Mass Deportation of Legal REsidents, LULACs call on sweeps numbers investigation....of by 95%, ABC's of Immigration Reform
- July 9, 2004
Mass Deportation of Legal Residents
By Erika Robles/HispanicVista.com
According to official figures, as of late January 2004, more than 63,000 immigrants have been detained over the past year. However, leading immigration attorney, Richard Iandoli, estimates it at about 100,000. Of those numbers, the Department of Homeland Security, says it has already deported as many as 70 percent, most of them being legal residents.
On Sept 30, 1996, a new immigration act was introduced called the "Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996." This act allows for the deportation -or removal- of any alien -illegal, legal and non-immigrant- convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that carries a punishment of at least one year in jail, regardless of whether they served the sentence or it was reduced to simple probation.
The most disturbing parts of this act are that the law is retroactive and that the definition of "felony" has been expanded.
The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services states that the "primary purpose of the 1996 amendment was to expand laws regarding the removal/deportation of criminal aliens," no matter when the crime was committed, expanding a whole class of people who are now deportable. People who committed a crime in the 1970s are already facing deportation without hope of appeal. "They are putting a more serious penalty on something that a person has already done," said defense Attorney Ricardo M. Barros.
If a legal immigrant had done a crime years and years ago, paid his penalty in jail or probation, they now have to worry about being deported even if it was 20 years ago. "If you commit one of these crimes and you are married to a United States citizen, there used to be a waiver appeal because of the marriage. That has been struck; you don't have that process anymore. It does not matter if you have four children who are American citizens or not...The waiver, the relief that legal immigrants got, has been eliminated."
Moreover, prior to the introduction of this law, a legal immigrant could face deportation if he had been convicted of an aggravated felony which meant murder, any illicit trafficking, including firearms, money laundering, or any crime or violence for which a prison term of 5 years or more was imposed. The new Immigration Act has changed all that. The meaning of "aggravated felony" for immigration purposes has changed and it now includes less serious crimes such as: shoplifting, driving under the influence, fraud, burglary minor technical violations of immigration law -such as failure to update addresses and other required information within mandated deadlines- and many other misdemeanors where a one-year sentence or imprisonment was ordered by the court regardless of any suspension or withholding of execution.
The definition of aggravated felony was also made retroactive, so that someone with a conviction twenty years ago that was not grounds for deportation when the crime was committed is now deportable without any possible relief, even though they may have lived an exemplary life ever since.
Although the law was introduced under former President Bill Clinton's administration, the law was unevenly enforced until after the 9/11 catastrophe. Since them all those arrested are held without bond until a deportation hearing or until they waive their rights to such a hearing -if the crime was committed after the act was enacted, the right of a hearing is waived.
Many of the legal residents apprehended had been living quite, law-abiding lives for many years. However, they now face removal charges for a crime they committed sometimes decades ago and which a penalty has already been paid. The old saying: "they've paid their debt to society," doesn't apply to them, simply because they aren't US citizens.
Overall, the act is a massive and complicated piece of legislation which curtails and in most cases ends the US life for an alien, and in numerous cases causes extreme hardship and undue separation of families.
Not too many articles have been written about this critical reality that many immigrants �including Hispanics- are now facing. Since mid-2002, a massive deportation of legal resident aliens has occurred. Are we going to let this continue? Find out where the presidential candidate �J. F. Kerry- stands on this issue. Write to your congressmen and ask for their support.
Erika Robles, a contributing columnist to HispanicVista.com (www.hispanicvista.com), is a writer and translator now living in Eugene, Oregon. She was educated in Mexico City; London, England; and Melbourne, Australia. Contact at: erikare77@.... Web page: http://www.geocities.com/oakspublishing
July 7, 2004
California LULAC Calls On Governor To Investigate Border Patrol Sweeps - Agent�s Intelligence Reports Off by 95%
Hollister, California�June 29, 2004� The California League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) announced today that it will call for the Governor of California to investigate the recent actions by the Mobile Patrol Group, a team of a dozen specially trained agents based at the Temecula station in Riverside County.
Ms. Mickie Luna, California LULAC State Director, stated, �The Latino community is outraged at the disregard of policy and procedure by the Mobile Patrol Group. The Los Angeles Times has confirmed (June 26, 2004) that the Border Patrol violated policy, and that the agency conceded to this violation. Therefore, California LULAC calls upon Governor Schwarzenegger to investigate this matter and restore the confidence in our community that all Californians will be respected and protected, and that our civil and constitutional rights will not be trampled on by the Mobile Patrol Group, and others, in that agency�.
According to newspaper accounts the Border Patrol has stopped and questioned 10,000 people and have arrested approximately 500. The impact of this information points to faulty intelligence reports by the Border Patrol (95 percent off target) and that 9,500 individuals were subjected to Border Patrol sweeps.
�All Californians should stop and think about the 9,500 individuals that were stopped and questioned, and put through this horrific experience, and understand that these kinds of sweeps are not good for society, business and our communities�, stated Ms. Luna.
For more information about California LULAC, contact:
Mickie Solorio Luna, California LULAC State Director
831-637-1342 | 831-637-0146 Fax | 831-673-2009 Cell
Toll free: 1-877-77LULAC | Email: calulac@... | vmluna@...
Carlos Ramos, California LULAC Press Secretary
831-624-4099 | 831-309-9919 Fax | 831-224-3260 Cell
Founded in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States, with California being one of the largest LULAC regions. LULAC is a non-profit organization, and enjoys a rich history of advocacy in civil rights, education, economic development, immigration, voter registration, voting rights, and equal opportunity
May 28, 2004
The ABCs of Immigration Reform
By Sean Garcia
Americas Program, Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC)
On January 7, 2004, President Bush opened the doors to a national debate on U.S. immigration policy. While his proposal leaves much to be desired, it provides activists across the country with an opportunity to raise questions about how immigration reform should be properly executed.
What Is Immigration Reform?
President Bush did not provide specific details on what he would like to see in an immigration reform but rather laid out principles that he believes should guide the debate. In addition to the Bush proposal, several immigration reform proposals have been introduced in Congress over the past year. In analyzing these proposals, immigration reform advocates formulated their own set of principles that should guide the decision-making process. The following is a summary of those basic principles.
Legalization: By this process, migrants living illegally in the United States gain legal immigration status. Experts currently estimate this population at between 8 to 10 million people. Legalizing these migrants would allow them to obtain drivers licenses, open bank accounts, take out mortgages, and access a host of services that most U.S. residents take for granted. Legal status would also allow migrants to file formal complaints regarding labor violations that they presently have to endure in silence for fear of being deported. Moreover, legalization is viewed as important for national security. Most analysts consider it dangerous to have millions of unknown residents in the country, and legalizing their status would let officials know who they are and why they are here.
There are two options for immigrant legalization.
A blanket AMNESTY would automatically grant U.S. residency to anyone who can prove they have lived in the United States since a certain date. This would open up a path to citizenship, for those who so desire.
EARNED LEGALIZATION would require immigrants to prove that they have been employed for a certain period of time in an illegal capacity. If they qualify, they would then be granted a temporary residency status for a determined period of time, during which they would have to meet additional work requirements. Some earned legalization proposals include a path that would allow for permanent residency; others envision sending migrants back to their countries of origin after their temporary work visas expire.
Future Flows: Comprehensive immigration reform must not only address the crisis of undocumented workers currently living in the United States, but must provide suitable avenues for new workers to enter the country. Not anticipating future immigration would fix only half the problem, requiring yet another debate on immigration reform at some point.
Currently, there are only 10,000 visas allotted annually for unskilled laborers to enter the United States. However, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates that 300,000 migrants enter the country illegally each year. Comprehensive immigration reform must recognize the reality of this situation and expand the number of visas currently available, or create a new visa category to handle the excess demand. Most immigration proposals in Congress would create a TEMPORARY GUEST WORKER visa to fill this demand. Not all temporary guest worker programs contain paths to citizenship. Some would provide a 3 or 4-year visa that may or may not be renewable. These temporary visa plans usually do not include a path to citizenship that would allow the migrant to apply for permanent residency. After the visa expires, migrants would be subject to deportation.
Mobility: Because of stepped-up border enforcement in the past ten years, many migrants are staying in the United States on a more permanent basis, rather than going back and forth between the United States and their country of origin as work and family needs dictate. As a result, many migrants seek to bring spouses and children to join them. In the first nine months of 2003, the Border Patrol repatriated 9,800 minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied. Crossing through the dangerous deserts of the Southwest puts children at high risk of injury or death. Any comprehensive immigration reform proposal should permit full mobility of migrants to leave and re-enter the United States.
Family Unity: Currently, the U.S. immigration system specifies that a worker must come to the United States alone. Once here, he or she can apply to have visas issued to immediate family members. However, that process currently takes approximately five years, which is why even legal immigrants often use illegal channels to bring their loved ones to join them. Serious immigration reform should include issuance of family visas before a worker comes to the United States, so families are not separated for years at a time. The backlog of family visa applications should also be cleared up to prevent undue waiting periods for family members seeking to join migrants.
Labor Protections: Migrants who enter the United States to work temporarily have traditionally been subject to different labor laws and standards that put them at risk of abuse from employers. Because these workers are not U.S. citizens, they do not have the ability to vote for changes to the system and are often reluctant to challenge it for fear of losing their visas. Comprehensive immigration reform should ensure that temporary workers have the same labor protections that U.S. workers receive.
Border Security: In 1993, the U.S. Border Patrol began implementing a strategy to close off urban border areas to illegal entry, utilizing fences, cameras, motion sensors and thousands of border patrol agents. The resulting policy has driven more than 2,000 migrants to their deaths in the hostile environment of the southwest desert since 1998. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Border Patrol continued with the same strategy, but began adding the word �terrorist� to the plan.
The U.S. Border Patrol has an obligation to protect the nation�s borders from terrorists. However, current border-security policies along the southern border are aimed at migrants rather than terrorists. Serious immigration reform must include reorganizing the Border Patrol and adopting new strategies to keep the nation�s borders safe. The Border Patrol should acknowledge that economic migrants do not constitute a terrorist threat and should not be treated like terrorists. The Border Patrol should also recognize that its activities and the infrastructure it has erected along the border have serious negative impacts on the quality of life for border residents. Reform of the Border Patrol should promote non-invasive security that focuses on terrorists�not migrants.
How Do the Proposals Stack Up?
To date, only the SOLVE Act (S.2381/H.R. 4262), introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy and Congressman Luis Gutierrez comes close to satisfying the above criteria. In President Bush�s January speech, he supported earned legalization for current workers, but did not provide a path to citizenship for those workers. He supports the creation of a new visa category for temporary guest workers that would likely last for a three-year period, renewable once. But this visa does not contemplate permanent residency or citizenship procedures. Although Bush supports the mobility of workers and provides for some labor protections, he also prefers putting workers� families in the current queue for visas. The Bush proposal does not mention a reorganization of the Border Patrol.
Questions for Candidates for Elected Office
1) One of the tragic consequences of U.S. immigration policies and the increased presence of the Border Patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border is the increase in immigrant deaths: In the past five years alone, more than 2,000 migrants have been found dead in the desert. What reforms would you propose to stem these deaths? What policies would you reform to allow economic migrants to safely enter the U.S.?
2) Thousands of unaccompanied minors enter the United States each year to reunite with their families, either because their parents are here illegally, or because the wait for a visa can exceed five years. Some die in the deserts, others are captured by border patrol agents and placed in the detention system with adults. What reforms would you propose that would reduce the number of unaccompanied children entering the United States, and assure humane treatment of those who do attempt to join their families?
3) With $3 billion budgeted for border security in 2003, dramatic increases in the Border Patrol�s budget and staffing, and the accelerated construction of border fencing, more immigrants have been forced to enter the United States by crossing the harsh deserts, which has increased deaths. What do you propose to reorganize the Border Patrol and to demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border? Would you support the removal of over 80 miles of fencing between the United States and Mexico?
4) Most presidential candidates have recognized that U.S. immigrants have historically contributed to the social and economic development of the country. However, most immigration reform proposals focus on providing incentives for immigrants to return to their own countries instead of remaining in the United States. Even those who do not want to stay in the United States permanently may choose to remain longer than the 3-6 years often proposed. Do you have a proposal for immigration reform, and if so, would it allow for longer periods for temporary workers? How would your proposal address issues of long-term residency and citizenship?
5) Some politicians have proposed that only immigrants who have guaranteed jobs would be allowed to legally enter the United States. Unfortunately, most migrants depend on informal networks of family, friends and �headhunters� to find the low-paying and labor-intensive jobs they fill. What system do you propose to allow migrants to gain access to job listings, taking into account the low-technology environment of many of their places of origin?
6) Many immigrant workers are in jobs that pay minimum wage and offer no healthcare benefits or access to other social services, forcing them into a permanent underclass. Studies have shown that U.S. citizens generally shun the type of jobs filled by migrants. Migrant workers without legal status are often afraid to seek medical care or other services for fear of deportation. What reforms would you propose to ensure adequate services for these migrant workers?
7) Although much attention is focused on undocumented or illegal immigrants, little attention is given to business owners who take advantage of the unprotected status of immigrant workers to violate laws regarding wages, benefits and working conditions. What proposals would you introduce to ensure that the rights of immigrant workers are protected and that business owners comply with U.S. wage and labor laws?
8) Some have suggested that proposed free trade agreements would stem the flow of migrant workers to the United States. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has shown the opposite to be true. How would your trade policies ensure that people in other nations have access to economic opportunities in their home communities, so they are not forced to emigrate�often to the United States�in search of work?
Border Policy Background
The current U.S.-Mexico border enforcement strategy used by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Services-INS) began in September 1993 with efforts in the El Paso sector to seal the border at traditional illegal crossing points. The concentration of agents and vehicles in high traffic areas greatly reduced illegal flow at those sections of the border. By 1994, the INS had adopted the El Paso strategy as its model for border enforcement, replicating it in Tucson-Nogales (1994), San Diego (1994), McAllen and Laredo (1997), and El Centro (1998). Today, the overall plan is known as the Southwest Border Strategy.
During the strategy�s implementation over the last decade, border enforcement spending and the number of agents patrolling the border have tripled. Sophisticated technology such as ground sensors, surveillance cameras, heat detecting scopes and reinforced fencing are used to prevent and detect illegal crossings. In addition, 4,000 new Border Patrol positions were created between 1995 and 2000. This rapid influx of agents resulted in a Border Patrol force with relatively little experience, posing hazards for both migrants and veteran officers. The increase in complaints of INS misconduct during this period raises questions about the training and supervision of new recruits.
The blockade strategy was designed to deter illegal entries by forcing migrants to cross either at ports-of-entry, where they can be easily apprehended, or in remote areas difficult to pass through. But despite the costly buildup of equipment and personnel, there is no evidence that these tactics reduced unauthorized immigration. An overall increase in apprehension rates since the strategy began suggests that, even with the increased risks, people haven�t stopped trying to cross the border.
The architects of the border blockade strategy badly miscalculated by assuming that migrants would not attempt to use more treacherous crossing routes. The strategy has failed to stop migrants from trying to cross the border, but it has driven them into areas where they are less likely to be apprehended, such as the southwest desert. Migrants crossing in these remote areas are easy prey for border bandits, so they often seek help from unscrupulous smugglers. The greatest danger, however, is exposure to the elements: the unprecedented number of migrant deaths due to hypothermia, dehydration and other environmental causes in recent years can be directly linked to the border blockades. Every year hundreds of corpses are discovered in deserts, mountains, or rivers, along highways or railroad tracks, and sometimes even trapped inside trucks or freight trains. Official statistics indicate that, since 1998, more than 2,000 migrants have lost their lives trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico
border, and many more remain uncounted, their bodies unfound.
The INS-BCBP border-blockade strategy is inhumane and ineffective. It has failed to reduce undocumented migration, it has redirected migrants to their peril, and it has led to an increase in civil rights violations by a dangerously inexperienced Border Patrol force. Despite these failures, the deadly policies continue, with a proposed budget of $6.2 billion for border enforcement in 2005 alone.
The lives and rights of migrants should be protected. Creating more avenues for legal migration and revisiting the current border enforcement strategy would keep undocumented people from taking perilous crossing routes and prevent deaths. Ultimately, people will continue to come north as long as economic circumstances leave them no other option.
Sean Garcia is a Senior Associate, with the Latin America Working Group and analyst for the IRC Americas Program.
Published by the Americas Program at the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC, online at www.irc-online.org). �2004. All rights reserved.
Sean Garcia, �The ABCs of Immigration Reform,� Americas Program (Silver City, NM: Interhemispheric Resource Center, May 28, 2004).
Writer: Sean Garcia
Editor: Laura Carlsen, IRC
Layout: Chellee Chase-Saiz, IRC
The news is to be reported not to sway opinion. No more melodrama of constant entertainment trivia on news time. The founding fathers knew that government is always corrupt, that is why they gave us civil liberties. The people must lead to survive corrupt governments. Read the constitution. (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this includes information for research and educational purposes.) Al Soto (c) 2004
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