Monday, May 31, 2010

Detained immigrants may help bring in census money

By MANUEL VALDES, Associated Press Writer – Mon May 31, 2:20 pm ET

TACOMA, Wash. – Paulo Sergio Alfaro-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant being held at a detention center in Washington state, had no idea that the federal government would count him in the census.

No one gave him a census form. No one told him his information would be culled from the center's records.

But counted he was, along with other illegal immigrants facing deportation in detention centers across the country — about 30,000 people on any given day, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement.

By the time the census delivers the total tallies to the state and federal government, most of the immigrants will be long gone. But because the population snapshot determines the allocation of federal dollars, those in custody could help bring money to the towns, cities and counties in Texas, Arizona, Washington and Georgia where the country's biggest and newest facilities are located.

"I think the irony, if there's any irony, is that the locality is what's going to benefit, because you have a detention center in a particular city where people have been brought from different parts of the region, and that community will benefit," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, an organization that has pushed Latinos to participate in the census.

This census brings a twist, though. For the first time, states have the option of counting people in detention centers and prisons as residents of their last address before they're detained, worrying some local lawmakers who say cities and counties that host detention centers could lose money.

"Detention centers and prisons should probably count where they are located, that's where resources would be required," Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Georgia wrote in a May letter to the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the census. Bishop represents Stewart County, Georgia, population 4,600, where the nation's largest detention center housed a total of 14,000 people between April 2007 and March 2008.

ICE operates 22 immigrant detention centers and also houses people in hundreds of other jails or prisons. Most of the largest centers are in small towns in Texas, Arizona and Georgia. Texas is home to six detention centers, and Arizona has three.
The payout can be hefty for small towns. Federal money being distributed from the census averaged about $1,469 per person in fiscal year 2008, according to the Brookings Institute, and other grants are also available to small towns depending on their population.

In Raymondville, Texas, a town of nearly 10,000 people, the Willacy Detention Center holds an average daily population of about 1,000. The center opened in 2006 and was a boon the community as ICE and the private company that runs the center rushed to hire personnel.

Now, the detention center's population may push Raymondville over the town's goal of surpassing 10,000, a number that will allow them to qualify for more federal help, Mayor Orlando Correa said.

"As long it's humane, as long as the facility respects the rights of these people and they're not treated like animals, I'm OK with it," Correa said.
For safety reasons, most detainees are counted through administrative records, rather than forms being passed out, U.S Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said. The census will cull data from records kept on April 1.

Alfaro-Sanchez, for his part, is glad he's being counted. He entered the country when he was about 15 through Tijuana, and worked as a handyman in Goldendale, a small town in eastern Washington.

He arrived in at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma on March 30 after being arrested in a fight. The charges were dropped, he said, but immigration officers had already flagged him for arrest.

"I think that even though we may be sent back, there's a lot of people who may need that money, the Hispanic people that are here," the 32-year-old said in Spanish.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


May 26, 2010
Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos, (202) 365-4553 mobile

Press Release
Misuse of National Guard is Not the Answer to Solving our Broken Immigration Laws

Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, is firmly opposed to President Obama’s announcement that he would send 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“As we have seen time and time again, efforts to overhaul our broken immigration system have taken a back seat to dramatic escalations of border enforcement including placing troops on the U.S. border to serve in a function for which they have not been trained,” stated LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “What is shocking is that this escalation is coming at a time when border violence and unauthorized border crossings have declined. If we want to solve the challenge of undocumented immigration, it is clear that enforcement alone will not work.”

Over the last two decades, the United States has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement. Since 1992, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased by 714 percent. At the same time, the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border has grown by 390 percent. Interior enforcement has expanded as well, and detentions and deportations are at record levels. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the violent crime rate in Arizona has been declining since it peaked in 1993. It is now lower than it has been since the early 1970s. In the Tucson Border Patrol sector, apprehensions of persons crossing illegally have fallen from 600,000 in 2000 to 241,000 in 2009.

“The fact is that the enforcement benchmarks that conservatives insisted on in 2007 have been met, unauthorized border crossings are down, violent crime is down, and the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has declined,” stated Brent Wilkes, LULAC National Executive Director. “However, instead of following through on their promise of comprehensive immigration reform once the targets were met, we just have ever escalating calls for enforcement. While we appreciate that the President has called for comprehensive immigration reform, we are disappointed that he is trying to appease those whose thirst for border crackdowns and punitive measures for hard working immigrants can never be quenched.”

LULAC is calling upon its membership to oppose several amendments being offered this week to the supplemental war spending bill which will go even further than the President’s border escalation. Specifically we are asking our members to contact their senators to oppose expected amendments by McCain (SA 4214), Kyl (SA 4228) and Cornyn (SA4202).

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.

William C. Velasquez Institute
National Office
206 Lombard, 1st Floor
San Antonio, TX 78226
(210) 922-3118 California Office
2914 N. Main St., 1st Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90031
(323) 222-2217 Florida Office
2646-A NW 21st Terrace
Miami, FL 33142
(305) 635-6965

Foes and Supporters of New Immigration Law Gather in Arizona

May 29, 2010
Foes and Supporters of New Immigration Law Gather in Arizona

PHOENIX — Two sides of the immigration debate converged here Saturday: a throng of several thousand marching for five miles opposed to Arizona’s new immigration law, and several thousand nearly filling a nearby stadium in the evening in support of it.

Organizers said the timing was coincidental, with both sides taking advantage of a holiday weekend to bring out the masses. But the gatherings encapsulated in a single day the passions surrounding the national immigration debate, recharged by the new law, which will expand the state’s role in immigration enforcement.

Both demonstrations made a point of waving a large number of American flags and issuing pleas for a national overhaul of immigration law, but they offered a jarring study in how polarized the debate has become here.

The demonstrators against the law were mostly Latino, with young people and families making up a large share. They played drums, whistled and chanted and gave speeches in Spanish and English denouncing the perceived racism behind the law. Many carried posters or wore T-shirts with the message: “Do I look illegal?”

At the rally in favor of the law, which began with the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem, any mention of Mexico or supporters of the law brought lusty boos — a video clip of President Felipe Calderón of Mexico especially fired up the crowd, which was mostly white and middle-aged or older. Placards like “Illegals out of the U.S.A.” were typical, though speaker after speaker ridiculed the idea that the crowd was racist.

Far more attended the earlier rally opposed to the law, which included a five-mile march to the Capitol in withering heat. It was one of the largest since Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law April 23.

Some were citizens, like Armando Diaz, 33, a mechanic born and raised here who believes the law has helped spread anti-Latino fervor in the state.

“This is not what Arizona is about, hate,” Mr. Diaz said as he neared the capitol, where people fled for what little shade they could find. “But that is what this law is about.”

The later rally, at sundown, was organized by Tea Party groups from St. Louis and Dallas who said they decided to take the lead and support the state against a wave of boycotts protesting the law, some by cities like San Francisco and Seattle.

“We are doing this to crush any boycott against the free market,” said Tina Loudon, a Tea Party member from St. Louis who helped organize the rally. “Arizona has a sovereign right to enforce immigration laws on the books.”

The law — barring any successful legal challenges — will take effect July 29. It would allow the police to check the immigration status of people they suspect are illegal immigrants when they have been stopped for another reason. It also makes it a state crime, not just a federal one, to not carry immigration papers.

Advocates see it as a tool for law enforcement to weed out illegal immigrants, while five lawsuits filed against it call it an infringement on federal authority and suggest that Latino citizens and legal residents will be swept up for questioning.

On another front, the governor and attorney general are disputing who will defend the state against the legal challenges and possible litigation by the United States Justice Department.

Ms. Brewer, a Republican, said Friday she had removed the state’s attorney general, a Democrat and vocal opponent of the law, from defending it, accusing him of colluding with the Justice Department as it nears a decision on whether to challenge the law in court.

But the matter remained in dispute on Saturday, as the attorney general, Terry Goddard, a Democrat and potential challenger in her re-election bid, said in an e-mail message that he was “definitely defending the state” in legal challenges to the law.

Ms. Brewer said she took action after Mr. Goddard met Friday with Justice Department lawyers, who then met with her legal advisers.

Justice Department officials said they routinely meet with a state’s attorney general and governor when considering legal action against their state.

“We continue to have concerns that the law drives a wedge between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and are examining it to see what options are available to the federal government,” said Tracy Schmaler, a department spokeswoman.

The United States attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., has said he worries that the law may intrude on federal authority and lead to racial profiling.

Protest rallies were also held Saturday at the state capitols in Texas and Oregon, as well as in San Francisco, according to The Associated Press.

At the Arizona demonstrations, opinions could not be further apart.

Mireya Chavez Cerna, 43, an illegal immigrant who works as a maid, marched with her 9-year-old son, who was born in the United States and wore a shirt reading “Made in America.”

She denounced the climate of fear in the state and said immigrants like her could not abide the wait of a decade or more for a legal visa while their families grow hungry.

“Do you think we would risk losing our lives crossing the border if we didn’t have a need to come here for a better life?” she said. Supporters of the law “don’t know,” she added. “They don’t understand. They don’t live in Mexico. They don’t know how it is.”

But Ann Hyde, a radiological technologist from Chandler, said she grew frustrated at supporters being tarred as prejudiced or worse.

“We are not racists,” she said. “This law is about respecting the laws of the nation and the economic impact of illegal immigration, which is enormous. My state is broke and they cost us with spending on schools, hospitals and other services.”

Though violent crime is declining in Arizona, as in most other states, and illegal immigration is down at the border, speakers played up crimes that illegal immigrants have been charged with over the years, including shooting of police officers.

“One is too many,” said Mark Spencer, the chairman of a union representing rank-and-file police officers in Phoenix.

Ana Facio Contreras contributed from Phoenix.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

ICE investigating alleged sex assault of detainees

WASHINGTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement is investigating allegations that a guard at a central Texas detention facility sexually assaulted female detainees on their way to being deported.

Agency spokesman Brian Hale said Friday the guard has been fired and Corrections Corporation of America, which manages the prison, is on probation pending the investigation's outcome.

Several women who were held at T. Don Hutto detention facility in Taylor, Texas, were groped while being patted down and at least one was propositioned for sex, ICE said.

"We understand that this employee was able to commit these alleged crimes because ICE-mandated transport policies and procedures were not followed," David Sanders, the Homeland Security Department's contracting officer said in a letter to Corrections Corporation of America obtained by The Associated Press.

ICE has ordered Corrections Corporation of America to make changes, including not allowing male guards to be alone with female detainees.

Messages left with Corrections Corporation America officials seeking comment were not immediately returned and a public affairs officer stationed at Hutto had left for the day.

The 490-bed Hutto facility is a former prison where children and their parents were previously held. As part of the Obama administration's immigration detention reforms, ICE ended the family detentions at Hutto and converted it to a facility for female detainees. The changes were considered a symbol of the overhaul of immigration detention, where some detainees had died due to medical neglect and U.S. citizens were illegally held.

As part of the plan, ICE officials said they would step up monitoring of its largest detention centers, removing that role from private companies that operate the facilities under contract with ICE.

"This case at Hutto, it's inevitable when you are dealing with such a massive web of detention with such little oversight," said Jacki Esposito, policy coordinator for Detention Watch Network, which monitors immigration detention centers.

Hale said ICE is working to prevent the guard under investigation from working again for the federal government and pursuing financial penalties against the company. It has also set up sexual harassment training for detention staff.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Government: More than 22,000 dead in Mexico drug war

More than 22,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the nation's narcotrafficking cartels in December 2006, a government report said Tuesday.

The Mexican government does not routinely release the death toll in the drug war. Recent media reports had given an unofficial tally of 18,000 dead.

According to a report made available by Calderon's government to members of the Mexican senate, 22,700 people have died since Calderon took office in December 2006. In addition, the report said, more than 3,000 people were killed this year from January through March. Last year, 9,635 people were killed, the report said.

Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont confirmed the figures at a news conference Tuesday.

– CNN en Espanol's Rey Rodriguez contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jan Brewer's CCA Money and Her Possible Conflict of Interest Over SB 1070

Several months before signing SB 1070, Governor Jan Brewer accepted hundreds of dollars in "seed money" for her clean elections campaign from corporate executives and others with a possible stake in Arizona's "papers please" legislation becoming law.

In all, seven executives with the Tennessee-based private prisons giant Corrections Corporation of America contributed $980 for the governor's start-up fund with Arizona's clean elections system. A warden for one of CCA's Arizona prisons gave $100. A CCA shareholder gave $140.

Lobbyists listed with the state of Arizona as having CCA as a client gave another $560, for a total of $1,780. In addition, CCA has contributed a whopping $10,000 to the campaign for Prop 100, the one cent sales tax heavily promoted by Brewer, which is up for approval by voters today. The success of Prop 100 is considered by many to be the linchpin for a Brewer victory in November.

How does CCA stand to gain from SB 1070? CCA, which houses 75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities nationwide, operates six prisons in Arizona, three of which list U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a client: Florence, Eloy, and the Central Arizona Detention Center.

If SB 1070 is not stopped by a federal court injunction before it goes into effect late July, as a recently filed ACLU lawsuit aims to accomplish, all Arizona law enforcement will be required to check the immigration status of those they have "reasonable suspicion" of being in the country illegally. This, during any lawful stop, detention, or arrest.

So the law could potentially mean a boon in warm bodies for CCA prisons, as those aliens turned over to ICE might find themselves in CCA facilities, even if for a short stay.

"The more folks that get pulled over and detained, the more money CCA makes," said Monica Sandschafer, executive director of the Phoenix immigrant rights group LUCHA, which stands for Living United for Change in Arizona. "It's a pretty disturbing connection between Brewer and this company."

But Brewer campaign flack Doug Cole scoffed at the suggestion that there was anything nefarious about the connection between Brewer and CCA, referring to CCA as a "good corporate citizen" and denying that CCA's contributions to Brewer in any way affected her decision to sign the controversial law.

"People contribute to political campaigns, in my experience, because they want to be part of the process," said Cole, speaking in general.

"Oh, so we're talking a thousand dollars here now," he harrumphed at one point.

Asked if the money might have influenced Brewer to sign SB 1070, he stated emphatically, "Absolutely not."

Todd Lang, executive director of Arizona's Citizens Clean Elections Commission contended that Brewer had violated no rules in taking the money from CCA, even if CCA stood to benefit from Brewer's actions as governor.

"Anyone can give to anyone," said Lang of the so-called "seed money," which is limited to a $51,250 cap. "The restriction Clean Elections puts in place is how little money those guys can give. The theory is that this restricts their influence."

Clean Elections holds contributors to the initial seed money fund to a $140 per person limit. Participating gubernatorial candidates must also raise thousands of $5 individual contributions. If they obey these dictates, they are rewarded with public funds: $707,447 for the primary campaign, and $1,061,171 for the general election.

However, Sandschafer pointed out that each of the CCA executives and lobbyists in question gave the maximum amount allowed, save for the warden of the Eloy Detention Center Charles DeRosa, who gave $100.

"These are the people who stand to profit from this horrible racist legislation," Sandschafer asserted.

CCA execs contributing to Brewer include the company's top brass: Damon Hininger, CCA President and CEO; "senior administrator" Anthony Grande; Gustavus Puryear, at one time CCA's general counsel; Todd Mullenger, executive VP and chief financial officer; and so on.

Louise Grant, a CCA spokeswoman based in Tennessee, claimed that the contributions to Brewer, which were made in November of 2009, were not intended to influence public policy, and that the $10K contribution to the Yes on 100 fund, dated April 5, 2010, was made because CCA wanted what was best for its employees in Arizona.

Grant also stated that under Brewer, CCA had lost two contracts with a total of 3,000 prisoners involved. She said that the main facility they use for ICE detainees is Eloy, the warden for which gave $100 to Brewer's start up fund. She denied SB 1070 would be a good thing for CCA, or that CCA had any influence over the law itself.

"CCA has had no involvement whatsoever with this legislation, SB 1070," she said. "And we will not have any involvement with it."

She said the company had made no statement for or against the legislation.

Senate Rejects 3 Harmful Enforcement-Related Amendments

May 27, 2010 — Detention Watch Network
via Jacki Esposito:

Today was a victory for human rights in the United States Senate. The Senate rejected three harmful amendments during a debate on a supplemental appropriations package, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, HR 4899. The measures were introduced by Sen. McCain, Kyl and Cornyn and provided for wasteful spending on increases in immigration detention, enforcement and border militarization.

This just a day after President Obama agreed to deploy 1,200 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and asked for another $500 million on border spending. A move that will only serve to make America less safe by diverting limited National Guard forces away from protecting the country in the case of a true national emergency.

McCain’s amendment sought to further militarize the border by deploying an additional 6,000 members of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. A measure that would have further jeopardized the rights and well-being of border residents because it called for stationing soldiers trained for combat near family neighborhoods.

Sen. Cornyn offered an amendment to provide an astonishing $ 1,985,540,000 in additional funding for enforcement operations, including 3,300 additional detention beds. An increase in funding on top of $1.7 billion the government spends to detain more than 380,000 immigrants each year, despite the existence of cheaper and more humane alternatives that have been proven effective in meeting the government’s objectives.

Senator Kyl offered an amendment to expand Operation Streamline, a Bush Administration program implemented in 2005 which criminalizes migration by ordering federal criminal charges for every person who crosses the border without proper authorization. Operation Streamline has been criticized by federal judges and prosecutors because it drains limited federal resources from criminal prosecutions and clogs U.S. courts with minor immigration violation cases.

In response to these draconian proposals, community members from across the nation lodged more than 30,000 phone calls and faxes to Senators, urging them to oppose these ineffective and wasteful measures. Today their pleas for a responsible approach to managing the immigration system were heard.

For a list of how Senators voted today, click here for PDF.

To learn more about how you can join Detention Watch Network’s campaign to demand the U.S. government reform the immigration system to ensure the enforcement of fair and proportional immigration laws while upholding human rights and individual dignity, visit

Activists in Chicago Push Against Rahm Emmanuel

Thursday 27 May 2010
by: Micah Uetricht, t r u t h o u t | Report

Activists in Chicago are some of the nation's fiercest agitators for immigration reform, as more than two dozen were arrested at a civil disobedience at the entrance to a detention facility in the city's downtown area Tuesday, the second such action in a month.

But another Chicagoan is reportedly standing squarely in their path - one they will have to either win over or overwhelm if a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants is to be won this year.

Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama's chief of staff and former Illinois representative, was reported this week to be holding the White House back from tackling immigration reform, an issue he once called the "third rail of American politics."

Emmanuel is a well-known political pragmatist. He has skirted immigration in the past to avoid its potential fallout, and does not want to pick a potentially explosive and politically damaging fight on immigration that is unwinnable and will cost votes.

But many activists demand a plan for reform now, and are unconcerned with legalization's potentially negative consequences for Democrats' midterm prospects. They say deportations are tearing their communities apart, and they can't wait until after re-elections. A favorite Spanish chant at the rallies is "Legalizacion o no re-eleccion"; even Rep. Luis Gutierrez - a high-ranking member of the Democratic Party - said in a CNN interview last month that if Democrats take Latino votes for granted, Latinos will abandon the Democratic Party.

At a march to a detention center in downtown Chicago yesterday, many chants and speeches targeted Obama.

Not all Chicago reform activists bad-mouthed the party of their city's former representative. Members of the Service Employees International Union held signs calling for Republicans to stop stalling reform, and SEIU International Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina warned that if the party of the right remained recalcitrant, they would not receive a single vote for any office - "not governor, not mayor, not even dogcatcher."

But others at the rally seemed most angered by Emmanuel and the Democrats.

"I don't know how these politicians can sleep at night," said Rachel Heuman of the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights.

"The destruction of families [through deportations] is inhuman. It's completely immoral to play politics with people's lives, and it makes me infinitely angry."

As she spoke, Heuman was interrupted by a Department of Homeland Security officer: she was one of 30 to sit down and block the doors to a detention facility where immigrants facing deportation are sent in the city's South Loop, and was soon arrested.

Heuman's anger is echoed by the immigrant rights movement around the country, as proponents of legalization have been reinvigorated by the passage of Arizona's strict anti-immigrant bill SB1070. News of arrests in protest of the bill and in favor of reform is almost daily - recent sites of civil disobediences include:

New York City
Los Angeles
Washington, DC
Chicago (an action less than a month earlier)

Arizona continues to see civil disobediences (including nine students chaining themselves to the capital building, four undocumented students sitting in at Sen. John McCain's (R-Arizona) office and an ongoing boycott that has already cost the state millions of dollars.

The pressure for immigration reform is strong, and national rage seems ready to boil over. Emmanuel and Obama's White House don't want to upset too many midterm swing voters and lose crucial seats in Congress. But as anger among the immigrant rights movement reaches a boiling point and activists are promising to withhold votes for Democrats, inaction on immigration reform could see Emmanuel heading back to Chicago with the president by 2012.

Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform (REPAIR) Proposal Summary

On April 29, 2010, Democratic Senators Schumer, Reid, Menendez, Feinstein, and Leahy unveiled a proposed outline for a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The “conceptual framework” offers a broad platform for re-inventing our immigration system and attempts to find a middle ground that may appeal to more conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. Consequently, details are noticeably lacking in many areas of the proposal. Nonetheless, the underlying concept reflects a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform which attempts to balance traditional enforcement priorities with the creation of legal means for entering and working in the United States.

The short summary below offers some of the key concepts and provisions within each section of the outline. Notably, the legalization section acknowledges that a successful program must cover the largest number of people currently living in the country illegally as possible; the legal immigration proposal balances the American values of family unity and economic progress. In sections that are more controversial, the proposal also includes the development of a wholly new form of employment verification and a biometric identification card; and it creates a new Commission on Employment Based Immigration that will monitor employment trends and make recommendations about future immigration levels. While the framework does not include many details, it is unfortunately that the proposal lacks additional due process protections such as a guarantee that individual immigrants are judged on the merits of their cases.

Border Enforcement ▲
Key Concept: To “secure our borders in a manner that is consistent with America’s best values and traditions.” During the eight years before undocumented persons may adjust to LPR status:

The number of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers will be increased, as will as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to combat smuggling and look for drugs, contraband, and illegal immigrants at ports of entry.

New technology and resources will be used to protect against and prosecute smuggling and unauthorized border crossers.

Establishes a Border Communities Liaison Office responsible for conducting outreach to residents of border towns and fielding complaints related to CBP.

Interior Enforcement ▲
Key Concept: “There will be zero tolerance for illegal entry and reentry into the United States.”

Increased government ability to monitor visa-overstays and closer regulation of the Visa Waiver Program.

All visitors to the U.S. will be required to provide biometric information to prevent visa overstays.

Increased criminal penalties for trafficking and human smuggling.

Prevents the transfer of detainees away from their children and requires minimum detention facility standards.

When persons are granted refugee or asylee status, they will be immediately admitted as lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

State and local governments will be barred from enacting their own immigration laws.

Biometric Identification and Employment Verification ▲
Key Concept: “We will not be completely effective unless we can prevent the hiring, recruitment, or referral of unauthorized aliens in America’s workplaces. Jobs are what draw illegal immigrants to the United States.”

This section establishes a biometric social security card used to prevent the employment of unauthorized workers.

The card will contain only the cardholder’s name, photograph, birth date, social security number, and biometric data.

All employers will be required to enroll in the verification system within 6 years (though certain employers will be required to before that, and the federal government must use it within 3 years of enactment).

The proposal includes provisions for legal action and back-pay if there is an error or delay in employment verification.

Future Flows, Employment Visas, Family Immigration ▲
Key Concept: “To permanently attract the world’s best and brightest while preventing the loss of American jobs to temporary labor contractors.”

Immediate green cards to students with an advanced degree from a U.S. institution of higher education in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, and who have an offer of employment in a field related to their degree from a U.S. employer.

In addition, it would create a new provisional H-2C visa for non-seasonal, non-agricultural workers that includes the ability to change employers after one year and possible LPR status if certain requirements are met.

Incorporates the AgJOBS bill, a bi-partisan agreement of stakeholders in the agricultural industry.

Creates a Commission on Employment Based Immigration to help manage future flow of workers.

Key Concept: “Reform America’s Green Card system to ensure efficiency and equity in legal immigration to the United States.”

The proposal would clear the family immigration backlog over an 8 year period, after which the caps would return to current levels.

Spouses and children of LPRs would be classified as “immediate relatives,” and per country caps will be raised from 7 percent to 10 percent.

Permanent partners will be recognized in the family visa system.

The proposal would also make technical corrections for widows, orphans, stepchildren, and adoptive children of U.S. citizens.

Registration and Legalization Plan ▲
Key Concept: “All illegal immigrants living in the U.S. [must] come forward to register, be screened, and, if eligible, complete other requirements to earn legal status, including paying taxes. These criteria are intended to exclude individuals who threaten public safety or national security and to ensure that those individuals taking advantaged of the program intend to stay in the U.S., integrate into society, and become productive, tax-paying members of the community…the program must be simple and straightforward to implement.”

All unauthorized immigrants would be required to register with the federal government, get a background check, be fingerprinted, and pay fees, penalties, and taxes.

Once they complete registration, they will be considered for Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) status, which gives authorization to work and to travel outside the United States.

Unauthorized immigrants will be ineligible for LPI status if they: 1) have been convicted of three or more misdemeanors or any felony punishable by a prison term of more than one year; 2) engaged in the persecution of others; 3) are inadmissible for national security or criminal grounds; 4) are in the country in an authorized immigrant status; or 5) entered the country illegally after the bill’s enactment date.

After 8 years (when the current visa backlogs will be cleared), LPIs may petition for adjustment to LPR status.

Requirements for adjustment to LPR status include: demonstrating basic citizenship skills, learning English, payment of all taxes, fees, and fines, and registration (if eligible) for the Selective Service.

The legalization components of DREAM Act and AgJOBS will also be included.

Miscellaneous ▲
Key Concept: “To enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of America’s immigration system.”

Establishes a new program to provide visas to promote property ownership by foreign nationals.

Makes the religious worker visa permanent.

Foreign doctors, nurses, and physical therapists will be given easier paths to worker visas.

Nationwide integration programs will be established.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Border residents oppose calls for deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border

Ricardo Favela
Strategic Communications Coordinator
San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium
(760) 468-4519

Louie Gilot
Policy Director, Border Network for Human Rights
2115 N. Piedras, El Paso, TX 79930
(915) 274-0541

May 26, 2010 — Organizations representing border communities from San Diego to Brownsville have written a letter to the Obama Administration and federal legislators strongly opposing the decision to send the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. The organizations believe the deployment is ill-conceived and motivated by electoral politics rather than focused on the needs of border communities.

“While DC politicians like to paint the border as a war zone, the reality is that it is one of the safest areas of the country. Crime is down. Even immigration flows are down. The only emergency here is a political one,” said Pedro Rios, with the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, one of the signatories to the letter.

However, the militarization of the border is not without consequences for the communities who live there. Economies are choked by inefficient border crossings, civil rights are pushed aside, and quality of life is seriously diminished. Worse, community safety is being sacrificed by those who believe that soldiers trained for war belong near family neighborhoods or should be involved in enforcing civilian laws. We cannot forget that in 1997, U.S. Marines sent to secure the border, shot and killed a teenage U.S. citizen who was peacefully herding goats.

“We are frustrated and disappointed by the Obama Administration because this strategy is a recipe for disaster. This militarization will further alienate border communities and jeopardize the success of border security goals and the fight against real criminal threats,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director for the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas, who also signed the letter.

It is time to rethink our border policy. Increasing the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border does not enhance our national security, but in fact undermines it by misallocating resources. Humane border policies should emphasize quality law enforcement resources on real threats in the region, while protecting the rights and well-being of border residents.

Read the full letter which follows the media advisory.

The organizations who signed the letter are: American Friends Service Committee (CA); San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (CA); San Diego Foundation for Change (CA); Border Action Network (AZ); First Christian Church of Tucson (AZ); ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights (NM); Border Network for Human Rights (TX); Immigrant Justice Alliance (TX); Freedom Ambassadors (TX); U.S.-Mexico Border and Immigration Task Force; Casa de Proyecto Libertad (TX); and Project Puente (TX).


To: President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

To: Members of the U.S. Congress
Washington, DC

Border residents oppose calls for deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border

Border communities who had hoped for a rational and accountable border policy from the Obama Administration are deeply disappointed at the news of the authorization to deploy National Guard troops to the border. We are also deeply disappointed by calls from Congress to deploy as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the border.

Proposals to deploy the National Guard are ill-conceived and motivated by electoral politics rather than border realities. In the course of history, presidents have rarely called up the National Guard. Deployment of these forces has almost always been limited to emergency situations and for good reason. The creation of a national police force is anathema to our fundamental values and to the protection of individual liberties.

As men and women living in the border region, which includes metropolitan areas as well as small towns, we have tried time and again to share our concerns about the militarization of the region with members of the Administration and members of Congress. But it seems we are not being heard and the policies of this Administration, far from being the change that we were promised, mirror the policies of the prior Administration and may even be worse with respect to border enforcement.

To be clear, there is no emergency at the border that would warrant the deployment of the National Guard. Immigration flows are down and border cities are among the safest in the country. Violent crime is rare and when it does happen, as in the case of the Arizona rancher who was recently killed, the perpetrator is more likely to be a citizen than an immigrant. The only “emergency” is the political emergency of upcoming elections.

As residents of the border region, we refuse to allow our communities and our quality of life to be sacrificed in a political game played far away from this region by people with little appreciation for the vibrancy of the region and who are motivated by politics rather than actual border needs. We consider the deployment of the National Guard an affront to border communities and oppose the militarization of our region based on the following:

• The militarization of our border has already reached an extreme level and brought with it negative consequences for those who live there. Our economies are choked by inefficient border crossings, our civil rights are pushed aside, and our quality of life is seriously diminished. Worse, our safety is being sacrificed by those who believe that soldiers trained for war belong near family neighborhoods or should be involved in supporting domestic law enforcement. Let’s not forget that in 1997, U.S. Marines sent to help secure the border, mistakenly shot and killed a teenage U.S. citizen who was peacefully herding goats.

• Militarization is a misguided and unnecessary response that is not based in reality or in the opinions of President Obama’s own border experts. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said repeatedly that her Border Patrol agents have operational control of the border. Crime statistics in border cities and counties show that crime is both low and decreasing. Yet, we are being told once again that we must secure the border, just three years after we built a border wall, added thousands of new Border Patrol agents and deployed virtual enforcement technology.

• Militarization costs us all. Continuing to throw money, resources and military responses at the border is not fiscally responsible, efficient, or humane. The ever mounting costs of militarizing the border are costs borne by taxpayers who can ill afford ineffective and ill-conceived political responses.

• Recourse to the military as a policy option for civilian law enforcement is a disturbing precedent. Forces trained for combat, should not be used for enforcing civil laws. As a matter of fundamental U.S. political values, the military should be withdrawn from all normal law enforcement activities, even in supporting roles.
It is time to rethink our border policy. Increasing the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border does not enhance our national security, but in fact undermines it by misallocating resources. Humane border policies should emphasize quality law enforcement, and the effective focus of resources on real threats in the region, while ensuring that border communities are consulted on their specific needs, and that the rights and well-being of border residents are protected and upheld. Toward this end, we need the following:

• Consultation with local border communities on a regular basis about border enforcement; decisions about the border should not be made in a vacuum in D.C.

• More accountability and oversight of immigration enforcement officers, who have become the largest law enforcement presence in the border region.

• A standardized complaint process that aggregates complaints the length of the border should be implemented to better understand potential abuse of power and civil and human rights violations. Enforcement agencies should publicize this data and then use appropriate performance measures to correct gaps in current or ongoing training.

• Increased funding for ports of entry to facilitate the flow of legitimate goods and people authorized to work, visit or contribute to the nation’s economy.

• Compliance with environmental protection laws without exceptions for the border; we deserve the same protections as the rest of the country.

• Compliance with national and international civil and human rights protections, and creation of humane detention and short-term custody standards at the border.

• A zero-migrant-death standard that is incorporated into enforcement policies and practices and addresses the mounting death toll—over 5,000—of migrants who lose their lives as a result of inhumane enforcement strategies.

• Comprehensive immigration reform that moves beyond enforcement and focuses on fixing the interconnected parts of our broken immigration system.

• Economic development for Mexico, our second largest trading partner and primary source of immigration; a stronger Mexican economy would benefit both countries economically and ease migration pressures.

The federal government is as responsible for protecting the lives and well being of border residents as it is of protecting residents of the interior of the United States. Unfortunately, border residents have borne the burden of national security under the current hard-line strategy, but can do so no more. We oppose the deployment of the National Guard to the border as a misguided political response, and we urge our national leaders to pursue real solutions to border enforcement that take into account the needs of the border region.

American Friends Service Committee (CA)
San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (CA)
San Diego Foundation for Change (CA)
Border Action Network (AZ)
First Christian Church of Tucson (AZ)
ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights (NM)
Border Network for Human Rights (TX)
Immigrant Justice Alliance (TX)
Freedom Ambassadors (TX)
Casa de Proyecto Libertad (TX)
Project Puente (TX)
U.S.-Mexico Border and Immigration Task Force

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama Official Vows to Ramp Up Deportations…Just Not in Arizona

By Suzy Khimm| Mon May. 24, 2010 10:20 AM PDT

The Obama administration might not process the illegal immigrants that Arizona authorities hand over to them—a possible means of blunting the impact of the state’s harsh new immigration law. At the same time, Homeland Security has vowed to ramp up its deportation of illegal immigrants elsewhere in the country.

Criticizing the Arizona law last week, John Morton, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said that his agency would not necessarily act upon referrals of suspected illegal immigrants from Arizona officials. Under the state’s new law, local law enforcement officials have the authority to detain suspected illegal immigrants, but they must verify their status with the federal government to proceed further. Such comments prompted conservatives like Senate candidate JD Hayworth--who's challenging McCain in Arizona--to call for Morton's resignation and slam the Obama administration for “encouraging lawlessness” by failing to enforce Arizona’s law.

But the federal government has always had the legal discretion to decide which immigration cases to act upon. Well before the passage of Arizona’s law, the Obama administration had stepped up its immigration enforcement efforts, pledging to shift its attention to criminal illegal immigrants. And Morton vowed to continue to expand such efforts going forward by expanding its Secure Communities program, which aims to help local police identify criminal immigrants, and by increasing scrutiny on employers who hire illegal immigrants. “Morton said the government's stepped-up enforcement would result in a ‘sharp increase’ in deportations this year,” the Chicago Tribune reports. “Last year's 400,000 overall deportations were a record, but this year there has already been a 40 percent jump in deportations of criminals, [Morton] said.”

At the same time, a breakdown of the deportation numbers makes it clear that it’s not just criminal immigrants that federal immigration officials are targeting. Within the first year of the Obama administration, ICE had deported 5 percent more immigrants than it had during the last year under Bush. There’s been a small decrease in the number of non-criminal immigrants who’ve been deported, but they still make up a large majority of deportations:

Having promised to step up its federal enforcement efforts—and to exert greater discretion in targeting illegal immigrants than Arizona—the Obama administration needs to become more transparent about its own deportation policy as well.

Suzy Khimm is a political reporter in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones. For more of her stories, click here. Follow her on Twitter.

Mexico shaken by apparent abduction of powerful politician Fernandez

Mexico shaken by apparent abduction of powerful politician Fernandez

By William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
MEXICO CITY -- All the police found in the abandoned Cadillac pickup truck were scissors and blood that matched the type of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, the cigar-chomping political powerhouse who has not been seen again.

Since his disappearance nine days ago, the silver-maned politico, like a character straight out of a Mexican soap opera, has become perhaps even larger than his normal larger-than-life self. He has been booed and hissed by his many enemies, but his unknown fate caused an emotional clutch in the voice of one of his many dear friends, President Felipe Calderón.

When Fernandez, 69, a onetime presidential candidate, was seized from his ranch in the central state of Queretaro, the nervous thrum of speculation began. Was he dead and buried? Or kidnapped for ransom -- or a prisoner exchange -- by remnants of revolutionary guerrillas, or vengeful narcos, or his political enemies? Many people hope it is just a "normal kidnapping" of a rich man whose family is willing to pay.

His disappearance has rattled the political and business class here, stoking fears that the war against powerful crime syndicates might be escalating to more dangerous heights, where elites become targets for the drug cartels.

Because the Mexican attorney general has declared a virtual news blackout, the Internet swirls with vitriol and rumors. A photo appeared late Thursday on Twitter of a bare-chested, blindfolded and bearded man with a sheet of plastic in the background. It looks like Fernandez, but investigators with the federal attorney general's office have declined to comment. It is also difficult to know whether the man in the photograph is alive.

Fernandez's eldest son signaled Friday that the photograph might be proof of life offered by kidnappers when he thanked the government on Friday for its help but asked it to back off.

"We earnestly ask that the authorities stay out of this process in order to help the negotiation," said the statement, signed by Diego Fernandez de Cevallos Gutierrez.

On Monday, federal authorities complied and pulled investigators off Fernandez's mega-ranch, known as "La Cabaña," or the cabin.

On the front pages of Mexican newspapers, Fernandez is known as "El Jefe Diego" -- the boss, the lawyer and legislator who for three decades served as the ultimate insider, a godfather of the National Action Party, or PAN, Calderón's center-right ruling party.

Fernandez ran for president as the standard-bearer for PAN in 1994. He was a federal deputy and senator, and an instrumental force behind the scenes in the winning campaigns of Calderón and his trailblazing PAN predecessor, President Vicente Fox. Calderón praised Fernandez as "a key politician in the Mexican transition to democracy."

In an interview on CNN in Spanish, Calderón also said he did not think that the drug cartels snatched Fernandez, which remains a prominent theory. "No, the criminals can send me a very clear message in another way," he said. "I think it's a very sensitive case."

Fernandez remains a controversial figure. While in Congress and a leader of PAN, he also represented some of Mexico's powerful and quasi-monopolistic corporations in lawsuits, and rivals accused him of unfairly using his insider influence with the government. Today, the interior minister is a former member of Fernandez's law firm. A former attorney general is a member of the firm.

"It is a classic abduction. They obviously watched, they planned, they knew what they were doing. The question remains: Did they just kidnap a wealthy man for ransom, or is it political in some way -- a message, a threat?" said Ricardo Ainslie, a psychology professor at the University of Texas in Austin and director of the documentary "Ya Basta: Kidnapped in Mexico."

Lydia Cacho, a columnist and human rights activist, wrote in the newspaper El Universal: "Some ask if this can happen to a man such as Fernandez de Cevallos, what awaits the common citizen? Others wonder what kind of power these mafias must have to be able to grab the godfather of PAN, knowing that Calderón will mobilize every available resource to find him."

Mexican authorities have asked for help from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.

"We are going to find Diego," Calderón promised, after his administration announced an extensive manhunt by all federal forces, including the police, army, navy and marines.

"We are deeply worried and sad," said Cesar Nava, the leader of the PAN party. "The hope is that he is still alive, that he will come back safe."

Members of the Defense Committee in Mexican Congress recently revealed that the defense secretary, Gen. Guillermo Galván, warned last month that the military expected high-impact hits on the political class by the criminal cartels. He was therefore seeking support for legal reforms that would allow the army to conduct wiretaps and Internet eavesdropping, to cancel mass public events, and to detain suspects for up to 48 hours before delivering them to prosecutors.

The handful of guerrillas still active in Mexico are among possible suspects, but officials have said there is no evidence El Jefe was snatched by armed revolutionaries. A communique from the Popular Revolutionary Army denied responsibility.

The commentary on the Internet includes many voices along the lines of "it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy."

And the disappearance of El Jefe quickly entered popular culture. In a telenovela episode this week, an actor playing a robust lawyer storms into an office waving a newspaper with a blaring headlines about the kidnapping.

"It's official: We have reached the limit; after this, I do not know what will happen!" said the fictional character. "Diego Fernandez de Cevallos!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Immigration Bill No One's Talking About

For the past several years, the American populace has been bitterly divided on how to deal with millions of undocumented immigrants living inside their country's borders. This is an important issue. However, it has for the same amount of years occupied almost everyone's time that they devote to the issue of immigration -- any form of it. The situation has become so tense that any other immigration reform that does not deal with this issue is marginalized or even ignored by legislators and the media.

One of the much-needed reforms in the immigration process deals with refugees who are seeking asylum in the US. While the process has been in dire need of overhaul to conform with the UN 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees for the past decade, few have raised the issue publicly because asylum-seekers do not sway the electoral process like the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the US do. This was recently changed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Carl Levin (D-MI) when they introduced the Refugees Protection Act of 2010 on March 15. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is a co-sponsor of the bill.

The proposal if it becomes law will, among other key provisions:

- Eliminate the requirement that asylum applicants file their claim within one year of arrival.
- Allow the Attorney General to appoint counsel where fair resolution or effective adjudication of the proceedings would be served by appointment of counsel.
- Establish a nation-wide, secure "alternatives to detention" program.
- Require changes in the immigration detention system to ensure asylum-seekers and others have access to counsel, medical care, religious practice, and visits from family.
- Modify definitions in the statute to ensure that innocent asylum-seekers and refugees are not unfairly denied protection as a result of the material support and terrorism bars in the law, while ensuring that those with legitimate ties to terrorist activity will continue to be denied entry to the United States.
- Eliminate the one year waiting period for refugees and asylees to apply for a green card.
- Allow certain children and family members of refugees to be considered as derivative applicants for refugee status.
- Prevent newly resettled refugees from slipping into poverty by adjusting the per capita refugee resettlement grant level annually for inflation and the cost of living.

On Wednesday, initial hearings on the bill were held by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Leahy is the Chair. Witnesses included Dan Glickman, President of Refugees International, Patrick Giantonio, Executive Director of Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates, and Igor V. Timofeyev, former Department of Homeland Security Special Adviser for Refugee and Asylees advisor. All three strongly supported the bill. Their support comes as no surprise. The act, if it becomes law, will right many wrongs.

The bill will affect the lives of thousands of asylum applicants, but it will most dramatically improve the condition of applicants who fear repercussions because of sexual orientation, religious conversion or ongoing conflicts in their countries of origin. The removal of the one year bar -- which stipulates that immigrants must apply for asylum within a year of arriving in the US -- would help people in these criteria.

Patrick Giantonio explained reasons for late filing past the arbitrary one year bar, "Reasons for late filing of an asylum application can be related to fear of revealing the basis of the persecution such as domestic or sexual abuse, sexual orientation, lack of counsel or reliable information, trauma related to torture, or loss of family members and home."

Rachel B. Tiven, the Executive Director of the Immigration Equality Action Fund, rightly points out the drawbacks of the current law for LGBT applicants: "We have always believed that LGBT asylum seekers are disproportionately affected by the one year filing deadline for asylum applications, because so many of them simply don't know that the persecution they faced as sexual minorities could be grounds for asylum here... Eliminating this unfair deadline will help many LGBT and HIV-positive victims of persecution obtain safe haven in the United States."

The International Rescue Committee has also been vocal about this bill. Robert Carey, IRC Vice President for Migration and Resettlement Policy, recently backed the bill: "We've been seeking consistent treatment of Haitians interdicted at sea for years. Perhaps the earthquake in Haiti will help focus attention on the need to ensure their asylum claims are carefully considered. Current practices violate international humanitarian treaties; the United States should explicitly give intercepted Haitians the opportunity for a fair hearing. The Leahy bill would do this."

But as this important legislation lingers in the committee, it is surprising to see that almost no media outlet has picked up the story. And even though the lives of thousands of asylum seekers are literally on the line because of unfair stipulations in the law, the new Arizona law is on everyone's minds because it will in the end sway voters. Come November, the Latino community in the United States will be feverishly pursued by both parties. And in order to secure those votes, legislation that will provide a meaningful remedy to the question of 11 million undocumented immigrants will not be tackled by either party.

The Refugees Protection Act of 2010 needs to be talked about and expedited. It already has support from several refugee and human rights organizations including, Immigration Equality, Human Rights First, Refugees International and the International Rescue Committee.

While it is paramount that the issue of undocumented immigrants in the US be addressed, refugee protection must not be ignored simply because it is not seen as an election issue. The Refugees Protection Act of 2010 is a remedy to a problem that has been largely ignored. It is already in the senate and it needs to be paid attention to by the media, politicians and the population at large.

Fighting For A Fair Hearing

Every month, Antonio Castro Aranda meets hundreds of detained immigrants who can’t afford an attorney. The challenge for him is to find a match, to place a case with a volunteer attorney. Mr. Castro Aranda works for the Political Asylum / Immigration Representation Project, PAIR. He is the Pro Bono Detention Manager.

Castro Aranda also arranges monthly “Know Your Rights” presentations at three Boston area detention centers. These are county jails that contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain immigrants. He recruits volunteer attorneys and law students to give the presentations. PAIR has developed a relationship with the facilities, and this helps with attorney access to clients for presentations and individual meetings. An attorney can visit with a client any time. “I’ve been told that ICE in Boston is more progressive, reasonable than other parts of the country,” says Castro Aranda.

He’s grown accustomed to many of the hurdles his volunteer attorneys and their clients face, preparing a case together. One of the detention centers is about an hour and a quarter from downtown Boston. The attorney has to make that trip for every client meeting and preliminary hearing. A client can call an attorney from the detention center phones, but the attorney can not call the client.

The hearings are tough for the attorney-client relationship too. In the Boston area, the preliminary “master calendar” hearings are video-conferenced; and the client is not in the same room as the Immigration Judge and interpreter. The attorney has to choose between going to the detention center to sit with the client, or being present in the court room. But Mr. Castro Aranda believes that is better than the shackles and cuffs the clients had to wear for hours, each trip to and from the court, before the video system was installed. ICE transports detainees in chains and cuffs, without any determination that a person is dangerous or likely to flee. The Individual Hearing is in-person, which is important while the immigrant tells his or her story, and the judge makes a credibility finding. Though they appear before the judge in handcuffs, at least the PAIR clients have a chance at a fair hearing, with an attorney present.

Mr. Castro Aranda, and volunteer pro bono attorneys across the country, work hard to provide representation. But the overwhelming majority of immigrants in detention go through the removal process without counsel. When asked if he gets discouraged, Castro Aranda says, “The reward of being able to provide representation for a detainee in immigration proceedings is priceless, even if the case is not won. You know you are contributing to a more just situation when the person has legal assistance to defend herself while the court makes essential decisions about her life.”

Immigration Case Backlog Still Growing

The number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts reached a new all-time high of 242,776 at the end of March 2010, according to very timely government enforcement data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The case backlog has continued to grow — up 6.3 percent — since TRAC's last report four months ago, and nearly a third higher (30.4%) than levels a mere 18 months ago (see Figure 1).

Wait times have also continued to inch upward. The average time these pending cases have been waiting in the Immigration Courts of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is now 443 days.

Full details — by state, nationality, Immigration Court and hearing locations — can be viewed in TRAC's backlog application, now updated with data through March 2010.

Immigration Court Caseload Tool: Pending Cases and Length of Wait in Immigration Courts

Click on the image to use the tool!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Using Puppet Video, Arizona Governor Defends Immigration Law


In the last few weeks, Arizona’s new immigration law has come under heated criticism from many corners, with the most prominent critic being President Obama, who has deemed the measure “misguided.”

And just this past week, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón called it a “terrible idea” before a joint session of Congress.

Prominent politicians and various groups have urged organizations to boycott events in the state, including Senator Robert Menendez, who asked the Major League Baseball players association to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of the state. The Times’s Jennifer Steinhauer examined the politics of Arizona’s law rippling across several states.

All of which has rained down on the champion of the legislation, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who gave an impassioned speech when she signed the bill, saying that the law wouldn’t allow racial or ethnic profiling. (The measure gives law enforcement officers the authority to arrest people if it’s believed they’re in the country illegally.)

So Governor Brewer is fighting back. She’s sponsored a new video, on the Web site that skewers prominent Obama Cabinet members like Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, for their admissions in Congressional hearings that they hadn’t read the bill. And it uses a green puppet (kind of a faux Kermit, though not) to urge a better reading of the bill in a sing-a-long style.

Introducing The Really Green Card

Published: May 12, 2010

It's called a ''green card,'' but the identification that the authorities issue to lawful permanent residents has been white, pink, blue and beige -- almost anything but green. Now it will be green, though that is the least high-tech feature of a redesign announced Tuesday by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The new card, which will replace those now in circulation as they are lost or renewed, incorporates holographic images, laser engraved fingerprints and radio frequency identification chips that will allow Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry to read the card from a distance.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Indocumentalismo Manifesto

By Raúl Alcaraz/Daniel Carrillo (versión en español será agregada a la página próximamente)

Note: The following article tries to put together ideas that already exist. None of this is new or groundbreaking. It is based on our experiences growing up in undocumented households/communities and our experiences as participants in the struggle for social justice. It is intended to name a particular experience and its growing social-political ideology.

Emerging socio-political ideology

Political ideology is a certain set of ideals, principles or doctrines of a social movement, class or group of people that explain how society works, offers a vision of how society should be different, and proposes certain methods of achieving that vision. We know of political ideologies such as anarchism, socialism, communism, Maoism, Zapatismo, Magonismo to name a few. Today, there is another emerging political ideology rising from the experience of over 12 million U.S.-based undocumented peoples and their families. It is an ideology deeply rooted in a profound vision for social justice. Es una ideologia subterranea, clandestina, subversiva, indocumentada. El Indocumentalismo is an ideology blooming from a very specific set of social, cultural, economic and political experiences particular to displaced and economic refugees from Abya-yala (Latin America). It is an ideology rooted in the migrant uprising, today co-opted as the “Immigrant Rights Movement”.

Historical roots of Indocumentalismo

Indocumentalismo as an emerging socio-political ideology goes back centuries. It can be traced back to 1492 and the European invasion that killed millions, occupied native land and split up the earth into territories. This ideology can also be traced back to 1521 when Tenochtitlan, Mexico fell to the blood-filled hands of Spanish rule and finally, it can be traced to U.S. imperialism and the Mexican-American War where colonial forces occupied the southwest and through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase established the U.S.-Mexico international border line where we know it today.

Indocumentalismo comes from a history of slavery, genocide and dehumanization. From the very foundation of the United States of America, Native and African people were completely excluded from freedom and citizenship. In order to justify land robbing of Native land and the kidnapping and enslavement of millions of African folks, the U.S. capitalist/imperialist machine had to deny their humanity and by extension deny them papers. Citizenship and borders were thus created as tools of capitalist/imperialist oppression meant to dominate and control the land, resources and labor and who has access to them. We cannot forget that Europeans were the first undocumented/ “illegal” group in the hemisphere. But after they founded the United (colonial) States, and after they defined/imposed borders and citizenship, Africans and northern Natives became the first colonized/undocumented groups.

From the start of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920, almost 900,000 thousand southern Natives (aka Mexicans) fled to the U.S. This meant that rural and land-based brown folks were now living in this country. Indocumentalismo therefore has ideological roots in Magonista and Zapatista ideologies—indigenous-based, radical Mexican social movements originating in this time period.

With the development of American history and the rise of a globalized capitalism, Mexican and “Central American” labor became the most appealing to the ruling class; Largely because they could easily segregate the labor force (similar to how they did during slavery times) between “American” and “immigrant”, between “citizen” and “illegal” or essentially between “human” and “sub-human”. This has not only crafted a perfectly segregated labor force, but also a social, psychological, cultural, economic and political system segregated along racial, class, gender, sexual orientation and citizenship lines.

“We are human”: Reformist Immigrant Rights Hispanic Movement

In the year 2010 the mainstream “Immigrant Rights Movement” is still reformist, still assimilationist, still hetero-male dominated, still hungry for the “American Dream”, still lacking an anti-colonial analysis and vision…

“Resisting the colonial?"

I do not know, but this is what my heart says… standing in line, waiting to be processed by the colonizers and waiting for colonial papers. The “Immigrant Rights Movement” stands in line, waiting to be called on by the colonizer in order to receive white papers stamped “human”. As the movement says “we are human” we in turn exclude our sisters and brothers who fell “behind” in the race to become white. The movement does not say we are indigenous, we are womyn, we are queer. The movement states we seek to be white and marches with the colonizer’s flag. It does not resist colonization but instead offers to side with the slave master in exchange for certain privileges. Essentially, it defends the US; it validates its ongoing genocide and occupation.

The rise of Indocumentalismo

It is from this historical and current context that Indocumentalismo emerges. Not only is Indocumentalismo based on oppression, but more importantly its very essence is rebellion-rebeldía:

Indigenous-based. Indocumentalismo recognizes that the struggle for migrant rights is a struggle within the context of indigenous rebellion and indigenous liberation. We recognize our indigenous ancestry and see ourselves not as “immigrants” or “illegal aliens”, but as Native descendants living in the Northern, Central and Southern continents. Our method of organizing is collective and communal. We imagine love to build this movement and a connection of the four elements (fire, earth, water, wind) to humanity. We embrace our mother earth and all life on this planet. Indocumentalismo is indigenous-based.

Anti-colonial/Anti-borders. Indocumentalismo understands that our framework needs to be an anti-colonial analysis of race, class, gender, and sexuality. This includes an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist orientation. Indocumentalismo recognizes no borders because our ancestors for thousands of years migrated throughout these lands without restrictions or walls of shame. Today, capitalism forces hundreds of thousands of our family members annually to make a long, dangerous and “unauthorized” journey north. Clearly, we have no regard or respect for their colonial borders or walls. Indocumentalismo seeks to abolish not only physical, but also mental, spiritual, social and psychological borders among us. Indocumentalismo is anti-colonial and anti-borders.

Queer/Womyn embracing. Indocumetalismo comes from the most marginalized, oppressed sectors of society. This means solidarity with all oppressed people of the world is its essence. Currently, our community is plagued with sexism and homophobia. We understand this is a result of colonial occupation we have adopted that seeks to divide and weaken us. Here and in some parts of this continent, tradition means not to exclude people, it means to include all of us in a respectful and dignified manner. In this manner, the movement we build is a womyn/queer radical movement. We do not force womyn or queer people out of prayer circles or movement-building because of “tradition” that says their energy is wrong. Indocumentalismo does not structure itself under a heterosexual male framework. Indocumentalismo is queer and womyn embracing.

Autonomous. Indocumetalismo is anti-authoritarian. To be ruled by laws or governments without our consent is unacceptable. Communities should have the right to govern themselves and not be ruled by an outside, occupying force. Historically and currently, because of police/migra and state-sponsored terrorism, our community overwhelmingly does not trust law enforcement or government agencies. Power of the state means oppression of el pueblo. We believe in autonomy where the community is independent. This means the politicians, government, corporations, la migra, military or police do not control our minds/bodies/spirits. Indocumentalismo is anti-authoritarian and autonomous.

Non-reformist. Indocumentalismo is clear that when there is no federal recognition or respect for community self-determination, then one only has violence as a resort and means to be heard. Violence is generally a last resort in a struggle for freedom, after exhausting various non-violent channels. We need to employ non-violent direct action tactics, because right now our tactics are submissive and disempowering. The movement is currently disarmed and turns to electoral tactics: voting and lobbying. The “Immigrant Rights Movement” accepts only state-sanctioned/state-approved methods for “change”—thus validating an oppressive political system. Indocumentalismo supports our community’s fight for legalization. But it also recognizes that a Reforma Migratoria as we currently know it is problematic because it seeks change within a blood-filled system and further promotes the surveillance, persecution, deportations, raids, criminalization and militarization of our communities. Instead, indocumentalismo follows the militant/warrior spirit of our community that is tired, fed-up and outraged with this system and seeks to liberate itself from it. Indocumentalismo seeks alternative, grassroots, revolutionary methods of struggle!


Along with other indigenous Mexican@s/Xicanas/and other “Raza”, we have been permanently displaced by imperialist capitalism and now reside throughout areas of the US. We are not recognized by the state as “indigenous” or “native”. Our community does not have those kinds of papers, we do not have reservations, and we are not “valid” indigenous communities. According to them, we have no papers to be indigenous and no papers to be human. ¡Somos un pueblo sin papeles! ¡Somos un pueblo indocumentado! This is dangerous for the system because our community is not in their system, and cannot be tracked. It is from this invisibility, from these shadows; from the margins that indocumentalismo rises as a socio-political ideology. Indocumentalismo presents a growing threat to the system because this ideology thinks and acts beyond the limits of their borders; we are inherently “illegitimate” and “subversive”; we are its biggest crisis. We have never surrendered during colonial occupation, we have never signed any treaties with this illegitimate government, and we will not start now. We charge the US with the genocide of indigenous peoples and its illegal occupation of these lands. We remain firm in our stance to defend and nourish this earth and our families and communities that struggle for liberation!

In Solidarity,

Raúl Alcaraz/Daniel Carrillo

From Tohono O’odham and Gabrielino-Tongva lands

31 March 2010

List of cities boycotting or condemning Arizona

Below is a list of cities who have passed (or are considering passing) boycotts on business in Arizona or have condemned SB 1070. Please comment and leave a source on this story if there are more cities not listed that have (or are considering) resolutions.

San Francisco

San Francisco supervisors, on a 10-1 vote, approved a nonbinding resolution that calls for a boycott of Arizona-based businesses. It asks for, but does not demand, that city departments refrain from entering into new contracts or extending existing ones with companies headquartered in Arizona, unless severing those ties would result in significant costs to the city or violate other laws. (via SF Gate)

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to stop doing business in Arizona unless the state’s tough new immigration law is repealed. The city does about $52 million worth of business with Arizona companies, but it’s likely that only about $8 million worth of contracts can be terminated. (via NPR News)

Milwaukee, WI

The Milwaukee Common Council Tuesday (5/4) failed to act on a resolution calling for the city to boycott companies based in Arizona. The council sent the measure back to committee. Alderman Robert Puente said his colleagues need to further study the Arizona law. (via WUWM)

Austin, TX

The resolution, proposed by Council Member Mike Martinez, calls for ending all business-related travel to Arizona by city employees, unless it is related to police investigations, providing humanitarian aid or protecting Austinites’ health and safety. (via Austin American Statesman)

West Hollywood, CA

The council voted 5-0 Monday night to approve the boycott. The action immediately suspends official travel to Arizona and calls for developing official sanctions. (via CBS2)

Boston, MA

As the City Council passed a resolution urging that Boston cut business ties with Arizona, Menino said it was important to send “a message’’ that the city disagrees with that state’s response to illegal immigration. (via

Oakland, CA

The council voted 7-0 Tuesday in favor of the boycott. It calls on city officials to review existing contracts with Arizona-based businesses and not enter into any new ones. It also says staff should not travel to the state on official city business. (via Fresno Bee)

St. Paul, MN

Mayor Chris Coleman is ordering city departments to no longer travel to conferences in the state of Arizona. (via My Fox 9)

Washington D.C.

Responding to Arizona’s new immigration law, the resolution requests that the city government and the employee pension fund “divest’ from all Arizona state and municipal bonds and ban city workers from traveling to that state on official business. The resolution, which will be voted on at a later date, does not appear to prevent the city from doing business with Arizona-based companies, as some Hispanic activists had proposed. (via Washington Post)

New York City

New York’s City Council will consider a resolution calling for a boycott of all things Arizona. Ydanis Rodrigues, a Manhattan Democrat, filed the non-binding resolution Wednesday, a council aide confirmed. (via WSJ)

Boulder, CO

Employees of the City of Boulder will no longer be traveling to Arizona for business, City Manager Jane Brautigam announced, as a show of the city’s opposition to the recent immigration legislation passed in that state. (via Examiner)

Seattle, WA

Seattle’s City Council unanimously passed the Boycott Arizona Resolution, directing departments not to send employees to the Grand Canyon State and to refrain from doing new business with firms in Arizona in protest of the tragic new law. (via Examiner)

Brownsville, TX

During their Tuesday evening meeting, the city commission voted unanimously to pass a resolution against Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070. (via Valley Central)

Hartford, CT

That until the repeal of SB 1070, the City of Hartford shall not engage in any discretionary travel to Arizona and when applicable and without conflicting with any laws, the City of Hartford shall not engage in any contract for goods or services with any Arizona-based company. the Court of Common Council urges all public and private universities with campuses in Hartford to decline invitations to any sports tournaments in Arizona (via L. E. Cotto and City of Hartford Resolution)

Coachella, CA

The Coachella City Council formally opposed Arizona’s new immigration law Wednesday night. (via Desert Sun)

El Paso, TX

The city’s resolution only condemned Arizona, but counselors added a boycott at last minute and approved the measure. (via News Channel 9)

I'm a criminal and so are you

By Michelle Alexander, Special to CNN
May 19, 2010 10:01 a.m. EDT

Editor's note: America's 300 million-plus people are declaring their identity in the 2010 Census this year. This piece is part of a special series on in which people describe how they see their own identity. Michelle Alexander is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press, 2010)She is the former director of the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU of Northern California and of the Civil Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School. She holds a joint appointment with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University.

(CNN) -- Who am I? How do I identify?

Lately, I've been telling people that I'm a criminal. This shocks most people, since I don't "look like" one. I'm a fairly clean-cut, light-skinned black woman with fancy degrees from Vanderbilt University and Stanford Law School. I'm a law professor and I once clerked for a U.S. Supreme Court Justice -- not the sort of thing you'd expect a criminal to do.

What'd you get convicted of? people ask. Nothing, I say. Well, then why do you say you're a criminal? Because I am a criminal, I say, just like you.

This is where the conversation gets interesting. Most of my acquaintances don't think of themselves as criminals. No matter what their color, age or gender, most of the people in my neighborhood and in my workplace seem to think criminals exist somewhere else -- in ghettos, mainly.

They have an unspoken, but deeply rooted identity as "law-abiding citizens." I ask them, "Haven't you ever committed a crime?" Oddly, people often seem perplexed by this question. What do you mean? they say. I mean, haven't you ever smoked pot, didn't you ever drink underage, don't you sometimes speed on the freeway, haven't you gotten behind the wheel after having a couple of drinks? Haven't you broken the law?

Well, yeah, they say, but I'm not a criminal. Oh, really? What are you, then? As I see it, you're just somebody who hasn't been caught. You're still a criminal, no better than many of those who've been branded felons for life.

Perhaps there should be a box on the census form that says "I'm a criminal." Everyone who has ever committed a crime would be required to check it. If everyone were forced to acknowledge their own criminality, maybe we, as a nation, would second-guess our apparent zeal for denying full citizenship to those branded felons.

In this country, we force millions of people -- who are largely black and brown -- into a permanent second-class status, simply because they once committed a crime. Once labeled a felon, you are ushered into a parallel social universe. You can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits -- forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind.

This kind of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion may befall you for no reason other than you were once caught with drugs.

I doubt Barack Obama thinks of himself as a criminal, though he should. He has admitted to using illegal drugs during his college years -- lots, in fact. What if he thought of himself as a criminal? What if he identified that way? Would it lead him to feel a bit more compassion for those who are branded drug felons for life, unable to find work or housing, and deemed ineligible even for food stamps?

Maybe if Obama thought of himself as a criminal he wouldn't have just endorsed spending even more money on prisons at a time when scarce resources would be much better spent on education or health care, or just about anything else.

I am a criminal. Coming to terms with this aspect of my identity has helped me to see more clearly -- with blinders off -- the ways in which I have been encouraged not to feel any connection to "them," those labeled criminals. I see now that "they" are me, and I am them.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Michelle Alexander.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Border security talks wrap with Obama pointing to issues with Ariz. law

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post staff writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010; 2:20 PM

President Obama declared anew his anxiety about Arizona's immigration law Wednesday, saying it has the potential to be "discriminatory" and promising that results from a Justice Department review will be made public soon.

"It gives the possibility of individuals who are deemed suspicious of being illegal immigrant of being harassed or arrested," Obama said during a Rose Garden news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderón. "The judgments that are going to be made in applying this law are troubling."

Calderón said he told Obama that his country will "retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration" and that his government will "oppose firmly" the application of the new state measure to law-abiding citizens in the United States.

The comments came after the two leaders finished a morning of meetings at which they said border security was a key topic, and before an official state dinner aimed at celebrating the relationship between the two countries.

Both men said in brief remarks that their conversations focused on the economic opportunities but also on the security challenges along the border posed by that physical closeness.

In his comments, Calderón said the "areas where we agree are broader than our differences." He said the meetings with Obama were characterized by "broad and fruitful dialogue."

Obama took only one question from an American journalist, and was not asked about the results of primary elections in four states Tuesday. Obama ignored a shouted question about the election as he and Calderón walked back to the Oval Office.

Asked about immigration reform legislation, Obama repeated his support for a comprehensive bill the assigns responsibility to the government, businesses that employ illegal immigrants and the immigrants themselves. But he said progress in Congress will be slow without cooperation from Republicans.

Giving credit to his 2008 opponent, Obama said comprehensive immigration changes almost passed several years ago with the help of Arizona Sen. John McCain (R). But he said the political environment appears to have changed.

"I don't have 60 votes in the Senate," Obama said, noting a legislative proposal that was recently unveiled in the Senate. "I don't expect to get every Republican vote. But I need some help to get this done."

Calderón did not take any questions. In comments earlier in the morning, he said the United States and Mexico face a choice between moving forward or returning to "mutual recrimination, which has been so useless and so damaging in previous times."

A Generation Gap Over Immigration

Published: May 17, 2010

MIAMI — Meaghan Patrick, a junior at New College of Florida, a tiny liberal arts college in Sarasota, says discussing immigration with her older relatives is like “hitting your head against a brick wall.”

Cathleen McCarthy, a senior at the University of Arizona, says immigration is the rare, radioactive topic that sparks arguments with her liberal mother and her grandmother.

“Many older Americans feel threatened by the change that immigration presents,” Ms. McCarthy said. “Young people today have simply been exposed to a more accepting worldview.”

Forget sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll; immigration is a new generational fault line.

In the wake of the new Arizona law allowing the police to detain people they suspect of entering the country illegally, young people are largely displaying vehement opposition — leading protests on Monday at Senator John McCain’s offices in Tucson, and at the game here between the Florida Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Meanwhile, baby boomers, despite a youth of “live and let live,” are siding with older Americans and supporting the Arizona law.

This emerging divide has appeared in a handful of surveys taken since the measure was signed into law, including a New York Times/CBS News poll this month that found that Americans 45 and older were more likely than the young to say the Arizona law was “about right” (as opposed to “going too far” or “not far enough”). Boomers were also more likely to say that “no newcomers” should be allowed to enter the country while more young people favored a “welcome all” approach.

The generational conflict could complicate chances of a federal immigration overhaul any time soon. “The hardening of this divide spells further stalemate,” said Roberto Suro, the former head of the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.

And the causes are partly linked to experience. Demographically, younger and older Americans grew up in vastly different worlds. Those born after the civil rights era lived in a country of high rates of legal and illegal immigration. In their neighborhoods and schools, the presence of immigrants was as hard to miss as a Starbucks today.

In contrast, baby boomers and older Americans — even those who fought for integration — came of age in one of the most homogenous moments in the country’s history.

Immigration, which census figures show declined sharply from the Depression through the 1960s, reached a historic low point the year after Woodstock. From 1860 through 1920, 13 percent to 15 percent of the country was foreign born — a rate similar to today’s, when immigrants make up about 12.5 percent of the country.

But in 1970, only 4.7 percent of the country was foreign born, and most of those immigrants were older Europeans, often unnoticed by the boomer generation born from 1946 to 1964.

Boomers and their parents also spent their formative years away from the cities, where newer immigrants tended to gather — unlike today’s young people who have become more involved with immigrants, through college, or by moving to urban areas.

“It’s hard for them to share each others’ views on what’s going on,” said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. “These older people grew up in largely white suburbs or largely segregated neighborhoods. Young people have grown up in an interracial culture.”

The generation gap is especially pronounced in formerly fast-growing states like Arizona and Florida, where retirees and new immigrants have flocked — one group for sun, the other for work.

In a new report based on census figures titled “The State of Metropolitan America,” Mr. Frey found that Arizona has the largest “cultural generation gap,” as he calls it, between older Americans who are largely white (83 percent in Arizona’s case) and children under 18 who are increasingly members of minorities (57 percent in Arizona’s case).

Florida ranks sixth on Mr. Frey’s cultural generation gap list, with a 29 percentage point difference between the percentage of white people among its older residents and the percentage that whites make up of its children.

That very different makeup of the young and the old can lead t0 tensions. Demographers say it has the potential to produce public policy that alienates the young because older people are more likely to vote and less likely to be connected to the perspectives of youth — especially the perspectives of young people of different races and national origins.

“Short term, politically, the age divide heightens polarization,” Mr. Suro said “Long term,” he added, “there’s the challenge of whether older citizens will pay for the education of the children of immigrants.”

Some older Americans acknowledge that how they grew up has shaped their opinions. Mike Lombardi, 56, of Litchfield, Ariz. — one of 1,079 respondents in the Times/CBS poll conducted from April 28 to May 2 — said his support for his state’s new law stemmed partly from the shock of seeing gaggles of immigrants outside Home Depot, who he assumed were illegal. Comparing the situation to his youth in Torrance, Calif., in a follow-up interview, he said, “You didn’t see anything like what you see now.”

Maggie Aspillaga, 62, a Cuban immigrant in Miami, had more specific concerns: a risk of crime from illegal immigrants and the costs in health care and other services. “They’re taking resources,” she said.

Some young people agree, of course, just as many baby boomers support more open immigration policies. In the poll, a majority of Americans in all age groups described illegal immigration as a “very serious” problem.

Still, divisions were pronounced by age: for instance, while 41 percent of Americans ages 45 to 64 and 36 percent of older Americans said immigration levels should be decreased, only 24 percent of those younger than 45 said so.

Ms. Patrick, 22, said the gap reflected what each group saw as normal. In her view, current immigration levels — legal and illegal — represent “the natural course of history.”

As children, after all, her generation watched “Sesame Street” with Hispanic characters, many of them sat in classrooms that were a virtual United Nations, and now they marry across ethnic lines in record numbers. Their children are even adopting mixed monikers like “Mexipino,” (Mexican and Filipino) and “Blaxican” (black and Mexican).

That “multiculti” (short for multicultural) United States is not without challenges. Aparna Malladi, 31, a graduate student at Florida International University originally from India, said that when she first entered laboratories in Miami, it took a while for her to learn the customs.

“I didn’t know that when I enter a room, I have to greet everyone and say goodbye when I leave,” Ms. Malladi said. “People thought I was being rude.”

Still, in interviews across the nation, young people emphasized the benefits of immigrants. Andrea Bonvecchio, 17, the daughter of a naturalized citizen from Venezuela, said going to a high school that is “like 98 percent Hispanic” meant she could find friends who enjoyed both Latin music and her favorite movie, “The Parent Trap.”

Nicole Vespia, 18, of Selden, N.Y., said older people who were worried about immigrants stealing jobs were giving up on an American ideal: capitalist meritocracy.

“If someone works better than I do, they deserve to get the job,” Ms. Vespia said. “I work in a stockroom, and my best workers are people who don’t really speak English. It’s cool to get to know them.”

Her parents’ generation, she added, just needs to adapt.

“My stepdad says, ‘Why do I have to press 1 for English?’ I think that’s ridiculous,” Ms. Vespia said, referring to the common instruction on customer-service lines. “It’s not that big of a deal. Quit crying about it. Press the button.”