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  1. Senators Criticize Detention of Central American Women and Children. By Roger Algase


    The Hill reports on October 16 that ten Senators have spoken out against the Obama administration's detention policies affecting women and children fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In a letter to DHS Secretary Johnson, the Senators, Patrick Leahy (VT), Harry Reid (NV), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Patty Murray (WA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Bob Menendez (NJ), Michael Bennet (CO), Mazie Hirono (HI) and Mark Udall (CO), said:

    "...they are concerned about the physical safety and due process rights of the women and children that [sic] would be detained at a new detention facility [to be built in Dilley, Texas.]"


    The Hill also refers to reports of substandard conditions and sexual assault at other centers. The letter from the ten Senators says:

    "Mothers and their children who have fled violence in their home countries should not be treated like criminals...They have come seeking refuge from three of the most dangerous countries in the world, countries where women and girls face shocking rates of domestic violence and murder."

    The Senators' letter also states:

    "We have heard significant concerns regarding the conditions of confinement and obstacles to due process for detainees...We are troubled by your apparent decision to make permanent and greatly expand the policy of family detention against the backdrop of these problems."

    http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-actio...ation-policies

    It is refreshing to see that some Senators are standing up for immigrants' human and legal rights, while others continue to demonize immigrants as carriers of disease. The Hill, for example, also quotes Senator Pat Roberts (Kansas) as saying on October 15:

    "We [have] ISIS. We have Ebola. We have to secure the border. And we cannot have amnesty."

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/220997-gop-senate-hopefuls-embrace-ebola-travel-ban


    No one can argue with the seriousness of Ebola and the need to protect America against its spread. However, not counting a very few people who were intentionally repatriated for treatment, there have been exactly three cases of this deadly disease in the US - one case for every one hundred million people living in this country.

    There is no justification, especially on the part of some lawmakers who voted to shut down the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last year (along with the rest of the government), for using appeals to fear and prejudice as an excuse to turn away from focusing on the legal and human rights of immigrants, which should rightly be at the front and center of all discussion of this issue. This is a concern which transcends party affiliation, ethnic background and other divisions which may exist among America's many diverse population groups.
    ____________________________
    Roger Algase is a New York Attorney and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been serving employment-based and family-based immigrants from many parts of the world and helping them accomplish their dreams of living and working in America. Roger welcomes questions or comments posted on this site or addressed to him directly at his email, algaselex@gmail.com


    Updated 10-17-2014 at 02:31 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. More Politicians Fan Ebola Fears to Derail Immigration Reform. By Roger Algase


    In my October 13 post, I gave examples of some anti-immigrant politicians who have been using the current concern over Ebola in the US as a propaganda tool in order to stoke anti-immigrant prejudice and derail reform.

    No one can possibly dispute that Ebola is an extremely serious and dangerous disease and that every possible medical precaution must be taken to stop its spread in the US, Europe and at its source in three west African countries.

    But the number of people who have contracted this disease in the US so far is exactly two - a tiny fraction of the number of Americans who have died and will die this year from gun violence and cigarette smoking.

    Nor has there been a single reported case of Ebola in all of Latin America or the entire western hemisphere outside of the US. But this reality has not stopped anti-immigrant politicians from using Ebola to whip up mass hysteria against immigrants in order to block reform.

    CNN's Maria Santana reports that on October 9, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, now running for the Senate in New Hampshire, warned that undocumented immigrants might bring Ebola into the US through the Mexican border. Similar statements have been made by North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

    www.click2houston.com/news/Politics/ebola-fears-spark-backlash-against-immigrants/29061146?view=print

    The same report also quotes Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey, a medical doctor, as warning:

    "Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning."

    Maria Santana also mentions a suggestion by Fox News host Chris Wallace that an Ebola infected terrorist could enter through the southern border and wage biological warfare. Not to be outdone, Arkansas Rep. and Senate candidate Tom Cotton has accused terror groups of collaborating with drug cartels in Mexico.

    The same article concludes by quoting Bob Quasius, president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans, as follows:

    "I am saddened to see some conservatives use fears of deadly diseases to push an immigration restriction agenda. Their claims are vastly overblown and I am especially disappointed in Rep. Phil Gingrey, who is a medical doctor and who should know better."


    Just suppose that some day in the future, there were ever to be any truth to the above allegations, as opposed to the current pure fantasy of Ebola coming into the US from Mexico or Central America. In such a case, would the administration's current enforcement policies toward unaccompanied immigrant children (also known as UAC's) fleeing gang violence in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras not be one of the biggest dangers to public health of all?

    One can only imagine what would happen if Ebola were to break out in an immigration detention center such as Artesia, New Mexico, where hundreds of children are reportedly already at risk of becoming sick with other illnesses by being crammed in unsanitary, unhealthy facilities with inadequate food and medical care. See, for example, Lory Rosenberg's recent articles in Immigration Daily on the conditions there, including, among others, Too Little, Too Late (October 1).

    In such a case, the Obama administration's rush to deport as many children as possible in the shortest amount of time, in violation of both the letter and the spirit of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), and of their fundamental legal Constitutional rights to counsel and due process of law, could be the beginning of a real epidemic in America, as opposed to only a couple of extremely unfortunate, but still isolated, cases at the present.

    Updated 10-16-2014 at 11:20 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. Heroic Daughter of Vietnamese Immigrants Battles Ebola. By Roger Algase


    Update: October 17, 8:35 am:

    The latest video shows Nina Pham arriving by ambulance at the NIH hospital in Bethesda, MD for treatment after being transferred from Dallas. I also watched a wonderful video showing Nina in her isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital together with a health care worker in full protective gear. In the video, she smiles, says "I love you guys" to her health care workers and looks forward to "party in Maryland" as she wipes away tears. The video was reportedly shot by the physician in charge of her care at the Texas Hospital, Dr. Gary Weinstein.

    This post has been updated as of 2:27 pm and again at 4:21 pm on October 15.

    Nina Pham, the courageous daughter of Vietnamese parents who came to America as political refugees, is now battling Ebola in a Dallas hospital as a result of her heroic actions in caring for the Liberian victim, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week as a result of his own heroism in carrying a seven months pregnant woman to a hospital in Liberia and then back home after finding out that the hospital had no room for her. It is not clear whether Duncan knew that the woman had Ebola, from which she died shortly afterward.

    The New York Times reports that Nina Pham's friends have described her as a compassionate and caring nurse who loved her job and was grounded by her Catholic faith. According to the Times, Ms. Pham's friend and co-worker, Jennifer Joseph, is a conscientious and careful nurse who always double-checked her charts and never seemed to make a mistake:

    "To Ms. Joseph, Ms. Pham is both a great nurse and a great friend. She said Ms. Pham helped her get oriented at Presbyterian, and during her 12-hour shifts together taught her 'how to become the nurse I am today.' Frequently, when thinking about a patient, Ms. Pham would ask herself, 'What would I do if this was my mom, dad or grandparent?' Ms. Joseph said."

    See: Ebola Puts Nina Pham, a Nurse Unaccustomed to the Spotlight, in Its Glare (October 13).

    The Associated Press also reports that Nina Pham took care of Mr. Duncan throughout his entire hospital stay, up until the time of his death. She is currently reported to be in good condition.

    Everyone in America can take great encouragement from the dedication to her profession, devotion to duty and unstinting care for her patient under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances that this member of Dallas' Vietnamese immigrant community has shown, in keeping with America's highest values and ideals. We all congratulate her and wish her a full and speedy recovery, along with a second nurse at the same Dallas hospital (Texas Health Presbyterian), Amber Vinson, who has also tested positive for this disease. Ms. Vinson has been transferred to Emory Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.
    ___________________________
    Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been serving employment and family-based immigration clients for more than 30 years. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 10-17-2014 at 07:35 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Politicians Blame Immigrants While Cutting Ebola Vaccine Spending. By Roger Algase


    In the wake of the spread of Ebola to a second patient in Texas, politicians in both parties are calling for increased screenings at airports in both the US and Africa to try to prevent infected people from entering the US. While no one can dispute the need to take all possible medical precautions to prevent this deadly disease from spreading in America, some politicians are losing no time in using Ebola-related fears as a pretext for advocating measures which appear to have more in common with an anti-immigrant agenda than with protection of public health.

    At the same time, calling for harsher measures against immigrants who are at little or no risk of exposure to this disease is also helping to cover up Congressional failure to provide sufficient funding for research which might have led to a vaccine that could have stopped the ebola epidemic in three West African countries in its tracks.

    The Hill reports on October 10 that three Texas politicians, Senator John Cornyn (R) and Reps. Michael McCaul (R) and Kay Granger (R), have called for stronger Ebola screenings at airports in Dallas and Houston, in addition to the ones which the Obama administration has announced for airports in New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. No one can argue with that.

    But, according to the same report (Texas Republicans call for tougher Ebola screenings), these lawmakers are also asking for tighter security along the Mexican border, despite the fact that there has not been a single case of Ebola reported in Central America (or anywhere else in the entire Western Hemisphere outside of the US).

    Of course it is always possible that someone with the disease could come across into the US from Mexico, just as a group of ISIS militants in black uniforms might also conceivably do so, as some politicians have also warned. But the chances of either of these happening, at least at this stage, are entirely theoretical. One has to ask whether either public health or national security are really the main concerns of politicians who are always clamoring for more "border security" under any and all circumstances.

    The Hill also reports that one of the above Representatives, Michael McCaul, has advocated suspending US visas entirely from the three most affected West African countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) regardless of the actual health risk or history of the people involved. See McCaul eyes suspension of visas from West Africa, October 10. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has also reportedly called for a similar travel ban.

    While there have been over 8,000 reported cases of Ebola in these three countries (the real total may admittedly be higher), this is out of a total population of 20 million people for the three countries combined. Moreover, the disease is reportedly concentrated in only certain areas of each of the three countries. Again, even though banning visas from three entire countries in West Africa at the source of the epidemic may have more to do with preventing health risks than closing the Mexican border, one still has to ask whether protecting America's public health is the primary concern in such a drastic proposal.

    Stoking anti-immigrant fears also helps to divert attention away from the shocking failure of Congress over the past more than a decade to provide sufficient funding for Ebola vaccine research.

    The Huffington Post quotes Francis Collins, Head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as follows (see Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found If Not For Budget Cuts: NIH Director, October 12):

    "NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001...Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone though clinical trials and would have been ready."


    The Huffington Post continues:

    "The growing severity of the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the fear of and outbreak in America haven't loosened the purse strings. NIH hasn't received any additional money...

    Collins said he'd like Congress to pass emergency supplemental appropriations to help with the work. But, he added, 'nobody seems enthusiastic about that.'"

    This is not the first time in our history that politicians have tried to blame immigrants for the failures of America's own leaders by proposing to cut visas and impose greater legal restrictions on entry. Nor should we expect it to be the last.
    ____________________________
    Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been helping employment-based and family-based immigrants from many parts of the world overcome the obstacles of our convoluted immigration system and achieve their goals of living and working in America. His email is algaselex@gmail.com


    Updated 10-15-2014 at 03:14 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Federal Judge: Anti-Immigrant Bias Harms US Citizens' Voting Rights. By Roger Algase


    In a stinging rebuke to state officials seeking to enforce a Texas voter ID law, which she determined to be one of the most restrictive in the nation, with clearly disproportionate impact on Latino and other minority American citizen voters, Federal District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued a permanent injunction on October 9 against enforcing that law. She condemned the law as being specifically designed to keep minority US citizens from voting, in keeping with what she determined, after a full hearing with expert witnesses whose testimony was mainly uncontested by state officials, to be that state's long history of racial discrimination and its present intention to keep black and Hispanic voters away from the polls.

    See Huffington Post: Federal Court Overturns Texas Voter ID Law, Calling It A 'Poll Tax' (October 9).

    This decision, Veasy v. Perry, 13-CV-00193 (S.D. Texas) which the state's Attorney General intends to appeal, is of crucial importance to immigration advocates for two reasons. The first is the symbiotic connection between minority US citizen voting rights and immigration reform, which has been obvious ever since the 2012 election, if not long before.

    T
    he second reason, which Judge Gonzales Ramos pointed out in some detail in her 147-page decision, is that anti-immigrant prejudice can be used as a tool in order to prevent minority US citizens from exercising their statutory and Constitutional right to vote. This provides an example of how attempts to strip immigrants of their fundamental legal and human rights can result in depriving American citizens of their rights as well.

    Judge Gonzales Ramos began with a description of that state's racially polarized voting patterns:

    " Dr. Barry C. Burden, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, testified regarding racially polarized voting in Texas. Dr. Burden explained that the gap between Anglo and Latino Republican support is generally 30-40 percentage points. The rate of racially polarized voting between Anglo and African-American voters is even larger. These racial differences are were much greater than among other socio-demographic groups...Many courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have confirmed that Texas suffers from racially polarized voting...Defendants offered no evidence to the contrary on this issue."

    She continued:

    "Texas' long history of racial discrimination may explain why African-Americans as well as Hispanics remain underrepresented within the ranks of publicly elected officials relative to their citizen population rate."

    The Judge then turned to the connection between racial polarization in voting and underrepresentation of Latinos and African-Americans among elected officials and the exploitation of anti-immigrant prejudice:

    "Another aspect of Texas' electoral history is the use of subtle and sometimes overt racial appeals in political campaigns. As Dr. Burton explained in his report, '[t]hrough the twentieth century, racial appeals - once more explicit - have become increasingly subtle.' He noted that words like 'welfare queen', 'lazy' and 'immigration' have been used to activate racial thinking in the minds of voters.

    Issues of campaigns relying on racial messages persist in Texas. For example, in a 2008 Texas House of Representatives race, an Anglo candidate sent a mailer featuring a manipulated picture of his Anglo opponent. The opponent's skin was darkened, a Mexican flag button was superimposed in his shirt, and an oversized Chinese flag was positioned directly behind him - all while questioning his commitment against illegal immigration."

    Judge Gonzales Ramos then demolished one of the main arguments which had been put forth as a rationale for enacting the voter ID law, namely that it would stop illegal immigrants from voting:

    "Over time, proponents of the photo ID bill began to conflate voter fraud with concern over illegal immigration...There was a lot of anti-Hispanic sentiment...

    But Representative Hernandez-Luiz testified convincingly that illegal immigrants are not likely to try to vote. 'They are living in the shadows. They don't want any contact with the government for fear of being deported - I mean, my family was afraid to even go grocery shopping much less attempt to illegally vote.'

    Representative Todd Smith admitted that he had no facts to support his concerns about non-citizen voting, but was reacting to allegations. Furthermore, non-citizens (legal permanent residents and visa holders) can legally obtain a valid Texas drivers license and a concealed handgun license, making the use of those ID's to prevent non-citizen voting rather illusory."

    She continued, somewhat ironically, with the only example of non-citizen voting revealed at the trial in this case:

    "In that case, a Norwegian citizen, who had truthfully filled out his form to reflect that he was not a citizen, was mailed a voter registration card anyway, So he thought he had the right to vote."

    The Judge concluded:

    "Representatives Anchia, Hernandez-Luiz and Martinez-Fischer and Senator Uresti indicated that the repeated references to illegal-aliens and non-citizens voting generated anti-Hispanic feelings. Representative Hernandez-Luna even testified that lawmakers were equating Hispanic immigration with risks of leprosy in a very tense atmosphere. Senator Davis added that there was unfounded concern about non-citizen students."
    (Emphasis added.)

    Based on the above evidence, which the decision does not mention any attempt by the proponents of the Texas voter ID law to refute, there can be little doubt that anti-immigrant prejudice is being used as a method to deprive minority US citizens of their most basic and fundamental legal right - the right to vote.

    As an aside, in view of current concerns, the word "leprosy" in the above quote (which has been used as an expression of anti-immigrant bigotry ever since the 19th century), is well on its way to being replaced by "ebola", despite the fact that as of this writing, there has fortunately not been a single reported case of this terrible disease anywhere in Latin America, or for that matter, in the entire Western Hemisphere outside of the United States itself. This is not to downplay the urgency of adopting reasonable measures to prevent the further spread of ebola to the US.

    The most important of these, as all medical authorities appear to agree, is taking more effective action to contain this disease at its source in the three West African countries most affected. This would be far more productive in protecting America from this disease than playing the traditional game of scapegoating immigrants whenever there is an outbreak of illness or threat of an epidemic. No one can guarantee that even the most draconian immigration restrictions would stop ebola from coming to or spreading in the US.
    _____________________________
    Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business and family immigration law for more than 30 years.

    His practice is concentrated in H-1B and O-1 work visas, and green cards through labor certification (PERM), extraordinary ability (EB-1) and opposite sex or same sex marriage, among other immigration and citizenship cases. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com


    Updated 10-10-2014 at 07:19 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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