Please visit our YouTube and Facebook pages.
1. Gov't to archive historic files
2. Schumer may press for nat'l ID
3. Fed court rules against raid
4. Opposition to detention center grows
5. Sudanese family reunited
US to save historic immigration files
The Boston Globe, June 16, 2009
Kansas City, MO (AP) -- Millions of files containing detailed information about US immigrants - including their spouses' names, as well as personal photographs and letters - will soon become available to the public through a federal facility in suburban Kansas City.
Preservationists had been worried that the documents providing an important picture of immigration after 1944 would be lost because the federal government considered them temporary and could have destroyed them after 75 years.
But a deal signed this month between the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Archives and Records Administration preserves all 53 million files.
About 21 million will be sent to the National Archives and made available in batches to genealogists, families, and others.
``It's a big deal because basically at this point they could have just incinerated them all,'' said Jennie Lew, a spokeswoman for Save Our National Archives, a San Francisco-based group that worked to preserve the files. ``And these give a fuller picture of those that were allowed to immigrate later in American history.''
The US has been ``very good at preserving the records of the Puritans and western Europeans . . . but you'd miss the whole history of those'' who came to the country later if the A-files weren't kept, she said.
. . .
Worker IDs may be in the cards;
A Democratic senator shaping immigration overhaul legislation backs an identification plan for all Americans.
By Teresa Watanabe
The Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2009
As the immigration reform debate begins to heat up again, some observers expect that one of the biggest and most controversial new elements will be a proposed national worker identification card for all Americans.
A "forgery-proof" worker ID card, secured with biometric data such as fingerprints, is an idea favored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer
(D-N.Y), the new chairman of the immigration subcommittee. Schumer, who will lead the effort to craft the Senate's comprehensive immigration overhaul legislation, called the card the best way to ensure that all workers were authorized.
"The ID will make it easy for employers to avoid undocumented workers, which will allow for tough sanctions against employers who break the law, which will lead to no jobs being available for illegal immigrants, which will stop illegal immigration," Schumer wrote in his 2007 book, "Positively American."
"Once Americans are convinced that we will permanently staunch the flow of illegal immigration, they will be more willing to accept constructing a path toward earned citizenship for those who are already here."
A Schumer aide said last week that the senator would probably present the worker ID card idea at a hearing this summer on employee verification systems. The senator previously held a hearing on border enforcement and plans to hold three more this summer -- on future immigrant flows, legalization of illegal immigrants and worker verification -- before introducing a comprehensive bill in the fall, the aide said.
The idea of a worker ID card is embraced by some business and community organizations. But it has touched off fears among some labor activists and the American Civil Liberties Union about civil rights violations and a "big brother" intrusion into private lives.
In his book, Schumer proposed requiring every American worker, citizen and noncitizen, to apply for an identity card.
Some activists worry that any ID card proposal could divide the immigrant rights community between those opposed to its perceived dangers and those willing to accept it as part of a compromise that would legalize many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
"The bottom line is that this would be really expensive, really invasive and people will hate it," said Chris Calabrese, counsel for the ACLU's technology and liberty project.
. . .
A Rare Win For Immigrants
Conn. judge finds constitutional problems in raids by federal agents
By Christian Nolan
The Connecticut Law Tribune, June 15, 2009
It was exactly two years ago that Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents rounded up 31 undocumented immigrants in the New Haven area.
There was speculation that the highly publicized raid was retaliation for a New Haven program that made ID cards available to illegal immigrants so they could open bank accounts and access other services. ICE officials denied the retaliation allegations and said the raids were lawfully conducted.
Now, at least in some cases, a federal immigration judge has reached the opposite conclusion. The efforts of a team of lawyers and Yale Law School students have scored victories for five immigrants, at least temporarily halting their deportation proceedings.
The immigration judge ruled that the government “egregiously violated” their 4th Amendment rights of the immigrants by entering their homes forcibly without warrants.
The decision, according to Connecticut immigration law experts, was rare due to the tougher legal standards in immigration court and reinforces that even undocumented residents have civil rights, especially when minding their own business inside their home.
“I think it makes everybody sit and take notice and think about the Constitution again,” said Danbury immigration attorney Cynthia Exner. She thinks the decision could influence the way ICE officials conduct their raids in the future.
According to one of the five written decisions by federal immigration Judge Michael W. Straus, which are factually similar, ICE officers entered the defendant’s home at 6:30 a.m. without consent and asked him to come with them. Other armed agents stayed in the front and back doorways.
The man had been living in the country for 15 years and had been in New Haven the past eight years with his wife, their two children and a cousin.
The man alleges that he opened the door a crack and ICE officers pushed the door open and went inside. The cousin was still asleep in bed when agents went in. The father testified that agents scared his 10-year-old daughter and when they took him into custody they told him to “say goodbye to your family.”
“We are not addressing a claim made by an alien seeking admission into the country, outside of a restaurant, driving on the street, or at a workplace site,” wrote Straus. “We are addressing a claim that immigration agents forcefully entered a private home without a warrant, without probable cause, and without consent.
“The court must examine the actual conduct of the immigration agents involved in the violation, including their physical entry into [his] home and their subsequent encroachment into his bedroom,” continued Straus.
“...The agents’ unlawful early morning entry into a private residence strongly implicates ‘unreasonable’ unlawful conduct,” Straus concluded. ICE’s public affairs department did return phone calls by press time.
. . .
Opposition grows to immigration prison in Arizona
By Mike Sunnucks
The Phoenix Business Journal, June 15, 2009
There is opposition arising to a proposed 1,500-inmate federal immigration prison being considered for southern Arizona on the Tohono O’odham Indian reservation.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has written U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano opposing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center near the Arizona border with Mexico. The ACLU notes federal police and other law enforcement already detain about 3,000 illegal immigrants on a given day. Many of those are undocumented immigrants from Mexico awaiting deportation from the U.S.
The proposed prison initially would house 750 illegal immigrants awaiting deportation or prosecution, but the facility could be expanded to 1,500 prisoners.
. . .
Sudanese Family Reunites in Brooklyn
By Dominick Tao
The New York Times, June 16, 2009
Growing up among strangers in a refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan, 4-year-old Wesal Adam knew her parents mostly as faces in photographs and voices on the phone.
She knew that her father, Motasim Adam, and her mother, Wejdan Adam, lived in Brooklyn and that Mr. Adam drove a cab. But she did not know what they felt like or smelled like or how much they loved her — if at all.
Wesal did not know why she had been separated by deserts and oceans from her parents, but once she learned to talk she knew that her lack of certain papers was keeping her from them.
But on Monday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Wesal and her father walked off a plane, reuniting the family and bringing a joyful end to a struggle that lasted more than two years.
Unlike many families splintered by the long-running violence in Darfur, the Adam family’s separation was not caused directly by the conflict, but by United States immigration law.
The family’s troubles started before Wesal was born: Mr. Adam, while in the United States as part of an educational program for Sudanese professionals, sought asylum. He had been jailed five times, Mr. Adam said, by the Sudanese government for speaking out against its treatment of civilians in war-torn Darfur. He was given asylum in 2002, and two years later Mrs. Adam was also granted asylum because she was Mr. Adam’s wife.
But their daughter was conceived after Mr. Adam was granted asylum, and outside the United States, in Chad, where his wife had been living in a refugee camp.
A 1998 amendment to immigration regulations required that the relationship between applicants for asylum and their children must exist at the time an asylum application is approved. Wesal did not qualify.
“It’s unbelievable that a child like mine, who was a year old, did not get approval from the United States,” Mr. Adam said. “I did not understand. You cannot take a child that is 2 or 3 from her parents. Sometimes, the law is guilty.”
The rule was meant, in part, to combat fraud, some immigration advocates said. “There have been pretty serious issues with fraud in the refugee program in Africa, and there are always problems with people trying to get visas for people who are not family members,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy study at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that supports strict controls on immigration.
. . .