U.S. Immigration Reform: 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. 

It's Harvest Time!

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American Harvest, the non-partisan documentary about migrant farmworkers, American farmers, and the relationship between the immigration debate and our food, is hitting local theaters now!

Get into some air-conditioned comfort & see this important film, then get out and enjoy the season's bounty of fruits and vegetables with new eyes.

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.