related_Info/suit_complaint.pdf
The order issued today can be found at:
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: CESAR MILLAN - DOG WHISPERER
The National Geographic Channel's #1 rated show is a reality show centering around Cesar Millan helping owners correct problem behavior with their dogs. Okay, that doesn't sound terribly compelling, but the show is actually well done and worth watching, particularly if you're a dog lover.
Cesar Millan is probably the best know dog trainer on the planet. So a lot of folks who watch his show might be surprised that he crossed illegally from his native Mexico in 1990 and was an illegal alien for several years. He's now a permanent resident and on his way to citizenship.
CANADA'S NATIONAL NURSING UNION ISSUES REPORT PRAISING FOREIGN NURSES
Canada has a nurse shortage just like the US. But ours is probably far worse given the relatively closed immigration policies we have for nurses and the country's lack of foresight in opening more nursing programs and training more nursing instructors. The fact that the Canadian Nursing Association has issued a report recognizing the importance of foreign nurses in the Canadian health care system is certainly noteworthy given that a union would have a natural inclination to want to keep the supply of workers in their field in tight supply. How's this for enlightened:
The conventional wisdom in the US is that the American Nursing Association has been blocking nursing immigration legislation in this country. But I believe that this is a myth based on past positions taken by the ANA (which, by the way, is a professional association and no longer a union). I think the ANA would be willing to accept more nurses from abroad with certain concessions - a tax to fund domestic nurse education programs, guarantees that nurses that receive funding from their countries pay back such loans or get their country to otherwise sign of before emigrating (to address brain drain concerns), etc. Look for legislation addressing nurses in the coming months.
PRO-IMMIGRATION ACTIVISTS' SECRET WEAPON - THE CONSITUTION
Herndon, Virginia's new law making it a crime for day laborers discussing employment with motorists is thrown out on First Amendment freedom of speech grounds. The city tried to regulate this activity in the same way as prostitution.
After Hazleton and now Herndon, state and local legislators will hopefully start to get the message that there are parameters to how far they can go. And it will hopefully cause these folks to put the pressure back on Congress to do its job and address the immigration crisis.
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: WOLFGANG PUCK - CHEF AND ENTREPRENEUR
Wolfgang Puck, the Austrian immigrant who re-invented pizza and is one of the country's most famous celebrity chefs, is today's honoree. I've eaten at many Puck restaurants and have had some great meals. The squash soup at his restaurant in Orlando is one of my favorites. And to think he started his American career as a chef for an Indiana bank. As soon as I'm off this damn diet I can't wait to feast at another one of his spots. Live, love, eat!
LEADING LABOR UNION FILES SUIT TO STOP USCIS FEE INCREASES
I wrote earlier today about the AFL-CIO suing to stop the no-match rule. The Service Employers International Union, another one of the largest unions in the country, is suing to reverse the ridiculously exorbitant fee increases recently imposed by USCIS. You can read the press release here.
Bender's Immigration Bulletin has posted the case here.
HOW CAN WE REPAY YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU'VE DONE?
You might be reading a lot about this case very soon.
BILLIONAIRE'S WIFE RUNS IN TO MAJOR IMMIGRATION WOES
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: KIDS IN PRISON
One of the consequences of deportation most of us don't think about is the treatment of young children who are being detained and removed from the country. If deportation is necessary, then it is imperative that we detain them in the most humane conditions possible. Unfortunately, some of the family detention centers around the US are more like prisons - indeed some of them are real prisons that are not very effectively converted to something else. ICE has settled a lawsuit at one location, but there are similar allegations regarding facilities around the US.
NATION'S LARGEST UNION SUES TO BLOCK NO MATCH RULE; SSA EXPECTED TO MAIL 150,000 NOTICES IN COMING MONTHS
The AFL-CIO as well a number of other unions and immigrant rights groups, have jointly filed a lawsuit to block the implementation of the Social Security Number no match rule scheduled to take effect in mid-September. The suit contends that US citizens would face discrimination because they appear or sound foreign and that the US government is not equipped to ensure that such workers status is properly verified in time to meet the regulation's verification deadlines.
The Social Security Administration has told the LA Times that it intends to send out about 150,000 no match letters over a two month period. Such letters normally cover ten or more workers so the number of workers affected could number in the millions.
Business groups are also independently urging DHS to delay implementation of the rule for six months. According to the Times, those groups include major industry associations like the National Restaurant Association and the Associated General Contractors of America.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.