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Vocapedia > Politics, Economy > USA > Immigration, Migration, Migrants




Illustration: Anna Parini


Our Immigration Policy

The Opinion Pages | Sunday Dialogue


MARCH 21, 2015


















Having travelled across two countries in eight days,

Joel, a Honduran with one leg,

makes his way across the river with crutches,

trying to keep up with the caravan


Photograph: Ada Trillo


La Caravana del Diablo: a migrant caravan in Mexico – photo essay

Photojournalist Ada Luisa Trillo

has won the Guardian’s Portfolio Review award

at Format photography festival this year.

Her powerful piece of work on the migrant caravan follows

the people who left Central American countries to reach the US


Mon 17 Aug 2020    07.00 BST

Last modified on Mon 17 Aug 2020    11.35 BST


















Jennifer left Honduras with her daughter, Lucia.


She said that life there was very hard

and had become increasingly difficult

because of the persistent violence.


Photograph: Russell Monk


Portraits From a Caravan

A look at some of the people hoping to get into the United States.


Dec. 29, 2018


















Marina and Kenny are from Honduras.


Kenny said

the maras in Honduras

had insisted that he join the gang and threatened him.


Refusing would risk being hurt or even killed, he said,

so he decided to leave with the caravan.


Marina chose to come with him.


When asked if they were in love,

they responded, “Si...mucho!” A lot!


Photograph: Russell Monk


Portraits From a Caravan

A look at some of the people hoping to get into the United States.


Dec. 29, 2018





























































USA > immigration and emigration        UK / USA




























watch?v=qG9sw7xq8fQ - NYT - 23 June 2018



















100000005337536/trump-immigration.html - Aug. 4, 2017



















100000004612123/donald-trump-changes-tone-on-immigration.html - Aug. 26, 2016










































immigration to the U.S.










Central American migration to the US










handle immigration










Boston Globe > Big Picture

Immigration        June 13, 2011










United States Citizenship and Immigration Services    USCIS






Immigration and Customs Enforcement    ICE






Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals    DACA







limit legal immigration






reduce legal immigration






curtail legal immigration






immigration from terror-prone regions



















Immigration Overhaul


Chris Weyant

draws political cartoons for The Hill,

and is also a cartoonist for The New Yorker.


29 January 2013


Donkey = Democrats

Elephant = Republicans (G.O.P.)















What Options Does the U.S. Have on Immigration?        NYT        23 June 2018





What Options Does the U.S. Have on Immigration?        Video        NYT News        23 June 2018


Our White House correspondent Michael D. Shear

examines the polarizing political debate

over immigration policies in the United States.


















We Reimagined Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ as a 1940s Propaganda Film        NYT        22 June 2018





We Reimagined Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ as a 1940s Propaganda Film        Video        NYT - Opinion        22 June 2018


A U.S. government film from 1943

justifying the detention of Japanese-Americans in internment camps

has new relevance in light of the president’s immigration policies.
















Trump, Obama and Bush: How Presidents Approached Immigration Policy    NYT    20 June 2018





Trump, Obama and Bush:

How Presidents Approached Immigration Policy        Video        NYT News        20 June 2018


Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama

both increased enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border.


Here is how their approaches

differed from the Trump administration.
















































immigration policy




watch?v=qG9sw7xq8fQ - NYT - 23 June 2018


watch?v=HdphFBNfQG4 - NYT - 22 June 2018


watch?v=8LyXDOS4QHw - NYT - 20 June 2018




































immigrants from El Salvador > temporary protected status    TPS

















The landmark

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

eased the path across the nation's borders

for people from Asia and Africa

— parts of the world that previously

had limited opportunity

to immigrate to the United States.






immigration reform






immigration system






immigration issues / the immigration issue







the economics of immigration






immigration plan / reform / overhaul



















New York Times


series of interactive charts

showing how Americans

have moved between states

since 1900.


The charts show

striking patterns for many states:

You can trace the rise

of migrant and immigrant populations

all along the Southwest,

particularly in Texas and Arizona;

the influx of New Yorkers

and other Northeasterners

into Florida starting in the 1970s;

and the growth in the Southern share

of the Illinois population

during the Great Migration.


In 1900,

95 percent of the people

living in the Carolinas

were born there,

with similarly high numbers

all through the Southeast.


More than a hundred years later,

those percentages are nearly cut in half.


Taken individually,

each state tells its own story,

and each makes for fascinating reading.

As a follow-up, here is the big picture:

a map showing all of the states at a given time.






Where We Came From

and Where We Went, State by State        August 19, 2014


We charted how Americans

have moved between states since 1900.


See how your state has changed.






Irish immigration        19th century






wave of immigration






































Trump > travel ban        UK










Trump > travel ban        USA

















journey        UK / USA





























journey to America















World's deadliest migration routes        UK        3 October 2013






Timeline        1789-1930

Key Dates and Landmarks

in United States Immigration History






Ellis Island
























ethnic landscape






cultural crossroads






e pluribus unum


























"The Icing on the Cake"        StoryCorps        13 August 2010





"The Icing on the Cake"        Video        StoryCorps        13 August 2010


Blanca Alvarez and her husband

risked crossing the border to immigrate into the U.S.

and then struggled to make ends meet.


They hoped

to shelter their children from these harsh realities,

but Blanca's daughter Connie reveals

how much children can really see of their parents' lives

—and the inspiration they draw from their struggles.










































































































































Central American migrants














































































immigrant        UK / USA












































































































Irish immigrants










immigrant workforce










Day Without Immigrants










Ecuadorean immigrants










Mexican immigrant




















migrate to the United States










immigrant > NYT series > The Way North



Join Damien Cave and Todd Heisler

as they travel up Interstate 35,

from Laredo, Tex., to Duluth, Minn.,

chronicling how the middle of America

is being changed by immigration.
















































children of immigrants













a nation of immigrants











legal immigrant





low-skill immigrants






Debunking the Myth of the Job-Stealing Immigrant        NYT        2015






migrant workers












the foreign-born












U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services    USCIS


government agency

that oversees lawful immigration

to the United States.






employer enforcement






day laborer













illegal alien






legal resident aliens































work visa












international employees work visas










 H-1B visa for skilled workers












special visa












visa bid
































green card















lawful permanent residents

— often referred to as Green Card holders








A Green Card holder (permanent resident)

is someone  who has been granted authorization

to live and work in the United States

on a permanent basis.






apply for a green card
































immigration bill        2013












immigration laws










federal immigration law








U.S. immigration rules

















federal immigration agents





immigration raid at N


















Alabama's immigration law        2011
















Arizona Immigration Law (SB 1070)        2010


Arizona’s leaders enacted

one of the most contentious

anti-immigration bills

that any state has adopted

in recent history: SB 1070,

the first of the so-called

“show me your papers” laws,

which gave Sheriff Joe Arpaio

of Maricopa County

and other local police officers

broad power to detain anyone

without a warrant

if they suspected

they had committed

a deportable offense.


The state also required employers

to screen out undocumented workers,

disqualified undocumented immigrants

from in-state tuition rates,

and introduced barriers making it harder

for Latinos to vote.


Even now,

states around the country are implementing laws

that mirror Arizona’s earlier attempts

to limit immigration.




















corpus of news articles


Politics, Economy > Immigration > USA




The American Dream

Meets a Central American Nightmare


APRIL 5, 2017

The New York Times

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor



It is an unprecedented time in a nation’s political history. A neophyte politician — a man famous for lowbrow TV antics who has never held political office — is vying to become president. He feeds on simmering discontent about the corruption of the political establishment and mainstream politicians. Backed by extreme right-wing elements, he makes vague promises and trumpets his lack of political experience as a reason to vote for him. His competition is a former first lady married to a left-leaning ex-president. She is an altogether polarizing figure considered by a large portion of the electorate to be deeply corrupt.

Surprising all the pundits, he rides a wave of populist anger to victory.

Sound familiar? Yes, but it is also the story of Guatemala’s 2015 presidential election. The politician is a man named Jimmy Morales, a clownish talk-show comedian who ran on the ticket of an extreme right-wing political party called the National Convergence Front. His oft-repeated campaign slogan was “Neither corrupt nor a thief.”

Support for Mr. Morales, like that for Donald Trump, was based in part on voters’ frustration with a political establishment they hold responsible for a blatantly unfair status quo. But unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Morales won a landslide victory against his opponent, Sandra Torres, getting nearly 70 percent of the runoff vote.

At first glance, the uncanny parallels between President Morales’s and President Trump’s victories may seem mere coincidence. In many ways, the two nations could not be more distinct. Guatemala has long been one of the Western Hemisphere’s most unequal societies, and for generations the American dream has lured hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans seeking to escape poverty and insecurity.

And yet in the United States, the promise of a better future that animates the American dream — not only for poor migrants but also for American working-class families — has been in retreat for decades. Since the 1970s, the gap between rich and poor has widened inexorably. And now, the aspirations of right-wing United States lawmakers may portend even deeper and more disturbing convergences between Central American nightmares and the fading American dream.

Guatemala’s spectacular levels of inequality have been long in the making. For 100 years, a tiny oligarchic elite has fought ferociously to keep hold of the reins of power and monopolize the nation’s export economy. Through both military oppression and manipulation of a weak democratic system, it has continually beat back efforts at reform from below. As a result, today Guatemala has the 12th-highest level of income inequality in the world, with some studies indicating that 5 percent of Guatemalans own or control 85 percent of the national wealth. This elite has also labored to keep the Guatemalan state weak and incapable of interfering in its business interests. In this, it has been incredibly successful. Guatemala has one of the lowest income tax rates in the hemisphere, and some of the weakest financial, environmental and workplace oversight laws.

The consequences of the elite’s success have been dire for the rest of the country, offering a cautionary tale for those who believe that gutting public institutions could ever make for a more equitable society. Lack of funding for public education ensures that Guatemala remains one of the most illiterate countries in the Americas, and failing health care and social security systems undercut what scant social safety nets exist for the poor. Meanwhile, a sliver of a middle class clings to its precarious perch between the superwealthy superminority and a sea of abject poverty. More than 50 percent of Guatemalans live beneath the poverty line, and social mobility is virtually nonexistent, which is one reason so many poor Guatemalans risk the dangerous journey to the United States.

However, the social and economic conditions in the United States that made the American dream possible have long been eroding. Working-class wages have remained stagnant for 30 years while more and more wealth is controlled by the top 1 percent, putting income inequality in the United States at its highest levels since the 1920s. Institutions that make social mobility possible, like affordable higher education, and those that protect lower-income families, like welfare programs, have undergone drastic cutbacks over the past 30 years, forcing poor families to shoulder more debt and lower their horizons. Even as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, deepening tax breaks for the rich have ensured that they can pay a smaller percentage of their wealth into public coffers than do members of the increasingly beleaguered middle class.

And now, by accelerating the destruction of national institutions and fortifying the elite, right-wing politicians in the United States appear hellbent on restructuring American society to match ever more closely the Guatemalan blueprint. As President Trump blusters about his “big beautiful wall” to keep out poor migrants, Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to neuter financial-oversight laws on banking, gut environmental protection standards, eliminate the Department of Education and roll back health care affordability. They call for further easing of the tax burden on the rich and major corporate tax cuts to make the United States more competitive in the global race to the bottom.

The United States is still a beacon for Central Americans desperate for a better life. Last July, I spoke with a 20-year-old Guatemalan man named Wilmer who was traveling through Mexico and looking to cross into the United States. “For poor people like me, my country is like a cage with no way out,” Wilmer said as he waited with dozens of other Central Americans to hop a northbound freight train. “And we all know that this journey is dangerous. We might fail, we might even die. But at least there’s some hope at the end of it.”

For now, the American dream is alive and kicking. How terrifying, though, to imagine a future in which the hope that the United States has come to represent for poor Central Americans is extinguished, not because of some “big beautiful wall” but because entrenched inequality has made it a monstrous doppelgänger of their own societies.

Anthony W. Fontes is a postdoctoral fellow at the University
of Wisconsin, Madison.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook
and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

The American Dream Meets a Central American Nightmare,
April 4, 2017,






Time to Retire the Term ‘Alien’


OCT. 20, 2015

The New York Times

The Opinion Pages




Lawmakers probably meant no harm when they codified the term “alien” into the landmark 1952 bill that remains the basis of America’s immigration system. Since then, “alien” has found its way into many parts of the statute: foreigners granted temporary work permits are “non-permanent resident aliens”; those who get green cards by making investments in American businesses are “alien entrepreneurs”; Nobel laureates and pop stars who want to make America home can apply to become “aliens of extraordinary ability.”

Over the years, the label has struck newcomers as a quirky aspect of moving to America. Many, understandably, have also come to regard it as a loaded, disparaging word, used by those who regard immigrants as less-than-human burdens rather than as assets.

Recognizing how dehumanizing the term is to many immigrants, officials in California recently took commendable steps to phase it out. In August, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that deletes the term from the state’s labor code. Last month, the California Republican Party adopted a new platform that does not include the term “illegal alien,” saying it wanted to steer clear of the vitriolic rhetoric that the presidential candidate Donald Trump has injected into the 2016 race.

Several news organizations have adopted policies discouraging its use in reporting about immigrants. According to a review by the Pew Research Center in 2013, the use of the term in newspaper articles dropped sharply between 2007 and 2013. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that administers immigration benefits, has removed the word from some documents, including green cards.

But the term remains firmly embedded in conservative discourse, used by Republicans to appeal to the xenophobic crowd. Mr. Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, uses the term 12 times in his ruinous immigration plan, which calls for the mass deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants and proposes that Washington bill Mexico to build a wall along the border. It was often uttered by former Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, whose idiotic immigration plan called for “self-deportation” by unauthorized immigrants.

“If you want to demonize a community, you use words that demonize,” said Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University School of Law. “Alien is more demonizing than immigrant.”

Semantics may seem like a trivial part of immigration reform, but words, and their evolution, matter greatly in fraught policy debates.

States that use the word alien in their laws should consider following California’s lead. The federal government should scrub it from official documents where possible. In the end, though, it will be up to Congress to recognize that there is no compelling reason to keep a hostile term in the law that sets out how immigrants are welcomed into the country.


A version of this editorial appears in print on October 20, 2015, on page A24 of the New York edition with the headline: Time to Retire the Term ‘Alien’.

Time to Retire the Term ‘Alien’,
OCT. 20, 2015,






Don’t Shut the Golden Door


June 19, 2012

The New York Times




IMMIGRATION is in the headlines again, with President Obama’s decision last week to stop deporting young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, and the Supreme Court’s approaching decision on the constitutionality of Arizona’s crackdown on undocumented migrants.

But too much of the public debate has focused on the legality of immigration without considering a more fundamental question: What effects has mass immigration had on American society?

As a result of the 1965 immigration act, which opened the door widely to non-European immigrants, 40 million foreign-born immigrants now live in the United States. They make up 13 percent of the population, the largest such proportion since the 1920s. More than half of these migrants are from Latin America and the Caribbean, although a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found that Asians overtook Hispanics in 2009 as the fastest-growing group of immigrants.

For the May issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, we commissioned some of the most meticulous research done to date about the effects of immigration on a cross section of American communities — urban, suburban and rural.

The scholars who participated were in remarkable agreement: while new immigrants are poorer than the general population and face considerable hardship, there is no evidence that they have reshaped the social fabric in harmful ways.

America is neither less safe because of immigration nor is it worse off economically. In fact, in the regions where immigrants have settled in the past two decades, crime has gone down, cities have grown, poor urban neighborhoods have been rebuilt, and small towns that were once on life support are springing back.

Scholars can’t say for sure that immigration caused these positive developments, but we know enough to debunk the notion that immigrants worsen social ills.

For example, in rural counties that experienced an influx of immigrants in the 1980s and ’90s, crime rates dropped by more than they did in rural counties that did not see high immigrant growth. Higher immigration was associated with reductions in homicide rates for white, black and Latino victims. In both Hazleton, Pa., which has a recent history of hostility toward immigration, and St. James, Minn., a much more welcoming community, migrants have also bolstered dwindling populations and helped to reverse economic decline.

In large gateway cities, immigration has been associated not only with a decrease in crime but also with economic revitalization and reductions in concentrated poverty. Data from the 2005 American Community Survey showed, for example, that the income of blacks in the New York City borough of Queens surpassed that of whites for the first time, a development driven largely by immigration from the West Indies.

Scholars found that immigrant youths in Los Angeles were involved in less crime and violence than their native-born peers in similar economic circumstances. Research also has shown that an increase in immigration in cities like San Antonio and Miami did not produce an increase in the homicide rate. Furthermore, social scientists found that people in immigrant communities in New York were less cynical about the law than were people in less diverse communities; they were also more likely to indicate that they would cooperate with the police.

If migration has had such beneficial effects, why, then, has there been such a persistent backlash?

Part of the answer surely lies in the social changes — language, political attitudes, religious mores — that immigrants bring, in addition to the effects of the recession. The leveling-off of migration, especially from Mexico, may bring a sense of relief to opponents of these social changes, but if the new research is any guide, the consequences of the slowdown may be the opposite of what the critics intend.

Comprehensive immigration reform — last attempted during the second term of President George W. Bush — should be a priority for whoever wins in November. Mr. Obama’s decision to exempt undocumented children who were brought to the United States by their parents from harsh deportation rules is an overdue, but welcome, first step.

Establishing a clear path to citizenship for undocumented adults, creating a more permissive guest-worker program, reducing unwarranted police stops of immigrants and preserving families rather than separating them through deportation are controversial ideas, but they deserve a hearing.


John M. MacDonald

is an associate professor of criminology

at the University of Pennsylvania.

Robert J. Sampson

is a professor of the social sciences at Harvard.

Don’t Shut the Golden Door,






The Price of Intolerance


November 27, 2011

The New York Times

It’s early yet for a full accounting of the economic damage Alabama has done to itself with its radical new immigration law.

Farmers can tally the cost of crops left to rot as workers flee. Governments can calculate the loss of revenues when taxpayers flee. It’s harder to measure the price of a ruined business reputation or the value of investments lost or productivity lost as Alabamians stand in line for hours to prove their citizenship in any transaction with the government. Or what the state will ultimately spend fighting off an onslaught of lawsuits, or training and deploying police officers in the widening immigrant dragnet, or paying the cost of diverting scarce resources away from fighting real crimes.

A growing number of Alabamians say the price will be too high, and there is compelling evidence that they are right. Alabama is already at the low end of states in employment and economic vitality. It has long struggled to lure good jobs and shed a history of racial intolerance.

That was turning around and many foreign manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda, have set up there. Its business-friendly reputation took a serious blow with the arrest in Tuscaloosa of a visiting Mercedes manager who was caught driving without his license and taken to jail as a potential illegal immigrant.

Sheldon Day, the mayor of Thomasville, has aggressively recruited foreign companies to his town, including a Chinese company — Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group — that plans to build a $100 million plant there, with more than 300 jobs.

Mayor Day is now worried about that project and future prospects. He was quoted by The Press-Register in Mobile as saying business inquiries had dried up since the law was passed. “I know the immigration issue is being used against us.”

Alabama’s competitors certainly won’t waste any time. After the Tuscaloosa incident, the editorial page of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch invited Mercedes to Missouri. “We are the Show-Me State,” it said, “not the ‘Show me your papers’ state.”

Undocumented immigrants make up about 4.2 percent of Alabama’s work force, or 95,000 people in a state of 4.8 million. For all of the talk about clearing the way for unemployed Americans, there is no evidence that Alabamians in any significant numbers are rushing to fill the gap left by missing farm laborers and other low-wage immigrant workers.

The loss of job-filling, tax-paying workers may get even worse if Alabama is allowed to enforce a law requiring people who own or rent a trailer home to obtain an annual registration sticker. This puts the undocumented in a Catch-22 — criminals if they don’t have a sticker, criminals if they try to get one. For now, a judge has issued an order blocking enforcement. But if the state wins, many thousands may simply join the exodus, tearing more shreds in the economy.

The law’s damage is particularly heartbreaking in poor towns across the state, where small businesses are the economic lifeblood. We’ve spoken with Latino shopkeepers and restaurant owners in places like Albertville who say business is catastrophically down, with customers in hiding or flight. The situation isn’t much better in Huntsville and Birmingham.

There should be no doubt about the moral repugnance of Alabama’s law, which seeks to deny hardworking families the means to live. But even some of the law’s most enthusiastic supporters are beginning to acknowledge the law’s high economic cost. There is growing talk of revising or repealing the legislation. The sooner Alabama does so — and other states learn — the better.

The Price of Intolerance,






It’s What They Asked For


October 19, 2011

The New York Times


Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law, the nation’s harshest, went into effect last month (a few provisions have been temporarily blocked in federal court), and it is already reaping a bitter harvest of dislocation and fear. Hispanic homes are emptying, businesses are closing, employers are wondering where their workers have gone. Parents who have not yet figured out where to go are lying low and keeping children home from school.

To the law’s architects and supporters, this is excellent news. “You’re encouraging people to comply with the law on their own,” said Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, who has a side career of drafting extremist immigration legislation for states and cities, notoriously in Arizona and now in Alabama.

Alabama’s law is the biggest test yet for “attrition through enforcement,” a strategy espoused by Mr. Kobach and others to drive away large numbers of illegal immigrants without the hassle and expense of a police-state roundup. All you have to do, they say, is make life hard enough and immigrants will leave on their own. In such a scheme, panic and fear are a plus; suffering is the point.

The pain isn’t felt just by the undocumented. Legal immigrants and native-born Alabamans who happen to be or look Hispanic are now far more vulnerable to officially sanctioned harassment. Many of those children being kept home from school by frightened parents are born and bred Americans.

The problems do not stop there. Farmers are already worrying that with the exodus, crops will go unpicked. Like much of the rest of the country, Alabama needs immigrant labor, because too many native-born citizens lack the skill, the stamina and the willingness to work in the fields — even in a time of steep unemployment.

The new law has also added frustrating layers of paperwork for Alabamans who must now prove legal status when enrolling schoolchildren, signing leases and interacting with government. After the law went into effect, the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Birmingham grew so long that officials had to bring in portable toilets.

Alabama’s reputation has also taken a huge hit just when it is trying to lure international businesses. No matter how officials may try to tempt foreign automakers, say, with low taxes and wages, the state is already infamous as a regional capital of xenophobia.

If Alabama succeeds in driving out all of its estimated 120,000 unauthorized immigrants, restrictionists will surely cheer. They will have only 49 states and 11 million more people to go.

There is another more humane and realistic path in which immigrants could earn the right to stay — if Congress would accept its responsibility and move ahead with serious immigration reform. America’s history shows that assimilation works better than deportation — for everyone. If first-generation immigrants don’t all learn English, their children and grandchildren invariably do. They may be poor, but their children grow up to be productive citizen taxpayers. Unless, of course, you frighten and oppress them, and forbid them to work, live and go to school.

Other states that are tempted to follow should look at what is happening in Alabama. Nobody is winning there.

It’s What They Asked For,






When the Uprooted Put Down Roots


October 9, 2011

The New York Times



SAN DIEGO — At the Saturday farmer’s market in City Heights, a major portal for refugees, Khadija Musame, a Somali, arranges her freshly picked pumpkin leaves and lablab beans amid a United Nations of produce, including water spinach grown by a Cambodian refugee and amaranth, a grain harvested by Sarah Salie, who fled rebels in Liberia. Eaten with a touch of lemon by Africans, and coveted by Southeast Asians for soups, this crop is always a sell-out.

Among the regular customers at the New Roots farm stand are Congolese women in flowing dresses, Somali Muslims in headscarves, Latino men wearing broad-brimmed hats and Burundian mothers in brightly patterned textiles who walk home balancing boxes of produce on their heads.

New Roots, with 85 growers from 12 countries, is one of more than 50 community farms dedicated to refugee agriculture, an entrepreneurial movement spreading across the country. American agriculture has historically been forged by newcomers, like the Scandinavians who helped settle the Great Plains; today’s growers are more likely to be rural subsistence farmers from Africa and Asia, resettled in and around cities from New York, Burlington, Vt., and Lowell, Mass., to Minneapolis, Phoenix and San Diego.

With language and cultural hurdles, and the need to gain access to land, financing and marketing, farm ownership for refugees can be very difficult. Programs like New Roots, which provide training in soil, irrigation techniques and climate, “help refugees make the leap from community gardens to independent farms,” said Hugh Joseph, an assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts, which advises 28 “incubator” farms representing hundreds of small-scale producers.

Cameroonian peanut plants are growing at Drew Gardens in the Bronx, chronicled on the Facebook page of Angela Nogue, a refugee farmer. Near Phoenix, a successful goat meat farm and store was begun by Ibrahim Sawara Dahab, an ethnic Sudanese from Somalia. “In America, you need experience, and my experience was goats,” he said.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement in Washington formed a sustainable farming program in 1998, financing 14 refugee farms and gardens, including one in Boise, Idaho, where sub-Saharan African farmers have gradually learned to cope with unpredictable frosts.

Larry Laverentz, the program manager for refugee agriculture with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said inspiration came from the Hmong, Mien and Lao refugee farmers of Fresno County, Calif., who settled in the late 1970s and now have 1,300 growers specializing in Asian crops.

These small plots of land can become significant sources of income for refugees, with most farmers able to earn from $5,000 to more than $50,000 annually, as the Liberian refugees James and Jawn Golo do on their 20-acre organic farm outside Phoenix, including sales to five farmers’ markets, restaurants and chefs.

In Burlington, a four-acre farm started by Bhutanese-Nepali, Somali Bantu and Congolese farmers is still reeling from the flooding of the Winooski River after Hurricane Irene, which ruined crops at the height of the season and caused an estimated $15,000 in losses.

“This is a significant supplement to our diet, and budgets are geared to it,” said Yacouba Jacob Bogre, 38, executive director of the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and a lawyer from Burkina Faso. “Emotionally, we lost a lot, along with fresh vegetables for our households.”

New Roots in City Heights, which Michelle Obama visited last spring, is a model for today’s micro-enterprise. (It is also a culinary education, where a Zimbabwean grower can discover bok choy.) It was started at the request of his Somali Bantu community, said Bilali Muya, the effervescent trainer-in-chief. “There was this kind of depression,” he said. “Everyone was dreaming to come to the U.S.A., but they were not happy. The people were put in apartments, missing activity, community. They were bored.“

They were also homesick for traditional food, grown by hand. In City Heights, where half the residents live at or below the federal poverty line, the three-year-old farmer’s market was the city’s first in a low-income neighborhood, a collaboration between the nonprofit International Rescue Committee and the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

One can hear 15 different languages there, amid the neat rows of kale, rape and banana plants — but body language is the lingua franca.

“If I see a weed, I pull it, shaking my head,” said Mrs. Musame, the Somali farmer. “We understand each other.”

The hub of refugee life, City Heights was largely home to African-Americans and Mexican immigrants until the fall of Saigon in 1975, when thousands of Southeast Asian refugees arrived to a massive tent city at nearby Camp Pendleton.

From 1980 through 1990, the population almost doubled with immigrants and refugees (most recently from Iraq). The changing demographics of the neighborhood resemble an electrocardiogram of international conflict.

But the exquisite fruits and vegetables for sale, lovingly grown, belie the life experiences of the growers. Mrs. Salie, the Liberian, was raped by rebels and hid for two years in the bush after reporting the crime, she said. Mrs. Musame, a Somali Bantu, came to San Diego as a widow after her husband and three of her sons were gunned down.

And Mr. Muya said Somalis had taken his father, who dug irrigation trenches for a local banana farm, and tortured him, his screams echoing through the village. His grandfather went to help and was beaten with the butt of a rifle. Many hours later, Mr. Muya said, the villagers were told: “Come pick up your dogs.”

“As a Somali Bantu, you don’t go to sleep really deep,” Mr. Muya continued. “You sleep awake.”

In addition to accepting food stamps, the market offers $20 a month to low-income shoppers to buy more produce (financing comes from Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit based in Connecticut, and a $250,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

“Especially in tough times, farmers are becoming pharmacists — providing healthy fresh local fruits and vegetables to vulnerable families,” said Gus Schumacher, a former under secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture and now an executive vice president of Wholesome Wave.

Their produce is sold to restaurateurs like George and Samia Salameh, who buy the farm’s tomatoes and mint. Mr. Salameh, a former airline pilot, came to the United States from Lebanon 37 years ago. “This product is absolutely fitting for me,” he said.

The country’s pioneering refugee farm program, in Lowell, Mass., was founded by Tufts University and continues to thrive.

Visoth Kim, a Khmer refugee from Cambodia, now 63, farms land in Dracut, Mass., owned by the widow of John Ogonowski, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. Mr. Ogonowski, whose ancestors were Polish immigrants, made land available to Hmong and Cambodian refugees, teaching them modern irrigation techniques in exchange for fresh vegetables.

Mr. Kim, who witnessed mass starvation in Cambodia, losing a brother, refers to his two-acre plot as “my plenty.” His fellow farmer Sinikiwe Makarutsa grew up in Zimbabwe and now grows maize on land rented from a local church. She made enough money to buy a tractor and rototiller.

Ms. Makarutsa was inspired to farm, she said, after tasting supermarket tomatoes. She uses the Zimbabwean phrase “Pamuzinda” to describe her seven-acre plot.

Roughly translated, she said, “It means ‘where you belong.’ ”

    When the Uprooted Put Down Roots, NYT, 9.10.2011,






Alabama’s Shame


October 3, 2011
The New York Times


Only about 3.5 percent of Alabama’s population is foreign-born, according to the Census Bureau. Undocumented immigrants made up roughly 4.2 percent of its work force in 2010, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. But the drafters of Alabama’s harsh immigration law wanted to turn their state into the country’s most hostile territory for illegal immigrants. They are succeeding, as many of Alabama’s most vulnerable residents can attest.

The law went into effect over the weekend, after being largely upheld by a federal district judge. Volunteers on an immigrant-rights group’s hot line said that since then they have received more than 1,000 calls from pregnant women afraid to go to the hospital, crime victims afraid to go the police, parents afraid to send their children to school.

School superintendents and principals across the state confirm that attendance of Hispanic children has dropped noticeably since the word went out that school officials are now required to check the immigration status of newly enrolled students and their parents.

That rule is part of the law’s sweeping attempt to curtail the rights and complicate the lives of people without papers, making them unable to enter contracts, find jobs, rent homes or access government services. In other words, to be isolated, unemployable, poor, defenseless and uneducated.

The education crackdown is particularly senseless and unconstitutional. In 1982, the Supreme Court found that all children living in the United States have the right to a public education, whatever their immigration status. The justices’ reasoning was shaped not by compassion but practicality: it does the country no good to perpetuate an uneducated underclass.

Officials in Alabama — some well meaning, others less so — insisted that nothing in the new law is intended to deny children an education. School districts, they noted, are supposed to collect only numbers of children without papers, not names.

“I don’t know where the misinformation’s coming from,” Alabama’s interim state school superintendent, Larry Craven, told NPR. “If you have difficulty understanding the language anyway, then who knows what they’re being told?” With comments like that, it’s not surprising that any of “them” would be frightened.

The Obama administration was right to sue to try to stop the Alabama law. It needs to press ahead with its appeal of the ruling and challenge similar laws in Utah, Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina.

President Obama needs to show stronger leadership in defending core American values in the face of the hostility that has overtaken Alabama and so many other states. He can start by scrapping the Secure Communities program, which encourages local immigration dragnets and reinforces the false notion that most undocumented immigrants pose a threat to this country’s security.

As for Alabama, one has to wonder at such counterproductive cruelty. Do Alabamans want children too frightened to go to school? Or pregnant women too frightened to seek care? Whom could that possibly benefit?

    Alabama’s Shame, NYT, 3.10.2011,






2,901 Arrested

in Crackdown

on Criminal Immigrants


September 28, 2011

The New York Times



WASHINGTON — The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced on Wednesday that it had arrested 2,901 immigrants who have criminal records, highlighting the Obama administration’s policy of focusing on such people while putting less emphasis on deporting illegal immigrants who pose no demonstrated threat to public safety.

Officials from the agency portrayed the seven-day sweep, called Operation Cross Check, as the largest enforcement and removal operation in its history. It involved arrests in all 50 states of criminal offenders of 115 nationalities, including people convicted of manslaughter, armed robbery, aggravated assault and sex crimes.

“These are not people who are making a positive contribution to their communities,” said the agency’s director, John Morton. “They are not the kind of people we want walking our streets.”

More than 1,600 of those arrested had been convicted of a felony. The remainder had a misdemeanor conviction for matters like theft, forgery and driving while intoxicated, the agency said. Those arrested included illegal immigrants and lawful resident noncitizens who had been convicted of crimes that made them eligible to be deported.

The agency did not release the names of all the people arrested. But a sampling that showed the geographical breadth of the operation included one person from the New York City area: Virgilio Lopez-Ruiz, a 54-year-old Dominican who was living in the Bronx. He had been convicted on Nov. 16, 1988, of second-degree attempted murder, it said. It did not provide his immigration status.

Mr. Morton issued a memo in June suggesting that the agency should place a priority on deporting noncitizen criminals like drug dealers and gang members, as well as people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws, for example by ignoring deportation orders or re-entering the country after being removed. Under that approach, it would give less emphasis to removing illegal immigrants who are not a public safety or national security threat.

In August, the White House essentially ratified that approach, announcing that the Department of Homeland Security would, on a case-by-case basis, suspend deportation proceedings against people who posed no public safety threat. The policy shift has been criticized by some Republicans as a backdoor form of the so-called Dream Act — a bill, which has stalled in Congress, that would provide relief to illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who want to attend college or join the armed forces.

But Mr. Morton said Wednesday that there were far more illegal immigrants in the United States than the agency has the resources to remove. He said that the agency has been deporting about 390,000 people annually for the past several years, a record level, and that the question is who those people should be. In 2008, he said, about a third were criminal offenders, but this year about half have been, and the majority of the remainder have been flagrant violators of immigration law.

2,901 Arrested in Crackdown on Criminal Immigrants,
NYT, 28.9.2011,






Oscar Handlin,

Historian Who Chronicled

U.S. Immigration,

Dies at 95


September 23, 2011

The New York Times



Oscar Handlin, a prolific, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian whose best-known book altered public perceptions about the role of immigration in the arc of American history, died on Tuesday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 95.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Lilian.

Dr. Handlin wrote many scholarly volumes on immigration, race and ethnic identity during his nearly half century as a history professor at Harvard. His work as a chronicler of the migrations of Puerto Ricans and African-Americans to the cities attracted a generation of historians and sociologists to urban studies during the 1950s, when the field was considered marginal.

But his best-known work, “The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People,” which won the 1952 Pulitzer for history, was aimed at an audience of general readers in making his case that immigration — more than the frontier experience, or any other episode in its past — was the continuing, defining event of American history. Dispensing with footnotes and writing in a lyrical style, Dr. Handlin emphasized the common threads in the experiences of the 30 million immigrants who poured into American cities between 1820 and the turn of the century. Regardless of nationality, religion, race or ethnicity, he wrote, the common experience was wrenching hardship, alienation and a gradual Americanization that changed America as much as it changed the newcomers.

The book used a form of historical scholarship considered unorthodox at the time, employing newspaper accounts, personal letters and diaries as well as archives. The New York Times described it as “history with a difference — the difference being its concern with hearts and souls.”

Dr. Handlin, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia, was among the first Jewish scholars appointed to a full professorship at Harvard, where he taught from 1939 until 1984. His family’s immigrant background, and the influence of a mentor, the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr., who pioneered the field of immigration studies at Harvard, led him to the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation, and his first book, “Boston’s Immigrants: 1790-1880.”

Published in 1941, it was considered innovative for its use of census data, the archives of German and Irish immigrant newspapers and sociological concepts in tracing how immigrants, most of them coming from rural communities steeped in ancient traditions, adjusted to life without the support of those traditions in an American city where they were scorned.

“All his work tried to capture the voice and experience of people undergoing this uprooting process, this process of immigration,” said David J. Rothman, a history professor at Columbia University and a former student of Dr. Handlin’s. “He was alert to the fact that every group was different. But this process, regardless of whether you were Irish or Jewish, was something shared.”

In the often-quoted opening line of the introduction to “Uprooted,” Dr. Handlin wrote: “Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.”

Oscar Handlin was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 29, 1915, the oldest of four children of Joseph and Ida Handlin. His father owned a grocery store. Oscar Handlin told interviewers that he decided to become a historian when he was 8, and began reading avidly, even while delivering groceries to his father’s customers.

He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1934, at 19, and received a master’s degree in history from Harvard the next year. He taught at Brooklyn College from 1936 until 1938 while working toward his doctorate, which he received from Harvard in 1940.

His first wife, Mary Flug Handlin, a historian, died in 1976 after 40 years of marriage. He was married again, in 1977, to Lilian Bombach Handlin. Dr. Handlin is also survived by three children from his first marriage, David, Joanna Smith, and Ruth Manley; four grandchildren; a great grandchild and a brother, Nathan.

In 1965, Dr. Handlin lent his weight as the nation’s most eminent immigration scholar to the effort to pass legislation abolishing an immigration quota system, in place since the 1920s, which discriminated against many groups, including Asians. He testified before Congress, and was said to have played an important behind-the-scenes role. The legislation was adopted.

His views on immigration became less popular in the late 1960s and ’70s, when a younger generation of scholars began to examine historic events through the prisms of race, class and gender. He clashed with fellow scholars who were, to him, distorting American history by viewing it through the politics of the Vietnam-era culture war. His support for the war frequently placed him at odds with students and fellow members of the faculty.

But Dr. Handlin changed the way Americans view American history, said James Grossman, a historian and executive director of the American Historical Association. “He reoriented the whole picture of the American story,” he said, “from the view that America was built on the spirit of the Wild West, to the idea that we are a nation of immigrants.”

Oscar Handlin, Historian Who Chronicled U.S. Immigration, Dies at 95,






Immigration Advocates

Split Over Arizona Boycott


September 14, 2011

The New York Times



PHOENIX — The boycott of Arizona is on. No, the boycott of Arizona is off. Deciding whether to visit this state, which may or may not be boycotted, is as disorienting as peering into the depths of the Grand Canyon.

After Arizona’s passage of controversial immigration legislation in April 2010, musicians canceled Arizona concerts, tourists canceled Arizona vacations and convention organizers bypassed Arizona in favor of less politically toxic states. But the very activists who put the boycott in place, hurting the state’s pocketbook in the process, are now divided over whether it ought to continue.

Some called for the boycott’s end last year, after a federal judge blocked the most contentious elements of the immigration law. Others have peeled off more recently, with the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy group, announcing last week that it no longer backed the boycott. Still other activists have dug in their heels, insisting that Arizona ought to remain off limits for the foreseeable future.

“There’s been confusion surrounding every aspect of this issue from the start,” said Kristen Jarnagin, the spokeswoman for the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, whose members were battered by the boycott and want it officially and completely kaput. “We’re glad some say it’s over. To the others, we’d hope they’d be as quick to retract the boycott as they were to get in line at the start.”

Whether it is on or off, studies have pointed to significant drops in convention and hotel business in Arizona since the boycott was declared. Besides that, activists point with pride to the letter that Arizona business leaders, fearing more protests, wrote to state lawmakers this year urging that they back off from even tougher immigration measures they were considering.

But the mixed signals are creating confusion among those who are sympathetic to the cause.

The singer Steve Earle, who joined the boycott last year, scheduled a concert in Tucson in July, thinking the boycott had been lifted. After being criticized, he canceled but expressed frustration as he did so.

Mr. Earle said in a statement that he wanted “to do more research about the boycott and its effects because as someone who supports the immigrants rights movement, I am not convinced that it is useful to continue to stay away from progressive fans in the state.”

Other artists have decided to perform in Arizona, boycott or no boycott.

Los Lobos, which initially backed the boycott and canceled its Arizona shows last year, went ahead with a concert in May in Tucson. To show its opposition to the Arizona law, the band allowed immigrant rights groups to raffle off a signed guitar and to distribute literature to concertgoers in the lobby. Four groups joined in, but not Coalición de Derechos Humanos, an immigrant rights group in Tucson, which issued a statement saying the concert would “diffuse the effect that boycotts and event cancellations have.”

One of the early public officials to back away from the boycott was Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Tucson, who found his constituents up in arms about the prospect of even more economic suffering.

“I am telling people to come back to Arizona,” Mr. Grijalva said last week. “My opinion is the new strategy ought to be to invite people to come but to urge them to help change the political climate.”

The Service Employees International Union, an influential boycott proponent, ended its support for economic sanctions against Arizona in December. But the Sound Strike, a Los Angeles group that urged entertainers to steer clear of the state after the passage of Senate Bill 1070, said last week that the boycott continued.

Juan Ramos, a pastor at Love International, a large bilingual church in central Phoenix, recently persuaded a national group of evangelicals to hold its convention in Arizona, arguing that the boycott, which he never supported, was hurting the immigrants it was supposed to help.

But Kat Rodriguez, program director for Coalición de Derechos Humanos, continues to recommend that tourists stay away, musicians cancel for-profit concerts and conventions look elsewhere for meeting space.

“Our interest is not boycotting for the sake of boycotting,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “We want the state not to continue with business as usual. People think S. B. 1070 was last year’s news, but immigrants in this state are still suffering.”

The law never fully went into effect. A federal judge blocked the provision that required police officers to check the immigration status of those they stop who are suspected of being in the country illegally. The State of Arizona has appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court. Gov. Jan Brewer, who gained both political traction and scorn by signing the law, has condemned the boycotters as misguided, saying on one occasion, “They’re hurting the people they pretend they want to help.”

As it is, some activists say the boycott is over, others say it is on, and many take an intermediate stance in which they call on visitors to make a difference if they come to the state.

“We’re looking for real actions and not just people coming here to play golf at some convention or go to the Grand Canyon for the views or Sedona to stand in front of the vortexes,” Ms. Rodriguez said.

Many of the municipalities and school districts that joined in the boycott last year have not changed their stances. “We’re just watching the situation,” said John Stiles, spokesman for Mayor R. T. Rybak of Minneapolis, who last year ordered department heads to steer clear of Arizona.

Unsure whether the boycott was still in effect, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the largest organization of Latino evangelical churches in the country, reached out to Arizona pastors before deciding to hold its conference in Tucson this month. Those pastors were eager for moral support, said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the group.

“What prompted us to hold our summit in Arizona is that we don’t want people to forget Arizona,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “We don’t want the immigration issue on the back burner. We want to remind people that this is a state that attempted to incorporate racial profiling into its law.”

Javier Gonzalez, the organizer of the Sound Strike, said that the group had been holding concerts in Arizona throughout the boycott but that they were events from which the bulk of the proceeds went to immigrant rights groups.

“We need to look at the next step,” Mr. Gonzalez acknowledged. “There is a difference of opinion that exists. Some artists want to never play in Arizona again. Others want to know when they can go back.”

Lady Gaga’s decision to forgo the boycott, even though she denounced the immigration law from the stage during her July 2010 concert in Phoenix, drew criticism from some activists. A concert planned this month in Phoenix by Manu Chao, a French singer of Spanish heritage, is drawing praise because it is free and in support of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

One reason the boycott has lost its effectiveness, some immigration advocates say, is that the legislation aimed at making life difficult for illegal immigrants has spread from Arizona nationwide.

“With Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina passing similar or more onerous legislation, the point of telling people not to visit Arizona is moot now,” Mr. Grijalva, the Tucson Democrat, said. “And I’m not sure it makes sense to have a long list of boycotted states.”

Immigration Advocates Split Over Arizona Boycott,






State Lawmakers Outline Plans

to End Birthright Citizenship,

Drawing Outcry


January 5, 2011

The New York Times



WASHINGTON — Conservative legislators from five states opened a national campaign on Wednesday to end the automatic granting of American citizenship to children born in the United States of illegal immigrants.

At a news conference here timed to coincide with the start of a new Congress, Republican state lawmakers introduced two model measures curtailing citizenship rights for children of illegal immigrants. The legislators said the measures would be introduced in at least 14 states.

They acknowledged that the state bills were not likely to have a practical effect anytime soon, since they will quickly be challenged as unconstitutional. But the legislators — from Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina — said they chose the first day of a new Republican-controlled House of Representatives to start an effort that they hope will end with a Supreme Court decision on birthright citizenship, and spur legislative action in Washington.

In a separate effort, Representative Steve King of Iowa, a Republican who will be chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, said Wednesday that as soon as the new House members were sworn in, he would introduce a bill to eliminate birthright citizenship for children when both parents were illegal immigrants.

But it was the state lawmakers’ initiative that moved the highly emotional issue of birthright citizenship, which had long been marginal in the immigration debate, to the front of the Republicans’ immigration agenda in the 112th Congress.

“We are here to send a very public message to Congress,” said Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican state representative from Pennsylvania. “We want to bring an end to the illegal alien invasion that is having such a negative impact on our states.”

The states’ campaign brought an outcry from immigrant, Latino and African-American civil rights organizations. Several of them announced they had formed a coalition to bring court challenges to any birthright citizenship laws that passed state legislatures.

“For the first time since the end of the Civil War, these legislators want to pass state laws that would create two tiers of citizens, a modern-day caste system,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Human and Civil Rights, which includes many African-American groups.

His group is in the new coalition, along with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of La Raza, among others.

The lawmakers were challenged even before they finished speaking. The news conference, held at the National Press Club, was interrupted four times by protesters who stood one by one to brandish posters and accuse the lawmakers of intolerance and racism. One protester cited welcoming words for immigrants inscribed at the site of the Statue of Liberty.

A brief scuffle erupted when a man who was a supporter of the state initiatives seized one protester by the arm and tried to march him out of the room. Also present were supporters of the lawmakers, who clapped and cheered.

One model measure the lawmakers presented was a bill creating a new definition of state citizenship, in addition to national citizenship, which would exclude babies born in the state with two illegal immigrant parents.

The second measure was a compact between states, in which they would agree to issue distinctive birth certificates to babies whose parents could not show legal immigration status.

The state bills would also deny citizenship to newborn children of hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants who live in the United States on temporary visas.

The right to United States citizenship for everyone born on American soil is described in the 14th Amendment. The state legislators argued that one phrase in the amendment — which guarantees citizenship to everyone born or naturalized in this country “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” — signals that it was not intended to apply to children of immigrants who do not have lawful status.

The 14th Amendment was adopted in the wake of the Civil War to guarantee citizenship to the American-born children of freed slaves. In the debate on Wednesday, there were frequent references to the Civil War.

Daniel B. Verdin, a senior Republican state senator from South Carolina, called illegal immigration “a malady of epic proportions,” which he said compared with “the malady of slavery.”

The state lawmakers said illegal immigrants had a dire effect on state budgets. Mr. Metcalfe said that Pennsylvania was facing “nothing less than an invasion,” and that Congress had a constitutional responsibility to protect states from foreign invasion.

Kris Kobach, a constitutional lawyer who was recently elected secretary of state of Kansas, said the proposed laws were carefully written to avoid usurping federal authority, but to “revive the concept of state citizenship.”

But opponents of the proposals said that determining American citizenship was clearly a federal matter in which states had no legal role.

“We believe these laws cannot survive constitutional scrutiny,” said Lucas Guttentag, director of the immigrants’ rights project of the American Civil Liberties Union, another group in the new coalition.

Mr. King, the Iowa congressman, said the birthright citizenship bill he would introduce might not be his first priority for passage. He said he would focus first on legislation to crack down on employers who hire unauthorized immigrant workers.

Several House lawmakers said Mr. King’s citizenship bill could pass, although it was likely to be defeated in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority.

“I would have said a year ago that Republicans would not embrace anything so drastic,” said Representative Charlie Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat who is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “But anything is possible now.”

Some Latino Republicans expressed dismay that the party was making birthright citizenship a central element of its immigration policy.

“Rather than attacking babies born in the United States and the Constitution, we demand they target our suffering economy,” said Deedee Garcia Blase, a spokeswoman for Somos Republicans, a Texas-based organization of Latino Republicans.

State Lawmakers Outline Plans to End Birthright Citizenship, Drawing Outcry,






Judge Blocks

Arizona’s Immigration Law


July 28, 2010

The New York Times



PHOENIX — A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law from going into effect, a ruling that at least temporarily squashed a state policy that had inflamed the national debate over immigration.

Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against sections of the law, scheduled to take effect on Thursday, that called for police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and required immigrants to prove that they were authorized to be in the country or risk state charges. She issued the injunction in response to a legal challenge brought against the law by the Obama administration.

A spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican who signed the law and has campaigned on it for election to a full term, said Wednesday that the governor would appeal the injunction on Thursday and ask for a speedy review. Legal experts predicted that the case could end up before the Supreme Court.

The law, designed to seek and deport illegal immigrants in a state that is the principal gateway for illegal border crossers, had provoked intense debate from coast to coast, drawing support in several polls but generating boycotts of the state by major civil rights groups and several cities and towns.

It renewed calls for an overhaul of federal immigration law and led to repeated rebukes of it from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who maintained that immigration policy is under the purview of the federal government, not individual states. The Mexican government, joined by seven other Latin American nations, supported one of the lawsuits against the law; the attorneys general of several states backed Arizona.

The ruling came four days before 1,200 National Guard members were scheduled to report to the Southwest border to assist federal and local law enforcement agencies there, part of the Obama administration’s response to growing anxiety over the border and immigration that has fed support for the law.

Judge Bolton, appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, did allow some, less debated provisions of the law to go into effect, including one that bans cities from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration agents.

But she largely sided with arguments in a lawsuit by the Obama administration that the law, rather than closely hewing to existing federal statutes, as its supporters have claimed, interferes with longstanding federal authority over immigration and could lead to harassment of citizens and legal immigrants.

“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” she said.

“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens,” she wrote. “By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose,” she said, citing a previous Supreme Court case, a “ ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

The judge’s decision was not her final word on the case. In granting the injunction, she simply indicated that the Justice Department was likely, but not certain, to prevail on those points at a later trial in federal court. She made no ruling on the six other suits that also challenged the law.

Her ruling, issued as demonstrators both for and against the law gathered here, and after hearings in three of the seven lawsuits against the it, seemed more likely to add another log to the fire than settle matters.

“This fight is far from over,” said Ms. Brewer, whose lawyers had argued that Congress granted states the power to enforce immigration law particularly when, in their view, the federal government fell short. “In fact,” she added, “it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.”

State Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican and chief sponsor of the law, said in a statement that he was confident that the sections blocked by Judge Bolton would survive on appeal, noting the state’s previous victories in court on other statutes designed to give it a larger role in immigration enforcement. “The courts have made it clear states have the inherent power to enforce the laws of this country,” he said.

But Gabriel Chin, a professor at the University of Arizona School of Law who has studied the law, called the ruling “a nearly complete victory for the position of the United States.”

He noted that she ruled in the federal government’s favor on most of the points it challenged.

Aside from stopping the requirement that the police initiate immigration checks, the judge also blocked provisions that allowed the police to hold anyone arrested for any crime until his immigration status was determined.

“Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” she wrote.

She also said Arizona could not make it a state crime for noncitizens to be in the state without proper documents, nor could it allow the police to conduct arrests without warrants if officers believed the offense would result in their deportation. She said there was a “substantial likelihood” of wrongful arrests.

The parts of the law she did allow were not challenged by the Justice Department, but do figure in some of the other lawsuits filed. They include forbidding “sanctuary city” policies by allowing residents to sue the local authorities if they adopt policies restricting cooperation with the federal government in immigration enforcement.

She also let stand a provision aimed at day laborers, who are mostly Latin American immigrants, by making it a crime to stop a vehicle in traffic or block traffic to hire someone off the street. But she blocked a provision that barred illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.

The law, adopted in April, coincided with economic anxiety and followed a number of high-profile crimes attributed to illegal immigrants and smuggling. It has become an issue in Congressional and local campaigns across the country.

Terry Goddard, the Arizona attorney general who opposed the law and is a possible Democratic opponent to Ms. Brewer, was quick to condemn her for signing it. “Jan Brewer played politics with immigration, and she lost,” he said in a statement.

But Republican candidates, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is seeking re-election, criticized the Obama administration for bringing suit.

“Instead of wasting taxpayer resources filing a lawsuit against Arizona and complaining that the law would be burdensome,” Mr. McCain said in a joint statement with Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, “the Obama administration should have focused its efforts on working with Congress to provide the necessary resources to support the state in its efforts to act where the federal government has failed to take responsibility.”

Judge Blocks Arizona’s Immigration Law,










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