Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Note: IRN and other National Network posts are at


1. Republican Herald: Demonstrators rally outside courthouse. Demonstrations at the Schuylkill County Courthouse on Monday morning briefly interrupted court proceedings, incited several verbal clashes and honored a Shenandoah murder victim’s fiancee.


2. Denver Post: Evacuees' immigration status won't be checked


3. Ottawa Citizen [Canada]: Arar blame game continues


4. New York Times “Upfront”: Are Illegal [sic] Immigrants Good for the U.S. Economy?




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Republican Herald


Demonstrators rally outside courthouse

Demonstrations at the Schuylkill County Courthouse on Monday morning briefly interrupted court proceedings, incited several verbal clashes and honored a Shenandoah murder victim’s fiancee.






Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 10:14 AM EDT


Demonstrations at the Schuylkill County Courthouse on Monday morning briefly interrupted court proceedings, incited several verbal clashes and honored a Shenandoah murder victim’s fiancee.


More than 40 activists, who arrived about 9 a.m., supporting immigration and civil rights chanted and carried banners outside while a preliminary hearing for three Shenandoah teens charged in the July 14 death of an illegal Mexican immigrant was under way within.  <a href="">Watch the demonstration</a>

Brandon J. Piekarsky, 16; Colin J. Walsh, 17, and Derrick M. Donchak, 18, were facing a preliminary hearing for the beating death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, 25, of Shenandoah. Ramirez died July 14 from injuries he suffered in a beating July 12.

As the demonstrators chanted in Spanish, Magisterial District Judge Anthony J. Kilker recessed the hearing at 9:50 a.m. because of the noise. He asked the sheriff’s department to control the situation.

“So we asked them to keep it down so the hearing could continue,” Schuylkill County interim Sheriff Harold J. Rowan said.

Emma Lozano, executive director of Centro Sin Fronteras, Chicago, Ill., said, “Our goal was not to stop the preliminary hearing, but to show support to Crystal (Dillman, Ramirez’s fiancee) and to make a statement against hate crimes. So we did quiet down so they could continue.”

The hearing resumed after about five minutes.

“There were a couple in-your-face arguments, but there were no altercations,” said Schuylkill County Sheriff’s Deputy Maj. Dennis Kane, who patrolled the parking lot during the demonstrations.

“They’re peaceful. We anticipated something like this happening and we had no problems,” Rowan said.

Members of Somos Latinas 100 and Centro Sin Fronteras, both of Chicago, Ill., the New York-based May 1 Coalition and Pittsburgh Friends of Immigrants said Ramirez’s death sparked their visits.

Just after noon, Dillman met with the demonstrators. Somos Latinas 100 presented her with a monetary donation, one of their flags and a round of applause. The group would not release the amount of the donation.

“Thank you,” Dillman said, after being applauded by the group.

“She’s a white woman who had the courage to say (Ramirez) was a human being,” Lozano said.

The demonstrations angered a few other visitors to the courthouse, including Ron Hannivig, Simpson, Lackawanna County, and Debby Rabold, Effort, Monroe County, who said they were concerned about illegal immigration.

“We are in support of the Shenandoah boys,” Rabold said.

“What I’m seeing here, I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. If there’s a standoff here, it’s going to get ugly,” Hannivig said.

Ceci Wheeler, a member of Pittsburgh Friends of Immigrants, represented her group Monday at the courthouse. She said she’s shocked some people aren’t recognizing Ramirez’s beating as a crime.

“That’s inhumane. That’s intolerable and we hope the judges serve justice,” she said.

“We’re not here to judge the youth,” said Lozano. “We’re here to say that the real criminals that caused this situation are not even on trial: those who created this situation that manipulated young people and other people into thinking they have to fear the Latino community, that it’s an invasion and all of this other stuff. And people are starting to believe that.”

While members of the May 1 Coalition carried banners, Somos Latinas 100 was fronted by a contingent of 15 women, ages 14 to 27. They dressed in black, wore identical fuchsia-colored berets and marched in time.

Representatives of Somos Latinas 100 would not identify themselves by name, since the organization is about unity and members want to avoid having one individual stand out from the rest.

“They’re at war against the hate crimes and racial profiling,” Lozano said.

Four male representatives of Somos Latinas 100 carried the flags of Mexico, El Salvador and Puerto Rico.

When asked why they didn’t fly an American flag as well, a 21-year-old Somos Latinas representative said: “It wasn’t a matter of not being patriotic. It was about uniting people of Latino decent for the Latina campaign.”

The May 1 Coalition was formed after millions of people marched on May 1, 2006, in Los Angeles and New York City for basic rights for all immigrants, according to member Arturo Perez, New York.

The group speaks out against Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, calling the raids a violation of basic civil rights.

Members left New York at 3 a.m. Monday to drive to Pottsville.

Outside the courthouse, members carried signs reading, “Justicia para el Mexicano Luis Ramirez asesinado en Shenandoah” — “Justice for Mexican Immigrant Luis Ramirez killed in Shenandoah.”

Heather Cottin, 65, of Long Island, is a white woman and a history teacher at a community college in Long Island. She’s also a member of the May 1 Coalition.

“It’s not as if this is the latest news — racism. Unfortunately it’s in the history of this country,” Cottin said. “If you can’t potentially love all human beings, then what do you have here?”

She said the U.S. immigration and trade systems are broken and legalized government immigration raids are making it worse.

“It’s really a government policy right now to stir up hatred against immigrants,” she said.

Mike Gimbel, a delegate to the New York City Central Labor Council, called deportations “vicious bigoted attacks.”

Gimbel, a Pennsylvania native living in the Poconos, said real change is needed in rural areas.

“The big efforts have to take place in a rural community like this...” Gimbel said. “The city is more sympathetic to the labor movement.”

“We want to unify people of all nationalities, colors and genders. Without unity we can’t fight for our rights,” Gimbel said.

Wheeler said the Ramirez case prompted Pittsburgh Friends of Immigrants to attend and stand up for all immigrants who have experienced hardship.

“We are all advocates for immigrants’ rights ... So anything that happens to members of our immigrant community, we’re going to be there,” Wheeler said.

Also standing outside were Mickey and Dottie Redmond, Ringtown. They said their 17-year-old son was a witness in the case, but they couldn’t get into Courtroom 5 because it was overcrowded.

“I hope they send it to juvenile court, at least,” Mickey Redmond said.

About 12:20 p.m., many demonstrators for the Latino community departed, marching clockwise from the courthouse entrance just off Sanderson Street, south on North 2nd Street to a charter bus, waiting on Laurel Boulevard.

Lozano said demonstrators from Somos Latinas 100 and Centro Sin Fronteras were heading to Philadelphia.



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Denver Post


Evacuees' immigration status won't be checked


Article Last Updated: 09/09/2008 07:36:20 PM MDT


MCALLEN, Texas Texas emergency officials Tuesday stood ready to order 1 million people to evacuate from the impoverished Rio Grande Valley and tried to convince tens of thousands of illegal immigrants that they have less to fear from the Border Patrol than from Hurricane Ike.

Emergency planning officials were meeting all day to decide whether and when to announce a mandatory evacuation for coastal counties close to the Mexican border.

Authorities lined up nearly 1,000 buses in case they are needed to move out the many poor and elderly without cars.

Federal authorities gave assurances that they would not check the immigration status of evacuees at loading zones or inland checkpoints. But residents were skeptical, and there were concerns that many illegal immigrants would refuse to board buses and go to shelters for fear of getting arrested and deported.



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Ottawa Citizen


Wednesday » September 10 » 2008


Arar blame game continues

Former commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli was unconvincing in his recent attempt to assure Canadians that the RCMP were not responsible for Maher Arar's ordeal


by Gar Pardy

Ottawa Citizen Special

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Former Royal Canadian Mounted Police commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli watches a change-of-command ceremony for new commissioner William Elliott. Mr. Zaccardelli was commissioner throughout the years of the Maher Arar affair.

Former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli returned to public attention last week with a pathetic explanation of his understanding of the events surrounding Maher Arar. With bravado bordering on bathos, the former commissioner sidestepped any personal responsibility for what happened.

Instead he off-loaded responsibility to the Americans and indirectly suggested that CSIS was equally to blame. And to show that epiphanies can be as real today as they were 2,000 years ago, the former commissioner also came down against the use of Tasers by the national police force.

Mr. Zaccardelli, speaking from the comfort of his post-retirement job with INTERPOL in Lyon, France, staged his public re-manifestation with an interview with CBC's Peter Mansbridge. Mr. Mansbridge, with more gravitas than the Pope, gently questioned Mr Zaccardelli, providing a cosy forum in which he attempted to muddle the issues involved more thoroughly than he was able to do during his testimony before a Commons committee in September and December 2006. It was that misleading and erroneous testimony that prompted his early resignation and retirement.

The role of the media is one of the most troublesome and unsettled issues in the tragedy of Maher Arar. Today to see the national broadcaster being used in this way demonstrates that six years later very little has been learned and very little has been accomplished.

As well, a few days ago the RCMP let it be known that they were winding down their investigation into media leaks, as they were unable to come to any conclusions as to who was responsible. It was these disastrous leaks that surrounded Mr. Arar while he was in a Syrian prison and continued to be made long after he returned to Canada.

It is likely also that soon the RCMP will probably wind down a second investigation into whether or not Canadian officials were criminally responsible in any way for his treatment at the hands of the Syrians. If ever there was a case of the cats investigating the mice it was these two investigations by the RCMP. They offer no confidence whatsoever that the results are to be believed or trusted or that the investigations were assiduously done.

In the meantime the former commissioner, without being effectively challenged by Mr. Mansbridge, promoted the ideas that Mr. Arar was only a "person of interest" to the RCMP, that the Americans may have had additional information of their own, that the Americans were unique in "throwing away the rule book" and by innuendo that CSIS was part of the problem due to the "clear friction and disagreement" with the RCMP.

There is no evidence to support such ideas either in the O'Connor report or in the thousands of pages of testimony on which it was based. Their repetition two years after the fact is an exercise in rewriting history that even the Soviets in their heyday would have taken some pride.

Mr. Arar may have been a person of interest because of his association with others but during the early days of the RCMP investigation and during the year he was in Syria, he was also described officially by the force as being part of "a group of Islamic Extremist individuals suspected of being linked to the Al Queda terrorist movement," and that description was provided to the Americans. It was that description that found its way into the American deportation document without the qualifier that he was "suspected." Equally erroneously, Dr. Monia Mazigh, Mr. Arar's wife, was similarly labelled both to Canadian Customs and to the Americans.

Later in June of 2003 the RCMP (and CSIS) stated that "Mr. Arar was a subject of a national security investigation." As Justice Dennis O'Connor succinctly wrote "He was not." For Mr. Zaccardelli to state that he was only "a person of interest" is completely contrary to the detailed and documented evidence.

There is no evidence that the Americans had information concerning Mr. Arar other than what was provided by the RCMP. In April 2001 Mr. Arar travelled to the United States and subsequently the Americans renewed his permission to work in the United States. It would have been highly unlikely that the Americans would have done so if there was any suspicion of him dating from the 18 months he worked in Boston. In the aftermath of the O'Connor inquiry, no less a person than the minister of public safety stated that he had seen the American file on Mr. Arar and there was nothing there that supported the way he had been treated by the Americans.

Mr. Zaccardelli's emphasis that the Americans were unique in throwing away the rule book does not stand up to close scrutiny either. There is ample evidence in the O'Connor report to conclude that the rule book was also thrown away by the RCMP. Unfortunately they were abetted by political leaders of both major parties who were perfectly willing to see the erosion of fundamental safeguards in the fictitious war on terrorism and to provide both the RCMP and CSIS with new powers that diminished the protections available to individuals.

Mr. Zaccardelli's comments concerning CSIS have a large déjà vu component. Not so many years ago when CSIS was formed from the body of the RCMP Security Service there were years of acrimony and tension between the two institutions. The commissioner at the time along with other senior officers went out of their way to undermine and diminish the new security organization and it is not a stretch, as others have noted, to suggest that this contributed to the bombing of Air India 182 and the deaths of 329 persons.

Throughout the years of the Arar tragedy, Mr. Zaccardelli was the commissioner of the RCMP. As reports and inquiries have consistently stated there are serious and fundamental issues and problems with policing and security work in Canada and it is evident that Mr. Zaccardelli did little to improve matters during his six years in office. His recent efforts to place the blame on others must be ignored. Already there is an emerging script that there is little that needs to change. Unfortunately with that approach it will not be long before we have another disaster within the Canadian body politic.

Gar Pardy retired from the foreign service in 2003 and provided testimony at the Arar and other inquiries. He comments on public policy issues from Ottawa.




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New York Times “Upfront”


Are Illegal Immigrants Good for the U.S. Economy?

There are currently 12 million people living in the United States illegally



Undocumented immigrants contribute to our economy as workers, taxpayers, and consumers. They account for 5 percent of the total U.S. labor force, and at least a quarter of the workers in industries like construction, agriculture, groundskeeping, meat processing, and textile production.

All undocumented immigrants pay sales and property taxes, and—contrary to popular belief—most pay federal and state income taxes as well, even though they're not eligible for Social Security, Medicare, or the many other programs their tax dollars help fund. Undocumented immigrants also spend billions of dollars each year, which supports our economy and helps create new jobs.

A 2006 study by the Texas State Comptroller estimated that the 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas alone added almost $18 billion to the state's economic output, and more than paid for the $1.2 billion in state services they used by generating $1.6 billion in new state revenues.

The contributions of undocumented immigrants would be even greater if they were able to earn legal status. Workers who are not part of an underground economy and don't live in fear of deportation are better able to acquire new job skills and move up the career ladder. That translates into higher wages, more money paid in taxes, and more money to spend.

Undocumented immigration is a symptom of an immigration system that is broken. Lawmakers should revamp our immigration system so that it works with our economy, not against it.

Walter Ewing
Immigration Policy Center



In purely economic terms, illegal immigration is harmful because it floods our 21st-century economy with 19th-century-style low-skilled workers.

Almost 60 percent of adult illegal immigrants lack a high school education. That's more than nine times the rate among native-born Americans.

This has three consequences. First, it means big costs for taxpayers. Workers with little education don't earn much money, so they pay little in taxes and use a lot of government services.

For example, half of Mexican immigrant families use at least one welfare program. It's not a question of laziness; it's just that the average high school dropout cannot support a family in a modern society like ours without government assistance, no matter how many jobs he or she has.

The second problem is that it reduces the wages of low-skilled Americans. As we flood the market for entry-level jobseekers, they lose the ability to demand higher salaries. Research shows that illegal immigration has cut the earnings of poor Americans by 7 percent, and even forced some out of the job market.

Finally, by keeping wages lower, illegal immigration takes away much of the incentive to invest in labor-saving technologies that make workers more productive, thus slowing the innovation that's needed for continued economic vitality and competitiveness.

What worked for our country 100 years ago is no longer helpful. Cutting illegal immigration levels is vital to ensure broad-based economic prosperity in the future.

Mark Krikorian

Center for Immigration Studies (


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