11/21: Immigrant News - "CLEAR" introduced in Senate + more
- Immigrant News! "CLEAR" introduced in Senate + more
Date: 11/21/2003 6:19:49 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:nnirr@...">nnirr@...</A>
1.. ALERT: Republican Senators Sessions (AL) and Miller (GA) introduce
"CLEAR," police-immigration collaboration bill, in the Senate.
2. BBC news on lawsuit by immigrant workers against Wal-Mart after
3. Fromaboutimmigration.com article "For Gay and Lesbian Couples
"Immigration" is a Dirty Word"
Bill would let police enforce immigration law
Latinos vow to defeat plan
Gannett News Service
Nov. 21, 2003 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Two Southern conservative senators unveiled a bill Thursday
that would allow local police to arrest undocumented immigrants, but the
nation's Latino groups say they'll make the defeat of the legislation
their top priority.
"This would further alienate our community," said Michele Waslin,
immigration policy advocate at the National Council of La Raza.
Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Zell Miller, D-Ga., said they are
pushing a bill that would allow police officers to arrest undocumented
immigrants so they could be deported because the immigrants are
scofflaws who make a mockery of the legal system.
Sessions said police officers are frustrated because they sometimes
detain undocumented workers during traffic stops and other routine
business and are forced to let them go because only the federal
government is authorized to enforce immigration law.
"This is really weird," Sessions said. "It is not a rational system."
But the law enforcement community is split over the issue. Some
officers, including the Los Angeles Police Department, say Sessions'
bill would hurt their relationship with immigrant communities.
Others, including the National Sheriffs' Association, have endorsed the
The Fraternal Order of Police refused to back a similar House bill
introduced earlier this year because it would strip money from police
departments that didn't comply. But the Senate bill wouldn't punish
police departments that didn't want to enforce immigration law.
The new bill would allow police officers to detain undocumented
immigrants during the performance of regular duties on their beats. It
also would increase the number of immigrant detention centers and
require all states to give driver's licenses only to legal immigrants
and make the licenses expire on the same day an immigrant's permission
to stay in this country expired.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., avoided including these provisions in his
wide-ranging immigration proposal that would help undocumented workers
become legal residents.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., could not be reached for comment.
Waslin and other immigration advocates say the law would hurt police
officers' ability to do their jobs.
"It would make immigrants fearful to report crimes or suspicious
activities, which means we will all be less safe," she said.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also said they'd fight the bills.
Caucus Chairman Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-Texas, called them "dangerous
pieces of legislation that place the safety of Americans in jeopardy by
overburdening officers and should not be allowed to see the light of
With Congress in its last days of business for 2003, the new immigration
bill won't get very far this year.
But Miller said he and Sessions will push the issue next year.
"It's time to bring this matter forward," he said.
Wal-Mart faces immigrant lawsuit
A group of nine illegal immigrants arrested in a federal raid on
Wal-Mart stores are suing the retail group over alleged discrimination.
The workers, employed as janitors by subcontractors, say they were paid
lower wages and offered fewer benefits.
The plaintiffs, who face deportation, were among 250 people arrested in
an October immigration crackdown at 60 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states.
The nine's lawsuit states they are seeking more than $200,000 in back
Lawyer Gilberto Garcia said the lawsuit, filed in New Jersey Supreme
Court, seeks to represent all the detained illegal immigrants who had
worked for Wal-Mart.
They accuse Wal-Mart and its cleaning contractors of failing to pay for
overtime, withhold taxes or make required workers' compensation
The plaintiffs say they worked at least 56 hours a week and were not
paid time and a half for overtime, hours worked beyond 40 a week.
They say they were paid $350 to $500 a week.
The workers, mainly Eastern Europeans, were arrested by the US
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Bureau, in an investigation
known as Operation Rollback.
Wal-Mart acknowledged it is the object of a federal investigation
related to the employment of the undocumented workers.
But Mona Williams, Wal-Mart vice president of communications, said the
company did not know about the alleged labor violations, or that the
contractors used illegal immigrants.
She said Wal-Mart has long insisted that its contractors obey the law.
"We have seen absolutely no evidence showing that Wal-Mart did anything
wrong", she said.
Wal-Mart, is the world's largest retailer and the largest private
employer in the United States, with 1.1 million domestic employees and
about 3,500 stores.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Unlucky in Love
For Gay and Lesbian Couples "Immigration" is a Dirty Word
"I could feel my head start to pound and my mouth go dry when they told
me there was nothing I could to do sponsor him," says Rob. "I am a
citizen. I pay taxes. And it's just too late now. We're together. He's
here...... I never thought I'd be harboring an illegal alien."
It's inevitable. Every morning when we go to read our e-mail, we find
that some unsuspecting soul is about to revisit the school of hard
knocks for gay and lesbian couples. Sometimes the e-mail is from an
American citizen who has fallen for a Latin lover. Other times it's from
a foreign national who has just received his H-1B working visa for the
job of a lifetime and wishes to know how to go about applying for his
life-long partner to accompany him. The short answer is: He can't.
Every year hundreds of thousands of people turn down jobs, suffer
economic and emotional hardships, move out of the US, or become illegal
aliens because US immigration laws refuse to acknowledge same sex
relationships and the families that are increasingly based on them.
"She's their other mom," says Dawn, a woman whose live-in lover has a
soon-to-expire working visa. "If she goes my kids are going to ball for
weeks. They'll never be the same."
If the notion of "gay immigration" sounds funny to heterosexuals and
others deeply involved in the immigration process, it's because even
legally wed couples wait one to three years for the alien spouse to get
a green card. Permanent residents are kept from their spouses and
children for up to four years. But at least there is hope in site for
heterosexuals, one of our forum posters points out.
In most cases, that is true, unless the foreign spouse has a criminal
record or the American citizen or permanent resident cannot provide
financial support. In addition, those with serious communicable
illnesses are barred and common law marriages are not recognized at all
by the INS.
The former poses a problem for HIV infected partners and the latter is
the official INS excuse for why immigration based on same-sex marriages
simply doesn't exist.
"It's just not allowed, not for heterosexuals, not for homosexuals, not
for anybody. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation," says Allan
Whitte, who maintains that the US will never have an immigration
category for domestic partners.
But many other countries already do, including Canada, France and
Australia. So much for the notion that the United States is the easiest
of the popular countries to immigrate to. (Of course anyone familiar
with the process in any capacity has already met with the reality).
So what can a binational same-sex couple do to live together in the US?
Most couples naturally look first at family sponsorship: If the foreign
partner has immediate family in the US they can immigrate that way. The
next most popular avenue is work sponsorship: H-1Bs and L visas are for
those with degrees or the equivalent and who are in specialty or
executive positions. H-2Bs are for skilled and unskilled workers and
take far longer. (For Canadians there are slightly easier allowances and
options.) Then too, those who have achieved international acclaim in
their field may opt to self-petition as individuals of extraordinary
ability, or, if they have a substantial amount of money, they can
immigrate as investors. (For more information on these and other
options, see our green card and visa section.)
An alternative route is that of asylum. If the foreign partner comes
from a country where homosexuals are politically or criminally
persecuted, that individual just might qualify, but with growing
awareness of this possible option, the number of applicants is
increasing and it becomes more and more difficult to obtain.
Of course, the majority of aspiring immigrants will not fall into any of
these categories--and until and unless gay marriages are legally
recognized--they will continue to be faced with some pretty bleak
prospects. Nevertheless, progress has been made in this decade alone.
Until 1991, homosexuality was grounds for exclusion from admission to
the United States, because gays and lesbians were classified as "sexual
deviants" under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The
Immigration Act of 1990 saw triumph for gays and lesbians as they were
removed from this category.
That was the first round, hard won. Now for the second.
Join the Debate in our Forum
Of course, stay tuned for our upcoming stories on the challenges of
family and marriage-based sponsorship.
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)
310-8th St., Ste. 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Visit us at www.nnirr.org
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