Thursday, December 3, 2009

Salvation Army Changes Policy after Protests

According to the Sillicon Valley Mercury, the Salvation Army no longer will be asking for a parent's social security number before giving toys to children. According to the article:

Juan Alanis, a spokesman for the Salvation Army's Houston branch, says the charity changed its policy Wednesday following a protest by Hispanic immigrants in Los Angeles. Alanis says the Christian organization never wanted to give the appearance of discrimination based on legal status and decided to not require a social security number to register for its Angel Tree program.

Thank goodness this policy has changed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Salvation Army defends practice of asking for SSN

"Our work is not to verify immigration status," Juan Alanis, a spokesman for the Salvation Army in the Houston area, said Tuesday. "That's really not something that we're concerned with." So reports the Houston Chronicle. "It's a way to deter families from going to various Salvation Army centers and registering at each one," Alanis said.

This is a dumb policy because the SSN requirement has a disparate impact on undocumented children. There are other ways to prevent fraud without having to use a SSN. The charity could assign client numbers based upon other forms of identification and avoid this whole political mess.

If you want a good look at the seething level of hatred towards undocumented immigrants that some people have, just review the comments to the last two Houston Chronicle articles on this issue. It's scary stuff.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No Toys for You! Houston charities requiring proof of citizenship.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Salvation Army and a charity affiliated with the Houston Fire Department, are asking for proof of citizenship before they distribute toys to needy children. You can read the full story here.

Because nothing shows the love of Christ like rigid legalism!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why do Christians support Sheriff Joe?

Pregnant Latina Says She Was Forced to Give Birth in Shackles After One of Arpaio’s Deputies Racially Profiled Her. The story from the Phoenxi New Times.

For the first time in a while, I am too disgusted to write.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Consumer Alert: Beware "free English lesson" calls

The Texas Attorney General today issued a press release warning that," Spanish-speaking consumers are being targeted on their residential and mobile phones by scam artists offering a “free” English course. According to recent complaints to the Office of the Attorney General, callers are posing as employees of a purported nonprofit agency and claiming that call recipients could qualify for a “free” federal government English course. The scam artists ask unsuspecting customers for their personal information and the personal information of three friends as references." You can read the full press release here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Deportation before Conviction: A question of priorities or money?

Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA ran it's Deporting Justice story last night. The transcript reads, "Hundreds of accused felons charged with murder, rape, assault and kidnapping have been deported from Dallas County without having to face criminal prosecution. News 8 has found that the practice to allow charged felons to circumvent the justice system occurs not only in Dallas, but in major cities throughout Texas and the nation."

The federal government generally makes it a priority to place illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes in custody and ship them back to their home country. Many times, according to the article, the government does not tell the prosecuting attorneys. Thus, criminal defendants are deported before a case can go to trial.

I have a quibble with the story. It fails to mention a major reason why county jails want the federal government to take their undocumented prisoners- money. It costs money for counties to house prisoners. So there is an incentive for county and city prisons to let their prisoners go into ICE's custody. It also costs money for the federal government to house illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. Thus, ICE has streamlined the process and tries to deport illegal aliens accused of serious crimes as quickly as possible.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

CNBC's Darren Rovell: Don't celebrate NY Marthon Champion because he's not American- ok maybe he is but barely...

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, CNBC Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell wrote an article that states in part:

It's a stunning headline: American Wins Men's NYC Marathon For First Time Since '82. Meb Keflezighi of the US celebrates his victory in the New York City Marathon November 1, 2009 in New York. Unfortunately, it's not as good as it sounds. Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday in New York, is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he's not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement the headline implies.

The rest of his article then laments that Keflezighi is not "American born" and that "he's like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league." Thus, Rovell reasons the victory should not be a source of national pride.

A few hours and several angry emails later, Rovell wrote another column. This time he said, "Let me be clear: Meb Keflezighi is an American and any suggestion otherwise is wrong." But Rovell continued and said,"All I was saying was that we should celebrate an American marathon champion who has completely been brought up through the American system." Rovell then apologized that he was wrong about Keflezighi because the runner immigrated to the United States when he was 12 years old and not deserving of being called a "ringer."

So I suppose if Mr. Keflezighi became a citizen at age 18, Mr. Rovell would consider him a ringer and not really an American hero?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Arizona TV Station: Sheriff Arpaio under FBI investigation

Phoenix CBS television affiliate, KPHO reports that the "FBI is looking into accusations that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is using his position to settle political vendettas." The so-called "America's toughest sheriff" and anti-immigration icon has denied any wrong doing but the article states:

The list of people subjected to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office ivestigations reads like a Who's Who of the Valley, and it includes people who have authority over the sheriff and people who challenged his authority:

Dan Saban, who ran against the sheriff in 2004 and 2008
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard
Maricopa County Manager David Smith
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Superior Court Presiding Judge Barbara
ACLU attorney Daniel Pochoda

None of the investigations resulted in convictions; however, they cost the targets hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and tarnished reputations. Many of the targets were never charged with a crime.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Better to harness prayer than anger.

The group Americans for Legal Immigration issued a press release where it vowed to prepare "tea parties" to oppose comprehensive immigration reform and "to organize and channel the backlash wave of anger that is coming into peaceful civic action designed to remove many lawmakers who do not serve the wishes or interests of their constituents in 2010!" According to their website, there is a tea party protest against immigration reform scheduled for November 14, 2009 at the Tarrant County Courthouse from 12-3pm.

I have blogged before that immigration is a hard issue to discuss because it invokes so many emotions. But this is a blog that seeks to view immigration from a Christian perspective.

So what would Jesus do on November 14th if he were in Fort Worth?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Sanctuary" fight in San Francisco

The San Francisco Gate, the online portal of the San Francisco Chronicle, reports that the City's Board of Supervisors "passed legislation that relaxes the year-old policy of reporting undocumented youth to immigration authorities as soon as they are charged with a felony." This is part of an ongoing dispute between the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, and other officials. About a year ago, Mayor Gavin Newsome began requiring probation officials to notify the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) when undocumented juvenile offenders were charged with a felony. The Board of Supervisors amended the Mayor's policy and only requires notification if and when the juvenile is convicted of a felony. Supervisor David Campos was quoted as saying, "The whole point of having a sanctuary ordinance is that we choose not to be in the business of federal immigration enforcement. We are not an arm of ICE." The Mayor, however, vowed to ignore the legislation.

You can read more about so-called "sanctuary policies" in the August 2008 ISAAC E-News here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Religious groups seeking common ground on immigration

U.S. News and World Report has a good article suggesting that both Republican and Democrat evangelicals could come together about immigration reform. The article quotes former President Bush speechwriter, Michael Gerson as saying, "There has been a significant shift among evangelical leaders who view the immigration reform debate as an important measure of their [Christian] witness."

It's a good thing that Christian leaders are framing the debate in terms of their own faith. Too many times, Christians have allowed others to frame the discussion for them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

You can't have your flan and eat it too.

The group calls out CNN for airing a feel-good special Latino in America featuring Soleda O'Brien while also carrying talk-show host Lou Dobbs on its network. In a new video, (NOTE: It has some salty language toward the end when someone interviews some immigration protesters) the group fact checks Lou Dobb's anti-illegal immigration rants and juxtaposes them with a speech that Ms. O'Brien gave where she said, "The worse thing you can do is do nothing and say nothing when your voice is needed." Then the video has a graphic that says, "CNN. You cannot have it both ways." The group is calling for CNN to drop Mr. Dobbs from their network.

Maybe I am cynical but I don't think CNN considers this a brown or white issue. Green is the only color important to CNN. We will have to wait and see whether CNN thinks it can make more green with or without Mr. Dobbs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Immigration reform likely to wait until next year

Jared Allen writes in The Hill today, "Hopes for action on legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants have steadily eroded since President Barack Obama twice delayed a White House immigration summit and his attention became all but monopolized on health care reform." According to the article, we may see some legislative action in 2010 but there is no real consensus as to what it will look like.

As an aside, I read some of the comments to Mr. Allen's article and was dismayed that they contained often repeated but untrue statements about "free health care to illegals," "anchor babies" and other myths. It's really difficult to discuss immigration reform with so many lies being repeated and spread.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Repeating something does not make it true

As we have posted previously here, here and here, the proposed health care reform will not give free health care for illegal aliens. A new television ad named "Socialized Medicine" by the U.S. Citizens Association claims that health reform means that we will be forced to pay for health care for "20 million illegal aliens." Either this group has not read the proposed legislation or they are simply refusing to tell the truth.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Never let the Constitution stand in the way of political grandstanding

“In the past, some states have included illegal immigrants during the census, resulting in the allocation of additional congressional seats. We shouldn’t let these states be rewarded for skirting our federal laws, and this amendment will help stop this practice.” This was the statement of Senator David Vitter when he proposed his amendment to to prevent states from counting illegal aliens for the purposes of determining population levels and other data associated with the 2010 Census. Senator Bennett of Utah also supports this amendment.

Sec. 2 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states, "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed." The purpose of the 14th Amendment was to count everyone and end the fractional counting of African-Americans that preceded the Civil War. According to a very informative site on the Census, "The Attorney General ruled, in 1940, that there were no longer any Indians in the United States who could be classified as 'not taxed.'" So everyone is to be counted in the Census. You can read the statutory rules for the Census here.

I suppose Senators Vitter and Bennett will have to think of something else...

Friday, October 2, 2009

USCIS to consider raising fees again.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the USCIS is considering raising application fees again in an attempt to close a budget shortfall. Fees increased significantly in 2007 and it resulted in a plunge in applications. For example, it costs every man, woman, and child (who is not filing through an Armed Forces program) a non-refundabel $595 just to apply to become a U.S. Citizen. That does not include other miscellaneous fees that could be added and there is no guarantee that the application would be approved.
A fee increase would be short sighted. If the USCIS is truly underfunded then it should ask Congress for more money. A fee increase is simply going shift the costs to those that can least affort it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hutto: The nightmare ends

The Associated Press writes that the last few families detained at the Hutto Immigration Detention Center outside of Austin, Texas have finally moved out. The U.S. government had been detaining men, women, and children behind bars as they awaited an immigration court ruling. Theses families were locked up because they were considered a flight risk. The article states:

But Hutto quickly drew criticism. Guards trained to detain violent criminal adults were in charge of sad, sick or restless children — from babies to teenagers. Parents complained children were disciplined with threats of being separated from their family. ICE has said all at Hutto were treated humanely.

Children and parents lived in tiny cells furnished with bunk beds and a steel toilet and lined up for up to several head counts daily. Toys, pencils or even juice boxes were not allowed in cells. The school day was just an hour or two.

Locking up children and babies- Is this what immigration policy in the United States has become?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What about the rule of law?

Libby Grammer Garrett has a well written article entitled On immigration: Do Baptists believe the Bible. In the article, she gives the example of Lidiana, an undocumented immigrant, who married a legal resident. Her husband petitioned for her to remain in the country legally:

But in the meantime, her marriage became abusive, and Lidiana was forced to leave her husband. He withdrew the papers he had filed for her, making her ineligible to obtain legal status. Her only option to regularize her status was using novel legal arguments from a skilled attorney, but she still faced the possibility that the petition could be rejected. If rejected, she would be put in deportation proceedings, leaving her children with no mother and no income to support them in the only home they have ever known.

Ms. Garrett then argues that Baptists must respond more Biblically and choose to either "view them [illegal aliens] through the lens of our Kingdom citizenship -- or our national xenophobia." This provoked a comment from "Robber":

So where exactly does the rule of law fit in with your thesis?... I don't want them here because they entered the country illegally; and if they don't have respect for our laws then what else might they do when they're here? What you present is a sad story. If I were her neighbor, I would do what I could to help her. Make sure she was clothed, and fed. But it wouldn't change the fact that she was here illegally; and she should return to Mexico. I'm having trouble making ends meet right now, but that doesn't give me a right to break into my rich neighbor's house and take money or food -- no matter how desperately I might need it. It's a matter of law (emphasis added)... .

I would make this reply to Robber. It fits in perfectly. The fact scenario states that Lidiana did enter illegally but then attempted to adjust her status to that of a legal resident. She was trying to follow the law and the law allowed her to apply for an adjustment. Immigration law is not written on a postage stamp. The law, to which Robber so sacredly upholds, has many variables and alternative courses of actions for illegal aliens depending on the circumstances. That was what Lidiana was doing. So if Robber is upset that Lidiana had the option to apply for a chance to stay legally, then Robber's quarrel is with the law and not Lidiana.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

But illegals may be able to buy insurance!

The sound and fury regarding illegal aliens and the proposed healthcare reform has morphed from “you’re giving free healthcare to illegal aliens” to “illegal aliens might be able to purchase health insurance on the government sponsored exchange!”

At issue is the proposed Health Insurance Exchange (hereinafter the “Exchange”) in proposed HR 3200. It is found in Title 2 of the bill (page 72 on the link). The Exchange is a mechanism wherein the uninsured could buy plans from insurance companies that meet certain standards and benefits. Additionally, the uninsured could get a subsidy- called an “affordable credit” to help them offset the cost of insurance.

To qualify for the subsidy, you must be an “affordable credit eligible individual.” This is further defined in Section. 242(a)(1) as:

(1) IN GENERAL.—For purposes of this division, the term ‘‘affordable credit eligible individual’’ means, subject to subsection (b), an individual who is lawfully present in a State in the United States (other than as a nonimmigrant described in a subparagraph (excluding subparagraphs (K), (T), (U), and (V)) of section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act)…

And as repeated many times, Section 246 states:


Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

So undocumented aliens will not be able to receive or purchase subsidized insurance under the proposed bill. An undocumented alien may be able to purchase full priced insurance on the open market or on the exchange. That is true. But how is that different from what we have today?

Keep separating the wheat from the chaff!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"You lie!": No Congressman, HR 3200 does not give health care to illegal immigrants.

When President Obama gave his speech on health care reform on September 9, 2009, he said that the proposed legislation would not give health care to illegal immigrants. At that point, Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (SC) screamed, "You lie!" You can watch the video and read the article here.

As we have discussed before, HR 3200 specifically has language that prohibits granting benefits to illegal aliens. You can read the PDF version of the entire bill here. Section 246 of the Bill, found on page 143 of the PDF document, is entitled, “No Federal Payment for Undocumented Aliens.

Please keep separating the wheat from the chaff.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Email Lies about Immigration: "Just One State" email is hitting inboxes around the country.

Los Angeles Times reporter Hector Tobar writes about a false email that was forwarded to him:" What did I find? A stew made up for the most part of meaty exaggerations and spicy conjecture, mixed in with some giblets of truth. Two of the "stats" are the musings of a conservative op-ed writer. Another takes its information from a government "report" that is, in fact, a work of fiction. The last two items on the list are the most accurate -- but they reveal more about the prejudices and fears of the people passing the list along than they do about the supposed effect of 'illegals.'" You can read the full article here.

Please remember to separate the wheat from the chaff and verify your sources of information.

Friday, September 4, 2009

DHS to require all its contractors to use E-Verify on September 8, 2009

The USCIS put out a press release today to remind "federal contractors and subcontractors that effective Sept. 8, 2009, they will be required to use the E-Verify system to verify their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States if their contract includes the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify Clause." This is the result of a DHS rule change in July. According to the press release, "E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9)... against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA)." The E-verify system has been criticized by some groups because the SSA admits that it has millions of erroneous records in its database, most of them are American citizens. Additionally, Congress has not extended the authorization for the DHS to use E-verify beyond September 30, 2009. So, DHS may have to suspend this rule at the end of the month unless Congress reauthorizes the permission for DHS to use the system.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

USCIS provides interim relief from the "widow penalty."

On August 31, 2009, the USCIS posted the following Fact Sheet on its website. It stated that the Agency was providing "interim deferred action relief" for surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who died before the 2nd anniversary of their marriage. According to the Agency:

The "widow penalty" prevents widow(er)s of deceased U.S. citizens from becoming lawful permanent residents on a petition filed by their late spouse or from later self-petitioning to change their status if the U.S. citizen dies before the second anniversary of their marriage.

The relief is temporary and will allow the widow and their children to remain in the United States. The USCIS makes it clear, however, that a legislative solution is required. You can read more here and here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Muckety-muck": No charges filed against Koch Food officials

The online edition of the Middletown Journal has a story about the aftermath of the August 28, 2007 raid at the Koch Food Chicken, Inc. processing plant in Fairfield, Ohio. At the time, it was one of the largest employer immigration raids in government history. More than 160 employees were arrested and prosecuted for identity theft and other crimes. The vast majority of them were also deported. Additionally, ICE served search warrants against the company for alleged immigration violations. It was the cumilation of a two year investigation of the company by federal, state, and local law enforcement. At the time of the raid, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones was quoted as saying,"I've been saying for 2-1/2 years 'We're coming, ... don't hire illegals, don't violate the law.'" and "I personally have no sympathy for you whatsoever, None. Zero."

After the raid, the Assistant Secretary of ICE stated that "Unlawful employment is one of the key magnets drawing illegal aliens across our borders."

Two years later, all charges against the company were dropped. Attorneys for Koch Food stated, "When a good company like Koch, a viable company to the community providing lots of jobs and lots of taxes to the community, tries to do the right thing they get held up in governmental muckety-muck."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Immigration from another perspective

The August 22, 2009 online edition of the Chicago Tribune describes a "coming-out party of sorts for Asian immigrant organizations in Chicago that have been gaining momentum in their efforts to mobilize a community of roughly 350,000 Asian and Pacific island immigrants in a region long unwilling to publicly air its problems."

Many in that community express concern for issues like temporary work visas for high-tech jobs and family reunification. The article also describes Mike K., 19, an undocumented Korean immigrant hoping for reforms to allow students in the country illegally to receive conditional permanent residency. Mike won a high-school contest sponsored by Google Corp., in which the search engine company sought new ideas for its home page. Unfortunately, his entry could not ultimately be submitted because of his illegal status.

While the immigration debate in the United States tends to center around of immigrants from Spanish- speaking countries, it is important to remember that the United States has immigrants from all over the world. Please continue to pray for our elected leaders and for one another as we seek to resolve the many issues that plague our immigration system.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Christian Iraqi refugees: From Baghdad to the Border; to lockup...

The Global Post has an interesting article about Iraqi refugees trying to make it to the United States through Mexico. The violence and political unrest in Iraq has created a refugee crisis but the wait times for approval into the United States are long and the process in not guaranteed. As a result, many Iraqis have fled their country and have tried to enter the United States illegally. According to the article sophisticated human smuggling operations are springing up:

Demand is strong among those who can afford to pay, especially so among Iraqi Christian refugees. Many Iraqis who have made the illegal journey to the U.S. have been Chaldean and Assyrian Christians, some 400,000 of whom were driven from their homes by Islamic extremists. Their U.S. advocates say this illicit traffic will continue because of rising frustration.

We are truly blessed to live in the United States and many come from all around the world share in these blessings. Our U.S. Congressional representatives and Senators will be looking at immigration reform within the next year. They will have to make the tough decisions on who is allowed to come, go, stay, or leave the United States. Please pray for them. May the Lord give them wisdom.

Monday, August 24, 2009

ESL Teacher Training Schedule August - September 2009

Photo used under Creative Commons from elliotcable.

If you want to teach ESL but don't know where to begin, ISAAC invites you to attend ESL teacher training. Several classes are being offered by Literacy ConneXus and Teaching English with Excellence (TEX) in August and September 2009. This is a tremendous ministry opportunity for you and your church:

August 14-15, 2009
Lake Jackson,Texas
Basic ESL Training for New Teachers of Adult Students
Contact: Robin Feistel at

August 21-22, 2009
Round Rock,Texas
Basic ESL Training for New Teachers of Adult Students
Contact: Robin Feistel at

August 28-29, 2009
Lubbock, Texas
Beginning ESL Training
Alliance Church
5825 34th St
Lubbock,TX 79407
Contact: Lester Merriwether at 817 696-9898 or

August 28-29, 2009
Harlingen, Texas
Beginning ESL Training
Trinity Baptist Church
Contact: Lester Merriwether at 817 696-9898 or

August 28-29, 2009
Basic ESL Training for New Teachers of Adult Students
Contact: Robin Feistel at

September 11-12, 2009
Basic ESL Training for New Teachers of Adult Students
Contact: Robin Feistel at 936-564-6017

September 18-19, 2009
Houston, Texas
Basic ESL Training for New Teachers of Adult Students
Contact: Robin Feistel at 936-564-6017

Friday, August 21, 2009

An invasion or a mission field?

Photo used under Creative Commons from MattJP.

ISAAC is not an advocacy group and does not have a political agenda. We pray that each Christian choose their political stance on immigration reform based upon prayer and the dictates of their conscious.

ISAAC does, however, have a spirtual agenda. ISAAC helps churches minster to the immigrant community by providing accurate information on the issues, establishing and supporting ESL/Citizenship classes, and by assisting with the federal "recognition" process. With this spiritual agenda comes two assumptions: 1) God is ultimately in control of all things in this world; and 2) as Christians we are commanded to, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 28:19.

I can't fathom God's intentions but I do know that there are 10-12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. I also know that many of these immigrants need Christ. So how do I present the Gospel and become the presence of Christ in these people's lives? That's the really important question isn't it?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Immigration Myth Debunked: Health Care Reform = Free health care for illegal aliens.

Still from the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film shot in Humboldt county in 1967, via Wikipedia used under Creative Commons from Thomas Roche.

Photo of Garden Gnome used under Creative Commons from Kmoney56.

A very common email, call, and discussion I have revolves on the proposed health care reform legislation in Congress. There is a belief that the bill would provide free health care to illegal aliens. This is a myth. Nevertheless, it keeps getting repeated by media.

For example, health care protester, Heather Liggett, was on National Public Radio (NPR) on Friday, August 7, 2009. Ms. Liggett described some of the questions and comments at Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s town hall meeting in Austin, Texas held earlier this month:

“My mom's question was why aren't you reading the bills before you sign them? And his response was that he helped co-sponsor this particular bill, which led into another question, you co-sponsored allowing illegals to get free medicine?”
NPR then interviewed Bill Adair with PolitiFact about the truth of the assertion that the proposed health care bill, HB 3200, gives free health care to illegal immigrants.

"We gave that our lowest rating on our Truth-O-Meter: a pants on fire," he says. "To the contrary, there's language [in the bill] that says that undocumented aliens would not be eligible for the credit under this plan." The claim came from a chain e-mail that included many other assertions…

Indeed, Section 246 entitled, “No Federal Payment for Undocumented Aliens”, states:

Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

Please keep separating the wheat from the chaff and consider your sources of information as you form your opinions about immigration issues.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Healthcare and undocumented immigrants: What about EMTALA?

Photo used under Creative Commons from brykmantra.

As we have stated before, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal welfare benefits like Medicaid. Ah ha! Some may say, what about EMTALA? EMTALA is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services:

In 1986, Congress enacted [and President Ronald Reagan signed] the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. Hospitals are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented.

EMTALA also does not allow a hospital to refuse otherwise eligible emergency treatment because of someone's citizenship or immigration status. EMTALA was passed without funding, however, and states complained that it was an "unfunded govermental mandate." As a result, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The MMA does provide $250 million dollars per year to reimburse hospitals for their unrecoverable costs for emergency care to undocumented immigrants under EMTALA.

It is important to remember that EMTALA was designed to prevent "patient dumping" from private hospitals to public ones. It was not designed as immigration legislation. It was a public policy decision that Congress and President Reagan made. They did not want any patients- U.S. citizens or otherwise-to be refused emergency medical care because of an inability to pay. EMTALA does not provide health insurance for illegal immigrants. EMTALA was enacted to keep patients from dying because of they had no insurance or money to pay for treatment.

So if both Joe Illegal and Joe Citizen are in a car wreck and need emergency care, the hospital is not going to let them die in the waiting room while they verify their immigration status and credit rating. It is correct to say that there are costs associated with EMTALA but according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, all immigrants, including the undocumented, were less likely to visit the emergency room of a hospital than their citizen counterparts.

So once again, please remember that illegal immigrants are not eligible for federal welfare benefits. All people in the United States, regardless of immigration status, are covered under EMTALA.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Citizenship through naturalization

Photo used under Creative Commons from Christian Reed.

In the last couple of posts, we described the acquisition of U.S. citizenship through birth in the United States and for children of U.S. citizens born abroad. Today, we discuss naturalization. Naturalization is the process set up wherein a person of another country comes to the United States and becomes a citizen. The United States Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 8, cl. 4., states that Congress has the duty to "establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization." This is a duty specifically for Congress. As a result, the rules of naturalization can change from time to time.

Generally a person must be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) for a set period of time before they are eligible to apply for citizenship. A useful guide to the process is published by the USCIS. If the LPR submits an acceptable application, then they must demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak basic English. Additionally, the applicant must pass the Citizenship Exam. While the test is generally an oral exam, you can take a sample online test here.

There are some exceptions to the LPR requirement. For example, the President may issue an Executive Order in times of combat and hostilities that allows a person who has served honorably to apply for citizenship.

A naturalized citizen has all the rights and privileges of other U.S. citizens. There is one notable exception, however. A naturalized citizen may not be elected President of the United States. See Article 2, Sec. 1, cl. 5 of the United States Constitution. So unless there is a constitutional amendment, Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, for example, is ineligible to run for president.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

US Citizenship Part 2: Children born abroad to U.S. Citizens.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Dru Bloomfield-At Home in Scottsdale

In our last post we discussed "birth right" or natural born citizenship. This type of citizenship is derived from the U.S. Constitution. A second way a person acquires U.S. Citizenship is through birth abroad to one or more parents that are U.S. citizens. This type of citizenship is distinct in that it does not come from the U.S. Constitution. Rather citizenship of this type is a creature of statute and is controlled by Congress.

Typically this type of citizenship is passed from a parent citizen to their child, born abroad, if the parent has resided within the United States for a set period of time. It is a fairly complex area and there are numerous rules related to it. For a good discussion of the ins and outs, click here.

Both types of persons- those born in the United States and those born abroad to U.S. Citizens- are citizens, albeit, their citizenship comes from different legal sources.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Natural Born Controversies

Photo of Former United States Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray used under Creative Commons from Political Graveyard.

There has been a great deal of discussion on talk-radio, cable television, and on the internet surrounding the topic of "natural born" versus "naturalized citizens". This is a fairly meaty topic and will be broken up into several different posts. This first post will discuss natural born citizens or “birth right” citizenship.

In 1868, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified and became the supreme law of the land. Article 1 of the Amendment states in part:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

But what does the phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” mean?

In 1873, a man named Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco, California. In 1882, the United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. This law severely limited immigrants from China and barred Chinese immigrants in the United States from naturalization. It was undisputed that Wong Kim’s parents were not U.S. citizens and they were “subject to the jurisdiction of China.” In 1890, Wong Kim departed to China for a temporary visit. He returned a few months later to San Francisco. In 1894, Wong Kim Ark made another temporary visit to China and returned in the summer of 1895. This time, he was refused entry into the United States on the ground that he was not a U.S. citizen and detained aboard the vessel on which he arrived.

Wong Kim Ark filed a petition for habeas corpus in the District Court for the Northern District of California. The then “district attorney for the United States” intervened and asked that Wong Kim Ark not be released because he was inter alia a “subject of the emperor of China.” The trial judge, after an extensive review of the law, held that Won Kim Ark was indeed a U.S. citizen within the meaning of the 14th Amendment because he was born in the United States. The judge then ordered his release. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. After a rigorous review of the law and history of citizenship laws in the United States and England and the history of the 14th Amendment, Justice Horace Gray gave the opinion of the court that the 14th Amendment, “has conferred no authority on congress to restrict the effect of birth, declared by the constitution to constitute a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.” The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision and this has been the law of the land since 1898.

Now there are some commentators that have suggested that since Wong Kim Ark’s parents were in the country legally, birth right citizenship does not pass to children of illegal immigrants. The Supreme Court in the case of Plyer v. Doe disposed of this argument by stating that “no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment ‘jurisdiction’ can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful.” Thus, the Constitution guarantees that children of illegal immigrants, born in the United States, are U.S. citizens. That means Congress cannot pass legislation to change this. Only a constitutional amendment can change birth right citizenship.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cases (and the resulting lawsuits) for wrongful deportation of U.S. citizens rising.

Photo used under Creative Commons from swanksalot.

The July 27, 2009 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that U.S. citizens are being wrongfully deported by the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) Service. "When ICE came and detained me, I told the officer I was a citizen," said Ramirez Lopez, 25. "They told me they didn't want to hear it, that I was going to get deported." An ICE officer was reported as saying, "There is no national database (of citizens)," she said. "So we're reliant on the person to provide clear and convincing evidence that they are a citizen."

Whoa! Since when have allowed the government to shift the burden of proof to the accused? Even in deportation proceedings, the burden is on the government to prove that the alien is deportable by "clear and convincing" evidence. Not the other way around.

There is another disturbing trend. See if you can find it in the list of U.S. citizens cited in the article as having been wrongfully deported: Ramirez Lopez, Pedro Guzman, and Rennison Castillo.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

National Immigration Law Center Report: Substantial and Pervasive Violations of Minimum Governmental Standards at Detention Centers

The National Immigration Law Center posted a report that was the "first-ever system-wide look at the federal government’s compliance with its own standards regulating immigrant detention facilities, a view based on previously unreleased first-hand reports of monitoring inspections. The results reveal substantial and pervasive violations of the government’s minimum standards for conditions at such facilities." The report cited standard violations with regard to attorney and loved one visitation, telephone access, access to legal materials, administrative and disciplinary segregation, and holding cells. The report recommended that the government improve its accountability within the system, promote uniformity across the various detention centers, increase transparancy within the system and stop the increase of detention and come up with alternatives to detention.

As we mentioned in our May 2008 ISAAC E-Newsletter, deportation and removal proceedings are not criminal proceedings but are civil in nature. In these proceedings, the USCIS must prove that the alien is deportable by "clear and convincing" evidence. This is a lower threshold than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard in criminal proceedings. The civil nature of deportation proceedings is also important because the alien has no right to court-appointed counsel or a jury trial. An immigration judge decides whether the alien is deportable from the country. The judge may order the alien removed from the country or, if circumstances permit, allow him to remain and adjust his status. Another important distinction is that if the alien is detained by the USCIS, the detention is not a punishment for their immigration violations. Rather, it is a statutorily permissible detention to prevent flight risk and facilitate removal of the alien from the country.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Texas Attorney General Opinion: In-state tuition for unauthorized aliens who are Texas residents not in violation of equal protection clause

In the January 2009 ISAAC E-Newsletter, we reported on the issue of in-state tuition and illegal aliens. We also mentioned that Texas State Representative Leo Berman (R., Smith County) asked Attorney General Greg Abbott "whether the State of Texas is in violation of federal law and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, by allowing illegal aliens in Texas the benefit of in-state tuition in state colleges and universities to the exclusion of nonresident United States citizens."

Attorney General Abbott's office issued a lengthy opinion and stated:

Accordingly, a federal or state court in Texas would likely conclude that Education Code sections 54.052(a)(3) and 54.053(3) do not facially violate the federal Equal Protection Clause because the statutory prerequisites for in-state tuition are reasonable requirements that serve Texas's legitimate or substantial interest in assuring that only bona fide residents that graduate from Texas high schools or receive the diploma equivalent from this state are eligible for in-state tuition. However, no court has addressed whether a statute similar to the Texas statutes conforms to the mandates of the Equal Protection Clause. (Emphasis added)
I encourage everyone to read the entire opinion and remember to keep separating the wheat from the chaff.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) Program

Photo of medical emergency simulation used under Creative Commons from

The United States Army through authorization from the Department of Defense has implemented a "test that permits the enlistment of certain legal aliens into the U.S. Army. To be eligible for consideration, you must be legally present in the United States, and able to provide a passport, I-94 card, I-797 form, your employment authorization document or other government issued documents proving your legal presence in the United States." You can read more about the program here.

On July 17, 2009, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it had naturalized the first soldier, Captain Brown*, M.D. Army Medical Corps, under this program. According to the press release, "This ceremony happened in record time because our military liaison team maintained close coordination with the Army and tracked Dr. Brown’s naturalization packet from the time he applied with our Nebraska Service Center until today,” said Debra Rogers, acting Deputy Associate Director of USCIS’ Domestic Operations Directorate and head of USCIS’ Military Liaison team. “The MAVNI program is vital to the national interest, and as such we are very focused on its success.” Captain Brown will serve six years in the Army as part of the program.

Congratulations to Captain Brown and the United States Army!

*The name "Brown" is a pseudonym used at the request of the U.S. Army.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I heard you help ILLEGALS!

Photo used under Creative Commons from Between a Rock

And so opened a telephone conversation I had with a fellow sister in Christ the other day. I have this conversation quite a bit with people who have heard about the ISAAC Project at church or through its website, facebook page or this blog. Let me be clear: The ISAAC Project helps churches minister to all immigrants-not just undocumented ones- within the confines of the law. We do not encourage illegal immigration, "sanctuary" movements, or help people skirt the law. We help immigrants comply with the law, not break it.

After I explained this to the caller, her response was, "So you admit, you are helping churches help ILLEGALS!"

"Under extremely limited circumstances," I replied, "an illegal immigrant can adjust or change their status from 'illegal' to 'legal'." I stressed the exceptionally limited nature of this relief and gave an example of the Ruth Project in Waco, Texas (affiliated with ISAAC). The Ruth Project was able to help an undocumented and underaged rape victim. Through their efforts, she was allowed to stay in the country and testify against her attacker. Thanks to her help, this predator is now behind bars. The prosecution then submitted documents on the victim's behalf and the Ruth Project was able to help her become a lawful permanent resident.

Unfortunately, the conversation was downhill from there. She began yelling at me and accused me of "making a mockery of the law!"

"But I do support the law," I retorted, "everything we do is within the confines of the law. If the law allows someone to go from 'illegal' to 'legal', then why shouldn't we help them?" I continued, "We can't pick and choose what parts of the law we like and then disregard the parts we don't like. The law allows some people to stay under very limited circumstances and others it does not allow to stay. If you don't like the fact that ISAAC can help certain undocumented immigrants within the current law, perhaps it is the law you have a quarrel with and not ISAAC."

She then hung up on me.

I don't mind people disagreeing with ISAAC's ministry or vision. Indeed, I have said many times that I don't know what the long term immigration solution will be. I do hope, however, that if someone does disagree with this ministry that they will do so only after they have fully informed themselves of the facts.

Friday, July 17, 2009

So much for strict construction of the Constitution.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Thorne Enterprises.

The Council on Foreign Relations issued Independent Task Force Report No. 63, U.S. Immigration Policy. I recommend that you purchase and read it as it has many well developed ideas and proposals for fixing the current system. On page 115, Task Force Member Robert C. Bonner, submitted an additional view where he states, "I believe as a policy matter the United States should not extend citizenship to children born in our country to parents who are here illegally. The current practice invites illegal immigration, promotes public cynicism, and is often the only basis for the cry of family separation when parents are deported." Mr. Bonner goes on to say that this "practice could probably be changed by Congress (I would not make it retroactive) without a constitutional amendment, but I would favor such an amendment if absolutely necessary."

I must disagree with Mr. Bonner. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states in part, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." (emphasis added). The Supreme Court since at least 1898 has held that this language means that children born in the United States are citizens irrespective of their parents' nationality. Other cases have also held that children born to diplomats are not "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" and thus not citizens. The 111 year -old interpretation of the United States Constitution is not a "practice." It is the Supreme Law of the Land. Any changes to it, therefore, need to be in the form of a constitutional amendment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another misleading email: Joe Legal v. Jose Illegal

Photo used under Creative Commons from stuartpilbrow.

With a simple click of a mouse, another false email has started to infiltrate its way into inboxes across the country. This one is called Joe Legal v. Joe Illegal. It is addressed below:

Here is an example of why hiring illegal aliens is not economically productive for the State of California ...You have 2 families..."Joe Legal" and "Jose Illegal". Both families have 2 parents, 2 children and live in California.

1. "Joe Legal" works in construction, has a Social Security Number, and makes $25.00 per hour with payroll taxes deducted.... "Jose Illegal" also works in construction, has "NO" Social Security Number, and gets paid $15.00 cash "under the table".

Response: The email begins with the fallacy that illegal aliens are being paid off the books. According to the 2005 Economic Report of the President, more than “half of undocumented immigrants are believed to be working ‘on the books,’ so they contribute to the tax rolls but are ineligible for almost all Federal public assistance programs and most major joint Federal-state programs.” You can view the report here.

2. Joe Legal...$25.00 per hour x 40 hours $1000.00 per week, $52,000 per year Now take 30% away for state federal tax. Joe Legal now has $31,231.00. Jose Illegal...$15.00 per hour x 40 hours $600.00 per week, $31,200.00 per year. Jose Illegal pays no taxes... Jose Illegal now has $31,200.00.

Response: It is simply false to say illegal aliens do not pay taxes. The IRS collects income tax from all aliens- irrespective of their legal status- who earn income in the United States. Taxes are generally collected through payroll withholdings and submitted tax returns. Some aliens, including undocumented aliens, are not eligible to receive a social security number for work purposes. Nevertheless, if they work, they will accrue federal income tax liability under the IRS code. To facilitate compliance with income tax law, the IRS developed the ITIN. You can read more about ITINs here. As of June 2006, the IRS had issued more than 7 million ITINs. Read more here. The IRS states that the tax return filing compliance rate for ITIN holders is about 75% . Here at page 52. Illegal aliens also pay taxes through payroll withholding with false, fraudulent, or stolen Social Security Numbers. This money is kept by the government in a “suspense file” and not returned to the illegal alien. The Social Security Administration states that these files represented $56.1 billion in earnings and $7 billion in social security payroll taxes. See here:

3. Joe Legal pays Medical and Dental Insurance with limited coverage $1000.00 per month [$12,000.00 per year]. Joe Legal now has $19,231.00. Jose Illegal has full Medical and Dental coverage through the state and local clinics at a cost of $0.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Response: Ostensibly, the author of this email is referencing Medi-Cal. According to its official government website, “Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. This is a public health insurance program which provides needed health care services for low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, foster care, pregnant women, and low income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. Medi-Cal is financed equally by the State and federal government.” Eligibility for this program is based upon income. According to the guidance letter for the California Department of Human Services all aliens (legal or otherwise) must go through a verification process and only aliens lawfully residing in California may receive full benefits. Illegal aliens can only obtain emergency service and some child delivery services. Interestingly, it is quite possible that neither Joe nor Jose could qualify for Medi-Cal because of their income.

4. Joe Legal makes too much money is not eligible for Food Stamps or welfare. Joe Legal pays for food. $1,000.00 per month [$12,000.00 per year]. Joe Legal now has $ 7,231.00. Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for Food Stamps and Welfare. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Response: Illegal immigrants are not eligible for federal entitlement welfare programs like Food Stamps. Indeed, even legal immigrants are barred from all federal means-tested public benefits for five years by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105 (Aug. 22, 1996) (codified as 8 USC §§1601 et seq.).

5. Joe Legal pays rent. $1,000.00 per month [$12,000.00 per year]. Joe Legal is now in the hole minus (-) $4,769.00. Jose Illegal receives a $500 per month Federal rent subsidy. Jose Illegal pays rent. $500.00 per month (section 8 housing). $6,000.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $25,200.00.

Response: Unfortunately, this bears repeating. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for Federal welfare benefits like Section 8.

6. Joe Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work. Jose Illegal has nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family (and eat out!).

Response: This is an unsupported allegation and is simply made up by the author of this email.

7. Joe Legal's and Jose Illegal's children both attend the same school. Joe Legal pays for his children's lunches while Jose Illegal's children get a government sponsored breakfast & lunch, and they also qualify to be "bused to school" at tax payer expense.

Response: According to the USDA Eligibility Manual for School Meals, these types of school lunches are available for children that are: 1) members of a household that gets welfare; 2) enrolled in Head Start because of low income; 3) homeless, 4) migrants; or 5) runaways. We know nothing about Jose’s children given the fact pattern. Assuming however, they were born in the United States, they are U.S. Citizens and, provided they meet the guidelines, they are eligible for such programs. But according to the fact pattern given, neither Joe nor Jose would be eligible for free or reduced school lunches under the latest guidelines. Also, since this fact pattern is in California, it is very likely that any bus services are going to be sharply curtailed because of budget cuts.

8. Jose Illegal's children have an after school ESL program. Joe Legal's children have to find a way to get to school and go home after school as, "latch-key kids" with no adult supervision.

Response: The voters of California approved all types of after-school programs for all children.

9. Joe Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same Police and Fire Services, but Joe paid for them and Jose did not pay.

Response: This is false. Joe and Jose paid for these local services through their property, sales, and income taxes. Also, the fact pattern tells us that both Jose and Joe are renters (See No. 5), thus their landlord factored in property taxes into their rent.

10. Jose Illegal can send most of his money back home to build a new home for retirement, and have money to buy a new truck (and still have Medi-Cal benefits while living in a foreign country; until someone turns him in to authorities....if they ever find out!!) Joe will be lucky if he has any money for retirement, a new vehicle, medical/dental benefits, or a place to live.

Response: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 21% of unauthorized aliens in the United States are poor. Thus, it does not appear that while Jose is working construction and supporting a wife and two kids that he is building a “retirement home.” Also, as noted above Jose Illegal would not be eligible for full Medi-Cal benefits.

11. I have done the math, all you have to do is to look at it yourself. Don't hire illegal aliens.....Don't vote for any politician that supports illegal aliens.....And most important of all, write your politicians and let them know how you feel.

Response: It is unlawful to hire someone who is not authorized to work in the United States and it is important to let your elected representatives know how you feel. But please, form your opinions on truth and facts and not on deliberate distortions and false emails.

12. PS: You forgot, Jose illegal's wife claims "single, no head of Household" and collects additional benefits that Joe legal's wife cannot claim. No wonder our country is in trouble!! Think about it!

Response: The fact pattern begins to fall apart with its own distortions. First it claims that Jose does not pay taxes (No. 2), then it claims that “Jose illegal’s [sic] wife” files taxes as “single, no head of Household.” There is no such category. According to the IRS, there are five filing statuses: 1) single, 2) married filing jointly, 3) married filing separately, 4) Head of household; and 5) Qualifying widow(er) with Dependant Child. The Head of Household status usually grants a lower tax rate and higher standard deduction than the single or married filing separately status. Jose’s wife could file as Head of Household- or Joe’s wife for that matter- if they were: 1) unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year; 2) paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year; and a 3) “qualifying person” lived with them. If she met the eligibility, then she is lawfully claiming the status. If not, then she would be filing a fraudulent tax return and committing a crime.

Please keep separating the "wheat from the chaff" and consider your sources of information as you form your opinions about immigration issues.

Monday, July 13, 2009

DHS Chief Administration to support E-Verify Regulation for Government Contractors; Scraps No-Match Rule

Photo used under Creative Commons by Egan.

The Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Janet Napolitano announced "the Administration’s support for a regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization. The declaration came as Secretary Napolitano announced the Department's intention to rescind the Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order, in favor of the more modern and effective E-Verify system." The press release states "E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens."

The system is not with out its problems. Indeed, National Public Radio (NPR) reported last year that some citizens were having problems getting "verified" and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also had misgivings about the program because of the approximately 18 million Social Security records with errors in them. The majority of these records were of U.S. citizens.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Most Arizona HS Students probably wouldn't pass the Citizenship Exam

Photo used under Creative Commons from The Master Shake Signal.

A recent survey by the Goldwater Institute indicates that it "gave each student 10 items from the USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Service] item bank. We grouped results according to the type of school students attend—public, charter, or private. Questions included (1) Who was the first president of the United States? (2) Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? and (3) What ocean is located on the East Coast of the United States? All three groups of Arizona high school students scored alarmingly low on the test. Only 3.5 percent of Arizona high school students attending public schools passed the citizenship test. The passing rate for charter school students was about twice as high [about 7%] as for public school students. Private school students passed at a rate almost four times higher [about 14%] than public school students."

The USCIS has many free materials online to help immigrants study for the exam. Perhaps, we should direct some of our high school students to them as well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ICE now focusing on employers: I-9 Audits and the Krispy Kreme Settlement

Photo used under Creative Commons from brewbooks.

The US Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) announced on July 7, 2009 that it had reached "a $40,000 fine settlement" with the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation "for violations of immigration laws." According to an ICE press release, it began a strategy of focusing on employers of illegal aliens in April 2008 and began notifying businesses of its intent to audit form I-9. "Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individuals identity document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual."

Interestingly, the press release stated, "ICE conducted an I-9 inspection of Krispy Kreme after receiving information from the Butler County Sheriff's Office which revealed the company had employed dozens of illegal aliens at one of their doughnut factories in Cincinnati." The Butler County, Ohio Sheriff, Richard K. Jones, has a blog where he told his readers that he sent a letter to President Obama where he stated, "[t]he drugs coming from Mexico to the United States is out of control and it appears we have no policy to control any of these serious problems. I believe they need to be addressed by the new President." You can read the rest of his blog here. The Butler County Sheriff's Department entered into a 287(g) agreement with ICE in 2008.

There is no indication that ICE actually found any illegal workers on the premises but it did apparently find "violations of immigration law" related to the I-9. I think focusing on the employers is a better long term strategy of enforcement. When ICE simply raids and deports the factory workers, the employer rarely is the focus. Instead, as we saw in Postville, Iowa, the workers are charged, convicted and deported. The families and community are then left to pick up the pieces. In those cases, sanctions against the employer are generally secondary. When ICE leaves, the employer still has an incentive to hire persons not authorized to work in the United States. This new strategy, however, will make the employer the focal point. Perhaps this new emphasis will prove more effective.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Urban police chiefs weigh in on immigration reform- and the Long Term view

Photo of City of Miami Police Station used under Creative Commons from whitneynmatt.

The July 1, 2009 online edition of the New York Times has an article about city police chiefs from large urban areas, like Austin and Miami, calling for "an overhaul that would integrate immigrants into the legal system, possibly with driver’s licenses, and separate the local police from immigration enforcement." The article went on to state that the police chiefs were critical of attempts by federal authorities to put immigration enforcement in the hands of local law enforcement. They argued that such practices hurt criminal investigations because witnesses were reluctant to come forward for fear of deportation. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said, "When you remove the emotion from the debate, no one can argue that it is in the best interest of public safety to keep these people living in the shadows.”

Ah, "when you remove emotion from the debate," that is the hard part isn't it? I'm not sure why this topic generates so much emotion even among Christians. Is it genuine fear that this country's values are allegedly being harmed by illegal immigrants? Is it fear of the changing demographics of this nation? Or is it something else? Whatever it is, I ask you to read Hebrews 11:13-16 (ISV):

All these people died having faith. They did not receive the things that were promised, yet they saw them in the distant future and welcomed them, acknowledging that they were strangers and foreigners on earth. For people who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking about what they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to go back. Instead, they were longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared a city for them.

Let's not forget that as Christians we are all merely strangers and foreigners looking for a better country- a heavenly one. That kind of long term outlook puts all earthly problems in context, doesn't it?

Friday, July 3, 2009

USCIS to allow current I-9 Form to be used beyond June 30, 2009

Photo used under Creative Commons from sanberdoo.

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), "[a]ll U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. On the form, the employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the individual and record the document information on the Form I-9."

The USCIS updated Form I-9 in February 2009 and reminded employers in April 2009 of the specific changes and revisions. The current form (Rev. 2/2/09) was to expire on June 30, 2009. Because a new form has yet to be developed and approved, the USCIS asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve to continued use of version Rev. 2/2/09 beyond the June 30, 2009 expiration date. The USCIS announced that employers may continue to use the Rev. 2/2/09 version of the I-9 form until further notice. You can read the full announcement here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ISAAC and Affiliated Ministries at Convencion in Dallas

Photo of Carlos Charco, Tihara Vargas, and Viviana Triana Charco from the Ruth Project at Convencion 2009

The 2009 Convencion Bautista Hispana de Texas was held June 28-30, 2009 at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas. It was well attended and ISAAC was there as well. Additionally, some affilated recognized agencies such as the Ruth Project in Waco and Primera Iglesia Plano along with Literacy ConneXus were also there to share their ministry vision.

Please pray for the ISAAC Project and all the affiliated ministries. They need your support and prayers. If you would like your church or organization to become a recognized organization so it can assist immigrants or if you would like to start an ESL class, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

ACLU and State Department to settle dispute over U.S. citizen passport refusals

Photo used under Creative Commons from swimparallel.

In our June 15, 2009 post, we discussed how some U.S. citizens were being denied passports by the State Department. The State Department routinely refused to issue passports for U.S. citizens, mostly Mexican-Americans, born along the border with the aid of a midwife. The ACLU on behalf of several U.S. citizens brought a lawsuit against the State Department to stop the practice. The ACLU announced on June 26, 2009 that "The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has agreed to implement new procedures designed to ensure the fair and prompt review of U.S. passport applications by Mexican Americans whose births in Texas were attended by midwives. Under the agreement, no eligible applicant should be denied a passport."

If the settlement is approved by the court, the DOS will implement new training for its staff on how to properly evaluate these passport applications and all denials will be reviewed by a three-member panel. Importantly, "anyone birthed by a midwife who has filed an application for a passport between April 2003 and September 15, 2008 and, with a few exceptions, whose application was not expressly 'denied,' can re-apply for free. DOS will be setting up mobile units across the border on specific dates to assist those reapplying. " You can read the full press release here.

You can say what you want about the ACLU, but they were instrumental in stopping this discriminatory practice by the U.S. government.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fixing a broken system

Photo used under Creative Commons from Choubitstar.

President Obama spoke to the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference on June 19, 2009. You can see the White House's blog here. If you search around the White House website, you can see their guiding principles on immigration reform. As I have blogged before, I don't know or claim to know what the political resolution will be. I do hope, however, that we as a nation can address our broken immigration system and get people to come out of the shadows and reduce the incentives, whether economic or political, that cause illegal immigration. I pray that the Lord give wisdom to those decision makers that will be tackling this tough issue.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

USCIS has processing delays with new LPR cards

Photo used under Creative Commons from Garrett Allbright.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that some Lawful Permanent Residents ("LPRs") "may experience up to an eight week delay in the delivery of their permanent resident card." The delays were caused by the upgrade of USCIS processing equipment. The USCIS also stated:

USCIS Field Offices will be issuing temporary evidence of permanent residence in the form of an I-551 stamp to applicants approved for permanent residence at the time of their interview. You will need to take your passport to your appointment. If you do not have a passport, you must bring a passport style photo and government issued photo identification to receive temporary evidence of permanent residence.
You can read the full press release here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

U.S. Soldiers become U.S. Citizens in overseas ceremony

Photo used under Creative Commons from DVIDSHUB

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that two U.S. soldiers, one from the Marshall Islands and another from Mexico, became citizens in a ceremony held at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa Honduras. According to the press release, it was the first U.S. Citizenship cermony held in Honduras. You can read the full article here. There is also a helpful link for military families related to immigration information here.

Many soldiers have benefitted from Presidental Executive Order 13269 signed by former President Bush. The Executive Order states that "persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States, during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and terminating on the date to be so designated, are eligible for naturalization in accordance with the statutory exception to the naturalization requirements, as provided in section 329 of the Act."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Minuteman American Defense leader arrested in home invasion/murder investigation

Photo used under Creative Commons from blakeemry

Shawna Forde, the leader of Minuteman American Defense (MAD), has been arrested with two others in connection with the home invasion and murder of a father and his nine-year old daughter in Arizona. The sheriff investigating the case has been quoted as saying the group committed the crime to "fund the operations" of their border watch group. The group has denied any involvement.

This horrible crime is tragic and our prayers go out to the murdered family. It is also disturbing to note that Ms. Forde was a public advocate for immigration restriction. The video here shows Ms. Forde at an immigration debate claiming not only to be a member of MAD but also the national group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Aside from her unsupported claims, there is no indication that she was actually or officially affilated with FAIR, but it is incredible that she was someone that the mainstream media would turn to for an opinion on immigration reform.

As I have noted before, it is difficult to talk about immigration because it brings out raw emotions. I am also disturbed that this person would be considered a mainstream voice for immigration restriction. This case reminds us that we must remain vigilant and "separate the wheat from the chaff" when it comes to our sources of immigration information.