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  1. Immigration used as a scare tactic to prevent effective immigration reform; By Danielle Beach-Oswald

    With over 2.3 million persons behind bars in the US, we currently have incarcerated almost three times the amount of those incarcerated in China. This is a particularly alarming fact since we have a fraction of the population of China and we also view them as a communist repressive regime. In the past five years those jailed have increased by five times the amount of prior years and it is now the highest ever. Paradoxically, we are spending less and less on education and rehabilitation and more on punishment it seems. Also surprisingly, we have never been safer than we are now and crime levels are way down. According to the Executive Director Cornell Brooks of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, at the rate of $ 100,000 per adult per year for incarceration our communities and decrease in jobs are paying a heavy toll. Based on current research crime levels decline was a statistical and socially documented reality prior to the increased enforcement of incarceration.
    These scare tactics have distracted and derailed immigration reform that is vitally needed. In fact, according to U.S.Customs and Border Patrol statistics the number of illegal persons apprehended at the Southwest border has dramatically declined. In 2011 only 280,592 were apprehended as opposed to 447,731 persons in 2010. The amount of persons trying to enter the U.S. has steadily and drastically declined in the past ten years from 1,634,679 in 2000 to its current rate. Current trends show that the number of apprehensions in 2011 is the lowest in 40 years and illegal immigration has fallen to levels last seen in the Nixon administration.
    Thus horror stories of out-of-control border insecurity is simply a myth and an excuse for inaction on the dysfunctional present reality of a broken immigration system. The question remains as to what to do with those 10 million plus illegal immigrants who are currently in the US and have no means of relief under our current draconian rules since the passing of IIRIRA and AEDPA in 1996 and 1997. They cannot or will not return home and leave their families of legal spouse and children when there is no prospect of being able to return due to the 10 year bar that prevents almost all of them from ever reentering or seeing their family again. Often,they have no ties left to their native home country after having been here a decade or more. Furthermore, they cannot afford to leave everything behind and start all over again in a country with which they frequently have no ability to work. Those incarcerated for immigration purposes are a huge financial drain on society as over 70 percent have no criminal charges but have over-stayed their visas here.
    One group of people are however, making this financially profitable. This is Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE) contractors and the administration for the jails. Since federal dollars are given for each detainee who is a foreign national in jail, there is a large amount of tax payer dollars that are funding the detention of persons who have no crimes and could be out there working and paying taxes instead.
  2. FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Workshop examine the Obama administration’s controversial get-tough immigration policy

    by , 10-18-2011 at 06:01 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Watch Lost in Detention on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.
  3. Statistics Show Criminal Deportations on the Decline

    by , 10-18-2011 at 07:12 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    USA Today reports that 45% of the nearly 400,000 people deported by the Obama administration last fiscal year had no criminal records.
    Here is a partial breakdown of the reported types of criminal deportations last year:

    1,119 homicide
    5,848 sexual offenses
    44,653 drug-related offenses 
    35,927 driving under the influence
    13,028 traffic offenses

    Looks good on paper... but let's take a closer look at the statistics.
    Syracuse University's TRAC immigration has put together an interactive chart that includes a breakdown of the fiscal year 2011 deportation numbers up to July 26, 2011. TRAC has determined that from January through June 2011, the proportion of deportation proceedings charging criminal violations has fallen below what we saw under the Bush administration.
    In fact, TRAC's chart below demonstrates a recent sharp decline in criminal deportation proceedings in immigration courts.

    From Obama's election up until July 26, 2011, 83.2% of all deportations instituted in immigration courts involve no criminal violations, and only 15.2% involve criminal violators. As for deportation proceedings based on national security concerns: 0.02%.  So to do the math, under Obama four out of every five (82.8%) deportation proceedings do not involve any criminal grounds for removal, terrorism, or security risks.
    Moreover, TRAC has determined that in the decade after 9/11 the actual number deportations aimed at criminals, national security threats and terrorists have all declined rather than increased, yet mere immigration violation deportation proceedings are skyrocketing.

    Does this make you feel any safer?
    Now in fairness, I don't know what the exact deportation statistics are after June 2011.  That being said, this President's rhetoric that he is targeting criminal aliens for deportation simply is not reflected by the available statistics.  
    More "Change" you can believe in.
    Thankfully, we have TRAC to sort it all out for us and keep the Obama administration honest. 
    I highly recommend that you consider donating to TRAC.  They do fantastic and invaluable work.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Images
  4. Journalism's Immigration Challenge

    by , 10-18-2011 at 06:30 AM (Angelo Paparelli on Dysfunctional Government)

    The Fourth Estate is under siege.  Newspapers try valiantly to maintain readership as advertising revenues plummet. Mostly free access to digital versions of print articles causes young and old readers alike to prefer Web-based media. The short-form writing of USA Today -- embraced by readers in a hurry -- and the public's preference for color and graphics over text combine to weaken demand for the kind of in-depth reporting that wins Pulitzers.  Pressures mount to present a "balanced" report, even when one side of the argument is illogical or extreme.  Bloggers -- some of whom may lack commitment to traditional journalism's code of ethics -- publish stories that scoop traditional reporters even if confirmation of the facts is rushed or ignored.
    Immigration, perhaps more than any other subject, challenges professional journalists. The law is complex, obscure and difficult to understand and even harder to explain. Immigration procedures are varied and the decisions of courts and bureaucrats often seem arbitrary, inconsistent or otherwise inexplicable.  Stridency and bias on both sides of the immigration debate frustrate efforts to uncover the real facts. Deadlines and word limits make thorough and accurate reporting elusive.
    There is reason, however, to be hopeful.  In 2010, the Atlantic Philanthropies joined with The New York Times to support journalism institutes that try to improve reporting on a variety of important topics, including immigration. One such effort, "The Changing Face of America - Immigration from the Ground up," co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the UC Berkeley Law School, will soon present a five-day intensive for journalists.  Last year's program is viewable online.
    I spoke at last year's event on the topic, "Jobs Americans Can't (Won't) Do. Balancing Labor Market Needs with Worker Rights." As shown in the video below, I maintain that reporting on our nation's dysfunctional system of immigration requires heavy lifting. I offered a case in point, the Department of Labor's convoluted process of labor market testing which requires deep digging into legislative history and the discovery that bureaucrats have created political cover for themselves while perpetrating a cruel hoax on U.S. workers and the public.  

    Another respected venue is the Institute for Justice and Journalism (IJJ) which has been offering fellowships to immigration journalists since 2003.  The IJJ's Immigration in the Heartland web site offers a wealth of excellent articles.  The next IJJ program will be in April and will focus on the 2012 elections, with the deadline for applications on January 17.
    Some reporters excel in immigration reporting -- Miriam Jordan (The Wall Street Journal), Julia Preston (The New York Times) as well as Suzanne Gamboa and Amy Taxin (Associated Press) -- to name a precious few. Others rise to the top through editorial writing on immigration, such as Lawrence Downes (The New York Times), among the best of all.  Many others have embraced the task with energy and passion by devoting themselves to reporting on immigration reform, such as Phuong Ly, who established Gateway California, "a nonprofit that helps journalists connect to immigrants," and Julianne Hing of Colorlines. Probably the most courageous proponent of better immigration coverage by journalists is Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winner who outed himself as an undocumented immigrant since childhood.
    As the 2011 Fellows gather at UC Berkeley in November for the second annual institute (also titled,"The Changing Face of America - Immigration from the Ground up"), immigration aficionados and the public can look forward to better and still better reporting on the complex and life-changing issues arising in this turbulent Nation of Immigrants.
  5. Afghan Asylee Murdered in San Diego

    Mir Najibullah Sadat Sahou was an economist and the governor of the Afghan Central Bank before he fled Afghanistan in 1992. Like many refugees and asylees, Mr. Sahou could not find work in his field.  Instead, he drove a taxi, supported his family, and continued his political activity by appearing regularly on a talk show on Ariana Afghanistan International TV.

    Mir Najibullah Sadat Sahou

    Mr. Sahou, age 68, was gunned down on September 28, 2011.  According to CBS News, the police have identified a suspect and issued an arrest warrant.  It appears that the motive was robbery, but given Mr. Sahou's political activism and his prior high-profile job, other motives cannot yet be ruled out.
    The story of a prominent person who flees his country and starts over in the U.S. is fairly common among refugees.  When I worked in refugee resettlement in the early 1990?s, I knew a Russian man who had designed the radar system for the Backfire Bomber (the Soviet Union's main long-range bomber).  In the U.S., he worked as a mechanic in a machine shop.  I also met the former Minister of Finance for the Ethiopian army.  He worked in a parking garage.  It takes a certain strength of character to go from a prominent station in life to one that is more humble.  But like many refugees, Mr. Sahou appears to have carried on for the sake of his children (one of whom is a pre-med student).
    Another aspect of Mr. Sahou's story that strikes me is his on-going concern  for his home country.  Although he did not have a professional position in his field, he continued to work for the betterment of Afghanistan by educating the public through his television show.
    Finally, although the motive for the attack seems to have been robbery, there have been many instances of foreign agents operating clandestinely in the United States and attacking political opponents.  The most famous example is probably the 1976 assassination in Washington, DC of Chilean activist Orlando Letelier, who was murdered by agents of the Pinochet government, but many foreign government have engaged in violent acts against their nationals in the United States, including China (against the Falun Gong), Cuba (against anti-Castro Cubans), and Iraq (under Saddam Hussein).  Just last week, the Justice Department announced it had uncovered an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador in the United States (a claim disputed by Iran).  Given the frequency of such activity, it would be wise to look closely at Mr. Sahou's case to be sure that no foreign government or agency is behind the attack.
    Of course, whatever the motive, the murder of a family man who worked hard, served his home country, and loved his adopted country is a terrible tragedy.  May he rest in peace.
    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
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