Archive for May 26th, 2011

May 26, 2011

5/26 – APN (IPS) – Prison Lobbyists Help Spread Anti-Immigrant Laws to U.S. South

(IPS) Prison Lobbyists Help Spread Anti-Immigrant Laws to U.S. South.

(IPS) Prison Lobbyists Help Spread Anti-Immigrant Laws to U.S. South

This article first appeared on the Inter-Press Service at: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=55802

ATLANTA, Georgia, May 26, 2011 (IPS) – Earlier this month, Georgia became the third state to enact some of the most anti-immigrant legislation in recent U.S. history, when Governor Nathan Deal, a Republican, signed the bill, HB 87.

Among other things, the bill allows law enforcement officials to ask suspicious individuals to prove that they are U.S. citizens. In practice, critics say, “suspicious looking” is another way of saying “Hispanic”, raising concerns that the law encourages racial profiling.

The law is modeled on Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, passed last summer. Utah became the second state earlier this year. Both state’s laws are currently held up in the courts, where federal judicial circuits in the Western U.S. have not been favourable on the grounds that the laws are state or local interference with federal immigration policy.

The laws have already led to statewide boycotts in Georgia and are expected to bring legal challenges as well. In part, national lobbyists targeted Georgia because they wanted to set up a court battle in a more conservative eastern U.S. federal judicial circuit.

Meanwhile, supporters of the bill are celebrating, including the right-wing Republican base that supported the bill, as well as the for-profit prison corporations which stand to profit from the massive influx of suspected undocumented immigrants through the private prison system.

“Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), we know they have lobbyists here [at the legislature],” said Larry Pellegrini of Georgia Rural Urban Summit. CCA is one of the largest for-profit prison corporations in the U.S.

“They [CCA] will benefit by the legislation. They have a corporate stake in it around the country,” Pellegrini told IPS.

Pellegrini also noted that the lobbying effort to pass anti- immigration laws in Georgia was part of a national effort.

One national lobbying group that was instrumental in bringing together business interests and lawmakers was the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

It was an ALEC task force, which included a representative from a private prison – along with lawmakers from Arizona and other states – who helped draft Arizona’s immigration bill, which became a template for Georgia’s law as well.

According to CCA reports obtained by National Public Radio, the corporation believes that immigration detention is its next big growth market.

CCA’s earnings were up 15 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

CCA reported earnings of 40.3 million dollars, or 37 cents per share, on revenue of 428 million dollars in first quarter of 2011, according to the Nashville Business Journal newspaper. CCA’s revenue for 2009 was 1.7 billion dollars.

The federal government pays over 60 dollars per detainee per day to house men at CCA’s Stewart Detention Center, the largest immigration detention centre in the U.S., located in Lumpkin, Georgia.

CCA’s top management in Tennessee contributed the largest block of out-of-state campaign contributions received by Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer. Brewer employs two former CCA lobbyists as aides who assisted with signing Arizona’s SB 1070 into law.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, CCA spent 770,000 dollars lobbying at the federal level in 2009 and has spent as much as 3.4 million since 2005.

Georgia State Sen. Donald Balfour, a key Republican supporter of Georgia’s HB 87, in 2006, 2007, and 2008 received 2,000 dollars each year in donations from CCA; in 2009 he received 1,000; and in 2010, 750.

Governor Deal received from CCA 5,000 dollars in 2010 for the General Election. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has received at least 7,000 dollars from CCA since 2006.

Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers has received at least 3,500 dollars from CCA since 2008.

When recently asked about the Georgia bill, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “It is a mistake for states to try to do this piecemeal. We can’t have 50 different immigration laws around the country. Arizona tried this and a federal court already struck them down.”

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia are “seriously considering a legal challenge,” Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director at the Georgia ACLU told IPS.

“We believe the law is unconstitutional,” she said. “It encourages racial profiling and interferes with federal authority to enforce federal immigration laws.”

Meanwhile, key Republican legislators remain undaunted.

“I applaud Governor Deal’s signing of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, which includes numerous common-sense reforms aimed at addressing the social and economic consequences in Georgia resulting from the federal government’s inability to secure our nation’s borders,” State Rep. Matt Ramsey said in a statement.

“HB 87 is a comprehensive and necessary effort to enforce the rule of law and protect the taxpayers of Georgia from being forced to subsidize the presence of nearly 500,000 illegal aliens in our state. Current economic conditions have made it painfully obvious that the state of Georgia literally cannot afford to continue this broken system,” Ramsey said.

But not all Republicans were thrilled about the new laws, particularly Republican legislators representing rural Georgia districts. Many Georgia farmers are believed to rely upon low-cost immigrant labour to perform tasks like picking onions and plucking chickens.

Time will tell how the new immigration laws – even the very passage of them, whether the courts uphold them or not – will impact immigrants and their families living in Georgia – that is, whether they will stay here or decide to take their chances in another U.S. state.

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May 26, 2011

4/18 – Augusta Chronicle – Ga. Official Addresses Boycott Potential « Farmworkers Forum

Ga. Official Addresses Boycott Potential « Farmworkers Forum.

From Chronicle.Augusta.com, Walter Jones, Morris News Service, 18 Apr 2011.

ATLANTA [GA] — Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said Monday he is hopeful that the quality of Georgia products will overcome boycott attempts by opponents of the state’s new restrictions on illegal immigrants.

Finding enough workers to pick the crops after the new law takes effect, though, might be a bigger problem.

Black made the comments during a news conference at the Department of Agriculture where he also announced teams of inspectors would be policing flea markets for unsanitary food or diseased animals on sale.

Farm groups opposed House Bill 87 that attempts to make illegal immigrants unwelcome by preventing them from working and by empowering police to question their citizenship if they’re arrested for a felony. Immigrant-rights groups also opposed the bill and warned of boycotts from buyers of Georgia products and tourists if Gov. Nathan Deal signs it into law as he said he would.

When the commissioner was asked if he was stepping up a marketing effort to try to forestall a potential boycott, Black offered his confidence in the products instead.

“I think Georgia commodities and their quality and the family farmers that produce them speak for themselves,” he said. “So we look forward to being very aggressive, as we always are, and we believe consumers in this country and the world will respond in a positive fashion.”

But asked if is worried that there would be sufficient manpower at harvest time now that farmers must verify the citizenship of every hire, he was frank.

“Absolutely, but we always are,” he said. “Labor is a large challenge in agriculture. Making sure there is a documented, legal, work force has always been a goal of folks in agriculture and remains so today.”

During debate on the recently passed immigration restrictions, Black’s successor as president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Bryan Tolar, warned federal guest-worker visas doesn’t supply a sufficient number of workers. Adding a requirement that all employees have their citizenship validated with the federal E-Verify database will only increase expenses, delays and errors in misclassifying workers, he said.

Regarding the flea-market patrols, Black said he’s instructed teams with expertise in plants, animals and consumer protection to crack down on unlicensed vendors. The department’s anti-terrorism officers will also participate.

“We do have an ongoing problem and an ongoing concern for Georgia consumers about the trafficking, the illegal trafficking of companion animals, dogs and cats and even birds,” he said. “We get a lot of complaints about these particular facilities. There are potential disease issues.”

He recommended dealing with reputable breeders, animal shelters or established rescue centers.

However, he also cautioned against giving chicks and ducklings as Easter gifts without considering the care and expense required of adult chickens and ducks.

Source: Chronicle.Augusta.com, “Ga. official addresses boycott potential” by Walter Jones, Morris News Service, 18 Apr 2011.

May 26, 2011

5/26 – ajc.com – Farmers tie labor shortage to state’s new immigration law, ask for help | ajc.com

NEEDED MIGRANT FARM WORKERS BOYCOTT GEORGIA

Farmers tie labor shortage to state’s new immigration law, ask for help  | ajc.com.

Georgia Politics 7:11 p.m. Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Migrant farmworkers are bypassing Georgia because of the state’s tough new immigration enforcement law, creating a severe labor shortage among fruit and vegetable growers here and potentially putting hundreds of millions of dollars in crops in jeopardy, agricultural industry leaders said this week.

Meanwhile, the state’s Republican labor and agricultural commissioners are discussing issuing a joint statement in the coming days about what they intend to do about the labor shortage, a Labor Department spokesman confirmed Thursday.

Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said he has been in close contact with Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black about the shortage, calling it the most severe he has seen. Hall said it’s possible state officials could hold job fairs to steer some of Georgia’s unemployed workers to these farm jobs, which pay $12.50 an hour on average. The state’s unemployment rate is now at 9.9 percent.

Farmers, however, say they often have little luck recruiting Georgia residents to work in their fields because it is temporary, hot and physically demanding. To recruit more workers, some farmers are offering signing bonuses, Hall said.

The law doesn’t take effect until July 1 but is already making migrant Hispanic farmworkers skittish, said Dick Minor, a partner with Minor Brothers Farm in Leslie in southwest Georgia who says he is missing about 50 of his workers now, threatening as much as a third of his crops.

Some farmers who work in Georgia’s $1.1 billion fruit and vegetable industry are now reporting they have only two-thirds or half the workers they need now and for the weeks of harvesting to come, Hall said. Farmers said the full extent of the shortages won’t be known until the coming weeks as they harvest their remaining crops, including watermelons and sweet corn. Hall estimated such shortages could put as much as $300 million in crops at risk this year.

John McKissick, who teaches and researches agricultural economics for the University of Georgia, said the farmers’ assertions about the labor shortage are plausible, but he couldn’t independently confirm them.

“I have certainly heard reports of shortages,” he said. “There are certainly a lot of dollars on the line with timely fruit and vegetable harvests.”

This month, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 87 into law. Among other things, the law punishes people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants here. It also authorizes police to investigate the immigration status of suspects they believe have committed state or federal crimes and who cannot produce identification, such as a driver’s license, or provide other information that could help police identify them.

Georgia’s agricultural industry — the largest in the state — vigorously opposed HB 87 in the Legislature, arguing it could scare away migrant workers and damage the state’s economy.

Minor, who is also president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said the Mexican workers he normally depends on to harvest his cucumbers and squash are staying away from Georgia over concerns they will be harassed.

“People are just saying: ‘I am not going to Georgia. The law is terrible. We are going to get in trouble there. Let’s just go on,’ ” said Minor, president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. “They have got options. And what they are saying is ‘Georgia is not the place to go.’”

Minor said his farm is struggling with a shortage of workers even after boosting pay to attract more of them. He added his farm works with the state Labor Department to ensure his hires are eligible to work in the United States.

Manuel De La Rosa, who recruits workers for Minor’s farm, confirmed many migrant workers are skipping Georgia for other states, including Florida. He said these workers became afraid after they heard Hispanic television news programs comparing Georgia’s new law to a stringent one Arizona enacted last year.

“Some of the people who were coming over here to [pick] cucumbers said: ‘No. They are going to catch us. They are going to put us in jail,’ ” said De La Rosa, a U.S. citizen. “Some of them were going to try another state where they have not passed this law yet.”

The author of Georgia’s HB 87 — Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — repeated Thursday that the law is not set to take effect until July 1.

“And there is nothing in House Bill 87 that anybody that is in our country legally has to worry about,” he said.

May 26, 2011

5/26 – Daily Report – High court decision could shape potential Georgia immigraiton law challenge

High court decision could shape potential Georgia immigraiton law challenge.

2:27 pm, May 26th, 2011

As news came down Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law requiring businesses to check new hires using the federal E-Verify system in order to prevent employment of illegal aliens—a provision also included in the recently signed Georgia immigration bill known as Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011—local attorneys took note of the decision’s potential impact on any Georgia challenge.

Arizona approved the Legal Arizona Workers Act in 2007, though it came under judicial review after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a suit claiming a state does not have the authority to require E-Verify use, according to the Associated Press. The federal high court ruled 5-3 in the state’s favor.

Georgia’s law, House Bill 87, phases in the business mandate, requiring those with 500 or more employees to register with E-Verify by July 1; 100 to 499 employees by July 1, 2012; and 10 to 99 employees by July 1, 2013.

Another provision in HB87 closely mirrors a second Arizona immigration law aimed at public safety. While Arizona’s law allows law enforcement officers to arrest suspected illegal immigrants, Georgia’s allows officers to check a suspect’s legal status if that person has been charged with another crime.

A district court judge enjoined parts of Arizona’s law, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

A Roswell immigration attorney said he is working with national advocacy groups to file for an injunction sometime this summer.

The Daily Report was able to reach two key figures in the Georgia immigration debate for their response.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, who sponsored HB 87, said:  “I think the U.S. Supreme Court got this decision exactly right, and I am glad to see the Court uphold the principles of federalism delineated in the United States’ Constitution by recognizing that states clearly do have a role in addressing the issues posed by illegal immigration.  Specifically, the decision makes clear what we have believed all along — that the requirement in HB 87 that Georgia businesses use E-Verify, which is intended to ensure Georgia has a legal workforce, is not only good policy but also a constitutional exercise of the State of Georgia’s authority to address this pressing issue.”

Roswell immigration attorney Charles H. Kuck, who is heading up the potential challenge, said: “We were never including a challenge to the E-Verify portion of HB 87 in our litigation.  I believe the 9th Circuit was correct both times it ruled on the Arizona legislation, both in upholding the E-Verify requirement as permitted under a state licensing scheme  within the parameters of IRCA, and in striking down the anti-immigration, unconstitutionally preempted provisions of SB 1070, which were mimicked in HB 87.  We remain strongly convinced that substantial portion so of HB 87 will be struck down by the Courts when the challenge is brought. ”

“On E-Verify, if a state wants to impose unequal burdens on private employers based upon the whim of state legislators, it may does so.  Being legal and being good public policy are, of course, not always the same thing however.”

May 26, 2011

5/26 – ajc.com – Court decision in Arizona case critical to Georgia law | Jay Bookman

Court decision in Arizona case critical to Georgia law | Jay Bookman.

Court decision in Arizona case critical to Georgia law

In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld a controversial illegal immigration bill enacted in Arizona. It’s an important decision, and as a matter of law if not policy, I actually agree with it. However, it’s important to note what the decision does and does not do.

First, this is not a decision on Arizona’s most recent and controversial immigration bill, which has also been challenged in the courts. That case will be decided on grounds of civil liberties, due process, the Tenth Amendment and similar provisions, and will almost certainly be overturned in the end. It goes way too far.

Today’s decision deals instead with a bill that was signed into law back in 2007 by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, now the secretary of Homeland Security, and was decided on the wording of existing federal law.

It deals with a very limited issue: Do the states have the power to deny licenses to businesses that do not use E-Verify to check the legal status of new workers? In a decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said yes. As Roberts noted, federal law prohibits states from imposing civil or criminal violations on businesses that hire illegal immigrants. However, that same federal law does give states the power to address that issue “through licensing and similar laws.”

That’s what Arizona did, the high court says it’s legal, and again, I think they’re right. As Roberts writes, “Arizona’s procedures simply implement the sanctions that Congress expressly allowed the States to pursue through licensing laws.”

Second, the decision has a major impact on the future of Georgia’s new immigration law. HB 87, signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Nathan Deal, took the same basic approach on mandated use of the E-Verify system as did the 2007 Arizona. It too makes the issuance of business licenses conditional on agreeing to use E-Verify. Since the Arizona law survived challenge, the relevant part of HB 87 is now almost certain to survive legal challenge as well.

In fact, the Arizona law contains strong enforcement language that state Rep. Matt Ramsey, the author of Georgia’s law, did not include in his own bill. Ramsey said those provisions were not included because he feared they were unconstitutional, but in light of today’s ruling, they clearly are not.

Ramsey’s decision can be more plausibly explained by fear that if he included strong enforcement provisions, business opposition would have been enough to kill the legislation. And he was no doubt right.

UPDATE: In a dissent joined by Justice Douglas Ginsberg, Justice Stephen Breyer asserts that the Arizona law may increase job discrimination against legal workers of Hispanic ancestry. As he points out, employers may try to minimize chances of running afoul of the law by simply refusing to hire anybody who might be illegal.

Roberts brushes aside such concerns, but I think he’s wrong on that point. The concern is legitimate, but given the plain language in federal law, I’m not what can be done about it by the courts.

– Jay Bookman

May 26, 2011

5/26 – ajc.com – Opponents, supporters of Georgia’s immigration law sound off over Arizona court decision | ajc.com

Opponents, supporters of Georgia’s immigration law sound off over Arizona court decision  | ajc.com.

Georgia Politics 3:29 p.m. Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Today’s decision only bolsters my confidence that we, the representatives of the law abiding citizens of Georgia, have acted within our authority as set out in Federal law and the Constitution.

Protestor Lisa Adler with Amnesty International protests outside the Georgia State Capitol after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a an immigration bill May 13.

Tami Chappell, AP Protestor Lisa Adler with Amnesty International protests outside the Georgia State Capitol after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a an immigration bill May 13.

Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold an Arizona immigration enforcement law drew mixed reactions from supporters and opponents of a similar measure Georgia enacted this month.

Charles Kuck, an Atlanta-area immigration attorney and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the court’s decision will not dissuade him and others from challenging certain parts of Georgia’s House Bill 87 in court before the law takes effect July 1.

“There are other parts of HB 87 that are and remain unconstitutional, and we will be going forward with litigation on those issues,” said Kuck, a board member with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

Meanwhile, the sponsor of Georgia’s HB 87 — Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — hailed the court’s decision.

“I think the U.S. Supreme Court got this decision exactly right,” Ramsey said, “and I am glad to see the court uphold the principles of federalism delineated in the United States’ Constitution by recognizing that states clearly do have a role in addressing the issues posed by illegal immigration.”

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that punishes businesses that hire illegal immigrants and requires companies to use a federal program called E-Verify. That program helps businesses confirm their new hires are eligible to work in the United States.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and some civil rights groups sued to block that law in court, arguing it is unconstitutional.

This month, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed HB 87 into law. Like Arizona’s law, Georgia’s measure includes a requirement for businesses to use E-Verify. Opponents of HB 87 argued that requirement would create additional red tape and costs for Georgia businesses.

Kuck said his group had no plans to challenge the E-Verify requirement in Georgia’s new law. Instead, he and others have set their sites on other parts of HB 87, including provisions that punish people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants or use fake identification to get jobs here.

Kuck said the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration issues and state law cannot supersede federal statute. Opponents will file their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta before July 1, Kuck said.

Ramsey said the court’s decision to uphold Arizona’s law “makes clear what we have believed all long — that the requirement in HB 87 that Georgia businesses use E-Verify, which is intended to ensure Georgia has a legal workforce, is not only good policy but also a constitutional exercise of the state of Georgia’s authority to address this pressing issue.”

Republican Rep. Rich Golick of Smyrna, who cosponsored HB 87, said the court decision “only bolsters my confidence that we, the representatives of the law-abiding citizens of Georgia, have acted within our authority as set out in federal law and the Constitution.”

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office also issued a statement about the ruling Thursday.

“This ruling by the Supreme Court confirms what Gov. Deal has said all along: The state of Georgia has the power to assure that people hired in our state are here legally,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Deal. “It makes perfectly good sense for the state to use a federal mechanism, E-Verify, to assure that our federal and state laws are obeyed.

“The E-Verify provisions are a major thrust of our new immigration law in Georgia. This ruling should discourage future lawsuits. Who wants to fund such suits when the court has spoken so clearly?”

May 26, 2011

5/26 – GPB – Who Will Pay for New Immigration Law?

Who Will Pay for New Immigration Law?.

Thu., May 26, 2011 6:27am (EDT)

Who Will Pay for New Immigration Law?

By Jeanne Bonner

ATLANTA  —

Opponents of the immigration law, known as House Bill 87, say it will cost too much for cities and counties to carry out. In particular, they say communities could be stuck with low-level illegal alien defendants who are not a priority for federal immigration officials.

A federal program might not cover the full costs of Georgia’s new immigration law. When Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law this month, he said a U.S. Department of Homeland Security program called 287 g could help pick up the tab.

Responding to a question from a reporter at the bill-signing ceremony, Deal said, “One of the areas that this bill addresses is something we have encouraged for some time and that is for local communities to be a part of the federal 287(g) program.”

He continued, “There are some financial incentives for that and I would encourage the Department of Homeland Security to approve those applications for some of our counties who want to participate in that program but have not received approval at this point.”

The program is a partnership between the federal government and local police departments. Homeland Security trains officers to enforce immigration laws.

A handful of communities in Georgia already participate in the program.

Brittany Nystrom is an immigration lawyer. She’s studied the 287(g) program and she says local communities will foot most of the cost of enforcing the law.

“The police department that employs these officers is responsible for paying their salaries, for keeping them employed, and the federal government is only responsible for training them on the immigration laws that they need to understand,” she said by phone from Washington, D.C.

Nystrom also said cities and counties could also bear the cost of incarcerating lower-level defendants who are illegal immigrants.

That’s because Homeland Security officials have said the program should target high-level criminals who are here illegally, not people who commit misdemeanors. A report issued last year by the department’s inspector general said Immigrations and Customs Enforcement should make a priority through the 287(g) program of only arresting and detaining “aliens who pose a threat to public safety or are a danger to the community.”

“If the state of Georgia is apprehending a number of people who fall outside of those priorities,” Nystrom said, “there is a likelihood the Department of Homeland Security will say, ‘Thank you, but we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the detention space to come and get these people. You are stuck with them.’”

Governor Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson says the new law will incur costs, but it will cost the state less than illegal immigration.

“287(g) is a tool,” he said. “It won’t pay for all of the immigration law. But there is no cost in the immigration law to the state that comes anywhere near what it costs for us to pay for illegal immigration.”

He also says the problem of illegal immigration is less acute in some areas of the state, so all counties probably won’t need to apply to the program. Gwinnett, Dalton and Hall Counties, for example, have high numbers of illegal immigrants and they are already enrolled in 287(g).

As for the costs of incarceration, Robinson said the heart of the bill, known as House Bill 87, is e-verify. That will require companies with 11 or more employees to use a federal employment verification system, called e-verify, to check the immigration status of prospective workers. He said Georgia will not be using the law as an excuse to round up people based on the color of their skin or their perceived ethnicities.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security could not immediately comment on the issue.

The full cost of the immigration law is not known. The state’s fiscal economist, Kenneth Heaghney, said he has not prepared estimates of how much the law will cost the state. Other prominent economists in the state also said they have not worked up estimates.

May 26, 2011

5/26 – Fox News Latino – Federal Judge Upholds Immigrant’s Right to Remain Silent on Status – Fox News Latino

Federal Judge Upholds Immigrant’s Right to Remain Silent on Status – Fox News Latino.

Published May 25, 2011

| Fox News Latino

The immigration agents went to a Kansas apartment looking for a man who had a drug conviction and whom they wanted to deport.

But the agents, without a warrant, also detained another man in the apartment they happened to come across and suspected of being in the country illegally.

On Tuesday, however, a federal judge said that the agent’s actions were unconstitutional and dismissed charges against José Manuel Ortiz-Del Rio. The judge’s ruling upheld the right of immigrants to remain silent under questioning from immigration authorities.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren granted the government’s motion to dismiss charges against Ortiz-Del Rio with prejudice, meaning the same charges cannot be filed again. Ortiz-Del Rio had been charged with falsely claiming U.S. citizenship.

Prosecutors had sought the dismissal in the wake of Melgren’s ruling last month that suppressed statements Ortiz-Del Rio made during questioning by immigration agents.

The agents had gone to an apartment in November to arrest another man for deportation proceedings after a drug trafficking conviction. The agents did not have a warrant.

The judge ruled in April that armed federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion when they detained Ortiz-Del Rio in what amounted to custodial questioning after happening to find him in the apartment.

Immigration agents often arrest people other than those they target when they come across them, especially during raids on private residences. Once called by immigration officials “collateral,” ICE officials often defended the controversial practice by saying that they were obligated to take action when they come across people — other than their original “target” — who could be in the country illegally.

That has prompted immigration advocacy groups across the country to advise immigrants not to open their doors when immigration officials come knocking. The groups say that when ICE rounds up others in the course of pursuing their “targets,” it is violating Fourth and Fifth amendment rights. Many groups have set up hotlines that they tell immigrants to call if ICE agents knock on their door.

Melgren noted that Ortiz-Del Rio was ordered out of a bedroom, asked to sit on the floor and repeatedly questioned about where he was born.

Any responses Ortiz-Del Rio gave at the time — in the absence of the Miranda warning about self-incrimination — must be suppressed, Melgren ruled. He also said any subsequent statements the suspect made when taken to the ICE station for processing must also be suppressed as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”

“In our view, the ruling in this case is based on a unique set of circumstances that are not likely to occur again in other cases,” Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas, said in an email.

Assistant public defender Syovata Edari said the judge determined that the statement was the product of an “unconstitutional interrogation.” She said in an email that her client’s alleged statement was the sole basis for the charges in the superseding indictment.

“Since the statement was ordered suppressed the prosecution no longer had the evidence it needed to prove its case,” Edari said.

None of the facts presented by the government established that authorities had reasonable suspicion to believe any person at the apartment other than the man they were seeking would be violating the law, Melgren wrote in his ruling.

“Moreover, the agents had no reason to suspect that Ortiz-Del Rio had committed or was in the process of committing a crime,” the judge said. “Any indicia of a consensual encounter ended when Ortiz-Del Rio was questioned five times, a clear indication that the agent was rejecting his prior answers, and ordered to answer a question about his birth place orally.”

Prosecutors noted in a filing earlier this month that even if the government moved to dismiss the criminal charges, Ortiz-Del Rio would go into ICE custody as his civil immigration case.

This is based on a story by The Associated Press.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2011/05/25/federal-judge-rules-immigration-agents-violated-constitutional-rights-immigrant/#ixzz1NT02aTRI

May 26, 2011

5/24 – Various – Students protest immigration law – Google News

Students protest immigration law – Google News.

Students protest immigration law

Times-Georgian – Winston Jones – ‎1 hour ago‎
by Winston Jones/Sentinel Chanting “Education, not deportation,” about 60 Douglas County High students walked out of class Wednesday afternoon to stage a protest against the new Georgia immigration law, House Bill 87. The students gathered about 2 pm

Students May Be Suspended After Protest Against Immigration Bill

WGCL Atlanta – Lesley Tanner – ‎5 hours ago‎
Instead of spending one of the last days of school in the classroom, a group of about 60 Douglas County High School students spent their time protesting the state’s new immigration law. “We wanna be somewhere in

Students Skip Class to Protest

Patch.com – John Barker – ‎7 hours ago‎
Approximately 50 students walked out of Douglas County High School at about 2 pm today to voice their protest to immigration reform and Georgia House Bill 87. By John Barker | Email the author | 5:08pm Jorge Lopez, junior at Douglas County High School,

Ga. teens leave class to protest immigration law

Albany Times Union – ‎8 hours ago‎
Students walk out of class at Douglas County High School to protest Georgia’s new law cracking down on illegal immigration and a policy that bars illegal immigrant students from the most competitive state colleges and universities Wednesday, May 25,

Students Walk Out Of Class Over Immigration Law

WSB Atlanta – ‎8 hours ago‎
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. — Dozens of Douglas County High School students walked out of class Wednesday afternoon to protest Georgia’s new immigration law. “We are the voice of the future!” shouted one student who joined the crowd just after 2 pm Students

Ga. teens leave class to protest immigration law

NECN – ‎9 hours ago‎
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (AP) — About 50 students walked out of class at Douglas County High School to protest Georgia’s new law cracking down on illegal immigration and a policy that bars illegal immigrant students from the most competitive state colleges
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