4/27/2008 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Rally for Justice for Paul and Mary
  • March for Immigrant Rights
  • Next Step in the Fight for Free Speech
  • A Different Take on the Bell Case
  • Citizenship Rule Costs States Millions but Nets Few
  • ICE Deports US Citizens
  • Perfectly Legal Immigrants, Until they Applied for Citizenship

RALLY FOR JUSTICE FOR PAUL AND MARY

Thursday, May 1
Meet at Walker Church at 3:45 to 4:00 p.m.
3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
Carpool to Newport, MN City Hall
Rally at 4:45 p.m. at 596 7th Ave, Newport, MN

Paul Hansen is a CUAPB board member. He and his significant other, Mary, have dealt with outrageous harassment by the Newport police chief for the last three years. This harassment has included denial of services by police while being harassed by a neighbor (who appeared to be in cahoots with the chief and who repeatedly attempted to poison their beloved dog, illegally shined a spotlight into their bedroom window nightly for months, and engaged in other actions). In the most recent incident, Paul entered his garage to find the police chief rooting through the family's belongings without a warrant. The trouble all seems to have started after Paul, with evidence of corruption on the part of the city administration, took a stand by running for city council. One member of the city administration told Paul, "we will make your life a living hell" and they have used Newport police to do exactly that.

Paul and Mary go to court in June and harassment of the family has really stepped up in recent weeks. We will protest in front of the town hall in Newport prior to their city council meeting to send a strong message that this family has support and the harassment must cease. Protests in small communities are generally quite effective as they are such an unusual occurrence and draw quite a bit of attention. If past experiences are any indication, we will probably have people stop to tell us about their own bad experiences at the hands of the local police.

PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS RALLY and send a strong message that police harassment in support of cronyism and corruption must stop. We will meet at the Walker Church between 3:45 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. and will take the 45 minute ride together to Newport. Afterwards, we will share some refreshments before returning to Walker Church.


MARCH FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

May 1, 2:00 p.m.
Corner of Robert & Kellogg, St. Paul

Organized by a large number of groups that make up the May 1 Coalition, this march will demand an end to raids and legalization for all. These are important demands that will remove one of the excuses police have for brutalizing and terrorizing people of color. Go to the kick-off rally and then leave to join us for the Rally for Justice for Paul and Mary (see above). For more info, call 651-389-9174.


NEXT STEP IN THE FIGHT FOR FREE SPEECH

Minneapolis City Council's
PS&RS Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 7
1:00 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall
350 S 5th Street, Rm 317

This past week the Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee of the Minneapolis city council heard a report from City Attorney Lisa Needham on a resolution designed to seriously clamp down on free speech by requiring permits even for events on sidewalks that don't block vehicle or pedestrian traffic, that allows the police chief to decide who gets these permits (with no means of appeal), and that allows cops to change the terms of the permit right up to and even during the event. While listening to her presentation, it became clear that the city is looking for ways to severely limit free speech without incurring any liability for doing so. During the hearing, a nice-sized group of community members held up protest signs pointing out the more egregious aspects of the proposal. Since the meeting is both simulcast and rebroadcast, plenty of folks in Minneapolis will be exposed to the foolishness this committee is up to and the community's protest against it.

After Needham's presentation, council members briskly discussed the proposal, with Cam Gordon and Gary Schiff taking on it's main proponent, Paul Ostrow. Perhaps taking a cue from one of our signs, Schiff asked Ostrow, "what is the problem this proposal is trying to solve?" Cam Gordon pointed out some of the many flaws with the proposal. As he stumbled to reply, it became clear from Ostrow's response that he is pushing this thing at the behest of someone else--the question is who (and why). At one point, Ostrow tried to defend the work of the Free Speech Working Group by claiming they had sought community input. This caused ripples of laughter throughout council chambers as we all remembered how hard he and city manager Jane Khalifa tried to prevent us from even finding out about the meetings. Ostrow scolded us for being "disrespectful."

Ostrow announced that at the May 7 PS&RS meeting they would hear from various "public safety officials" including the police and fire chiefs. Intriguingly, he also said they might hear from "members of the community" but we know that can't be true since they would have to announce a public hearing two weeks in advance. Still, we need to be there on May 7 to see what their next shenanigans will be and to let our opinions be known, even if we must do it silently with our signs.


A DIFFERENT TAKE ON THE BELL CASE

By now, most people have heard that the three NYPD cops who slaughtered Sean Bell and maimed his two friends--all unarmed--in a hail of 50 bullets were acquitted in a bench trial. Various pundits and politicos, including one Barack Obama, have urged people to "respect the decision." This article points out the flaws in the decision and shows why these calls to respect it are just plain wrong.

It’s Our Duty to Protest Bell Decision
by Errol Louis
April 26, 2008
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/26/8538/

It was a disaster that leaves a large swath of the population with the sense that the odds are rigged against them, the cops are out of control, and the courts are no place to look for justice.

It didn’t have to be that way.

Sitting in the front row of the courtroom as the verdict was read, I was amazed at how Cooperman gave the case a narrow reading that mentioned the flaws and inconsistencies of the prosecution case, but ignored the gaping holes in the defense version of what happened outside the Kalua that fateful night in 2006.

The detectives’ defense depended on the notion that they identified themselves as officers, ordered Bell and his companions to surrender, and reacted when Bell tried to drive away.

But the lieutenant in charge of the operation testified that he never heard his companions ID themselves, and the first outside officers to arrive on the scene testified that they didn’t see the detectives wearing badges. Cooperman gave no indication the inconsistencies mattered.

Cooperman also skipped any mention of whether the level of deadly force applied--dozens of shots fired at unarmed men who committed no crime--made any difference.

If all three officers on trial had done what Detective Michael Oliver did: ­ empty their clips, reload and fire again ­ nearly 100 bullets would have flown. Would that be considered reckless?

I pray we never have to find out.

The next act in this drama will be a series of demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. They will be designed to make the whole city feel the deep unease and smoldering anger now felt by the Bell family and its supporters in the civil rights community.

It’s not an idle threat. Twenty years ago, in demonstrations called Days of Outrage, Sharpton and a surprisingly small band of nonviolent protesters shut down the Brooklyn Bridge and brought the subway system to a standstill simply by jumping down on the tracks at strategically-selected stations.

A repeat of that campaign--call them the Cooperman Campaign--would horribly inconvenience Gotham and draw national attention.

It would also illustrate what George Orwell called “the moral dilemma that is presented to the weak in a world governed by the strong: Break the rules, or perish.”

People should not have to paralyze the city to make everyone see that police actions in the Bell case ­ whether viewed as a crime or horrible blunder ­ cannot be excused as “just one of those things.”

In this case, they must.

We have not heard Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Raymond Kelly or anyone else lay out a clear, convincing, detailed plan for ensuring there will be no more situations in which undercover officers rush up on unarmed, innocent people and unleash deadly force as if they’re in a war zone.

Sharpton and other protesters should nonviolently raise hell until we do. Protest in the face of unacceptable conditions is as patriotic as singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” on the Fourth of July.

And while many will heap scorn and gleeful contempt on demonstrators, the protesters should do what any patriot would if someone tries to drown them out during the national anthem.

Sing louder.

© Copyright 2008 NYDailyNews.com


ARE YOU AN AMERICAN? PROVE IT

A citizenship rule costs states millions but nets few illegals.
By Barbara Basler for AARP Bulletin, March 2008

Bernice Todd's Choctaw family roots are sunk deep in the soil of Oklahoma, a state whose very name is Choctaw for "red people." But in the middle of a debilitating battle with cancer, Todd, a 39-year-old who cleans homes at a trailer park and baby-sits for a living, lost her state Medicaid health care coverage because, although she's a Native American, she could not prove she is a U.S. citizen.

While Todd's case is rich in irony, she is one of tens of thousands of Americans who are falling victim to a new federal rule­-aimed at keeping illegal immigrants off the Medicaid rolls­--requiring that recipients prove their citizenship and identity with documents many don't have.

In today's troubled economy, when more and more people find their jobs and thus their health coverage in jeopardy, access to Medicaid for those who are eligible is a key concern, experts say.

"Even though I'm eligible for Medicaid and my family has been here forever, they had to drop me," says Todd, who lives in Ardmore, Okla., where her grandparents settled decades ago. "I just got a bill for $11,000. When I feel a bit better I'm going after those [citizenship] papers. But this is just one thing I didn't need right now."

States have always been required to check a Medicaid applicant’s eligibility, which includes citizenship. But a July 2006 rule, enforced by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), now demands specific documents as proof, such as a passport or a birth certificate, driver's license or military record. States face fines if they don't comply.

The rule, which neither CMS nor the Bush administration requested, was adopted by the Republican-dominated Congress in 2005 despite the fact that there was no evidence that undocumented immigrants were falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to get Medicaid.


ICE DEPORTS US CITIZENS

mtaylor@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON -- A top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official acknowledged Wednesday that his agency has mistakenly detained U.S. citizens as illegal immigrants, but he denied that his agency has widespread problems with deporting the wrong people.

Gary Mead, ICE's deputy director of detention and removal operations, testified during a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing that U.S. citizens have been detained on ''extremely'' rare occasions, but he blamed the mix-ups on conflicting information from the detainees.

Nonetheless, Mead said his agency is reviewing its handling of people who claim to be U.S. citizens ``to determine if even greater safeguards can be put in place.''

The testimony before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law came after immigration advocates told McClatchy that they'd seen a small but growing number of cases of U.S. citizens who've been mistakenly detained and sometimes deported by ICE. They accuse agents of ignoring valid assertions of citizenship in the rush to deport more illegal immigrants.

Unlike suspects charged in criminal courts, detainees accused of immigration violations don't have a right to an attorney, and three-quarters of them represent themselves.

Last month, Thomas Warziniack, a U.S. citizen who was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, was mistakenly detained for weeks in an Arizona immigration facility and told that he was going to be deported to Russia.

Warziniack, 40, was released after his family, who learned about his predicament from a McClatchy reporter, produced his birth certificate.

In another high-profile example, ICE agents in California mistakenly deported Pedro Guzman, a mentally disabled U.S. citizen, to Mexico. Guzman was found months later when he tried to return to the United States.

Mead contended that both Warziniack and Guzman said they were illegal immigrants, and he said ICE agents have to be careful not to release the wrong people.

Guzman and Warziniack had been serving time for minor offenses when their jailers turned them over to immigration authorities.

Although Mead said that Guzman is the only U.S. citizen he knows who's been deported erroneously, immigration lawyers have said they've found at least seven others.

In the past four years, ICE agents have detained more than 1 million people.

House committee members also heard stories of ICE agents interrogating or detaining U.S. citizens in their homes, at their workplaces and on the street.

Marie Justeen Mancha, a 17-year-old born in Texas, said ICE agents raided her family's home in Georgia in 2006 while her mother was running an errand. Her mother is also a U.S. citizen.

Mancha is one of five U.S. citizens named in a pending lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center that alleges wrongful interrogations or detentions by ICE in southeast Georgia.

Rep. Steven King, R-Iowa, the ranking minority member of the committee, described the cases as isolated and urged the agency not to be distracted from detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.

''ICE does not aim to harass and detain U.S. citizens,'' he said.

But Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the committee, said that after hearing such stories, she feared an "overzealous government is interrogating, detaining and deporting its own citizens."

Nancy Morawetz, who runs an immigration rights clinic at New York University, said getting proof of citizenship is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for detainees, especially when they're shipped to a facility far from home.

In 2006, the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit organization, identified 125 people in immigration detention centers who immigration lawyers believed had valid U.S. citizenship claims.


PERFECTLY LEGAL IMMIGRANTS, UNTIL THEY APPLIED FOR CITIZENSHIP

By JULIA PRESTON
April 12, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/12/us/12naturalize.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5087&em&en=ec43756b934ad7f3&ex=1208232000

SELINSGROVE, Pa. ­ Dr. Pedro Servano always believed that his journey from his native Philippines to the life of a community doctor in Pennsylvania would lead to American citizenship.

But the doctor, who has tended to patients here in the Susquehanna Valley for more than a decade, is instead battling a deportation order along with his wife.

The Servanos are among a growing group of legal immigrants who reach for the prize and permanence of citizenship, only to run afoul of highly technical immigration statutes that carry the severe penalty of expulsion from the country. For the Servanos, the problem has been a legal hitch involving their marital status when they came from the Philippines some 25 years ago.

Largely overlooked in the charged debate over illegal immigration, many of these are long-term legal immigrants in the United States who were confident of success when they applied for naturalization, and would have continued to live here legally had they not sought to become citizens.

As applications for naturalization have surged, overburdened federal examiners, under pressure to make quick decisions and also weed out any security risks, prefer to err on the side of rejection, immigration lawyers and independent researchers said. In 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12 percent of those presented.

In the last 12 years, denial rates have been consistently higher than at any time since the 1920s.

Though precise figures are not available, an increasing number of these denials involve immigrants who believed they were in good legal standing, according to lawyers and researchers. Under the law, a number of grounds for naturalization denial can lead to an order of deportation, and appeals are more limited than in criminal cases.

“It’s no wonder there are so many illegal immigrants,” said Brad Darnell, an electrical engineer from Canada living in California who applied for citizenship but is also now fighting deportation. “The legal method is so intolerant and confusing.”

A legal immigrant since 1991, Mr. Darnell is married to an American and has two American-born sons. But after he presented his naturalization application last year, Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizen ­ or even to continue living in the United States.

Since 1996, when an immigration law overhaul first brought intensified scrutiny of citizenship applications, at least 85,000 naturalizations have been turned down each year.

The record year was 2000, when 399,670 applications were denied, one-third of those presented, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization. More recent denial rates remain high, but have fallen from the peak because more immigrants have prepared with civics classes and immigrant advocates before applying to become citizens, researchers said.

In three recent cases in Florida, aspiring citizens thought their green cards entitled them to vote or register to vote before they were sworn in as Americans. When the immigrants reported their elections activities on their applications, not only were their naturalizations rejected, but they were also ordered to leave the country, according to their lawyer, Jeffrey Brauwerman.

In a current Florida case, a British-born businessman saw his naturalization derailed and was detained for deportation because he forgot to update his home address with the immigration agency, Mr. Brauwerman said. He was charged with ignoring a notice in which immigration examiners mistakenly accused him of a felony he had never committed.

In a case that drew Congressional attention this year in Illinois, Marin Turcinovic, an immigrant from Croatia, was twice denied citizenship because he did not show up at the immigration office to be fingerprinted. As his lawyer explained to no avail, Mr. Turcinovic was a quadriplegic, dependent on a ventilator and unable to leave his home.

Mr. Turcinovic died in April 2004 without becoming a citizen, creating an immigration crisis for his French widow, Corina, who had taken care of him. In January Representative Daniel Lipinski, Democrat of Illinois, presented a bill that halted her deportation.

Immigration officials say denials have increased in the last decade because naturalization applications are increasing. They note that approvals are rising as well. In 1996 naturalizations soared for the first time to more than one million, and they remained above 450,000 each year through 2007.

“Whenever we see a period when large numbers decide to apply, there tend to be larger numbers of people who are not ready or might not meet the requirements,” said Chris Rhatigan, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Officials said the majority of denials went to applicants who failed a required civics and English language test or fell short of residency requirements. Those immigrants generally can try again.

But as the case of the Servano family illustrates, some denials come as a shock to both the applicants and the communities they call home.

Dr. Servano’s mother, five siblings and eight of his wife’s siblings became naturalized citizens, including one brother and two brothers-in-law who made careers in the Navy. His four children are Americans by virtue of being born here. He has been a legal immigrant in the United States for 25 years.

Following an outcry from neighbors, patients and local officials, Department of Homeland Security officials in December temporarily suspended the Servanos’ deportation. The Servanos and their supporters, including Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, are using the unusual reprieve to pursue new legal efforts to resolve the couple’s case.

For the federal government and for many Americans, naturalizations ­ the legal process by which legal immigrants become citizens ­ are a measure of immigrants’ willingness to join the society and embrace its civic values.

To become a citizen, a legal permanent resident must have lived in the United States more or less continuously for five years, or three years for the spouse of a citizen. The immigrant must demonstrate good moral character and allegiance to the Constitution, and pass a test of English ability and civics. Since 2002, citizenship applicants also undergo an extensive background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Applicants fail the moral character standard if they have been convicted of certain sex, drug or gambling charges or are “habitual drunkards.” They also can fail if they give “false testimony,” a term immigration lawyers say is subject to broad interpretation.

Dr. Servano and his wife, Salvacion, lived for years in the United States with no inkling they might have violated the law. They met in the Philippines when she was a nurse and he was a young traveling doctor. Her strict father insisted she marry, they said, but his family wanted him to wait.

In the early 1980s, their mothers came separately to the United States as legal immigrants and petitioned for residence visas, known as green cards, for Pedro and Salvacion under the category of unmarried children. But between the time the visas were requested and when they were issued in 1985, Pedro and Salvacion, hoping to escape conflicting parental demands, secretly married in the Philippines.

Unaware that their marriage could have violated the terms of their green cards, the Servanos settled in the United States. He completed a second medical residency here and began to practice in blue-collar towns where he made house calls and was known for attention to everyday ills. He and Salvacion married in New Jersey in 1987. They renewed their green cards punctually.

“My goal is to be fully functional and integrated into the society,” Dr. Servano said. They presented their 1991 naturalization applications without seeking a lawyer.

Immigration inspectors reviewing their applications discovered a record of their Philippine marriage. Accused of lying, they were ordered deported. In years of immigration court appeals, the Servanos had no opportunity to present broader evidence of their character, their lawyers said.

People in Selinsgrove and nearby Sunbury, Susquehanna Valley towns where Dr. Servano practices, were surprised to hear in October that the couple had received a final order with a November date for their deportation. Aside from his medical work, he and his wife had bought two blighted buildings on the square in Sunbury, refurbishing them with apartments and offices. Mrs. Servano opened a store, selling lottery tickets, homemade Filipino bread and DVDs in Tagalog, a Philippine language.

In November, more than 100 residents gathered in the Sunbury square for a candlelight vigil on behalf of the Servanos. Thousands of Filipinos in the United States have signed petitions supporting them.

“The fact that they want to displace and get rid of people we here feel are exceptionally good citizens quite frankly just doesn’t make any sense,” said Mayor Jesse C. Woodring of Sunbury.

The Servanos, huddled on the couch in their home in a Selinsgrove development, seemed numb at the prospect of returning to the Philippines.

“I live here, so I like America now,” Mrs. Servano said. “For 25 years we’ve been here; we didn’t even visit the Philippines. So it’s really hard.”

Their son, Peter, 16, an American, expressed his siblings’ anguish about being forced to separate either from their parents or from the only home they know.

“I want to stay here because all my friends are here, and I’ve grown up here, so it would be hard to leave,” Peter said. “But it would be hard not to go.”

Michael Gilhooly, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles deportations, said the Servanos’ removal had been suspended based on new information from Mr. Specter about their humanitarian role. Other immigration officials said the Servanos could recover their legal status by applying for new green cards as parents of citizen children.


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