Cuentos Inmigrantes: June 24, 2011
Cuentos Inmigrantes is a collection of immigration news and views, from there to here and back
New guidelines may have helped mom and daughter in deportation case
New deportation guidelines may have played a part in a decision by immigration agents to release a Mountain View mother and daughter who were scheduled to be deported to India last Wednesday. A lawyer filed an emergency request to hold the deportation but it was denied 30 minutes later by an immigration board of appeals in Virginia. The two were released by immigration agents despite the board decision.
The UC Davis premedical student, 20-year-old Mandeep Chahai and her mom have worn electronic monitoring bracelets since her mom was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents last year, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Lawyers say the mom may have received poor legal representation during her asylum hearing. Chahai is an honors student who has lived in the Bay Area since she was six, and says she didn’t know she was undocumented until a few years ago when her mother applied for political asylum.
Santa Clara lawyer Kalpana Peddibhotla, who filed the emergency request, said Director of Immigration Enforcement John Morton released new guidelines June 17. One of those guidelines is that federal agents can use prosecutorial discretion when immigrants are not considered a priority for deportation. According to Morton’s memo, among those who deserve special consideration are college students who came to the U.S. as children.
Push to close child labor laws
There’s a new push to reform child labor laws in the fields where an estimated 400,000 children work. Actor and activist Eva Longoria and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) announced a new effort to change child labor laws for farm workers. Longoria recently produced “The Harvest/La Cosecha,” which examines the lives of child migrant laborers. The film will be released in July. Roybal-Allard plans to reintroduce HR 3564, The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment, better known as the CARE act to close loopholes.
“Agriculture is the only industry governed by labor laws that allow children as young as 12 to work with virtually no restrictions on the number of hours they spend in the fields outside of the school day,” Congresswoman Roybal-Allard said. The bill would raise the minimum work age for farm workers to 14 and raise the age they can do hazardous work to 18, which is the same as all other industries. Under the current law employers can hire children as young as 12 to work the fields for as long as 10 to 12 hours in often extreme heat. Restrictions on how much children can work outside of school does not apply. The newer bill will level the playing field, Roybal-Allard told the Prospect, so that children working on farms “would have the same rights and protections as all other children who work in this country.”
Norma Flores López director of Children in the Fields campaign, which is part of the Association of Farm Worker Opportunities Program, was a child farm worker herself. “Starting at the young age of 12, I worked in the fields alongside my family. I worked to help my family survive, often until my hands were so swollen that I could not hold a pencil at school. “ She was interviewed Friday on Radio Bilingue.
Pulitzer Prize winner is undocumented
Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas admitted he is an undocumented immigrant in a piece published in the New York Times. San Francisco Chronicle editor-at-large Phil Bronstein, who once hired Vargas to work at the Chronicle, wrote that he felt “duped.” Vargas, wrote Bronstein, “lied to me and everyone else he worked for, and that’s not kosher, especially in a profession where facts and more elusively, the truth are considered valuable commodities.” He continued, “There's no way to tell for sure when immigration laws themselves are a hopeless jumble of unenforced, unenforceable or just plain unaddressed issues covering 11 million people. The most visible are Latino day laborers, but the Vargas confession may also open those gnarly closet doors for high-achieving white collar professionals.” Vargas was working at the Washington Post when he won the Pulitzer for his coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre. He initially approached the Post to publish his story about being undocumented, but the paper decided against it. Vargas says he made the announcement because of the current immigration debate, particularly the Dream Act. He is founder of Define American, which according to the website, seeks to bring new voices into the conversation on immigration reform.