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  1. What’s Happening to Immigration Across the Rio Grande?-The Changing Face of Mexico. By: Danielle-Beach Oswald

    By: Danielle Beach-Oswald and William Shwayri
    Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is   William Shwayri is a rising Second Year Law Student at George Mason University and is a Law Clerk in Ms. Beach-Oswald's office. 
    A recent study conducted by the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University and the University of Guadalajara noted that interest in immigration to the United States from Mexico has fallen to its lowest levels since the 1950s.  The study further noted that net traffic of Mexicans immigrating to the United States legally or illegally has fallen to zero as Mexicans living in the United States are now starting to return home.  This in turn led to a sharp and unexpected increase of 4 million people in Mexico's latest census.  These numbers have been supported by a study from the Pew Research Center, which noted that last year there were approximately 100,000 illegal crossings from Mexico to the United States.  This was down dramatically from 525,000 annually from 10 years ago. 
    Policymakers however should necessarily not look at this as a victory for increased security measures at the border and new state enforcement laws such as Arizona's HB 1070.  Rather, this change is mainly a reflection of internal changes in Mexico.  As Mexican society changes and its economy improves, there is a lessening of financial and demographic pressures upon Mexican families.  With the wide acceptance of new birth control measures, Mexican families have gotten smaller with the average woman now giving birth to less than 2 children instead of the average of 6.8 children in the 1970s.  In turn, the size of new workers added to the Mexican labor force has fallen to 800,000 per year from previous years of over 1 million.  If this trend continues, Mexico will add 300,000 individuals to its labor force per year by 2030.  Additionally, Mexico's economy grew at a rate of 5.5% last year with its GDP per capita also seeing an increase. 
    As an off and on recession has plagued the United States, Mexico has in many ways weathered the storm and Mexican laborers in the United States are finding that it isn't as profitable as it once was to work in this country.  The Mexican government has been successfully improving general infrastructure in areas where they were previously lacking, with water and sanitation services being available now throughout most of the country.  The number of high schools in certain parts of the country have doubled in the past decade.  College enrollment is also up as the number of students enrolled in the university system of Jalisco, an area prone to immigration to the United States, has seen a 100% increase in the past decade.
    There has also been new visa authorization policies used by US consulates in Mexico that have had a positive change on the process.  The number of Mexicans who have entered as an immediate relative of a US citizen has increased by 64%.  This is a direct reflection of the new policy of the US Consular Officials in Mexico who are trying to reward those that are trying to cross the Rio Grande legally.  Policies that have been instituted include a relaxing of the $100 visa issuance fee to Mexican employees that was supposed to be paid by their American employers, but often paid by the Mexican employees. 
    While these trends are genuinely seen as good, there are still some unresolved issues in US-Mexico immigration.  The H-2a visa program which provides a vital source of agricultural workers to the United States remains confusing.  Additionally, an increasing number of residents of northern Mexico are fleeing the drug cartel war.  This has led to an over 500% increase of Mexicans attempting to enter the United States to seek asylum and has been coupled with an over 50% increase of Mexicans already in the United States to seek asylum.  For individuals such as exiled Mexican Journalist Emilio Gutierrez and former police chief of Ciudad Juarez Marisol Valles this fear is a very real objective reality.
    As Mexico continues to progress economically, socially, and politically, its successes may signify a new way to handle immigration problems in the United States.  The U.S. has acknowledged its role in the increase of dangerous drug cartels and has strengthened its support of Mexico as a key ally.  Migration from Mexico has largely declined because of better conditions in Mexico.  In 2008, USAID gave Mexico slightly over $50 million for economic development programs.  Policymakers should try to use development programs like USAID as a catalyst to better country conditions, which in turn will insure a better way of life for its residents and stem the tide of illegal immigration to the United States.   
  2. Teen DREAMer and Mother Face Imminent Deportation

    by , 07-12-2011 at 04:01 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The following information about Brenda and her DREAMer daughter Luisa (age 19) was posted on  A petition has been started demanding the Obama administration stop Brenda and Luisa's imminent deportation, which is  scheduled for September 12, 2011.  I urge you to sign the petition, and forward it to everyone you know.  Also post the link on your Facebook page, Tweet the link, and call your Senator Feinstein and ask that she sponsor a private bill on Brenda and Luisa's behalf.

    o Brenda and her daughter Luisa (age 19) have lived in the United States since Luisa was four months old. Brenda married Jose, who is a lawful permanent resident and the only father Luisa has known. Brenda and Jose also have two U.S. citizen daughters, Ana (age 6) and Daniela (age 5). The family is about to be torn apart by Brenda and Luisa's imminent deportation.
    o Brenda's deportation could be life-threatening to her daughter Daniela, who suffers from a rare blood disorder called neutropenia which requires constant attention and frequent medical screening. Brenda also cares for Ana and helps Jose run his small business, Solares House Movers.

    o Brenda and Jose have contributed immensely to the community and the country. They pay taxes year after year, and have never relied on public benefits for their family's support. They have always educated their daughters in private school and have paid out of their pockets for their family's health care needs. The family is particularly active in their church community and is respected as model for others.

    o Luisa has blossomed into a lovely young woman with aspirations to graduate from college and help her father with the family business. She has just finished her first year of community college, where she is pursuing a double major in Marine Biology and Business Administration. She hopes to transfer to a four-year university.

    o Twenty years ago, Brenda fled Guatemala with then four-month-old Luisa. They came forward to affirmatively apply for asylum, but in 2007 their application was finally denied on the ground that they had not shown sufficient persecution in Guatemala.
    o Annually from 2008 to 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted Brenda and Luisa special permission to stay in the United States (known as Stays of Removal) based on the medical hardship that Daniela would face without them. .

    o In January of 2011, Brenda and Luisa re-applied for permission to stay in the country. However, Brenda and Luisa have now been given only six months to stay, and were informed that they would be deported to Guatemala on September 12, 2011.

    Senator Feinstein's contact information is:
    Senator Feinstein's San Francisco Office
    One Post Street, Suite 2450
    San Francisco, CA 94104
    Phone: (415) 393-0707      
    Fax: (415) 393-0710

    Senator Feinstein's Washington, D.C. Office
    331 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510
    Phone: (202) 224-3841      
    Fax: (202) 228-3954
    TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501
    Call in Script:
    "I am calling on behalf of Luisa Argueta (A074-800-131) and Brenda Gutierrez-Samayoa (A074-800-130), mother and daughter who are facing deportation to Guatemala in September of this year. Luisa and her mother, Brenda moved to the Bay Area when Luisa  was only 4 months old. They have been active in their community, maintain a family-owned business, consistently attend church, and also take the time to volunteer.  Luisa just completed her first year at Diablo Valley College and is hoping to transfer to a four-year university to study Oceanography and Business.   Brenda dedicates herself to both working at the family business and taking care of her family, especially her six year old daughter Daniela, who suffers from a serious blood disorder.  The reason I am calling is to ask that you do something to stop Luisa and Brenda from being deported."
  3. CRS Report: Country Conditions Are the Driving Force Behind Asylum Seekers

    A recent report from the Congressional Research Service concludes that "data analysis of six selected countries (the PRC, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Mexico) suggests that conditions in the source countries are likely the driving force behind asylum seekers."  These six countries represent the majority of asylum seekers coming to the U.S., and the new report is significant for several reasons.
    CRS employs some of the most logical people on Capitol Hill.
    First, critics of the asylum system claim that it is a backdoor for economic migrants and that many asylum cases are fraudulent.  While fraud is a problem and economic conditions certainly affect the flow of migrants (including asylum seekers), the CRS report lends support to pro-asylum types (such as myself), who believe that most asylum seekers are fleeing persecution and repression in their homelands.
    Second, since CRS is the organization tasked with supporting "the Members, committees, and leaders of the House and Senate at all stages of the legislative process," its policy papers are influential in shaping legislation.  Maybe it is naive to believe that ideologues in Congress will consider the new report when making policy, but at least those in the pro-asylum camp will have some new data to help make their arguments.
    Finally, there are a couple of asylum-related issues pending in the current Congress.  One is the Refugee Protection Act, which offers some new protections to asylum seekers.  The CRS report mentions the RFA, and seems to have been written with that bill in mind.  The RFA has been floating around the Senate for over a year, and no progress seems forthcoming.  However, Zoe Lofgren-a great advocate for protecting immigrants-introduced a companion bill in the House last month.  So perhaps we will see some action on this front.     
    The other piece of asylum-related news in Congress is Senator Rand Paul's hearing on terrorism and asylum.  Senator Paul called for hearings after two Iraqi refugees were arrested on terrorism charges (I wrote about this here).   The hearing is scheduled for July 13, 2011.  The CRS report is relevant to this hearing as well.  Although there are legitimate concerns related to national security and asylum, the instances of asylum seekers or refugees committing (or being accused of) terrorist acts are extremely rare.  The report shows that many asylum seekers are genuine refugees who face persecution in their home countries.  The Senate should keep this in mind when balancing national security with our humanitarian and moral responsibilities.
    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  4. Bloggings: "Congress must act now to provide unified direction for America's immigration policy, so that the states will not impose their own patchwork solutions": will this mantra overcome the problem of prejudice? by Roger Algase

    It has become almost obligatory among editorial writers and other pundits dealing with this subject to end every comment about the deplorable and dangerous rush among state legislatures, especially but not exclusively in what used to be the old, racially segregated South, to outdo themselves in passing draconian anti-immigrant laws, by repeating the pius wish that Congress, or policy makers in Washington, would "step up to the plate" and pass a comprehensive reform bill to provide central direction over immigration.
    The only problem with this line of thinking is that Congressional action, or any coordinated action by policy makers in Washington, is a virtual impossibility in the current political climate. Congress is not an abstract body, independent from the bitter political dispute that is now dividing America over the future ethnic makeup of this country, which is the alpha and omega of the entire immigration issue. Very much to the contrary, Congress reflects, and is torn by, the same kinds of ideological divisions over immigration that are preventing, at least for the moment, any kind of action to deal with America's budget issue.
    Just as the budget dispute is, at bottom, one over which section of society (or "class", to use an unpopular word) will bear the burden of putting America's fiscal house back in order, the immigration dispute is one over whether America will continue along its bumpy, but inevitable road to becoming a more racially and religiously diverse and tolerant nation, or whether it will turn back in the direction of shutting its gates against unpopular minorities, as was done in the 1924 immigration act which many anti-immigration advocates openly wish to bring back in one version or another.
    The minorities whom immigration opponents want to keep out, or kick out, of America, are in some respects different ones from the targets of anti-immigrant prejudice in the 1920's. Few American politicians in either party have a problem now with Italian, Jewish or Eastern European immigrants, as was the case in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th. But prejudice against immigrants from outside Europe still persists and is the main obstacle to any meaningful immigration reform in Washington or any attempt to limit the excesses of anti-immigrant laws at the state level.
    The only way to understand what is going on with immigration policy in many state legislatures today is to look at the issue as a continuation of the battle against racial segregation in the 1960's. This struggle is only on the surface about federalism, whether states or the federal government should control immigration policy, just as the civil rights struggle was only superficially about "states rights" as opposed to federal power.  At bottom, the struggle for immigrant rights, in common with the struggle to end racial segregation half a century ago, is a battle against hate.
    Unless and until this battle is won, look for even more racially inspired anti-immigrant bigotry from the states, and even less action from Washington to counteract prejudice.
  5. Lawsuit Brought Challenging Constitutionality of Alabama HB 56

    Last month, the State of Alabama passed a law that was by far the strictest immigration bill passed in the United States since Arizona passed its bill. Under the new law, police must determine a person's residency if they suspect they may be undocumented, schools must check students and parents' immigration status and landlords cannot rent homes to undocumented immigrants.
    In particular, Alabamians--including countless U.S. citizens and non-citizens who have permission from the federal government to remain in the United States--are subject to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures, and arrests, which will result in racial profiling. This is because HB 56 mandates law enforcement officers to investigate the immigration status of any individual they stop, detain, or arrest when they have "reasonable suspicion" that the individual lacks immigration status. Individuals who may be perceived as "foreign" by state or local law enforcement agents will be in constant jeopardy of harassment and unlawfully prolonged detention and arrest by state law enforcement officers operating under HB 56's new immigration enforcement mandates. And all Alabamians will be required to carry state-approved identity documentation in order to prevent lengthy investigations as to their status. These provisions violate the Fourth Amendment.
    In addition to the potential illegal stops, public schools are also impacted by this bill. In particular, every public elementary and secondary school in this state, at the time of enrollment in kindergarten or any grade in such school, shall determine whether the student enrolling in public school was born outside the jurisdiction of the United States or is the child of an alien not lawfully present in the United States and qualifies for assignment to an English as Second Language class or other remedial program.
    In response to this law being passed, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama filed on behalf of several organizations and representing organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, has eight constitutional claims including claims under the Supremacy Clause (arguing that the state law is pre-empted); Fourth Amendment; Equal Protection Clause; Due Process Clause; First amendment claims including speech, assembly, and petition clauses, and the Contracts Clause. Their Complaint also includes two interesting Sixth Amendment claims:
    "HB 56 violates the Confrontation Clause because a defendant would be prohibited from confronting the witness who prepared the federal government verification, and the state court is prohibited from considering any evidence except for the federal government verification."
    "HB 56's criminal provisions violate the Compulsory Process Clause (as well as the Due Process Clause) because a defendant would be prohibited from presenting a defense on the issue of whether he or she possesses lawful immigration status."
    You can see the complaint here
    We agree that Laws such as HB 56 prevent, not promote, the values that the U.S. was founded by immigrants who help make this a better country. By passing such strong, anti-immigrant measures, States are taking a stance that the U.S. is no longer the welcoming country that it once was. If immigration reform is to ever be realized, let us hope the Supreme Court will see that these state law measures violate the Constitution and that the Federal government should do what it takes to reform and make the system better.
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