Illegal immigration into California drops as border crossings shift to Texas

Posted on 20. Oct, 2017 by .


Undocumented immigrants are shunning California in favor of Texas, with the Lone Star State’s undocumented population growing nearly five times as fast as California’s, new federal data show.

About 2.9 million undocumented immigrants lived in California during 2014, according to new estimates from the Department of Homeland Security.

The undocumented population in California grew steadily from 2000 to 2008, dropped sharply during the 2007 recession, rose again and remained essentially flat from 2011 to 2014.

Overall, California’s unauthorized immigrant population grew by 16 percent from 2000 through 2014.

The undocumented population in Texas, by comparison, grew by 75 percent from 2000 through 2014. Texas was home to about 1.9 million undocumented residents in 2014.

 A few factors explain the trend. The federal government beefed up enforcement near San Diego during a controversial, mid-1990s program called Operation Gatekeeper. The operation, along with the high cost of living in much of California, pushed illegal immigration to weaker points east along the border. In 2015, the Border Patrol apprehended almost six times as many immigrants at the Texas border as they did at the California border.
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Posted on 13. Oct, 2017 by .


Taken from Newsweek.com –

More than 2.3 million undocumented immigrants in California are now officially protected under a new state sanctuary law.

Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday signed the California Values Act, which bars police departments from detaining people based on their immigration status and prevents immigrants from being delivered to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers unless they are convicted of certain felonies and misdemeanors.

The policy also will limit the amount of personal information federal immigration officials can access on undocumented immigrants. Senate Bill 54, which has been criticized by President Donald Trump and is seen by many as a direct challenge to his recent crackdown on illegal immigration, will go into force on January 1.

The bill’s main sponsor, Senate President Kevin de León, praised the timing of the bill, stating it was needed in the climate of what he described as Trump’s “mass deportation strategy,” The Hill reported. He said California was “building a wall” against Trump, a nod to the president’s repeated, but unrealized, promise to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S.

California currently has at least 35 cities that have sanctuary status, with several facing off with the federal government over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s attempts to block sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds. Sessions also spoke out against Senate Bill 54, calling it “unconscionable.”

In a statement during the bill signing, Brown said, “These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day,” ABC News reported.

“This bill protects public safety and people who come to California to work hard and make this state a better place,” he added.

The latest version of the measure allows federal immigration authorities to go into jails to question undocumented immigrants and to work with California correctional officials. The California Police Chiefs Association changed its position on the issue, from opposed to neutral, after those changes.

Roughly 2.3 million undocumented immigrants live in California, the largest population in the nation, compared with other states. Critics say more undocumented immigrants could now move to California to seek protection.

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Immigration Fears Exacerbate Migrant Farmworker Shortage

Posted on 07. Oct, 2017 by .


Taken from NPR.org –

On a recent, perfect morning at Johnson Farms in northern Michigan, workers climb wooden ladders high up into the trees, picking bags strapped across their bodies. The branches are heavy with fruit that glows in the morning sun. Their fingers are a blur, nimbly plucking fruit and filling bushel bags: about 50 pounds per load. It’s hard, sweaty work.

Apple season was just getting underway on Old Mission Peninsula, a finger of land poking into Lake Michigan, dotted with lush farms.

The pickers range in age from 21 to 65, and all of them are Mexican. As in the rest of the U.S., growers in heavily agricultural northern Michigan rely overwhelmingly on migrant laborers to work the fields and orchards.

According to the farm owners, the workers either came from Mexico on temporary H2A visas or they have paperwork showing they are in the U.S. legally.

Farmers from Georgia to California say they have a problem: not enough workers to harvest their crops.

It’s estimated anywhere from half to three-quarters of farmworkers are in this country illegally, and some growers say that President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has made a chronic worker shortage even worse.

Johnson Farms’ owner, Dean Johnson, 67, says it’s just about impossible to find Americans to do this work. “We’ve tried. We really have,” he says. “Sometimes people come out on a day like today and they’ll pick one box, and then they’re gone. They just don’t want to do it.”

“It’s really sad,” adds Johnson’s daughter, Heatherlyn Johnson Reamer, 44, who manages the farm. “They’ll come, they’ll check it out, and usually they’re gone within a day or two.”

What’s behind the farmworker shortage?

For one, a stronger U.S. economy is driving many seasonal workers into better-paying, year-round work, like construction.

“There’s a huge need in the trades,” Reamer says, “especially when we have natural disasters like we’ve seen these last few years with the hurricanes and everything. And we’ve actually lost workers who said, ‘Hey, I got a job. I’m gonna go work for this construction company in Florida.’ And they would leave.”

Another factor: The children of migrants are upwardly mobile and are leaving the fields behind. Many are going to college and finding better work opportunities in professions outside agriculture.

Add to that Trump’s crackdown on immigration, which many growers complain is crimping their labor supply. “As we all know, there’s a pretty good number of workers in this country illegally,” Dean Johnson says. “They’re scared. Those people don’t want to travel anymore. They’re in Florida and Texas. They won’t come up from Mexico.”

“There wouldn’t be food”

Johnson says even though Trump’s aggressive stance on immigration hurts him as a grower, he did vote for him last November. “I was in favor of change,” he says. “There’s other things involved, besides the immigration issues.”

His daughter, Heatherlyn, disagrees. “I was actually very disappointed that Michigan voted for [Trump],” she says. “We need someone who supports agriculture, someone who supports diversity in this country.”

The president’s talk about building the border wall leaves her cold: “When we heard that, I said, ‘You can’t say things like that.’ There are so many migrant workers in this country. You just wonder, do you really see who your population is?”

Without migrant workers to pick the crops, Reamer says, “There wouldn’t be food. It’s just as simple as that.” She mentions Michigan’s asparagus crop of 2016, which had to be mowed under because there weren’t enough workers to pick it.

Looking around her orchard, Reamer says, “The one thing the population doesn’t understand, for farmers like us — without the migrant labor, this doesn’t happen. You won’t have apples in your supermarkets; they just won’t get picked. Because, unfortunately, the average Joe in the United States doesn’t want to go out and do this job for 10 hours a day.”

Because of the farm labor shortage, many farms across the country are relying more heavily on workers from Mexico, brought in through the H2A temporary visa program. The workers earn $12.75 an hour, at minimum, plus transportation and housing.

Farmers complain that the program is cumbersome. There’s a lot of red tape, with multiple federal agencies involved, and it’s expensive: It can cost about $2,000 in fees for each worker they bring in. But the growers need the help. Nationwide, the H2A program has grown by 81 percent over the past five years.

Workers are afraid and “nobody wants to come”

Across Grand Traverse Bay, a migrant worker named Marcelino — who asks that we not use his last name because he fears being deported — is at home in the trailer he shares with his two daughters and his wife, Leticia, who is busy making tortillas for dinner.

Marcelino and Leticia are both undocumented; they work side-by-side in the fields. Their daughters are U.S. citizens, born in Michigan.

Marcelino tells me he grew up in the Mexican state of Guerrero. “My home is in the rural, rural place,” he says, a village of 20 homes, so small it doesn’t even have a name.

He crossed the border illegally in 1989, when he was just 14, to work in the fields. He has lived in this country ever since.

In the winter, the family lives in Florida, where Marcelino and his wife pick oranges.

Come March, they head north to Michigan for field work — cherries, grapes and apples. The girls switch schools, back and forth.

Marcelino has been making the trip for 28 years now. In the past, he says, migrant families would drive north in a long caravan, seven or eight vehicles, all filled with workers. Now, he says, “Nobody wants to come.” They’re too afraid, Marcelino says, and he’s fearful, too. His friends in Florida tell him he’s crazy to make the trip, but he needs the work, and, he says, he doesn’t want fear to rule his life.

Asked what he would say to people who argue that the U.S. is a nation of laws, and that undocumented workers are taking jobs away from Americans, Marcelino says:

“I’d tell them, come work with us, and if you like the work, and if you produce as much as we do, then here is your job.”

He notes that one of his bosses tells him he would need to hire 10 people to do the work he does.

Looking ahead, Marcelino dreams of a better life for his daughters, who have a boost up as American citizens. One wants to be a police officer; the other, a surgeon.

He warns his girls: Pay attention in school and study hard, or else you could end up like us, coming home from the fields, all dirty and stinky.

He pushes them, he says, because “I want them to be better than us.”

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Amicus Brief Update

Posted on 01. Oct, 2017 by .


Click here for new version of the brief

Click here to read Law 360’s coverage of the Brief

Message regarding Amicus Brief to Franciscans for Justice:

I am very happy to share with you the amicus brief we filed at the United States Supreme Court recently to express the opposition of yours and 38 other faith-based, interfaith and interreligious organizations to the Executive Order banning entrance to our country by the nationals of six predominantly Muslim nations and all refugees. As you will see by paging through the statements of interest in the opening pages of the brief, this effort brought together a broad array of voices from many religious perspectives to make a powerful and united statement of opposition to the policies implemented by the Executive Order.  I think you will enjoy reading the coverage of our brief that appeared in Law 360, an online legal publication, which is attached as well.

It has been an honor and a privilege for Morrison & Foerster to represent you in opposing this ban. We hope to be of similar service in the future.




Senior Pro Bono Counsel | Morrison & Foerster LLP


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SOA Watch Border Encuentro

Posted on 01. Oct, 2017 by .


From SOA Watch:

From November 10-12, after 26 years of protest at the gates of Ft. Benning to call for a closure of the notorious School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation – WHINSEC), human rights activists, torture survivors, anti-war veterans, students, families, union workers, artists and educators will converge in Eloy-Tucson-Ambos Nogales for the SOA Watch Border EncuentroRegister HERE!


We are excited to announce just a few of the confirmed speakers and performers who will join us at the US/Mexico border to challenge US imperialism and racism. As a grassroots movement, we seek to uplift the voices of those most directly impacted by state violence and to inspire resistance to the racist US policies forcing migration and threatening our migrant and immigrant communities.


For this year’s Encuentro, we are working to ensure that activists and artists from across the Americas join us on stage and in forums. Help us honor and recognize their work to share stories, transform trauma, and nourish resistance by making a donation to support their participation in the 2017 Border Encuentro!



Contact Candice for any questions about donations.

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