Archive for ‘International’

November 2, 2011

11/1 – – Mexican senators seek meeting with Georgia lawmakers over immigration |

Mexican senators seek meeting with Georgia lawmakers over immigration  |


Georgia Politics 6:16 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON — A group of Mexican senators announced Tuesday they are preparing to meet with state legislators in Georgia and four other states next month, hoping to head off more stringent immigration laws like the one Georgia enacted this year.

The senators plan to share information with state lawmakers that shows illegal immigrants generally stay out of trouble and contribute to the economy while they are here.Sen. Carlos Jimenez Macias, a member of the Mexican Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed those plans Tuesday at a workshop on immigration reform in D.C. at the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan public policy institution.

Macias said the author of Georgia’s House Bill 87 — Republican state Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — is among the legislators he and his delegation want to meet next month.

The Mexican senators also plan to meet with state lawmakers in Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah, which have enacted similar immigration enforcement measures.

For Macias, the issue is personal. He said he illegally entered the United States when he was 17 to find work and lived for a time in Chicago.

“I know what the illegal immigrants feel here in the United States,” he said.

Ramsey said Tuesday he had not received a request to meet with Macias.

“However, I would welcome the opportunity to meet and hear their concerns and share with them our concerns that motivated us to draft legislation aimed at addressing the issues posed in Georgia by illegal immigration,” Ramsey said.

Macias’ announcement comes after the Mexican ambassador to the United States condemned an early draft of HB 87 in February, saying it was “poisoning” the relationship between the two countries. The Mexican government filed court papers in June in support of efforts to halt HB 87.

Supporters of HB 87 complain illegal immigrants are straining taxpayer-funded resources in Georgia, including schools and prisons. HB 87 seeks to deter illegal immigrants from coming to Georgia by cutting off their access to jobs and public benefits. A federal judge in Atlanta put parts of the law on hold in June amid court challenges. The state is appealing.

Another Mexican senator, Ruben Velazquez Lopez, said he didn’t want to see the “problem of anti-immigrant laws” to be “Mexicanized.”

“This is something that affects all the illegals in the United States,” he said. “And they are from many nations. Not all. But certainly many. Our fellow countrymen are part of the total.”

October 23, 2011

10/23 – Online Athens – Lawyers say immigration law hurts state’s economy | Athens Banner Herald Mobile

Lawyers say immigration law hurts state’s economy | Athens Banner Herald Mobile.

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011


State and federal immigration laws are making it hard for international companies to do business in Georgia, a panel of legal experts said Saturday at the University of Georgia.

“We literally have companies saying ‘I don’t want to do business in this
state,’ ” Atlanta immigration lawyer Sharon Cook Poorak said.

A UGA law school symposium Saturday included a discussion on the impact of House Bill 87, the new state immigration law that is among the most strict in the nation.

The law affects not only migrant farm workers in South Georgia, but also millionaire European CEOs who want to do business in the U.S., panelists said.

“Georgia is really shooting themselves in the foot right now, to pass these laws that hurt us economically,” Poorak said.

She noted that the state’s unemployment rate is still above 10 percent since the law took effect in July, so jobs held by illegal immigrants aren’t being filled by Americans.

It’s impossible for unskilled workers like dishwashers to immigrate legally because they can’t get visas, said another immigration lawyer, Teri Simmons.

And visas for skilled workers like scientists are hard to get, she said.

“America has one of the toughest, strictest immigration systems in the entire world,” Simmons said.

In addition to discouraging corporations from coming to Georgia, apartments are sitting vacant and small businesses are closing up shop, immigration lawyer Carolina Antonini said.

Her clients are reluctant to go to the hospital if they’re sick or call the police if they’re victims of crime because they fear being deported, she said.

“We’re seeing people flee the state, whole families flee the state,” Antonini said.

Vidalia onion farmers are suffering from a labor shortage because of the law, Toombs County Solicitor Paul Threlkeld said.

“We’ve built an economy on the backs of these folks, and no one wants to treat them like second-class citizens,” he said.

State Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, said he understands why people come to the U.S. illegally.

“If I could make $10 an hour rather than $10 a week, believe me, I’d come across the border and do the same thing,” he said.

But since the federal government won’t reform its immigration program to allow more workers into the country legally, the state had to act, Murphy said.

Simply asking for identification, “I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” he said.

Threlkeld said he’s glad a federal judge has halted enforcement of some of the laws provisions, such as one empowering police to check the immigration status of people they pull over or arrest, while he rules on the law’s constitutionality.

Toombs County doesn’t have the resources to enforce the law, he said.

Neither do many cities, which will be required to verify employees’, public works contractors’ and business owners’ immigration status, said Rusi Patel, counsel for the Georgia Municipal Association.

The law may be thrown out because it conflicts with federal law, said Neil Kinkopf, a Georgia State University constitutional law professor and advisor to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

State and local police can only enforce federal law if the attorney general certifies them to do so, but HB 87 allows them to enforce immigration law without any training or oversight from the federal government, he said.

July 31, 2011

7/29 – Scientific American – What Causes Prejudice against Immigrants, and How Can It Be Tamed?: Scientific American

What Causes Prejudice against Immigrants, and How Can It Be Tamed?: Scientific American.

What Causes Prejudice against Immigrants, and How Can It Be Tamed?

Hostility toward others can explode into senseless violence. Reciprocal relationships and trust are keys to preventing such tragedies

Anders Behring Breivik Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the bombing in Oslo and the shooting on Utoya Island in Norway, the spotlight has focused on confessed perpetrator Anders Behring Breivik. What drove the Norwegian citizen with extremist right-wing views to these mass killings? Although one of the terrorist’s driving motives was anti-immigrant sentiment, he also killed fellow Norwegians belonging to his own ethnic group.

Why do human beings develop this kind of prejudice, and what makes it sometimes erupt into violence? Scientific American spoke with Steven Neuberg, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University in Tempe, about the psychology of anti-immigrant prejudice.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

How would you define prejudice in psychological terms?
Prejudice is traditionally defined in social psychology as a negative feeling towards a particular group and its members. It turns out, though, that there are different kinds of prejudices and different prejudices towards different groups—and these prejudices have very different emotional components to them. For instance, towards some groups, the prejudice is characterized by disgust, others by anger, yet others by fear.

What underlies prejudice against foreigners?

We’re highly dependent on people in our own groups. In fact, one could argue that our highly ultrasocial, interdependent form of group living may be the most important human adaptation. People tend to be invested in members of their groups, to have ongoing histories of fair exchanges and reciprocal relations, to treat one another reasonably well, to create and follow a set of agreed-upon norms, and thereby build up trust. Outsiders aren’t going to have that same built-up investment in us or our group. Because of this, we tend to believe that people who are foreign to us are more likely to pose certain kinds of threats: We believe they may be more interested in taking our resources, more likely to cheat us in exchanges, to violate our norms and values, to take more than their fair share, and the like. These perceptions of threats are linked to negative emotions such as anger and moral disgust that contribute to anti-immigrant prejudices.

My colleague Mark Schaller at the University of British Columbia has explored an additional threat that people are likely to see in foreigners: People who come from faraway places, who live in somewhat different ecologies, carry different pathogens within their bodies—pathogens that their immune systems have had an opportunity to adapt to but that ours have not. Schaller’s work shows that people perceived as being foreign—perhaps because they look different than us, speak different languages, eat different foods—automatically activate perceptions of disease threat. And groups who are perceived to pose disease threats activate prejudices characterized by physical disgust.

The alleged attacker in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, had strong anti-immigrant prejudices. What was he feeling?
I can’t tell you exactly what he was thinking, but as I mentioned, foreign groups coming into one’s own society—immigrants—activate perceptions of a wide range of threats and elicit accompanying negative emotions such as anger, disgust and fear, which increases the likelihood of discrimination. If the perceived threats and emotions are strong enough, an individual may believe that he needs to rid his country of those who pose them. Moreover, anger and disgust, together, contribute to feelings of contempt, which we feel towards others we believe to be “less” than us, and can serve to motivate extreme actions.

It’s useful to note a couple of things here. First, because immigrants are perceived to pose multiple kinds of threats, they are likely to be on the receiving end of especially pernicious prejudices and acts of discrimination. Second, such reactions to immigrants are nothing new—and we can look not only to current anti-immigrant sentiments throughout the world, but also to our own history in the U.S. Whether it was Italians or Irish, Poles, Jews, Germans, Chinese or whomever, each of these groups were initially perceived to pose a wide range of threats and consequently evoked powerful prejudices. It was only once people came to see these groups as nonthreatening, usually as they were seen to adopt “American” norms, that they were perceived as Americans.

Given his prejudice against immigrants, why did Breivik target ethnic Norwegians, his own people?
I haven’t read his writings, but I hypothesize he was going after members of his group he saw as responsible for allowing the immigrant threat to exist. I think he saw the liberal politicians and government bureaucracy—whom he perceived as supporting Muslim immigration, cultural diversity and overall tolerance—as betraying the Norwegian people. Indeed, he attacked the liberal political class: The bomb was set off in a government center and the shootings took place at a camp for teenagers being educated in liberal politics. To Breivik, these folks may have been traitors because, to his mind, they were allowing immigrant Muslims to adulterate and contaminate his country. People seen as traitors are universally despised and stigmatized. Given how much humans, as social animals, invest in and depend upon their groups, betrayal of one’s group is seen as one of the worst things one can possibly do. My guess is that Breivik saw the liberal politics of his country as a betrayal of his people, and so he attacked those politics and those engaged in them.

What makes someone like Breivik break and decide to use violence?
It’s normal for people to over-perceive threats; our mind is designed to err in that direction. It’s also normal for people, when confronted with the kinds of threats we’ve been discussing, to experience emotions like anger, disgust and fear. But just because we stereotype groups as posing certain threats, and hold certain prejudices against them, doesn’t mean that we act on these stereotypes and prejudices in extreme ways. It just doesn’t make sense to do so, and the normal mind typically weighs the consequences of engaging in such planned, extreme actions. I suspect that Breivik, and other extremists like him, possess a much lower threshold for perceiving others as threats and perhaps also a much more intense emotional reaction to those perceptions. Moreover, for someone like him, the ability to dive deeply into media that’s like-minded, on the Web or otherwise, and to spend time with like-minded others, may significantly reinforce his sense of threat and his belief that something needs to be done about it. Like most rare, extreme behaviors, it takes a perfect storm—a psychological disposition shaped by genes and environment, in concert with current experiences, circumstances and opportunities.

What are some ways we can combat this kind of prejudice?

Prejudice against new immigrant groups is a natural aspect of our psychology. What’s natural, however, isn’t always good, and we can try to reduce inclinations to those prejudices we find morally problematic. Throughout history, immigrant groups that were once stigmatized very often end up accepted into society, because people come to understand that they aren’t actually posing the threats they were once thought to pose. It helps when immigrant groups begin to adopt the norms and practices of their new homes, and the reduction of threat perceptions is furthered as people begin to form friendships across group lines.

How do friendships help?

Friendship entails interacting interdependently with another—sharing, taking turns, self-disclosing, and the like—and such actions reveal that many of the threats initially expected to exist may not be there after all. With friendship also comes a sense of “we,” a sense that the person is like me and that we share something important and can trust them. Having a close friend that’s a member of another group then provides a model that the group may not actually be as threatening as initially believed. As members of groups come to interact with one another more, the likelihood that they’ll form friendships increases, and this will accelerate the reduction of prejudices.

Can we prevent prejudice from turning into violence?

I’m not very confident that we’ll ever be able to eliminate the kinds of rare acts of violence we saw in Norway. I am, however, somewhat more optimistic that we’ll be able to develop the behavioral and political “technologies” to reduce, or at least to manage, the more typical intergroup prejudices that characterize all of our everyday lives.

June 16, 2011

6/15 – – Local groups hold event to observe World Refugee Day |

Local groups hold event to observe World Refugee Day  |


DeKalb County News 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta’s newcomers  arrive  from  many nations, including  Somalia, Bosnia, Vietnam and Iraq.

They arrive here from refugee camps after fleeing wars and religious and ethnic  persecution.

On Friday they will come together to celebrate World Refugee Day with multi-cultural food, music and entertainment. Metro residents can learn about the local refugee communities and how to develop stronger relationships with their new neighbors. The theme of  the event is “Building Bridges.”

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Clarkston Community Center, 3701 College Ave. in Clarkston.

Georgia is home to at least 60,000 refugees, according to the International Rescue Committee.

A coalition of several groups and agencies that work with refugees are sponsoring the event. Those groups include Refugee Family Services, the Center for Pan Asian Community Services and World Relief .

June 15, 2011

6/15 – – Mexico, several other countries seek to halt Georgia’s new anti-illegal immigration law |

Mexico, several other countries seek to halt Georgia’s new anti-illegal immigration law  |


Georgia Politics 8:35 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Anti-Defamation League, Mexico and the governments of several Central and South American countries filed court papers Wednesday in support of efforts to halt Georgia’s tough new immigration enforcement law.

The other countries joining on the side of those seeking a preliminary injunction in the case include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and several other civil and immigrant rights groups filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Georgia’s law this month and are now asking a judge to halt the measure pending the outcome of their case. They argue the measure – also known as House Bill 87 – is preempted by federal law and is unconstitutional.

“HB 87 substantially and inappropriately burdens the consistent country to country relations between Mexico and the United States of America,” Mexico says in its brief in support of halting the law, “interfering with the strategic diplomatic interests of the two countries and encouraging an imminent threat of state-sanctioned bias or discrimination.”

State officials filed court papers this week seeking to dismiss the lawsuit. They say the law is constitutional and predict it will survive the court challenge. Proponents say the state needed to act to curb illegal immigration because the federal government has failed to secure the nation’s borders. Illegal immigrants, say supporters of Georgia’s new law, are burdening the state’s taxpayer-funded resources, including public schools, jails and hospitals.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash has set the first hearing in the case for 10 a.m. Monday. He indicated he might rule from the bench that day on the plaintiffs’ request to halt the law.

Similar to a law Arizona enacted last year, Georgia’s measure empowers police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects. It punishes people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in Georgia or use fake identification to get a job here. And it requires many businesses to use the federal E-Verify program to ensure their newly hired workers are eligible to work in the United States. Much of the law is scheduled to start taking effect on July 1.

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