Illegal immigrants suffered disillusionment dashed hopes when President Obama broke promises on immigration reform, then endured the defeat of the DREAM act, a sort of compromise to grant some relief to the children they brought, children too young to know better, who grew up here without a say in the matter. Their best hope and standard bearer who spoke so passionately and eloquently of the plight of the undocumented, as it turned out, lacked either the courage of his convictions or the political will to see it through.
Although he fought and won little skirmishes against Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Utah, getting courts to block the worst parts of their harsh immigration laws, the president has lost the war. Thus far, he has not launched the all out, D-day attack to get comprehensive immigration reform we all expected. Putting out little bush fires against state laws shows that his heart is in the right place but the best opportunity to change the immigration landscape has escaped his grasp; he has lost the house and came close to losing the senate. And now the president’s hands are tied. It is an election year. He has Hispanic roundtables and gathers Hispanic celebrities at the white house, but that will do nothing more than keep some Hispanics in his column come Election Day 2012.
Because of inertia and inaction on the federal end, states have moved in to fill the void. According to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), in 2011, state legislators introduced 1,607 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. This is a significant increase compared with 2010, when 46 states considered more than 1,400 bills and resolutions pertaining to immigrants.
Tougher state laws in 2011
Five states—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah—crafted omnibus laws following the example of Arizona’s 2010 bill, SB 1070. These laws include provisions that: require law enforcement to attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful stop; allow state residents to sue state and local agencies for noncompliance with immigration enforcement; require E-Verify (an employment eligibility verification system); prohibit the harboring or transporting of unauthorized aliens; and make it a violation for failure to carry an alien registration document. Alabama’s HB 56 also requires schools to verify students’ immigration status, but the provision was enjoined by the U.S. District Court.
Obama has filed court challenges based on preemption and civil rights against all five of these new state laws. No encroachment on federal authority over immigration, no matter how small, escapes the full, frontal legal attack from the Justice Department. It’s like taking away the club from the bully pummeling your friend but doing nothing to help him escape his tormentor. The real problem is illegal immigrants still don’t have a path to legalization. Prosecutorial discretion and deferred deportation are immigration candy not the main course.
Meanwhile, ICE strike force to combat crimes associated with illegal immigration, have deported more people in 2011 than at any time in history. As in previous years identification/driver’s licenses and employment remain the top issues. Immigrants for the most part are denied driver licenses; sex offender registries in some states include a requirement of proof of citizenship or immigration documents. Montana now requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to use the SAVE program to verify a driver's license or an ID applicant's lawful presence. Eleven states—Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia—enacted legislation on E-Verify. Florida added an E-Verify requirement by executive order. Seventeen states now have an E-Verify requirement.
A few bright spots
In education, Connecticut and Maryland will permit unauthorized immigrant students to be eligible for in-state tuition. Twelve states now have enacted legislation that typically conditions eligibility for in-state tuition on attendance and graduation from a state high school and admission into a college. California now offers financial aid as well to unauthorized immigrants. (See NCSL’s publication on in-state tuition.)
In the health and public benefits categories, California revised its Fostering Connections Act to include additional guidance on immigrant children in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS). Indiana established a county domestic violence fatality review team and provides migrant child care if domestic violence is found. Nevada and Connecticut created state health insurance exchanges and permit lawfully present immigrants to participate. California allows lawfully present immigrants to be eligible for Medicaid Coverage Expansion (MCE) and the Health Care Coverage Initiative (HCCI).
Anyone familiar with the political process knows that illegal immigrants will see no improvement in the situation this year, as politicians preach to their choir. Real change will require an effort like Reagan‘s in 1986 when amnesty was granted with support from both political parties.
Frances Herbert and Takato Ueda are married. Herbert is a United States citizen. The couple met when they were both students more than thirty years ago. At the time Takato was here on a student’s visa. She returned to her native Japan after graduation, but years later reconnected with Herbert and the two were married last April. They filed for permanent residence for Takato attaching their marriage certificate and Herbert’s birth certificate to prove US citizenship. Easy case, Right. Wrong.
Immigration attorneys will tell you that the quickest way to permanent residence is marriage to a US citizen because that puts you in the immediate relative category, which means there’s no waiting for your green card. The trouble is in Vermont, where this couple is from, same sex couples could legally marry. And Takato and Herbert, both women, were married under Vermont Law.
The problem is, other states don’t have to recognize Vermont same sex marriage. And there is something in federal law called, Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) which says that marriage is only recognized if it is between a man and a woman. So no matter what Vermont does, it has no say in the matter because immigration is a federal issue. Vermont cannot issue a green card.
Now this lesbian couple find themselves in a conundrum, legally married in their home state, they nonetheless face deportation because the foreign born spouse has no papers. The couple is appealing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's decision to deny a spousal green card. But questions about their marriage loom and the threat of deportation hangs, like the sword of Damocles over their heads. The denial from Immigration simply says:
“The DOMA applies as a matter of federal law whether or not your marriage is recognized under state law," the document reads. "Your spouse is not a person of the opposite sex. Therefore, under the DOMA, your petition must be denied."
There is Hope
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in February that the Obama administration believes DOMA, passed by a Republican-led Congress in 1996, is unconstitutional. It has stopped defending the law in court. The trouble is DOMA has not been repealed and, until it is people like Takato are stuck in limbo. The decision in Takato’s case is final unless an appeal is filed within 30 days, otherwise that's it. Case closed
But one newspaper has reported that a letter-writing campaign helped gather support from U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy, and Bernie Sanders" both of Vermont. They think Congress must change the law to make it clear that same sex couples should be treated fairly under immigration law. In the meantime, Frances and Takato remain together in Vermont, biting their nails and living on tenterhooks.
Anyone who has paid attention to the immigration issues or to Arizona immigration law has heard of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He is the face of immigration enforcement in Arizona. He has appeared on news programs, and is well known for issuing pink underwear and jump suits to inmates in Maricopa county jails. The Department of Justice announced today, after a long investigation, that notorious Sherriff of Maricopa County Arizona, has been discriminating against Latinos in its enforcement of immigration laws. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has suspended the sheriff and his county from further participation in the 287g program.
The report lays out findings showing that Latino drivers were up to nine times more likely to be stopped than non-Latino drivers on Maricopa County roads. One fifth of the traffic incident reports over a three year period showed that almost all of the stops involved Latinos, and were in violation of the rights of those stopped and arrested. Deputies stopped Latinos on the basis of their appearance alone, and many raids were initiated based on reports that “brown-skinned” individuals were congregating at places such as “Home Depot” even though no criminal activity was alleged. Latinos who, in many instances were legal residents were handcuffed with plastic ties and made to sit on the sidewalk while the sheriff and his deputies conducted their raids. In many cases the sheriff entered homes detained legal residents and searched their homes without a warrant.
DHS issued the following statement outlining its concerns with Sheriff Joe:
‘The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is troubled by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO’s 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office access to the Secure Communities program. DHS will utilize federal resources for the purpose of identifying and detaining those individuals who meet U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigration enforcement priorities. The Department will continue to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.”
Immigration and Custom Services (ICE) took immediate action to end its relationship with the sheriff. ICE is removing all immigration detainees from Maricopa county jails and placing them in federal facilities;
ICE will no longer respond to the sheriff’s traffic stops, will immediately deny his county access to immigration information from ICE files and cut off his access to ICE technology. The Sherriff speaking to the Associated Press characterized today’s event as a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration which wants to make him a whipping boy for its national immigration problem.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it is granting Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s request to review the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ injunction of her State’s tough immigration enforcement law, S.B. 1070. In April, the 9th Circuit upheld the Arizona District Court’s injunction of key provisions of the law. Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli Jr., who represents the Obama Administration, asked the Court last month to deny Governor Brewer’s appeal. In his brief, Mr. Verrilli told the justices that the Arizona law upsets a delicate balance that includes “law enforcement priorities, foreign-relations considerations and humanitarian concerns.” On the other hand, Arizona argued that the Administration's contention that states “are powerless to use their own resources to enforce federal immigration standards without the express blessing of the federal executive goes to the heart of our nation's system of dual sovereignty and cooperative federalism. We are about to get the definitive answer.
Last week, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange sent a memorandum to the state’s legislative leaders, recommending that they repeal parts of Alabama’s immigration enforcement law, HB 56. Strange recommended repealing the provisions that require aliens to carry their registration documents with them (a provision that mirrors federal law) and the provision that requires schools to collect non-identifiable data on the immigration status of students. These changes, Strange argued, could make the statute easier to defend in court.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Alabama in August to stop HB 56 from taking effect. However, the District Court allowed most of the law to stand, including the provisions on alien registration cards and school data collection. The DOJ appealed the District Court’s ruling and, in October, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked both provisions.
Amnesty advocates have been complaining bitterly that HB 56 is an unjust and unfair law. In July, the ACLU and other groups filed a lawsuit against HB 56, charging that, “Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law is unconstitutional and endangers public safety, invites racial profiling and interferes with federal law.” America’s Voice, a pro- immigrant lobby, has said HB 56 “has battered Alabama’s reputation for months as crops have rotted from lack of available labor, children have been dropping out for fear of attending schools, and families have been split apart
The Associated Press reported on December 7, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered a review of the J-1 student work visa program after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents found the visa was being used for human trafficking. On November 30, federal agents in New York arrested 25 mafia members from several families for illegally bringing in hundreds of women from Russia and Eastern Europe to the U.S. to dance and strip in New York clubs.
Homeland Security officials accused some of the suspects of helping the women obtain fraudulent work and travel visas. However, when the women got into the country, they were employed as strippers. “Some were recruited as waitresses, some were told straight up what the situation was. Some were recruited from overseas through advertisements in foreign language newspapers throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, some were recruited from Facebook in Russia,” said James Hayes of the Department of Homeland Security. Officials accused five men from Albany, Binghamton, and New Jersey of illegally marrying some of the women so that those women could apply for green cards to stay in the country.
The J-1 visa was created in 1963 to allow students from other countries to temporarily work and travel in the US. The J-1 visa has allowed foreign nationals to enter the U.S. through various programs—as high school or college students, professors or scholars, Au Pairs and interns, among other things. Depending on the program, these aliens may stay in the U.S. for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years. The program currently brings in more than 100,000 individuals per year to the U.S.
“Cooperation between DOC and ICE cannot be supported by the Council and should not be supported by tax-payer dollars. New York City -- home to millions of immigrants -- should not be a willing participant in a program that separates thousands of immigrant families each year without a concomitant benefit to public safety.” (Int. No. 656 at § 1) With that New York City has thrown down the gauntlet. It will have no part in deporting illegal aliens and it will not help ICE in doing so.
Just two days before Thanksgiving, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg quietly signed into law an ordinance ordering all city jails to ignore certain Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers issued to deport illegal aliens from those jails. As a result, New York City jails will now release many illegal aliens back into the community instead of handing them over to ICE for removal.
The new Ordinance provides that the New York City Department of Corrections shall not honor ICE detainers placed on certain aliens by holding aliens or notifying federal immigration authorities of the alien’s release. This policy will apply to aliens who have never been convicted of a crime, have no pending criminal case, no outstanding warrants and are not subject to a final order of deportation. The ordinance also requires New York City jails to release illegal aliens without criminal histories and ignore ICE detainers issued to juveniles with criminal histories.
New York City is now one of the most immigrant friendly places in America. Earlier this year the state assembly proposed its own Dream Act similar to the failed federal law. And last month the Board of regents proposed making student loans and other benefits available to undocumented students. The mayor has signed a number of executive orders recently to make sure immigrants are able to navigate city bureaucracy without fear of running afoul of immigration authorities. Immigrants should be aware of their rights under the Mayor’s executive orders and may contact the mayor’s office of Immigrant Affairs which has attorneys on staff to assist free of charge:
Executive Orders 34 & 41
Executive Order 120
In July 2008, Mayor Bloomberg signed Executive Order (EO) 120, creating a centralized language access policy for New York City. Executive Order 120 mandates that all City agencies that provide direct public services create a language access implementation plan in order to ensure meaningful language access to their services.
Executive Order 128
Signed by Mayor Bloomberg in April 2009, Executive Order (EO) 128 officially establishes Immigrant Heritage Week, an annual Citywide program of outreach and education celebrating the histories and traditions of the City’s diverse immigrant communities. City agencies, educational institutions, and private organizations will all help ensure participation in this event to be held every April.
Local Law 31
Businesses that provide immigration services must follow the guidelines set by Local Law 31, the “Immigration Service Provider Law” signed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2004. This law introduced new protections for immigrants against fraud. If you are going to use a business to help you with your immigration matters, protect yourself.
Local Law 73
In 2003, Mayor Bloomberg signed Local Law 73, also known as the “Equal Access to Human Services Law.” This City law strengthens language access services for limited-English-proficient individuals seeking vital health and human services. The law places requirements on the Human Resources Administration (HRA), the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the Department of Homeless Services.
What is deferred action?
Deferred action takes place when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decides to not execute an alien’s order of removal or to not put that individual into removal proceedings. This is not done by the order of an Immigration Judge but through a decision made at the ICE office. Even if you already have an order of removal, you can be granted deferred action status and apply for a work permit. ICE may agree to delay deporting an individual for one of the reasons in its latest memo as explained below. During the time a person is in deferred action status, he or she can apply and receive work authorization. The length of time deferred action status can be granted varies; it generally lasts for about a year. But it is renewable and you can apply again when your status is close to expiring.
What is prosecutorial discretion?
Prosecutorial discretion is a power of ICE offices and the Immigration government attorneys that allows them to use their “best judgment” in deciding which cases to prioritize. Having this power means that every ICE office has the ability to choose which cases are most important to prosecute, and which to delay, rather than treating every case exactly the same.
On 6/17/11, a memorandum was released by the Director of ICE, John Morton, which stressed the use of prosecutorial discretion by ICE offices and reminded each office that the use of this power is encouraged. The power of prosecutorial discretion means that ICE is expected to focus first on cases they consider most serious. This typically means cases involving serious crimes, drug trafficking, and international terrorism. Government attorneys can also join in the alien’s request to reopen in case if they already have a final order. There is not a conclusive list, but there are other sympathetic factors that may help your case in being granted deferred action status. For example, if you or a dependent family member has a serious illness you may be considered. The obvious benefit is that ICE will stop actively pursuing your deportation. A second benefit, as mentioned above, is that once deferred action status is granted, you will able to apply for work authorization and have legal work status.
ICE to begin closing depotration cases
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued new policy memos last week instructing agency attorneys to begin reviewing immigration cases and administratively closing those that do not meet its "priorities." As part of phase one of the program, the memos direct attorneys at district ICE offices to immediately begin reviewing all incoming deportation cases. A pilot program for reviewing all pending deportation cases will begin in Baltimore and Denver immigration courts December 4 and will continue into January 2012.
The memos laid out detailed procedure to which the agency's attorneys must follow when reviewing not only ICE removal cases, but also all of Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cases. ICE attorneys must determine whether removal cases fall into one of two categories: (1) cases that are enforcement priorities for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and (2) cases that are not enforcement priorities for DHS and thus should be considered for administrative amnesty.
According to the memos, cases that are enforcement priorities include aliens who: (1) are suspected terrorists; (2) have been convicted of a felony or multiple misdemeanors; (3) are gang members or human rights violators; or (4) entered the country illegally or violated the terms of their admission within the last three years. This appears to indicate that ICE no longer intends to deport illegal aliens who have been in the country more than three years.
Cases that are not enforcement priorities and thus are eligible for administrative amnesty include aliens who meet the criteria of the failed DREAM Act. These include aliens who came to the U.S. under the age of 16, who have been in the country for over five years, and who have completed high school or a GED program. Other deportation cases eligible for administrative amnesty include those in which aliens have a" very long-term presence" in the U.S., have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen, and have made" compelling" ties and contributions to the U.S. to remain in the country.
Critics have decried the policy for diverting taxpayer dollars Congress has appropriated for immigration enforcement into its backdoor amnesty program. "In both money and manpower, including the reassignment of lawyers and judges, the administration is diverting resources from enforcement priorities set by Congress to identifying illegal aliens whose cases are to be dismissed."
After the pilot program for reviewing pending deportation cases ends mid-January, DHS will review the data and consult with the Department of Justice on how to proceed. The next phase will likely include expanding the review of deportation cases in Baltimore and Denver to other major cities around the nation.
New York Steps Closer to Giving Financial Aid to undocumented Students
The New York State Board of Regents voted last Monday to propose its own version of the DREAM Act in an effort to make illegal aliens eligible for state financial aid. ( New York Daily News, Nov. 15, 2011) According to the Board, its proposal would eliminate the requirement that students be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to receive publicly funded grants, awards or student loans, and make illegal aliens eligible for the Regents' loan forgiveness program. It would also allow non-residents, including illegal aliens, who graduate from New York State high schools to receive general awards, academic performance awards and student loans. Under the proposal state-aided programs, scholarships or other financial assistance would be available to illegal aliens who graduate from New York State high schools.
My thanks to Apsan Law Offices for their help in preparing this update
Congress this week passed a bill that would allow would allow gun owners who have a concealed-carry license in their home state to carry their firearm in another state if that state also has a carry law in place. The law, however, does not allow someone to carry a firearm in a state that does not currently allow its own citizens to have concealed-carry rights. Illinois is the only state that does not permit its residents to legally carry a concealed firearm.
I have never understood why it was ok to discriminate against a licensed owner of a firearm if he travels out of his home state to one such as New York or California which refuses to recognize concealed carry permits issued by sister states. Forty-four states have a provision in their state constitutions similar to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Firearm owners are subject to the firearm laws of the state they are in, and not exclusively their state of residence. Reciprocity between states exists in certain situations. But some states will not recognize lawfully issued permits from sister states.
New York civil rights law contains a provision virtually identical to the Second Amendment. In spite of this, and despite the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States has held that the protections of the Second Amendment apply against state governments and their political subdivisions (McDonald v. Chicago). New York remains a virtual fortress against ownership of firearms by its citizens. If you are caught with a loaded firearm at JFK, in transit to your home in Georgia, your Georgia permit will do you little good. You will be arrested and charged with an offense which carries a minimum term of 3.5 years in prison, even if you have no criminal record.
Mayor Bloomberg of New York seems to believe that permitting civilians to carry handgun risks turning every argument between strangers into a ‘wild west shoot-em-up’ But I can think of no reason to believe that firearms should be any less useful to civilians, at least those properly trained to use them, than to police officers. Carrying a concealed if reasonably widespread, can create public security because it will not be evident to the crooks which potential victims or bystanders might be packing heat.
Over many years that states like Georgia and Texas have permitted handgun ownership, I am certain there must have been tens of thousands of instances where people carrying guns got drunk, lost their tempers, were in traffic accidents, had domestic quarrels, and in short, experienced all of the psychological pressures which life is capable of dishing out. Yet there are very few instances anywhere in the country, of someone who was legally carrying a concealed handgun using that weapon in a criminal homicide. The rarity of these incidents is reflected in Florida statistics: 221,443 licenses were issued between October 1, 1987 and April 30, 1994, but only eighteen crimes involving firearms were committed by those with licenses.
We should be concerned, not with the number of times a firearm was displayed, let alone how often one was discharged, and certainly not how often someone was wounded or killed. What we really want to know is the number of times it was not necessary to issue threats because the potential culprit was dissuaded by the belief, or even dread, that his potential victim might be in possession of a concealed firearm. The availability of a concealed firearm poses an implicit threat to predators, potent enough to make explicit threats unnecessary. It is like walking through a minefield, you don’t see the mines, but you know if you step on one it will be deadly.
Polls of American citizens by organizations like the Los Angeles Times and Gallup show that Americans defend themselves with guns between 764,000 and 3.6 million times each year, with the vast majority of cases simply involving people brandishing a gun to prevent attack. Victims (such as women or the elderly) are often weaker than the criminals who attack them. A firearm for them is the ultimate equalizer. It’s time the movement to restrict private firearms to recreational activities and de-legitimize them as a means of self-defense is put to an end.
The situation in New York City is evidence that the effectiveness of local gun control laws can be defeated by gun runners, who load up on guns in low regulation jurisdictions and sell them illegally, in high regulation jurisdictions. Several years ago there was a push to get guns off the streets in DC. Many of the guns seized from criminals by Washington, D.C. police had originally been purchased in Virginia. Public outcry led to Virginia enacting a law that allowed only one gun per month to be purchased legally by a given individual. The gun runners simply moved a few states south, to Georgia, where no such rationing was practiced.
Those who believe that reducing the supply of guns might hold the key to the reduction of gun violence are barking up the wrong tree. Among these people, none is more incorrigibly optimistic than Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. But how do you successfully regulate the market for a commodity for which there is no satisfactory substitutes, and which is in demand by people who are not disposed to comply with the law?
After a rash of shootings last labor day, The New York Times, said “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s efforts to stamp out gun violence in New York were challenged over the Labor Day weekend by a spate of shootings… bullets flew at house parties, along parade routes and across stoops and street corners. By Monday’s close, 13 people had been killed and 67 injured in 52 shootings since early Friday…. but the violence also illustrated that for all the mayor’s efforts, unlicensed guns remain in the hands of criminals — and that admonitions can go only so far…Nine years into Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure, and more than five years after he first labeled unlicensed guns the city’s Public Enemy No. 1, it remains difficult to discern what effect his administration’s gun control efforts have had.”
In 2007, the first full year after the mayor zeroed in on guns, there were 1,443 shootings, compared with 1,473 last year, according to police statistics. In 2010, 309 people died from bullets — 6 more than in 2007. Mr. Bloomberg has also used lawsuits and undercover gun purchases in other states to focus attention on the fact that most guns used in crimes in New York were originally purchased out of state. He also created a national coalition of 550 mayors to fight with him.
The owner of supermarket chain in Bronx New York recalled a chilling episode, when he intercepted a robber fleeing one of his stores. He reported to police… “The first guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, goes right by me and says, ‘Be cool, man,’ “The second guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, goes by me and says, ‘Be cool, man.’ The third guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, and I intertwine my arm into his arm, and I put my gun to his head, and I say, ‘Drop your gun, or I’ll blow your head off.’ When the police arrived, they arrested the man, and examined the owners’ weapon — a Walther PPK/S 9-millimeter pistol.
“The sergeant says to me, ‘you couldn’t have shot the guy anyway: your safety is still on,’ “The sweat started dripping off my head. “I’m not going to do anything stupid like that again.” My bet is neither would the robber.
Americans stood up and took notice last month when PETA filed a lawsuit on behalf of five whales at Sea World. Some, I am sure, found the idea that animals are entitled to the same constitutional rights as the rest of us to be preposterous. I was unable to get my mind around the idea that the 14th amendment, the same one that put an end to slavery, was intended to forbid our using animals for food or even entertainment.
With an open mind, I picked up and perused some literature on the question. Every state in the United States and the District of Columbia has a law prohibiting cruelty to animals. These laws do not give animals rights, but do afford some legal protection. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the Federal Law that regulates research facilities, state and privaterun shelters and pounds, transportation of animals, and stolen animals. The AWA has been criticized by animal rights groups because it excludes birds, rats and mice bred for research, and animals raised for food or fiber, as well as all cold-blooded animals.If PETA, the ASPCA and animal rights activists have their way, pets, fur, leather and Ringling Brothers circus would be outlawed. And we would all have veganism rammed down our throats instead of red meat,because using animals for food would be against the law.
Earlier this year parts of southern Somalia was hit with famine. It threatens to spread further if nothing is done to prevent it. Kenya and Ethiopia are also severely affected by the crisis, with millions in need of food and water. Insufficient rains created drought conditions throughout the Horn of Africa — destroying crops and killing livestock. Malnutrition and disease are on the rise as families travel long distances in search of food. Record high food prices, internal conflicts, and insecurity in the region worsen the situation. The most severe drought in decades threatens the lives of more than 11 million people — especially young children.
In response to the situation, and after conducting a disaster assessment, one animal rights group went to Kenya to provide emergency nutrition to about 20,000 animals. The Group World Society for the Protection ofAnimals (WSPA) reports on its website that “Over the four day operation at five different watering holes, all of the animals seen were de-wormed and received multivitamins and mineral blocks to boost their immune systems. Medical care was also given to sick or injured animals.
The literature is brimming with heroic stories of one animal group or the other trotting the globe to save animals in distress. The upside down value system driving their misplaced priorities sacrifices human lives for those camels and goats. I learned that there are over 100 million working animals in the developing world and many of these suffer with malnutrition, exhaustion, disease or injury in the course of theirworking lives. So there is work to be done. Does it matter that right here at home there are 16 million children at risk of hunger every day? Hunger among children has become so widespread that the New York Times highlighted the problem in its November 13th edition. 3.5 million Children die each year of acute malnutrition.
Should it matter that, according to the Hunger Project, 925 million people do not have enough to eat — more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union combined? Should it matter that in the very region where we lavish vitamins on animals, 50 percent of pregnant women lack proper maternal care, resulting in hundreds of thousands of
maternal deaths annually from childbirth? A third of all childhood death in sub-Saharan Africa is caused by hunger. How many of those might have been spared to lead productive lives had the WSPA launched a four day rescue operation? “This is the worst food crisis of the 21st Century and we are seriously concerned that large numbers of lives could soon be lost,” said Jane Cocking, humanitarian director for Oxfam International.
According to United Nations and the World Health Organization, of the 925 million people worldwide who are considered undernourished, there are 19 million children affected by the most deadly form of hunger, severe acute malnutrition. Instead, Humane Society (HSUS) spends millions on programs that seek to cripple the meat and dairy producers; eliminate the use of animals in biomedical research labs; phase out pet breeding, zoos, and circus animal acts; and demonize hunters as blood thirsty lunatics. HSUS spends more than $5 million each year on travel expenses alone, just keeping its multi-national agenda going. It has assets of $162 million.
And while children go hungry, PETA sends companies a list of guidelines to follow, including giving rats and mice proper nesting materials and toys to keep them busy. - Chad Sandusky, director of toxicology and research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said recently “I used to see rats and think, 'Eue”.' Now I see rats and think, 'Those rats have probably got a family somewhere.' Animal rights activists have condemned the US military for blowing up live pigs to test body armor, USA Today reports. Military officials say the tests provided valuable information on the relationship between body armor and brain injury. But the activists say the pig-blasting program caused unnecessary animal suffering for questionable results.
Are we barbarous and inconsiderate when we use Raid to rid our homes of insect pests? When we call the exterminator are we forgetting that rodents feel pain, as well as ourselves? (Which according to PETA is the only thing of significance?) Should we feel guilt when we give of teenager a Chihuahua for his birthday because we are enslaving it or using for our own entertainment? Do the police tyrannize canines when they train them into ready obedience, and lead them about to track and apprehend criminals? Are we merely unthinking spectators when we cheer a favorite horse at the Kentucky derby?
The Humane Society of the United States has been working with legislators to change policy governing the treatment of everything from dairy cattle to sharks. Policy changes in recent years have made the California a U.S. leader in animal welfare legislation. Not long ago the state enacted a statute mandating more space for chickens. One voter, describing democracy as messy, said that the irony of "No" on gay marriage and "YES" for roomier cages for chickens reminded him that: "Several years ago there was a story of a woman jogging in southern California who was killed by a mountain lion. The fund for the slain cougar's orphaned pups received more donations than the fund for the woman's orphaned children." The HSUS says the landslide victory for Proposition 2, which gave laying chickens more room in cages, awakened lawmakers to citizens' passion for animals.
Another piece of California legislation was thrown out earlier this month by the US Supreme Court. The law in question prohibits the slaughter of non-ambulatory pigs, sheep, goats or cattle; these are animals that can't walk, because of disease, injury or other causes. Since then, the California legislature has passed or changed 30 laws to improve the lives of animals — from sharks to dairy cattle, even animals hunted for sport. Animal Rights means that humans are forbidden to hunt or eat animals, and are forbidden to use animals for ANY reason. At the same time we have no way of preventing cougars from hunting and killing people or other animals from exploiting other animals for their own needs, be it to win a mate or satisfy their hunger. When it comes to Animal Rights, George Orwell said it best in Animal Farm: "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.
Under fire from Hispanic groups for record-high deportations, the Obama administration announced last August that it will undertake a case-by-case review of illegal immigrants who are facing ouster from the country and will allow many who don’t have criminal records the chance to stay. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that there will be an indefinite delay in many deportations and individual case reviews of the approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants who are currently facing possible expulsion.
This may be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Immigration practitioners have said they have noticed no little change in the pace of deportations since August. Moses Apsan, past president of the Federal Bar Association, has represented clients in deportation proceedings before ICE in New York and New Jersey for nearly three decades. He says he has, as yet, seen no positive effects of the new policy. “ICE and DHS” he says, “should work together on policiy announcements to avoid creating confusion among the immigrant community about the relief they may be entitled to seek”
The announcement of deferred deportation by Janet Napolitano, DHS secretary last August notwithstanding, immigrants should seek advice before plunging into the thicket of confusing policies. In the face of media criticism of the policy ICE director has said that enforcement is alive and well.
Fiction: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is aggressively dismissing cases.
FACT: Media have suggested that ICE is aggressively dismissing cases based on a directive from Director Morton. This just isn’t true. ICE enforcement is alive and well. For two years in a row, ICE has removed a record number of illegal aliens from communities across the United States. The agency focuses limited resources on three high priority areas—the identification and removal of criminals and national security threats, fugitives, and recent border entrants and others who game the system. Last year, ICE removed substantially more criminal aliens than ever before.
On Aug. 20, 2010, Director Morton issued a memorandum that allows for the dismissal of a very narrow category of cases. The memorandum applies only to individuals who are about to receive an immigration benefit—namely lawful permanent residence—from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is not backdoor amnesty. By dismissing these cases, ICE attorneys can use limited time before immigration judges to seek removal orders against aliens who are not about to receive a green card and can be removed from the country. Pursuing removal orders for aliens who are about to become lawful permanent residents doesn’t make sense in terms of time or resources.
Fiction: ICE is pro-amnesty.
FACT: ICE does not engage in “backdoor” amnesty. For two years running, ICE has removed more aliens than it did under the prior Administration. In addition, ICE has removed more criminal convicts than ever before—rendering ICE’s enforcement profoundly relevant to public safety. The agency also celebrated record-breaking enforcement against employers who violated the law. In fiscal year 2010, ICE arrested an unprecedented number of employers for illegal hiring and audited the records of more employers than ever before. ICE is committed to tough, sensible enforcement.
Fiction: ICE issues secret memos advocating administrative amnesty.
FACT: ICE is clear and upfront about its policies and procedures. ICE is not engaged in amnesty and the removal numbers speak for themselves. ICE has proceeded openly and candidly when considering policy changes. For instance, ICE posted a draft policy related to immigration detainers and solicited views from employees, Congress, law enforcement agencies and the public at large. ICE aims to be transparent in its decisions and policies and has not circulated or entertained secret memoranda about administrative amnesty. Beyond that, the agency’s record of continued and serious enforcement speaks for itsel
Fiction: ICE is anti-enforcement.
FACT: ICE is serious about tough, sensible enforcement, and the facts speak for themselves. In a world of limited resources, ICE pursues rational priorities, namely public safety, border security, national security and maintaining the integrity of our immigration system.For two years running, ICE has removed more aliens than it did under the prior Administration. Additionally, ICE removed 70 percent more convicted criminals than it did in 2008 than under the prior Administration. ICE is serious about enforcing the nation’s immigration laws. ICE officers, attorneys and personnel report to work each day to advance the agency’s enforcement mission. ICE’s success is evident when criminal aliens are identified and removed from the United States rather than being released to our communities. Undoubtedly, ICE enforces the law—day in and day out.
The story is real. We are not all caught up in a fairy tale or one of Aesop’s fables. Last week People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Diego, on behalf of five whales. It claims that the whales are being held at SeaWorld parks in violation of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S. and prohibits involuntary servitude. ((PETA claims that the five big fish are slaves, because they were forcibly taken from their families to be put in captivity)), where they are denied their natural environment.
In 1966 Congress enacted the Animal Welfare Act to improve the treatment of certain animals. In its original form the Act protected "live dogs, cats, monkeys, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits." Four years later, Congress expanded the reach of the Act, adding dead animals. The law now reads: The term "animal" means any live or dead dog, cat, monkey (nonhuman primate mammal), guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, or such other warm-blooded animal, as the Secretary may determine is being used, or is intended for use, for research, testing, experimentation, or exhibition purposes, or as a pet... Animal rights groups have used the law to attack practices we have long taken for granted.
No industry has escaped the litigation blitz. In 1972 the military was sued when it attempted to eliminate over 10 million black birds that wrecked the neighborhood with tons of droppings, including damage to crops and the outbreak of disease. The activists claimed they had an interest in being able to observe and enjoy the presence of blackbirds. Animal rights activists sued stop issuance of patents for animals created in the lab. These non-human organisms are considered patentable because they do not occur naturally in nature.
PETA is deadly serious. They are not just out to get attention. Along with the ASPCA and other animal rights groups PETA has been waging a guerrilla war to win for animals the same rights as humans. Last week the Federal circuit court in Washington D.C. dismissed a suit against Ringling Brothers that alleged cruelty to an elephant because it was made to perform in the circus. The same court last year allowed a zoo visitor to sue to get companionship for a chimpanzee. In Texas, a few years back, a court outlawed the slaughter and sale of horses for human consumption overseas. And a few years ago, the little town of Hegins, Pennsylvania faced a court challenge over its 65th annual pigeon shoot. The shoot was called off.
There has even been suit against a city pound that removed stray animals from the streets and disposed of them. San Clemente Island, California, is a military enclave under the jurisdiction of the Navy. In 1977, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined, in accordance with the Endangered Species Act, that removal of goats running wild on San Clemente was necessary to protect endangered animals and plants in a critical habitat covering approximately one third of the island. There is no public access to the island; the animal rights activists sued.
Prof. Gary Francione, who along with a colleague started an Animal right s law clinic at Rutgers Law school has become star on the animal rights circuit. He has said that gorillas should be declared “persons” with constitutional rights. He says that not eating, wearing or using animals is non- negotiable. Francione considers the fight to give animals the same rights as humans to be a liberation movement that demands change in our basic principle of equality.
Practices that we previously regarded as natural and inevitable, such as a well-done steak for dinner or a pair of leather shoes have come to be seen as the result of an unjustifiable prejudice. In order to have meat on the table at a price that people can afford, says Francione, we tolerate methods of meat production that confine animals in cramped, unsuitable conditions for their entire lives. PETA thinks rearing and killing other animals in order to eat them is a clear instance of the sacrifice of the most important interests of other beings in order to satisfy trivial interests of our own. Peta intends to put an end to this practice.
The animal right s activists know that they are not likely to win constitutional rights for the five big fish just yet, but that does not deter them. They know it won’t happen overnight, but they believe they can accomplish it in little increments, so insignificant, that they escape notice of the general public. Allowing PETA to represent animals, to most of us, does not seem far-fetched. We are accustomed to having guardians appointed to protect the rights on minors, or conservators to protect the rights of those unable to represent themselves because they are mentally incapable of doing so. So permitting PETA to speak for these dumb animals is not a stretch if they have rights that they are unable to defend.
One of our problems is that the values that put us at the top of the food chain, as master of all animals are not as appreciated as they should be. Rather than donate the money to feed starving children, Leona Helmsley, left $12 million to her dog. But the greatest threat to our standing as the master of all animals comes from a most unlikely source, our courts, which have entertained these species of lawsuit and created rights for animals that nature and common sense dictate they cannot have. PETA did not pluck the idea of suing in the name of five whales out of thin air. Decisions of our own Supreme Court were the seed. Many years ago Justice Douglas wrote:
The critical question of "standing" would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers….. Contemporary public concern for protecting nature's ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation…