David Bennion: June 2008 Archives

It can be stressful working in a field where my clients, and I by extension, feel constantly under siege from government agencies, the courts, and even members of the public.  So sitting at the opening session of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) annual conference with 3,000 or 4,000 other immigration attorneys yesterday was an empowering experience.  We are fed up!  Both the outgoing 2007 and incoming 2008 AILA presidents took a vocal and rousing stance against the egregious violations of constitutional rights and basic human rights we have seen recently from ICE and the other immigration agencies.

Marshall Fitz, advocacy director for AILA, said what most immigration attorneys have come to realize in recent years, that 9/11 changed the entire immigration landscape. 

I'll be posting over the next few days from Vancouver, where I am attending the annual American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) conference.  In Canada, even the buses are polite.  When unavailable, they carry the message "Sorry, Not in Service."  

In the meantime, I have my third and final (for now) guest post up at the DMI Blog.  This one talks about how sealing the border keeps migrants in who might otherwise return home the way migrants always have. 

Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse has another important study out.  From the NY Times this morning:

Criminal prosecutions of immigrants by federal authorities surged to a record high in March, as immigration cases accounted for the majority — 57 percent — of all new federal criminal cases brought nationwide that month, according to a report published Tuesday by a nonpartisan research group.

The federal government has apparently decided that enforcing the misdemeanor charge incurred after someone crosses the border without permission is the number one law enforcement priority nationwide. 

Today I have another post up over at the DMI Blog about some of the connections between the ICE deaths in detention scandal and Tom Lasseter's recent McClatchy article investigating the dozens, possibly hundreds, of innocent people wrongfully imprisoned at Guantanamo. 

Check it out!
heads in the sand.JPG Last night I went to see two heroes of the progressive blogosphere, Josh Marshall and Matt Yglesias, promoting Yglesias’s new foreign policy book, Heads in the Sand at the Strand bookstore in New York City.

The book is a critique of the gutless, ineffective reaction of the Democratic Party to executive branch overreach, unprovoked war, and demonization of the “other,” all policies the GOP has used effectively to consolidate political power since 9/11. 

Well, “had used effectively” may be more accurate in 2008.  Yglesias, with some satisfaction, predicted last night that the GOP would be “wiped out” in Congressional elections this fall due to their failure to distance themselves from the Bush fiasco in Iraq after the 2006 elections when they had the chance. 

I’ve only just now started the book, but I’ve already learned that the movie Groundhog Day has much in common with the writing of Nietzsche (I see that I’m not the first to make this connection, though it seemed novel to me on the train ride home).  The book looks promising, and Yglesias continues to cogently argue for a return to sanity in U.S. foreign policy, something that can only be achieved if Democrats support a coherent alternative to the failed policies of the last eight years. 

The core of Yglesias’s argument is that the U.S. had a good thing going back in the ‘90s supporting the liberal international institutions that Roosevelt and Truman had built and that the U.S. had supported throughout the Cold War.  Then Bush and the neoconservative opportunists he enabled saw an opening after 9/11 to push forward their vision of a hyperpowerful U.S. that was strong enough to cast aside the shackles of multilateralism.  That promptly led to disaster, but the center-left foreign policy establishment has been too deeply invested in the flawed assumptions Bush was working from to engage in any effective pushback.

But would bringing back the ‘90s really be a return to sanity?  

guest-blogging at DMI

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If you get a chance, click on over to the Drum Major Institute Blog, where I've got a post up about the effects of immigration raids on children of migrants. 

You can even leave a comment if you wish.  But make sure not to let slip your dark desire to "kill all whites."  That outcome would be especially unfortunate for this white blogger.
alborruiz.jpgAlbor Ruiz at the NY Daily News has been writing about migration issues for a long time.  I only stumbled on his column recently after I had the pleasure of meeting him a few weeks ago.  Ruiz’s reporting reflects an uncommon consciousness of international issues sparked by close connection to migrant communities here in NYC.  Here are some recent examples of journalism that you are not likely to find elsewhere:

Fair medical treatment for detainees, too 

A 20-year fight for immig[rant] rights

Immigration's human rights shame is now a moral crisis

Wyclef Jean shines light on Haiti's crisis

Locals can help ease Haiti's pain from food crisis

You wouldn’t know from the comments sections of these articles that NYC is a city of immigrants!  If you happen to click over to one of Ruiz’s stories, I encourage you to leave a respectful comment in support of his reporting.  You will probably be in the minority.

[Image: NAHJ]


Roberto Lovato has been sounding the alarm for weeks now on the deaths in detention scandal that ICE is now trying to brush under the rug.  I have to admit I’ve not yet given the issue the attention it deserves in this small corner of the blogosphere. 

As is often the case, Nina Bernstein broke the story in the NY Times.  The Times’ editorial board, headed up on this issue by Lawrence Downes, followed up with an opinion piece citing Bernstein's article. 

Ms. Bernstein chronicled the death of Boubacar Bah, a tailor from Guinea who was imprisoned in New Jersey for overstaying a tourist visa. He fell and fractured his skull in the Elizabeth Detention Center early last year. Though clearly gravely injured, Mr. Bah was shackled and taken to a disciplinary cell. He was left alone — unconscious and occasionally foaming at the mouth — for more than 13 hours. He was eventually taken to the hospital and died after four months in a coma.

Nobody told Mr. Bah’s relatives until five days after his fall. When they finally found him, he was on life support, soon to become one of the 66 [ed. note: the Post reports the number is now 83] immigrants known to have died in federal custody between 2004 and 2007. Mr. Bah’s family still does not know the full story of when or how he suffered his fatal injuries.

Kyle already addressed some of the deficiencies in Antonio Olivo’s article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday about the migration blogosphere.  Even so, it is always nice to be noticed.  The article gives some much-needed exposure to the online manifestation of rising frustration in migrant communities, including Flor Crisostomo and our DREAMers. 

In the article, though, there was no hint that Olivo acknowledged any difference between the people trying to stay with their families and work in this country and the people trying to boot them all out.  The migrant rights movement is one of the great moral struggles of our time.  It implicates a host of issues about how people work and interact in a global community.  The NY Times has realized the import of the human rights issues involved and the destruction that is being visited on migrant families.  The Times has picked a side, the side of tolerance, compassion, and common sense.  I know there’s a difference between an opinion piece and straight reporting.  But by covering the story in a “he said/she said” format that the press often reverts to when dealing with controversial political issues, Olivo left the underlying issues almost entirely unanalyzed. 

From Andrew Sullivan, via Zaheer at Immigration Equality's blog:

"There is a gaping hole in the Times' coverage of the same-sex marriage issue: Any state recognition of same-sex couples applies only to couples who are both U.S. citizens.  Heterosexual citizens have the right to marry foreign partners and bring them legally into the country with the right to live and work and even seek citizenship. Homosexual citizens don't have that right; they must either choose another citizen as a partner or leave the country in order to be with their foreign partners. I know this issue intimately because both my children have foreign partners. My heterosexual daughter was able to marry and give her foreign partner the right to live here. My homosexual son can't do that, and his partner isn't even allowed to enter the U.S., so he has no choice but to live in his partner's country. The people who claim to be protecting families are not doing anything to protect mine. Instead, they've torn it apart. I wish the Times would cover that aspect of the gay marriage issue because there are thousands of American families affected by it," - a mother of a gay son, commenting on the story on Governor David Paterson's decision to treat gay citizens married in other states no differently than straight ones.