January 28, 2009

Another Jail Death, and Mounting Questions

Published: January 27, 2009

He lived 42 of his 48 years in the United States, and had the words “Raised American” tattooed on his shoulder. But Guido R. Newbrough was born German, and he died in November as an immigration detainee of a Virginia jail, his heart devastated by an overwhelming bacterial infection.

His family and fellow detainees say the infection went untreated, despite his mounting pleas for medical care in the 10 days before his death. Instead, after his calls for help grew insistent, detainees said, guards at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., threw him to the floor, dragged him away as he cried out in pain, and locked him in an isolation cell.

Mr. Newbrough, a construction worker who had served jail time for molesting a girlfriend’s young daughter, was found unresponsive in the cell several days later, on Nov. 27, and died at a hospital the next day without regaining consciousness. An autopsy report last week cited a virulent staph infection as an underlying cause of his death from endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves that is typically cured with antibiotics.

Accounts of Mr. Newbrough’s last days echo other cases of deaths in immigration custody, including one at the same jail in December 2006, which prompted a review by immigration officials that found the medical unit so lacking that they concluded, “Detainee health care is in jeopardy.”

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement never released those findings, even when asked about allegations of neglect in that death, of Abdoulai Sall, 50, a Guinea-born mechanic with no criminal record whose kidneys failed over several weeks. Instead, officials defended care in that case and other deaths as Congress and the news media questioned medical practices in the patchwork of county jails, private prisons and federal detention centers under contract to hold noncitizens while the government tries to deport them.

The 2006 report — and a set of talking points the agency produced for its press officers to use when discussing deaths in detention — were only recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act; the group provided copies to The New York Times, which first reported Mr. Sall’s death.

“This facility has failed on multiple levels to perform basic supervision and provide for the safety and welfare of ICE detainees,” the six-page report concluded shortly after he died. “The medical health care unit does not meet minimum ICE standards.”

The report said the jail had failed to respond adequately as Mr. Sall grew sicker, and that even when he was found unconscious on the floor, employees “stood around for approximately one minute” before trying to revive him. The jail’s superintendent, who said he never saw the report, adamantly denied those conclusions this week.

But Tom Jawetz, a lawyer with the civil liberties union’s National Prison Project, said the new death at the same jail underscored the lack of accountability in immigration detention nationwide.

“Piedmont is a facility that was understaffed and underresponsive to clear medical needs,” Mr. Jawetz said. “The reports of Mr. Newbrough’s death raise serious questions about whether those failures were ever remedied.”

Asked Monday what measures it had taken after Mr. Sall’s death, the immigration agency promised a response but did not provide one. Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman, said earlier that an investigation of Mr. Newbrough’s death was under way.

The 780-bed Piedmont jail, run by governments of six Virginia counties, typically houses about 300 immigration detainees, and is now down to fewer than 150. But Ms. Nantel denied rumors that the agency was pulling them out, as it did last month at a detention center in Central Falls, R.I., where a Chinese computer engineer’s extensive cancer and fractured spine went undiagnosed until shortly before his death on Aug. 6.

In that case, investigators for the federal immigration agency found that the engineer, Hiu Lui Ng, had been denied proper medical treatment, and dragged from his cell to a van as he screamed in pain six days before his death.

The parallels with detainee accounts of Mr. Newbrough’s treatment are striking to Jeff Winder, an organizer for the grass-roots Virginia group People United, who was contacted by several inmates at Piedmont who also spoke to a reporter. The latest death has heightened the group’s opposition to plans by private developers and city officials to build another immigration detention center in Farmville, with 1,000 to 2,500 beds.

“ICE has no obligation to send detainees there after the next detainee dies,” Mr. Winder said. “Farmville could be left with the reputation as a place where detainees die of medical neglect.”

Ernest L. Toney, the jail superintendent, denied accounts that Mr. Newbrough had been mistreated, saying, “That is not our protocol here.” He referred all other questions about his death to the federal immigration agency.

But Dr. Homer D. Venters, an expert in detention health care who learned about the case from Mr. Newbrough’s family and reviewed the autopsy, said available evidence showed violations of detention standards that let the detainee’s treatable local infections rage out of control. Dr. Venters, a public health fellow at New York University, was critical of the medical care in immigration detention when he testified last year at a Congressional subcommittee hearing, and is on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement advisory group.

“First, Mr. Newbrough’s medical complaints were apparently ignored,” he wrote in a preliminary analysis of the case for Mr. Newbrough’s parents. “Second, Mr. Newbrough was placed in a disciplinary setting while ill and despite having voiced medical complaints. Third, Mr. Newbrough was not adequately (if at all) medically monitored” in the isolation cell.

During those last days, Dr. Venters added in an interview, even guards should have noticed that Mr. Newbrough was in critical condition as the bacteria colonizing his heart broke loose, creating abscesses in his brain, liver and kidneys. “When endocarditis is not treated, it kills people,” he said. With modern hospital care, the death rate is 25 percent or less.

“We were sitting here, powerless,” said Mr. Newbrough’s stepfather, Jack Newbrough, 70, a former Air Force sergeant who met Guido’s mother, Heidi, and Guido, then 2, when he was stationed in their native Germany. “I am just so disappointed in my country, this homeland security system they got set up.”

Mrs. Newbrough, 65, said her son, who had an estranged wife and three American-born children, had quit drinking after serving 11 months for molestation and, on probation, moved back to his childhood home in Manassas, Va., from a trailer park in Stafford. A 1999 article about life in the park, in the first issue of Tina Brown’s Talk magazine, featured him prominently — under the rubric “Dialing America.”

“Nobody knew he wasn’t American,” his mother said. “Even he didn’t know. He found out the day they picked him up here.”

His arrest last February, immigration records show, was a result of Operation Coldplay, which combs probation records to find past sex offenders whose immigration status makes them deportable. Mr. Newbrough had taken what is known as an Alford plea to charges of “indecent liberties with a minor,” and aggravated sexual battery in 2002 — denying his guilt, but acknowledging that prosecutors had evidence that could cause a jury to convict him of molesting his girlfriend’s 4-year-old.

Mr. Newbrough, who spoke no German, would have automatically become a citizen if his American-born stepfather had formally adopted him when he was a child, or if his mother had been naturalized while he was a minor, rather than just four years ago.

While Mr. Newbrough waited at Piedmont for nine months, an immigration lawyer argued that he had derived citizenship from his stepfather. An immigration judge disagreed. The appeal was pending in mid-November when Mr. Newbrough began to complain in phone calls of terrible back pain and stomach aches, his family said. When they urged him to tell the medical staff, they said, he replied: “ ‘I did. They just don’t care.’ ”

Several detainees interviewed by telephone last week said that in the two weeks before Thanksgiving, Mr. Newbrough’s back pain grew so bad that he began sobbing through the night, and some in the 90-man unit took turns making him hot compresses. By the Sunday before Thanksgiving, he was desperate, two detainees said, and banged at the door of the unit’s lunchroom, yelling for help. They said by the time guards responded, he was seated at a table.

“They told him to get up, and he said he couldn’t get up because he was in a lot of pain,” said Salvador Alberto Rivas, who identified himself as Mr. Newbrough’s bunk mate, awaiting deportation to El Salvador. “Because of the pain, he started crying, and he was trying to tell them he had put in requests for medical and didn’t get any. And then one of the guards threw him to the floor.”

“They drag him by his leg, in front of about 30 people,” said another detainee, who gave his name only as Jose for fear of retaliation, adding that many witnesses had since been transferred to other jails or deported.

“We didn’t know that he was dying,” added Jose, who wrote about the case in a letter published online by a Spanish weekly. “They took him to the hole. He was yelling for help in the hole, too.”

That information, he said, came from a detainee in the isolation section at the same time, but since deported, who was so upset by Mr. Newbrough’s death that he left his name and alien registration number — Rene Cordoba Palma, No. 088424581 — in case anyone wanted his testimony.

Group Representing 600 Children Of Immigrants Sues President Obama

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

In a move that was noticed almost exclusively by Spanish-language media, a Miami-based organization representing 600 children of immigrants has sued none other than President Barack Obama.

American Fraternity Inc. filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court to demand that President Obama stop the deportations of the children’s parents.

Two of the children said they started a hunger strike to ask that their mother not be deported to Nicaragua.

The organization’s executive director Nora Sándigo, who is the children’s legal guardian, told BBC Mundo:

Some of the kids are children of persons with a court date and imminent deportation proceedings, others have one of their parents in jail with a date for exiting the country already set.

But there’s also children who were left here when their mother or their father was deported some time ago, and others whose parents, knowing they do not have documentation and aware that the same will happen to them if Immigration catches them, joined (the suit) as a preventative measure.

All the minors are U.S. citizens, they live in a number of American states and their families trace their roots to various Latin American countries, the BBC’s Carlos Ceresole noted.

The suit is intended to place the decision to halt the deportations on Obama’s desk. According to Spanish news service Agencia Efe, the president can make a decision if the Supreme Court allows the case to go forward.

“We do this not because we may be against him –Sándigo told Efe–, but so that he can use his authority to issue an executive order stopping deportations.”

Cecia Sosa, 12, and her brother Ronald, 9, said Tuesday they had initiated a hunger strike to prevent their mother from being deported on the scheduled date, which is tomorrow.

“We’re doing a hunger strike to help my mom get out of jail,” a sobbing Cecia told The Associated Press. “I would do whatever it takes to get my mommy out… I want Obama to see me to help my mother.” The girl said she had only ingested liquids in the previous 24 hours.

The children’s mother, Maricela Sosa –who entered the U.S. on foot from Mexico in 1997–, was detained at the family’s Pompano Beach, Fla., home on Dec. 19. She had just taken Cecia to the school bus stop when Immigration officers took her away.

The children’s father Ronald, who is also undocumented, was staying at an undisclosed location for fear of being deported, The A.P. said.

American Fraternity had already filed a similar lawsuit against Pres. George W. Bush, but the Supreme Court rejected it on a technicality, according to the group’s lawyer Alfonso Oviedo Reyes.

The attorney said before the immigration laws of 1996 were passed, undocumented parents of American children had the right to have their deportation reviewed in court. They could obtain residency if they could show that they had been in the U.S. for over seven years, had good moral character, and the hardship inflicted on their kids by their deportation would be extreme.

“They had that right for over forty years, but with the immigration reform of 1996 that was taken from them and they didn’t get anything in return,” Oviedo Reyes said. “Congress shut down all the ways to obtain legal residency and that’s why the number of undocumented immigrants has increased.”

Congress also ruled that class-action immigration cases cannot be filed in federal courts; hence the only venue where they can be presented is the Supreme Court.

Deportations Slide Under Obama's Radar

BY MYRIAM MARQUEZ

mmarquez@MiamiHerald.com

Barack Obama becomes president, and Haitians with deportation orders are put on notice: You're outta here!

Louiness Petit-Frere, a 31-year-old baker with no family left in Haiti and whose mother and siblings have legal U.S. status -- including a U.S. Marine brother who served two tours in Iraq -- was put on a flight on Friday.

Vialine Jean Paul, 34, married to a U.S. citizen and with a 7-year-old American-born daughter being treated for a chronic viral infection, was notified that she needs to buy her plane ticket back to Haiti this week, having lost her appeal for asylum in 2001.

Her choice: Leave behind her little girl or take the sick child to a storm-ravaged country where polluted flood waters have left thousands at risk of malaria, hepatitis and cholera and 300,000 children facing malnutrition.

Immigration spokeswoman Nicole Navas points out that the agency is simply enforcing the law: ``Individuals of all nationalities, who have had due process and who have been ordered deported, shouldn't be surprised if they receive notices advising of their need to comply with their orders of removal.''

PLAYING POLITICS

Advocates for Haitian immigrants say there has been an uptick since Obama's inauguration to deport Haitians without a criminal record, many of them married to U.S. citizens or who have American-born children. The numbers provided by immigration officials Monday (41 Haitians deported since December) do not show an uptick. Just business as usual.

It's no secret that the Bush administration played politics with the Haitian diaspora wracked by four deadly storms last summer.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff rejected a request by Haitian President René Préval to allow undocumented Haitians to stay here until their homeland recovers. He rejected granting temporary protected status, or TPS, so that Haitians can live and work legally here -- just as tens of thousands of Central Americans legally do thanks to TPS.

Are bureaucrats moving swiftly before Haiti comes up on the policy radar of the new president and his Homeland Security chief, Janet Napolitano? ''They lifted the halt of deportations in late December,'' noted Randolph McGrorty of Catholic Legal Services. ``We heard about a handful of people who had been deported. Now there's this flurry of activity. . . . There are too many signs to deny it.''

Marleine Bastien, who runs Haitian Women of Miami, says her office has been swamped with calls. ''It's not only the number but the type of people who they are deporting, people who qualify for relief -- either for adjustment of status or because they are married to U.S. citizens,'' she said.

PROTECTED STATUS

After the devastating storms, Obama noted that ''the Haitian-American community is doing its part by supporting family and friends in Haiti in their time of need.'' That's precisely why TPS makes sense -- for humanitarian reasons and U.S. national security. TPS would not open the floodgates. When the Clinton administration halted deportations to Haiti in the 1990s because of civil strife, there was no mass migration.

What TPS will do is help Haitians rebuild their country with remittances from relatives here who are at risk of being deported, as Cheryl Little of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center noted in a letter to Napolitano this week.

South Florida's congressional delegation should push the White House to act quickly. Bush left Obama a ticking time bomb by reinstating deportations -- one that could explode any day now on our shores.

US-Mexico Border Fence Almost Complete

By Eileen Sullivan
The Associated Press, January 27, 2009

Washington, DC (AP) -- The fence along the U.S.-Mexico border is mostly finished.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling says that 601 miles of the project had been completed as of a week ago.

Easterling says 69 miles of the fence still must be built to meet the goal set during the Bush administration.

In December, then President-elect Barack Obama said he wanted to evaluate border security operations before he considers whether to finish building the fence under his administration.

Easterling said the Obama White House has not told Homeland Security to stop building the fence.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said a fence alone will not stop illegal immigration along the 2,000-mile border. About half of the fence has been built in Arizona, where Napolitano was governor.

The overall plan for security on the Southwest border - set by the Bush administration - includes additional Border Patrol agents, more enforcement of immigration laws, the fence and a high-tech 'virtual fence' using surveillance technology.

At her Senate confirmation hearing, Napolitano said there is a role for fencing around urban areas. 'It helps prevent those who are crossing illegally from blending immediately into a town population,' Napolitano told senators.

Officials have said the border security improvements - like the fence - are working, and fewer people are trying to illegally cross from Mexico into the United States. Some of that can be attributed to economic woes and fewer jobs in the U.S.

The fence has been controversial since its inception and has faced several lawsuits, none successful so far.

Congress authorized the fence in 2005 to help secure the border and slow illegal immigration. Lawmakers also gave the Homeland Security secretary the power to waive federal laws, such as environmental protections, when erecting the fence. Obama, as a senator, voted for the project.

Congress has set aside $2.7 billion for the fence since 2006. There's no estimate how much the entire system - the physical fence and the technology - will cost to build, let alone maintain.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks revived the immigration debate and advanced the idea of a border fence. Intelligence officials have said gaps along the Southwestern border could provide opportunities for terrorists to enter the country.

Boeing Co. has the contract for the technology portion of the fence, as well as for some construction work. The company's contract for the technology expires this year.

Court Interpreters in Short Supply in Multilingual Texas

By Dianne Solis
The Dallas Morning News, January 25, 2009

The Honduran woman had been beaten repeatedly. And when it was time to face her former boyfriend who she said had tormented her, she wanted the jury in the Dallas courtroom to understand key details. Her voice shook. She spoke only Spanish.

Judge Lena Levario worked with interpreters on jury instructions earlier this month in McKinney.

The young woman used an interpreter, Lyda Baro. In English, Baro said, 'And from a beating, he gave me a miscarriage.'

The accused was found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor offense.

Court interpreters like Baro give voice to women challenging domestic violence, to children who've been abused, to witnesses of murders, and to many other parts of often-complex legal processes. And they have never been in more demand – a reflection of the demographic sweep of immigration in North Texas and across the country.

'We live in a state with a death penalty,' Baro said as she sat outside a courtroom. 'So this is crucial stuff.'

It is also the exacting stuff of stories that will affirm or contradict guilt or innocence or witness credibility. And yet a victim with a limited vocabulary can't be helped by an interpreter with a college degree, a poetic flair and a gift for narrative arc.

Interpreters must remain neutral and not add or subtract from what's said, according to administrative rules of the state licensing agency.

There are false cognates, and there are true cognates. (Crimen isn't an exact translation of crime, for example.) There are literal meanings versus idiomatic expressions of a certain region. ('Keep your nose clean' isn't so easy to translate.)

Linguistic nimbleness is only half the skill needed, experts say. Interpreters must also know a good deal about the law and have excellent memories.

Interpreter scarcity

So the licensing process is tough.

There are only 32 licensed interpreters in Dallas County, and about 500 in the state. About 40 percent of Dallas County, or 830,000 people, and about a third of the Texas population, or 7.2 million, speaks a language other than English in the home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Spanish dominates among the foreign languages, followed by Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean.

'To have this low number of interpreters is ridiculous,' said Esther Diaz, an Austin interpreter active in the American Translators Association. 'One of the reasons we have so few is that the test is so rigorous, you really have to know Spanish inside and out.'

Marilyn Retta, a licensed court interpreter in Dallas, said: 'I turn down about as many jobs as I take because there just aren't enough interpreters. That is a good place to be if you want job security.'

Not everyone who believes he's bilingual makes it as an interpreter for the foreign-born.

'A good interpreter has very high language skills, phenomenal skills,' said Gerda Stendell, director of the Access Language Center.

'They have to be fully bilingual. But being bilingual is only the raw material. A professional interpreter needs a vast vocabulary, ranging from street language to master's degree quality.'

Training for focus

Precision was at play at a recent training session for court interpreters in McKinney. Elegible in Mexico commonly means a person who legally can be elected. It doesn't mean eligible.

'It is an Anglocism; but Anglocisms are becoming more and more common,' Holly Mikkelson said as she led the training for the Texas Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.

Mikkelson warns about the word crimen. It doesn't mean just any crime but is instead reserved for unusually violent crimes. In English, the word 'delinquent' refers to a petty offense by a minor. But in Spanish, delinquencia can mean any crime by a person of any age.

While repeating word for word what's being heard, she has a student write down a mathematical sequence such as skip-counting by threes, said Mikkelson, who also teaches at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a language school in California.

The interpreter's role is huge, said District Judge Lena Levario.

'A wrong interpretation can mean the difference between freedom and a prison sentence,' she said.

She recalled a case from years prior when, as a young public defender, she represented a man who received a bad translation of what the perpetrator allegedly wore. Her objection meant freedom for her client.

Luis García, president of the state interpreters group, said he sometimes hears complaints that interpreters cost taxpayers too much money. But court interpreters aren't just for defendants, García said.

'They are for victims, too,' he said. 'What if the person who needs an interpreter was a witness to the murder of your mother or another loved one?'

Hispanic Illegal Immigrants Hit by Wave of Robberies in US

Agence France Presse, January 27, 2009

Tampa, FL (AFP) -- Thieves are increasingly targeting Hispanic illegal immigrants who are reluctant to report robberies to the police for fear of deportation, US activists and law enforcement agencies say.

The victims of the robberies in Florida and other Southern states are often farm workers paid in cash because they have no bank accounts due to a lack of official identification.

'Many robberies (of illegal immigrant workers) are committed but not reported,' said Cheryl Little, executive director for the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center.

'Because many of these workers originally come from countries where the police can't be trusted, they're reluctant to report the robberies,' she said.

The precise number of robberies against Hispanic immigrants 'will never be known (due to the fear of deportation),' Little told AFP.

But advocate groups and police departments are trying to spread the word that illegal immigrants will not face deportation if they report a crime.

'One of the things that we try to point out, when we go into local Hispanic communities to talk about this, is that if you're a victim of a crime, your deportation status doesn't matter,' said Elizabeth Watts, spokeswoman for the police department in Clearwater, Florida.

The city, which has a large number of Mexican immigrant workers, had 55 robberies in 2008 in which the victims were Hispanic males, according to Watts.

To combat the problem, authorities in Austin, Texas sought help from local banks to enable more immigrant workers to open up accounts.

'We went into partnership with a number of banks to help Hispanic immigrant workers to open bank accounts,' said Brian Miller of the Austin Police Department.

The problem has been exacerbated by a shortage of police patrols in Hispanic communities and a reluctance by immigration lawyers to take up cases, said Margarita Romo, Director of Farmworkers Self-Help Inc. in Florida.

There are an estimated 11.9 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Compean, Ramos Pardon Sought

The two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose sentences were recently commuted by former President Bush are set to be released in late March.

But some Texas representatives, activists and the agents' families may soon be pushing for President Barack Obama to pardon Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean entirely.

"It is good that President Bush has commuted their sentence," said Congressman Ted Poe, R-Texas, during a House address Jan. 21. "We hope to press further with the new president, President Obama, and get a complete pardon for these two individuals."

The agents, once released, will still be convicted felons if not given a pardon or a chance to exonerate themselves.

Poe and other representatives "are advocating that Obama pardon them and release them earlier," said Robin Hvidston of the Minuteman Project. "It's also the beginning of a fight to clear their names. They are planning on going forward to appeal and clear their names."

CNN recently reported the Mexican government's disapproval of Bush's decision.

"You see right away, the Mexican government, in its self-righteous indignation, disapproves of the commutation of Ramos and Compean," Poe said in the address. "Obviously, if the Mexican government is opposed to it, President Bush did the right thing."

The Mexican government was also reported to have significant involvement in the case.

"The big thing everybody is jumping on now is that we know that there was involvement by the Mexican government at the highest levels looking into their case and influencing their case behind the scene," said Andy Ramirez, chairman of Friends of the Border Patrol. "Which means that they were trying to keep them in prison."

Chronology of border shooting of drug suspect

A chronology in the case of former Border Patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, whose lengthy prison sentences for shooting a fleeing drug smuggler were commuted earlier this month by then President Bush:

- February 2005: Compean and Ramos shoot at Aldrete during a chase in which agents suspect they have come upon a drug transaction. Aldrete is shot in the rear as he flees to Mexico.

- March 2006: Compean and Ramos are convicted on several counts of assault, weapons offenses, obstruction of justice and a civil rights offense. Border Patrol officials say both agents will be fired.

- October 2006: Compean is sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, Ramos 11 years and one day.

- February 2007: Ramos' relatives and U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado say Ramos was beaten in prison after his case was described in an episode of "America's Most Wanted."

- July 2007: The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing regarding the convictions. Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas says the shooting's cover-up was inexcusable but that the president should review their excessive sentences. The U.S. House votes to block the Bureau of Prisons from holding Compean and Ramos.

- November 2007: Aldrete is charged with smuggling marijuana in separate incidents several months after the shooting.

- April 2008: Aldrete pleads guilty to two counts of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, and one count each of conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

- July 2008: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upholds most of the convictions, but the ruling forces resentencing hearings.

- August 2008: Aldrete is sentenced to 9 1/2 years in federal prison on the drug smuggling charges.

- November 2008: Compean and Ramos are formally resentenced to their original federal prison terms.

- January 2009: Bush commutes the sentences, days after all but three of the 34 Texans in Congress sent Bush a signed letter asking for leniency.

The Associated Press

Hispanics Expected to Become Minnesota's Largest Minority Group in 10 Years

The big surprise is that Hispanics are projected to become the largest minority group in the state within the next 10 years. Minnesota, however, will remain overwhelmingly white.

Last update: January 26, 2009 - 10:44 PM

Hispanics, once among the smallest of Minnesota's minority groups and predicted to remain so for decades, are now expected to become the state's largest minority group within the next 10 years, the state demographer's office said Monday.

But with a lot more white folks than what experts were predicting as recently as the mid-1990s, Minnesota will also remain overwhelmingly white through the early part of this century.

As recently as 1990, there were almost twice as many blacks (95,000) as Hispanics (54,000) in Minnesota. But a '90s surge in Hispanic immigration, fueled by a white-hot economy, helped change that.

Demographer Martha McMurry now projects that by 2015, Hispanics (324,000) will have charged past blacks (314,000), despite the effects of African immigration. As of the most recent set of projections, just a few years ago, that wasn't going to happen until 2025.

McMurry cautioned, however, that the shift in expectations is more because of changes in how the forecasts are being done than to any observed change in minority arrivals or birthrates.

"I don't think there's any huge underlying shift going on," she said. "One change we made in how we do these projections is that we looked at national forecasts this time, which we haven't done before."

The notion of a general increase in diversity is a lot more reliable than any specific numbers, she said.

"A lot of the growth in the black population has been immigrants," she said. "Will that continue? Good luck trying to figure that one out. And the same is true of Latinos: We don't know what immigration policies or enforcement will be."

DAVID PETERSON

Chicago Immigration Activist Marks Year in Church

By Sophia Tareen
The Associated Press, January 27, 2009

Chicago -- Flor Crisostomo has quietly spent the last year inside a Chicago church writing letters, meeting with school groups and organizing political demonstrations toward her goal of U.S. Immigration reform.

The illegal immigrant has defied a deportation order to her native Mexico and lived at Adalberto United Methodist Church, hoping to draw attention to Immigration reform at a time when the economy and election of a new U.S. president have taken center stage.

'We have to have a plan,' she told The Associated Press late Tuesday, the eve of her one-year anniversary at the church. 'My people need a voice.'

Unlike her predecessor at the church, the 29-year-old Crisostomo said she has no immediate plans to leave. Immigration activist Elvira Arellano announced the end of her sanctuary at the same church in 2007 on her one-year anniversary. She was arrested and deported to Mexico shortly after leaving.

Crisostomo, who has also pushed for a renegotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement, said her work isn't done and she wants President Barack Obama to make good on campaign promises for reform. She wrote an open letter to Obama and planned to read it Wednesday at a news conference at the church.

'No one wants to end the system of undocumented labor more than the undocumented. That system left me unprotected from exploitation as a worker and unable to visit my children in Mexico. With legalization, we can also have employment verification and enforcement without destroying the lives of families and the economy of the Latino community,' she wrote, according to a copy of the letter sent to The Associated Press.

Crisostomo said the hardest part about the last year has been getting politicians to listen to her message and living without her three children who are in Mexico with their grandmother.

'My children are strong and they understand why I am fighting,' she said.

Crisostomo left her three children in Iguala Guerrero, Mexico, in 2000 when she paid a smuggler to drive her across the border. She said she was unable to find a job in Mexico that would support her family.

Once in the U.S., she worked at a factory and was able to send home hundreds of dollars each week for her family. But she was arrested by Immigration authorities in 2006, during raids on IFCO Systems North America sites across the country. She was scheduled for deportation, but took sanctuary at the church instead.

Agents with Immigration Customs and Enforcement have not made attempts to go inside the church and arrest her.

'Ms. Crisostomo will be taken into custody at an appropriate time and place with consideration given to the safety of all involved,' according to a statement from ICE. 'Despite the government's considerable efforts to allow her to return to her home country on her own, Ms. Crisostomo has chosen to continue to violate our nation's Immigration laws and the judge's orders and is currently considered to be an Immigration fugitive.'

Crisostomo has said it is worth any risk, even as is criticized by anti-illegal Immigration groups like the Illinois Minutemen Project and the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration. They claim the sanctuary incites the public and mocks Immigration laws on the books.

Crisostomo said her situation illustrates the plight of millions of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. She claims that economic situations have worsened in Mexico because of NAFTA and other U.S. policies.

'My family has told me to continue -- until there is some victory for all of us, the light in the darkness, some way out of this terrible situation,' she wrote in the letter. 'So today I ask my God to give me strength and courage to continue. Here I am and here I will stay until this government fixes the broken law.'

Deportation Saves Accused Rapist from Trial

By John P. Kelly
The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA), January 28, 2009

Dedham, MA -- The courtroom fell quiet Tuesday as a young rape victim’s story of stolen innocence and emotional healing was read aloud.

Shackled and listening, the man who had held her down was sentenced to prison for at least two years.

But someone was missing from the courtroom.

The accused rapist.

Kamil Ostrowski was indicted in 2007 – while jailed for a different crime – on a charge he had raped the girl in Quincy when she was 14. But in April, federal immigration officials deported the 22-year-old to Poland before he could be tried.

The Norfolk County District Attorney’s office said immigration officials never notified them that Ostrowski faced deportation. But spokesman David Traub acknowledged Tuesday that prosecutors had learned Ostrowski was in federal custody but took no steps to prevent the accused rapist from being deported.

The office was told of the immigration matter by Ostrowski’s defense attorney, James Corbo. In future cases, Traub said, prosecutors may now decide to 'act on informal information' of that sort.

'It was always the intention of this office to bring both co-defendants to trial,' Traub said.

Michael Sullivan, the 21-year-old accomplice, was sentenced to a state prison term of two to three years for pinning the girl to his bed a few days before Christmas 2003.

But for Ostrowski, who the girl said raped her, the communication breakdown may have resulted in a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Similar mix-ups between state prosecutors and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have occurred before.

Moonie Moses was deported to Guyana in 2002 prior to his trial for raping two teenage girls and a woman with cerebral palsy in Dorchester. Authorities later extradited Moses, who was sentenced last year to two life sentences.

A similar case played out in New Jersey this year, where 20-year-old Carlos Ulloa-Murrillo was charged with the aggravated rape of a 12-year-old girl, only to be deported to Honduras.

U.S. Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, vowed Friday to file legislation to fix the 'communication gap' between agencies.

ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier said deportations of illegal immigrants are carried out unless local prosecutors convince a judge to order the convicted immigrant returned to state custody for trial.

'We are required to enforce immigration law, and that’s what we do,' Grenier said.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said local police and prosecutors too often have a weak understanding of immigration law that can lead criminals to 'fall between the cracks.'

'They need to screen for immigration status from the get-go, from the time of arrest,' said Vaughan. 'With ICE having great success in removing criminals from the population – in larger numbers than ever before – this becomes more and more important.'

Complicating matters, federal authorities are not required to check for outstanding criminal charges before deporting an individual, according to Charles Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

In Norfolk Superior Court on Tuesday, the woman raped in Quincy sat in the courtroom as Assistant District Attorney Megan Kennedy read her victim-impact statement. Beyond robbing her of her virginity, the woman wrote that the attack led to years of depression, anxiety and flashbacks.

'I will never be able to have a normal relationship with a man,' Kennedy read.

At the time Ostrowski was indicted, he was serving a two-year jail sentence for robbing a man of $75 at knife-point on a Red Line train to Boston.

He and Sullivan were 16 at the time of the rape more than three years earlier, which prosecutors said occurred after the teens drank rum and played video games together. Ostrowski, who pleaded innocent, told investigators two weeks after the attack the girl willingly had sex with him.

After learning of Ostrowski’s armed robbery, ICE placed a detainer on him, essentially calling for him to be turned over once he finished his sentence. Ostrowski had been in the country illegally since he was 8.

In late November 2007, Ostrowski finished his sentence 87 days early – credit earned in jail – and was immediately taken into federal custody. After a hearing, he was deported on April 16.

Seven months later, after Ostrowski failed to appear in court, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Processing Times

Here is a link to the most current information on immigration processing times:

PROCESSING TIMES

Another Jail Death and Mounting Questions

By NINA BERNSTEIN

He lived 42 of his 48 years in the United States, and had the words “Raised American” tattooed on his shoulder. But Guido R. Newbrough was born German, and he died in November as an immigration detainee of a Virginia jail, his heart devastated by an overwhelming bacterial infection.
His family and fellow detainees say the infection went untreated, despite his mounting pleas for medical care in the 10 days before his death. Instead, after his calls for help grew insistent, detainees said, guards at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., threw him to the floor, dragged him away as he cried out in pain, and locked him in an isolation cell.
Mr. Newbrough, a construction worker who had served jail time for molesting a girlfriend’s young daughter, was found unresponsive in the cell several days later, on Nov. 27, and died at a hospital the next day without regaining consciousness. An autopsy report last week cited a virulent staph infection as an underlying cause of his death from endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves that is typically cured with antibiotics.
Accounts of Mr. Newbrough’s last days echo other cases of deaths in immigration custody, including one at the same jail in December 2006, which prompted a review by immigration officials that found the medical unit so lacking that they concluded, “Detainee health care is in jeopardy.”
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement never released those findings, even when asked about allegations of neglect in that death, of Abdoulai Sall, 50, a Guinea-born mechanic with no criminal record whose kidneys failed over several weeks. Instead, officials defended care in that case and other deaths as Congress and the news media questioned medical practices in the patchwork of county jails, private prisons and federal detention centers under contract to hold noncitizens while the government tries to deport them.
The 2006 report — and a set of talking points the agency produced for its press officers to use when discussing deaths in detention — were only recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act; the group provided copies to The New York Times, which first reported Mr. Sall’s death.
“This facility has failed on multiple levels to perform basic supervision and provide for the safety and welfare of ICE detainees,” the six-page report concluded shortly after he died. “The medical health care unit does not meet minimum ICE standards.”
The report said the jail had failed to respond adequately as Mr. Sall grew sicker, and that even when he was found unconscious on the floor, employees “stood around for approximately one minute” before trying to revive him. The jail’s superintendent, who said he never saw the report, adamantly denied those conclusions this week.
But Tom Jawetz, a lawyer with the civil liberties union’s National Prison Project, said the new death at the same jail underscored the lack of accountability in immigration detention nationwide.
“Piedmont is a facility that was understaffed and underresponsive to clear medical needs,” Mr. Jawetz said. “The reports of Mr. Newbrough’s death raise serious questions about whether those failures were ever remedied.”
Asked Monday what measures it had taken after Mr. Sall’s death, the immigration agency promised a response but did not provide one. Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman, said earlier that an investigation of Mr. Newbrough’s death was under way.
The 780-bed Piedmont jail, run by governments of six Virginia counties, typically houses about 300 immigration detainees, and is now down to fewer than 150. But Ms. Nantel denied rumors that the agency was pulling them out, as it did last month at a detention center in Central Falls, R.I., where a Chinese computer engineer’s extensive cancer and fractured spine went undiagnosed until shortly before his death on Aug. 6.
In that case, investigators for the federal immigration agency found that the engineer, Hiu Lui Ng, had been denied proper medical treatment, and dragged from his cell to a van as he screamed in pain six days before his death.
The parallels with detainee accounts of Mr. Newbrough’s treatment are striking to Jeff Winder, an organizer for the grass-roots Virginia group People United, who was contacted by several inmates at Piedmont who also spoke to a reporter. The latest death has heightened the group’s opposition to plans by private developers and city officials to build another immigration detention center in Farmville, with 1,000 to 2,500 beds.
“ICE has no obligation to send detainees there after the next detainee dies,” Mr. Winder said. “Farmville could be left with the reputation as a place where detainees die of medical neglect.”
Ernest L. Toney, the jail superintendent, denied accounts that Mr. Newbrough had been mistreated, saying, “That is not our protocol here.” He referred all other questions about his death to the federal immigration agency.
But Dr. Homer D. Venters, an expert in detention health care who learned about the case from Mr. Newbrough’s family and reviewed the autopsy, said available evidence showed violations of detention standards that let the detainee’s treatable local infections rage out of control. Dr. Venters, a public health fellow at New York University, was critical of the medical care in immigration detention when he testified last year at a Congressional subcommittee hearing, and is on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement advisory group.
“First, Mr. Newbrough’s medical complaints were apparently ignored,” he wrote in a preliminary analysis of the case for Mr. Newbrough’s parents. “Second, Mr. Newbrough was placed in a disciplinary setting while ill and despite having voiced medical complaints. Third, Mr. Newbrough was not adequately (if at all) medically monitored” in the isolation cell.
During those last days, Dr. Venters added in an interview, even guards should have noticed that Mr. Newbrough was in critical condition as the bacteria colonizing his heart broke loose, creating abscesses in his brain, liver and kidneys. “When endocarditis is not treated, it kills people,” he said. With modern hospital care, the death rate is 25 percent or less.
“We were sitting here, powerless,” said Mr. Newbrough’s stepfather, Jack Newbrough, 70, a former Air Force sergeant who met Guido’s mother, Heidi, and Guido, then 2, when he was stationed in their native Germany. “I am just so disappointed in my country, this homeland security system they got set up.”
Mrs. Newbrough, 65, said her son, who had an estranged wife and three American-born children, had quit drinking after serving 11 months for molestation and, on probation, moved back to his childhood home in Manassas, Va., from a trailer park in Stafford. A 1999 article about life in the park, in the first issue of Tina Brown’s Talk magazine, featured him prominently — under the rubric “Dialing America.”
“Nobody knew he wasn’t American,” his mother said. “Even he didn’t know. He found out the day they picked him up here.”
His arrest last February, immigration records show, was a result of Operation Coldplay, which combs probation records to find past sex offenders whose immigration status makes them deportable. Mr. Newbrough had taken what is known as an Alford plea to charges of “indecent liberties with a minor,” and aggravated sexual battery in 2002 — denying his guilt, but acknowledging that prosecutors had evidence that could cause a jury to convict him of molesting his girlfriend’s 4-year-old.
Mr. Newbrough, who spoke no German, would have automatically become a citizen if his American-born stepfather had formally adopted him when he was a child, or if his mother had been naturalized while he was a minor, rather than just four years ago.
While Mr. Newbrough waited at Piedmont for nine months, an immigration lawyer argued that he had derived citizenship from his stepfather. An immigration judge disagreed. The appeal was pending in mid-November when Mr. Newbrough began to complain in phone calls of terrible back pain and stomach aches, his family said. When they urged him to tell the medical staff, they said, he replied: “ ‘I did. They just don’t care.’ ”
Several detainees interviewed by telephone last week said that in the two weeks before Thanksgiving, Mr. Newbrough’s back pain grew so bad that he began sobbing through the night, and some in the 90-man unit took turns making him hot compresses. By the Sunday before Thanksgiving, he was desperate, two detainees said, and banged at the door of the unit’s lunchroom, yelling for help. They said by the time guards responded, he was seated at a table.
“They told him to get up, and he said he couldn’t get up because he was in a lot of pain,” said Salvador Alberto Rivas, who identified himself as Mr. Newbrough’s bunk mate, awaiting deportation to El Salvador. “Because of the pain, he started crying, and he was trying to tell them he had put in requests for medical and didn’t get any. And then one of the guards threw him to the floor.”
“They drag him by his leg, in front of about 30 people,” said another detainee, who gave his name only as Jose for fear of retaliation, adding that many witnesses had since been transferred to other jails or deported.
“We didn’t know that he was dying,” added Jose, who wrote about the case in a letter published online by a Spanish weekly. “They took him to the hole. He was yelling for help in the hole, too.”
That information, he said, came from a detainee in the isolation section at the same time, but since deported, who was so upset by Mr. Newbrough’s death that he left his name and alien registration number — Rene Cordoba Palma, No. 088424581 — in case anyone wanted his testimony.

Randall Signs on to Amicus Brief concerning 6th Amendment Rights

AMICUS BRIEF

Randall is one of the immigration law professors that signed on to the Amicus Curiae (friend of hte court) brief for the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a case involving an immigrant's right to effective counsel under the 6th amendment of the Constitution. Click the link (above) to view the brief.

The questions presented are:

1) Does the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of effective assistance of counsel require a criminal defense attorney to advise a client who is not a citizen that pleading guilty to an aggravated felony will trigger mandatory, automatic deportation?

2) If a criminal defense attorney misadvises his noncitizen client that a guilty plea will not lead to deportation, and that misadvice induces a guilty plea, can that misadvice amount to ineffective assistance of counsel and warrant setting aside the guilty plea?

January 27, 2009

Fallen Marine's Widow & Son Denied Visas


Article published Jan 21, 2009

Fallen Marine's widow faces new immigration hurdle
By Robert Norris
of The Daily Times Staff

The immigration saga continues for Hotaru Ferschke, widow of Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr., the Maryville Marine killed in action Aug. 10 while serving in Iraq.

Because of a Korean War-era provision, she is not considered married under immigration law and cannot obtain a "green card" that would allow her to live in the United States.

Initially, the Japanese woman sought permanent residence so she could come to Blount County for the birth of the couple's son and raise him here with her in-laws.

Problem: The Japanese woman's visa was denied by U.S. immigration officials because the couple had not been married for two years before the sergeant's death, according to Sgt. Ferschke's mother, Robin Ferschke.

With the assistance of U.S. legislators, Hotaru Ferskche was granted a temporary visa, but the approval came too close to the baby's due date for her to feel comfortable flying to the U.S. for the birth.

On Jan. 9, Michael H. "Mikey" Ferscke III was born near Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

New problem: The couple were married by proxy while he was stationed in Iraq. A stand-in represented the sergeant at the ceremony in Japan. Sgt. Ferschke was killed in combat before the marriage was consummated, invalidating Hotaru as a "spouse" under immigration law.

"They are married in everyone else's eyes except for immigration purposes," Robin Ferschke said.

The only way around the law is for Congress to pass a private bill to legalize the marriage despite immigration law -- not a routine matter.

"We have to get a lot of people to get involved -- get people to send letters to congressmen and senators. We also have to prove personal hardship -- what it would do to us, to her and to her child," Robin Ferschke said.

She said all the members of Tennessee's U.S. congressional delegation she has contacted have agreed to help, including Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. and Sen. Lamar Alexander, both Republicans.

Jonathan Griswold, legislative assistant to Duncan, is working to get a private act passed by the House.

"In this case, her son's marriage is recognized as a true, loving relationship," Griswold said.

The assistant to Duncan said he believes Democrats will cooperate. "We've been in contact with the majority on the committee," he said.

That's the Committee on the Judiciary-Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.

Robin Ferschke met personally with Duncan in December. That is one of the requirements. Now she has a quite a bit of paperwork to do here, and Hotaru Ferschke has to do the same in Japan. Then the committee's staff can write up the bill.

A side issue is the status of Mikey's citizenship, since he was not born on U.S. soil. Griswold said he believes that can be worked out.

"I feel confident. There's been assurances from the State Department that as long as all the bureaucratic T's are crossed, his citizenship is assured of being U.S.," he said. "Again, consular officials have assured our office they will assist with filling out the forms."

Robin Ferschke said she plans to fly to Japan in February and bring back her grandson along with her daughter-in-law on a temporary visa.

"We love Hotaru like a daughter. We talk every day, whether by e-mail or phone. She supports us in every way," Robin Ferschke said.

"She's such a wonderful girl and so very strong. My son would be very proud."

Feedback and Belonging: Explaining the Dynamics of Diversity

This is a very interesting article on what makes individuals connected to a particular place. Diversity helps people feel connected, as opposed to everyone and everything being the same. I hope everyone finds this article as interesting as I do. Randall


Feedback and Belonging: Explaining the Dynamics of Diversity By Geoff Mulgan
Young Foundation
Article Image
A little boy peers from a gate in Tower Hamlets, a borough of London.



Would you like see more articles on this topic?



January 2009

French writer Albert Camus once called it the most painful question of our time: "Where can I be at home?" The question, of course, has less to do with geography than intangibles like identity, comfort, and interpersonal networks. The idea of being "at home" — or belonging — is a powerful lens through which to examine immigrant integration in modern times.

This article sets out an emerging approach to social belonging that seeks to explain what makes people belong in a community and how they might belong more. It draws on several decades of research on family and kinship in East London, as well as recent ethnographic work in several areas of England.

The central premise: people are keenly attuned to reading feedback from social environments on whether they belong. These feedback systems — which range from informal networks to politics —explain much about why some very diverse communities feel strong senses of belonging and other fairly homogeneous ones do not, including groups with a long history in the same place.

This framework of examining feedback systems can serve as a practical tool to help shape community engagement and involvement in Europe and beyond.

It offers an alternative perspective to the theory of "thick multiculturalism," which portrays modern societies as made up of distinct communities, each with its own strong identity and belonging.

It is also differs from some recent research on social capital (defined as value created through human relationships or networks) that has struggled with the incompatibility of diversity and strong attachment to a larger community.

Background: Snapshots from London

For settled communities in stable times, the question of belonging is straightforward.

But in unstable times with high levels of migration and high turnover in urban neighborhoods, many people are likely to feel they do not belong. Indeed, this may be the explicit or implicit message they receive from the labor market, landlords, and public authorities. This group includes not just new migrants arriving in bustling and alien cities but also longstanding residents who see their localities transformed around them.

In London, for example, 42 percent of the workforce is now foreign born, and the city has 34 communities of foreign nationals with more than 10,000 members each. London's schoolchildren speak over 300 languages.

For England as a whole, over 20 percent of births are now to foreign-born mothers. The speed of these changes has been extraordinary, but not unlike the experiences of European cities such as Hamburg, Marseilles, or Rotterdam.

In the 1950s, Michael Young and Peter Willmott's study of neighborhood and community relations found a world where residents of the East London neighborhood Bethnal Green were not lonely people: wherever they went, they knew the faces in the crowd. The study analyzed the social relations underpinning this web of mutual recognition, support, and interaction.

Longstanding residency across generations, reinforced by overlapping ties of extended family and friendship, had fostered a strong sense of ultralocal identity. Bethnal Green was a socially homogeneous place — white and working class — with the men employed mostly in the docks, as artisans, or as manual laborers.

Formal female employment in Bethnal Green was low. Grandparents living nearby helped to raise grandchildren. Private space offered few amenities and was reserved for the immediate family, but front doors were unlocked and the street was a playground not yet overtaken by cars.

A follow-up study published in 2006 found a very different picture. The Bangladeshi families who now lived in many of the same streets in the London neighborhood of Tower Hamlets had similarly strong kinship networks.

But East London's white working-class population felt alienated from its own neighborhoods, perceiving the allocation of resources (in particular housing) to be unfair.

The white working class saw its culture and traditions disrespected in public celebrations — which were more likely to mark Eid, an Islamic holiday at the end of Ramadan, or Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights — as well as in the mass media, which portrayed them in an unflattering light as "chavs" and "yobs" (British slang for working-class youth who are typically white, wear branded clothing, and are perceived to be poorly educated and aggressive).

A similar pattern has been found in the Young Foundation's forthcoming research on the working-class communities of Barking and Dagenham in East London and Stoke-on-Trent (between Manchester and Birmingham). In these places, a culture and economy based on full-time male breadwinners working in manufacturing has disappeared without a viable successor.

High levels of worklessness have persisted, and most available jobs are relatively insecure ones in services and distribution. These areas show significant support for the far-right, anti-immigrant British National Party, and marked alienation from the mainstream political parties.

Meanwhile, other new groups in areas of East London — including a 30,000-strong Somali community in Tower Hamlets — doubt whether they belong. They suffer very high levels of unemployment (over 90 percent, according to official statistics) and disengagement from mainstream public services and politics.

Reading Our Surroundings

Our framework for making sense of these patterns starts from the simple observation that human beings evolved to be able to read surrounding physical and social environments because this was essential to our prospects for survival.

It is in our nature to be able to analyze whether a group still has a place for us, whether we are likely to be cared for and protected in a particular place, or ostracized and rejected.

These survival sensitivities can be seen at work among small children in school playgrounds, teenagers on the street, or employees in workplaces. But the systems we need to read have changed, and the sheer range of people and institutions we have to interpret and negotiate with are of an order greater than ever before.

We argue that people belong when the most important systems around them send signals that confirm and recognize their value. These systems provide the essentials of life: nourishment, care, protection, prosperity.

The Framework: 10 Feedback Circuits

We have provisionally identified 10 key feedback circuits, or areas from which people receive messages about belonging.

1. Informal but strong ties of family and friendship. People feel they belong when they have ready access to others who know them well and care for them, including family and close friends.

The importance of these ties explains why first-generation migrants cluster in the same localities, and why, even today, a third of British citizens live within five miles of their birthplace. Such ties explain why many communities can thrive with little support from the state.

2. Ties of association. Churches, clubs, and voluntary organizations bind people who find connection and common purpose. There is a growing body of evidence (notably in the work of social psychologist Miles Hewstone) on the importance of contact in shaping community dynamics: where people see their peers engaging with people from other communities (as friends, coworkers, or spouses), they are more likely to feel a sense of common cause and less likely to feel enmity.

To a lesser extent we belong as we become used to the same people in local streets and parks — the people who psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1972 called the "familiar strangers."

3. Economy. Positive messages from the economy include the availability of entry-level jobs as well as opportunities for advancement. Negative messages include overt discrimination or the sense that the local economy has no interest in a significant part of the population. This may be particularly important for university graduates who do not see job opportunities that match their skills and education.

4. Power and politics. A political system in which people who look like you and share your values fill key roles will encourage feelings of belonging. So too will leaders who give shape to a community, articulating common aspirations.

Europe's cities vary greatly in this respect. In some, such as Paris, large minorities are effectively disenfranchised while in others, such as Bradford, the governing elites are more broadly representative. Leaders can also transcend or accentuate community divisions.

5. Culture. Whether in the form of billboard advertisements, media representations, or festivals, all can reinforce either a sense of belonging or alienation. Extensive historical evidence shows the impact of shared symbols and mythologies and of activities (like choirs or dancing) where people "keep together in time," in historian William McNeil's words.

Formal rituals like citizenship ceremonies can play a part in reinforcing belonging, as can histories that newcomers can opt into (such as those emphasizing past migration). Many local areas are now trying to construct more inclusive local histories and myths (the London borough of Lambeth, for example, has deliberately cultivated more inclusive myths). One of the most damaging features of some contemporary UK communities is that their only myths are located in the past, in a lost age of homogenous community.

6. Safety. It is hard to belong if you and your family feel physically at risk on the streets. Levels of violent crime and antisocial behavior strongly influence feelings of belonging.

In a recent UK government survey, 83 percent of people who felt they belonged to the neighborhood thought people would intervene if children were spray-painting graffiti, compared to 67 percent of people who did not feel they belonged to the neighborhood.

7. Physical environment. Attractive buildings, trees, green spaces, and public squares can make people feel at home — and a lack of them can amplify feelings of dispossession.

Much is now known about which designs do most to encourage neighborliness (through appropriate scale, lines of sight, and building density). Recognizable boundaries that give shape to a community can also reinforce belonging, so long as those living there receive other positive messages.

8. Everyday public services that are of the people as well as for the people. In rural societies, police officers, health professionals, and teachers live in the same communities they serve. The patterns in cities are less clear-cut, and the mismatch between public services and communities creates tensions, such as the continuing battles over Muslim schools, or health care that is attuned to Koranic teachings.

A related issue — acute now for long-standing working-class communities — is the perceived injustice of decisions and distributions. In the United Kingdom, public hostility to asylum seekers often comes from the perception that asylum seekers have privileged access to resources.

9. Homes. If people like you, your family, and your friends can afford housing in the community (to rent or to buy), and the owners or landlords are willing to rent or sell to you and those like you, then you are receiving a positive message.

Public-housing policy also matters. The Young Foundation's work showed the very damaging effects of UK public-housing policies that separated families in an effort to allocate strictly according to need. Although classic social-policy terms justify this type of rationing, such policies essentially told local people they had no claim on their locality.

10. Law and its enforcement. The legitimacy of law — that it reflects the community's values and protects its interests — is critical to belonging. In many places, new negotiations are needed over nonnegotiable rules (for example, on the place of forced marriage).

The law can also foster belonging when it enables legitimate "asymmetric deals," or special rights for certain communities, such as UK laws exempting Sikhs from wearing helmets while riding motorcycles. Other examples include special provisions for halal foods or special housing provisions for Hasidic families.

Equally important is how laws are enforced. Policing strategies that appear discriminatory have fueled community conflict in many cities.

Undoubtedly, many other feedback circuits are at work. This list is only a provisional one. But it should already be apparent that it is possible to roughly map out the messages different groups receive about whether they do or do not fit in, and, in light of this, to shape strategies that address the biggest barriers to belonging.

Preliminary Findings

The Young Foundation's research suggests that in many traditional UK working-class communities (such as the Barking and Dagenham in London), every one of these 10 feedback circuits, with the partial exception of the first, is sending negative belonging messages to significant groups of citizens. They are not recognized by the economy, political power, or visible culture, and they feel unsafe.

By contrast, in many highly diverse but more affluent communities, such as Margaret Thatcher's former constituency of Finchley in London, the feedback systems send positive messages about everything from the economic value of newcomers to appreciation of their cultures.

Questions the Feedback-Circuit Framework Raises

This preliminary sketch throws up many questions. First, what is the right level of belonging? In relation to each of these feedback systems, the maximum is not necessarily the optimum. Hostility to others can accompany an overly strong sense of belonging.

Similarly, too much attachment to family and friends may mitigate against taking up opportunities while too much deference to political leaders may permit corruption. What communities generally need is enough belonging but not too much. Indeed, many individuals find some security in the relative anonymity of big cities.

The most dangerous groups may be the ones that switch from very weak feelings of belonging to very strong ones.

As anthropologist Mary Douglas suggests in her "grid and group" theory, people who experience little belonging (the isolates) are the most likely targets of extremist political entrepreneurs who then try to bring them into what Douglas calls "enclaves," with high degrees of belonging and a very "black and white" vision of the world.

Enclaves such as terrorist groups, gangs, or extreme right groups often form in less wealthy areas, providing people with new frames of reference, sources of support, and enemies.

A second question concerns which feedback systems matter most. Is there a hierarchy of importance? This may in part depend on the values of the wider society. In capitalistic societies, the economy may be paramount as the symbol of belonging; in others, recognition of religions or access to power channels like the military may be more important.

A third question concerns the importance of geography. It is feasible to feel a strong sense of belonging without living in a particular place. Increasingly, immigrant diasporas are held together by media, the Internet, greater levels of transnational ownership (e.g., a home in the country of origin), cheap air travel, and remittances.

Interestingly, migrants who feel they belong to a diaspora do not automatically feel out of place in the country where they live. As sociologists such as Peggy Levitt have shown, one can feel "at home" in two or more places.

Equally, many educated "elites" have a very strong sense of belonging to the world held together by their employers, networks of university alumni, and the ubiquitous Blackberry (though again this does not always mean they are detached from where they live).

For others, particularly young families and the elderly, geography is paramount, and neighborliness is particularly important to well-being. The tension between groups who see a locality more like a hotel than a home is already acute in some inner urban areas, such as Westminster in London or Manhattan.

The last question considered here is the ability of individuals to make independent choices. Social scientist Charles Tilly's work explained why, in some contexts, feelings of alienation fester and explode while in others they are contained.

Although underlying social and economic conditions may create the breeding ground for conflict, the actions of community leaders, police, and politicians — and whether political entrepreneurs inflame tensions or heal them — are often decisive.

In other words, it is misleading to assume that conflict automatically results from particular patterns of ethnicity or religion.

Conclusion

The underlying assumptions of this article are not at all new. Philosopher Georg Hegel wrote that "one becomes an individual subject only by virtue of recognizing, and being recognized by, another subject."

Much of the feedback-circuit framework is essentially about recognition or its absence.

Another more recent philosopher, Charles Taylor, wrote that "our identity is partly shaped by recognition or its absence, often by the misrecognition of others — and so a person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves."

This article attempts to analyze in more detail what these mirrors are and to avoid the assumption of recent political theories of recognition that claim defined group identities as all-important.

In the United Kingdom, the most prominent arguments about belonging in recent years have focused on the concept of "Britishness" and whether public policy can or should deliberately cultivate it.

The argument here suggests that such attempts are misdirected at abstract identities when they should be aimed at daily life. It also challenges the classic multiculturalist view that presents cultures as coherent and bounded.

As philosopher Kenneth Appiah wrote, cultural purity is an oxymoron. Belonging is made up of many strands that are constantly being woven but also unraveled. The ability of communities to understand and shape these processes may be key to achieving greater well-being in growing, diverse, and fluid cities in years ahead.

Geoff Mulgan is director of the Young Foundation, youngfoundation.org, a center for research and social innovation in London, which is also host of the global social innovation exchange (socialinnovationexchange.org).

Sources

Brewer, Marilynn and Miles Hewstone, eds. 2004. Self and Social Identity (Perspectives on Social Psychology). Wiley-Blackwell.

Douglas, Mary. 1970. Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology. London: Barrie & Rockliff / The Cresset Press.

Khagram, Sanjeev and Peggy Levitt, eds. 2007. The Transnational Studies Reader: Interdisciplinary Intersections and Innovations. New York: Routledge.

McNeil, William McNeil. 1997. Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard.

Milgram, Stanley. 2009. The Individual in a Social World: Essays and Experiments. Pinter.

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January 26, 2009

U-Visa Program for Crime Victims Falters

By Anna Gorman
January 26, 2009
When Jorge Garcia delivered a pizza in Van Nuys in September 2003, he was forced at knifepoint to enter the apartment.

Garcia said two men choked him until he passed out. When he awoke, his neck and wrist had been sliced and his stomach burned with an iron. The men told Garcia they had a gun and threatened to kill him. Then the assailants picked him up, threw him in the trunk of his car and dumped the vehicle.

Bleeding and in pain, Garcia escaped and sought help.

He later identified both men and testified against them in court, helping convict them of several charges -- including robbery, carjacking and kidnapping -- that will send them to prison for life.

The crime made Garcia, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, eligible for a little-known benefit from the U.S. government. As a crime victim who cooperated with law enforcement, Garcia was able to apply for a visa that would grant him temporary legal status in the United States. But nearly a year after submitting his application, Garcia hasn't received a response from the government.

Congress created the U-visa in 2000 to bolster law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute certain crimes while offering protection to the victims. After an eight-year delay, the government issued its first U-visa last summer.

Through the end of 2008, 65 such visas had been issued, although about 13,300 people have filed applications. Twenty have been denied.

After a preliminary review, the government also has given temporary benefits to 10,800 applicants while they wait for a final decision, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration.

"They are dragging their heels," said Alan Diamante, a longtime immigration attorney in Los Angeles. "These people are not a priority."

They should be a priority because the visa is an incentive for victims to come forward and assist law enforcement, Diamante said.

But Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman Ira Mehlman said that the visas shouldn't exist and that victims of crime should cooperate with police regardless of what they might receive in return.

"You shouldn't have to bribe somebody to come forward," he said. "Being a victim of a crime shouldn't be your ticket to stay in the United States."

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Sharon Rummery said that the agency is moving forward on the visas but that it is a long process.

"The U-visas are very complicated, and we have to work with law enforcement agencies to make sure that the people are qualified," she said. "We are going to take the time and make sure it is done correctly."

Charlie Beck, chief of detectives at the Los Angeles Police Department, agreed that the applications have to be carefully vetted based on the stringent requirements.

"Not everybody who applies is entitled to one," he said. "Just being a victim is certainly not enough."

When the process is used correctly, Beck said, it can help criminal investigations, especially in Los Angeles.

To be eligible for a visa, the victim must have information concerning the crime, be helpful in the investigation or prosecution and have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime. After three years, visa holders can apply to become legal permanent residents and can eventually become U.S. citizens. The law allows 10,000 applicants to receive visas each year. They can petition for certain family members to also receive visas.

Because it took so long to create the regulations for the visas, the government created an interim relief for qualified applicants. Until a decision is made on the visa, those applicants are protected from deportation and can receive work permits and access to public services while they are waiting, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In Garcia's case, Deputy Dist. Atty. Garrett Dameron said the victim spent days in court and testified multiple times.

"If anybody deserves a chance to stay, this guy definitely earned it," he said.

Garcia, 35, said he didn't help police and prosecutors to get the visa but to prevent his assailants from harming other people. But he also said he views the visa as a sort of compensation for what happened that night and for the physical and mental suffering he has endured since.


Because he has not received even interim relief, Garcia cannot legally work or travel to see relatives in Mexico.

"I would like to have a conclusion," he said. "Whatever response they are going to give me, the faster the better, so I am not thinking and thinking."

Any kind of delay is problematic, especially for domestic violence victims, said Eve Sheedy, director of domestic violence policy for the Los Angeles city attorney's office.

"If you are illegal and monolingual and you can't access any public services, you are trapped," she said. "You are scared and you are in danger."

She said the benefit is not just for undocumented victims of violent crime but for society as a whole.

"This is crime that is occurring, it's crime that is going to reoccur and it's crime that is probably going to escalate," she said. "There are all of these motivations to provide assistance to these victims."

Esperanza Lopez, 25, said that after being brutally attacked by her boyfriend, she just wanted a plane ticket home to Mexico. But her mother convinced her to apply and try to stay.

"It's a good program that can help us," she said. "But what a price to pay."

Lopez came to the U.S. on a tourist visa four years ago and moved in with her boyfriend. Soon after, he became extremely jealous. She said he made her leave her job at a salon, took away her cellphone and her wallet, pushed and hit her and threatened to harm her and her family in Mexico if she left. The violence escalated, and on one occasion he stabbed her in the foot with a small knife.

The attack that left her with multiple stab wounds occurred one night in August 2006. Her boyfriend had been drinking when he hit her in the face and threatened to kill her. She ran outside their Los Angeles apartment, but he chased her around the block and dragged her back inside, where he kicked her, threw her against the door and stabbed her in the arm before stabbing himself. When Garcia saw that he had fallen, she ran outside and into the middle of the street.

But she said he caught her again, threw her on the ground and stabbed her several times before police arrived and arrested him.

Lopez helped police and identified her attacker in court. Before trial, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to life in prison. Lopez said she thought she would receive the visa, or at least the interim relief, when the detective signed the application more than a year ago. She is still waiting.

Her immigration attorney, Alisa Daubenspeck with the Central American Resource Center, said only two of her clients have been approved for U-visas; about 100 more are waiting. Several have been waiting for four or five years. Daubenspeck said she can't give them any sort of timeline.

After they submit fingerprints, she said, the applications "just drop off the face of the Earth."

"There is no evidence there is any processing being done on these petitions."

Obama to Review Rule Limiting Immigration Arrests

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is promising to reconsider a new rule requiring high-level approval before federal immigration agents can arrest fugitives. The Bush administration quietly imposed the unusual directive days before the election of Barack Obama, whose aunt has been living in the United States illegally.

The directive from the Homeland Security Department came amid concerns that such arrests might generate "negative media or congressional interest," according to a newly disclosed federal document obtained by The Associated Press.

The directive makes clear that U.S. officials worried about possible election implications of arresting Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's late father, who at the time was living in public housing in Boston. She is now believed to be living in Cleveland.

A copy of the directive, "Fugitive Case File Vetting Prior to Arrest," was released to the AP just over two months after it was requested under the Freedom of Information Act. It does not mention President Obama or any members of his extended family.

The directive is still in place, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told the AP. It originally was distributed Oct. 31 by e-mail to immigration officers by an assistant director at the agency. Obama was elected president five days later. Nantel said the directive called for close supervision over any cases that could be high profile. She said it was not specific to Obama's relatives.

The White House said late Sunday that the Obama administration wasn't briefed on why the directive was issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and will consider whether to overturn it.

"Like other rules and directives issued by the previous administration, it will be reviewed and revoked if it does not serve the best interests of the American people," the White House told the AP.

It said Obama "has not contacted any government agency regarding Ms. Onyango's case, nor has any representative of the president."

It was unclear what effect, if any, the directive has had on immigration enforcement across the country. Earlier this month 69 people were arrested during an Immigration and Customs Enforcement sweep in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Obama's aunt was instructed to leave the country four years ago by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum from her native Kenya. The East African nation has been fractured by violence in recent years, including a period of two months of bloodshed after December 2007 that killed 1,500 people.

Despite the deportation order, Onyango traveled to Washington last week for her nephew's inauguration. News organizations observed her attending an inaugural ball at Washington's Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, a historic luxury hotel, with her immigration lawyer, Margaret Wong.

The AP was first to disclose Onyango's illegal status Oct. 31, hours after the Homeland Security directive was issued.

Obama has said he didn't know his aunt was living in the United States illegally and believes that laws covering the situation should be followed. The White House said late Sunday that Onyango's lawyer contacted Obama's lawyer to confirm Wong's role in the case.

"They agreed at the time that the case should proceed in the ordinary course, with neither the president nor his representatives having any involvement," the White House said.

Onyango, 56, has said she intends to fight the deportation order and hopes to remain in the United States. ICE has since said it is investigating whether any laws or rules were broken in the disclosure about Obama's aunt.

Mike Rogers, a spokesman for Onyango's immigration lawyer, said late Friday that Onyango remains in the country and her case is proceeding through the legal system. He did not know where in the U.S. she was or what court was handling her case.

Rogers said he met Onyango once, in November, and described her as a private, spiritual woman who remains strong despite legal, medical and financial difficulties.

"She's had a hard life but is not feeling sorry for herself," Rogers said. "She's strong for a woman who's been beaten up like she has by life." Of Obama, he said: "She's very proud of her nephew."

The government's Oct. 31 directive was "effective immediately and until further notice," and required that immigration agents obtain approval from ICE field office directors or deputy directors before arresting fugitives. An approval would depend on an internal review that would consider, among other issues, "any potential for negative media or congressional interest."

"A hold on any actions to proceed with arrest will be placed in the case file until I can review the case and evaluate the impact of the potential media or congressional interest," wrote the assistant field operations director for immigrant detention and removal.

Nantel said there was never any direction that officials should not take action on an enforcement issue. It clarified that potentially high-profile cases needed to be coordinated with the agency's senior officials.

The Homeland Security Department censored parts of the document before turning it over to the AP, citing privacy and law enforcement reasons for withholding some of the information, including the name of the person who sent the e-mail. It also blacked out the names of recipients of the directive, making it impossible to determine whether it was sent to anyone outside the department or outside government.

Obama's campaign said in October it was returning $260 that Onyango had contributed in small increments to Obama's presidential bid over several months. Federal election law prohibits most foreigners from making political donations. Onyango listed her employer as the Boston Housing Authority and last gave $5 on Sept. 19.

Onyango is part of Obama's large paternal family, with many related to him by blood whom he never knew growing up.

Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr., left the future president when the boy was 2, and they reunited only once — for a monthlong visit when he was 10. The elder Obama lived most of his life in Kenya, where he fathered seven other children with three wives. He died in a car crash in 1982.

President Obama was raised for the most part by his mother and her parents in Hawaii. He first met his father's side of the family when he traveled to Africa 20 years ago. He referred to Onyango as "Auntie Zeituni" when describing the trip in his memoir, saying she was "a proud woman."

Associated Press writer JoAnne Viviano in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this story.