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  1. Supremes Bar Up To 600,000 Likely Immigration Supporters From Voting. By Roger Algase

    This post has been revised as of 9:48 am, October 19:

    In my October 10 post, I discussed a decision by a federal judge in Texas striking down that state's voter ID law after a full trial. Based on the unrebutted evidence at the trial, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos determined that the law, among other things, constituted a poll tax which was intended to disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic voters. She also found that anti-immigrant prejudice was one of the tactics used in order to pass the law, if not one of the main motives for its passage. She also determined that the law could disenfranchise as many as 600,000 minority US citizens, a large majority of whom, it is safe to assume, would vote in favor of pro-immigration candidates if they were allowed to exercise their constitutional right to the franchise.

    Obviously, non-US citizens do not have the right to vote in state and federal elections, and there are few if any reported instances of this being attempted, despite claims by the law's supporters that voter ID was needed in order to stop immigrants who are not US citizens from voting illegally. The trial showed only one such example in Texas: this involved a Norwegian citizen, not a Latino. According to Judge Gonzales-Ramos' 147-page decision, even this one instance was based on a misunderstanding caused by the negligence of Texas voting officials, who mailed the Norwegian citizen a ballot anyway, even though he had truthfully stated that he was not an American citizen.

    As I suggested in my previous post, voting rights and immigrant rights are joined at the hip. If American citizens coming from Hispanic and other immigrant communities are prevented from voting, we can just as well strike the phrase "immigration reform" from our vocabulary and move on to other topics, such as how many more people will be deported this year, how much the rfe/denial rate for legal employment or family-based petitions will continue to increase, or how many more years or decades it will take for millions of people to receive green cards in our backlogged visa system.

    Therefore, it is a matter of grave concern to the cause of immigration and immigrant rights that the US Supreme Court, on October 18, refused to vacate a stay which had been granted by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of the District Court's order granting a permanent injunction against enforcing the discriminatory Texas voter ID law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a ringing dissent for which she will no doubt be remembered for many years to come, concluded her opinion by writing:

    "The gravest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters."

    Justice Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The case is Veasey v. Perry, 574 U.S.___(2014).

    Updated 10-19-2014 at 12:01 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. 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."


    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."


    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

  3. 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.


    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

  4. 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

  5. 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

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