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Thanks to reader GG for the link to CNN's interview with the DHS Secretary.
Here are the highlights:
On the process for applying -
"There are those who are in removal proceedings now. We will either find them or we're asking them to help us self-identify. There will be hot lines and web sites up over the next couple of days. And then there are those who haven't been in touch with the immigration system, but they've been living under a cloud. And within 60 days they will be able to go to a CIS office. And if they meet the criteria -- they're going to have to demonstrate they meet the criteria, they can be given a grant of deferred action."
BLITZER: One final question, is the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, Immigrations Customs Enforcement, are you ready for what is about to happen because presumably you're going to be swamped with phone calls, appearances, these young people want legal status. NAPOLITANO: You know, we're cautioning people, we need to take it, you know, kind of incrementally. Instructions have gone out to ICE and CBP today that they're not to put these young people into removal proceedings. We will begin the process over the next weeks of identifying those already in removal or whoever received a final order of removal to consider them for deferred action. And there will be phone numbers and a public advocate that these individuals can actually call beginning next week if they think they qualify. And then for those who haven't been in the immigration system yet, they haven't been put into any kind of a proceeding, but they want to come forward, that will have to be to a CIS office. And that will be within 60 days. And, again, we are posting on dhs.gov, initial information, initial frequently asked questions. But we're going to have to work together with the community, with the country, to do a smooth implementation as possible.
On risking getting parents caught up in immigration proceedings by applying -
"BLITZER: What about the parents of these children? The children come forward now, they identify themselves. Should the parents be concerned that potentially they could be deported? They would now be identified as illegal immigrants. NAPOLITANO: No. We are not going to do that. We have internally set it up so that the parents are not referred for immigration enforcement if the young person comes in for deferred action. However, the parents are not qualified for deferred action. This is for the young people who meet the criteria that we've set forth."
On eligibility for federal benefits and on getting employment authorization:
"BLITZER: What social services would these young people be qualified for? Will they be qualified to receive Medicaid benefits, food stamps, school vouchers, stuff like that? NAPOLITANO: No. No. They won't be -- again, there's deferred action now given in certain cases. And they don't qualify for those types of benefits. The one thing they may qualify for is a work authorization card if they can demonstrate economic necessity."
So good news for people worried about putting parents in the cross hairs of immigration by applying for deferred action. Also, the new details on the process are interesting. Monday, there's a call hosted by the DHS entities administering the program where more details are to be announced. I'll be participating and will report.
Turns out I was right about what I have been saying publicly for the better part of the last year: the Obama administration is using the Secure Communities program as a tool to racially profile and deport people of color that have never been charged with any criminal violation.
Who'da thunk it?
A series of emails between the FBI and ICE establish that Secure Communities is not being limited to individuals that are being booked into jail for a charged violation of a criminal law.
The Obama administration had been stonewalling the release of information verifying this fact. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic were forced to file suit against the administration in order to obtain information under a previously submitted Freedom of Information Act request.
So much for being the most transparent administration in history.
What was found is that the Obama administration is using drivers' license checkpoints as a tool to institute removal proceedings.
I hate to say I told you so, but...
UncovertheTruth.org offers the following:
According to the emails, in May 2011, California attempted to obtain assurance from ICE and the FBI that "the [Secure Communities] Program will only affect persons who are arrested for a crime, and not those who may simply be stopped at a drivers' license checkpoint." Instead of providing the requested assurance, the FBI apparently informed California that even prints for individuals who had been arrested for identification purposes only would have their immigration status checked through Secure Communities. Moreover, the FBI informed California that, although it was technically possible to change this process, it would not do so.
The administration's response to the release of information is that it is "going to create an issue."
It's comforting to know that the administration is so concerned about bad press in an election year.
Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, sums it up perfectly: "This is the latest proof that Secure Communities is not a targeted immigration enforcement program, but a deportation dragnet."
How is all that hopey-change stuff working out for you?
Vote Gary Johnson for President in 2012.
I recently finished a book about the Quran, and it got me wondering about what Islamic Law (or Shari'ah) has to say about asylum.*
Forget the Asylum Primer...
With the help of the mighty Google, I found an interesting paper on the subject from 2009: The Right to Asylum between Islamic Shari'ah and International Refugee Law: A Comparative Study.* The study is by Prof. Ahmed Abou-El-Wafa, chief of the department of public international law at Cairo University, and was written for the United Nations.* The study was meant to begin a conversation and get feedback from various experts in preparation for publishing the second edition of the study.* This conversation is apparently on-going.
Obviously, I am no expert in Shari'ah law, but I reviewed the initial study and I thought I would mention a few highlights.* The document begins with a quote from the Quran:
Those who believed and emigrated, and strove in the cause of God, as well as those who hosted them and gave them refuge, and supported them, these are the true believers.* They have deserved forgiveness and a generous recompense. (Quranic Surat al-Anfal, "The Spoils of War" [Chapter 8 verse 74]).
Try the Quran instead.
From there, the study sets forth the conditions for granting asylum under Islamic law.* For one thing,*refugees should be "warmly welcomed... and well treated."* "This is clear from the divine phrase [in the Quran that] those who 'show their affection to such as came to them for refuge...' and consequently [they] should not be expelled to the borders (refouled) or denied admission."* Indeed, asylum seekers "should not be rejected , even if the inhabitants of the territory of asylum are in dire poverty... as the [Quran] says, '... even though poverty was their (own lot).'"* The study further states that "Islam categorically disallows that a refugee be returned to a place where there are fears for his basic freedoms and rights (such as being subjected to persecution, torture, degrading or other treatment)."*
Most of the examples in the study involve granting asylum to Muslims, but the law of asylum also extends to non-Muslims who are seeking protection.* This is based on a "well-known Islamic principle, i.e. 'Before the world's calamities, all sons of Adam (human beings) are equal.'"
The study also discusses the case of a person who enters Muslim territory without permission for the purpose of seeking asylum.* While non-Muslims are generally not permitted to enter Muslim lands without permission (and may be severely punished if they do), people who enter for the purpose of seeking asylum are not subject to penalties and should be offered protection.*
Interestingly, as in international law, Islamic law lists certain people who are ineligible for asylum.* One group that is not eligible are criminals, "particularly those who have committed acts warranting prescribed penalties (hodoud, e.g. willful murder)."* Also, people who have committed "grievances" in their home country are ineligible.* Here, Islamic law distinguishes between offering asylum and sheltering offenders.* The latter is not allowed.* Further, a grant of asylum to a specific person "may be coupled with an agreement concluded with him."* Failure to abide by the agreement can have "grave consequences."
The report concludes that "Observance of this right [to asylum] as enshrined by Islam is a duty for every zealous Muslim."
While the concept of asylum exists under Shari'ah law, many Islamic countries, including the wealthy Gulf states, have not signed on to international treaties concerning refugees and do not offer asylum to people fleeing persecution.* I hope Professor Ahmed's study reaches those Islamic governments that do not offer protection to refugees.* Not only do such governments fail to fulfill the duties incumbent upon all nations; it seems they also fail to fulfill their obligations under Islamic law.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
For the past week, much of the capital city area of the country with the world's largest economy, most powerful military, and, according to what every school child is taught, most advanced values, has been sweltering without power in triple-digit heat, causing widespread suffering that would be an embarrassment to most third-world countries. Meanwhile, large parts of Colorado have been burning from uncontrollable wildfires.
An Associated Press article, reprinted in the Huffington Post on July 4, states:
"But since at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now."
"So far this year, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in wildfires, more than 113 million people in the US were in areas under extreme heat advisories last Friday, two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, and earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida."
It is. of course, true that evidence for man-made global warming (and isn't it time to drop the euphemism "climate change"?) is still being hotly debated among scientists (no pun intended). But global warming needs to be discussed and taken more seriously. A good friend of mine, who has long experience and great expertise in environmental issues, has suggested that life on this planet may be in danger of being extinguished in only a few centuries because of global warming, not thousands, or millions, of years as many people think.
It would be far beyond the scope of this blogging to offer definitive opinions on controversial scientific issues. But global warming needs to be mentioned and widely discussed.This is something that one of America's two political parties, controlled by corporate money, categorically refuses to do. Nor have the corporate dominated media generally been willing, despite some exceptions, to cover this issue in much detail.
However, global warming denial is only one facet of the right wing's war on science. Evolution, which has been accepted by all thinking people for more than a hundred years, is still under attack from the radical right. And it is not only science which is being targeted. Other self evident facts, such as that government regulation is often necessary to protect the public from corporate abuse, are taboo among Tea Party and other right wing ideologues.
In the wake of last week's storm and ongoing power outages in the Washington DC area, the Washington Post ran an article pointing out that the utilities have been unwilling to spend money to locate their cables underground, where they would be protected from devastating storms. At the same time, the utilities have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists and campaign contributions.
More than a million people in the area who have been sweltering in the record heat, without electricity, for the better part of a week, are not only victims of the natural weather. They are also suffering because of the political climate.
Why is this relevant to immigration? Because immigrants have been exposed to a great deal of extreme weather too - especially in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. They not only have to deal with local storms and conflagrations, but also with destructive nationwide weather patterns, also known as Secure Communities, Section 287(g) and E-verify.
Occasionallly a fire brigade will come along to throw some water on the flames of right wing anti-immigrant hate, as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy did by joining three more liberal Justices in throwing out one part of Arizona's: Achtung! Wo sind Ihre Papiere? ("Hand over your papers immediately!") SB 1070 immigration law ("AWSIP") last week. President Obama did the same by announcing that students who would have been eligible for relief from deportation if the DREAM Act had survived a Republican filibuster threat in the Senate will be granted temporary administrative relief.
But while the fire fighters are dousing a few of the flames with water, they are also throwing gasoline on others. The Supreme Court left one of the worst features of Arizona's AWSIP law intact last week, one which directs police to check the immigration status of, among others, people pulled over for suspected traffic violations. Many other states now have a green light to enact similar laws.
Meanwhile, President Obama is continuing to stoke the flames of anti-immigrant prejudice by deporting almost 400,000 people a year, a record number. As America's right wing ideologues try to take the country backward in time to a 19th century era of scientific ignorance, laissez-faire government, extreme income inequality, denial of union rights, no social safety net, discrimination against women, lifestyle and religious minorities, denial of voting rights, and legalized racial bigotry, the weather for millions of immigrants is also growing hotter.
Andy Griffith, one of America's most beloved actors passed away today. Those who are my age and older remember The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, and Mayberry RFD. My generation had just a couple of televeision channels to watch, and Griffith's shows ran in continuous reruns so even those who missed the shows in prime time were even more familiar with the series than those who worked for a living and didn't have time to watch reruns every day after school.
The New York Times Editorial Page blog features a clip from the last episode of the Andy Griffith Show in 1968 that featured Mayberry moving with the times and welcoming its first immigrant, Mario, a migrant worker from Italy. Sounds like Mario was probably coming illegally given that the brazero guest worker program had ended four years earlier in 1964. But Andy wasn't out to run the stranger out of town. Instead, he welcomed the new Mayberry resident with open arms - typical for Sheriff Taylor. Andy immediately picked up on how tough it is to pick up and come to a new country, particularly when loved ones are left at home. We can use more sheriffs like Andy Taylor and less like Joe Arpaio. Rest in peace, Andy.