Thursday, December 3, 2009

Immigration News Roundup - 12/3/2009

1. Transborder Immigrant Tool: If you are going to cross la frontera mojado, don't forget your celular! And make it a Motorola. Ricardo Dominguez, a professor of visual arts at UC San Diego, has developed an app which he calls the "Transborder Immigrant Tool" for those phones. An estimated 3,861 to 5,607 people have died trying to cross the border over the last 15 years, according to a report released in October and produced by the American Civil Liberties Union and Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights."The primary goal of the tool", which operates on the same principle as the GPS, "is to offer those crossing a way not to die," Dominguez said. Dominguez said he would like to include the location of Border Angels water stations and other information that would help illegal immigrants stay safe. Working with fellow academics, Dominguez said he has been able to install the application on inexpensive Motorola phones. Eventually, he said, he would like to distribute the application free through the Internet to be installed on different kinds of phones.

2. The 2009 Scrooge Award?: From the Houston Chronicle (11/30/2009): "They don't claim to know who's been naughty or nice, but some Houston charities are asking whether children are in the country legally before giving them toys. In a year when more families than ever have asked for help, several programs providing Christmas gifts for needy children require at least one member of the household to be a U.S. citizen. Others ask for proof of income or rely on churches and schools to suggest recipients. The Salvation Army and a charity affiliated with the Houston Fire Department are among those that consider immigration status, asking for birth certificates or Social Security cards for the children..."

Predictably, pro-immigrant activists went ballistic and picket lines went up at various Salvation Army locations around the country. Shouts of "discrimination" rang out in blogsphere. And, guess what? The Salvation Army heard you loud and clear. After a half-hearted attempt to defend its policy of requesting Social Security numbers, according to yesterday's San Jose Mercury-News: "The Salvation Army says it will no longer ask for a parent's social security number before giving Christmas toys to children at some local branches. Juan Alanis, a spokesman for the Salvation Army's Houston branch, says the charity changed its policy Wednesday following a protest by Hispanic immigrants in Los Angeles. Alanis says the Christian organization never wanted to give the appearance of discrimination based on legal status and decided to not require a social security number to register for its Angel Tree program..."

3. Report Finds Illegal Immigration Has Negligible Impact on U.S. Economy: Illegal immigration's overall impact on the U.S. economy is negligible, despite clear benefits for employers and unauthorized immigrants and slightly depressed wages for low-skilled native workers, according to a report, The Economics and Policy of Illegal Immigration in the United States, authored by UC-San Diego Professor of Economics Gordon Hanson. In the report, Hanson argues that the largest economic gains from illegal immigration flow to unauthorized workers, who see very substantial income gains after migrating. U.S. employers also gain from lower labor costs and the ability to use their land, capital and technology more productively. Small losses are felt, however, by native-born low-skilled workers who compete with unauthorized immigrants.

"Illegal immigration produces a tiny net gain to the U.S. economy after subtracting U.S.-born workers' losses from U.S. employers' gains," said Hanson, who is Director of the Center on Pacific Economies at UC-San Diego. "And if we account for the small fiscal burden that unauthorized immigrants impose, the overall economic benefit is close enough to zero to be essentially a wash." But policy can help to convert illegal to legal flows, increasing the positive contribution that low-skilled workers could make to the U.S. economy. A more constructive immigration policy, Hanson suggests, would aim to generate maximum productivity gains to the U.S. economy while limiting the fiscal cost and keeping enforcement spending contained. He recommends a policy redesign that provides sufficient legal channels, fluctuating with economic needs, for entry of low-skilled workers while maintaining reasonable immigration enforcement.

4. Mass criminal immigration hearings unlawful: Immigrants who have been arrested in zero-tolerance zones along the Mexican border must not be tried at mass criminal immigration hearings because the proceedings violate federal rules, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. A three-judge panel with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that a federal court in Tucson, Ariz. — where mass hearings have been held for defendants arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents — had violated Rule 11, which requires that each defendant be read their rights and be given an explanation of what a guilty plea means....

Photo: Ricardo Dominguez and transborder immigrant tool

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