Immigration Reform

July 15, 2010

“Immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue since it impacts the basic rights and dignity of millions of persons and their families. As such, it has moral implications, especially how it impacts the basic survival and decency of life experienced by human beings like us. … Our current immigration system fails to meet the moral test of protecting the basic rights and dignity of the human person.”
Bishop Gerald Kicanas, from the Catholic archdiocese in Tucson, AZ

If nothing else, the heated debate about the Arizona law and other recent immigration-related events is helping to raise awareness regarding the urgent need for immigration reform now.

In Utah some state employees created what has been called a "hit list" of alleged illegal immigrants. The list of some 1,300 individuals was sent in April to the USCIS.  Last week it was revitalized and sent to Utah lawmakers, state and federal law enforcement officials, and the media under the name of "Concerned Citizens of the United States."  The accompanying letter requested that Utah deport the individuals.

The "blacklist" or "hit list" was reportedly discovered to have been created by two employees of the state's Workforce Services Department.  That department oversees Medicaid, children's health insurance, unemployment benefits and food stamps. The two employees reportedly breached the Utah state data base to create the list, which included names, places of employment, addresses, and even social security numbers.  It also included 201 children and due dates for  pregnant women.

The two have been suspended from their jobs, and their actions have been condemned by everyone from Utah's Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, to religious and human rights groups.  Shurtleff said, "Most likely both federal and state privacy laws may have been violated." Arrests are expected and more individuals may be involved.

Politico reports:
“Some people call it a blacklist. I see it more as a hit list more reminiscent of what happened in Nazi Germany,” Shurtleff, a Republican, told reporters in a conference call Friday. He vowed that the state would not prosecute those on the list, which also contained the names of some legal citizens. “The state of Utah itself is not going to be using this list in order to start knocking on doors and rounding people up.”

Paul Mero, president of the conservative Salt Lake City think tank Sutherland Institute, called the list “reprehensible.”
The CNMI AG and DOL Deputy Secretary Kaipat have their own list of illegals or so called "overstayers."  Reportedly some on their "list" were legitimate foreign workers who stayed to collect back wages and to pursue other legal cases. 

Another Police Officer Sues Arizona

Arizona police officer, David Salgado filed a lawsuit Friday against the State of Arizona over their controversial immigration law. The 19-year veteran of the Phoenix police department said that he could lose his job if he fails to enforce the law according to the Wall Street Journal:
“If he enforces the law, he can be sued. If he doesn’t enforce the law, he can be sued” by a private citizen, said Stephen Montoya, the attorney for Salgado. His client “is caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

Attorneys for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer told the judge that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the police officer and the group have no valid claim of immediate harm and the state law doesn’t trump federal immigration law.

Hearings on at least two of the six other lawsuits, including one filed by the Obama administration, are scheduled for next week. One of the six suits was filed by another police officer, Martin Escobar. Escobar, who patrols a heavily Hispanic enclave in Tucson, the state’s second-largest city, claims in the lawsuit that he would lose the cooperation of Latino witnesses, which he said was a key to solving crimes.
Some other lawsuits filed against Arizona's law include:
  • The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders and Chicanos por la Causa filed 2 lawsuits against the state.
  •  The ACLU, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and more than 20 other groups and individuals filed a class action citing the pre-emption argument and racial profiling.
  • The League of United Latin American Citizens and Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law cited the pre-emption clause and confusion over enforcement training materials.
  • Tucson police officer Martin H. Escobar who stated that SB 1070 would make police focus more on immigration than helping people in need. 
Next week U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton will hear arguments in the U.S. DoJ lawsuit and the one brought by the ACLU and supporting groups.

Partisan Congressional Support for Arizona Lawsuit
Some politically motivated members of the U.S. Congress, including at least one former CNMI "friend,"are trying to drum up support for the Arizona law. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) who took the Abramoff-sponsored junket to the CNMI in the 1990s, leads the Republican dominated Immigration Reform Caucus and plans to get lawmakers to file an amicus brief in support of the Arizona law.

The statements made by some of these lawmakers are purely political. It's clear that they want to spend their time pointing partisan fingers rather than devoting time to getting a comprehensive immigration law passed.  Our country's partisan political climate is preventing the passage of a much-need comprehensive immigration law.  It angers me that the American taxpayers are funding the political games of congressional members.

Bilbray said:
"This lawsuit highlights the fact that the federal government has failed to enforce our immigration laws," Bilbray said. "The White House continues to hold our nation hostage by ignoring bipartisan support for common-sense legislation."
Translation of "common sense legislation" means what the Republican Party supports. It is the right-wing Republicans who are taking hostages, not the White House that is pushing for reform.

Human rights groups responded to Bilbray as quoted by the North Country Times :
Critics of the Arizona law disagreed and said Bilbray's move was to be expected. 
"It comes as no surprise," said Pedro Rios, San Diego director of the human rights group American Friends Service Committee. "Brian Bilbray has always pushed for anti-immigrant legislation at the local, state and federal level. 
Rios said he disagreed with Bilbray's claim that the federal government failed to enforce immigration laws. He and other immigrant rights advocates say the federal government is spending more than ever on immigration enforcement. 
Arizona overstepped its authority by passing the immigration law, said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties.
"Whether you think the federal government is doing its job or not is beside the point," Blair-Loy said. "The state of Arizona trespassed into the legal prerogative of the federal government. ... Arizona doesn't get to play in the immigration sandbox."
Politicians are using the immigration issue to fund campaigns, get in front of cameras and get votes, instead of solving the problem. It's extremely frustrating to know that our tax dollars are paying the salaries of these partisan narcissists who are more interested in their power, positions and getting re-elected than in passing legislation that will advance the needs of the American people.

CNMI and Arizona Lawsuit
Why did CNMI's Attorney General Edward Buckingham say that he joined the Republican AGs who support the Arizona law?

According to Angel Demapan, Fitial's press secretary, "“Buckingham approved joining in support of the local law regarding immigration enforcement. "

That would be PL 17-1, the local law that makes the Arizona law look insignificant as far as denying equal protection. The move to join the Arizona lawsuit has benefited those of us trying to get national attention regarding CNMI's unconstitutional law and the local government's attempts to maintain local control over immigration law by relabeling them as "labor" law.

Reporters and the public in the mainland scratching their heads and wondering why the CNMI joined the lawsuit.  One reporter questioned, "Does the CNMI have a dog in this fight."

Some of the media outlets, human rights groups and legal organizations that have been contacted concerning the situation in the CNMI and the implications of PL 17-1 are finally taking notice of the situation in the CNMI, thanks to Mr. Buckingham.

Phil Butler from Everything PR wrote:
According to this news Virginia and Michigan are joined by Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and the Northern Mariana Islands take the side of Arizona on “aspects” of this case. But, and here is the big BUTT, the reports and jargon say nothing of the fact that there are OTHER more weighty aspects to this.
Reasonable searches for suspected crimes are one thing – the government’s case in this regard hinges on a “technicality” – making perfect legal sense – separation of federal and state powers and etc. Read this at the Wall Street Journal on that.

The weight of this news is so transparent you would have to be from the Mariana Islands to miss it. Throw the weight of “supposed” popular opinion, “states back Arizona” – shift the public opinion – mis-inform – manipulate. The real case is about what happens after that police officer looks in the window any way. Sure, all the arguments and validity on illegals is there – but at what cost? Do you seriously think these blow hards give a damn about the “sovereign borders of the Mariana Islands?”
Sad to say, that the other states probably do not give a damn about the CNMI or its borders. Additionally, the CNMI does not have a problem with illegals like Arizona.  The vast majority of the nonresidents in the CNMI are there legally. Furthermore, if there are any "illegals" in the CNMI  blame could not be placed on the U.S., but on the CNMI who controlled immigration until November 28, 2009.

The Republican AGs who joined Michigan in filing the brief to support the Arizona law did so purely for political reasons. Just one more way to stick it to the Obama Administration.  Like some partisan Republican members of Congress they care more about partisan politics then finding a solution.

Some of the Republican AGs, like Bill McCollum, are running for office and think this ill-conceived move will garner votes.  Maybe they will get votes from some racist, anti-immigrant types who drink from the Republican or Tea Party Kool-Aid, but not from those who support democracy and civil liberties, not from those who have a deep understanding of employers' roles in hiring illegals, not from those that have studied the issue and understand the intricacies of the economic, political and social aspects, not from those who know that for years Republicans have deliberately screamed about broken borders and illegals while at the same time blocking efforts to get comprehensive immigration reform passed, and not from the Hispanics who are being unjustly targeted.

CNMI AG Buckingham joined the movement purely for political reasons also.  His  reasons would be to challenge the federal government with the notion that states and territories have the right to preempt federal law; to keep the evil PL 17-1 and PL 15-108 from being challenged; to get some others to back the CNMI's preempted law; and to continue to have the local government interfere in immigration and labor issues.  The concept of the CNMI-issued Foreign National Identification Card, the quota and workforce plan required of CNMI businesses to maintain a certain percentage of residents, the right to inspect, and other aspects of CNMI law cry out to be shot down.  The publicity surrounding the states and CNMI filing the brief to support the Arizona law could be just the ammunition we need to shoot down PL 17-1.

I guess those of us trying to bring attention to the CNMI's own questionable laws and practices should thank AG Buckingham for advancing our work and making it easier to get people on board to bring attention to CNMI's law and to help challenge it.  As a human rights advocate with no funding and no affiliations, I look at the CNMI signing with the politically motivated Republican AGs to support the Arizona law as an unexpected stream of sunlight in the dark clouds.

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Anonymous said...

Furthermore, if there are any "illegals" in the CNMI blame could not be placed on the U.S., but on the CNMI who controlled immigration until November 28, 2009.

You are focusing solely on entry. But much of the problem nationally, and even more so within the CNMI, has been federal laxity in deportations.


If utah have a hit list of suspected overstayer, Then maybe some voters of immigrants should have hit list too of anti immigrant politicians.

Anonymous said...

We are country of laws. We have immigration laws. If we don't like the laws then we must work for them to be changed.
There are thousands of people waiting in line, doing immigration the legal way. What do we say to them? "Sorry, suckers, we just put all of these people ahead of you". This includes the CNMI workers, who are going to do this legally.
We are country of laws. If the US wins this lawsuit it just gives the US the opportunity to do what they have been doing forever...nothing!

Anonymous said...

Go Arizona!!

Anonymous said...

to wendy:

can you ask the legal CW to stop helping the ILLEGAL CHINESE, FILIPINO, BANGLADESHI, ETC in helping, hiding the ILLEGAL ALIENS in the CNMI, THE CHAMORRO'S AND THE CNMI GOV'T are not the ones helping the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, its the CW'S that are helping them.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 6:49

No, I will not. First off, I do not know any "illegals" and if there are any "overstayers" that were listed on the questionable DOL-AG list, I believe that they can check if they qualify to get parole in place. So I would tell all the workers to please tell anyone on the list to check with the ombudsman's office. I am not an attorney.

The only people I ever knew that CNMI DOL classified as "overstayers" were staying in the CNMI simply to get the money that their criminal, cheating employers owed to them because the CNMI DOL and AG never went after them or helped them collect thousands that they were owed in back wages. Case in point- Dimal who doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire outside the DOL because he was to be deported by the evil DOL without the thousands of dollars that was owed to him. There are literally THOUSANDS of cheated foreign workers who DOL classified as "overstayers" over the last 3 decades who were deported under their evil system even though they were owed money from cheating, criminal employers. I would "go after" the employers first.