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January - February 2009 National Immigrant Solidarity Network Monthly Digest

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January - February 2009 U.S. Immigrant Alert! Newsletter
Published by National Immigrant Solidarity Network

Please read the Newsletter:
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2009  Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR): A Comprehensive Analysis

In This Issue:

1) 4/10-12 NISN National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference
2) Comprehensive Immigration Reform: 4 Analysis
Unión del Barrio Statement on Gaza
4) U.S. Immigration News Briefs
5) 100 Days to Close Guantanamo & End Torture
6) Please Support NISN! Subscribe the Newsletter!


National Immigrant Solidarity Network
4th National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference
April 10-12, 2009  UIC College of Medicine, Chicago, IL

Stop Immigrant Raids! Support Immigrant Workers Rights!
Together We Build A New Immigrant Rights Movement!

Calling for Workshop and Speaker Proposals

Registration Open! Student/Low-Income Specials!

National Immigrant Solidarity Network (NISN), the leading national immigrant activist network, is calling for 4th National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference the weekend of April 10-12, 2009 at Chicago, IL!

The conference will be our strategy planning meeting for grassroots immigrant activists looking 2009 and beyond. We want to send a clear message to the Congress and our new President: Stop Immigrant Raids! Support Immigrant Workers Rights! 

For more information, please visit:
Phone: (773)942-2268

Immigration issue on back burner

Hernán Rozemberg - San Antonio Express-News
January 11, 2008

With all eyes still on the nation's plunging economy, it's hard to remember the last time President-elect Barack Obama made any mention of immigration — a campaign issue he pledged to tackle in his first year in office.

And though they understand the necessary focus on the economy, activists on both sides of the fiery immigration debate are still preparing for political battle.

Immigrant advocates are making a pledge of their own: to hold Obama accountable for his campaign promises. They estimate Congress won't take up the issue until September and, if the effort succeeds, look for a new law overhauling the current system by March 2010, said Frank Sharry, director of America's Voice in Washington, D.C.

On the other side of the fence, activists pushing for immigration restrictions — deflated by the new Democratic domination in the executive and legislative branches — remained optimistic that hard economic times will impede making a mass amnesty program palatable to the general public.

For now, Obama has kept mum on the matter, repeating on his transition Web site his pledge for “comprehensive immigration reform” and resurrecting an effort involving a multi-pronged approach to fix the immigration problem that failed to pass in Congress the past two years.

Even Obama's “immigration transition team” — two law professors, Tino Cuéllar of Stanford University and Georgetown's Alexander Aleinikoff — is keeping quiet. Neither replied to repeated requests for an interview for this article.

Immigrant advocates who have met with them said Obama's advisers are not responding to media inquiries because they're still in fact-gathering mode, meeting with activists and politicians to eventually come up with a detailed strategy.

“They told us they're just listening and taking recommendations for now,” said Oscar Chacón, whose National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities drew 15 immigrant advocacy group leaders from across the country for a meeting Wednesday with Cuéllar and other Obama advisers.

Though he was not promised any commitments, Chacón — a Salvadoran who entered the country illegally in 1980 but later gained U.S. citizenship — said he remains confident that immigration reform will be enacted because the advisers agree it's an issue linked to other must-fix problems.

Other leading national immigrant advocates said in the past week they'll wait patiently while Obama takes care of the economic mess, but they're not willing to let the crisis push the issue aside.

No specifics have yet been discussed as to what a new immigration bill would contain, but advocates concede that their desire for a legalization-with-penalties program for the estimated 12 million immigrants in the country illegally would have to be coupled with certain enforcement measures, such as beefed-up border security.

“We already learned in 1986 the downside of trying to do legislation piecemeal,” said Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of the Los Angeles Catholic Diocese, who publicly defied a 2006 law calling for prosecution of social groups helping unauthorized immigrants. “To be effective, you need a package that fixes all the broken parts.”

Immigration restrictionist advocates countered that while Obama may be willing to risk backing some measures with a good chance of passing Congress, there's no way he'll try for mass amnesty.

Roy Beck, a former journalist who directs NumbersUSA, a lobby group in Washington that seeks lower immigration levels, said Obama would “commit political suicide” if he tried to legalize millions of unauthorized workers with so many Americans out of work.

He said migrant activists will likely win some concessions, such as Obama using presidential discretion to slow the unprecedented and ongoing series of immigration raids.

Beck's argument, particularly invoking American workers as a case against unauthorized immigrants, will become the revamped restrictionist mantra, noted a veteran observer of national immigration politics.

Their focus will change from beating the drum of illegality to protecting the average American worker from competing for jobs with unauthorized immigrants, said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank.

Even if he still wanted an all-inclusive massive overhaul, the economic climate will not allow it, and Obama will likely back two smaller measures with the caveat of keeping his promise to advocates and return later to seek bigger changes, he said.

These narrower proposals could include two bills with bipartisan support that have lingered for years without approval: The DREAM Act, giving as many as 1 million students who are in the country illegally a chance to go to college or join the military and eventually gain permanent residency, and AGJOBS, a bill creating a new temporary agricultural worker program.

“There's no way he's going to be able to deliver on a comprehensive package,” Papademetriou said. “At best, he'll try for a down payment to assure people he's doing his best under current circumstances.”

Please read the Nov-Dec 2008 Immigration Newsletter:

1/13: Advisers: Obama preparing order to close Gitmo

By LARA JAKES - Associated Press

In a contradictory to what Obama himself said a day earlier, according to the media it seems that there's a good indication he'll order to shut down the Gitmo very soon!

1/12: Push on Immigration Crimes Is Said to Shift Focus

By SOLOMON MOORE - The New York Times

Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled in the last fiscal year....many federal judges and prosecutors say, has siphoned resources from other crimes, eroded morale among federal lawyers and overloaded the federal court system....

Immigration Cases Drive Federal Prosecutions to New High in FY 2008

By David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Bush Administration's Immigration Prosecutions Soar Total of All Federal Filings Reach New High....

1/9 US Border Patrol to close Friendship Park, will replace by solid border fence


A beachfront plaza founded over 30 years ago as a symbol of goodwill between the US and Mexico border is being closed to make way for a giant, reinforced fence....

1/9 Persian Gulf States' Unified Immigration proposal condemned

By Sandeep Singh Grewal - NEWS TRACK India

Human rights group and Non-government organisation have condemned a proposal of a unified immigration system, which Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are mulling....

1/10 Central Falls, RI: ICE Punishment Over a Detainee’s Death

By NINA BERNSTEIN - New York Times

A Rhode Island detention center says it is punishing seven employees in connection with the case of a New York computer engineer from China whose extensive cancer and fractured spine went undiagnosed, despite his pleas for help, until shortly before he died in immigration custody last summer....

1/8: Canada expels US woman military objector


Canada has ordered the deportation of the first woman US soldier to have sought asylum in the country to avoid being deployed to Iraq....

1/6: U.S. denies Haitians protected status


The Bush administration has rejected a request by Haitian President René Préval and others to allow tens of thousands of undocumented Haitians living in the United States to stay until their homeland recovers from a string of deadly summer storms....

  More Recent Immigration News..

Immigration Cases Drive Federal Prosecutions to New High in FY 2008

David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

*Bush Administration's Immigration Prosecutions Soar, Total of All Federal Filings Reach New High*

With an unusually large burst of new immigration prosecutions in the last months of FY 2008, the annual number of such cases brought in the nation's federal courts has more than quadrupled during the eight years of the Bush administration, according to the latest Justice Department data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

The most recent month's total of 11,454 immigration prosecutions in September 2008 represents an increase of over seven hundred percent from the same month seven years ago (September 2001).

This massive increase in yearly immigration filings means that the total number of all kinds of prosecutions brought by the federal government reached their all-time high last year of 155,694. By comparison, there were 82,071 filings in FY 1998 and 60,421 in FY 1988.

The extraordinarily abrupt shift in government enforcement policy is highlighted by the following data. During the first year of President Bush's first term (FY 2001), the proportion of cases categorized as involving immigration violations was 18% of federal filings -- similar to the proportion in the final years of the Clinton administration. By FY 2004, the first year of Bush's second term, that proportion had increased to over 31%. In the just-ended FY 2008, however, immigration filings jumped to 51% of the total.

As in recent years, the five federal districts with the largest proportion of immigration prosecutions in FY 2008 were strung out along the border with Mexico. In Texas South (Houston), Arizona (Phoenix), New Mexico (Albuquerque), Texas West (San Antonio) and California South (San Diego), for example, immigration matters made up 73.7% or more of all those charged with a federal crime. But the next five federal districts had a much lower proportion of such cases and were more scattered. They included Arkansas West (Fort Smith), Washington East (Spokane), Oregon (Portland), California Central (Los Angeles) and Colorado (Denver). In this second tier, immigration matters made up 33.2% or less of all federal prosecutions.

Hidden in this unusual surge in the numbers of both overall and immigration prosecutions, however, are areas of decline:

* White-collar crime prosecutions, for example, are down by almost 15% from what they were in the last year of President Clinton's administration, 8,108 in FY 2008 compared with 9,532 in FY 2000.

* Individual narcotic filings also have slumped during the Bush years. While there were modest annual increases at first, the data show that for whole period the prosecution of drug violators were off by almost 20%; down to 26,336 in FY 2008 from 32,753 in FY 2001.

* The shifts in the cases the government said were related to terrorism or internal security matters were much more dramatic. From FY 2001 to FY 2002 — the year following the events of 9/11 — there was a highly unusual ten-fold increase in prosecutions, from 115 to 1,208. Since then such prosecution have steadily declined with the most recent total of 424 being only about one third of what it was in the year of the 9/11 high.

In addition to categorizing federal prosecutions in regard to their broad subject matter, the U.S. Attorneys also determine the investigative agency that played the leading role in each case. Here, one key finding was that prosecutions attributed to the FBI have declined during every year but the last of the Bush Administration — 14,357 in FY 2008 from 18,994 in FY 2001. See Figure 5.

This drop of almost a quarter has been attributed to the decision of Bush officials to assign a significant number of agents — who previously had been investigating white collar criminals, corrupt officials and civil rights violators — to various highly classified responsibilities aimed at fighting terrorism.

* TRAC Free Monthly Bulletins

This is a list of free monthly bulletins available from TRAC. Much more, including reports by judge, district and lead charge, can be found in these bulletin listings by topic:


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

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