FIRM Update 5.12.08
Building America Together! Immigrant Voter Bootcamp Training. FIRM member organizations are invited to participate in a bootcamp on electoral organizing taking place June 28th through July 3rd in Chicago, Illinois. A flyer and background materials are attached to this bulletin. All organizations interested in building effective electoral organizing programs in your communities are encouraged to attend.
Last week, FIRM sent the attached letter to the House Democratic and Committee leadership in opposition to employment verification programs. Last week, two House committees held hearings on the topic of immigration reform, one of which focused on the issue of employment verification using social security databases.
Sen. John McCain was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly last week. For a transcript of the interview, including a short exchange on immigration reform where McCain re-emphasized the need for border security and a temporary guestworker program but did not fully address the issue of undocumented immigrants in the United States, go to http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,354727,00.html. In the mean time, progressive media watchdog group Media Matters has been running an ongoing campaign holding press outlets accountable for their coverage of McCain's flip flop on immigration issues. To view recent postings, go to http://mediamatters.org/items/200805060003?f=h_latest.
The Department of Justice announced last week that it would monitor municipal elections in two Dallas-area communities to ensure that the voting rights of immigrants are not harmed due to the tone of the immigration debate in those communities. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/5768585.html
Last week, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced legislation that would recapture unused visas from prior years to help allow current family members and H1B visa holders who are seeking to bring family members into the United States. To view the legislation go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.05882:. The bill (HR 5882) could bring relief to hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their family members.
In the wake of news reports focusing attention on terrible conditions and poor treatment in immigrant detention, last week Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced legislation addressing the quality of medical treatment to immigrants in detention. To view the legislation (HR 5950), go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.05950:. An action alert on this topic will be circulated by the Rights Working Group later this week. An article on the matter ran in the New York Times earlier this week at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/07/washington/07detain.html?scp=1&sq=detention+lofgren&st=nyt.
State & Local News
A debate over in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants ignited last week when the State Attorney General issued a letter interpreting the law to deny admission to undocumented immigrant youth. However, the Governor responded by recommending that the question of legality be posed to the federal government, suggesting that the intent of the state legislature was to allow the college admission board to make its own determinations with regard to admissions requirements. To review the article on the AG letter, go to http://www.newsobserver.com/news/higher_education/story/1065111.html.
Raids, Detention, Deportation
This week the Washington Post began a news series on conditions in immigrant detention, an important development that should add further momentum for greater accountability in how the Department of Homeland Security manages immigrant detention. To view the series, please go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/specials/immigration/index.html.
An article in the Dallas Morning News last week brought attention to two citizens and an legal permanent resident arrested in recent immigration raids in Texas. To view the article, go to http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/nationworld/stories/051008dnnatraids.3c69dea.html.
A United Food and Commercial Workers Union employee was found guilty in federal court last week for "harboring" undocumented immigrants by providing advice on how to evade detection by federal immigration authorities. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-ia-swift-unioncharge,0,7540335.story For information on what organizations can legally do with respect to providing "know your rights" trainings to immigrant and non-immigrant constituents, please view the attached memorandum developed by FIRM and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. For legal advice, please contact the National Immigration Project at http://www.nationalimmigrationproject.org/.
FIRM Member Activities
Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles wrote a column for the LA Daily News on the topic of raids and how they harm our diverse society. To view the article, click on http://www.dailynews.com/editorial/ci_9159763?source=email
Last week, Casa de Maryland issued a report that studied the impact of Maryland's first 287g agreement, a program through which local law enforcement may cooperate with federal immigration authorities. To view an article on the report release, please go to http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?storyID=74699.
Allies and Partner Activities
The New York Times ran an article last Friday bringing attention to the health care access available to farm workers. To view the article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/us/10migrant.html?_r=1&sq=farm%20workers&st=nyt&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&scp=1&adxnnlx=1210536292-4A/FHvJFyRvd7GBaTfQX0w. For further information, please go to the Farmworker Justice website at http://www.farmworkerjustice.org/health.htm.
Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor think tank based in Washington, DC, testified before Congress on H2B Visa reforms last week. To view the testimony, please go to http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_viewpoints_testmony_eisenbrey_h-2b. In this testimony EPI recommends that the H2B Visa program be significantly reformed, or be eliminated.
Resources & News to Use
The Immigration Policy Center recently issued a new report summarizing problems with the Social Security Administration No Match program. To view the report, go to http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/index.php?content=f080508.
The Center for American Progress issued a blog posting last week high-lighting anti-immigrant bigotry on conservative talk radio. To view the analysis, go to http://www.americanprogressaction.org/progressreport/2008/05/pr20080507.