Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ever Wonder What Happens to Deportees Once They Are Removed From the U.S.?

Interesting story published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian Newspaper about a once vacant hotel in Mexicali that has been turned into a way station for Mexican Deportees arriving in Mexico.

The story is called Deportation Hotel, written by David Bacon who is also the author of Illegal People — How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008) and Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006).


Last year, almost 400,000 people were deported from the United States. That's the largest wave of deportations in U.S. history, even larger than the notorious Operation Wetback of the 1950s, or the mass deportations during the Great Depression.

Often the Border Patrol empties buses of deportees at the border gates of cities like Mexicali in the middle of the night, pushing people through at a time when nothing is open and no services are available to provide them with food or shelter. Most deportees are young people. They had no money in their pockets coming to the United States, and have nothing when they return to Mexico.

These are invisible people. In the wave of anti-immigrant hysteria gripping the United States, no one asks what happens to the deportees once they're sent back to Mexico.

In Mexicali, a group of deportees and migrant rights activists have taken over an old abandoned hotel, formerly the Hotel Centenario (or Hundred Year Hotel). They've renamed it the Hotel Migrante, or the Migrant Hotel. Just a block from the border crossing, it gives people deported from the United States a place to sleep and food to eat for a few days before they go home or try to cross the border again. The government gives it nothing. Border Angels, the U.S.-based immigrant rights group, provides what little support the hotel gets. A cooperative of deportees cooks the food and works on fixing the building.

During the winter, about 50 or 60 people live in the hotel at any given time, while five or six more knock on its doors every night. Last summer, at the peak of the season when people try to cross the border looking for work, the number of deportees seeking shelter at the hotel rose to more than 300. "A lot of people get hurt trying to walk through the mountains around Mexicali," says Benjamin Campista, a cooperative member. "It's very cold there now, and when they get caught and deported, many are just wearing a T-shirt and tennis shoes. Some get sick — those we take to the hospital. The rest stay here a few days until their family can send them money to get home, or until they decide to try to cross again."

Border Angels and the hotel collective agreed to pay the landlord 11,000 pesos a month in rent (about $900), but they're already six months behind. Every day hotel residents go out to the long lines of people waiting to cross through the garita (the legal border crossing). They ask for money to support the hotel, and each resident gets to keep half of what he or she is given. The other half goes mostly for food for the evening meal. Deportees have plenty of time to explain their situation to people standing in line, since on a recent afternoon the wait to get through the garita was two hours.

Every day Campista hears deportees tell their stories. "Three brothers stayed here last summer, before they tried to cross. A month later, one came back. I saw him on the roof, crying as he looked at the mountains where the other two had died from the heat. A woman came here with her two-month-old baby. Her husband had died in the desert too."

"We're human beings!" Campista exclaims. "We're just going north to try to work. Why should we die for this? Our governments should end these violations of human rights. Then our hotel wouldn't even be necessary."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement on a J Waiver

Our office just took on a case involving an alien from Mali - came to the US on a J visa as a Fulbright Scholar. He married a USC and had his I-612 hardship waiver petition denied by the State Department.

I've been researching the current political situation in Mali and the Al-Qaeda insurrection in the north of the country, in and around Timbuktu. This is a hot spot of violence and both the US and UK have imposed travel bans to that country.

I'm cautiously optimistic that we can help this fellow, in spite of the prohibition imposed by the State Department of granting waivers for someone who has received financial support from the US government. We should have the waiver package ready to file in the next 30-45 days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Almost Half of all Graduate Students in the Sciences in the U.S. are now Foreigners

I was reading about the eminent decline of the American Empire and found this quote very prescient about our current economic malaise.

Economic Decline: Present Situation

Today, three main threats exist to America’s dominant position in the global economy: loss of economic clout thanks to a shrinking share of world trade, the decline of American technological innovation, and the end of the dollar's privileged status as the global reserve currency.

By 2008, the United States had already fallen to number three in global merchandise exports, with just 11 percent of them compared to 12 percent for China and 16 percent for the European Union. There is no reason to believe that this trend will reverse itself.

Similarly, American leadership in technological innovation is on the wane. In 2008, the U.S. was still number two behind Japan in worldwide patent applications with 232,000, but China was closing fast at 195,000, thanks to a blistering 400 percent increase since 2000. A harbinger of further decline: In 2009 the U.S. hit rock bottom in ranking among the 40 nations surveyed by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation when it came to “change” in “global innovation-based competitiveness” during the previous decade. Adding substance to these statistics, in October China's Defense Ministry unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-1A, so powerful, said one U.S. expert, that it “blows away the existing No. 1 machine” in America.

Add to this clear evidence that the U.S. education system, that source of future scientists and innovators, has been falling behind its competitors. After leading the world for decades in 25 to 34 year olds with university degrees, the country sank to 12th place in 2010. The World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly half of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are now foreigners, most of whom will be heading home, not staying here as once would have happened. By 2025, in other words, the United States is likely to face a critical shortage of talented scientists.

Such negative trends are encouraging increasingly sharp criticism of the dollar's role as the world’s reserve currency. “Other countries are no longer willing to buy into the idea that the U.S. knows best on economic policy,” observed Kenneth S. Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. In mid-2009, with the world's central banks holding an astronomical $4 trillion in U.S. Treasury notes, Russian president Dimitri Medvedev insisted that it was time to end “the artificially maintained unipolar system” based on “one formerly strong reserve currency.”

Simultaneously, China's central bank governor suggested that the future might lie with a global reserve currency “disconnected from individual nations” (that is, the U.S. dollar). Take these as signposts of a world to come, and of a possible attempt, as economist Michael Hudson has argued, “to hasten the bankruptcy of the U.S. financial-military world order.”

From Alfred W. McCoy: Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ICE Seizes Domain Names of Alleged Copyright Infringers

Federal authorities have shut down more than 70 websites in one the broadest actions yet against companies the government suspects of selling counterfeit or pirated products.

Visitors to the affected sites--which offer such diverse goods as scarves, golfing gear and rap music--are greeted with a notice stating their domain names have been seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The notice cites penalties for willful copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit goods.

The latest moves were disclosed earlier by online publications that include TorrentFreak, which on Thursday reported that ICE agents had raided facilities operated by a file-sharing site called RapGodFathers that is dedicated to rap and hip-hop music. Other music-related sites affected include Torrent-Finder, one of many sites that focuses on files distributed through a technology pioneered by BitTorrent Inc.

See the takedown placeholder image ICE put up on one of the seized domains.