Riverside Immigration Attorney Shares Why The San Francisco Pier Shooting Demonstrates The Need For Immigration Reformers To Adopt A Strategy Of Compassion.
Carlos Batara's insight:
Violence can be a never-ending story. On a micro level, one sees it with gang killings and the pay back mentality fostered with false images of courage. On a macro level, one sees it with nations and terrorist groups who go back and forth in a ruthless cycle of barbarism.
But violence can be halted. One side must act first, and accept some responsibility for the inhumane acts of senseless murders. We are, after all, a global village.
I know. I've personally experienced the anger, rage, and confusion which follows senseless harm to one's child.
When I heard about the San Francisco pier shooting, I fully expected immigrant advocates would step forward and offer condolences.
Instead, they have almost entirely focused their energies on the issue by fighting and quarreling with their opponents over stricter law enforcement measures.
Yes, there are nuances to every immigration law issue. But not in the midst of an event which is as horrible as the San Francisco murder.
Maybe the alleged killer is innocent. That's not the point. He has been charged with murder, and we can, as reformers with compassion, say, "We're sorry for your loss, and if our brother is indeed the killer, we're sorry for the actions of our family member."
To mumble-jumble the two issues is equivalent, well, to being an immigration reformer version of Donald Trump.
In short. remorse and engagement are not exclusive actions.
However, compassion dictates remorse comes first.
Compassion is THE ISSUE when it comes to immigration reform. But to ask for it, reformers must learn to give it - even if they don't get it in return.
Green Card Attorney Shares Why The Obama Plan Expansion Of Immigration Family Unity Waivers Is Limited By Requirement Of Hardship To Sponsoring Relative.
Carlos Batara's insight:
The reality is simple. No one really knows how many immigrants will end up in a more favorable position under the president's recently announced executive plan.
Nor does anyone really know how many will end up in a worse position, including possible deportation and removal.
Most of the media focus is on the former issue.
The majority of pro-immigrant advocates encourage immigrants to go forward, and to file papers for the temporary benefits. They refuse to acknowledge that the latter group, those who may not gain under the Obama plan, could have larger numbers than the group who succeed.
Opponents of immigration reform follow the same formula. The exaggerate those who will be granted benefits, while minimizing the totals who end up in the same or worse position.
Both perspectives are misleading.
What is clear, however, is that some will win, others will lose.
In other words, the temporary benefits may someday help some immigrants move over to a more permanent legalization track.
Riverside Immigration Lawyer Discusses Why Voters Need To Break The Two Party System To Turn Immigration Reform Promises Into Reality.
Carlos Batara's insight:
Despite numerous promises over the past seven years, President Obama has not really pushed for true immigration reform.
He has articulated and supported a watered-down version which focuses more on law enforcement, detention, and deportation, not the type of reform which protects the foremost principle of immigration law: family unity.
He has not, in short, shown the personal courage it takes to enact political change.
So much for hope you can believe in.
But to the extent immigrants are merely a form of election fodder for politicos, immigrant supporters are their own worst enemies.
Even two years ago, they allowed themselves to become pawns of the two-party system, playing a willing role in buying into the hype once again and, as one might expect, being victimized by the political process once again.
Immigrant supporters also need to have the courage to change. Until they break from from the psychological conditioning of the two-party system, don't expect true immigration reform.
And frankly, looking at current headlines, given falsehoods like independent voter registration drives, it seems clear political change is not on the horizon.
For many religious leaders, their distaste for the lack of compassion is manifested in their concerns for families been torn apart by current deportation policy.
As a result, the separation of immigrants from their families has fueled a religious-based movement to keep loved ones united.
In the past, on several social and political issues, compassion has not been able to bridge the divide between religious leaders.
But this time around, far more unity of religions is visible in the push for comprehensive immigration reform.
For instance, the Religion News Service recently reported that more than 250 evangelical pastors were in attendance at an immigration conference and worship service organized by the Evangelical Immigration Table to show their support for immigration reform.
Bryant Wright, a senior pastor of a predominantly white and upper-middle-class church in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, explained he showed up because of his frustration over the lack of progress on immigration reform.
“We felt like too many of the conservative evangelical Christians were allowing their views on immigration to be shaped more by talk radio and other news outlets rather than by the Scriptures.”
Another attendee, John Perkins, noted that many evangelicals were silent during the civil rights movement but have now spoken up for immigration reform.
“We haven’t always been there.” Now, he added, “We have a possibility to redeem ourselves for the cause of the gospel.”
Not to be outdone, Christian leaders of various denominations have also grouped together to push immigration reform forward.
In a Christian Science Monitor article entitled Why Christian Leaders Put Aside Differences To Push Immigration Reform, Lourdes Medrano stressed, "Though various denominations often don't see eye to eye on contentious social matters such as same-sex marriage and abortion, legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration system has overwhelmingly drawn them together."
As Luis Cortés, one of the Christian religious leaders, bluntly states, immigration reform "is the first and only political issue in this country where we all agree."
The practical reality is simple.
It is similar to how the growing numbers of individuals from different countries has affected many economic industries in our economy. With the crucial need for skilled and unskilled foreign workers, several business leaders now openly endorse immigration reform.
Churches are feeling the same type of pressures.
Reports Medrano, immigrants are changing the face of the religious landscape in the United States.
Data from the 2010 census show that 43 million people in America people were born outside the country.
These figures point out that if religious leaders do not support immigrants, very few will be left to hear the weekend sermons.
In short, a sense of united compassion based on moral grounds seems ironically driven, at least in part, by worldly and practical organizational concerns.
That may be partly true, says John Carlson, an associate professor of religious studies at Arizona State University.
But he adds, within multiple denominations "you've got all sort of theological and ethical traditions and foundational concepts that are concerned with the stranger in one's midst."
The Washington Times recently addressed the impact of the immigrant lock-up quota on upcoming immigration reform debates.
Their points should be heeded by all interested in building an immigration system that works.
Back in June 2011, John Morton, former Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, issued a prosecutorial discretion guideline, setting forth how ICE officers should handle prosecutions of detained immigrants.
The issue of over-zealous ICE officers was, by that time, known.
Under the Obama administration, records for detention and deportation records were being shattered on a yearly basis.
I doubted the administration's commitment to modifying its policies.
.Shortly afterward, Morton outlined 19 specific points his officers should weigh. The goal was to separate high-level criminal offenders from low-level criminal offenders, as well as to distinguish long-time immigrant residents with strong family ties.
About a year later, with limited progress made, and the workload of immigration courts growning, a joint task force, comprised of various immigration agencies, was announced.
Over time, that effort also fizzled. It was designed poorly, and implemented inefficiently. (See discussion at : .http://www.bataraimmigrationlaw.com/prosecutorial-discretion-immigration-circus.html.)
2013 arrived. Immigration reform discussions began. From the outset, detention and deportation issues were not put on the table for negotiation by either party.
Now, it's 2014. Immigration reform will be handled on a piecemeal basis this time.
Still, given the President's State of the Union speech and the Republics' "new" reform principles, it appears more of the same can be expected.
Again, detention and deportation issues remain off the table.
Of all possible obstacles, a bed quota may be the biggest hurdle standing in the way of progress.
Dream Act students, undocumented mothers and other immigrant rights activists were seen protesting outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Phoenix (RT @myfoxphoenix: UPDATE: 6 immigration activists arrested at protest outside Phoenix...
Border residents and communities across the country are participating in a National Day of Action Against Border Militarization on Wednesday, July 17. Residents and community organizations in 10 cities will protest the “border surge” component proposed in the bi-partisan Senate's Corker-Hoeven amendment and other legislation being proposed in the House of Representatives. The Border Network for Human Rights, Presente.org, Detention Watch Network, and the Southern Borders Communities Coalition, among others, are leading the effort.
10 protests is a good start. We need a whole bunch more.
It seems like I live in a time warp, where I have been transported to a different dimension and time.
After all, there is no good reason for the transformation of presumably immigration reform discussions into a call for border surges, adding weapons to drones, and militarizing the Southwest borders of the United States.
It's almost as if someone forgot to tell reform opponents that the Battle of the Alamo ended a long, long time ago.
Note that I wrote "no good reason" existed for the current push to create war zones at our borders. I understand the "political reasons."
The so-called "political reasons" are not good reasons.
Riverside Immigration Attorney Carlos Batara Outlines Why A Wishy-Washy Political Approach To Reform Undermines The Long Term Future Of Immigrant Communities.
Carlos Batara's insight:
"Damned if we do, Damned if we don't."
This sentiment is a concise summary of how many immigrant advocates feel trapped as we enter the 9th month of immigration reform promises, following the November 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
However, this sentiment falls short as either a political or immigration strategy.
Those of who really, really, really care about fixing our immigration system cannot afford to engage in wishy-washy politicsa any longer.
There are far too many pretenders - those who only want to promote changes to our immigration system as a means to an end, and the end being to strengthen our corporations - posing as advocates for change.
Okay, I'll be nice. They are seeking change, just not the right type of change.
Yet, caution is warranted. They're not making promises in the form of a firm commitment; rather, the promises are noted in the form of vote-getting.
As I wrote shortly after the 2012 elections - that's four years ago, just after a strong Democratic Party showing - immigrants have to remain vigilant and abstain from the acquiesence of waving a white flag of political surrrender in return for mere promises or flawed reform proposals.
The detention and deportation of immigrants are dark, ominous clouds hanging over the fate of immigration reform. Although the recent news about immigrants being released from detention centers is directly linked to these issues, their impact remains hidden from the public view.
Carlos Batara's insight:
The public understands that immigration reform is a political hot potato. They know a compromise solution is hard to achieve.
However, most of the public does not realize there exists a politically influential private prison lobby which wields strong influence in the halls of Congress - and threatens to undermine comprehensive immigration reform.
Meet the unholy immigrant detention alliance.
Private prisons are related to private investors. Private investors are tied to political policy makers. Policy makers push for increased detention numbers.
'Questionably documented' workers are putting an estimated $13 billion a year into the US economy and only taking around $1 billion out.
Carlos Batara's insight:
One of the most common myths surrounding undocumented immigrants is that they bleed the economy. For instance, reform opponents often assert they don't pay into social security.
However, the truth is that undocumented immigrants contribute more in payroll taxes than they will ever consume in public benefits.
According to the Social Security Administration, about 7 million immigrants are currently working in the US illegally. 3.1 million are using fake or expired social security numbers, yet also paying automatic payroll taxes.
Their annual net contribution is approximately $12 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund. (The total seems a little high to me, but I'm not sure how the math is computed.)
In any event, the SSA estimates that unauthorized workers have paid a whopping $100 billion into the fund over the past decade. Most of these individuals will never be able to benefit from their contributions later in life.
When it comes to immigration reform, American evangelicals appear to have high expectations, a LifeWay Research study shows. Nine out of 10 (86 percent) want more border security. Six in 10 (61 percent) support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. More than two-thirds (68 percent) favor both. And they want Congress to take action soon.
Carlos Batara's insight:
This survey of Evangelicals reflect a dichotomy of thought, which probably reflects the thinking of many Americans.
86% favor more border security.
61% support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
At first blush, one is inclined to think the two findings cancel each other out.
In actuality, comprehensive immigration reform includes fixing a broken immigration and visa system and that will lead to less undocoumented border crossers.
Less crossers without permission equal more border control.
At least, that's how I see it, even if the authors lay out the finding of the survey differently.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck recently nnounced the Police Department will no longer comply with most requests by immigration authorities to detain immigrant suspects.
The policy has been under heavy criticism by many civic leaders in cities throughout the nation.
There are several reasons for Garcetti and Beck's actions. A few stand out:
First, the new policy meets long-established legal norms. The ICE detainer requests are issued without judicial review. But even under the change, the city will not release violent or serious criminals. The city, however, will ensure such detentions undergo judicial review.
Second, the modification is socially sound. Community trust is important to law enforcement. Without such support, many law-breaking activities go unreported by immigrants, lacking legal documents, due to their fear of being turned over to ICE.
Third, the new approach is good public policy. The old detainers took LAPD officers away from high priority crime-fighting activities and put them into becoming surrogate immigration agents chasing low-level civil law violaters. This stretched the city's already cash-strapped budget.
As an immigration defense attorney, I've witnessed the harm to many good, hard-working immigrant families resulting from the heavy-handed ICE detention approach.
If the immigrant rights movement wants to achieve more than being another election year issue for politicians to stump on, it will require a diversity of tactics and dilemmas posed to friends and foes alike. ...
Carlos Batara's insight:
Given the history of political football between the parties, are immigration advocates, playing to win reform or being played to win elections?
That’s the question posed by Marisa Franco, lead organizer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network’s Not1More Deportation campaign.
Over the past few months, immigration reform supporters have engaged in two distinct types of protests, rallies, and marches.
One type focuses on passing immigration legislation, irrespective of deficiencies and shortcomings of the current proposals being floated in Congress.
The other argues that immigration reform should be passed, but not at the expense of excluding the needs of undocumented immigrants.
The difference, in part, rests on a distinction between electoral-oriented politics and community empowerment.
The former group of activists accept Democratic Party rhetoric about reform being about an “us versus them” battle and policy claims that “something is better than nothing.”
The latter group reads through the not-so-subtle political tactics designed for use in the 2014 mid-year elections.
“Republicans’ racism is obviously intolerable, but the party that made no attempt at reform for immigrants when it had the Presidency and the majority of both chambers in Congress and has since administered unprecedented criminalization shares equal responsibility for the misery inflicted on immigrants. Worse, deflecting pressure from the President and Democrats who still have proactive options at their disposal actually takes away their incentive to use them in the debate.”
She explains that “a strategy that blames one and defends the other may be viable for Democrats seeking political gain, but not for immigrant communities seeking equality.”
Activists will march alongside immigrant families and supporters across the country to show their support for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.
Events will culminate on October 8, 2013. After a gathering at 12:30 in Washington on the National Mall at 10th Street to the “Camino Americano Rally and Concert for Immigrant Dignity and Respect,” participants will march to the U.S. Capitol to deliver a message to the House of Representatives: Get Immigration Reform Done; and Get it Done Now.
Will the marches make the difference in getting a bill passed?
It's a good question, and only time will tell.
However, if immigration reform does not happen in 2013, such marches send a message that the fight for immigrant justice is far from over.
I believe the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act will have a positive impact on San Bernardino County, the state of California, and the nation.
Carlos Batara's insight:
When can a person be right and wrong about the same topic at once?
When the topic is the 2013 version of immigration reform.
For instance, writing in the San Bernardino County Sun, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, noted:
"With thousands of undocumented immigrants living right here in San Bernardino County, reform that includes a path to citizenship for those abiding by our nation's laws and living up to our ideals will bring families ... out of the shadows and help them become full participants in the pursuit of the American Dream."
Sounds like a man who understands what's broken in our immigration system.
As an immigration attorney in San Bernardino, I should be jumping in line, right?
For Aguilar adds the following:
"I believe the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act will have a positive impact on San Bernardino County, the State of California, and the nation. The well-being of our communities should be our top priority, and this legislation will end the uncertainty for countless families adn businesses, making our communities stronger."
Has the good mayor read the legislation? If he had, then he would know that the current reform proposal and the well-being of immigrants are two distinct agenda items.
It appears sadly obvious the mayor, like many others, has only read the news clippings and relies on radio and television talking heads to shape his immigration reform opinion.
Well, maybe, there's another reason. He's a Democrat and the Democrats, though they are largely responsible for the ugly version of reform referred over to the House, want to politically want to place the blame on the GOP for creating a horrendous bill.
And he's planning to run against the incumbent in the 31st Congressional District, who happens to be a Republican.
Perhaps the saddest part is that Aguilar, a Latino, is turning his back on his ethnic community.
With these types of role models, it's no small wonder why so many San Bernardino pro-immigration advocates are confused about the current proposal and march in favor of a reform which may one day sever their family ties forever.
Dreamers reject the KIDS Act, saying they want legislation that will pave a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, not just Dreamers.
Carlos Batara's insight:
Once again, DREAMers have brought the immigration debate back to its roots.
Just a day after the election, when pundits galore started prematurely declaring the end of our broken immigration system was near, I suggested that family unity was the first and foremost key.
Nothing has changed my opinion over the past nine months.
As an immigration lawyer, I have long asserted that bringing and keeping immigrant families together was my top priority. At its core, this is the essence of a successful immigration system.
Not deporting 400,000 individuals per year.
Not building a militarized zone at our southwestern international borders.
Not creating an "as we need your job skills" system.
Plain and simple, as noted in "Renewing The Battle For Family Unity", the fix for immigration is relatively simple: (a) increase the amount of family visas, (b) redefine family preference categories, (c) place caps on waiting times, and (d) adjust per country visa limits are just a few which come to mind.
As a San Bernardino immigration lawyer, I feel compelled to respond.
My comments are inside the parentheses.
Right now the debate on immigration is not between liberals and conservatives -- it is between conservatives and other conservatives. (Wrong. The left has an emerging debate over the merits of the current immigration reform proposal. But it’s hard to tell since so many liberals, willing to accept legislation which does not qualify for being called “comprehensive” or “reform,” are sounding like conservatives on this issue.)
This is not a bill foisted on skeptical Republicans by domineering Democrats and the White House. (So this is a bill shaped by domineering and skeptical Republicans?)
Obama himself has smartly stayed out of the development and promotion of the bill, in part because his involvement could turn off many Republicans. Nobody on either side of the aisle in Congress is calling this reform package, say, Obamigration. (Obama should be leading the charge. He is the president and he made BIG promises to immigrant communities not once, but twice. Whether he plays an active role or not, what we’re seeing will ultimately constitute Obamigration.)
It has much that conservatives should like. (Need I add more?)
In our impatience for something to be done, this editorial board in recent years has repeated like a mantra the need for new laws that will limit illegal immigration and deal firmly with violators, but allow industries access to immigrant labor and give fair treatment to families with both legal and illegal members. (At least the editorial board doesn’t hide its’ hand.)
"For this generation, immigrants in America have been painted as a decidedly Latino, leaving non-Latino Black immigrants feeling marginalized and voiceless even as we face the consequences of the last four years of an increasingly sweeping and punitive immigration system."
She also explains how current deportation and detention policies reflect a heavy prejudice and bias against Black immigrants.
"Unlike Latinos, Black immigrants often fall victim to the same residual stereotypes of poverty and criminality that continue to plague African-Americans. The current record-breaking detentions and deportations have swept up undocumented immigrants, legal residents, and criminals alike. Black immigrants consistently place on the top 10 list of most-deported foreign nationals, even though they constitute only 11% of the US immigrant population."
"In 2012, 6,510 Caribbean nationals were deported to their countries of origin, a higher per capita deportation level than Latinos. Although the Administration has created the illusion that these are all hardened criminals, the reality is that over 55% of them are people arrested for misdemeanors such as traffic violations, small amounts of marijuana, or simply over-staying their visas (a civil offense)."
Overall, I agree with Ms. Francois' analysis about our nation's misguided deportation policies.
However, she is far, far wrong to suggest that Latinos are not victims of negative stereotypes, and those stereotypes most certainly do include perceptions of poverty and criminality.
She is also off base when stating that since Latinos have organized to fight unfair immigrant laws, they gain preferential treatment.
The only Latino group excepted might be Cuba, but that happened 50 years ago.
In other words, there is no preference to being a member of an ethnic minority group in America, not even on immigration issues.
On the big picture issue, I do agree with Ms. Francois, strongly, there is power in numbers and coalitions.
Black immigrants, as well as Asian immigrants, as well as Middle Eastern immigrants, and many others should forge together and become part of broad local, state, and national immigration reform coalitions.
As Ms. Francois puts it, if minorities "allow this historic opportunity to pass because of our own inability to see ourselves in one another’s experience, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves."
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