Friday, July 30, 2010

SB 1070 Austin Vigil ¡Alto ICE!

Immigrant Prosecutions on the Rise Under Obama

by Julian Aguilar
July 30, 2010

Despite grousing from congressmen and state officials in Arizona and Texas — notably Gov. Rick Perry — that the Obama administration has abdicated its role in the protecting the nation's borders from illegal immigration, the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative units this year each recorded their highest number of cases referred for prosecution since the Bush administration.

The 4,145 cases referred for prosecution in March and April of 2010 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, marked the highest total since 2005, when the agency was created, according to a report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Customs and Border Protection, or the CBP, also saw its largest spike since the Bush era in March and April, with 14,912 cases referred for prosecution — the highest since September and October of 2008.

When broken down by judicial districts, two of the top three spots in the number of ICE and CBP cases referred for prosecution are in Texas. The Southern District of Texas ranked first and second in ICE and CBP referrals, respectively. The Western District of Texas ranked third in both categories. Arizona — whose implementation of an immigration crackdown, gutted Wednesday by a federal judge, came in response to alleged federal inaction — ranked first in CBP prosecutions and second in ICE prosecutions during those same months.

The crackdown has drawn the ire of liberals who claim the administration has failed to overhaul the country’s immigration-detention system. The increase “flies the face of what people were hoping for in terms of the new administration: having a smarter and less punitive policy,” says Bob Libal, the outreach coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit that advocates for improved private-detention oversight and a return of federal immigration enforcement to civil authorities. In a new report, Operation Streamline: Drowning Justice and Draining Dollars Along the Rio Grande, the group posits that the initiative in its title — a Bush-era policy mandating most undocumented immigrants detained on the Southwest border be prosecuted through the federal criminal justice system — has clogged court dockets and infringes upon detainees’ due-process rights. It also consumes federal resources aimed at prosecuting criminal felonies in pursuit of first-time border crossers, according to the report.

Grassroots Leadership found that by 2009, 54 percent of all federal prosecutions were immigration-related. Even before the record highs achieved in the past few months, prosecutions for two federal misdemeanor charges, Improper Entry by Alien and Reentry by Removed Alien, numbered 46,470 in the Southern and Western Districts of Texas alone. The previous high mark was 41,366 in 2008.

Libal, one of the report's authors, says the staggering caseload of public defenders limits their ability to fully represent their clients. Interviews with public defenders in Texas revealed that 95 percent of their cases — up to 180 a day — were for the two misdemeanor violations.

“Some people [also] have claims of immigration release. Some people might have a claim of being U.S. citizen, might have an asylum claim or a trafficking claim or a sexual violence claim,” he says. “It’s not articulated how people make that claim when they are in this criminal process, especially of the process happens so quickly.”

Add to that, he says, that the federal government has doled out $1.2 billion to private prisons in Texas that are owned and operated by companies like the GEO Group and Corrections Corporations of America, which have track records of alleged inmate abuse and corruption. The figure represents monies spent to detain immigrants convicted only of those two misdemeanors. The amount has critics balking that the money could be better spent; it is almost as much as the enitire value ($1.4 billion) of the aid package known as the Merida Initiative, which is supposed to provide training and equipment to the Mexican and Central American governments to help them combat violence and smuggling within their own borders. And recently the federal government acknowledged in an accountability report it could better evaluate “progress toward achieving alien smuggling-related program objectives.”

Despite the surge in arrests and prosecutions, some Republicans argue it still isn’t enough. Perry’s office did not respond to a request for comment, but U.S. Sen. John Cornyn took the lead among his fellows Republicans in harshly criticizing administration policy. Asked if the TRAC data indicated an improvement in border security, his spokeswoman Jessica Sandlin said: “The senator would like to receive accurate data from the agencies of jurisdiction on prosecutions and removals over the past five years.” Cornyn, the aide said, “has seen conflicting data reflecting that noncriminal removals and overall deportations are in fact down since [fiscal year] 2008.”

According to data the senator’s office received from a GOP member of the House Judiciary Committee, criminal removals in the country increased by more than 21,700 from 2008 to 2009, but noncriminal removals dipped by about 3,200 in the same time frame. Cornyn, through his spokeswoman, also reiterated his claim that the Obama administration has failed to act on immigration reform.

Cornyn, Sandlin said, is committed to “credible, bipartisan” comprehensive immigration reform proposals, but no such proposals have emanated from the White House. “To date, Sen. Cornyn has yet to see any legislative text from the president or Democratic leaders in Congress.”

Judge Blocks Arizona’s Immigration Law

July 28, 2010
Judge Blocks Arizona’s Immigration Law

PHOENIX — A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law from going into effect, a ruling that at least temporarily squashed a state policy that had inflamed the national debate over immigration.

Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against sections of the law, scheduled to take effect on Thursday, that called for police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and required immigrants to prove that they were authorized to be in the country or risk state charges. She issued the injunction in response to a legal challenge brought against the law by the Obama administration.

A spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican who signed the law and has campaigned on it for election to a full term, said Wednesday that the governor would appeal the injunction on Thursday and ask for a speedy review. Legal experts predicted that the case could end up before the Supreme Court.

The law, designed to seek and deport illegal immigrants in a state that is the principal gateway for illegal border crossers, had provoked intense debate from coast to coast, drawing support in several polls but generating boycotts of the state by major civil rights groups and several cities and towns.

It renewed calls for an overhaul of federal immigration law and led to repeated rebukes of it from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who maintained that immigration policy is under the purview of the federal government, not individual states. The Mexican government, joined by seven other Latin American nations, supported one of the lawsuits against the law; the attorneys general of several states backed Arizona.

The ruling came four days before 1,200 National Guard members were scheduled to report to the Southwest border to assist federal and local law enforcement agencies there, part of the Obama administration’s response to growing anxiety over the border and immigration that has fed support for the law.

Judge Bolton, appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, did allow some, less debated provisions of the law to go into effect, including one that bans cities from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration agents.

But she largely sided with arguments in a lawsuit by the Obama administration that the law, rather than closely hewing to existing federal statutes, as its supporters have claimed, interferes with longstanding federal authority over immigration and could lead to harassment of citizens and legal immigrants.

“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” she said.

“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens,” she wrote. “By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose,” she said, citing a previous Supreme Court case, a “ ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

The judge’s decision was not her final word on the case. In granting the injunction, she simply indicated that the Justice Department was likely, but not certain, to prevail on those points at a later trial in federal court. She made no ruling on the six other suits that also challenged the law.

Her ruling, issued as demonstrators both for and against the law gathered here, and after hearings in three of the seven lawsuits against the it, seemed more likely to add another log to the fire than settle matters.

“This fight is far from over,” said Ms. Brewer, whose lawyers had argued that Congress granted states the power to enforce immigration law particularly when, in their view, the federal government fell short. “In fact,” she added, “it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.”

State Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican and chief sponsor of the law, said in a statement that he was confident that the sections blocked by Judge Bolton would survive on appeal, noting the state’s previous victories in court on other statutes designed to give it a larger role in immigration enforcement. “The courts have made it clear states have the inherent power to enforce the laws of this country,” he said.

But Gabriel Chin, a professor at the University of Arizona School of Law who has studied the law, called the ruling “a nearly complete victory for the position of the United States.”

He noted that she ruled in the federal government’s favor on most of the points it challenged.

Aside from stopping the requirement that the police initiate immigration checks, the judge also blocked provisions that allowed the police to hold anyone arrested for any crime until his immigration status was determined.

“Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” she wrote.

She also said Arizona could not make it a state crime for noncitizens to be in the state without proper documents, nor could it allow the police to conduct arrests without warrants if officers believed the offense would result in their deportation. She said there was a “substantial likelihood” of wrongful arrests.

The parts of the law she did allow were not challenged by the Justice Department, but do figure in some of the other lawsuits filed. They include forbidding “sanctuary city” policies by allowing residents to sue the local authorities if they adopt policies restricting cooperation with the federal government in immigration enforcement.

She also let stand a provision aimed at day laborers, who are mostly Latin American immigrants, by making it a crime to stop a vehicle in traffic or block traffic to hire someone off the street. But she blocked a provision that barred illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.

The law, adopted in April, coincided with economic anxiety and followed a number of high-profile crimes attributed to illegal immigrants and smuggling. It has become an issue in Congressional and local campaigns across the country.

Terry Goddard, the Arizona attorney general who opposed the law and is a possible Democratic opponent to Ms. Brewer, was quick to condemn her for signing it. “Jan Brewer played politics with immigration, and she lost,” he said in a statement.

But Republican candidates, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is seeking re-election, criticized the Obama administration for bringing suit.

“Instead of wasting taxpayer resources filing a lawsuit against Arizona and complaining that the law would be burdensome,” Mr. McCain said in a joint statement with Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, “the Obama administration should have focused its efforts on working with Congress to provide the necessary resources to support the state in its efforts to act where the federal government has failed to take responsibility.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 28, 2010

An earlier version of this article misstated the timing of Judge Bolton’s ruling. It was handed down Wednesday, not Friday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

NALEO Educational Fund ELEASES COMPREHENSIVE SURVEY Latino voters look at key electoral races and issues nationwide

Latino voters look at key electoral races and issues nationwide

At a briefing at the National Press Club, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund released the findings of a comprehensive survey of 1,600 Latino registered voters in four states with open or competitive gubernatorial or senatorial contests this November – California, Colorado, Florida and Texas. With three out of five potential Latino voters residing in these four states, the survey offers the most current insight into Latino voter opinions on a variety of issues.

Several key findings include:

An overwhelming majority (61%) of Latino registered voters surveyed say they will “definitely”
vote in the November midterm elections; this despite the historically low voter
participation in “off-year” elections.

The majority of Latino voters in these states approve of President Obama’s job performance.
However, far fewer of these Latino registered voters approve of the job performance of Congress.

The current debate around the issue of immigration is playing a significant role in the political
decisions of registered Latino voters, including increasing the likelihood of voting, and
influencing their selection of candidate.

Immigration has emerged as the top policy issue for Latino registered voters in these four states,
overtaking economic issues, education and healthcare.

Download Materials on the 2010 Latino Electorate:

2010 Survey of Latino Registered Voters in Four Key States – Select Top-Lines (PDF)

2010 Survey of Latino Registered Voters in Four Key States – Select Cross-Tabulations (PDF)

The Latino Vote in 2010 (PDF)

AP-Univision Poll: US Hispanics mix hopes, strains

AP-Univision Poll: US Hispanics mix hopes, strains
Associated Press (July 20, 2010)

MIAMI - Hispanics worry more than most Americans about losing jobs and paying bills. But they place a high importance on education and expect their children to go to college - even if most of them don't expect the United States to elect a Latino president in the next 20 years.

An Associated Press-Univision poll of more than 1,500 Latinos shows them eager to blend into American society while still holding onto their cultural identity. They are likewise torn between hopes for tomorrow and daily doses of financial stress.

"The situation is bad now, but I have faith that this is going to change," says Yadilka Aramboles, a 32-year-old Miamian from the Dominican Republic.

She eyes her three young children playing on the sidewalk and sees college in their future - even though her husband's modest accountant's income barely covers the family's most basic expenses.

"For me and my children, I aspire to something more," Aramboles says.

America's 47 million Hispanics face acute economic and political pressures.

The recession that erased millions of jobs has taken an especially heavy toll on Latinos, whose average income is lower than many other groups. And the Hispanic community has been jolted by election-season debate over the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, a debate that has increased in intensity following Arizona's enactment of a law that requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion he or she is in the country illegally.

About three-quarters of the nation's illegal immigrants are Hispanic, according to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.

The poll, also sponsored by The Nielsen Company and Stanford University, shows that Hispanics have complex beliefs about how best to fit into America.

Just over half, 54 percent, say it is important that they change to assimilate into society, yet about two-thirds, 66 percent, say Latinos should maintain their distinct culture.

Gary Segura, a political scientist from Stanford who helped conduct the study, said those two views are not necessarily at odds. He said other, better established ethnic groups cling to their traditions, adding, "Identity is multidimensional, and people can see themselves as Hispanic and as Americans."

"It's important to survive in whatever land we're in," said Aniela Sanchez, 30, a freelance editor in Passaic, N.J., and child of a Puerto Rican mother and Dominican father. "But every culture has its beautiful mannerisms, songs, food, and you have to take pride in who you are."

The survey reveals a cautious optimism that brighter opportunities lie ahead - and a conviction that the way to get there is better education.

Just over half expect it will be easier for their children than it's been for them to find good jobs and buy houses. More than eight in 10 say the most important goal for girls and boys graduating high school is to continue their education, with most saying the aim should be a four-year college. Ninety-four percent say they expect their children to actually go to college - more than double the number who say their own parents expected them to do so.

"There's many ways they can succeed here," Ana Mendoza, 33, of Mission, Texas, said of her four children. To achieve that, she says, "it's an obligation to finish school."

Yet the poll highlights a double-barreled problem: As a group, Hispanics have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic slump and are less educated than others.

Forty-five percent say they or a family member have lost a job since last September, with similar numbers or more expressing deep worries about becoming unemployed, paying bills and saving for college. By both measures, that is worse than the downturn's impact on the overall population, according to recent AP-GfK polls.

Signaling concern for the future, 36 percent of Hispanics expect it to be harder for their children to raise a family than it's been for them.

"It's just a struggle. We're cutting back, living with less, adopting to circumstances in a way we really didn't have to in the '80s and '90s," said Amber Thomson, 34, who is half-Hispanic and lives in Menifee, Calif.

Despite their esteem for school, 37 percent of Hispanics are not high school graduates, compared with 14 percent of the overall population, Census Bureau data show. Twelve percent of Hispanics but 27 percent overall have college degrees or more.

Among Hispanics, there are significant differences between those born here and immigrants, who tend to have rosier views of their new country. Similar schisms are evident between citizens and non-citizens, and between those who mostly speak English or Spanish with their families.

Those from abroad are likelier than U.S.-born Latinos to expect their children to attend college and to have better lifestyles than they do. Yet reflecting their lesser integration into American society, 76 percent of immigrants say their well-being depends on other Hispanics succeeding - about double the number of American-born Latinos who say so. Those from abroad are likelier to express financial worries, to say it's important to blend into society, and to say at least half their friends are other Hispanics.

Within the Hispanic community, variety abounds. Forty-six percent were born in the U.S. and 32 percent in Mexico, with the rest scattered among Caribbean islands and Central and South America. Six in 10 are Catholic, and about one in seven consider themselves Protestant evangelicals. Fewer than one in five immigrants say they arrived in the past 10 years, while nearly a quarter have been here at least three decades.

The poll detected a new wariness about the national mood in an election year in which immigration has become a hot issue.

Until April 23, when Arizona enacted a law requiring local police officers to check the documentation of people they suspect might be illegal immigrants, 39 percent of English-speaking Hispanics said it is important to blend into society. Of those interviewed after April 23, some 54 percent said so. The increase is telling because English-speaking Latinos tend to be more involved in American politics than predominantly Spanish speakers.

In a different measure of Hispanics' perceptions of their standing, 29 percent expect a Latino president to be elected in the next 20 years - half the number who think a woman will go to the White House.

The AP-Univision Poll was conducted from March 11 to June 3 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Using a sample of Hispanic households provided by The Nielsen Company, 1,521 Hispanics were interviewed in English and Spanish, mostly by mail but also by telephone and the Internet. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Stanford University's participation in the study was made possible by a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Alan Fram reported from Washington. Associated Press Polling Director Trevor Tompson and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

How the AP-Univision poll was conducted

The Associated Press-Univision Poll of Hispanic adults was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago from March 11-June 3. It is based on a nationally representative random sample of 1,521 Hispanic adults. Data were gathered via mail, the Internet and telephone. The majority of interviews were completed via mail (82 percent); 15 percent were completed by via telephone and four percent via the Internet.

The sponsors and funders of the project include The Associated Press, Univision Communications, Inc., The Nielsen Company and Stanford University. Stanford University's participation was made possible by a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Fifty-three percent of interviews were conducted in English and 47 percent were done in Spanish.

All respondents were offered a monetary incentive to complete the study.

The sample of Hispanic households was provided by The Nielsen Company. Nielsen conducts an annual survey of Hispanic households in the United States for its television viewing ratings services. The sample frame for this survey incorporated 3,427 households that were previously contacted by Nielsen and estimated to be Hispanic.

The response rate for the original Nielsen survey is estimated to be 90 percent. The cumulative response rate for the AP-Univision survey was estimated to be approximately 40 percent.

The final sample was statistically adjusted to be a more accurate representation of all Hispanic householders in the United States based on geography and Hispanic residential penetration, educational attainment and language usage by the householder, as well as the householder's age, sex and country of origin.

No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all Hispanics in the U.S. were polled.

There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

U.S. Lays Out Case Against Arizona Law

Protesters of Arizona’s new immigration law marched in front of a federal courthouse in Phoenix on Thursday.

Published: July 22, 2010

PHOENIX — With just a week remaining before Arizona’s stringent new immigration law is set to take effect, a federal judge in Phoenix heard, for the first time, from Obama administration lawyers urging her to strike down the controversial legislation while dozens of demonstrators argued both sides outside the courthouse.

As protesters blocked traffic, chanted, sang, yelled and banged on bass drums, lawyers from the Justice Department and for the State of Arizona sparred over whether the law, known locally as SB1070, violates the United States Constitution’s supremacy clause, which says federal law generally trumps state law. The federal judge, Susan R. Bolton, asked pointed questions of both sides, but made no ruling from the bench before adjourning at 3 p.m.

The hearing marked the first opportunity for the Obama administration to explain why it feels Arizona should not be allowed to empower local police to demand some proof of citizenship from people they suspect are illegal immigrants.

Edwin S. Kneedler, the lawyer for the federal government, argued that the federal government has the sole authority to enforce immigration laws under the Constitution and that Arizona was, in essence, establishing its own immigration policy — which in some cases would be stricter than the federal law and does not take into account either humanitarian concerns or the government’s foreign policy goals.

“The regulation of immigration is unquestionably, exclusively, a federal power,” he said.

With Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed and has fervently defended the legislation, sitting in the courtroom, the lawyer representing Arizona, John J. Bouma, asserted that the state law actually mirrors the letter of the federal law, even if that federal law is not enforced fully in practice. He argued the state had every right to ask its peace officers to call up federal authorities and check on a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops or other arrests, even if it created a headache for federal authorities.

“You can’t catch them if you don’t know about them, and they don’t want to know about them — that’s what they are saying,” Mr. Bouma said, gesturing to the Justice Department lawyers.

“What we get is the plaintiff over here saying we cannot do anything,” he added. “That it’s not Arizona’s problem, that we should just live with it.”

As Judge Bolton questioned the federal government’s counsel, she expressed skepticism that the state was indeed carrying out its own immigration enforcement policy. She asked several times whether the statute would actually take the decision about what to do with an illegal immigrant away from federal authorities.

“How does it become immigration enforcement policy? It’s an immigration status check,” she said. “Arizona cannot remove anybody, and they don’t purport they can.”

Her comments during the hearing, along with those she made during a hearing in the morning on another suit brought by civil rights groups, suggested she is likely to rule on whether certain parts of the law are pre-empted by federal law, rather than striking down the entire law.

The courtroom was packed with spectators, many from civil rights groups and charities that aid immigrants.

Outside the courthouse, people of all political stripes mounted noisy demonstrations. Charlene Greenwood, 46 and unemployed, described herself as a Tea Party member, wore a semiautomatic pistol on her hip and signs that read, “Illegal immigrants have better health care than I do” and, “Bank robbers, drug dealers and prostitutes are just trying to support their families too.”

She said she regarded all illegal immigrants as criminals and people who support them as traitors. She said the state had to step in because the federal government had failed to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country.

About 30 protesters blocked traffic, many wearing T-shirts that said “Stop the Hate.” Several unfurled a large, white banner that blared “Stop SB1070. We will not comply.” Others in the group held a banner in Spanish saying: “There is no problem with immigration; there is a problem with capitalism. Revolution is the solution.” After two hours, the police cleared the intersection and arrested seven people.

Antoinette Murray, 45, said she feared the law would prompt police officers to stop citizens who look Hispanic and arrest them if they cannot produce the right documents. “If they look at someone and they are of Mexican descent, they are going to be guilty until proven innocent,” she said. “It makes you guilty for being brown.”

Among the protesters were several illegal immigrants who were waiting for judges to decide their cases. Rudy Gomez, 37, said he came to the country illegally from Guatemala in 1997 and has been working as a roofer ever since.

He has four children and fears he may be caught and deported in the crackdown envisioned under the law, he said. “I’m not doing anything wrong,” he said. “This is my home. This is where I live.”

A Reform Movement By and For Undocumented People

Posted on 25 June 2010 by editor

Immigrant rights activists gather at the USSF. Credit:Valeria Fernandez/IPS TerraViva

By Valeria Fernández

DETROIT, Jun 25, 2010 (IPS TerraViva) – Hundreds of grassroots organisations came together at the U.S. Social Forum here to discuss strategies in the fight for immigration policy changes that would put an end to criminalisation and the militarisation of the border with Mexico.

Resolutions adopted during a People’s Movement Assembly on Thursday included a push to end policies like 287(g) and Secure Communities that allow local police to enforce federal immigration laws, and the passage of the Dream Act, a piece of legislation that would legalise the status of undocumented students.

“We are looking at it by redefining the immigrant rights movement by the people that are more affected,” said Tania Unzueta from the Immigrant Youth Justice League in Chicago, Illinois, referring to immigrants.

Unzueta is part of a growing group of undocumented youth across the country that has staged civil disobedience actions to push for the passage of the Dream Act, even risking their own deportation.

“This is the first movement led by undocumented people,” said Felipe Matos, a member of the Trail of Dreams, a group of students from Florida that has travelled across the country to raise awareness about the plight of undocumented youth.

“Our movement goes beyond legislation, beyond comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. “It’s key here for us to stop calling ourselves criminals.”

Several grassroots organisers echoed those comments and were critical of the current blueprint for “comprehensive immigration reform” – which is heavy on enforcement – proposed by New York’s Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, as well as the policies set forth by the Barack Obama administration.

“The proposals that are being offered by the government would never meet the needs or the rights of our communities. It’s going to take much more than legalisation,” said Arnoldo Garcia, director of the immigrant justice and rights programme at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR).

“What we are imagining in the discussions is what kind of relationship people will have with the government. So whom do we go to, if the abuser is the person that is supposed to protect us? And the government is the main abuser,” he said.

The border state of Arizona figured prominently during the forum as ground zero for human rights violations due to recent passage of SB 1070, a law that would criminalise undocumented immigrants and anyone who assists them.

One of the resolutions at the assembly on Thursday included a call to action from other organisations to come to Arizona in support of the local movement against the new law, which takes effect on Jul. 29.

“Everyone is really afraid and really alarmed of what’s happening in Arizona, folks are realising it is coming to their cities,” said Carlos Garcia, an organiser from the Arizona PUENTE Movement.

Garcia said the new state law has essentially already been in place in other parts of the U.S. in the shape of programmes like 287(g) and Secure Communities.

Other groups stressed the significance of understanding the root cause of immigration and the global forces at play behind the movement of people, including military policies and trade agreements supported by the U.S.

“In terms of the immigrant rights struggles and concerns in the U.S., if we do a technocratic fix, a certain kind of people legalised, certain kind of control, securing borders, it ignores why people are coming, why are there flows of immigration,” said Carol Barton, executive director of community action at United Methodist Women.

Barton said a number of U.S. foreign policies have been directly responsible for the migration of people and displacement from their communities of origin.

Yet, Colin Rajah, coordinator for the Migrant Rights Programme for NNIRR, said the U.S. is not alone. There are global trends towards the criminalisation and exploitation of immigrants, he said.

“There’s more and more cooperation between the governments, especially when policing the borders,” said Rajah.

One clear example of the cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. with the Plan Merida to control drug trafficking in the southern border region with U.S funding, he said. He also cited the situation of countries like Libya and Italy, which currently has an agreement with the former for it to patrol its own borders.

“The global north, especially the U.S. and Western Europe, are using their economic and political power so they can get countries in the global south to police their borders and supply the migrant labour,” he added.

Rajah emphasised that grassroots groups in the U.S. need to be part of the international debate because much of it is shaping the way the country discusses immigration such as ideas as “managed migration”.

The term refers to immigration considered in the context of economic development for the receiving country and goes in line with the idea of temporary guest worker programmes, he said.

“Money can move in seconds just anywhere in the world, while people cannot,” said Liepollo Pheko from the Trades Collective based in Johannesburg, who spoke about the negative impacts of trade agreements on African countries.

“We should migrate with our humanity, with our dignity. We should migrate with our right to work, with our right to housing, our right to shelter, our right to freedom of expression, whatever it is that we reside with in our countries of origin,” she added.

Support the children of the  undocumented in America

This was posted yesterday. -Angela

Thousands of children will march in Washington DC, Mexico City and Los Angeles to demand from Pres. Obama that they not be separated from their undocumented parents. Los The fathers and mothers are deported without any provisions of care for the children abandoned in their homes left to neighbors, friends, relatives and if lucky to a pnon deported parent. There are stories of terror when they are placed in foster homes and their deported parents cannot locate them and the children end up adopted by American couples. Especially if the parents are indigenous who do not know the complexities of the system, have language difficulties and are returning to Mexico or other countries. This is a true humanitarian crisis and a gross violation of human rights of immigrants, of the families and above all the rights of the children. 
In Los Angeles we will demonstrate in front of the Federal Building. In Mexico City at the US Embassy. In DC one thousand children led by 11 year old Saulito Arellano will march in front of the White House House, demand to meet with and deliver a letter to Pres. Obama.
July 28, 2010 at 11:00 AM Federal Bldg. 300 N. Los Angeles St. Come with your children and youth.
Sponsors: March 25 Coalition, Hermandad Mexicana TransNacional Panorama City, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Sacramento, Las Vegas, CBO, CHIRLA, Familia Latina Unida, Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano, Nuestros Lazos de Sangre, Red Migrante, Tribunal Internacional  de Conciencia,  Miredes-Int., Elvira Arellano, Carlota Botey, José Jacques Medina, Camilo Pérez Bustillo, Luis Ángel Nieto, Marta Sánchez Soler, William Torres, Gloria Saucedo, Alicia Flores, Javier Rodriguez. BAJOLAMIRADEJAVIER@YAHOO.COM-213-909-3410-818-919-4718-805-483-4620

Congress, Latino Republicans join immigration debate

SB1070 is really hostile folks. I'm glad that members of Congress are standing up. However, also check out this story: Hispanic GOP group backs Ariz. law. Specifically, Jesse Hernandez, Chairman and Executive Director of the Arizona Latino Republican Association (ALRA) is advocating on behalf of immigrants who entered the country legally and argues that this is a state's rights battle over the federal government. He's bucking the overall trend, however, with 8 out of 10 Latinos disapproving of SB 1070 according to a recent LatinoMetrics poll.

It's becoming a big fight—as it should.


Congress, Latino Republicans join immigration debate
Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 7:36 pm | Updated: 1:11 am, Fri Jul 23, 2010.
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

Nearly one out of every seven members of Congress, including two from Arizona, want a federal judge hearing a challenge to the state's new immigration to know that they don't believe it is preempted by federal statutes.

In legal papers filed Wednesday in federal court, the 76 members of the House and five senators argue that the U.S. Department of Justice "fundamentally misapprehends the nature of its authority to enforce immigration law.''

Separately, a group known as the Arizona Latino Republicans Association asked for permission to actively intervene in the lawsuit to help Gov. Jan Brewer defend SB 1070.

Attorneys say the organization has an interest in the statute being allowed to take effect. They said while the organization's 230 members want to be treated equally with other U.S. citizens, they "do not believe in providing a safe haven to illegal immigrants.''

The brief filed by the federal lawmakers says Congress has exclusive power over immigration and that executive branch agencies can act only within those regulations. More to the point, the lawmakers say that federal agencies, absent explicit congressional authority, cannot choose to selectively enforce the laws.

That is a crucial point in the lawsuit to be heard today in U.S. District Court.

In its challenge to the Arizona law, the government admits that the Department of Homeland Security, which administers immigration laws and enforces border security, and the Department of Justice, which prosecutes offenders, "exercise discretion.''

For example, the lawsuit says, the agencies decide whether to bring criminal charges against someone who has violated immigration laws, whether to let an illegal immigrant remain without being incarcerated, and whether to grant "humanitarian or some other form of relief.''

"Decisions to forego removal or criminal penalties result not only from resource constraints, but also from affirmative policy considerations -- including humanitarian and foreign policy interests -- established by Congress and balanced by the executive branch,'' the lawsuit says. The Department of Justice says that Arizona's law, which includes requirements for police to check the immigration status of those they reasonably suspect are not in this country legally, conflict and interfere with those decisions.

The members of Congress, in their brief, disagree.

"The executive's powers to enforce federal immigration law does not confer the power to preempt state immigration enforcement by choosing, for foreign policy or other reasons, to selectively enforce the laws,'' they said.

That brief also says there is evidence Congress wants local police involved in enforcing federal immigration laws. That includes a statute that specifically bars cities enacting policies that bar police officers from sending information about illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

The federal lawmakers acknowledged that Congress passed a special law in 1996 allowing state and local police to receive special training, known as 287(g), to enforce federal immigration laws.

"But Congress reaffirmed that each state's inherent authority to enforce federal immigration laws was not restricted and that states could continue to assist in immigration enforcement,'' the members of Congress said.

The legal brief was signed by Trent Franks and John Shadegg, two of the 10 members of the state's congressional delegation.
It was filed for the members of Congress by two legal organizations: the Immigration Reform Law Institute which says it works to fight the damages caused by illegal immigrants, and the American Center for Law and Justice which bills itself as a public interest law firm working to protect the constitutional rights of religious groups.

More about Immigration

ARTICLE: Judge grills lawyers on Arizona immigration law
ARTICLE: 7 arrested in protests outside immigration hearing
ARTICLE: Goddard: Drug cartels key to stopping illegal immigration
ARTICLE: Republicans lose bid to block suit against Arizona law
More about Sb1070
ARTICLE: Judge grills lawyers on Arizona immigration law
ARTICLE: 7 arrested in protests outside immigration hearing
ARTICLE: Goddard: Drug cartels key to stopping illegal immigration
ARTICLE: Republicans lose bid to block suit against Arizona law
More about Lawsuit
ARTICLE: Republicans lose bid to block suit against Arizona law
ARTICLE: Officer wants Ariz. lawsuit merged with feds' case
ARTICLE: Education groups sue state over voter-approved funding for schools
ARTICLE: Lawsuit aims for state to return funds to transportation programs
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seven Latin American Nations Join Mexico In Arizona Immigration Lawsuit

PHOENIX — Seven other Latin American countries want to join Mexico in supporting a lawsuit challenging Arizona's immigration enforcement law.

Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru filed separate, nearly identical motions to join Mexico's legal brief supporting the lawsuit filed by U.S. civil rights and other advocacy groups.

A federal judge formally accepted Mexico's filing July 1 but did not immediately rule on the latest motions filed late last week.

Mexico says the law would lead to racial profiling and hinder trade, tourism and the fight against drug trafficking.

The law is to take effect July 29. It requires that police conducting traffic stops or questioning people about possible legal violations ask them about their immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they're in the country illegally.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Another Immigration Policy Is Possible!

Great quotes in this piece authored by David Bacon:

Renee Saucedo, who was born in Mexico and today directs the day labor program in San Francisco, says the biggest problem with the Washington consensus is that "it continues to mischaracterize migration as a 'criminal,' or 'illegal,' issue, rather than as a consequence of economic trade agreements and political repression that displace millions. Employers want to keep it this way to ensure their supply of cheap, vulnerable, exploitable labor."

The Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB), with an indigenous membership on both sides of the Mexico/US border, has historically opposed contract labor, or guest worker programs. "Migrants need the right to work, but these workers don't have labor rights or benefits," says FIOB's binational coordinator, Gaspar Rivera Salgado. "It's like slavery." Many FIOB members are farm workers, and some remember the abuses of the old "bracero" program.

At the same time, Rivera Salgado cautions, "We need development in Mexico that makes migration a choice rather than a necessity - the right to not migrate. Both rights are part of the same solution. But the right to not migrate has to mean more than the right to be poor or the right to go hungry and homeless." For that reason, after a long consultation process, FIOB announced it would "work to renegotiate NAFTA, because it creates migration by forcing poverty and inequality on the communities we come from in Mexico."


Another Immigration Policy Is Possible!
Friday 02 July 2010
by: David Bacon, t r u t h o u t | Report

Thousands of left-wing activists just spent a week at the US Social Forum in Detroit, gathered again under the banner "Another World is Possible." Among them hundreds added a new subtext: "Another Immigration Policy is Possible!"

This theme was especially popular among grassroots organizations in immigrant communities. Today, nontraditional worker centers are spreading across the US, including ones for day laborers, domestic workers, farm workers and other low-wage immigrants. Most are Spanish-speaking migrants from Mexico and Central America, but many also come from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, China and the Caribbean. If anyone should be in favor of immigration reform, these groups should be. Yet, instead of embracing the proposals made in Washington by Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Sen. Charles Schumer, they reject them.

The Social Forum was over by the time President Barack Obama made a speech about immigration policy a week later, but the forum's message could as easily have been given to him as well. There are no significant differences between Obama's ideas and those of Gutierrez and Schumer.

These grassroots groups don't like the proposals for new guest worker programs. They have been fighting raids, firings and increased immigration enforcement for years, and are angry that the Washington proposals all make enforcement heavier. They want the border demilitarized. And they believe any rational immigration reform must change US trade policies that displace people in other countries.

Washington's proposals for immigration reform all have a similar structure. They assure a managed flow of migrant labor to employers at low wages, through expanded recruitment by contractors in countries like Mexico. Immigrants must work to stay, and those who aren't working must leave. To force the flow of undocumented workers into this program, the Washington bills all increase penalties for working or crossing the border without visas. And as the carrot, they propose limited legalization for undocumented people currently in the US.

These proposals originally came from large corporations in the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, and were then supported by some unions and civil rights groups. These groups argued that corporations would never support legalization if they weren't guaranteed a future flow of displaced people.

It's not uncommon in Washington to hear arguments that "Mexicans would rather come to the US as braceros than die in the desert on the border," or even "Mexicans are so desperate to migrate, they don't care what kind of visa they have."

In Detroit, it was obvious that immigrants do care. They don't want to be used just as cheap labor, and want rights and equality with the people living around them. "We need a better alternative," says Lillian Galedo, director of Filipino Advocates for Justice.

Renee Saucedo, who was born in Mexico and today directs the day labor program in San Francisco, says the biggest problem with the Washington consensus is that "it continues to mischaracterize migration as a 'criminal,' or 'illegal,' issue, rather than as a consequence of economic trade agreements and political repression that displace millions. Employers want to keep it this way to ensure their supply of cheap, vulnerable, exploitable labor."

The Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB), with an indigenous membership on both sides of the Mexico/US border, has historically opposed contract labor, or guest worker programs. "Migrants need the right to work, but these workers don't have labor rights or benefits," says FIOB's binational coordinator, Gaspar Rivera Salgado. "It's like slavery." Many FIOB members are farm workers, and some remember the abuses of the old "bracero" program.

At the same time, Rivera Salgado cautions, "We need development in Mexico that makes migration a choice rather than a necessity - the right to not migrate. Both rights are part of the same solution. But the right to not migrate has to mean more than the right to be poor or the right to go hungry and homeless." For that reason, after a long consultation process, FIOB announced it would "work to renegotiate NAFTA, because it creates migration by forcing poverty and inequality on the communities we come from in Mexico."

Immigrant activists in Detroit called for broad legalization that would give papers to all undocumented people. They want the US to make more residence visas available, allowing migrants to choose where to live without making them vulnerable to employers. They opposed trade agreements like NAFTA. But most of all, they called for ending the criminalization of immigrants, whether by Arizona's infamous SB 1070 law, or through the firings of thousands of people for lacking work papers. Over 350,000 undocumented migrants were incarcerated last year alone, in private detention centers.

"We should never fight for the rights of some at the expense of others." Saucedo declares. "Legalization would be an empty victory if most immigrants still faced high exploitation, firings and raids."

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Support Truthout's work with a $10/month tax-deductible donation today!

David Bacon is a writer and photographer. His new book, "Illegal People - How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants," was just published by Beacon Press. His photographs and stories can be found at

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Immigrant detention center in Va. would be mid-Atlantic's largest

By Kevin Sieff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 18, 2010

The facility could grow to hold 1,000 prisoners. It will bring 300 jobs to Farmville, Va. (U.s. Immigration And Customs Enforcement)

The largest immigrant detention center in the mid-Atlantic will soon open in Prince Edward County, an effort to accommodate Virginia's unprecedented surge in detentions of illegal immigrants picked up on criminal charges.

The $21 million, privately run center will house up to 584 immigrant detainees when it opens its doors. Over the next year, it might grow to hold 1,000 prisoners, most of them snagged by the federal government's growing Secure Communities program, which aims to find and deport criminal illegal immigrants.

Last month, Virginia became the second state, after Delaware, to implement the program statewide, requiring jails and prisons to screen prisoners by immigration status and check their fingerprints against the country's immigration database.

With three months left in the fiscal year, the number of illegal immigrants with criminal convictions detained in Virginia and the District has increased by 50 percent from last year's total, to 2,414. Those numbers are expected to increase now that the program is being implemented statewide.

The new facility "is mostly here to address the impact of Secure Communities," said Robert Helwig, assistant director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "We do anticipate a surge in detainees."

The immigration debate has grown increasingly polarized, and the Secure Communities program has become a symbol of that division. John T. Morton, head of ICE, calls it the agency's attempt to "secure the nation and protect public safety." But many immigrant advocates, including Enid Gonzalez, a lawyer at CASA of Maryland, say the program "claims to keep violent criminals off the streets, but instead it's just incarcerating innocent busboys."

There's one point on which experts across the spectrum agree: Without additional detention space, the program cannot function. ICE has detained fewer than one-quarter of the immigrants identified by Secure Communities, a range of suspected criminals facing charges as varied as misdemeanors and murder.

"The Obama administration can't expect to increase enforcement measures without increasing detention capacity," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Thankful for new jobs

Enter: the new Farmville center, an expansive, single-story building that fills a 30-acre clearing in the woods on the outskirts of the town, which is about 170 miles southwest of the District.

Richmond-based Immigration Centers of America built the detention center in the last days of the Bush administration, as the number of immigrants in federal custody hit an all-time high. ICA began work on it even before the government committed to sending detainees there. The town was, and still is, largely united in support of the detention center, which is expected to bring 300 jobs to the economically battered town of 7,500.

"They have to send these people somewhere," said Farmville Mayor Sydnor C. Newman Jr. "Thank God they chose Farmville." The town, which has lost manufacturing jobs in recent years, stands to receive about $213,000 a year in revenue from a $1-per-detainee daily fee the company will pay.

Before construction was completed, the project hit a snag: The death of an immigrant detainee at the nearby Piedmont Regional Jail stirred talk of ICE negligence, only two years after an internal investigation found that the jail's medical unit did not meet minimum ICE standards.

Edward Gordon, the jail's medical director and a Farmville council member, still pushed for the new ICE facility.

Another potential holdup was uncertainty about the new Obama administration's immigration policy. In his first days in office, President Obama closed one of the nation's largest immigrant detention centers, in Texas. Would there be a need for a mid-Atlantic hub for ICE operations?

The administration's large-scale expansion of Secure Communities soon answered that question. Since October 2008, the program has checked the legal status of 262,930 immigrants who had been charged with crimes in 95 jurisdictions.

In Virginia, most of those immigrants have been detained in local jails, not ICE facilities. The Farmville center is part of an effort to reduce dependence on outside facilities that house both citizens and illegal immigrants, Helwig said.

Prioritizing cases

The new facility is also meant to relieve a tension between enforcement and detention that began in 2007, when Prince William County gave local police the ability to enforce immigration laws.

Like Secure Communities, that program produced a surge in the identification of illegal immigrants -- "more than ICE could handle," said Tom Guterbock, a University of Virginia professor who led a county-endorsed study of the initiative. After about a year, the crush of detainees in Prince William "forced ICE to say that they would only take the most serious offenders," Guterbock said.

Although the agency maintains that "Secure Communities is not restricted by bed space," as ICE spokesman Cori Bassett said, the recent spike in criminal detainees forced it to announce that the program will allocate limited bed space first to violent offenders.

"They say they're prioritizing dangerous criminals, but we continue to see people suspected of minor crimes who are caught in their net," said Gonzalez, the CASA of Maryland lawyer. "It doesn't matter if they're convicted or not."

In Farmville, Pamela R. DeCamp, managing attorney for the Virginia Legal Aid Society, is waiting for a deluge of new clients. The federal government, which provides funding to Legal Aid, won't let DeCamp represent illegal immigrants.

"But these people have families, and many of them have husbands, wives or children who are U.S. citizens," she said. "If they move to Farmville to be close to their loved one, there's a good chance they'll need our help."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Utah identifies 2 allegedly behind immigrant list

By BROCK VERGAKIS, Associated Press Writer
Friday, July 16, 2010

(07-16) 18:38 PDT Salt Lake City (AP) --

Utah officials said Friday they have identified at least two state workers who apparently accessed confidential documents to create a list of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants that was mailed to law enforcement officials and the news media.

Gov. Gary Herbert said the employees work for the Department of Workforce Services, which administers food stamp programs and other public benefits. The employees have been placed on administrative leave, and the state attorney general will determine whether to file criminal charges.

"It's a very small group. The people we've identified certainly have some strong political opinions and seem to be frustrated with some of the issues around immigration," said Kristen Cox, executive director for the department. "I think it's an immense hypocrisy to talk about taking people to task for being illegal and doing so by breaking the law."

Newspapers started receiving the list of names and personal information this week, and its publicity created widespread fear in the Hispanic community. The anonymous mailing said it also was sent to immigration officials. It demanded that those on the list be deported, although some named have said they are in the country legally.

"This tactic by these rogue employees to go out and to single out individuals and their families, in some case falsely accusing people of an illegal status, is in fact deplorable," Herbert said.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman acknowledged that it received the list but declined to say whether the agency is doing anything with it.

ICE won't confirm whether it has been investigating anyone unless there is some type of action such as an arrest, spokeswoman Virginia Kice said. She noted that with limited resources, the agency prioritizes its efforts on dangerous convicted criminals, not sweeps or raids that would target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately.

Cox said there may be a few more people implicated in the leak of the names, but she's confident that the core group that is responsible has been identified.

Intentionally releasing a private record in Utah is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If someone stole such a record, it could be prosecuted as a felony with a penalty punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

"We will begin an immediate, aggressive, formal investigation," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff promised Friday on a conference call with national and local Hispanic leaders.

Herbert said accessing the private information and distributing it to federal immigration authorities is also a violation of federal law. Shurtleff said he would seek the help of the U.S. attorney's office.

"We're talking serious, felony-level crimes," Shurtleff said.

Hispanic advocates applauded how quickly the state acted to find the source of the leak and to assure the community that state policy doesn't allow for just anyone to access private information.

"The governor took the first step today to bring that trust back again," said Tony Yapias, former director of the Office of Hispanic Affairs.

Cox said most of the people are on the list because their children are receiving benefits. Herbert said there are two benefits administered by the state — food stamps and prenatal care — that would provide information that could indicate someone is in the country illegally.

The list that was mailed contains Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses and phone numbers. Names of children are included, along with due dates of pregnant women.

Officials continued investigating Friday even though state employees usually have the day off as part of the state's four-day workweek to cut energy costs.

Herbert, a Republican, is preparing to host a public summit on immigration Tuesday. The governor has said he will sign an immigration bill into law next year if he's still in office, but it's unclear how closely that bill might mirror one lawmakers recently passed in Arizona.

Arizona's law, which takes effect July 29, directs police enforcing other laws to determine a suspect's immigration status if there is reason to believe the person is in the U.S. illegally. The Obama administration has sued Arizona to throw out the law and keep other states from copying it.


Associated Press Writer Paul Foy contributed to this report.

Friday, July 16, 2010

NEW BOOK - Violence Against Latina Immigrants: Citizenship, Inequality, and Community

From Amazon:

“By locating the experiences of immigrant women and their advocates within a rich ethnographic study of state policies and organizational practices, Villalón paints a complex picture of the contradictions that contribute to the reproduction of inequality. This is activist scholarship at its best.”
- Nancy A. Naples, author of Grassroots Warriors: Activist Mothering, Community Work and the War Against Poverty

“A stunning documentation of the ways in which structural and cultural conditions in current immigration and Violence Against Women laws in the United States reinforce the hierarchies and intersections of race, class, and heterosexuality that impact on the lives of battered Latina immigrants.”
- Natalie J. Sokoloff, author of Domestic Violence at the Margins: Readings in Race, Class, Gender, and Culture

Product Description
Caught between violent partners and the bureaucratic complications of the US Immigration system, many immigrant women are particularly vulnerable to abuse. For two years, Roberta Villalón volunteered at a nonprofit group that offers free legal services to mostly undocumented immigrants who had been victims of abuse. Her innovative study of Latina survivors of domestic violence explores the complexities at the intersection of immigration, citizenship, and violence, and shows how inequality is perpetuated even through the well-intentioned delivery of vital services. Through archival research, participant observation, and personal interviews, Violence Against Latina Immigrants provides insight into the many obstacles faced by battered immigrant women of color, bringing their stories and voices to the fore. Ultimately, Villalón proposes an active policy advocacy agenda and suggests possible changes to gender violence-based immigration laws, revealing the complexities of the lives of Latina immigrants as they confront issues of citizenship, gender violence, and social inequalities.

The ICE man: Obama's backdoor Arizona-style program

FRIDAY, JUL 16, 2010 07:01 ET
Just like Arizona, the president is leaning on local cops to round up illegal immigrants


Last week, the Obama administration filed suit against Arizona's controversial immigration law, which instructs law enforcement to question residents if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is "unlawfully present in the United States."

This is the response you might expect from a president whose political base believes the new law essentially legalizes racial profiling. But there's a twist: Under Obama, immigration enforcement has actually been characterized by the very same heightened collaboration between local police and federal immigration authorities that many find so troubling in Arizona, and it's prompting objections from city leaders across the country.

At issue is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Secure Communities program, a federal-local partnership in which the fingerprints of suspects booked into local police stations are checked with immigration agents, who then move to deport any detainee suspected of being in the country illegally. Secure Communities was launched by George W. Bush's administration, but under Obama it has undergone a dramatic expansion.

From Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, city officials are questioning the wisdom of the program, arguing that it undermines trust for the police in immigrant communities and unfairly targets immigrants who have merely been charged with (and not convicted of) petty crimes.

"In D.C. we have had a long-standing tradition of separation between what our police force does and what immigration agents do," Phil Graham, a councilman in the nation's capital who opposes Secure Communities. "We can't have police behave like immigration officers. Our police have their hands full with local crime."

The pushback comes after advocates lobbied against Secure Communities in city halls around the country, and as politicians move to stake out positions on immigration ahead of November's midterm elections. Currently implemented in 437 jurisdictions in 24 states, ICE plans to have Secure Communities in place nationwide by 2013. But it is unclear how -- and whether -- localities that oppose the program can opt out.

"It's very clear they're voluntary agreements that states are signing on to," says Bridget Kessler, clinical teaching fellow at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law's Immigration Justice Clinic. Cardozo has joined the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in filing a lawsuit to compel ICE to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request about the program. "Once it gets to the level of locality, after the state has signed on, it gets a lot more complicated because no agreements are negotiated at that level."

ICE's deputy press secretary, Richard Rocha, counters that nothing complicated is afoot, and that Secure Communities is a matter for cities to settle with state government. But ICE is on the record saying otherwise.

"That's a complete lie," says San Francisco sheriff Michael Hennessey, who has joined a majority of the city's supervisors -- but not Mayor Gavin Newsom -- in opposing Secure Communities. "I spoke with the deputy director of Secure Communities personally, and he said, 'No, there is no opt out.'"

In an earlier interview, ICE spokesperson Mark Medvesky asserted that cities could not opt out of Secure Communities. But Medvesky was quoted in an Aug. 21, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer article saying that Philadelphia could opt out, "but I can't imagine why they would want to. It's not a mandate. It's considered a tool for law enforcement agencies to use." Responding to the seeming contradiction, Rocha wrote that localities can choose between "full participation," "delayed activation" and "limited participation." The purpose of the latter option, under which localities choose not to receive information back from ICE, is unclear.

In May, Washington became the first city to move against Secure Communities, introducing legislation with unanimous City Council support. But D.C. may prove to be an anomaly since it is not a part of a state and thus negotiates directly with ICE. Congress, which oversees the District, is unlikely to overturn the decision since Democrats tend to be more respectful of the city's home rule.

In San Francisco, Sheriff Hennessey says he cannot withdraw from the program. Since city fingerprints sent to the state police and FBI are now transferred to ICE, there is no way to keep local data from being shared.

"They're saying I can choose not to receive the info from ICE. That would be opting out in their opinion," says Hennessey. "I could not fingerprint minor offenders, but that's not wise from a law enforcement perspective."

Hennessey and ICE even disagree as to whether local police are required to honor requests to hold a suspected undocumented immigrant, known as a detainer.

And there are other ambiguities. In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter is considering not renewing a related program that allows ICE direct access to the police computer database, the Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System, or PARS. It is unclear how many other cities have given ICE direct, real-time access to police records, and whether the agency is attempting to gain access to such databases nationwide.

"I don't know that there's a system like PARS in other jurisdictions," says Rocha. "I don't think it's accurate to say that we go out soliciting the stuff, although we obviously encourage participating and the sharing of information from law enforcement agencies."

Yet it was ICE that requested access to the database, suggesting that such relationships may exist in jurisdictions around the country. ICE has a long track record of fostering a climate of ambiguity around enforcement programs.

In March 2010, the ICE inspector general released a report critical of the 287(g) program, which allows certain police to directly enforce immigration laws. It found "ICE statements about the 287(g) program that did not reflect actual program activities," and that "ICE provided misleading information [about the scope of enforcement measures] to the public in a September 2007 Fact Sheet." The report also found that "ICE had not established a comprehensive process for assessing, modifying, and terminating current agreements."

But older programs like 287(g) and the Criminal Alien Program, which deploys agents into local jails, are agreed to directly with local law enforcement agencies, so local police could more straightforwardly opt out. Secure Communities agreements are agreed to at the state level, leaving localities out of the decision-making process. D.C. councilman Graham says that police chief Cathy Lanier signed without ever consulting the council. He only learned of the program's existence after being approached by advocates.

Targeting the most dangerous criminal aliens?

"Fighting crime without the help of one's community," according to an Op-Ed by Salt Lake City police chief Chris Burbank and other law enforcement experts, "is like trying to disarm a hidden mine by stomping on the ground. By the time you have found the problem, it is already too late."

The perception that police are enforcing immigration laws can lead to widespread fear in immigrant communities. A victim of domestic violence, for example, might think twice about calling the police on an abusive husband if it could lead to his being deported. Longtime Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau spoke out against Secure Communities in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.

"When immigrants perceive the local police force as merely an arm of the federal immigration authority," he wrote, "they become reluctant to report criminal activity for fear of being turned over to federal officials," a big problem in a city that is over one-third immigrant.

To be sure, some local agencies, including the Harris County Sheriff's Department, embrace the program. A spokesperson for the department, which oversees Houston jails, recognized "concerns that such programs might suppress immigrant-community cooperation with law enforcement." But he wrote that they "have seen no evidence of suppression" and that "the sheriff has made it clear his deputies should not interrogate victims, suspects, witnesses or anyone outside the jail about their immigration status."

For its part, ICE has apparently failed to research the potential effects on local law enforcement operations. Rocha tells Salon that they don't "know specifically if there was a study done to determine what sort of effects this would have on local LEA."

But there is a clear potential for abuse. While Secure Communities doesn't directly authorize police to enforce immigration laws, an officer who wishes to may do so by engaging in "pre-textual" arrests. Police can arrest a suspected undocumented immigrant for any sort of charge -- even an invented one -- with the intent of enforcing immigration laws. Once ICE has the fingerprints, it doesn't matter whether the charge is ever held up in court -- an immigrant found not guilty of the crime for which he or she was arrested can still be deported. It remains unclear what, if any, oversight mechanisms are in place that would discourage this.

"There's a requirement in the standard operating procedure and all of the memorandums of agreement that says no local law enforcement should violate the Constitution," says Sunita Patel, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights. "But are they asking any questions of local law enforcement about who they're picking up, and why they're being picked up?"

Once inside the immigration legal system, an immigrant faces an uphill fight: an overworked and inconsistent parallel court system characterized by lack of access to counsel and widespread abuse and denial of medical treatment in ICE-run and private detention centers, including nearly 200 that are secret.

ICE beset by equivocation

ICE has not been forthcoming, and too few journalists have been asking questions. The handful of major media articles on the subject have referred to Secure Communities as a "little-noticed" program that was "quietly" implemented with a "lower profile." Activists have launched a nationwide campaign, including the FOIA lawsuit, to secure more information from ICE.

"It's urgently critical to get the info now," says CCR's Patel. "ICE is ramping up its rolling out process, so now is the time the information is critical to the public and to decision-makers."

ICE is sticking to talking points, and the memorandum of agreement requires states to coordinate all media communications through the agency. In April, an ICE memo outlining media strategy -- including the placement of Op-Eds, and interviews with reporters from the New York Times, the AP and other outlets -- was leaked to the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. In a section titled "Sound Bites," the memo offers a window into ICE efforts to reframe the debate away from the deportation of hardworking immigrants to a non-controversial matter of law enforcement and national security.

"Secure Communities is not about immigration," the memo reads. "It's about information sharing with local law enforcement agencies so they have all the facts about the people in their jails."

Rocha acknowledges ICE's focus on managing information, calling "misinformation about this program" the agency's "biggest challenge." It is a challenge that ICE appears to be meeting with success. Under Secure Communities, there are no photographs of immigrants handcuffed outside of meatpacking plants, an image better suited to the Bush administration's brand of "compassionate conservatism." The public pays little attention to what goes on in prisons, so Obama can keep his distance from stories of deportation and family separation while stumping for immigration reform.

"It hides the profiling," says Patel. "It's not public like it was in the street models of the 287(g) program, like checkpoints. Now the enforcement is happening behind the walls of a jail, where there's very little public scrutiny to begin with."

Obama has pledged to focus on deporting dangerous criminal aliens, ending the massive workplace raids carried out during President Bush's second term. But Secure Communities nets plenty of people picked up for minor crimes.

The most recent data ICE has made public is from the program's first year , from October 2008 to November 2009. More than 88 percent of immigrants deported under the program (14,615) were arrested for the least serious offenses (Levels 2 or 3), while just 1,911 allegedly committed the most serious Level 1 crimes.

"They claim that Secure Communities prioritizes," says Kessler. "The few numbers that they have released from the pilot phase don't bear this out. The majority that have been deported were accused of low-level crimes."

An ICE spokesperson provided Salon with more recent data through May 31, indicating an increased focus on immigrants charged with more serious crimes: 8,584 with Level 1 crimes, 17,113 with Level 2, and 5,149 with Level 3.

But the numbers do not speak for themselves. An ICE memo from June 30 puts a renewed emphasis on Level 1 and 2 offenders, whereas the original standard operating procedure only emphasized Level 1. Stranger still, the memo outlines changes to what counts as Level 1, 2 and 3 offenses, expanding the scope of what constitutes a "serious criminal offense."

This is not the first time that ICE has wandered astray of its stated goals. The ICE inspector general report criticized similar shortcomings in the 287(g) program, finding that "although ICE has developed priorities for alien arrest and detention efforts, it has not established a process to ensure that the emphasis of 287(g) efforts is placed on aliens that fall within the highest priority level." And an October 2009 Department of Homeland Security report found that the majority of all immigrants detained by ICE continue to have no criminal record.

The legal situation of those immigrants deported under Secure Communities remains unclear. Rocha says that all were deported after being convicted of a crime, something that others vigorously dispute. San Francisco sheriff Hennessey points to Cesar Chavarria, an undocumented immigrant booked at his jail. Chavarria, who had no criminal record, was arrested for driving without a license on June 2. ICE picked him up within 24 hours.

Another woman from Langley Park, Md., now faces deportation after her arrest for selling calling cards from her home without a license. A Philadelphia teen is reportedly facing deportation after he was caught with a kitchen knife he accidentally brought to school. He was arrested under the school district's zero tolerance policy and then picked up by ICE. Day laborers, who wait in parking lots and on street corners for temporary work, are particularly vulnerable.

"Day laborers are constantly harassed by police and charged with very minor crimes (trespassing, spitting, riding bicycle on sidewalks, etc.) sometimes pre-textually," Sarah Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network wrote in an e-mail. "Essentially any charge can lead to a day laborers' deportation with programs like SCOMM [Secure Communities]."

ICE claims that no formal complaints have been lodged against the program, and immigrant advocates concede they are not aware of any. But it is unclear whether immigrants, who often face deportation without a lawyer, would even be informed that their detention was related to Secure Communities. Despite documented problems with past ICE-police collaborations, the agency rejects the potential for civil rights violations out of hand.

"I think it's offensive to local law enforcement officers for anyone to assume that they would do that," says Rocha. "Local law enforcement receive racial profiling training as well. And if there were ever any allegations of racial profiling, or any misuses or any of our technology, we should make sure to address those with local law enforcement agency."

Anti-immigrant populism is surging. In Utah, a list of supposed "illegal immigrants" living in the state is circulating, apparently based on confidential information leaked by a state worker. It seems that just about everyone now considers him- or herself qualified to enforce immigration laws, but addressing improper enforcement has never been a priority for ICE. Secure Communities turns police into de facto immigration agents, raising questions for communities and law enforcement around the country -- the very same concerns prompted by Arizona's Orwellian new law. As of now, the Obama administration has not been forthcoming with answers.

Daniel Denvir is a journalist in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Corporate Con Game: How the private prison industry helped shape Arizona’s anti-immigrant law.

This piece does a great job of exposing the level of collusion between legislators and private prison companies. It also clearly connects the ways in which legislation such as SB 1070 feeds the immigration industrial complex.

By Beau Hodai

Beside my brothers and my sisters, I’ll proudly take a stand. When liberty’s in jeopardy, I’ll always do what’s right. I’m out here on the frontline, sleep in peace tonight. American soldier, I’m an American soldier…”

So goes the ringtone of Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce’s (R-Mesa) phone—as performed by Toby “we put a boot up your ass, it’s the American way” Keith. Seconds into any conversation with Pearce about illegal immigration, you’ll discover that the song fits. In his mind, Pearce is an “American soldier” fighting a war that he believes threatens the very fiber of the nation.

“There’s been 133 nations identified crossing that border. Not just Mexicans, not just Hondurans, not just El Salvadorians, but 133 nations. Many of those are nations of interest, which means that they either harbor, aid and abet, or are somehow connected to terrorist activities,” says Pearce. “And yet they continue to cross that border. We’ve got prayer rugs that have been found down there, other things that have been found down there—and yet they [the federal government] continue to do nothing.”

So Pearce decided to do something. He became the proud and primary sponsor of S.B. 1070—the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act—signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April and set to take effect on July 29.

Yet the fact is, some backers of S.B. 1070 are wrapping themselves in the flag all the way to the bank.

An In These Times investigation shows that the bill’s promoters are as equally dedicated to border politics as they are to promoting the fortunes of private prison companies, like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo Group, which stand to reap substantial profits as more undocumented residents end up in jail.

Pearce and the policy pushers

In early December 2009—a full month and a half before S.B. 1070 was introduced to the Arizona Senate and nearly two months before its counterpart was first read in the House—Pearce formally submitted a version of his drafted legislation to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization to which he and 35 other Arizona legislators belong.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, ALEC bills itself as “the nation’s largest bipartisan, individual membership association of state legislators” and as a public-private legislative partnership. As such, ALEC claims as members more than 2,000 state lawmakers (one-third of the nation’s total legislators) and more than 200 corporations and special-interest groups.

The organization’s current corporate roster includes the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA, the nation’s largest private jailer), the Geo Group (the nation’s second largest private jailer), Sodexho Marriott (the nation’s leading food services provider to private correctional institutions), the Koch Foundation, Exxon Mobil, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Boeing, Wal-Mart and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, to name just a few.

ALEC is comprised of 10 task forces, each responsible for developing “model legislation,” which ALEC member lawmakers then sponsor and introduce in their home states. This occurs despite the fact that federal tax law explicitly forbids 501(c)(3) organizations such as ALEC from taking part in the formation of legislation. ALEC promotional material boasts that each year member legislators typically carry 1,000 pieces of legislation back to their home states, 20 percent of which is passed into law.

As a testament to ALEC’s efficacy as a pipeline for corporate-backed legislation, since the passage of the federal healthcare overhaul package in late March, legislators in at least 38 states have introduced the ALEC-crafted Freedom of Choice Health Care Act (Health Care Act). Ironically, given the fetish Pearce and other ALEC lawmakers have for adherence to federal immigration laws, the Health Care Act is marketed as an assertion of the states’ sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. Interestingly, ALEC claims that the Health Care Act is based on an Arizona proposition that was defeated on the ballot in 2008.

Pearce is an executive member of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force. The private-sector executive members of this task force include CCA, the American Bail Coalition (which is comprised of nine of the nation’s top bail bond insurer/bounty hunter associations), the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers Association, the National Pawn Brokers Association and Prison Fellowship Ministries. The private-sector chair of the Public Safety Task Force is the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Although ALEC’s legislative members far outnumber corporate members, a look at the group’s finances illustrates not only the price corporations are willing to pay for a seat at the table with state lawmakers, but where the group’s loyalties likely lie. According to ALEC’s most recent tax records, in 2008 the group reported a total of $6.9 million in revenue—$93,387 of which was brought in through legislative membership dues (a two-year membership is available to lawmakers for $100, or four years at $200). On the other hand, ALEC received $5.6 million (all but $1.3 million of the group’s annual budget) in contributions from its corporate and special-interest members.

According to Michael Hough, director of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force, every bill introduced by any member legislator or corporation must go through a 30-day review process of approval by both public and private sector ALEC members before it can become model legislation. This process, Hough says, was set in motion for Pearce’s immigration bill when he submitted it to the Public Safety and Elections Task Force during the group’s December 2009 meeting in Washington, D.C.

Pearce denies that he submitted the bill to ALEC for any purpose other than to gain its endorsement and strengthen the legislation’s ability to weather legal challenges both in Arizona and other states.

However, ALEC does not issue endorsements, says Hough, but rather works with lawmakers in the formation and dissemination of model legislation. And, according to Hough, the model legislation that emerged from Pearce’s ALEC task force in early January is virtually identical to the bill introduced by Pearce in the Arizona Legislature later that month.

Sanctuary city ‘anarchists’

All Arizona is seeking to do, says Pearce, is enforce current federal immigration laws—laws that liberal lawmakers and “loudmouth anarchist” groups in so-called “sanctuary cites” flagrantly violate.

“It’s illegal to have sanctuary policies in this state under federal law, but we have them all over this country. I mean, L.A. and San Francisco being—if you will—the poster cities of what’s wrong with America,” says Pearce.

To remedy this situation, the ALEC model legislation (“No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act”) and Pearce’s Arizona bill both feature anti-sanctuary cities provisions that prohibit any municipal, county or state policy from hampering the ability of any government agency to comply with federal immigration law. The ALEC model legislation and the Arizona law also both include sanctions aimed at those who employ illegal immigrants and tougher penalties for human smugglers.

The Arizona law has drawn the most fire for its so-called “Breathing While Brown” provision that allows law enforcement officers to arrest anyone whom they have probable cause to believe may have committed a crime—such as being in Arizona without proper documentation. When the law goes into effect on July 29, any person in Arizona found to be without legal papers will be charged with the new state crime of “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document,” under Arizona’s criminal trespass statutes.

These new criminal offences carry a maximum fine of $100, up to 20 days in jail (30 days for a second offense) and restitution of jail costs. By creating these state level offenses—and by forbidding localities from ignoring them—Pearce’s Arizona law and ALEC’s model legislation effectively convert every state, county and municipal police officer into an enforcer of federal immigration law.

According to Hough, the main difference between the final version of the Support Our Law Enforcement Act as signed into law in Arizona and the Sanctuary Cities Act that ALEC is promoting across the country is that the ALEC legislation carries more stringent penalties under the criminal trespass section than the Arizona law.

Under the Sanctuary Cities Act’s criminal trespassing provision, first offences are still Class 1 misdemeanors, but there is no 20- to 30-day cap on incarceration as the final version of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 provides. Additionally, the Arizona legislation classifies subsequent offenses as misdemeanors and the Sanctuary Cities Act classifies repeat offenses as felonies, which carry lengthier terms of incarceration.

‘Enhanced opportunities’

Questions of justice aside, the immigration dragnet created by S.B. 1070 in Arizona and the Sanctuary Cities Act, will greatly increase the numbers of undocumented residents who are arrested and jailed. And that bodes well for the bottom lines of private detention corporations such as CCA and Geo Group. (Neither Geo Group nor CCA responded to repeated requests for comment.)

Over the past decade, the private-prison industry has increasingly shifted its attention to the burgeoning fields of undocumented and criminal alien detention. From January 2008 to April 2010, CCA spent $4.4 million lobbying the Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee, the Office of Budget Management, the Bureau of Prisons, and both houses of Congress. Of the 43 lobbying disclosure reports CCA filed during this period, only five do not expressly state intent to monitor or influence immigration reform policy or gain Homeland Security or ICE appropriations.

Looking at the numbers, it is easy to see why the private-prison industry is eager to expand into immigrant detentions. According to ICE Public Affairs Officer Gillian Brigham, in fiscal year 2009, ICE detained 383,524 individuals, with an average daily prisoner population of 32,098 spread across the nation’s 270 immigrant detention centers.

Due to the rising numbers of immigrant detentions in recent years, coupled with the rising tide of economic shortfalls at both the state and federal level (ICE reported a $140 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2010), ICE has farmed out the operations of many of these facilities to either county operators under inter-government service agreements (IGSAs) or to private-prison contractors who operate the facilities on a per diem, per inmate basis.

Currently, seven of these facilities are “contract detention facilities” (CDFs) owned and operated by either CCA or Geo Group. However, according to Brigham, ICE uses several types of facilities for immigrant detention, including county or state-owned jails and prisons contracted out by ICE under IGSAs, and “service processing centers,” which are facilities operated by both federal and private detention staff.

An example of one of these IGSA enterprises would be the nation’s largest immigrant detention facility, the Willacy County Processing Center in Raymondville, Texas. This jail, though owned by the county, is operated by Management and Training Corporation, a Utah-based private prison manager. Consisting of several massive dome-like structures, the Willacy “Tent City” can warehouse more than 3,000 immigrant detainees awaiting deportation at any given time.

However, according to Brigham, ICE does not keep tabs on who is operating these detention centers at the state or county level through IGSAs, so it is difficult to assess how many of these facilities are run by private firms. In addition, ICE is not the only federal agency to contract out immigrant detention beds to these corporations. The detention of undocumented aliens, who are convicted of a crime and must serve a sentence before deportation, is also farmed out to private-prison contractors through the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Understandably, Geo Group and CCA are optimistic about their industry’s future. They plan to expand operations or fill thousands of detention bed “inventory surpluses” around the country (including in Arizona) in response to what these corporations refer to as “organic growth opportunities.” The drivers of this growth include the increase of immigrant detentions and the inability of the federal and state governments to meet detention needs due to budgetary constraints.

In May, during the Geo Group’s first-quarter investor conference call, a prospective investor asked Geo CEO George Zoley what impact Arizona’s immigration law might have on business. Zoley responded with levity: “What? They have some new legislation? I never heard about it. I think I’m increasingly convinced of their need for 5,000 new beds.”

Wayne Calabrese, Geo Group’s chief operating officer, offered a more straightforward appraisal.

“I can only believe that the opportunities at the federal level are going to continue at pace as a result of what’s happening. I think people understand there is still a relatively low threshold of tolerance for people coming across the border and those laws not being enforced,” Calabrese said. “And that to me at least suggests there are going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

List of alleged illegal immigrants mailed in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — A list containing the names and personal information of 1,300 people an anonymous group contends are illegal immigrants has been mailed around Utah, terrifying the state's Hispanic community.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert wrote in a tweet Tuesday that he has asked state agencies to investigate the list — sent anonymously to several media outlets, and law enforcement and state agencies. A letter accompanying the list demands that those on it be deported immediately.

Most of the names on the list are of Hispanic origin. The list also contains highly detailed personal information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses and phone numbers. Names of children are included, along with due dates of pregnant women on the list.

"My phone has been ringing nonstop since this morning with people finding out they're on the list," said Tony Yapias, former director of the Utah Office of Hispanic Affairs. "They're feeling terrorized. They're very scared."

The list's release comes as several conservative Utah lawmakers consider sponsoring a tough new illegal immigration law similar to the one passed recently in Arizona.

Arizona's law, which takes effect July 29, directs police enforcing other laws to ask about a suspect's immigration status if there is reason to believe the person is in the United States illegally.

Herbert has said a new immigration law likely will be passed when lawmakers convene in January, although he said it may be different from Arizona's. Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling was traveling back from Washington, D.C., Tuesday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The letter included a long recipient list, including newspapers, broadcast outlets, The Associated Press, law enforcement and state agencies, various Utah officials, and the Department of Homeland Security. The letters began arriving in mailboxes in recent days.

Dave Lewis, communication director for the state Department of Workforce Services, said his agency didn't receive a copy of the list from the governor's office until late Tuesday.

"We've got some people in our technology department looking at it right now," he said. "It's a high priority. We want to figure out the how's and why's."

He said his agency is one of several with access to the information included in the list.

The letter says some names on the list were sent to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Salt Lake City in April. It says the new list includes new names, for a total of more than 1,300.

Included with the new letter is one dated April 4 addressed to "Customs and Immigration" and from "Concerned Citizens of the United States."

In the April letter, the writers say their group "observes these individuals in our neighborhoods, driving on our streets, working in our stores, attending our schools and entering our public welfare buildings."

"We then spend the time and effort needed to gather information along with legal Mexican nationals who infiltrate their social networks and help us obtain the necessary information we need to add them to our list," the letter says.

A phone message left for the on-duty ICE spokesman was not immediately returned.