85 days

That’s not anywhere near the record.  But it’s how long a U.S. citizen was kept out of the country after being deported.  He lost his job in the meantime.

The article notes this isn’t the first such case:

U.S. immigration officials have faced scrutiny in recent years over allegations that they have deported U.S. citizens, including a high-profile case of a mentally disabled Los Angeles man [Pedro Guzman] who was lost for months in Mexico in 2007.

Estimates of the number of U.S. citizens deported from the U.S. vary widely, and such statistics are not officially tracked by U.S. immigration officials, who recently adopted guidelines designed to prevent such deportations.

As reported early, in April 2009 the AP documented 55 cases of erroneous deportation.  An immigration official claimed that in 2007 there was only one erroneous deportation.  But nobody is keeping track.

‘Citizenship in sight, but then she voted’

Immigrant says registering, then casting ballot were innocent errors, not reason for deportation

Chicago Tribune – Monday, December 3, 2007
by Antonio Olivo, Tribune staff reporter

Beth Keathley was so close to becoming a permanent U.S. resident that she could already feel its benefits showering over her: a Social Security number, a cheery new house in central Illinois, an official state identification card. Citizenship would not be far behind.

On the day the Filipino immigrant took part in her first U.S. election last year, she proudly sported an “I voted” lapel pin on her uniform when she showed up for her cleaning shift at a hospital.

But Keathley, who has lived in the U.S. on a marriage visa since 2003, was not a citizen when she voted. When she told an immigration officer about it, she was charged with breaking the law. She lost her job.

It could derail her citizenship, and unless a judge rules in her favor, she could eventually be deported — uprooting a family that includes her 9-month-old daughter, Sheina.

Keathley’s alleged crime — one that trips up hundreds of immigrants each year — took place at the secretary of state’s facility in Bloomington, where a clerk invited her to register to vote as part of the “motor voter” program.

Immigration laws prohibit non-citizens from registering to vote.

But Keathley said the clerk saw her Filipino passport as part of the application for the state identification card. She figured that if a state employee offered her the opportunity to register, it must be all right.

The state says its employees are prohibited by federal law from seeking confirmation of citizenship before registering people to vote.

And federal officials say the question on the registration form that asks applicants to affirm they are citizens is clear enough. Intentional voter fraud is a real problem, they say, and they have to enforce the laws.

There are no records kept to accurately reflect the size of the problem. But immigration attorneys around the country have seen a steady increase in recent years of deportation cases and declined citizenship due to illegal voting, said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, a Chicago attorney who is the immediate past president of the Washington-based American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Before the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “motor voter” law, registration took place before a sworn elections official, usually inside a local election board office or voting precinct — places hard to find for even native-born citizens.

Easier to register

Today, in addition to voter registration materials being available at driver’s license facilities and other public agencies, “you can literally be registered while walking down the street,” Tapia-Ruano said, referring to volunteers with clipboards full of mail-in forms meant to boost voter turnout.

“You didn’t see these cases as much before because it was harder; people had to take more steps,” she said. “Now it’s easier to register to vote. But the downside is people are getting innocently trapped in this situation.”

By the time a flood of political pamphlets came in the mail last year, Keathley was settling into her new life in Bloomington.

It was a far cry from the mostly rural Philippine island of Mindanao, where she worked as a machine operator for a microchip maker that paid her the equivalent of $4 a day. Her impressions of America came from urban television dramas.

“I said: ‘Oh, I thought there were no trees in America,'” Keathley recalled, after arriving in Bloomington with her husband, John. “And the snow. It caught me by surprise.”

Before long, Keathley was handling the household bills and shopping for a new house with her husband, a customer service agent at a home improvement store. Keathley was issued a work permit and found a $9-an-hour cleaning job at a hospital.

Then she went to get her ID card and ended up registering to vote. The form shows she checked a box indicating she was a citizen; she said she does not remember doing it.

Under a federal anti-discrimination law, state workers aren’t allowed to confirm an applicant’s citizenship before processing a voter registration form, said Beth Kaufman, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office.

“Our job is to ask whether you want to register to vote, and if the person says ‘yes,’ we give them a sheet to sign from the board of elections that says: ‘Are you a citizen of the United States?’ and you check that box ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and you sign it,” Kaufman said. “We are not allowed to ask anything else.”

Some immigrants, confused, leave the question unanswered and still receive voter registration cards, Tapia-Ruano said.

Others knowingly engage in voter fraud, in some cases participating in multiple elections, said Marilu Cabrera, a Chicago spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“It’s very important to understand that if you have a green card, you are not eligible to vote,” Cabrera said, adding that her agency comes across such problems after every election and reviews them on a case-by-case basis. “More often than not, we’ll deny the [citizenship] case, but they’re not put into [deportation] proceedings. If someone shows a clear intent to lie and commit fraud, then, absolutely, they’ll be put into proceedings.”

The Keathleys’ attorney, Richard Hanus, contends that federal immigration law doesn’t consider the possibility that such actions are done by mistake. He hopes to convince a judge that Keathley is of good moral character.

“We’re talking about a family unit with a child and a woman with no previous criminal behavior whatsoever who has followed immigration laws to the T,” Hanus said. “What took place is, at worst, an innocent mistake and not an act that was done in any malicious way.”

Her pin said, ‘I voted’

Keathley said she got the first hint of trouble at work.

In her sixth month of pregnancy, Keathley arrived at the hospital after voting. A co-worker, also from the Philippines, who knew of her immigrant status noticed Keathley’s “I voted” pin and said: “Oh, Beth, you’re in trouble now.”

Keathley rushed home that night to inform her husband. Both shrugged off their doubts and prepared for her citizenship interview.

Inside a federal immigration office in Chicago, Keathley said, a government official chuckled in disbelief when she said she had voted. The official ended the interview.

Keathley cried during most of the three-hour trip home, she said.

Immigration authorities will not comment on the specifics of Keathley’s case.

It will be reviewed by a federal judge next year. While in legal limbo, Keathley has been forced to quit working and lost her medical insurance.

She and her husband are weighing what they will do if she is deported. Besides Sheina, her husband’s daughter from a previous marriage, Veronica, 11, is in the picture.

Her husband said the experience has hardened his views on immigration, making him resent those who are here illegally.

“Here we jumped through all the hoops … and we get slammed,” he said. “We’ve done everything the right way.”

Keathley lies awake at night filled with remorse.

“I think about how this affects us financially and how we have a baby. I’m losing my job, and we don’t have enough to eat,” she confided, during a moment when her husband was out of the room. “John says, ‘Just don’t think about it.’

“I don’t know. I want this life.”

Market forces

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about the “food dispute” between longtime Flushing residents and Asian grocery stores.  Funny, because I know a lot of longtime Asian Flushing residents.  Seriously, Chinese people have been in Flushing for at least thirty years.  But I guess they don’t count as “real” longtime residents.

“Most of the supermarkets in the area are Asian markets and all they have is just one single aisle of food for us,” said Rosa Febles, 50 years old, who has lived in Flushing for four decades. “We feel a little left out.”

Interestingly enough, Febles’ family immigrated from Cuba.

I noticed one of the Korean grocery stores here has an aisle sign that reads “American foods” in Chinese and Korean.  So I feel her pain.  Uh huh.  And when I asked at another grocery store what happened to the Pringles, the manager explained, “This is a European grocery store.”  (I will note that Pringles have since made a reappearance, which caused me to tell him, “Apparently Europeans eat Pringles too.”)

Good old-fashioned American capitalist market forces prevailed in that case.  What about in Flushing?

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What it is

‘I did not do this,’ state worker says about list:  State worker implicated in creating illegal immigrant list identified:

A computer specialist in the Utah Department of Workforce Services is under investigation in the compiling and distributing of a list of 1,300 Utahns purported to be in the country illegally.Teresa Bassett, 58, is one of two state employees whom authorities have focused on, a government source confirmed.

A spike in bias crimes in Staten Island:

Since April, Latinos have been the victims of seven robberies or attacks in Port Richmond that police have classified as bias crimes. That compares with one hate crime during the same time period last year.

Arrests have been made in three of the cases. In one, a grand jury indicted four teenagers on multiple felony charges for a brutal April 5 beating but declined to include the hate-crime charges despite a police report alleging they said, “You are a [expletive] Mexican, we are going to beat you up.”

The numbers reflect a spike in bias-crime figures across Staten Island—21 so far this year, compared with nine during the same period last year—but authorities say that only in Port Richmond are all the victims Latino and the attacks close in vicinity to one another.

Arizona immigration law tints neighborhood dispute:

Had Arizona’s governor not just signed the toughest law against illegal immigrants in the nation, the killing of Juan Varela probably would have been written off as just a tragic neighborhood dispute.

The 44-year-old U.S. citizen was watering chile plants in his front yard when a neighbor confronted him and shot him to death, according to police documents.

Varela’s brother, Antonio, told police that the neighbor, Gary Kelley, who is white, called Juan Varela by an ethnic slur and said he had to “go back to Mexico” now that Gov. Jan Brewer had signed SB 1070. The family campaigned to publicize the death, culminating with the county prosecutor’s decision last month to add a hate-crime allegation to the second-degree murder charges filed against Kelley.

Attention all brown folks

Remember that teen who announced over a store PA that all black people should leave immediately?  Arizona just made the announcement for brown folks:

The bill, known as SB 1070, makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person’s immigration status.

It passed the House and the Senate and I would expect that the governor will sign it. Because that’s just the way she is. But there’s more!

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A “Chinatown man.”
A “Vietnamese immigrant.”
An “immigrant from Vietnam.”

His name was Man K. Wong, but he went by Mike. According to news reports, he was an IT professional, the manager of a computer company, a 29-year-old married man with many family members and friends. He arrived in the U.S. almost 20 years ago, attended high school and college, made his life.

On Sunday evening, a drunk driver took his life.


Edited to add: If you came here from a blog called “Rexie Maximus,” be advised that several sections of a post called “Racism on the Internet” were directly lifted from a post here called “Internet Racism.”  I commented on it here.

I saw this image used as a click-through button from the Evan B. Donaldson site.  (I was reading the article about identity formation in adopted persons.)   Apparently Spence-Chapin (an adoption agency) uses this as their Facebook logo as well.

How can people be so clueless?

Edited to add:  Sang-Shil over at the Land of the Not-So-Calm reports that Spence-Chapin has replaced their racist Facebook logo. But it’s still on the Donaldson site.

The browning of disease

Part IV.  Links to I, II, and III can be found here.

So I went to the library, and saw that in a couple of places there are signs indicating that if your kids are sick, you should keep them home.  Which is all well and good.  Except the picture on the sign is that of a sick-looking Asian kid.

The CDC’s H1N1 informational site also has a picture of a sick-looking Asian girl.  As well as a brown family.  And there were two pictures in the newspaper recently illustrating stories about H1N1.  An Asian woman holding vaccine vials.  And Asian kids getting inoculated by Asian health care workers.

I’m off to cough on folks at the library again.  Back later.