Morning News, 6/9/11

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1. New effort to protect immigrants
2. Judge won't dismiss claims
3. Report: skill level shift
4. Latino grocers worry
5. Group files suit in GA

New Effort to Protect Immigrants From Tricks
By Julia Preston
The New York Times, June 9, 2011

Immigration officials are teaming up with federal and state prosecutors, the Federal Trade Commission, lawyers’ groups and immigrant advocate organizations in a new nationwide effort to combat an epidemic of schemes by people posing as immigration lawyers.

The campaign, which will begin in Washington on Thursday, is an effort by the Obama administration to step up one form of assistance to immigrant communities, which have intensified their criticism of President Obama as they have faced a record pace of deportations in the last two years.

Officials say this is the first time a crackdown on fake immigration lawyers has been coordinated broadly among federal and state agencies and local immigrant aid organizations. Federal appeals courts in New York, California and other regions with major immigrant populations have been deluged with cases of immigrants who sought legal status through the courts, but ended up in labyrinths leading to deportation because of incompetent or fraudulent lawyers.

The effort involves a blitz of advertising to alert immigrants on how to recognize fake lawyers and consultants, and an effort by prosecutors to bring criminal cases to serve as examples. A program by the immigration court system will expand the number of local nonprofit organizations trained and certified to provide basic legal services to immigrants.

The initiative is led by Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency whose director, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, is a former federal prosecutor in California. In that position, Mr. Mayorkas said in an interview, he had brought a number of cases against people illegally practicing immigration law. He said it was “heartbreaking” to learn, when he came to the agency in Washington, that the problem had not abated.

Since January of last year, the immigration agency has tested the program in pilots in New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio and four other cities.
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Judge won't dismiss claims in RI detainee suit
By Ian MacDougall
The Associated Press, June 8, 2011

A federal judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss most claims against several U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in a lawsuit that alleges mistreatment of an ICE detainee held at a Rhode Island jail.

Judge William E. Smith ruled in U.S. District Court in Providence that there was enough support for the claims against the seven ICE officials that they should not be thrown out completely. He didn't issue a decision on the dismissal of a count alleging the detainee, Hiu Lui Ng, was wrongfully imprisoned because one of the officials failed to conduct a complete custody review.

Ng, known as Jason, died of advanced liver cancer in August 2008 after spending months at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Centrals Falls. His cancer was not diagnosed until days before he died, and a federal lawsuit brought by his widow accuses Wyatt staff, the ICE officials and others of medically neglecting Ng, a Chinese computer engineer from New York who was detained for overstaying a visa.

The allegations against the ICE officials center primarily on events surrounding Ng's transport from the Rhode Island jail took to an ICE facility in Hartford, Conn., days before his death. During that trip, the lawsuit contends, Ng suffered serious injury, including severe bruising, while being dragged to and from a jail van.
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Report documents dramatic shift in immigrant workforce’s skill level
By Tara Bahrampour

Highly skilled temporary and permanent immigrants in the United States now outnumber lower-skilled ones, marking a dramatic shift in the foreign-born workforce that could have profound political and economic implications in the national debate over immigration.

This shift in America’s immigration population, based on census data, is summarized in a report released Thursday by the Brookings Institution. It found that 30 percent of the country’s working-age immigrants, regardless of legal status, have at least a bachelor’s degree, while 28 percent lack a high school diploma.

The shift had been in the works for the past three decades, a period that has seen a dramatic increase in the population born outside the United States. But in 2007 the percentage of highly skilled workers overtook that of lower-skilled workers.

The trend reflects a fundamental change in the structure and demands of the U.S. economy, which in the past decades transformed from an economy driven by manufacturing to one driven by information and technology. The report also offers a new perspective on the national immigration discourse, which tends to fixate on low-skilled, and often illegal, workers.

“Too often the immigration debate is driven by images on television of people jumping over fences,” said Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, an immigrant advocacy organization. “The debate has been stuck in the idea that it’s all about illegal and low-skilled workers.”

Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that advocates for tighter immigration restrictions, said the report raises other concerns.

“It seems, based on this and other studies, that we’ve got an oversupply of highly skilled workers coming into this country,” he said, adding that the study’s findings were not surprising. “New college graduates are faring very poorly on the labor market, and what the report is telling us is that we’re bringing in a high number of workers to compete with them.”

The study based its findings on the 2009 American Community Survey, administered by the Census Bureau, as well as data from the bureau’s Current Population Survey that date from 1980.
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As Customers Flee, Latino Grocers Worry
By Orlando Montoya
GPB, June 8, 2011

Businesses catering to Hispanics are fearing for their futures as they watch their customer base flee.

Georgia's new immigration law is having effects beyond illegal immigrants and the industries where they work.

Business owners catering to a Latino market say, many of their customers are fleeing the state, leaving them with silent cash registers.

Maria Benitez says, sales at her grocery and restaurant in Southeast Georgia's Evans County have dropped in half since April.

"We're thinking that if things continue like this, we might close up shop in a month or two," Benitez says in Spanish. "In these two months, sales have fallen dramatically."

Benitez says, she's operated her businesses for about eight years, paying state and local taxes.

Proponents of tougher immigration laws say, such losses are more than offset by the burdens lifted from underfunded schools and hospitals.

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies says, it's not surprising that such small shops are closing.

"Those businesses whose business model is based on serving illegal immigrants are going to suffer when we start enforcing the law," Krikorian says. "They are profiting from illegal activity."
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Civil liberties groups seek to halt Ga. immigration law
By Kate Brumback
The Associated Press, June 8, 2011

Civil liberties groups on Wednesday filed a request urging a federal judge to block Georgia’s crackdown on illegal immigration from taking effect until a pending legal challenge is resolved.

The groups asked the judge to block the law until a lawsuit they filed last week is resolved. That suit claims the new law violates state and federal law but did not initially include a request for an injunction.

The lawsuit names Gov. Nathan Deal and other state officials as defendants.

The law authorizes law enforcement to check the immigration status of a suspect who cannot provide accepted identification.
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