Cuentos Inmigrantes: February 8, 2011

El Tahrir Square, Downtown, Cairo. Flickr photo by Ahmad Hammoud.

Cuentos Inmigrantes is a weekly collection of immigration news and views, from there to here and back

A Southern California woman and her son trying to escape Egypt faced two days of delays because of immigration officials who wanted to send her back to her country, according to the Orange County Register. Samaa Kerba is a permanent U.S. resident believed to be on the No Fly list. The ACLU suspects she was put on the list because of her late husband, who went to Somalia to further his “religious education.” She was eventually allowed to return to the U.S. Today, in Egypt, the largest crowd to date flocked to Tahir Square where Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who issued a call to action and ignited the revolt, spoke before an estimated 250,000 people.

The Board of Immigration Appeals has narrowed the grounds for deportation, modifying its much-criticized interpretation of immigration law. A federal appellate court chastised the BIA last Thursday for preventing noncitizens from reopening their cases from outside the U.S. The ruling, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, disagreed with the government’s view that immigration judges and the BIA lack jurisdiction over such cases. "The ruling is a win for fair administration and better interpretation of our immigration laws,” said Legal Action Center  staff attorney Emily Creighton, who co-authored the amicus brief with LAC senior staff attorney Mary Kenney. The Feb. 3 ruling involved Vakhtang Pruidze, a green card-holder from Russia who was removed from the U.S because of a minor offense in Michigan. Less than two weeks later the criminal court vacated his conviction. He then tried to reopen his case but the BIA refused to consider it because he was already outside the country.

In an earlier blog we told you about Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, the Mexican reporter seeking asylum in the U.S. along with his teenage son. This week he won a reprieve — of sorts. The Texas Tribune reports that his asylum case has been postponed until 2012.

The Washington Post reports that lawmakers who vowed to enact legislation copying Arizona’s tough — some say draconian — immigration measure, SB1070, are now taking a second look. In the nine months since Arizona’s measure was signed into law, copycat bills in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah, have met considerable opposition from constituents worried about the social and economic impacts on their states. Ann Morse, program director with the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Post that "the interest level is still there, but states are looking at the implications."

Meanwhile, in California, freshman Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, (San Bernardino county in Southern California) and founder of the largest Minutemen chapter in the state, is proposing a California version of SB1070 called AB26. The proposal calls for an end to “sanctuary cities”; would require all employers to use E-Verify, a program that allows employers to check whether a worker is eligible to work in the U.S.; and requires local police to check the immigration status of people they stop and suspect of being in the country without papers.

And in New Mexico, hundreds of people rallied at the Capitol to push back against hard-line immigration policies being put in place by the first Latina to be elected governor in the nation. Governor Susana Martínez (R) has signed an executive order that rescinds New Mexico’s sanctuary status for undocumented immigrants. The order directs police to inquire about someone’s legal status when making arrests but not when they are crime victims. The order ends a statewide sanctuary policy instituted by former Governor Bill Richardson (D). Martínez is also making it a priority to revoke the driver’s licenses of undocumented immigrants and wants the state to instead issue driver permits. Almost 83,000 people could be affected. Martínez is a former Democrat. She’s also a favorite of Tea Party supporters.