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News Briefs II

Federal Court Says Immigrants Can Challenge Deportation

Los Angeles Times

In a decision that could affect thousands of persons, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that immigrants have a constitutional right to challenge a deportation order in court.

The 3-0 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is the first decision by a federal appellate court saying that immigrants had such a right, since the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) in 1996 threw the issue into question.

Under that statute, Congress attempted, among other things, to dramatically restrict the ability of federal courts to review actions by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The Congressional statute was intended to curb allegedly frivolous appeals and make it easier to deport criminals.

Opponents of the bill contended that it was a radical "court stripping" measure. There are suits on the issue pending throughout the country.

Tuesday's decision "is a very significant ruling," said Columbia University Law professor Gerald Neuman, leader of a group of 90 law professors who have contended that the government was attempting to improperly strip the federal courts of the right to review INS actions.

Report Throws Cold Water on Microcredit' Programs

Los Angeles Times
United Nations

The success of widely touted "microcredit" loan programs in poor countries that encourage entrepreneurship, particularly among women, has been oversold as a means of eliminating poverty, a U.N. report released Tuesday concludes.

The loans, often of a few hundred dollars or less, have been promoted in recent years as a low-cost avenue to encouraging development of business skills and improving the living conditions of poverty-stricken women. The idea's boosters have included Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was honorary co-chair of a conference about the issue last year.

There are an estimated 3,000 "microfinance" institutions in developing countries, most receiving financial backing from the United Nations, the World Bank, foreign governments and private aid organizations.

While acknowledging the successes of this type of financing, particularly in Asia and Latin America, the U.N. report notes that "there are limits to the use of credit as an instrument for poverty eradication. It is not clear if the extent to which microcredit has spread, or can potentially spread, can make a major dent in global poverty."

It asserted that "the poorest of the poor" - whom most microcredit programs target - are usually "not in a position to undertake an economic activity, partly because they lack business skills and even the motivation for business."

Disparity in U.S. Students' SAT Scores Widens

Los Angeles Times

More Latino students are taking college entrance exams but their scores are falling further behind their Asian and white classmates, the College Board reported Tuesday.

The widening gulf is disturbing to educators because many Latinos are unable to compete for admission to the nation's better colleges, particularly with the end of affirmative action programs.

Nationally, math scores on the Scholastic Assessment Test college entrance exam rose one point in 1998 to 505, a 27-year high, but the verbal score remained stubbornly unchanged at 512 for the third consecutive year, the board reported.

SAT scores are a closely watched measure of student achievement because they are required by 90 percent of the nation's four-year colleges and universities. While serving as a barometer of educational quality in the United States, they also reflect social and demographic change.

In another trend, Stewart noted that grade inflation appears to be continuing. Since 1988, the percentage of students whose grades average better than an A-minus has increased from 28 percent to 38 percent while the SAT scores of that group have fallen 12 points on the verbal side and three points in math.

Documents Show Eisenhower Permitted Nuclear Weapons Use

The Washington Post

President Eisenhower gave U.S. Army commanders abroad in 1957 authority to use American nuclear weapons to retaliate against a major Soviet attack in cases in which U.S. forces overseas were at risk and the president could not be reached, according to newly declassified documents.

The authority stipulated that U.S. commanders could use nuclear weapons whether or not Soviet or Chinese nuclear warheads had been used against American forces, but the U.S. retaliation could target only attacking forces and occur only with permission of the country where the attack would take place. In no event, the documents state, could nuclear weapons be used against the territory of the Soviet Union unless there was also an attack against the U.S. mainland.

The documents, released this week by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), supplement a set of 1957 Eisenhower administration papers released last March that confirmed for the first time that U.S. military commanders had "predelegated" authority to use nuclear weapons in cases of attacks against the United States where the President was unavailable.