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May-June 2009 National Immigrant Solidarity Network Monthly News Digest

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May-June 2009 U.S. Immigrant Alert! Newsletter
Published by National Immigrant Solidarity Network

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May Day 2009:  Over Hundred Cities Across The U.S. with Hundreds of Thousands of People March for Justice!

In This Issue:

1) May Day 2009
2) 4/10-12 NISN Nat’l Conf Report
3) Immigration Policy Update
4) Who's approving wiretap?
5) Anger at Obama Gitmo ruling
6) Troop deployment to border
7) 30 arrested in CD at ICE Hqts
8) Please Support NISN! Subscribe the Newsletter!


Please print edition of the Newsletter:

May Day 2009 National Immigrant Workers Mobilization
Over Hundred Cities Across The U.S. with Hundreds of Thousands of People March for Justice!

WE ARE ALL HUMANS! NO ONE IS ILLEGAL! There’s at least hundred cities and communities across the U.S. organized their May Day actions to support workers rights and immigrant rights. Globally, there’s at least several hundred cities had organized tens of millions of people for march/protest/community events to celebrate the May Day 2009.

While the number of people participated in U.S. on May Day had been declined due to weather, economic reason, factional fights in some cities had created major confusion, and corporate America/government continue their campaign to against celebrating the May Day and exploiting H1N1 Influenza A virus (aka swine flu) “crisis” to scare people participating this year—none-the-less, the numbers of people participated at May Day actions across the global still stay very strong, and at some countries even grown bigger due to the working class angry about the current economic crisis.

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Photos & Essay Reports from around the World


4/10-12, 2009 Chicago, IL National Immigrant Solidarity Network
4th National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference

Successful Ending! Together We Build New Immigrant Workers Rights & Justice Movements of 2009!

On April 10-12, 2009 on Chicago, IL; over 110 organizers, activists and community members from African American, Native American, African immigrant, European Immigrant, Asian American, Latino/Latina, Arab-Muslim-North African, progressive labor, interfaith, LGBT, student, anti-war/peace and global justice groups from across the country. To meet face-to-face at to discuss how to build a new national, broad-based, immigrant rights/civil rights movement, and to set our 2009-2010 national grassroots immigrant campaign strategy.

We welcome our new steering committee member Alex Franco from Movement for Unconditional Amnesty, Philadelphia, PA.
We acknowledges that different people from different organizations, backgrounds have different believes on how to achieve the justice and better future for the tens of millions of immigrants across the country, and how immigrant rights movements can link to the broader peace and justice movements.

We had agreements, we have difference and even heated debates; after three days conference, at Sunday April 12th based on the feedbacks and proposals submitted to the conference, we had draft our new points of unity and strategic immigrant campaign proposals.

Read the report:

Latest Immigration News

5/26: Schwarzenegger to reveal deeper budget cuts

By SAMANTHA YOUNG - Associated Press

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's takeaway message from last week's defeat of the special election ballot measures was "cuts, cuts, cuts."....

5/5: Deported Activist Runs for Mexican Congress

By Compiled by Frontera NorteSur (FNS)

Among the better known candidates running for Mexican Congress is Elvira Arellano, the deported activist from the United States who came to symbolize the face of the new immigrant movement. Taking refuge in a Chicago church in August 2006, Arellano defied a deportation order and US immigration authorities for one year in an unsuccessful attempt to remain with her young son. In August 2007, she was arrested and sent back to Mexico after appearing at an immigrant rights rally in Los Angeles....

5/20: Another death in Georgia at a CCA-operated facility

By Travis Fain -

Few details released in death of Wheeler County inmate....

5/18: Mentally ill detainees' treatment at hospitals worries advocates

By Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune

Ann Menasche, a lawyer with the legal advocacy group Disability Rights California, said she has been to API and has spoken to detainees there. In an eight-page letter sent to immigration officials April 24, Menasche said the conditions are “excessive, unjustifiable and punitive.”....

5/17: Immigration - When Only 'Geniuses' Need Apply

By Moira Herbst - Business Week

Top artists, writers, and musicians are among those awarded O-1 visas each year to add to U.S. culture and the economy....

5/16 Upland, CA: Upland restaurant clashes with Minuteman project members

By Sandra Emerson - Whittier Daily News

A group of Minuteman Project members complained to city officials after a recent argument with an Upland business owner and police over a Cinco de Mayo celebration....

5/14 Postville, IA: 20 former Agriprocessors workers obtain visas

By Associated Press

Twenty former workers at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville have received visas under a law that protects crime victims....

5/15: Libya given migrant patrol boats


The Italian government has given Libya three patrol boats as part of a deal aimed at combating the flow of migrants making the crossing to Italy....

  More Recent Immigration News..


Special Reports:

The "Crimmigration" Crisis (Third in Restoring Integrity to Immigration System series.)

In its study of the application of the “aggravated felony” provision in immigration law, the Transactional Records Clearinghouse (TRAC) at the University of Syracuse found that from 1992 to 2006 more than 300,000 immigrants were removed using this provision and that the numbers steadily increased annually over this period.[1]

Perhaps most striking about TRAC’s findings was that 55% of the aggravated felony removals were by an ICE/INS administrative order rather than a court order. In these administrative removals – amounting to nearly 23,000 in 2006 -- the deported immigrants did not have the benefit of any hearing or adjudication of their removal orders. ICE agents alone were responsible, as the TRAC study noted, for all steps in the process – from apprehension and detention to issuing the order and deporting the individual. Administrative orders for removal for immigrants charged with aggravated felonies have steadily increased as a percentage of all such mandated deportations.

Criminal aliens that have been detained and removed under the aggravated felony statutes are oftentimes longtime U.S. residents who have been in the country since their childhood and don’t even know the language of their birth countries. On the average, immigrants processed by EOIR from 1997 to 20006 for aggravated felonies were in the U.S. for fifteen years before they were deported. For 25%, the average time between their original date of entry to this country and when deportation proceedings were started in immigration court was 20 years or longer, and for 10 percent it was more than 27 years.[2]

TRAC cited the case of Carlos Pacheco who entered the US with a green card as a 6-year old child. He was judged an aggravated felon based on his misdemeanor conviction for stealing some Tylenol and cigarettes. An appeals court that heard the case agreed that he was an aggravated felon and removable but expressed its “misgivings” that Congress equated misdemeanors with felonies in its zeal to deport criminal aliens. Pacheco’s case is now one of tens of thousands in which the immigration consequences were much more severe than the criminal consequences.

Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the United States, a March 2009 report by Amnesty International USA, observed: “Lawful permanent residents can be placed in "mandatory detention" with no right to a bond hearing before an immigration judge or judicial body. It is believed that thousands of individuals are subject to mandatory detention every year. The categories of crimes that trigger mandatory detention include minor, non-violent crimes (such as receiving stolen property) committed years ago, and are broad and difficult to define.”[3]

Of those immigrants, legal and illegal, removed because of a prior criminal charge other than “aggravated felony,” the most frequent of the charges cited are those involving "moral turpitude" and use of "controlled substance violations." The new criminal context for immigration law means that there are major “immigration consequences” of a criminal plea. Most criminal defense lawyers advise their clients to enter pleas that result in minimal or no jail time with little concern for the nature of the crime for which they plead guilty.

As immigration law expert Ira Kurzban points out: “A plea to a wrong charge could mean a long-term lawful permanent resident was subject to mandatory detention and was deported without relief.”[4] In other words, a legal immigrant might plead guilty to a crime for which he spends no jail time but years later finds that he or she is detained by ICE agents, spends months or years in an immigrant prison, and then is deported and banished permanently from the United States.
Zero Tolerance in Immigration Enforcement

Beginning in 2007 DHS embarked upon another paradigm shift in immigration law. Not only would it continue to target noncitizens that it categorized as “criminal aliens,” DHS also decided that it was also necessary to criminalize the conduct of immigrants who previously would not have been criminally charged. Borrowing a phrase from law-and-order theory, DHS launched a “zero tolerance” program called Operation Streamline.

Under this pilot program, which has since been expanded, illegal border crossers picked up by the Border Patrol are not, as traditionally been the case, turned over to ICE for detention but rather to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) for pre-trial custody. Instead of being simply “illegal aliens” these immigrants become “criminal aliens” under the new “zero tolerance” regimen. Immigrants crossing illegally are now routinely being sentenced to jail terms of fifteen days, while those who reenter after having been deported now face ten to twenty years in prison.

DHS hasn’t limited its criminalization of immigrants to the border. As part of the expansion of its “interior enforcement,” ICE in 2007 also began treating falsely documented or undocumented workers as criminal aliens. The mass arrest of mainly Guatemalan workers at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa on May 12, 2008 marked in tragic fashion the extent to which DHS was willing to go to demonstrate its commitment to enforce the rule of law – as DHS interpreted it. Of the 389 immigrants detained, 307 were criminally charged with using false Social Security numbers and aggravated identity theft (which carries a minimum two-year sentence). Offered a plea deal, most pled guilty to the false social security charge and received a five-month sentence.

Reflecting on the shifting paradigm in immigration law toward “criminalizing civil conduct,” Kurzban observed that “immigration lawyers must be educated in issues concerning traditional criminal law questions, such as unlawful search and seizure, rights against self-incrimination, plea bargaining, and statutory and constitutional defenses for certain federal crimes.”[5]

Crime and Immigration

Juliet Stumpf of Lewis and Clark Law School points out in “The Crimmigration Crisis: Immigration, Crime, and Sovereign Power” that both criminal and immigration law primarily regulate the relationship between the state and individual, the line separating criminal and immigration law has blurred. Not only does the substance of immigration and criminal law increasingly overlap, but immigration enforcement by DHS and DOJ also increasingly resembles criminal law enforcement as seen perhaps most clearly in massive imprisonment of immigrants. “The rapid importation of criminal grounds into immigration law,” notes Stumpf, “is consistent with a shift in criminal penology from rehabilitation to retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and expressive powers of the state.” [6]

Stumpf makes the argument that the merger of the immigration and criminal systems is, at least partly, the result of a newly restrictive sense of the social contract in America. Like criminals, immigrants are increasingly being treated as if they have few rights and have no claim to government protection because they aren’t members of our society. Not only has society since the 1970s adopted an increasingly punitive rather than rehabilitative criminal system that physically excludes them from society but in many cases also denies them benefits such as social services and rights such as the right to vote, serve in public office or serve on a jury.

Similarly, recent trends in immigration law and policy build on the assumption that immigrants have little claim to membership in society and can therefore can be excluded and denied basic rights. “When membership theory is at play,” she writes, “whole categories of constitutional rights depend on the decisionmaker’s vision of who belongs.”

Aside from the resulting increase in the imprisonment and deportation of noncitizens, a little considered result of this so-called “crimmigration” is that criminal aliens in the immigration system lack the constitutional protection of anyone in the criminal justice system. Although treated as criminals they don’t enjoy the protections of the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.

While immigrants have the right to counsel in immigration court, they don’t have the right to a government-provided attorney if they can’t afford to hire an attorney. When in the immigration system, criminal aliens are protected by the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause, but they aren’t protected by the criminal process rights in the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments.[7]

[1] TRAC, “New Data on Processing of Aggravated Felons,” 2007, online at:
[2] TRAC, “How Often is the Aggravated Felony Statute Used?” 2006, online at:
[3] Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the United States, Amnesty International USA, March 26, 2009, online at:
[4] Ira J. Kurzban, “Criminalizing Immigration Law,” Presented at 2008 Immigration Law Conference, San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 23-24, 2008, p. 2, online at:
[5] Kurzban, “Criminalizing Immigration Law,” p. 3.
[6] Juliet Stumpf, “The Crimmigration Crisis: Immigration, Crime, and Sovereign Power,” Bepress Legal Series, Paper 1635, 2006, p. 31., online at:
[7] Stumpf, “The Crimmigration Crisis,” p. 21.

(Next in Restoring Integrity Series: Expanding Immigration Enforcement Appartus)

Photo: Border Port of Entry at El Paso/Juarez


Enforcement-First Immigration Reform Stuck in First Step

Tom Barry - Border Lines
Since its creation in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has assiduously responded to the clamor of anti-immigrant forces demanding that the federal government take more seriously its responsibility to enforce immigration policy.

By the beginning of President Bush’s second term, the rising demands for strict and nationwide enforcement of immigration laws coalesced around a new political framing of tougher border control and immigration enforcement. The new “enforcement-first” agenda was also a direct response by conservatives and restrictionists to the congressional proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. Conservatives increasingly argued that there could be no comprehensive immigration reform that included legalization without first securing the borders and enforcing immigration law in the country’s interior.

One of the first and clearest expressions of the “enforcement-first” agenda that the Bush administration enthusiastically adopted came in a Jan. 19, 2006 letter to President Bush from prominent conservatives, including the Republican leaders of the Senate and House. The public letter, titled “First Things First on Immigration,” asserted that “border and interior enforcement must be funded, operational, implemented, and proven successful — and only then can we debate the status of current illegal immigrants, or the need for new guest worker programs.”

Pointing the strengthening anti-immigrant voices in Congress, the letter noted that “the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, Senator Rick Santorum said, ‘We need a border-security bill first’” and that “Senator Vitter, Senator Santorum, the majority of Senate Republicans, and the majority of House Republicans are right in their position that “we need proven enforcement before we do anything else.”

Among those signing this enforcement-first letter were such national figures as William Bennett, Robert Bork, William F Buckley, Newt Gingrich, David Horowitz, David Keene, Rich Lowry, David Frum, Heather MacDonald, Michael Ledeen, Mark Krikorian, Daniel Pipes, Phyllis Schlafly, and Thomas Sowell. The letter, which was organized by the conservative Hudson Institute, signaled the rising Republican political consensus around the enforcement-first position, bringing together traditional conservatives, immigration restrictionists, social conservatives, neoconservatives, and leading Republican politicians.

The inclusion of neoconservates in the burgeoning anti-immigrant coalition was most surprising. Empowered by the Bush administration, especially in foreign affairs, the neoconservative political klatch had traditionally been a reliably pro-immigrant voice before Sept. 11. As a group, dominated by Jewish conservatives with recent immigrant roots, neoconservatives had long resisted the conservative trend toward restrictionism.

But with the new national security focus on immigration and the rising conservative backlash against immigrants, neonconservatives increasingly joined the anti-immigrant chorus.

Over the past few years support for the “enforcement first” agenda has spread throughout the Republican Party. Sen. John McCain, formerly a strong CIR supporter, switched to a “border enforcement first” position at the start of his presidential campaign in 2007. In early 2008 Republican senators, led by its most anti-immigrant members, formed the Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus as the Senate counterpart to the Immigration Reform Caucus in the House.

In large part, the enforcement-first position has been more a tactical response to CIR than an indicator of any real commitment to immigration reform as a second step. The Senate leaders of the Enforcement First Caucus, including Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), are, for example, advocates of the “attrition through enforcement” position held by the leading restrictionist organizations. In other words, enforcement was the first and only step. Conservative immigration reform means increased enforcement measures and greater commitments to border security.

Enforcement-first is a more politically palatable policy response than their true “attrition through enforcement” agenda. The political opportunism of “enforcement first” increasingly crossed party lines, as conservative, moderate, and even liberal Democrats began reframing their own stance on immigration as an enforcement-first position.

DHS has conveniently embraced enforcement-first immigration reform. As Chertoff did before her, Secretary Janet Napolitano has stated her commitment to a liberal immigration reform that would include legalization and new legal pathways for foreign workers, athough always noting that DHS has the responsibility to enforce the law not to change it. Beefed-up immigration enforcement and border control were only part of the solution, as Secretary Chertoff routinely said, pointing out in June 2008 that the immigration problem “is going to persist until Congress grabs the nettle and decides that we're going to put together a comprehensive immigration reform program that everybody can live with.”

In the meantime, DHS, with generous and ever-increasing financial support from Congress, has mounted an array of programs and operations designed to demonstrate its serious resolve to securing the borders and tracking down immigration violators in the country’s interior. Collectively these post-Sept. 11 initiatives – which accelerated when Michael Chertoff became DHS chief in 2005 – are now commonly referred to as the “crackdown” on immigrants.

As the DHS steps up its commitment to border security and immigration enforcement at the start of the Obama administration, there are rising concerns that the enforcement-first has become the “attrition through enforcement” policy that its authors really wanted.

The administration’s lavish funding for border security and the unleashing of new enforcement programs like Secure Communities represent continuity with the enforcement emphasis of the Bush administration, with as yet little evidence that either the administration or the Democratic congressional leadership have the political will to take the promised next step.


DHS chief pressed on immigration and border security
Chris Strohm - Congress Daily
May 13, 2009
Senate and House lawmakers pressed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Tuesday to explain the Obama administration's policies for enforcing border security and immigration laws, indicating areas that Congress will likely grapple with putting together the fiscal 2010 Homeland Security budget.
In separate, back-to-back hearings, lawmakers expressed support for President Obama's request, which would provide the department $42.7 billion in discretionary funding next fiscal year.
But they questioned Napolitano on matters such as funding for border security efforts, the department's priorities for targeting illegal immigrants inside the country and whether federal contractors should be required to verify the legal status of their workers.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and ranking member Susan Collins said they believe the department will need more money for border security efforts.
"Critical resources are needed to supplement efforts already underway on our Southwest border to combat drug, gun and cash smuggling by the drug cartels in Mexico," Collins said.
Lieberman and Collins recently succeeded in amending the fiscal 2010 budget resolution to increase by $550 million funding for border protection efforts by the Homeland Security and Justice departments.
Lieberman confirmed Tuesday he will ask Senate appropriators to add at least $500 million to the proposed fiscal 2010 Homeland Security budget for border security.
About $260 million of that funding would go toward hiring and training 1,600 Customs and Border Protection officers and 400 canine teams.
The department's proposed budget only seeks to hire and train 65 CBP officers and 44 new Border Patrol officers.
At a separate hearing, House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Price, D-N.C., pressed Napolitano on whether she believes the top priority for Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be finding and deporting illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes.
Napolitano hedged slightly, saying finding and deporting criminal illegal immigrants is "a high interest" for ICE. She said ICE not only has to go after criminal illegal immigrants but build cases for prosecuting employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.
"In the world of illegal immigration, ICE has to multitask," Napolitano said.
Price also said lawmakers will have to sort out the pros and cons of two programs to enforce immigration laws. The Secure Communities program uses biometrics, namely fingerprints, to identify illegal immigrants inside federal, state and local jails.
The other effort, known as the 287(g) program, helps train state and local law enforcement officials to enforce immigration laws.
Price expressed more support for the Secure Communities program, saying the 287(g) program is costly and has led to strained relationships between local law enforcement agencies and immigrant communities.
Napolitano said Secure Communities is "working very well," adding that she predicts the department will be growing the program in coming years.
But she said she wants to make agreements under the 287(g) program "more uniform" across the country.
House Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis said during the hearing he was concerned that Homeland Security is shifting an emphasis and resources away from arresting undocumented workers and finding fugitive illegal immigrants.
On another front, Napolitano expressed support for implementing a rule that would require most federal contractors to use the E-Verify system to confirm the legal status of their workers.
The rule was supposed to go into effect in January but has been postponed until the summer.
"I'm a big supporter of E-Verify," Napolitano said. The authorization for E-Verify expires at the end of September, but the department's proposed budget seeks to extend the program for three years.
When asked if the program should be permanently extended, Napolitano said: "I leave that for Congress' wisdom. I would like it certainly for more than one year."


Useful Immigrant Resources on Detention and Deportation

Face Sheet: Immigration Detention--Questions and Answers (Dec, 2008) by:

Thanks for GREAT works from Detention Watch Network (DWN) to compiled the following information, please visit DWN website:

Tracking ICE's Enforcement Agenda
Real Deal fact sheet on detention
Real Deal fact sheet on border

- From Raids to Deportation-A Community Resource Kit
- Know Your Rights in the Community (English, Spanish)
- Know Your Rights in Detention
- Pre-Raid Community Safety Plan
- Raids to Deportation Map
- Raids to Deportation Policy Map

More on Immigration Resource Page


Useful Handouts and Know Your Immigrant Rights When Marches
Immigrant Marches / Marchas de los Inmigrantes

Immigrants and their supporters are participating in marches all over the country to protest proposed national legislation and to seek justice for immigrants. The materials available here provide important information about the rights and risks involved for anyone who is planning to participate in the ongoing marches.

If government agents question you, it is important to understand your rights. You should be careful in the way you speak when approached by the police, FBI, or INS. If you give answers, they can be used against you in a criminal, immigration, or civil case.

The ACLU's publications below provide effective and useful guidance in several languages for many situations. The brochures apprise you of your legal rights, recommend how to preserve those rights, and provide guidance on how to interact with officials.

Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement
| Conozca Sus Derechos Frente A Los Agentes Del Orden Público

ACLU of Massachusetts - Your Rights And Responsibilities If You Are Contacted By The Authorities English | Spanish | Chinese

ACLU of Massachusetts - What to do if stopped and questioned about your immigration status on the street, the subway, or the bus
| Que hacer si Usted es interrogado en el tren o autobus acerca de su estatus inmigratorio

ACLU of South Carolina - How To Deal With A 287(g)
| Como Lidiar Con Una 287(g)

ACLU of Southern California - What to Do If Immigration Agents or Police Stop You While on Foot, in Your Car, or Come to Your Home
| Qué Hacer Si Agentes de Inmigración o la Policía lo Paran Mientras Va Caminando, lo Detienen en su Auto o Vienen a su Hogar

ACLU of Washington - Brochure for Iraqis: What to Do If the FBI or Police Contact You for Questioning English | Arabic

ACLU of Washington - Your Rights at Checkpoints at Ferry Terminals
| Sus Derechos en Puestos de Control en las Terminales de Transbordadores

Immigrant Protests - What Every Worker Should Know:
| Manifestaciones de los Inmigrantes - Lo Que Todo Trabajador Debe Saber

ACLU of Florida Brochure - The Rights of Protesters
| Los Derechos de los Manifestantes

Washington State - Student Walkouts and Political Speech at School
| Huelgas Estudiantiles y Expresión Política en las Escuelas

California Students: Public School Walk-outs and Free Speech
| Estudiantes de California: Marchas o Huelgas y La Libertad de Expresión en las Escuelas Públicas


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