Is Justin Bieber An Example of Immigration Laws that “Discriminate”?


Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber has recently drawn attention to himself due to an arrest and release in Miami Beach, Fla. While fans pledge their unconditional support, others have created petitions urging the Obama administration to deport Bieber. Still others urge the attention to be shifted from the celebrity to other immigrants who face deportation due to “lesser offences.” In this podcast immigration attorney Paula Joachin who practices law in the city of San Diego, Calif., explains why this celebrity case is an example of what Milli Atkinson of Centro de Ayuda Legal Para Inmigrantes referred to as laws that “are written to really discriminate against Mexico and Central America,” in October of 2013 as a part of The Conversation on Immigration Reform.

On Sunday, January 23, 2014, Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest without violence and driving with an expired driver’s license in Miami Beach, Fla. Since the day of his arrest, several petitions have been created on the website We the People seeking supporting signatures in a petition to the Obama Administration asking to both deport and protect Bieber from deportation.

One petition in particular seeks to “Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card” on the grounds that “he is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth.” The goal of the petition was to receive 100,000 signatures, as of Wednesday, January 29, 2014; the petition had 170, 973 supporting signatures.

The American Civil Liberties Union has published a brief article titled “What Justin Bieber’s Arrest Would Mean for Another Non-Citizen.” Through this article, they urge readers that “While the media is focused on what will happen to Bieber, let’s instead focus on what will happen to all of the other immigrants who are detained and deported for lesser offenses than his.” According to Joachin during the Obama administration, the amount of immigrants who have been put into detention for being undocumented, without a prior history of violation of laws, “sky rocketed.”

Joachin remains hopeful that a “comprehensive and holistic” immigration reform will pass. “We want the legalization of the people who are already here, whose only offense is a civil one, and that is entering the U.S. without ‘proper documents.’”




The Desert Angels


The Desert Angels are a non-profit, humanitarian group of volunteers, based out of San Diego, Calif. They conduct search and rescue missions of lost people in the desert areas near the United States and Mexico border. Rafael Larraenza is the organization’s director. He has helped in not only finding undocumented immigrants who become lost in their journey to the United States, but also in recovering bodies of those who have lost their lives along the way.

More from Larraenza on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in regards to the proposed immigration reform.




Not all Supporters of Immigration Reform Support Guest Worker Programs


In a recent anonymous survey conducted by NatyRockdriguez.com, results demonstrate that while Californian’s who participated may be in favor of immigration reform, not all are in favor of guest worker programs. Social media conversations through Facebook and Twitter shed light on the fact that not all supporters are aware that the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, S. 744, includes guest worker programs.

Immigration Reform Survey Results

Infographic by Natalie Rodriguez

While the majority of participants in the survey are have never been undocumented, the majority have family members who are either currently undocumented or who have been. All are in favor of immigration reform; agree that a reform would strengthen the economy, and that that the reform should be a priority.

When asked about what makes an immigration reform plan comprehensive, some of the more popular responses included: taking into account family unity, length of time in the country, criminal backgrounds, and equal opportunities for all.

Responses on guest worker programs as a part of the reform showed concerned for the families of the workers and the workers themselves. One anonymous response was “I feel the guest worker program should not be included because what would happen if workers find someone here in the states and then form a family, would the government then separate families just like what’s happening currently?” In a Twitter conversation, one response was that “It’s the problem of people overstaying and becoming undocumented in the process.”

This week, President Obama has once again called on the House to pass a reform before the end of the year and encouraged the public to petition. FWD.us, the pro-reform organization, lead by technology industry leaders, continues hosting events and social media campaigns in support. The survey will remain open until the end of the year as the conversation on immigration reform continues.




Immigration Reform Survey


Immigration reform continues to gain momentum with the government reopening, however there is still much debate not only in regards to whether or not there should be an immigration reform, but also in regards to what makes a reform plan comprehensive. President Obama has urged House Republicans to support a reform plan before the end of 2013 and during the government shutdown the House Democrats introduced an immigration reform plan on October 2, 2013. Mark Zuckerberg’s organization FWD.us recently announced that in collaboration with LinkedIn and its founder Reid Hoffman, it will be hosting a DREAMer Hackathon in which undocumented students will work hand in had with top Silicon Valley programmers in an effort to draw attention to the need for Immigration Reform. Meanwhile, political movements such as Yo Soy 132 Bay Area and By Any Means Necessary  (BAMN) continue to take action in marches asking Obama to end deportations and demand full citizenship rights for all.

According to the Pew Research Center, California is the state with the largest population of undocumented immigrants. This survey is an opportunity for you to express your thoughts and opinions on immigration reform and what makes a plan comprehensive or not. Where do you fall in the immigration reform debate, and would an immigration reform affect you?

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey on immigration reform. Your insight will be compiled into an article in which any questions and concerns that arise will also be addressed. Stay tuned for more on immigration reform at NatyRockdriguez.com.




Milli Atkinson: Immigration Attorney for CALI


Milli Atkinson of Centro de Ayuda Legal para Inmigrantes (CALI) from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Milli Atkinson is an Immigration Attorney for the Centro de Ayuda Legal para Inmigrantes, CALI, who believes that although the proposed immigration reform S. 744 is not perfect, it is a start to give undocumented immigrants an option to legalize their status in the United States. To her, the idea of having an open border is unrealistic, yet she believes that “we created a system that businesses welcome [undocumented immigrants] and then the government turns a blind eye, and then we’ve kind of created our own problems.”

Through her career as an immigration lawyer Atkinson has been able to reunite families who had not seen each other in up to ten years as well a work in removal defense. Through Governor Jerry Brown’s recent signing of AB 60 and the Trust Act in California, she believes that undocumented immigrants will be more whiling to collaborate with law enforcement when they are victims of crimes and be less likely to become involved in deportation procedures. According to Atksinson, “a lot of people got caught up in the deportation process just for stupid things and some times even when they weren’t charged with anything.” Being able to drive legally in the state will change that for some of the more than two million undocumented immigrants in California.

Atkinson obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Pepperdine University in accounting in the year 2000. In 2003 she obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. In 2009 she began practicing full time immigration law through a private practice. Four years later, in February of 2013 she became CALI’s lead attorney.

Before becoming a full time immigration lawyer Atkinson was working in finance and volunteering and interning part time in immigration law. She interned at the International Rescue Committee and the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

It was learning about human trafficking and international human rights that led to her interest in immigration law. While interning at non-profits, she learned about U-Visas, which are specifically for victims of human trafficking and other crimes. She found immigration law to be rewarding and personal. “You kind of get involved in someone’s entire family and their life history, in their story in a way that other areas of the law is not.” Originally, Atkinson wanted to be a tax accountant.

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Find Milli Atkinson on LinkedIn.