Monday, February 26, 2007

Immigration News Roundup: Feb 19 - Feb 25

This week's roundup features some stories that are serious, some hopeful, and one that's pretty ironic. There were more immigration raids this week, this time with serious charges leveled against an employer. Immigrants are now applying for citizenship at record numbers across the country and New York City is looking at letting non-citizen residents vote in local elections. We've got more news on immigrant internment from Amy Gooman who interviews the nine year-old Canadian boy held in T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. Lastly, we've got a story of a town in central Mexico that has become a haven for undocumented US retirees..."Illegal Gringos."

  • Company Officials Charged in Restaurant Immigration Raids

  • NYC Alliance Backs Voting Rights for Noncitizens

  • New Citizenship Requests Soar

  • Interview with 9 year-old Canadian Boy Held in US Immigration Detention Center

  • Illegal Gringos Take Over Mexican Town

Company Officials Charged in Restaurant Immigration Raids

Janitorial service officials charged in sweep of illegal immigrants

Three top executives of a janitorial service used by such national restaurant chains as Hard Rock Cafe and ESPN Zone face charges of tax evasion, fraud and harboring illegal immigrants, U.S. officials announced yesterday, after overnight raids in 18 states netted about 200 undocumented workers.


Raids targeted 63 locations in 17 states and the District of Columbia, from California to Florida and New York, including ESPN Zone restaurants in Washington and Baltimore, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. Illegal workers face administrative charges and deportation.

The case marked the latest wrinkle in a renewed campaign by the Bush administration to crack down on employers as Congress debates an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

Washigton Post

Houston Chronicle
Denver Post
Palm Beach Post
Toledo Blade

NYC Alliance Backs Voting Rights for Noncitizens

New York City should allow legal immigrants who are not citizens to vote in local elections, according to an alliance of more than 60 organizations that announced a renewed effort yesterday to secure that right.

The alliance, the New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights, called on the City Council and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to support a bill, introduced by Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn, that would allow legal immigrants who have been in the country for more than six months to vote in elections for mayor, comptroller and public advocate, as well as for the five borough presidents and 51 council members.

The effort started in 2004, after lawyers for the Council reviewed state election law and determined that the city could alter its voting statutes without action by the State Legislature, where noncitizen voting measures were introduced without success three times in the 1990s. Nothing in the State Constitution of 1938 forbids voting by noncitizens.


Advocates for immigrants said that current law violates the principle of “no taxation without representation”; that it typically takes 8 to 10 years for legal immigrants to achieve citizenship; and that the city allowed noncitizens to vote in local school board elections from 1969 until 2003, when the boards were abolished.

New York Times

New Citizenship Requests Soar

Citizenship requests soar before big changes
A stiffer test, higher fees and perhaps new laws are on the horizon.

Citizenship applications are skyrocketing in Southern California and across the nation, as green card holders rush to avoid a proposed fee increase, a revised civics test and possible changes in immigration law.

Applications filed in Los Angeles and six surrounding counties shot to 18,024 in January from 7,334 in the same month last year, a 146% increase, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Nationwide, the number hit 95,622, up from 53,390, a 79% increase.

The jump — both locally and nationwide — is the largest in a decade, officials said. The numbers of applications first spiked last March with mass immigrant rights rallies and saw the most dramatic increase after the new year.

The filings are expected to continue as Congress prepares to restart the debate on immigration reform.

LA Times

Interview with 9 year-old Canadian Boy Held in US Immigration Detention Center

Majid and his nine-year old son Kevin are Iranian immigrants currently being held at the Hutto detention center. They’ve been forcibly detained since their plane was forced made an emergency landing in Puerto Rico as they made their way to Canada. Kevin says: “I want to be free. I want go to outside. I want to go home to Canada.” [includes rush transcript]…

AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to break in for one minute, because we have just gotten a call from the Hutto detention facility. We're joined on the phone by an Iranian immigrant named Majid, from inside the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. He, his wife, his nine-year-old son Kevin have been held at the center for the past nineteen days. Majid, your story is quite a remarkable one.


AMY GOODMAN: Hi, Kevin. How are you?

KEVIN: Not good.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us the situation you're in right now and what you want to happen right now?

KEVIN: Excuse me, I didn't hear you.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe where you are right now?

KEVIN: I’m in US jail right now.

Democracy Now

Toronto Star

Illegal Gringos Take Over Mexican Town

Illegal gringos
An army of gray-hairs, some of them undocumented, are changing this central Mexican town.

It's a pretty colonial hillside town of about 60,000-70,000 in Mexico's central highland state of Guanajuato, 170 miles from Mexico City, and famous for its golden sunlight, thriving art school, and galleries galore.

It has also been, since the 1950s or so, a top destination for expatriated Bohemian gringos, from Beat muse Neal Cassady (who died on some train tracks nearby) to writer/drummer Tony Cohan.

But the more recent generation of expats, credited with (and blamed for) transforming the essence of the town, has been less long-hair, more gray-hair (though sometimes both). "Los Boomers," as our driver to the airport called them, are everywhere you look—sipping Chiapas-harvested, certified-organic double espressos, puttering between ceramics boutiques and day spas, or attending "Global Justice" lectures on whether there is "any other kind of globalization besides the corporate variety we see today?"


"Undocumented Americans occasionally are caught working in restaurants, bars and clothing shops in San Miguel and can be kicked out of the country," Knight Ridder reported last year, in an article that tried hard not to burst out laughing. "Foreign architects, musicians, engineers, accountants and others work in the town without permits." The piece paraphrased a city official as estimating that the off-the-books businesses cost the local government "4 million pesos—more than $360,000 a year—in lost taxes and fees."

LA Times

Seattle Times

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