Category Archives: Articles

Immigration concerns…

Some articles on Immigration that are worth the quixk read.
When I read these cases, I realize that I am not as paranoid as I think
I am…my concerns are justified when faced with examples like these…


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A U.S. citizen who was illegally detained and twice deported to Mexico said immigration officials refused to believe his claim of citizenship, even when his mother traveled to the border to show Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents his birth certificate.

Guillermo Olivares of south Los Angeles was being held in a detention facility in San Diego earlier this month until an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California presented his birth certificate along with school and vaccination records to immigration authorities. Olivares was released later that same day.

“They didn’t believe me,” a frustrated Olivares said of his numerous encounters with immigration officials. “It seemed like there was nothing else I could do.”

Olivares’ mother, Eduvina Romero, echoed his story, explaining that she and her son repeatedly showed border immigration officials his birth certificate, to no avail. “They would never listen. It felt so unfair that they could simply disbelieve my son’s citizenship without giving us any chance to prove that what we said was true. It made me panicked and anxious,” she said. “I just wanted my son to be able to come home.”

Olivares is not the first U.S. citizen to be illegally deported. Pedro Guzman of Lancaster was deported to Mexico in 2007 and spent nearly three months lost in that country while family members desperately searched for him. In addition, Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Robert Menendez of New Jersey recently sponsored the Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act (S. 3594), to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and legal residents who get caught up in immigration raids.

Olivares was not picked up in such a raid, but the egregious violation of his rights as an American citizen dramatically demonstrates the same problem: that federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials routinely disregard the Constitution when enforcing federal immigration law.

“If ever there was evidence of the fundamental flaws in our immigration system, it is the fact that a U.S. citizen was deported twice and denied entry into the United States on numerous occasions without any due process of law,” said Jennie Pasquarella, staff attorney for the ACLU/SC. “ICE officials repeatedly ignored his certified birth certificate, which they could easily have corroborated, and instead simply refused to believe him. It is inconceivable that this would have happened were he not Latino.”

Olivares was born in the Los Angeles area, and had never lived outside the United States until he was forced to live in Mexico after ICE deported him in 2007 and refused to allow him to re-enter. But his ordeal began in 2000, when border agents questioned the veracity of his birth certificate and whether it belonged to him when he was returning into the United States at the Tijuana border crossing. The agents refused to let him enter his own country. A week later, however, Olivares’ mother met him at the border crossing with a certified copy of his birth certificate, and Olivares and his mother re-entered the United States without incident.

In 2007, while Olivares was serving time in state prison, agents from the Department of Homeland Security approached him and told him he was a Mexican citizen and would be deported. Olivares insisted that he was a U.S. citizen, but eventually – not fully understanding his rights as an American citizen – he was coerced into signing papers that were never explained to him and was deported to Mexico.

He then attempted to cross back into the United States, but border guards refused to let him enter. He felt he had no choice other than to live for a time with his mother’s family in Jalisco. But in June 2008, upon learning that his father in Los Angeles was gravely ill, Olivares again tried to cross the border legally, presenting a certified copy of his birth certificate. After being rebuffed, he crossed illegally, but was picked up by the U.S. Border Patrol. On September 2, 2008, he was deported for a second time to Mexico, on the day his father died.

In September, Olivares – accompanied by his mother — tried yet again to re-enter the United States legally from Tijuana. Once again, immigration officials rejected his birth certificate. However, this time he refused to sign his name to the papers foisted upon him and demanded to see a judge. As a result, ICE put Olivares in removal proceedings and detained him at the Otay Mesa Immigration Detention facility in San Diego. The family then contacted the Coalition for Human Immigrants’ Rights of Los Angeles, which in turn contacted the ACLU/SC. On October 9, ACLU/SC staff attorney Jennie Pasquarella advised ICE that it had no authority to detain Olivares because he was a U.S. citizen, and presented his birth certificate and other documentation demonstrating his citizenship. He was released later that day.

“There’s something fundamentally wrong with the system if border guards can effectively deprive you of your citizenship by simply disregarding a valid birth certificate,” said Pasquarella. “ICE officials obviously used race and ethnicity as a basis for enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, rather than taking a few minutes to verify Mr. Olivares’ legal status.”

A hearing in federal immigration court in Olivares’ case has been set for Jan. 6, 2009, at which Olivares will seek to terminate the removal proceedings against him.

Obama’s Immigration Conundrum

by: Bill Boyarsky, Truthdig

A child rests with her father at a US immigration detention center. (Photo: Jeff Topping / Reuters)

One of the worst messes facing the Obama administration is the disgraceful state of the federal government’s immigration detention centers.

There are 350 of these centers around the country, housing almost 30,000 men, women and even children waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to decide whether or not they will be deported. Some have been in custody for years. The centers are overcrowded. Newspapers and academic and civil liberties studies tell of physically and mentally ill inmates being denied help.

Given that they are in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, you’d think these people would be suspected terrorists, threats to national security. Many, however, are guilty of nothing except seeking asylum from their native lands. Plenty have been swept up in the increasing number of raids by immigration officers. Some of these are actually here legally but are detained until they can prove it. Others have committed crimes, although some of the violations are so small they would have rated only a light fine or jail sentence in the criminal justice system.

As Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein wrote in The Washington Post last year, “Most are working-class men and women or indigent laborers who made mistakes that seem to pose no threat to national security….” The reporters counted 83 deaths in the last five years among those in detention centers and those who had just left them.

The American Civil Liberties Union, on a Web site devoted to the issue, said: “Within hours of their arrest, many immigrants caught up in raids are transferred to remote out-of-state detention centers and pressured into signing removal orders, often without being able to tell anyone where they are; as a result, family and lawyers have no time or ability to provide support and a legal defense. Inhumane and cruel conditions of confinement in the immigration detention centers are pervasive.”

University of Arizona researchers investigated three detention centers in that state, and in a report, “Unseen Children,” said mothers are separated from children in the immigration raids. The report also said the facilities did not provide enough care for the physically and mentally ill. It said inmates were denied chances to meet with lawyers or talk to relatives. And the researchers said noncriminal immigration women detainees were mixed with convicted criminals in some facilities.

Vincent Picard, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told me such mixing “is completely against our policy.” Inmates, he said, were permitted to make free phone calls to their countries’ consulates “and collect calls to anyone else.” Medical care is “excellent,” he said, provided by “an array of doctors, mental health professionals and staff.”

Recently, however, I met with Ahila Arulanantham and Marisol Orihueta, attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. They told me a different story. One of their clients, for example, is Diana Santander (full name: Oscar “Diana” Santander Leyva), a transgender person. The ACLU lawyers gave me copies of the court documents they’d filed on her behalf. Her story illustrates how immigrants can be unjustly locked up for long periods.

In her native Mexico, law enforcement officers treated her brutally because of her sexual status. On one occasion, they forced her to perform oral sex on officers, then burned her thighs with cigars. Another time, police officers attacked her with a knife, beat her with a gun butt and called her a “fucking faggot.”

Trying to escape the torture, Santander fled to the United States in 2004, entering illegally. In 2007, she was arrested and convicted of prostitution and trespassing and turned over to federal immigration authorities for deportation. Later, she learned that the brutality inflicted on her by the Mexican cops amounted to torture as defined in the United Nations Convention Against Torture. She applied for asylum.

Government attorneys objected, saying she had been jailed in Mexico more than eight years before on a robbery charge. The immigration judge sided with Santander, citing a lack of evidence that there had actually been a robbery. The judge granted her request for asylum. But that didn’t set her free. The government has appealed, and Santander remains in custody, where she has been for 21 months.

Whether the detention centers will be reformed is up to President Obama’s chief of the Department of Homeland Security, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. Her record makes you wonder just how far she’ll go.

As the popular Democratic governor of a conservative Republican state, Napolitano had to walk the line between anti-immigrant conservatives and Democrats (including Latinos) who opposed harsh measures. She signed a law imposing tough penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. She has also been allied with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigrant sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the state’s largest city. He became well known for making inmates wear pink underwear, housing them in tents and feeding them green-colored food. She got along well enough with the sheriff for him to endorse her for governor in her first race. This helped her win a narrow victory.

Once in her new Cabinet job, she said she intends to get “criminal aliens” off the streets. Presumably this means off the streets and into mandatory detention facilities, where they will await deportation hearings in the overcrowded centers.

To put them into detention, Napolitano can use laws that have greatly expanded the number of offenses for which mandatory detention is required. Previously, many immigrants were allowed to be free while awaiting their deportation hearings. Now they are just jailed. Diana Santander’s prostitution arrest would have earned her a night in county jail in the criminal justice system, not the months she has spent in jail under immigration jurisdiction.

Those who blame the recent Republican administration for the mess in the detention centers should be reminded that these laws were passed in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton, who was desperately trying to court conservative voters after the Democratic congressional losses in 1994. The law doubled the number of immigrants in detention; the number grew swiftly after the Bush administration moved against immigrants after Sept. 11, 2001.

Don’t expect this mess to be cleaned up soon, especially with Secretary Napolitano sounding like a hard-liner. There is too much anti-immigrant sentiment. The detention centers were built with a bipartisan stamp of approval, with Democrats as well as Republicans supporting their expansion. Finally, given the poverty and low societal status of the inmates, few people will crusade on their behalf.


This column was originally published on Truthdig (


The EU passes a tough tough reform on Illegal IMMIGRATION

it feels like its almost mirroring the U.S. policy on illegal immigration….passsed 369-to-197 vote, with 107 abstaining

– detention held up to 18 months

– Bar on re entry into the EU of 5 years

But apparently, they had to all give in if they wanted a uniform Immig. policy. 2 countries can opt out of the restriction.

Anyways, amazing how immigration just seems to be everywhere now a days…scary.

Juan Medina/Reuters

Protesters outside the European Union office in Madrid on Tuesday denounced immigrant detentions and deportations.

AP Developing Copyright Infringment Policy.

The AP–which profits by organizations paying license fees for its stories–is defining its policy on how to deal with the legions of bloggers that use large quotes of their articles when summarizing their stories.

While reproduction of full articles (oops …) is rarely necessary for commentary, quotes are surely needed to promote the open discussion, free media, and flow of information that the Fair Use Exception is designed to promote and is crucial to a democracy (just look at the effect bloggers have had on closed nations by spreading information).

Everyday Andrew sums up the best news articles about the campaign on his Newsweek blog: (i.e. Will similar summaries be permitted under the new AP policy? It sounds like the answer is no — a link alone will be allowed — to avoid taking quotes out of context. Will personal archiving be permitted (there is a case dealing with Xeroxing that suggests that the Fair Use doctrine does not extend to archiving)?

Of course, no matter what the AP’s ultimate policy, the looming question will be how will the AP enforce its policy and prevent infringement? By sending cease and desist letters to each individual blogger that quotes a bit too much of an article? By only pursuing the commercial bloggers? By using technology? (i.e technology that detects searches blogs for quotes and sends cease and desist letters)? By suing the large blog providers to take down or block sites that infringe on the AP’s articles? Lets hope the AP takes their time in crafting its policies, considers the dangers of curbing the free flow of information, and avoids the pitfalls of the RIAA (in policing the reproduction of music and movies by attacking college students and other individuals).

Either way, I have an easy solution. No Quotes. No Links. Just lots of paraphrasing. Its like 7th grade English class all over again.

David Brooks on America’s Great Seduction

The United States has been an affluent nation since its founding. But the country was, by and large, not corrupted by wealth. For centuries, it remained industrious, ambitious and frugal.  No longer.

As detailed in a new report “For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture,” the deterioration of financial mores has meant two things. First, it’s meant an explosion of debt that inhibits social mobility and ruins lives. Between 1989 and 2001, credit-card debt nearly tripled, soaring from $238 billion to $692 billion. By last year, it was up to $937 billion, the report said.

Second, the transformation has led to a stark financial polarization. On the one hand, there is what the report calls the investor class. It has tax-deferred savings plans, as well as an army of financial advisers. On the other hand, there is the lottery class, people with little access to 401(k)’s or financial planning but plenty of access to payday lenders, credit cards and lottery agents.

The loosening of financial inhibition has meant more options for the well-educated but more temptation and chaos for the most vulnerable. Social norms, the invisible threads that guide behavior, have deteriorated. Over the past years, Americans have been more socially conscious about protecting the environment and inhaling tobacco. They have become less socially conscious about money and debt.

The agents of destruction are many. State governments have played a role. They aggressively hawk their lottery products, which some people call a tax on stupidity. Twenty percent of Americans are frequent players, spending about $60 billion a year. The spending is starkly regressive. A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income. Aside from the financial toll, the moral toll is comprehensive. Here is the government, the guardian of order, telling people that they don’t have to work to build for the future. They can strike it rich for nothing.

Payday lenders have also played a role. They seductively offer fast cash — at absurd interest rates — to 15 million people every month.

Credit card companies have played a role. Instead of targeting the financially astute, who pay off their debts, they’ve found that they can make money off the young and vulnerable. Fifty-six percent of students in their final year of college carry four or more credit cards.

Congress and the White House have played a role. The nation’s leaders have always had an incentive to shove costs for current promises onto the backs of future generations. It’s only now become respectable to do so.

Wall Street has played a role. Bill Gates built a socially useful product to make his fortune. But what message do the compensation packages that hedge fund managers get send across the country?

The list could go on. But the report, which is nicely summarized by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead in The American Interest (available free online), also has some recommendations. First, raise public consciousness about debt the way the anti-smoking activists did with their campaign. Second, create institutions that encourage thrift.

Foundations and churches could issue short-term loans to cut into the payday lenders’ business. Public and private programs could give the poor and middle class access to financial planners. Usury laws could be enforced and strengthened. Colleges could reduce credit card advertising on campus. KidSave accounts would encourage savings from a young age. The tax code should tax consumption, not income, and in the meantime, it should do more to encourage savings up and down the income ladder.

There are dozens of things that could be done. But the most important is to shift values. Franklin made it prestigious to embrace certain bourgeois virtues. Now it’s socially acceptable to undermine those virtues. It’s considered normal to play the debt game and imagine that decisions made today will have no consequences for the future.

The case against Flipflops.

From the NY Times Health Blog:

“We found that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back,’’ said Justin Shroyer, a biomechanics doctoral student who presented the findings to the recent annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.

Flip-flop wearers took shorter steps and their heels hit the ground with less vertical force than when the same walkers wore athletic shoes. People wearing flip-flops also don’t bring their toes up as much as the leg swings forward. That results in a larger angle to the ankle and a shorter stride length, the study showed. The reason may be that people tend to grip flip-flops with their toes.

Mr. Shroyer notes that he himself owns two pairs of flip-flops, and the research doesn’t mean people shouldn’t wear them. However, flip-flops are best worn for short periods of time, like at the beach or for comfort after an athletic event. But they are not designed to properly support the foot and ankle during all-day wear, he notes.

I think we found a way to live in Europe. We can become Migrant Workers.

From the Frugal Traveler’s blog

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (Wwoof) is an international network of farmers who offer room and board in exchange for the labor of travelers such as myself. It spans the globe, from the Americas and New Zealand (where it’s hugely popular), to Europe and Turkey (where I visited an apple orchard two years ago). Visits can last as little as a week, or as much as six months, depending on your skills, your schedule and your relationship with your host. And except for a modest fee to join each country’s branch, Wwoof-ing is free.

The French Wwoof database (15 euros; listed hundreds of farms in every region, each of which offered its own enticements. There was an ancient stone wall that needed repairing in Bouleternère, olive trees to tend in Valbonne, and even yoga and qi gong in Fontvieille. I chose the Sarthes’ farm because they described themselves as gourmets and because their farm was in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern France, which is reputed to have some of the country’s best food.

Visa-Waiver Rule Change – From the Economist

Entering America: a change to the rules

THOSE foreigners who are currently able to enter America under a visa-waiver scheme are going to find the immigration process alters in the future. From January 12th 2009, they will have to register their trip online, at least three days before departure. Known as the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), this process is less onerous than it sounds. One registration will be valid for two years, so regular visitors will not need to register every time they plan to fly. And provision will also be made to enable last-minute travel, which will help those attending an emergency or closing a deal. Michael Chertoff, America’s secretary of homeland security, says he wants to be able to screen all potential visitors before their leave home.