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  1. Bloggings: Who needs most to learn the lesson of 9/11? By Roger Algase

    I well remember the horrors of 9/11/2001. I lived in Manhattan then and still do. I could see the smoke coming from the Twin Towers in the distance from my window. I knew at least one person in the complex (who got out safely). My older daughter, who was living in New Jersey at the time, would have been passing through the PATH station underneath the buildings on her way to work in Manhattan around the time of the attacks if she had not has left her job only a few weeks before. 
    She had, in fact, gone to a photo store in the lower level of the WTC just a few days before 9/11 to leave off some film to be developed. (For the benefit of younger ID readers, film is something that was once used to take pictures with before the invention of the cell phone and the digital camera.) The photo store was obliterated in the attack. But several weeks later, a worker going through the rubble noticed the envelope with the film lying on top of some of the debris and mailed it to my daughter. She had the film developed and the pictures came out without a scratch. I always shiver a little when I think of this incident.
    But what is the real legacy of 9/11/? Perhaps more to the point, does anyone care what the legacy is, or is the 10th anniversary just an exercise in media hype? There are very real, urgent issues facing America today - the concentration of wealth upward, disappearance of the middle class; the transformation of America from a vibrant democracy into a third world banana republic controlled by unlimited corporate money, as Arianna Huffington shows in her brilliant book Third World America; and, above all, the deepening unemployment, hopelessness, poverty and despair which are taking America back to the time of the Great Depression, all of which minority immigrants are now being made scapegoats for, just as they were made scapegoats for 9/11.
    Is not all the focus on this event just a diversion from America's real problems now? Of course, we must remain vigilant. But Bin Laden is dead. So are many of his cohorts. Al Qaeda still exists and is dangerous, to be sure. But America's greater danger is from the forces of unreason, avarice and hate inside our own borders, especially inside our own political establishment.
    Will rehashing the horror, grief and terrible suffering of that day help in overcoming America's urgent economic problems now? Will it assuage the pain of those who lost their loved ones? Will it bring the 2,500 American citizens and 500 immigrants who died in the attacks back to life? And this brings me to the main point of 9/11.
     Over the past 10 years,  we have grown used to rants from right wing politicians about the "3,000 Americans" who died in the 9/11 atrocity. We have, especially during the Bush years, grown used to seeing the word "immigrant" lumped together with the word "terrorist", as if both were essential parts of a composite word. We can remember the "Special Registration" persecution of men from Muslim countries (including many who were not Muslims - I once gave a presentation about Special Registration at a Roman Catholic Church - to a group of Indonesian Christians.)
    The reality is that, according to CNN estimates at the time, not all of the 9/11 victims were Americans. Some 500 of the 9/11 victims were non-US citizens. If I remember the figures correctly, the victims came from over 90 different countries. Not long ago, I visited a branch of the Folk Art Museum near New York's Lincoln Center and saw a huge quilt embroidered with the names of all of the WTC victims. These name are a cross section of almost every nationality, every ethnicity, every religion (including, of course, Islam), every skin color  and every language group known to the human race. 
    What were the perpetrators of 9/11 World Trade Center atrocity really trying to attack? Diversity, tolerance, harmony, respect and equality among the different peoples of the earth. Where was the attack directed? Against the most international city on this planet.There is, after all, a lesson in 9/11. The people who wrote the immigration laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona, and who are pushing for similar laws in other states, as well as the authors of the 2005 bill H.R. 3447, and all the other purveyors of hate against Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and black immigrants (and their US citizen children) must learn the lesson of 9/11. The 10th anniversary commemoration is for them.
  2. President Obama extends Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians…with limitations; By Danielle-Beach Oswald

    Two weeks ago, President Obama extended Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for certain Liberians who are currently in the United States.  In his decision, President Obama stated that there are "compelling foreign policy reasons" to again extend DED for Liberians.  Nationals of Liberia residing in the United States first qualified for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 1991 because of the armed conflict in Liberia that claimed at least 200,000 lives.  With the emergence of democratic rule in Liberia and rise of President Sirleaf, President Bush ended TPS for Liberians and implemented DED in October of 2007.
    President Obama first extended DED until September 30, 2011.  Given the recent extension of DED, 
    President Obama's latest measure will continue DED for Liberians for another 18 months beyond September 30, 2011.  He is fully justified in deciding that "compelling foreign policy reasons" mandate the extension of DED as although Liberian President Sirleaf has done a commendable job in transforming Liberia into a post-conflict success story, 10,000 UN troops are still necessary in the country to maintain peace and security.  With an upcoming presidential election, many are fearful of the possibility of renewed violence between Liberian opposition groups. 
    However, President Obama's decision to extend DED came with certain restrictions that undermine the humanitarian reasons as to why there is DED and TPS.  Although the President acknowledged that the situation in Liberia remains tense, he limits the extension of DED to several groups including Liberians that may have temporarily returned to Liberia only to later return to the United States.  Additionally, Liberians that did not have active TPS in October of 2007 or those that failed to continue to renew their DED since 2007 are unable to qualify for the DED extension.  These restrictions directly undermine the purpose of DED.  Although both President Obama and President Bush were willing to recognize that DED was necessary for Liberians because of the continued difficulties that the burgeoning democracy of Liberia faces, the on-going bureaucratic procedures that Liberians have faced in order to remain in this country directly undermine why DED was granted for Liberians in the first place.  President Obama may acknowledge that there are compelling humanitarian grounds that call for the re-institution of DED, but those that don't comply with often times difficult to understand government regulations are forced to face the "compelling foreign policy reasons" in Liberia that DED is specifically supposed to avoid. 
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  3. Circuit Courts and State Courts are Split Regarding Padilla v. Kentucky

    The U.S. Supreme Court case Padilla v. Kentucky (2010) was an important ruling for many aliens facing deportation. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an attorney provides ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to inform a client that a guilty plea carries a risk of deportation. The problem with the ruling is that the U.S. Supreme Court failed to clarify whether this decision could apply retroactively with regards to direct and collateral appeals. The main concern is whether the decision announced a new constitutional rule and should not be applied retroactively, unless an exception applies, or whether it is not a new constitutional rule and could therefore be applied retroactively. This distinction has been critical for many Circuits in its decisions on whether to apply Padilla to other cases in their jurisdictions.
    Recently, the Seventh Circuit held that Padilla does not apply retroactively. The Court concluded that because Padilla announced a new constitutional rule, that unless there is an exception to retroactively applying the case, Padilla will not apply to cases already resolved on appeal. The Tenth Circuit has also held that Padilla does not apply retroactively for the same reason. In addition, the Third District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida has sided with the Seventh and Tenth Circuits on the issue, leaving it open for the Eleventh Circuit to make a decision on the case if it goes up on appeal to that court.
    While these Circuit Courts have decided against applying Padilla retroactively, other district courts have applied the case retroactively. The State Court of Minnesota Court of Appeals concluded that Padilla applies retroactively under an old rule of constitutional law. The Minnesota Court concluded that Padilla falls under the Constitutional rule under Strickland v. Washington. The court decided that Padilla was an extension of Strickland regarding the rules of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Strickland rule states that: (1) that the counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and (2) that there is a reasonable probability that, but for the counsel's errors, the outcome of the proceedings would have been different. The Minnesota court determined from the majority decision in Padilla that the Strickland rule was being extended by this recent decision. The State Court of Texas First Court of Appeals also ruled that Padilla applies retroactively on the same grounds.
    Although the Fifth and Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals have not weighed in on the matter, with cases being decided in their jurisdictions (Texas and Minnesota), it is only a matter of time until those Circuits decide whether to follow their Sister Circuits in not applying the rule retroactively, or deciding that Strickland must be applied. It will be interesting to see how the other courts decide on the matter, and whether the U.S. Supreme Court will then have to step in and make a final ruling on the application of Padilla as a constitutional rule of law.
  4. Bloggings: America's 2012 immigration battle is shaping up as an epic struggle between racism and cowardice. By Roger Algase

    A September 2 news story in the Washington Post "Illegal immigration is flashpoint for Republican White House hopefuls" makes it clear that any kind of reason or respect for facts about immigration policy has been thrown out the window by the leading Republican presidential candidates, to be replaced by the vilest anti-immigrant and anti-Latino demagoguery.
    The leading Republican candidates appear to agree on three basic lies:
    1) Obama, who has deported more than twice as many immigrants as the last Republican president, and, according to reports, more than any other president in US history in the same period, and who has made Orwellian police-state measures such as E-verify and "Secure Communities" into household words, is doing nothing to enforce the immigration laws;
    2) Latino and other minority immigrants, legal and illegal, are creating unemployment and making the recession worse by taking jobs away from Americans, and
    3) Latinos and other minorities, including US citizens, contribute nothing to our economy, but are a drain on our resources because they are unwilling to work and are dependent on welfare.
    This latest WaPo article, like many others before it which have also tried to inject a few notes of reason and respect for fact into the immigration discussion,  is also accompanied by several hundred blog comments as of this writing, which will probably amount to several thousand by the time today's ID issue appears. All but a few of them are simply racist diatribes about how Latinos and other minority immigrants, legal and illegal, are allegedly destroying America.
    In the face of a weak economy, it is clear how the battle lines for next year's presidential campaign will be drawn. On the one hand, there will be an open appeal to the worst kind of bigotry and hatred against immigrants, reminiscent not only of past episodes of hate directed against various unpopular minorities throughout US history, from the anti-Irish Know Nothing movement, to the Chinese exclusion laws,  the anti-semitic, anti-Italian and anti-Eastern European "national origin" quotas of the 1924 immigration law,  the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2, and, of course, the racial segregation laws directed against American-American US citizens.
    On the other hand, there will be a reponse by a weak, cowardly president along the lines of a pathetic: "but I really am trying to kick them out too - can't you give me at least a little credit for all the American families I have broken up, all the US citizen children left without one or both parents, and especially, the students brought here as children whom I am also (at least in some cases) trying to deport?"
    Of course, neither approach will do anything whatsoever to create jobs or pull America out of recession. The only way to do that would be to liberalize the immigration laws to harness the spending and job creating power of America's fastest growing ethnic groups, Latinos and Asians, and to bring more young, educated, skilled workers and entrepreneurs to our shores (without gutting family reunion, which has always been at the heart of America's greatness as a nation of immigrants). But don't look for reason in this battle between prejudice and cowardice.
    Instead, what we are likely to get, regardless of who wins next year's election, will be an unprecedented round of ethnic cleansing and exclusion in the form of multi-billion dollar border fences (supported by the Tea Party "small government" hypocrites), and internal racial persecution against Spanish-speaking and dark skinned immigrants and Americans alike that will bring back uncomfortable memories of the attempts to blame the Jews for Europe's economic problems in the run-up to Hitler and WW2. 
    Is there any way to stop this descent into racist madness which began with the craven surrender to white bigotry by America's current president and Deporter in Chief, and is continuing any time one of the Republican presidential contenders opens his (or, in the case of Michele Bachmann, who is taking anti-immigtant hate to a new low, her) mouth? Only if members of America's Latino, Asian and other immigrant communities flex their muscles, speak out and start to make their political and economic presence felt. This could mean marches, demonstrations, economic boycotts, primary challenges (especially to you know whom in the White House) and a third party. 
    Immigrants and their American citizen supporters can no longer sit on the sidelines in this battle. The sidelines may turn out one day soon to be on the opposite side of the Rio Grande. I wish all ID readers a happy Labor Day holiday weekend.
  5. Conflict in the Middle East - How should Immigration Authorities Respond? By Danielle Beach-Oswald

    Although Qaddafi's regime may have fallen, the fate of the mysterious Libyan leader remains uncertain as rebel leaders continue their search for the 69 year old former Libyan president. Qaddafi has shown that he is unwilling to go down without a struggle and taunted the Libyan opposition in a radio message stating that he was going to purify the Libyan capital of Tripoli of rebel forces. As Libya makes this transition after over 40 years of Qaddafi in power, many are fearful of the potential for instability as the Libyan opposition is neither unified or under a central command.
    Despite the conflict that rages in Libya, Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad has pledged to remain steadfast in his opposition to Syrian democratic protests. Although President Obama and other world leaders called on the Syrian President to step down last week, President Assad stated that he is "not worried" about the increasingly powerful opposition. An estimated 2,000 Syrians have died since the start of the uprising in March, and media reports remain unverified as the Syrian government has expelled most foreign media outlets.
    It is now time for Immigration Authorities to try to lay a cohesive policy towards Syrian and Libyan nationals given the political instability that impacts nationals of both countries. In 2010, USCIS admitted 8,904 Syrian citizens as nonimmigrants. Additionally, 41 Syrians were either granted asylum by the USCIS Asylum Office or defensively by the EOIR. 4,956 Libyan citizens were admitted as nonimmigrants. Although 11 Libyans received affirmative asylum through USCIS in 2010, in the past 10 years, no Libyans have received defensive asylum through the EOIR.  For these statistics, please see DHS Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.
    Although INA 244 allows for the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate certain countries for Temporary Protected Status if requiring the aliens to return to their home countries would pose a serious threat to their safety, it's time for Syrian and Libyan nationals residing in the United States to receive such a benefit. The Obama Administration has spoken in favor of democratic revolutions in Libya and Syria and yet Libyans and Syrians have yet to receive any TPS benefits. Those that fall out of status are threatened with the possibility of facing severe hardship upon their return to Syria or Libya because of the continuing on-going political conflicts. Although many may be fearful of National Security concerns from the government of Syria's inclusion on the Department of State's State Sponsor of Terror list, Sudanese citizens were granted TPS in 2004 in spite of their government's inclusion on the DOS State Sponsor of Terror list.
    This administration may support the foreign policy objectives of democratization of the opposition movements in Syria and Libya, but it must also realize the humanitarian concerns of its people. If forced to return to Syria or Libya, Syrians and Libyans would face life threatening dangerous consequences. It is therefore time for TPS to be granted until there is peace and stability in both Arab countries.

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