July 29, 2010

Ariz. Immigration Law Is A Challenge For Police

Even the people who would be charged with enforcing Arizona's controversial new immigration law can't agree on the question of whether it's a good idea.

Tucson Police officer Angel Ramirez and a trespassing suspect in May.
EnlargeScott Olson/Getty Images

Tucson Police officer Angel Ramirez and a man suspected of trespassing, in May. While many law enforcement officials support the new Arizona immigration law, others worry it will hurt relations with the community.

The law takes effect Thursday — but only after a last-minute judicial ruling that blocks some of its most controversial provisions, including the requirement that officers check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if they have reason to suspect that person is in the country illegally.

According to The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton today put that part of the law on hold while courts consider challenges to its legality. She also put on hold provisions requiring that immigrants carry their status papers at all times and barring undocumented workers from soliciting work in public places, the AP says.

The Arizona Sheriffs' Association supports the law and the controversial provision about checking a suspect's immigration status, saying it will give deputies needed tools to combat crimes associated with illegal immigration, such as human smuggling.

"If we can remove them from the community with an immigration charge, we'll do the community a favor," says Cochise County Sheriff Larry A. Dever.

Some of the key language in the new Arizona immigration law:

— "For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person."

— "A law enforcement officer, without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States."

Source: www.azleg.gov

But rank-and-file opinion is mixed and many police chiefs — inside the state and around the country — say the law would prove a costly distraction. "It drives a wedge between us and the community, where we have to get our information," says Roberto Villasenor, Tucson's chief of police.

Race As A Factor

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law, known as Senate Bill 1070, in April, saying that the state had been overwhelmed by an influx of illegal immigrants and could no longer wait for Congress to address the issue. That is the argument numerous states have made in recent years in passing dozens, if not hundreds, of laws relating to immigration.

But none has gone so far as Arizona. The Justice Department has sued to block SB 1070, arguing that it infringes on federal authority over immigration matters. Several immigrant and civil rights groups have sued as well, saying it will inevitably lead to abuses such as racial profiling.

Supporters of the law dismiss such concerns, noting that it specifically precludes local law enforcement officers from using race or national origin as a factor in determining whether they suspect someone of being an illegal immigrant.

Police and sheriffs can't stop people to question them based solely on immigration concerns, but once they are investigating other violations they are required, if suspicious, to check.

Dever, the Cochise County sheriff, says the law will aid law enforcement officers in dealing with serious criminals — notably those who cross the border repeatedly with impunity.

"This gives cops tools to get these guys off the streets," says Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports SB 1070 and stricter immigration laws in general. "They may not be able to prove a felony just yet, but if they can get a guy off the street before he commits a crime, that works to the benefit of the community."

Breaking A Bond?

But the potential ill effect on community relations is something many police chiefs are warning about. If people come to fear the approach of law enforcement officers, they say, individuals are less likely to come forward with information about crimes.

"Any beat cop will tell you that the No. 1 asset in preventing crimes or apprehending criminals is cooperation from the community," says Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, which conducts policy research on Latino issues. "When that bond is broken, it's difficult to recover."

Phoenix, May 1: Demonstrators protest Arizona's immigration law.
EnlargeJohn Moore/Getty Images

The Arizona law has sparked protests like this one in Phoenix on May 1.

The other specter that SB 1070's opponents raise concerns racial profiling. The law's potential for triggering civil rights violations has already provided fodder for lawsuits — and will lead to more once it actually takes effect.

"Without a doubt, we're going to be accused of racial profiling on this, no matter what we do," Villasenor, the Tucson police chief, says in a training video sent to officers throughout the state.

The video, produced by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, seeks to guide officers on ways to avoid racial profiling. But SB 1070's critics say it treads awfully close to the line anyway.

"Even though the law says that racial profiling is not to take place, the reality is that it's going to be very difficult for officers to aggressively enforce the law without crossing the line," says San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon, who previously headed the police department in Mesa, Ariz.

The new Arizona law sparked a large protest in Phoenix on May 29.
EnlargeMark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

At a protest in Phoenix on May 29.

Factors that officers may consider when enforcing the law include inability to speak English; avoiding eye contact; traveling in a crowded vehicle; and wearing layers of clothing in hot weather, which suggests chilly desert crossings at night.

Dever, a sheriff whose county shares borders with Mexico and New Mexico, says that simple demographics will determine who is most likely to be charged under SB 1070. "Most of the people we encounter in the drug smuggling and human smuggling trades are of Mexican nationality. Most of the people we arrest are going to be Mexican," he says. "Is there anything racist about it?"

Does ICE Have The Capacity?

Assuming SB 1070 works as intended and local law enforcement agencies detain more illegal immigrants, that raises the question of what will be done with them. Sheriffs and police already complain that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can barely handle the caseload it now has, leading many illegal immigrants to languish in local jails — or be released.

A supporter of Arizona's new immigration law at an April 23 rally in Phoenix
EnlargeJohn Moore/Getty Images

Some supporters of the law have also come out at rallies, as happened in Phoenix on April 23 when Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure.

ICE officials have told local law enforcement officials that, at best, they have the capacity to deport 400,000 individuals a year. Last year, they deported 387,790.

"We don't always take action on every individual that's referred to us," says Gillian M. Brigham, an ICE spokeswoman. "In a world of limited resources, we have to prioritize."

A Rock And A Hard Place

Police chiefs worry not only about how likely the feds will be to take a rising number of illegal immigrants off their hands and out of their facilities, but whether the law will prove a further drain on their resources owing to the need to defend against legal challenges.

Whatever its potential benefits, it's clear that SB 1070 places local law enforcement between a rock and a hard place. The law gives any citizen standing to sue if he or she feels that local police or sheriffs are not enforcing the law with sufficient vigor. On the other hand, strict enforcement will be bait for further lawsuits alleging racial profiling.

The one thing critics and supporters of the law seem to be able to agree upon, in fact, is that it will offer a field day for lawyers.

"Because of the posture of our own Department of Justice," says Dever, the Cochise County sheriff, "with the federal government threatening to file suit against officers for civil rights violations, you know there's going to be a flurry of those complaints."

July 28, 2010

SMU Documentary to Depict Plight of Undocumented Students

Daniela Balderas and Erik Burgos have seen the struggles that fellow students can go through if they are in the country illegally – and they wanted others to see those hardships, too. So, the two Southern Methodist University seniors decided to make a documentary about those students in North Texas. "Typically, when we think of 'undocumented' we always think of an individual that's doing lawn work, washing dishes," Burgos said. "But rarely does the thought of a college student or college graduate cross our mind. We want to capture that side of a broken immigration policy"

July 27, 2010

Americans Mistakenly Deported

"Researchers say that every day, an American is wrongfully deported, and some worry the problem could get worse." CNN video, July 26, 2010.

July 26, 2010

Come Thursday, will ICE cooperate with Arizona?

Arizona's tough new immigration law is slated to take effect Thursday, but the nation's immigration enforcement agency has not indicated whether it will cooperate with police who are trying to enforce it.

Without cooperation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, much of the law would become unenforceable: Police would have no way of determining, from federal authorities, the legal status of suspected illegal immigrants as the state law requires. And that would severely hamper efforts to arrest them for violations of the law.

As a result, local police officers might have to release suspected illegal immigrants if they can't determine their status.

"If the Department of Homeland Security says, 'SB 1070 is unconstitutional, don't cooperate,' . . . then much of what is going on here shuts down. Not necessarily all of it, but a lot of it," said Gabriel Jack Chin, a University of Arizona criminal-law professor who co-authored a legal analysis of the law.

Police officers sometimes contact ICE to check the immigration status of suspected illegal immigrants, and if ICE determines the people are in the country illegally, it usually responds to pick them up.

But officials from Homeland Security, which oversees ICE and the Border Patrol, have refused to disclose the agencies' plans for dealing with SB 1070, which is expected to launch a flurry of calls for assistance from local police. They will say only that they are monitoring a federal lawsuit that is seeking to block the law.

The law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person's legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.

State Rep. John Kavanagh, who sponsored the House version of the law, said ICE's role, as its name implies, is immigration enforcement, so it should assist and take any illegal immigrants apprehended by state and local police enforcing the new law. But he said the Obama administration is trying to block the agency from cooperating for political reasons. The Department of Justice has sued to keep the law from taking effect, saying it usurps federal responsibility.

"ICE is caught between a 'Barack' and hard place, pun intended," said Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. "The Obama administration is clearly putting ICE in the middle of a political battle, and when you do that to law enforcement, that is extremely dangerous and I really object to that."

Kavanagh said lawmakers, when writing the law, did not anticipate that federal authorities might not to cooperate.

"But I will tell you this," Kavanagh said, "every suspected illegal immigrant that we refer to ICE and ICE declines to assist with, we will record the name of that individual if we have to release them, and any crimes, any murders, and rapes they commit will be on Barack Obama's administration's conscience and not ours."

The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23, includes a provision that allows people to sue law-enforcement agencies that refuse to enforce the law. But the provision, Kavanagh said, applies only to state and local agencies, not federal authorities.

ICE position

ICE officials said they are waiting to see whether the law survives court challenges contending that the law is unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling.

"The DOJ has filed a lawsuit in regards to this law and the outcome of that suit will inform the government's action going forward," the immigration agency said in a statement emailed to The Arizona Republic.

The statement also said that the agency's priority is to go after illegal immigrants who pose a danger to communities.

"ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that focuses first on criminal aliens who pose a threat to our communities. ICE uses lawful discretion on a case-by-case basis to en- sure that throughout all our programs we are meeting our priorities," the statement said.

John Morton, the director of ICE, has indicated he doesn't like the law. In May, he told a Chicago newspaper that his agency would not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona police under the law. And earlier this month, Morton said he understood the frustration many communities feel over the issue of illegal immigration, but he did not think it was a good idea for more states to pass similar laws.

"I don't think that 50 different immigration enforcement laws is the answer to our immigration problems," Morton told the Associated Press.

In its written statement, the agency said that ICE works every day with local law enforcement in Arizona and around the country.

The agency has signed so-called 287(g) agreements with nine law-enforcement agencies in Arizona that either allow local officers to enforce federal immigration laws or allow jail officials to identify illegal immigrants booked into jails to be processed for deportation. Only one other state, Virginia, has as many.

ICE also is using a federal database in jails in seven counties in Arizona to identify illegal immigrants previously removed from the United States or wanted for a serious crime in another country. ICE plans to expand the program to jails throughout Arizona by next year, officials said.

In 2006, ICE created a unit to respond to calls for assistance from local police, primarily when they encounter groups being held in drophouses or being transported in smuggling vehicles. The unit, staffed 24 hours a day, was created after former Gov. Janet Napolitano and some law-enforcement agencies complained that police were being forced to release suspected illegal immigrants into the community because ICE often lacked the manpower to respond.

During the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the Law Enforcement Agency Response unit has responded to 892 calls for assistance from local police in the Phoenix area and made 3,528 arrests, according to ICE officials.

The unit, however, mainly responds to calls from law-enforcement agencies in the Phoenix area, and along Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, and Interstate 40, which are well-known human smuggling corridors.

History of cooperation

Officials from several law-enforcement agencies in Arizona said they have a good working relationship with ICE, and they do not expect that to change if the law takes effect.

In general, when police officers encounter suspected illegal immigrants, they can call ICE's 24-hour hotline to check the person's status. Police also transport suspected illegal immigrants to ICE's detention center on Central Avenue near downtown Phoenix. In southern Arizona, police also turn over suspected illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol.

At some jails in Arizona, including Maricopa County's jails, immigration status is checked for every person booked on a state or local charge. Those found to be in the country illegally are held to be processed for possible deportation.

Every person sentenced to state prison in Arizona also has his or her immigration status checked. Illegal immigrants and legal immigrants convicted of deportable offenses are turned over to ICE after completing their sentences.

"I am sure they are going to be overwhelmed with phone calls, but I am sure we will just take it as it comes," said Sgt. Robert Bailey, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said officers frequently contact ICE when they encounter smuggling vehicles loaded with illegal immigrants as part of crime investigations or other situations. Whether calls to ICE will increase under the law "remains to be seen," Thompson said, but he expects ICE will continue to respond.

"We are assuming that if we contact ICE, they will be there," Thompson said.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has conducted a controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants for the past several years, said ICE continues to take custody of immigration violators netted during his crime suppression operations and worksite raids even though they were not charged with any state crimes.

"I'm concerned that they might change their policy and not pick up these people unless they are accused of a violent crime," Arpaio said.

July 21, 2010

New York City Bar Report Finds Arizona Anti-Immigration Law Unconstitutional

The Arizona Anti-Immigration Act is unconstitutional on a number of grounds and should not be adopted by other states, according to a report released by the New York City Bar Association. The report, prepared by the Association’s Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law, examines the principal provisions of the Act and finds that they are pre-empted by federal law and violate the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

The Arizona law creates a scheme to enforce civil immigration statutes that conflicts with the federal enforcement regime. The statute creates state crimes of violating federal immigration laws, including registration by aliens and carrying of registration papers. It requires law enforcement personnel, during any lawful “stop” of an individual, to determine the person’s immigration status if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is an alien unlawfully present in the U.S. As a stop can be for any violation and the law criminalizes not carrying registration papers, any time an officer “reasonably suspects” an individual who should be carrying papers is not doing so the officer can stop the person, inquire, and make a warrantless arrest. The law also bans certain soliciting of people to work, or to harbor undocumented immigrants, and permits any citizen to sue an official he or she believes is limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The report finds the Arizona law invades the exclusive province of the federal government to set foreign policy, under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Constitution grants the federal government the power to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization” and “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations”. These powers are necessary in order for the U.S. to function within the community of nations. Indeed, according to the report, if a state could regulate immigration, it “would have the authority to raise an international crisis through implementation of its own statutes without the corresponding responsibility to redress the resulting concerns in any meaningful way.”

The report also finds that the federal government has pre-empted the field by establishing a comprehensive system of immigration regulation. The federal government’s establishment of a system, together with “the national government’s interest in promoting uniform laws in the immigration field” should negate Arizona’s attempt to establish a parallel regulatory structure.

The federal pre-emption interest is more pronounced, according to the report, where a state seeks to regulate the civil enforcement of immigration laws. Here, Arizona’s intent is clear. The statute requires agencies to enforce federal civil immigration laws, purports to regulate a substantial range of activity, including registration and employment of aliens, and “requires police agencies to treat administrative violations of the immigration law on the same level as serious felonies.” However, that range of enforcement squarely conflicts with the responsibility of the federal government, as established by its vast regulatory system. Court decisions have made clear that, while there may be some role for states in the criminal enforcement of immigration law, only the federal government can engage in the civil enforcement of immigration. Arizona ignores that distinction and unconstitutionally overreaches its authority.

The report also addresses additional ways in which the Arizona statute violates the federal constitution and law by:

  • Exceeding the limits on state enforcement of civil immigration law set by the federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996;
  • Violating the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable stops;
  • Violating the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process requirements, as the terminology of the law is vague, including permitting stops based on “suspected” violations regarding documentation;
  • Violating the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection provisions by posing a serious risk that the law will discriminate on the basis of alienage, which the Supreme Court has said is “inherently suspect and subject to close judicial scrutiny.”
  • Raising serious First Amendment concerns, by risking a conflict with the federal harboring statute and conflicting with free speech protection provided to solicitation of work.

The Report notes that defenders of the Arizona law point out the statute’s language that race, color or national origin may not be considered in determining immigration status. However, according to the report, the risk of racial profiling is great:

With the incorporation of failure to register or carry documentation into the state’s criminal jurisdictional base, anyone appearing foreign can arguably be lawfully stopped and asked about his or her registration documents as a pretext for determining immigration status.

In addition, “the vagueness of the term “suspected” documentary evidence raises particular concerns in light of Arizona’s checkered history with respect to making pretextual “stops.”

The full report is available at http://bit.ly/cXpm7w

For Those Deported, Court Rulings Come Too Late

Under the ruling last month, which echoed decisions by four federal circuit courts, including the one covering New York, legal residents with minor drug convictions are eligible to have an immigration judge weigh their offenses against other factors in their lives and decide whether to let them stay.

But deportees who were denied such a hearing have no means to get one now. The Board of Immigration Appeals says it has no jurisdiction over any case after deportation. Government regulations prohibit any motion to reopen the case of someone who has left the country; judicial circuits are divided over that interpretation of immigration law, and a request that the Supreme Court consider the matter is pending.

The Obama administration, which is on track to deport a record 400,000 people this fiscal year, according to government statistics, has shown no eagerness to open the door. Now two dozen legal rights groups are calling for a process that would let immigrants reopen their cases under the ruling last month.

“American principles of justice — fairness, due process and discretion — require that these immigrants now receive their day in court,” the groups wrote in a June 18 letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security.

The Justice Department referred questions about the letter to the Department of Homeland Security, where a spokesman, Matthew Chandler, declined to comment on the issues it raised.

But Jan Ting, a Temple University Law School professor and a former assistant immigration commissioner, called the idea of letting deportees return for hearings “far-fetched,” adding, “The federal government has already incurred significant costs in executing the removals of these individuals in a procedure that was certainly legal at the time.”

No one knows just how many cases could be affected, but analyses by state and federal public defenders’ associations suggest they could number several thousand. More than 34,000 noncitizens were deported for drug-related offenses in 2008; in New York alone, from 1995 to 2004 more than 258,000 citizens and noncitizens served little or no jail time for misdemeanor possession convictions.

Among the most compelling cases for redress, the advocates say, are those of New Yorkers who were transferred by immigration officials to detention centers in Louisiana and Texas. There, the detainees came under the jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which approved the automatic deportations long after the Second Circuit, which includes New York, had rejected them.

July 19, 2010

Grassroots Leadership Issues “Green Paper” On Operation Streamline

Austin, TX – Grassroots Leadership today issued a “green paper” of the report Operation Streamline: Drowning Justice and Draining Dollars along the Rio Grande. Operation Streamline is a controversial policy that mandates the criminal prosecution of border-crossers in certain areas. Before Streamline, immigration was usually enforced in the civil immigration system. The report analyzes the impact of Streamline on two border districts in Texas.

“Operation Streamline has clogged federal criminal courts with prosecutions of border-crossers,” said report co-author Tara Buentello. “Our report shows that Operation Streamline has had little deterrent effect on migration while it has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.”

Key findings include that federal districts along the Texas-Mexico border have spent more than $1.2 billion in government dollars on the criminal detention and incarceration of border-crossers since the onset of Operation Streamline in 2005. More than 135,000 migrants have been criminally prosecuted in these two border districts since 2005 under two sections of the federal code that make unauthorized entry and re-entry a crime.

The vast majority of these costs have been funneled into for-profit private prisons contracted by U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Prisons. “The human costs of Operation Streamline fall squarely on immigrant families,” said Donna Red Wing, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. “Meanwhile, private prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group are quietly profiting from this broken system.”

Today’s green paper follows Grassroots Leadership’s 2006 report Ground Zero: The Laredo Super-Jail and the No Action Alternative that demonstrated that federal detention expansion along the Texas-Mexico border is driven almost exclusively from increased prosecution and detention of border-crossers. Today’s report shows a staggering 2,722% increase in prosecutions for entry, and a 267% increase in prosecutions for re-entry, compared to corresponding data for 2002.

“The criminalization of immigration did not begin with Arizona’s SB1070,” said Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership’s Texas Campaigns Coordinator and a report co-author. “Operation Streamline has subjected undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border to unprecedented rates of detention. It has also overburdened the federal judiciary. It’s time to end this Bush-era policy.”

The “green paper” is intended to stimulate debate and launch a dialogue on Operation Streamline. Grassroots Leadership is also launching a blog to accompany the report at www.grassrootsleadership.org/OperationStreamline. A final white paper will be released as more data is collected.

July 16, 2010

International groups join together, ask U.S. government to lift ban denying visa to Colombian journalist Hollman Morris

In a show of international solidarity, journalism and human rights organizations from throughout the hemisphere are calling on the U.S. government to reverse its ban prohibiting renowned Colombian journalist Hollman Morris from entering the United States to take his place as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

The Progressive first broke the story in June that the U.S. embassy in Bogotadenied a visa for Morris, whose award-winning television program ContravĂ­a(loosely translated as "against traffic," or "the wrong way") has been a harsh critic of Colombia's armed conflict and the government. ContravĂ­a's investigative work has revealed links between paramilitary leaders and Colombian officials, resulting in the imprisonment of 30 Congress members, according to a feature story about Morris in theColumbia Journalism Review.

Despite -- or perhaps because of -- his stories and human rights work, Morris has been deemed permanently ineligible for a visa under the "terrorist activities" section of the U.S. Patriot Act, the Associated Press (AP) and the Washington Post reported.

"We were very surprised. This has never happened before," Nieman curator Bob Giles told the AP. "And Hollman has traveled previously in the United States to give speeches and receive awards." For example, Morris participated in the Knight Center's Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas in September 2009, where he spoke about "The other side of digital technologies: how governments are use technology to spy on journalists and human rights advocates—the case of Colombia."

The Inter American Press Association, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Dart Society, and Investigative Reporters and Editors are among the journalism organizations that are asking the U.S. government to reverse its decision.

"Anti-terrorism laws are a threat to democracy if they can lead to the perverse and shocking victimisation of genuine human rights defenders like Hollman Morris," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

CPJ warned that denying a visa to Morris, who has been the victim of death threats and a campaign to discredit him, could put his life even further in danger. According to CPJ, Morris has had his phone tapped, been spied on by Colombia's national intelligence agency, and been accused by President Alvaro Uribe of having ties to the guerrilla group Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is considered by the U.S. and Colombian governments to be a terrorist organization.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, and the PEN American Center have sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to lift the ban against Morris.

Earlier this year, Clinton lifted visa exclusions for South African political science professorAdam Habib and Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic studies professor from Switzerland. "The recent news that Mr. Morris has been denied a visa runs counter to this administration's decisions in the Habib and Ramadan cases," the letter to Clinton stated.

Also according to the letter, "No legitimate interest is served by the exclusion of foreign nationals on ideological grounds. Ideological exclusion impoverishes intellectual inquiry and debate in the United States, suggests to the world that our country is more interested in silencing than engaging its critics, and undermines our ability to support dissent in politically repressive nations."

The U.S. groups National Association of Hispanic Journalists and UNITY: Journalists of Color have written letters of support for Morris to the U.S. ambassador in Bogata, asking him to review his decision.

Morris recently was celebrated in Colombia for demonstrating courage in his fight for truth, peace, and democracy, according to the Center for Investigation and Popular Education (CINEP), one of the organizations responsible for the homage.

July 14, 2010

Governor orders investigation into immigrant list

LAYTON -- Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered an investigation into the release of 1,300 names of people purportedly living in Utah as illegal immigrants.

The anonymous release of the 30-page package of detailed private information arrived in the postal mail at various locations starting late last week.

Copies were sent to at least a half dozen agencies, including law enforcement and media outlets in the Top of Utah.

Gov. Herbert has instructed state agencies to conduct an internal review to determine if the document originated within an agency, said Angie Welling, the governor's communication director.

"If evidence of wrongdoing is discovered, that information will be forwarded to the attorney general's office for possible action," said Welling.

The governor has also directed the Utah Department of Technology Services to assist the agencies with any technology needs they may have to discover if the release came from state records.

The list of names, with addresses all across the state, included birth dates, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and even notes on pregnancies.

Tony Yapias, a former director for the Office of Hispanic Affairs under former governor Michael Leavitt, began calling for investigation once he learned about the packet.

"My suspicion is that this is people inside state government who have certain prejudices," said Yapias, currently director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, an organization that focuses on the needs of Utah's Latino immigrant community.

The packet included two letters, one describing the senders as a group of people concerned about immigration enforcement.

"It is troublesome ... we must hide in the background in order to expose those who would cross our borders illegally and take advantage of the system," wrote the unknown author.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have confirmed they received a copy of the list in April.

But federal officials said, for both privacy and investigatory reasons, they cannot confirm they have or will take action on the list.

"Like any law enforcement agency, ICE has a finite number of resources," wrote Lori Haley, ICE spokeswoman in answering a Standard Examiner question about the list.

"As such, we are focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes efforts first on those dangerous convicted criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, not sweeps or raids to target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately," she added.


The Immigration Policy Center and the American Immigration Council have created a FAQ for the DREAM Act. If (and hopefully when) the act is passed by Congress, undocumented immigrants would gain the ability to obtain US citizenship through college or service in the armed forces. Questions addressed in the FAQ are listed below:

What Would the DREAM Act Do?
Who Would Benefit from the DREAM Act?
What are the Economic Benefits of the DREAM Act?
What are the Additional Benefits of the DREAM Act?
The DREAM Act in Congress
Why has the DREAM Act Failed to Become Law?
Who Supports the DREAM Act?
DREAMs Coming True in the States

July 13, 2010

Appeals Court Orders Review of Guatemalan Woman's Asylum Case

A Guatemalan woman who argued in an asylum case that she would be in danger if she were to be returned to her native country because of the high rate of murders of women there can have her case reviewed, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

The court sent the case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals to consider whether Guatemalan women make up a "social group" and should be eligible for asylum based on that. In the ruling, the court ordered the board to determine whether Lesly Yajayra Perdomo has demonstrated a fear of persecution based on her membership in that group.

To obtain asylum, applicants must show that they are unable or unwilling to return home because of persecution or fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

July 12, 2010

U.S. Citizen’s Wife Deported

The undocumented wife of this U.S. citizen was deported as a result of being pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Set in Queen Creek, Arizona, this story provides a window into the impact that new state laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 will have on the lives of undocumented residents and citizens alike. Even tough SB 1070 will become effective on July 29, some law enforcement agencies are already putting it into practice.

July 08, 2010

Reunited Boy May Be Deported

Nearly a decade had passed since Zulma Arevalo last laid eyes on the baby boy she left behind in El Salvador. She always knew that someday they would be reunited — and that moment came last year, after Enrique, then 9, was caught crossing illegally into the United States to join her. Because of Enrique's age, authorities summoned Arevalo, who was in Omaha. “It was so strange,” the mom recalled. “I left my son as an infant, and I didn't recognize him. We just stood there staring at each other. “Then we hugged.” Arevalo, who has temporary protected status in the United States, was able to take the boy, pending the federal government's final decision on his deportation. Enrique, who turned 11 this past weekend, easily transitioned into a household of mixed U.S. citizenry. He has lived there since March 2009, the middle of five kids. His family time here could end, however, after a Monday immigration hearing. Cindy Gonzalez, Omaha World-Herald, July 6, 2010.

Immigration issue hits close to home

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – From coast to coast, and right here on the South Plains, immigration is a controversial subject with many opinions and many stories.

In his first major speech on the issue of immigration, President Obama called for a major overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. "Fixing our broken immigration system is not only a political issue, not just an economic issue, but a moral imperative," he said.

President Obama said people who enter the country illegally should register with authorities, learn English and pay back taxes and a fine. He says employers who hire illegal workers should be held accountable.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 sat down with a recent high school graduate who understands the risk of telling his story, but decided it was worth sharing.

Luis graduated number five in his high school class of nearly 300. He is an honors student who was recognized by Governor Rick Perry for his service to others. He is a mentor at his church and by many standards a standout kid. "I grew up with my friends thinking I was the same but really not, not knowing it," said Luis who breezed through school rising to the top. "I realized investing my efforts and time in education really meant a lot."

It was on his quest to go to college that he learned the truth. "I was brought at age 3," he said. Luis is not an American. He is an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

"I really did not know what undocumented meant as I grew up. People ask me ‘haven't you applied for citizenship?' But they don't understand there is not a block for us students. There isn't a certain way we can get a visa," he said.

But there may be a way for Luis soon and it is called the DREAM Act. Version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors act have circled congress for several years but have yet to make it out. There are currently copies in congressional committees. "What I like about the dream act is it has certain guidelines that only the brightest kids will stay and only the best that have proven themselves," added Luis.

Some of the conditions to the proposal, you must have entered the United States before you 16th birthday and have spent five consecutive years in America. It is also a requirement to have graduated a U.S. high school or earn a GED. Qualified applicants would have six years to complete their college degree or serve two years in the military.

"There are thousands of children who have been brought by parents at age of two, three or four at time when they couldn't make decisions for themselves, and find themselves faced with difficulty that it is impossible for them to get a pathway for them to become legal," said Lubbock attorney Robert Hogan who recently expanded his practice to include immigration law.

Hogan does not represent Luis but is familiar with teens like him. He says the proposal would give kids who were brought here illegally the chance to earn citizenship. "The other alternative is to go home and it may be a country where they don't speak language. It is cruel and harsh to deport kids who in their hearts and souls are Americans and have lived here since they were young," added Hogan.

Immigration lines are years long and Hogan adds there are conditions in the DREAM Act that would ensure students did not use it as a back door to get a visa. Good moral character is a requirement and committing a crime disqualifies you. "If I commit a crime throw me back. I don't deserve to be here," said Luis who refers to that as 'justice'.

Luis is just one of an estimated 64,000 undocumented students who graduate each year from U.S. high schools but were born somewhere else. He knows there are probably people listening and thinking he should go back to Mexico. "I'd just like to ask them to stand in my shoes. I think some compassion has to go into this."

Luis is working on a documentary on the DREAM Act that he hopes will raise awareness about the proposed legislation. "I think that if people know we just want the chance to be here and be productive we could prove them that we are," he said.

Luis was accepted to college. The 19-year-old wants to become a youth minister and an accountant. The issue of immigration is complex, and Congressman Randy Neugebauer says the laws need updating. But, while sympathetic to Luis' situation he does not believe the DREAM Act is the answer. "Some folks would say these are just some kids who came in with their parents, but here is the problem if you set that precedent you are going to reward parents who do that what is then to stop flow of parents who want to continue process down the road," said Rep. Neugebauer.

Rep. Neugebauer wants reform to be consistent and only rewards people who take the legal pathway to citizenship.

©2010 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.

July 02, 2010

ABA President Says “An Extraordinary Law … Requires Extraordinary Action.”

The American Bar Association today filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the federal district court in Arizona to bar enforcement of the state’s recently enacted law authorizing police to stop individuals who they suspect are in the United States illegally and to detain them if they are unable to produce proof of citizenship or legal immigration status.

ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm said it is “extraordinary” for the association to file an amicus brief in a case at the district court level, rather than waiting for it to reach an appellate court, but “an extraordinary law … requires extraordinary action.” She vowed the association will “oppose, very strongly, any incursion on equal protection [or] substantive due process, by such things as racial profiling and segmenting groups out.” The law runs afoul of fundamental ABA positions opposing racial profiling and supporting federal preemption of immigration law, she added.

The brief was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in the case of Friendly House v. Michael B. Whiting. The brief lists four reasons to block enforcement of the state law.

By requiring that police officers with a “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States verify the person’s immigration status, the law will increase use of racial profiling, according to the brief. A qualification purporting to limit use of race, color or national origin in applying the law “will not inhibit the use of racial profiling in apprehension and detention,” it says, noting that “racial profiling undermines respect for the rule of law and the criminal justice system.”

By mandating detention of suspect individuals until their immigration status can be verified, the law will cause unlawful and unreasonable detentions, according to the brief. “[T]he ABA is deeply concerned that these detentions will take place without the basic due process protections and the checks and balances that should be taken for granted under our legal system,” it says. Also, because U.S. citizens are not required to carry identification, the law “will necessarily result in the detention of citizens who have committed no criminal offense but do not have identification on their persons when stopped.”

Because “Arizona will not — and cannot claim that it will — be operating under a delegation of authority from the federal government,” the state will be required to appoint defense counsel at state expense for individuals who cannot afford to hire their own. This “will necessarily result in an increased burden on Arizona’s defense attorneys and indigent defense system,” as well as on courts and prosecutors, says the brief.

Finally, “[t]he U.S. Constitution has vested exclusive power over naturalization matters with the federal government,” and the Arizona law represents a state attempt to usurp that authority, the brief argues.