Archive for the ‘immigrant rights’ Category
Friday, March 27th, 2009
Posted on 26 March 2009
By STEVE SALDIVAR
On a recent Thursday evening, a new type of army began assembling in a nondescript Steuart Street conference room. The 24 men and women—most dressed in business attire—were to be part of a quick reaction force.
Their objective: set free the rising numbers of undocumented workers detained in federal immigration raids in neighborhoods like the Mission. These foot soldiers—all Bay Area lawyers by day—were about to learn their rules of engagement.
“You have to get to your client as soon as possible,” said Sin Yen Ling, an attorney who works closely with the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco
“There’s no policy. In many cases the law is still unwritten,” she said. “It’s balls to the wall.”
Ling is part of an effort lead by both by The Equal Justice Society and the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network, advocacy groups aimed at counseling new and settled immigrants, to develop and teach area lawyers to effectively counter the increase in immigration raids by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.
Ling and Francisco Ugarte, a 5-year Mission District resident and immigration attorney for Dolores Street Community Services, have opened this crash course in immigration law to any interested lawyer with hopes of building a new Rapid Response Network- lawyers working pro bono for ICE detainees.
The two-hour boot camp was designed to give attorneys an introduction to navigating what can seem to be a bewildering bureaucracy of the federal immigration and detention system.
These training sessions come at a time when ICE activity is escalating. Last September, Fugitive Operations Teams arrested more than 1157, including 436 in northern California. 20 percent of those in custody had criminal histories and were in the country illegally, according to ICE.
Even so, Ugarte believes these tactics deliver a greater hit to the overall health of a community.
Detainees are so terrified, they forget they have rights, says Ugarte.
“You will get a phone call within seconds of an ICE raid,” the instructors said. “Or you will get an email with names, numbers and locations.”
The attorneys in attendance all received a slim black three-ring binder filled with the procedures and protocol of ICE raids, but Ugarte stressed that the handouts, and even their legal experience, would not be enough to counter the federal government’s efforts to detain and deport undocumented workers.
“You’re going to have to make split second calls,” said Ling, snapping her fingers for emphasis. “Sometimes you have to be diplomatic, sometimes it takes more than that with the officers.
The only rule to handling ICE Detainee cases, she said, is that there are no rules.
“There’s no policy. In many cases the law is still unwritten,” said the 36-year old. “You have to figure it out as you go along.”
On one wall hung a large photo of a wildfire. Another was adorned with a black and white photo of an immigrant woman holding her head, crying.
“An ICE raid, by definition, is when three or more are detained,” said Ugarte. “You have 24 hours to identify your client,” he continued. “If ICE wants to know your clients country of origin, your client might want to plead the fifth, but not always.”
“Always remember to have your BAR card with you when entering the Federal Building,” he said, referring to a lawyer’s identification card. These are just a few things attorneys were scratching in their notes as quickly as possible, rarely making eye contact with the two instructors.
“We don’t do raids,” says Virginia Kice, spokesperson for ICE.
“We do targeted enforcement actions. We conduct criminal investigations. It’s unfortunate some of these individuals mischaracterize our activities.”
For ICEs part, they provide detainees with a list of free legal services. “If [Ugarte] is interested in getting on that list of free legal service that’s something we would entertain,” said Kyce.
Don’t be fooled, says Ugarte.
“Under federal regulation, ICE has a duty to advise people in custody that they have a right to an attorney. Everyone, technically, should be given a list of free legal service providers,” said the Mission District resident.
“That’s great, the problem is, there is no right to appointed counsel. There’s no guarantee that anyone is going to take on a detainee’s case. They’re not public defenders. You get one phone call to the agency and they may or may not take your case.”
Ugarte hopes attorneys will volunteer to be placed on The Rapid Response Network. Once an ICE raid has been reported by a community member or otherwise, the attorney will receive a phone call from Ugarte and it will be a race against time for the attorney to dash to their new client before ICE officials have a chance to interrogate them.
Ugarte was only a couple of miles away from his usual place of work, although it must have seemed like words away. Steuert Street is nothing like Valencia. When the meeting started late in the evening, the crosswalk was littered with sleek Jaguars, humming BMWs and a Lexus parked in front of a bar which was growing ever more crowded.
While the sounds of laughter and clanging glasses could be heard from the bars downstairs, upstairs nothing but pens rolling through paper.
“There are horrendous constitutional violations occurring everyday,” said Michael Flynn, who graduated from Golden Gate University last year and is currently an attorney with Talamantes Villegas Carrera. “It’s dividing up families, there’s a violation of human rights.”
“I remember seeing 20 people in jumpsuits,” said Flynn about his days as a student watching the courts. “They were all chained next to one another while the Judge spoke to them.”
“The Bay Area is being hit the hardest right now,” said Rhodora Derpo, a Daly City resident who has started her own firm, Immigrant Rights Advocate. Both Flynn and Derpo for their part are interested in joining the Rapid Response Network.
This is not the first training, Ugarte has held a few before and, although doesn’t clarify when exactly the idea of creating an army of attorneys occurred, it’s clear what started it.
“The genesis is the ICE raids,” said the CUNY graduate. “Mothers, fathers, sisters are getting deported. What are we going to do, sleep on this? In Immigration court they don’t give people a right to an attorney. We’re trying to respond.”
Both the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network and The Equal Justice Society, both started in 1990 as an advocacy group for immigrants.
For Ugarte’s part, he understands why many attorneys might shy away from such a critical issue facing many communities.
“It’s the unknown,” says Ugarte. “It’s the not knowing what to do. It’s a very complicated area of law. The stakes are extremely high. You are dealing with lives and with families.”
Ugarte, with rolled up sleeves, adjusts his blue collar shirt and, after a short but intense two hours, closed his black three-ring binder and dismissed the group. “This is not for the faint of heart.
“But it’s rewarding.”
Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
March 16, 2009
By Steven T. Dennis
Roll Call Staff
Hispanic lawmakers, with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), are in the throes of a nationwide campaign to pressure President Barack Obama to put immigration reform on the priority list.
“The president is silent,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who is leading a 19-city tour to build grass-roots support for comprehensive reform. “If the president doesn’t set it as part of his agenda, it won’t happen.”
Obama so far has barely mentioned immigration as he focuses on the faltering economy. Gutierrez and others in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus had urged Obama to call for comprehensive reform this year in his joint address to Congress last month, to no avail.
Gutierrez and other Hispanic Members want Obama to first use his executive authority to stop raids and deportation of immigrants, which they say splits up families. Then, they want him to push hard for comprehensive legislation.
“We are going to go from city to city and church to church until the voices of our community are heard by the president,” Gutierrez said.
Obama is in a difficult political position. He won the election in part because of unprecedented support from Hispanic voters who heard his promise to fight for immigration reform, yet he also faces the difficult calculus of pushing to legalize illegal workers at a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs.
Yet Hispanic lawmakers and many Congressional Democrats say they don’t think the issue can wait. After a series of attempts under former President George W. Bush’s administration, lawmakers in both parties were unsuccessful in reaching agreement on a way forward on the politically volatile issue.
Gutierrez enlisted some high-profile Members on his national tour – including the Speaker at a stop on March 7 in San Francisco.
Pelosi spoke passionately about the need for comprehensive immigration reform soon and urged an end to enforcement raids that fracture families, calling the policy “un-American.”
“Who in our country would not want to change a policy of kicking in doors in the middle of the night and sending a parent away from their families?” Pelosi asked. “It must be stopped. It must be stopped. … The raids must end. The raids must end.”
However, a House Democratic leadership aide noted that the Speaker did not set a timetable for action and said leadership will coordinate the timing with the White House and the Senate. Democratic leaders in both chambers widely acknowledge the issue must be addressed at some point but have not committed to a timeline.
Nonetheless, Pelosi’s endorsement of the goals of Hispanic lawmakers has buoyed fresh calls for legislation.
“I saw a much more human side of Nancy Pelosi,” Gutierrez said. “We hope the rest of America responds as she did that day.”
Gutierrez’s campaign attempts to humanize immigration by featuring children who are U.S. citizens bereft of their illegal immigrant parents. The events are being held in large churches, an attempt to bring a Biblical and moral dimension to the fight, Gutierrez said.
The attendees sign petitions to Obama, which will be presented to him when Hispanic lawmakers meet with the president, Gutierrez said.
“Look, you have it within your power to stop these separations of families. You stated it as a goal and you made a commitment,” Gutierrez said of Obama. “He made it to me when I endorsed him. And we want him to keep his promise. It’s as simple as that.”
Hispanics understand that Obama needs to focus first on the economy but don’t want to be told to wait another year for action, Gutierrez said.
“How long do we wait? … The families can’t wait,” he said. “Explain that to the three 9-year-olds in Providence, R.I., who testified that they lost their dads. Sorry, you’re just going to have to grow up without a father?”
Hispanic Members have already met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who agreed to review the department’s policies on raids that round up illegal workers after a raid in Bellingham, Wash.
“I’m tired of the policy where we wanted to tell the American people, ‘You’re safer because we got the Windex-wielding woman who works at Wal-Mart at 1 a.m.,’” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said enforcement efforts should be redirected to fighting gangs, smugglers and other criminals, instead of immigrant workers.
White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said Friday that Obama is still committed to fixing the broken immigration system.
“The president is serious about immigration reform. He said we will start the debate this year, and this continues to be the plan,” Shapiro said. “Anytime a raid like the recent one in Washington state happens, it is a reminder of how much work we need to do to address a broken immigration system.”
Obama said last week that he has started to talk about the prospects of moving forward with legislation.
“But obviously we’ve got a lot on our plate right now,” the president said. “And so what we can do administratively, that’s where we’re going to start.”
A House Republican aide close to the issue said the GOP does not expect Obama to push hard this year given the state of the economy, saying: “The Obama team is smart, and they are looking at this and realizing this is a very tough sell.”
“How do you make the argument when you have 7 million illegal immigrants in the workforce and you have 12.5 million Americans out of work?” the aide asked.
But Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a group backing legalization of illegal immigrants, said his sense is that the Obama White House would like to do something as early as this fall, but the timing will depend on everything from the state of the economy to Obama’s poll ratings to the status of the rest of his agenda.
“I don’t think they’ll have a moment of truth discussion until this summer,” he said.
Sharry said the high unemployment rate would have an impact, though, with likely less emphasis in the legislation on adding new work visas.
And while opponents will surely argue that illegal immigrants are taking jobs from Americans, supporters will argue that ending the shadow economy would level the playing field among employers and add to tax revenues, Sharry said.
Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Editor’s Note: The legacy of fear and violence from the Bush administration’s immigration policies can now give way to hope and a reasoned approach to solving the problems of reform. Evelyn Sanchez is the executive director of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, and Angela Chan is a juvenile justice attorney with the Asian Law Caucus.
Most San Franciscans agree that the Bush administration leaves a legacy of failed and dysfunctional policies–among the most notable, a broken immigration system. The Bush immigration policy has relied almost solely on one approach: detention and deportation of alleged undocumented immigrants, who were apprehended (often along with lawful residents and even citizens) in violent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in neighborhoods all over our country. The raids have left broken families and fearful communities in their wake.
Here in San Francisco, we saw the consequences of this sad legacy when the two-decades old Sanctuary Ordinance and other progressive, well-reasoned policies began to unravel over the past year under the weight of eight years of Bush doctrines.
Under the threat of prosecution by the U.S. Attorney General for the Northern District of California Joseph Russoniello, San Francisco quickly rescinded its longstanding policy toward undocumented youth in the juvenile system and replaced it with one that deprives youth of due process, resulting in some 100 youths being referred by San Francisco officials to ICE thus far. The policy of brute enforcement overcame longstanding local policies that recognized the public safety benefits and sheer good sense of building an inclusive community and the due process rights of every human being. The deportation of immigrant youth, coupled with raids in homes, near schools, and in workplaces, made fear a common emotion among immigrants, here in our city and elsewhere.
With President Barack Obama leading a new administration, we have turned a page in our nation’s history. By asking us to let hope, not fear, guide us, he has challenged us to think differently about how to best solve our problems. Problems are not solved when people are afraid, when they aren’t sure how they are going to earn a living or keep their children safe. Fear does not inspire compassion or compromise, and certainly does not inspire trust. In contrast, hope is an undeniably better inspiration for problem solving, and has always been a driving force in the immigrant community. Immigrants are part of our communities and they are part of many of our families. If we are going to solve our problems, and create just and humane policies toward immigrants, policies that we can be proud of, we are going to have to let hope lead us there.
Today, a coalition of groups that has been working with San Francisco’s supervisors, community leaders, social service providers, and faith groups is gathering at City Hall to call for a halt to the raids and for support of fair and humane immigration reform. We will be joining our voices with thousands of others across California and across our country who found hope in the words of our new President Barack Obama during his inauguration speech:
“We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”
These are deeply inspiring words of hope to America’s immigrants, and they call on us to recognize our common humanity and to work together fearlessly to address our most complex problems in the hardest of times. Today, as we hold a vigil in front of City Hall in support of fair and humane immigration policies, we have taken the first steps in this new era towards hope for our country and for our city, and for those who wish to find and build their dreams here with us.
New American Media, Commentary , Evelyn Sanchez and Angela Chan:
Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
The Visitacion Valley Parents Association (VVPA), a project of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), is dedicated to supporting limited-English proficient (LEP) parents to become active participants in their children’s education and in the Chinese community at large. The group includes LEP parents who became frustrated by the barriers they personally faced when trying to get involved in their children’s schools and decided to take action to make their voices heard.
Immigration parents face many challenges when trying to build a new life in a new country, but few are as daunting as when a parent cannot be involved in their child’s education. For example, LEP parents worry about their children’s grades, but may not be able to understand the report cards if they are only in English. They want to get involved in the school activities, but may not be able to read the notices. Many immigrant parents face these significant barriers and feel frustrated and/or lost.
VVPA parent leaders help other parents overcome this challenge by teaching them about their rights and how to advocate for themselves at school sites. They learn how to request translation services at meetings and ensure that the concerns of LEP Chinese-speaking parents are heard. VVPA memebers develop advocacy and leadership skills needed to become community leaders such as public speaking and one-to-one relationship building. Over time these parent leaders are able to share their skills by mentoring and supporting a new group of leaders through VVPA’s annual spring training and other community workshops throughout the year.
For the past several years, VVPA parent leaders have actively participated in campaigns geared towards increasing opportunities for meaningful LEP parent involvement and educational equity for all students. For example, in 2006, VVPA members successfully secured additional funds to expand language services in San Francisco public schools by presenting data and parent testimonies to illustrate the tremendous need. This past year, VVPA conducted community presentations and provided public statements in support of a local ballot initiative that would increase well-trained teachers at public schools in San Francisco. Currently, the group is focused on the school district’s new strategic plan, which will help strengthen the academic goals at each school site and guarantee that all students will have equal access to quality and meaningful education. VVPA’s goal is to ensure that LEP parents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions during this process.
VVPA parents continue to advocate for change because they believe in the value of active community engagement and have seen how their collective efforts can improve language access for LEP parents. As VVPA moves forward, parents will identify other issue areas to work on and know that they can be part of enriching the lives of all LEP parents in the City.
Written by Michelle Yeung, Community Advocate at Chinese for Affirmative Action
Friday, November 21st, 2008
Immigrant communities are facing a critical moment of truth. During his campaign, Barack Obama expressed his commitment to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority for his Administration. His principled stand on offering a path to citizenship to undocumented Americans was considered a defining message for many voters. But some leading Democrats (including Speaker Nancy Pelosi) and even some Washington based immigrant rights advocates are now urging patience and lowered expectations. Some say we need to wait until 2010 or longer for real immigration reform. Because of the economic climate, we are told that ‘now is not the time’ to press the issue.
In the media and on the blogs, the sobering message from Washington have been interpreted differently. Are the pessimistic messages intended merely to create some tactical flexibility? Or are the messages intended to prepare us for disappointment? For those of us working in the grassroots, we cannot afford to ‘wait and see.’ Our best approach is to ignore the calls to lower or postpone expectations. Our task is to keep up the momentum and the community’s hope for change.
The need for change on a national level is particularly urgent for us given the deteriorating conditions for immigrants here in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Local media outlets such as the SF Chronicle, faced with declining audiences, appear to have resurrected their tradition of yellow journalism, exaggerating the connection between immigration and violent crime. The Chronicle’s stories appear directed towards discrediting the City’s Sanctuary Ordinance and the Municipal ID program. Adding injury to insult, for the first time in recent memory in San Francisco, we are experience systematic workplace raids, immigrant profiling by police and other practices intended to intimidate immigrant communities. To effectively combat the negative media and these local practices we must combine our active involvement in the national debate with efforts to change the political climate city by city, county by county to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.
The opportunities for national change created by the most recent election are not likely to survive for long. Ever since the anti-immigrant Proposition 187 carried Governor Pete Wilson to a landslide victory fourteen years ago, bashing undocumented immigrants has been a popular and effective campaign device. Only McCain’s nomination shifted the debate away from immigration. McCain’s past support for moderate reforms meant the campaign could not easily be case in terms of a choice between xenophobia and immigrant virtues. As a result, for the first time in over a decade, immigrants were not the most vilified and scapegoated group in a national campaign.
Given Obama’s extraordinary victory and the tone of the past national elections, this coming Congressional term should therefore be our best chance yet for a humane reform of immigration laws. The elements of a workable reform bill already exists in bills that have been stranded in Congress for several years.
Why then, with solid Democratic majorities, should it be prudent to delay reform an additional year? Midterm elections, as 2010 will be, are often a vulnerable moment for any incumbent party. In two years, incumbent Obama’s mandate for change will be less clear. And with McCain off the ticket, Republican candidates can return to blaming immigrants for the economy, crime, traffic jams, and every other grievance large or small. Under such circumstances, many Democratic incumbents are likely to move away from controversy. Under these conditions, 2010 will be a much more difficult year to win any meaningful immigration legislation. Hence the logic of delay makes no sense. Immigration reform will not grow less controversial as time passes. Nor will we get closer to a ‘bipartisan’ consensus because we wade through another election cycle. Rather, the controversy will intensify the longer this issue remains unresolved. So why not 2009?
Democrats in Congress are understandably nervous. They have not enjoyed a substantial majority position for years and they do not want to overplay their hand. Hopefully they will lose their present skittishness on the immigration issue when they realize the dangers of a backlash are overstated. Much as the fears of nominating an African American for president were proven to be misplaced, the fears of creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants are also overblown. National polls show a majority of Americans support Congress providing relief for undocumented immigrants. Hence, once it is passed, as enlightened immigration bill will be celebrated and not condemned – much as on the night of the elections even some of the most scurrilous of media commentators and Republicans applauded Obama’s victory.
The bottom line is, when 12 million undocumented immigrants are provided a pathway to citizenship and to the ballot, those newly emancipated Americans can no longer be treated as the silent punching bag for yellow journalists and right wing politicians. Instead the media and politicians will be forced to reckon with immigrants as vocal participants, future voters, and people who will forever remember how they were treated or mistreated in this critical period.
But we have a long ways to go to get the reform we need. To help start the process on the right foot, immigrant rights organizations on the East Coast are mobilizing to march on Washington the day after Obama’s inauguration. While plans have yet to crystallize here, events will also be planned on the West Coast. Stay tuned…
Written by Eric Quezada and Gen Fujioka
Eric Quezada is the Executive Director of Dolores Street Community Services, and is on the steering committee for the San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network. Gen Fujioka is a long time community lawyer in San Francisco.
Featured on Beyond Chron
Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
On September 7, 2008, the African Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center’s (AIRRC) health team attended the Ethiopian & Eritrean New Year’s celebration at Lake Merritt in Oakland. With the help of consultants, Dr. Minale and Dennis Mireri, the AIRRC’s health team obtained 50 surveys. This was one of many events where the AIRRC has been conducting the health needs assessment survey. The goal of this survey is to strengthen the African immigrant communities and to gather community input on how to improve health care access.
Two of the African Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center’s health interns shared a booth with the Ethiopian Cultural Institute of San Jose to conduct outreach for survey participants. The team talked with members of the Ethiopian Nurses Association, who are also doing their own health survey and are working to collaborate on data analysis.
The African Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center has carried out similar outreach work for the past six months among the diverse San Franciscan and East Bay African immigrant communities. The Center’s big community outreach kicked-off on April 26, 2008, in partnership with the Department of Public Health Newcomer Program and the Arab Resource & Organizing Center – another San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network member. The Health Legal Forum took place at the Center’s office in San Francisco’s Western Addition, as an opportunity to discuss immigrants’ concerns on eligibility and legal status when accessing health services. Interns and staff from all agencies provided interpretation services in French, Arabic, Tigrinya, and Amharic to participants from Togo, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
The event included a Know Your Rights skit showing participants what to do during an immigration raid. Speakers discussed immigrant health insurance programs, legal status concerns, health services, and the myths of becoming a public charge. Staff attorney for the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Christine Stouffer, provided individual legal counseling at the end of the event to several participants.
The African Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center will continue through the year to work closely with African institutions throughout the Bay Area. More educational workshops are being planned with community leaders to examine the health concerns many may have. Many African immigrants are looking to service providers, like the AIRRC, to provide information on issues such as health insurance for children and adults, child education, childcare services, immigrant friendly healthcare facilities and legal rights on different benefits.
The African Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center hopes the continual diverse participation in these projects will further the voice of immigrants and those concerned with improved health care. Let us continue this path towards community empowerment and health services for all!
Story written by Joe Sciarrillo of the African Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center.
Wednesday, October 8th, 2008
A legal victory for the immigrant rights movement!
Judge finds cause for ICE raid hearings
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor
HARTFORD — A Connecticut immigration judge Monday ruled there is sufficient cause to hold hearings to determine whether the arrests of illegal immigrants last year in Greater New Haven violated constitutional protections.
Attorneys for 11 of 31 undocumented residents picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in two incidents, one in New Haven, one in North Haven, were pleased with the ruling.
“I think all of our clients were delighted to be able to have a chance to tell their story, not just to the judge … but also to the community at large,” said Stella Burch, a Yale Law School student who has worked on the case since the first raid June 6.
The 16 immigrants at Monday’s hearing broke into cheers when the ruling was explained to them by their attorneys outside the courthouse.
The lawyers, all connected with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at the law school, want any evidence gathered by ICE to be suppressed.
They contend the agents conducted illegal searches, lacked probable cause and arrested immigrants based on race, which violates the Fourth and Fifth amendments.
Leigh Mapplebeck, a senior attorney at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had filed briefs defending the officers’ conduct, arguing the immigrants had not proven their cases.
Constitutional protections apply to all people living in the United States, not just its citizens. The attorneys said they believed the evidentiary hearings will be the first in Connecticut, which reflects a similar trend across the country challenging actions by ICE.
Judge Michael W. Straus also granted a separate hearing in February for one immigrant seeking asylum in the U.S.
The judge ruled he will not hear evidence gathered from a household on Atwater Street. Burch said the difference between this case and others is that the person at the door when the ICE agents entered would not testify for fear of being implicated in the proceedings.
A total of five people were arrested there, including the immigrant who applied for asylum. Straus ruled the illegal immigrants would be allowed to leave the country voluntarily within 60 days, if they lose their cases and all subsquent appeals are exhausted.
Burch said their clients at the Atwater Street house decided last year to accept the ruling, rather than pressure testimony from the housemate who was not arrested.
“This has been an incredibly traumatic experience for all of the individuals we represent,” Burch said.
Straus said he would not address claims that the First and Tenth amendments also were violated by law enforcement agents in the raids; Yale attorneys plan to appeal that ruling. The First amendment protects the freedom of speech. Under the 10th amendment, powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states.
Of those arrested June 6 and June 11, 17 are on the docket before Straus; five are challenging earlier deportation orders in other courts, while five have left the U.S. Burch was not sure of the status of the four others, who are represented by other attorneys.
The suppression hearings will begin Oct. 20 for households on Warren Place and Peck Street raided on June 6, 2007, with others to follow.
Christopher Lasch, an attorney with the Yale clinic, wanted to begin his case by calling ICE agents to the stand, But Straus ruled against him.
Yale student Sara Edelstein said the judge set up the format for the hearings and left open the question of whether police would be called as witnesses.
“I don’t think that the opportunity to put on witnesses, aside from our own clients, is foreclosed,” Edelstein said.
Burch said the hope is for a “full and fair,” hearing, which would entail, “calling all available witnesses who can testify to the events of June 6, 2007,” including law enforcement officials.
After the hearings, if the evidence is not suppressed, Yale attorneys plan to go to the Board of Immigration Appeals, then to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
After 1984, the Supreme Court heightened the standard of proof to support a motion to suppress evidence in immigration courts to “an egregious violation” of constitutional rights. Lasch said more cases are being brought now because of the increase in ICE raids.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or email@example.com.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2008
The recent series of S.F. Chronicle articles concerning a group of immigrant youth apprehended for drug sales in San Francisco is misguided and misdirected. Without any consideration of the desperate circumstances of their lives, the article demonize these immigrants and castigate the Juvenile Probation Department for returning these children to their families. Many of the youth disparagingly cast as common criminals, often are forced to flee their home countries in dire straits and arrive alone in a country in which they are marginalized, exploited and coerced into an underground world of drug dealing. With apparent zeal to paint these children in as unfavorable a light as possible, the articles fail to address the disturbing reality that many of these children are actually trafficked into the United States and forced to deal drugs to pay off their debt, much like the women and children forced into prostitution by sex traffickers.
The vast majority of unaccompanied youth from Central America are desperate to escape the crushing poverty and violence in their home countries. In the case of Honduras, the average annual income is $4,100, there is a 27% unemployment rate, and 50% of the population lives in desperate poverty. Official report from Amnesty International in 2008, indicate that at least 500 women and children were killed without anyone brought to justice for the crimes. These children are leaving their home countries with the hope that America offers a fresh start, or at least a chance to send some money home to put food on the table. Upon their arrival in San Francisco, the stark reality of an undocumented immigrant becomes evident and they are forced into jobs in the shadows of society.
The article miss the point when they blame San Francisco’s Sanctuary Ordinance as the rationale for not routinely turning these children over to Immigration & Customs Enforcement officials. Perhaps coaxed by US Attorney Joseph Russoniello — who similarly opposed churches and synagogues offering sanctuary to Salvadorans and Guatemalans fleeing death squads in the 1980′s — the article blaming the city’s ordinance are aimed at the wrong target. Neither the spirit nor the letter of the ordinance , which some of us drafted back in 1989, could have produced the current circumstance.
In point of face, these children are under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court, which is part of the Unified Family Court, not the criminal court. State law protects the confidentiality of the juvenile court proceedings and records. Moreover, contrary to the repeated assertions, federal immigration law does not require that San Francisco turn over information regarding the immigration status of juvenile detainees who appear to be in the country illegally. The Juvenile Court and Probation Department are legally mandated to consider the needs of each minor on a case by case basis and provide a plan that will protect the child’s best interest, which may include placement in foster care, a group home, release to local family or return to family out of the country. These laws apply to all children under Juvenile Court jurisdiction, regardless of immigration status.
The unhappy reality is that there are undocumented, unaccompanied children in our community who resort to drug sales or other unsafe, illegal activities in order to survive and to support their families. The preferred solution — to detain them in locked immigration facilities for as long as it takes to formally deport them — is one that naively assumes this will prevent them from returning to this country. We reject this inhumane solution for its failure to recognize and address the real crime: poverty, violence and exploitation.
San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network, Legal Services for Children, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Saturday, February 16th, 2008
At the beginning of February, the SF Immigrant Legal & Education Network, kicked off its series of immigrant rights workshop at City College of San Francisco Downtown Campus. This is a great collaboration for SFILEN to bring important information to CCSF immigrant students.
Our amazing community education team shared information about San Francisco’s Sanctuary ordinance and what services are available for immigrants.
If you missed the first workshop, don’t worry! We have another workshop scheduled for Friday, February 29th. We’ll be acting out scenarios and what to do if you encounter the police or Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Check out our events page for more information!