Tag Archives: Immigrant Rights

Supreme Courts extends rights of immigrants to due process

Yesterday, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision that upholds due process for immigrants in court. The decision means that any immigrant defendant has a right to be informed about whether or not a plea could lead to deportation.

From the Washington Post:

“The severity of deportation – the equivalent of banishment or exile – only underscores how critical it is for counsel to inform her noncitizen client that he faces a risk of deportation,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the opinion for the court.

The decision puts a new burden on lawyers to advise immigrant clients about the consequences of a guilty plea…”

Jose Padilla, the defendant in the case, had lived in the United States for 40 years as a legal permanent resident and was facing automatic deportation for  a plea made in 2001. He was told by his lawyer that the plea would not affect his immigration status.

Yesterday’s decision ruled that:

“It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant – whether a citizen or not – is left to the ‘mercies of incompetent counsel.'”

This is a big victory for immigrant rights in the U.S. legal system, though it comes at the cost of thousands of deportations that should have been legally avoided.

For more on this decision check out:

National Public Radio:  High Court: Lawyers Must Give Immigration Advice

The Detention Watch Network Blog

Change.org:  Landmark Decision: SCOTUS Upholds Due Process for Immigrants

America’s Voice: Justice Prevails With Supreme Court Decision on Immigration Counsel

March For (the hopeful) America

March for America 2010
There is plenty to say about the political moment we find ourselves in after the March For America, but I wanted to take a moment to personally reflect on the day. While there is no way to do the full experience justice, I’m going to try.

Sunday, I was on the National Mall with 200,000 of my closest friends making history. The March For America exceeded my expectations as I watched communities from across the country come together to bring joy from suffering and hope from pain. I heard stories of people from across the country who were uniting to raise one voice for justice and humanity in our immigration system. I saw more American flags than I thought possible in one space. I felt the sun on my face as we “stood at the doorstep of history” and made our mark on this moment in time.

I was live-blogging the day on the March For America site and despite the shaky internet connection and the inch of dust on my laptop from the National Mall grounds kicked up during the party, I was able to capture a lot of the day and had the privilege of others joining me and commenting on the action.

For me of the most powerful thing about the day was the festive, almost jubilant mood that ran through the crowd. Despite the frustration we all felt and despite the continued terrorization of communities, the separation of families and the broken dreams, people were dancing in the streets.

On Sunday, a friend of mine in the crowd said this (via Twitter):

“Singing, smiling, hugs, music. This is not just a demonstration, its a fiesta.”

In stark contrast, there were anti-immigrant counter-protestors throughout the crowd, trying to incite arguments and frame our day of triumph as an invasion of the scary, scary “illegals”. At one point, a bodyguard of one of their leaders even assaulted a peaceful protestor.

The New York Times ran a great piece this morning comparing the March For America with the anti-healthcare rally from a small group of Tea Partiers just yards away from our 200,000 person crowd. The full piece is well worth the read, but the last few paragraphs especially bring it home:

Many tens of thousands of immigrants and allies were pressing for immigration reform. It’s an issue for which they have marched and waited, marched and waited — their hopes dashed repeatedly. Sunday’s rally was a demand for action.

“We’ve listened quietly. We’ve asked politely,” said Representative Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat. “We’ve turned the other cheek so many times our heads are spinning.”

If anyone has reason to fear government, it is immigrants like those at the rally, which Mr. Obama addressed via a jumbo TV screen. The government has violently invaded their lives, broken into homes, torn parents from children and sent them away to distant prisons. They have law-scoffing sheriffs and brutal employers and unjust laws aiming just at them.

This is a fear the Kill-the-Billers will never know. No matter how darkly they loathe Medicare, unemployment insurance or Social Security, the safety net is theirs for life.

It’s usually best to avoid depicting life in black-white contrast. Not this time. Here were two rallies: one good, one loathsome. One hopeful, one paranoid. One trying to repair how Washington works for all America, and one looking to break it so the system can go on failing.

Kill the bill! Sí, se puede! Same beat, different drums. I’ll take the one that rings with patience and hope. Sounds more American.

Sunday showed me the best of what it means to be American – something that I don’t always see from mass demonstrations on the Mall (to say the least). It was a day that gave our movement hope. It was a fiesta, it was la lucha and it was a breakthrough in the struggle to bring justice to the millions of people who live each day in fear. Sunday there was no fear, there was only hope and light. (And dancing).

October 13th National Day of Action: 6 ways to help!

oct 13th

Cross-posted from the Reform Immigration FOR America blog:

Tuesday, October 13th is a big day in the fight for immigration reform. Thousands of community leaders will be gathering in Washington, DC to speak face-to-face with members of Congress, asking for their support of comprehensive immigration reform.After hitting the halls of Congress, their will be a vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol, calling for family unity.

oct 13th map

Can’t be in Washington, DC on October 13th? No problem, here are 6 easy ways to join in the action that day:

  1. Find an event in your area. Click on the map above to find a local event on October 13th.
  2. Call your Representative. With just one click, you can call your Rep. and ask them to support immigration reform. To call – click here.
  3. Send a fax. Tell members of Congress that you want immigration reform now. It only takes a minute. Click here to fax.
  4. Upload our badge. If you have a website or blog, upload our badge onto your site. Simply copy and paste the code we provide for you here.
  5. Share on Facebook. On October 13th, help us spread the word by telling your friends. Click here to share on Facebook.
  6. Tweet it! On Twitter? Help spread the word to the Twitterverse. Please re-tweet the following and use the #famunity hashtag when you talk about the action “RT @RI4A Join thousands of people across the country demanding #immigration reform today! http://bit.ly/uUKx3 #ri4a #famunity”

Help us send a resounding message to Congress that immigration reform can’t wait! For more information, visit our action page here.

ACTION: Don’t let Congress cave to the Anti’s!

From NILC:

Congress and the White House Have Gone Too Far Now!!
Health Care Reform Hijacked by Anti-Immigrant Extremists

Rather than calling out the opposition’s desperate attempt to derail health care reform by using anti-immigrant scare tactics, the White House and Congress are now “spooked” and in response, threaten to deny immigrants’ access to affordable healthcare.
The White House has said no undocumented immigrants will be allowed to purchase, even at full price, health insurance for themselves or their families.  Health insurance in the Exchange is not a government benefit — it’s like any other item you can purchase in our economy.  Now, despite the fact that they work, pay taxes, and live with family members who are citizens or legal immigrants, undocumented immigrants will not be allowed to buy health insurance, just like everyone else, even if they are able to pay full cost.

Tell the White House and Congress to stand for what is right and pass a health care reform bill that helps, not hurts, Americans!

Calls Needed TODAY to:

  • President Barack Obama at The White House
  • U.S. Senate:
    • Majority Leader Senator Reid (D-NV)
    • Senator Baucus (D-MT) – Chair, Senate Finance Committee
    • Senator Harkin (D-IA) – Chair, Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee
    • Switchboard: 202-224-3121
  • U.S House of Representatives:
    • Speaker Pelosi (D-CA)
    • Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD)
    • Representative Waxman (D-CA) – Chair, Energy & Commerce Commitee
    • Representative Rangel (D-NY) – Chair, Ways & Mean Committee
    • Representative Miller (D-CA) – Chair, Education & Labor Committee
    • Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Keep reading for talking points and more resources.
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Groups Distance themselves from Shawna Forde, violence


Since the news of the brutal murder of Brisenia Flores and her father Raul broke, groups like the Minutemen, ALIPAC and FAIR have been doing their best to distance themselves from Shawna Forde – the alleged ringleader in the murders.

Long Island Wins has a great piece up about their attempt to “re-write history”:

The arrest of three Minutemen for the murders of a Latino man and his 9 year old daughter has led to a rewriting of history on anti-immigrant sites around the country. All of a sudden, no one knew the three killers, even though one of them was a prominent figure in the movement.

Shawna Forde, who allegedly cooked up the deadly plot to raise money for political action had close ties to Jim Gilchrist, the one the two founders of the Minutemen. His website had defended her against criticism from other anti-immigrant activists as recently as January of this year. Yet, if you go to his site today, pages that Google says listed her have been scrubbed.

Same thing with VDARE, the homepage of educated racism. The site had an article criticizing a newspaper that had called Forde’s claims of having been abducted by aliens (Latino immigrants, not space monkeys) far-fetched. The page was scrubbed. It only exists as a Google cache and will soon disappear. Cowards. If you want to back up a woman her brother describes as a sociopathic liar you should at least leave your endorsement up when she is also shown to be a psychopathic murderer.

Chris Simcox is one of the founders of the Minuteman militias. His name is familiar to some Long Islanders because of his role in trying to create an armed anti-immigrant militia group here on Long Island at the behest of the now defunct Sachem Quality of Life organization, a one-time ally of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. Simcox is now running for Senate against John McCain in the Republican primary in Arizona. I went to his web site and noticed that he stopped posting as soon as the three Minutemen were arrested for the Arizona murders.

A lot of Minuteman groups around the country are claiming they never heard of her and that she was not involved in their movement. Or, they are claiming that they did know her but didn’t really have anything to do with her. None of this seems to fit the known facts about her and her involvement with the top leadership of the organization, with men who have been frequent guests on FOX News and Lou Dobbs Tonight.

Jeff Schwilk, the leader of the San Diego Minutemen, in his denial of involvement with Shawna Forde gave the most damning statement about her and his own armed militia: “I’ve been concerned about her and her impact on our movement… Irrational people with assault rifles at the border is a recipe for disaster.”

Exactly what I’ve been saying since I first heard of the Minutemen.

H/T to Long Island Wins blog!

Guest Blog: Winning Hearts and Minds

I am proud to announce a new guest blogger at Standing FIRM. Robert Gittelson will be contributing consistently to the site and I’m excited to be collaborating with him. I feel like I’ve had less and less time to write as of late, thus I am thrilled to have another voice to add to the work on the site.

Also, be sure to check out Robert’s quick bio, after the full post.

poster may 1

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve written many articles on the subject of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. It has been said, that when the facts are on your side, you should argue the facts. I, like many CIR advocates, have done exactly that. I have recognized that much of what the detractors on this issue have been saying about CIR, and the undocumented population in general, has been, for lack of a more delicate way of stating this, factually inaccurate. And, in a sense, I note that the “setting the record straight” method has been working, albeit slowly. Recent polling has suggested, in no uncertain terms, that our citizen population is not only for CIR, but that this majority of voters has been growing. And yet, I sense that this majority is sort of a silent majority.

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VIDEO: Congress, can you hear me now?

Thanks to Will Coley for this great video on how to sign up for the Cell Phone Action Network:

May Day Redux: Pics, Videos and Stories from May 1st

dc-white-house2Friday was an aMAYzing day for me (see what I did there?). Even though I wasn’t in the streets marching with my compañeros, I was here in the office with a bird’s eye view of May Day marches across the country.

I watched as literally thousands of text messages poured in from folks, telling us why they were marching. You can check out some of these messages from my post on Friday. (I didn’t post all of them – but what you see on the post is pretty representative of the tone of the messages).

I received photos, stories, videos and excited phone calls from people on the ground from Los Angeles to New York. It was inspiring to see all of the momentum, energy and diversity of the crowds that gathered in cities everywhere. Even my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina hosted an event – which makes me enormously proud.

Even though I was live-blogging a few of the events, I have since received some great pictures, videos and stories from the day and wanted to share them with folks. But be sure check out my previous posts from Friday – Boston, Newark, NJNew York City; Chicago; Washington, DC and Charlotte, NC.

Keep reading for my May Day Redux!

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May Day: Are you ready to hit the streets this May 1st?


One week from today, hundreds of thousands of people will be marching in the streets, demanding immigrant rights and calling for just and humane immigration reform. May Day, a day historically used to celebrate the the contributions of working people,  has become THE day for the immigrant rights movement in recent years.

In 2006, millions of people took to the streets in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and everywhere in between to demand justice for immigrants. It was a show of enormous power and solidarity and the spark ignited by the 2006 marches is burning strong in the lead up to May 1st 2009.

With a newly elected President who is committed to immigration reform, with the full support of labor unions, and with more and more momentum building towards justice, this May 1st will be a huge moment in the fight for immigration reform.


Going to hit the streets? Rallies and marches are being planned everywhere in the country – you can check out a list of events in your area at www.anewdayforimmigration.org. And be sure to text “justice” to 69866 – you will be connected to the folks on the ground in your are and will receive text messages about where to go, times and details of your local event. (you MUST respond with your zip code if you want to receive local information)

This is truly a day where the grassroots get to flex their muscles and show off just how widespread the support for immigration reform is. Mr. President, you can count on us to support your efforts to reform our immigration system and bring justice to immigrants in this country.

In Portland, Oregon:

In Miami, Florida:

In Milwakee, Wisconsin

In Seattle, Washington

This May 1st, I will be marching for immigrant rights? Will you?

ACTION: Oppose Colorado’s Senate Joint Memorial ’09 NOW!


From our partners at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition:

What is SJM 09? While symbolic in nature, SJM 09 uses language from the Governor’s Task Force on Immigration convened last fall which, sadly, did much to criminalize immigrants. The resolution, hence, offers support from the Colorado Assembly to expand 287(g) programs that deputize local police officers as ICE agents along with other programs that will further criminalize undocumented immigrants.

To read the full text of SJM 09, click here.

Action: Please make calls to Senate Democrats right now to oppose Senate Joint Memorial 09! Click here to look up your Senator by typing in your address. If you know who your Senator is, click here to get their phone number.

You could say:

“Hi, Senator ________________. My name is ____________________, and I am calling to ask you to vote no on SJM 09.

  • This resolution does nothing to address a broken immigration system by focusing on better enforcing out of date, unrealistic laws.
  • Thank you.”
  • Expanding the role of local police officers in immigration work, as suggested in SJM 09, damages community trust of law enforcement, leads to discriminatory policing and wastes precious tax dollars.
  • This memorial sends the wrong message. Reform of existing immigration laws must proceed any extension of draconian enforcement measures.

Thank you.”

If you live in Colorado, don’t hesitate to call your Senator RIGHT NOW. Please forward this to other Colorado residents too!