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Author ArchiveErin Rosa

Weekly Diaspora: Suing, Protesting, and Boycotting Arizona over SB 1070

Posted Jul 15, 2010 @ 10:54 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law, is set to go into effect on July 29. With days left to go, Organizers are in a race against the clock to minimize the bill’s impact on immigrant communities. Meanwhile, legal experts are examining the strategy behind a federal Department of Justice suit recently lobbed against the Arizona law, and other immigrant rights supporters continue to pressure the state via boycott. All of these acts are contributing to a tumultuous fight that’s escalating by the day.

A top concern is that SB 1070 will increase racial profiling and harassment against Latinos due to a provision that requires local law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person is undocumented. The bill also requires immigrants with documentation to carry papers at all times.

At ColorLines, Jamilah King reports that “activists nationwide are stepping up their protests against the measure.” As part of a new campaign called “30 Days, 30 Events for Human Rights,” a variety of actions including works shops, concerts, and protests have been planned for each day leading up to July 28, the day before the bill is set to become law.

Border governors boycott Arizona

GRITtv has more coverage of the Arizona debacle, including commentary from Arizona state lawmaker Kyrsten Sinema and Suman Raghunathan of the Progressive States Network.

On top of that, ColorLines’ Daisy Hernandez also writes that an annual meeting of Mexican and US governors set to take place in Arizona has been canceled over the controversial law. “Six governors of Mexico’s border states have basically said there’s no way in hell they’re stepping foot in Arizona,” Hernandez reports.

This year it was Arizona’s turn to host the meeting, which has taken place for the last 30 years. But Arizona Governor Jan Brewer 86′d the event, citing lack of attendance.

Another lawsuit?

One might think Arizona officials have enough to worry about after spurring international outrage, boycotts, and countless lawsuits with the passage of one law. But now there are reports that the state may get sued by the Justice Department again if documented cases of racial profiling occur after SB 1070 takes effect.

As Gabriel Arana at The American Prospect explains, the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona centers around the legal question of “whether the state is pre-empting the federal government’s constitutional authority to regulate immigration,” not the potential for civil rights abuses.

But New America Media notes that “in six months or a year, the Department of Justice plans to study the impact of the law on racial profiling,” and if civil rights violations are found, Attorney General Eric Holder won’t hesitate to take action.

Still hope for the DREAM Act

While media outlets direct their attention to Arizona, other immigrant rights supporters are actively working to support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act on the national level. The DREAM Act is a federal bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants who were brought into the United States as children and have no control over their immigration status.

Feministing reports on the Campus Progress National Conference that took place in Washington DC last week, which featured David Cho, whose parents immigrated from South Korea when he was nine. Because he is undocumented, Cho, through no fault of his own, is barred from most schools and jobs.

Trapped in an ‘invisible prison’

“My dad believed that my two younger sisters and I could fulfill the American dream,” said Cho, who would like to be able to serve in the US Air Force. “But I feel like I am living inside an invisible prison cell. Because there are these invisible bars in front of me that limit me from doing the things I want to do.”

The DREAM Act would benefit people like Cho, by allowing immigrants who came to the country before the age of 16 to obtain citizenship after graduating from high school by either going to college for two years or serving in the armed forces.

Mikhail Zinshteyn at Campus Progress reports that if the DREAM Act were enacted today, “800,000 individuals would qualify for legal status on a conditional basis or having already completed a high school degree,” while  an additional 900,000 would qualify upon turning 18. But it all depends on the Senate, and it remains to be seen if it will can tackle the issue by the end of the year.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Diaspora: Department of Justice Challenges Arizona’s SB 1070—What’s next?

Posted Jul 8, 2010 @ 10:54 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user walknboston, via Creative Commons LicenseOn Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed suit against the state of Arizona in an effort to overturn a stringent anti-immigration law passed in April. The move is a breath of fresh air for immigrant rights supporters. Democracy Now! and the Washington Independent have the story.

The suit will take on Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, a law that requires local law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that said individual is undocumented. The law has sparked national outrage and serious concerns that Latinos will be racially profiled by the police. Another provision of SB 1070 requires immigrants to carry papers denoting citizenship at all times while in the state. (more…)

Weekly Diaspora: Obama to Congress: It’s Time to Support Immigration Reform

Posted Jun 30, 2010 @ 11:14 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

This morning, President Barack Obama condemned the ”failure by those of us in Washington to fix a broken immigration system” and called on Congress to support reform this year.

“This administration will not just kick the can down the road,” Obama said. He also described comprehensive immigration reform as “held hostage to political posturing.” The UpTake, Mother Jones and The Colorado Independent provided live coverage of Obama’s statements.

The White House is no doubt concerned about the electoral consequences. Latino voters are waiting to see if Democrats address the issue. Obama also met with policy groups and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the White House on Monday and Tuesday to discuss moving forward on immigration reform.

Catch-22

The possibility for comprehensive immigration reform this year is still unlikely, thanks to inaction by federal lawmakers. Not only have elected officials been preoccupied with other pressing issues, such as health care reform and Supreme Court hearings, they also fear political backlash from voters if they support immigration reform during a recession.

On the bumpy road to immigration reform, Congress has clearly fallen asleep at the wheel. Lawmakers may still support reform focused on young immigrants and farm workers this year, even if it doesn’t involve creating a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

As Daisy Hernandez reports at ColorLines, “Obama acknowledged the political realities in Congress and talked with the group about smaller bits of immigration legislation, including a bill to permit undocumented young people to attend college,” according to attendees of the brainstorming sessions.

Hernandez explains that “Republicans are painfully aware, of course, that immigration might be this year’s election football.” During the lead up to the election this November, the Senate failed to come to a compromise or even sponsor an actual bill. The House of Representatives has sponsored a reform proposal, but won’t vote on it until the Senate takes action. It’s a sticky Catch-22.

No more Arizonas

Despite Congressional fumbling, the need for immigration reform certainly won’t go away any time soon. Latino voters are growing in influence every day in the Untied States. As Gabriel Arana reports for The American Prospect, “the anti-immigrant push has served to unify and mobilize Hispanic voters, leading them to rethink their ties to Republicans and demanding action from Democrats on immigration.”

Just last March, an estimated half a million reform supporters marched on the National Mall in Washington DC. Shortly after that, on May 1, tens of thousands marched in cities all over the country, with reform proponents participating in civil disobedience in the nation’s capital and Arizona.

Arana also notes that Latinos have had “historically had lower levels of political participation than other minority groups” in the political process, and now they are taking the reform cause to “the streets, to their representatives, and in the pages of Latino papers—on an issue that affects them directly.”

That means that Republicans in Florida—a state which has a Latino population of approximately 20 percent, according to the US Census—will likely face big hurdles in their attempt pass an Arizona-like law targeting undocumented immigrants and racially profiling Latinos. New America Media has been reporting on the Florida proposal, which, like Arizona, could lead to a major international backlash.

According to their coverage, the plan would “make remaining illegally in Florida a criminal offense,” would “include severe penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers,” and it would “allow police to ask suspects for proof of legal residency.”

‘Take Our Jobs’

On a lighter note, migrant workers have started a campaign to educate the public about the arduous work immigrants do on farms and in the fields—work that would be too tough for most Americans.

As Bonnie Azab Powell at Grist reports, the United Farm Workers, “tired of being vilified as stealing jobs from unemployed American citizens” have come up with a new campaign to put everyone to work.

“The union has created a website where you can sign yourself up for fieldwork,” Powell writes. “Experienced field hands will train legal residents and hook them up with the many seasonal harvest openings in California, Florida, and elsewhere.”

But the work won’t be easy, or just. As the article notes, “federal overtime provisions don’t apply to farmworkers, nor do minimum-wage laws.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Diaspora: White House Likely to Sue Over Arizona’s Racial Profiling Law

Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 9:47 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Hope for a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year has fallen by the wayside, but the Obama administration is rallying for one last hurrah before mid-term elections in November. Late last week, the White House unofficially announced plans to sue the state of Arizona over the now notorious Senate Bill 1070, a state law passed this year to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

SB 1070 allows Arizona police to check the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented, and forces immigrants to carry government papers proving their identify at all times.

Meanwhile, an estimated 15,000 progressives and 1,300 organizations are meeting in Detroit this week to discuss alternative solutions to our broken immigration system at the second U. S. Social Forum (USSF).

US v. Arizona?

As Jessica Pieklo reports at Care2, “After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s nonchalant statement on Ecuadorian television last week that the Department of Justice planned to file suit challenging Arizona immigration law SB 1070, senior administration officials confirmed that such a suit would be forthcoming.”

(more…)

Weekly Diaspora: Supreme Court Decision Protects Immigrants Targeted By Drug War

Posted Jun 17, 2010 @ 11:02 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user Nick-Dap, via Creative Commons LicenseThis week, the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1996 law that made it possible to deport documented immigrants that were convicted of minor drug-possession. Finally, some good news. At RaceWire, Seth Freed Wessler explains that the ruling could drastically change a law which has “helped drive rising deportation numbers.”

The plaintiff was Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, a legal permanent resident who came to the United States in 1983 when he was five years old. A lower court had ruled that Carachuri-Rosendo “was subject to mandatory deportation under the 1996 law as a result of two minor drug-possession offenses, one for marijuana and the other for a single tablet of Xanax, an anti-anxiety prescription drug often used recreationally.”

Since the 1990s, several laws with increasingly severe penalties for immigrants have passed. Until the most recent Supreme Court decision, all resulted in mandatory deportation. (more…)

Weekly Diaspora: Border Patrol Gone Wild

Posted Jun 10, 2010 @ 10:29 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 15-year-old Mexican boy on June 7. At RaceWire, Julianne Hing reports that “Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca [was] on the Mexican side of the El Paso-Juarez border [and] was shot and killed by a Border Patrol officer, who was on the U.S. side.” The incident has been condemned by the Mexican government and sparked investigations by the Customs and Border Protection agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The exact details are still being investigated. The Border Patrol claims that the teen was throwing rocks at agents, but eye-witnesses on the Mexican side of the border say otherwise.

An eye-witness account

Democracy Now! quotes an eye-witness who says that Hernandez Huereca was clearly on Mexican soil, playing with other youths when an agent shot at the entire group and killed the 15-year-old Juarez resident as he was taking cover.

“Once the youngsters were on Mexican soil, an official—I don’t know if he was an immigration agent or a police officer—arrived on a bike, wearing a white shirt, a helmet and shorts,” the witness says. “He shot at the youngsters, at the whole group. Some ran in one direction, and others in another. This one teenage victim hid behind the wall. He looked out, and that’s when the teenager was shot.”

Twice in two weeks

The shooting was the second deadly Border Patrol-related incident in two weeks. On May 26, Anastacio Hernández-Rojas, 32, was allegedly beaten and hit with a stun gun by agents in California after he became combative. His death has been ruled a homicide by the San Diego County medical examiner’s office and an investigation is ongoing.

Going back to Racewire, Maria Jimenez, an organizer with the Houston-based immigrant rights group America Para Todos, says that such incidents have a tendency to be swept under the rug. According to Jimenez, in the 1990s, agents committed at least 33 unwarranted shootings in a single year.

“Some of them we don’t even know about, they just don’t reach the public,” Jimenez says. “They know about it, but we don’t.”

Border Patrol corruption

Border Patrol agents also face accusations of charging a steep price to allow undocumented people to cross into the United States.

At New American Media, Anthony Advincula writes about the perilous journey many immigrants take to cross the border. He interviews Guatemalan immigrant Danilo Gonzalez, who paid $7,500 to a human smuggling ring that could call in favors from the Border Patrol.

“When we reached the Mexican border, we were asked to get off and transferred to a different bus. All of us were together,” Gonzalez recalls. “The traffickers had good connections to U.S. authorities; they paid some Border Patrol officers. After many hours of traveling, we were finally transported to Arizona.”

Crime down along the border

The Obama administrations’ decision to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border is exacerbating the situation. But the troops aren’t there because of immigration, according to White House officials. They’re supposed to keep a lid on drugs and other violent trafficking crimes along the Rio Bravo.

That argument doesn’t hold water, as violence in U.S. border cities—especially those with high immigrant populations—is actually down. At Care2, Jessica Pieklo reports that “Violent crime in Arizona, and other states that have a significant immigrant populations, has been consistently on the decline, especially recently.”

Pieklo explains that after a spike in 2006 and 2007, the number of violent crimes reported in Phoenix, Arizona, including murder, dropped 13 percent in 2009.

The decrease isn’t because of Arizona’s tough anti-immigration laws. Pieklo notes that “El Paso, Texas remains one of the safest cities in the country with only 12 murders last year, despite the fact that right across the border a drug war rages in Juarez, Mexico.”

ICE and BP

Moving along to what is likely to be the worst environmental disaster in United States history, the notorious BP oil spill has now become a cause for immigrant rights supporters who are appalled by reports that the federal government is using the crisis to detain immigrant clean-up workers.

GritTV spoke with Mallika Dutt, executive director of Breakthrough, about the crackdown. Dutt noted that “it is easier to crack down on immigrants (sending ICE to check up on workers cleaning up BP’s mess) than oil companies, and that activists around these issues need to work together as civil disobedience rises around the country.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Diaspora: Thousands Protest SB1070; Arizona Gov. Braces for Lawsuits

Posted Jun 3, 2010 @ 11:12 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user PaisleyPitbull, via Creative Commons licenseOver Memorial Day weekend, tens of thousands of people marched in Phoenix, AZ to protest SB1070, a law that immigrants to carry papers at all times and makes it possible for any police officer to detain on suspicion of immigration status alone.

At RaceWire, Jorge Rivas reports that “an official crowd estimate was not available for Saturday’s SB1070 protest,” but that “officials overheard on the police scanner estimated the crowd at about 30,000.” Marchers also demanded that President Barack Obama nullify SB1070 by means of a legal challenge from the Justice Department. (more…)

Weekly Diaspora: Obama Deploys Troops to Border Amid Rising Civil Disobedience

Posted May 27, 2010 @ 10:45 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user jim.greenhill, via Creative Commons LicensePresident Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that he would be deploying 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to beef up security along the Río Bravo. This surprise move has garnered criticism from immigrant rights supporters, who argue that it will dehumanize and endanger immigrant and Latino communities.

Julianne Hing at RaceWire offers more details on the plan, reporting that an extra $500 million has also been allocated to law enforcement along the border.

“Obama is reportedly asking for these troop increases in anticipation of Republicans’ demands on a war spending bill this week,” Hing writes. “But Obama’s already outpaced his predecessors in spending on border security and military presence at the border.” (more…)

Weekly Diaspora: Sit-in at McCain’s Arizona Headquarters

Posted May 20, 2010 @ 11:23 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user Arasmus Photo, via Creative Commons LicenseMemo to Congress: The gloves are coming off. Three undocumented students were arrested this week after organizing a nonviolent sit-in at Republican Sen. John McCain’s congressional office in Tucson, Arizona. The sit-in was part of an effort to pressure lawmakers to support comprehensive immigration reform, and it’s only the beginning. Reform Immigration For America, one of the nation’s leading immigrant rights coalitions, has just called for a sustained civil disobedience campaign to bolster support for reform.

As Todd A. Heywood reports for the Michigan Messenger, five individuals peacefully occupied the McCain facility on Monday before four of them—three undocumented and one a legal citizen—were arrested at the scene and “charged with trespassing by Tucson authorities.”

The undocumented youth were supposed to be released earlier in the week, Heywood writes, “but Immigration and Customs Enforcement stepped in” and detained them. As of this writing the three young people—Mohammad Abdollahi, Yahaira Carrillo, and Lizbeth Mateo—have been released by the agency, but could still face deportation.

The protest was meant to urge McCain to not only support immigration reform, but to specifically back the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), a bipartisan bill in Congress that would offer a path to citizenship to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as children. (more…)

Weekly Diaspora: More Hypocrisy in Arizona

Posted May 13, 2010 @ 10:59 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

After passing what is arguably the harshest immigration law in the country—SB 1070 forces local police to adhere to detain someone if there is “responsible suspicion” that they are undocumented—Arizona has now passed a law banning ethnic studies courses, as Feministing reports.

At The Nation, Jon Wiener writes that the new law “bans classes that ‘promote resentment toward a race or class of people,’ ‘are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,’ or ‘advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals.’” Hypocrisy much?

Arizona is a bad influence. “At least 10 other states — many inspired by Arizona — are talking about enacting similarly draconian legislation,” Zachary Roth over at TPMMuckraker writes. “And most aren’t places that are traditionally thought of as hot-spots in the immigration battle.” States considering harsh laws include South Carolina, Texas and Georgia, according to Roth.

But along with a growing national boycott, Arizona is also facing major tourism backlash. AlterNet reports that “as tourists increasingly shun Arizona over the state’s new immigration law, their desertion is likely to spill some paint of their own: red ink stains all over state and local budgets.” At least nineteen conferences have been canceled so far in the state, according to the article. Currently, Arizona is also facing a major budget shortfall totaling $2 billion.

United we stand

As Daisy Hernandez reports for RaceWire, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than 2 million members, has vowed to focus more on immigration. While unions offered less than stellar support during the 2007 immigration reform debate after disagreeing with provisions for a guest worker program,  they are now expected to be a key ally in 2010.

SEIU is joining the boycott against Arizona for its anti-immigration law, and Hernandez also notes that “the news comes as the union swore in its new president Mary Kay Henry over the weekend.”

From dreams to reality

On GRITtv, Laura Flanders discusses the growing movement to support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), “a bipartisan bill offering a road to citizenship for undocumented minors who attend college or join the military,” as Flanders says.

Undocumented students backing the DREAM Act are an integral part of the immigration reform movement. They’ve successfully organizing to stop deportations of young immigrants and lobbied members of Congress to support their cause. Most recently, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote a national op-ed this week boosting the act.

Currently, the DREAM Act is lingering in the Senate, and reform supporters are pushing for a immigration reform bill (which would likely include a DREAM Act provision) to be proposed and debated in the Senate this year, although it’s unknown when that will happen.

The value of immigrants

At New America Media, Jacob Simas reports on the state of immigrant workers who pick crops around Fresno, California. “Nobody knows how many farm workers here are homeless,” Simas writes, “And while longtime community members say they are likely a small percentage of the unemployed farm worker population, it is the first time they can recall seeing living conditions get this bad for the workers who help put food on our tables.”

Thanks to the recession, migrant workers are now struggling to find work. “Scattered groups of farm workers, unemployed and desperate, are emerging from a long cold winter spent living outdoors, in the same orchards that were once their livelihood,” according to Simas, who quotes one worker as saying, “We’ll go to town and ask people if we can work in their yard for ten, fifteen, maybe twenty dollars.”

Why the census matters

In Michigan, local governments are encouraging undocumented immigrants to participate in the census in order to gain more funding for federal services. Todd A. Heywood writes for the Michigan Messenger that in Macomb County, which borders Detroit, “a low count that ignores residents without proper documentation in 2010 could cost the county hundreds of thousands of federal dollars.”

The county loses more than $1,000 for each resident who doesn’t fill out the census, per year, according to Heywood. This year alone, the federal Census Bureau has launched the largest campaign in history to reach out to undocumented immigrants and other communities of color, amid a history of low turnout and a reluctance to give information to the government. Advocacy groups have been urging undocumented immigrants to be counted in the census this year, and note that immigration status is not asked on the form.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.