Posts tagged with 'tom horne'
By Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
Days after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne filed suit against the federal government for allegedly failing to protect the state from a Mexican “invasion,” the high-profile murder conviction of a Minutemen border vigilante underscores the state’s misguided border priorities.
Earlier this week, a jury found Shawna Forde—leader of the Minutemen American Defense (MAD)—guilty of murdering 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul Flores, Jr. during a racially motivated home invasion in 2009. Forde faces the death penalty for orchestrating the robbery and murders.
ColorLines’ Julianne Hing reports that Forde had planned a number of elaborate home invasions to raise funds for her border patrol activities—targeting individuals whom she (erroneously) believed to be drug dealers. Though no drugs were found in the Flores home, Forde—who, incidentally, has close ties to both the Tea Party and the conservative think tank Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)—nevertheless justified Brisenia’s murder on the grounds that “people shouldn’t deal drugs if they have kids.” After watching Forde’s accomplices shoot her mother and kill her father, Brisenia was shot twice in the face.
While Latino advocacy groups have characterized the Flores murders as hate crimes provoked—at least in part—by state leaders’ incendiary anti-immigrant rhetoric, many regard Forde’s conviction as one of many indicators that the tables are turning on anti-immigrant politicos like Brewer who have curried political support through fear-mongering and misinformation.
Less tolerance for border vigilantes
As Valeria Fernandez reports at New America Media, the verdict comes just weeks after another Arizona court upheld a decision against rancher Roger Barnett who, in an act of unwarranted border vigilantism, assaulted a group of migrants traveling across his property. Barnett was fined $80,000. While the Forde and Barnett cases are only two incidents of a nationwide rash of anti-Latino crime, their convictions are particularly significant in Arizona, where state leaders have long tolerated and even encouraged border vigilantism as a necessary response to purported border-related violence.
A year ago, state politicians—including Brewer—fomented a national anti-immigrant mania (which handily ushered in SB 1070) by promoting false reports of border violence. As Valeria Fernandez reported at Feet in 2 Worlds last March, lawmakers were quick to attribute the shooting of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz to an unidentified, undocumented Mexican immigrant—though the sheriff in charge of the case later told the press that the prime suspect was not actually Mexican.
Brewer, for her part, gained national notoriety after fabricating tales of beheadings in the Arizona desert—which, as I wrote for Campus Progress at the time—generated support for her anti-immigrant political agenda while diverting public attention away from the reality that most of Arizona’s border violence is directed at immigrants, rather than perpetrated by them.
Arizona’s countersuit against the federal government
Brewer’s recent countersuit against the federal government—which alleges that Arizona is under invasion from the south and that the feds have failed to protect the state accordingly—similarly conjures nativist fantasies of immigrant-fueled border violence. But, as Scott Lemieux posits at TAPPED, the suit idly and transparently villainizes immigrants:
It is (to put it mildly) a stretch to argue that Arizona is undergoing an “invasion.” Illegal immigration does not constitute a military threat or an attempt to overthrow the state government; anti-immigration metaphors are not a sound basis for constitutional interpretation.
Like those propagated by state lawmakers during Arizona’s nativist heyday last spring, this new offensive belies the reality that, while anti-Latino hate crimes have risen by 52 percent nationally in recent years, border crime has been on the decline for quite some time—a fact noted by Alternet’s Julianne Escobedo Shepherd in her coverage of the countersuit.
Yet, in an effort to further their extreme, anti-immigrant agenda, Arizona’s nativist lawmakers determinedly maintain the myth that Latin American immigration somehow generates a groundswell of violent crime—even when doing so requires the hasty revision of a rancher’s death, and the callous disregard of an innocent child’s murder.
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.
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
Yesterday, a coalition of anti-immigrant lawmakers from 14 states unveiled their much-anticipated birthright citizenship bill. The measure would thwart the 14th Amendment by denying citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. As Julianne Hing notes at ColorLines, sponsors unabashedly admit that, after passing the legislation at the state level, they aim to push it through Congress. If passed, it would effectively become federal law while at the same time force a court case challenging the traditional application of the 14th Amendment.
The bill is is unlikely to do much more than upset the national debate on immigration reform, but it’s nevertheless a sobering reminder of how far some conservatives will go to segregate immigrants further. While immigration reform advocates faced an uphill struggle last year, with few victories to show for it, the stakes are even higher in 2011, as immigration issues become more brazenly racially divisive.
Arizona’s retrogressive policy takes effect
In the “Papers Please” state, where the birthright citizenship bill will make its debut, a controversial K-12 ethnic studies ban has already gone into effect—prohibiting curricula that promotes ethnic solidarity or is designed for students of a particular race or ethnicity. Attorney General Tom Horne, who proposed the ban while he was the superintendent of public instruction, has unabashedly singled out the Tuscon Unified School District (TUSD)’s Mexican American Studies program as its target.
Alex DiBranco reports at Change.org that—prior to assuming his new position as attorney general—Horne declared the TUSD to be in violation of the newly enacted law and threatened to withhold $15 million in funds from the school district if it failed to eliminate the Mexican American Studies program within 60 days. TUSD, for its part, is appealing the law while refusing to alter its curriculum.
Immigrant growth results in more Congressional seats…for Republicans
The results of the 2010 census are in and, thanks to a considerable boost in the new immigrant population, southern and western states are now set to gain additional Congressional seats. Sarah Kate Kramer at Feet in 2 Worlds reports that Hispanics, in particular, accounted for at least half of the growth in Texas, Florida, Nevada and Arizona.
While the growth of the Hispanic population has undoubtedly contributed to the election of a number of Hispanic legislators and could set the stage for greater political representation in the long term, the immediate effect of the apportionment looks bleak. The irony, as Kramer notes, is that while immigrant growth secured the apportionment of new congressional seats, those seats will represent predominately Republican states—effectively increasing the power of anti-immigrant lawmakers.
Few victories for immigrants
At the dawn of a new year, undocumented immigrants have gained little ground. New America Media/La Opinion reports that unemployment is still very high in sectors, such as construction, that typically employ large numbers of undocumented laborers, and remains high for Latinos, in particular.
Congress also failed to pass the bipartisan and politically popular DREAM Act, letting down scores of undocumented youth, and Arizona’s SB 1070 is spreading like wildfire to other states. To top it off, 2010 proved to be a record year for deportations—meaning that 2011 is seeing the largest number of divided families to date.
Obama Administration dropped the ball on immigration
The retrogressive nature of the immigration debate has a lot to do with the rise of conservative extremism following President Barack Obama’s election. In the past year, anti-immigrant lawmakers have gone to unprecedented lengths to commandeer immigration reform, defy the Obama administration’s policy goals and, in general, make quite a clamor. But reform advocates, too, have done their fair share to muck up the prospect of comprehensive immigration reform.
As Monica Potts at TAPPED argues, the administration’s consistent focus on enforcement, at the expense comprehensive reform, pushed the immigration debate further to the right—and may have even cost Democrats the Hispanic vote:
President Obama embraced conservatives’ enforcement rhetoric by ramping up deportations without prioritizing reform. This was a self-defeating approach: by buying into a harsh enforcement paradigm, he made the argument for reform much harder.
Whether the administration has learned from its 2010 mistakes remains to be seen. If not, then the gun-slinging lawmen of Arizona will continue defining the nation’s most pressing immigration issues.
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.
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
It’s no secret that anti-immigrant activists have a penchant for targeting youth, the most vulnerable of the undocumented set. But the Senate defeat of the popular DREAM Act confirmed the obvious. The war on immigrants is being waged not only along our borders, but within our classrooms as well.
But depriving undocumented students with a pathway to citizenship clearly wasn’t enough. From coast to coast, anti-immigrant forces are trying to block undocumented students from attending college, keep Latino teens from learning about their cultural heritage, and stop immigrant children from knowing their rights.
Undocumented students need not apply
Georgia has become the latest state to consider banning undocumented students from college. While no federal laws prohibit undocumented youth from pursuing higher education, a number of states—like Arizona—have attempted to block access to college by denying in-state tuition and publicly funded scholarships. Georgia, however, is among the first to attempt an outright ban on undocumented students.
According to Prerna Lal at Change.org, North Carolina community colleges tried to implement a similar ban last year, but repealed it after realizing the law was causing the schools to lose money. Wary of meeting the same fate, Georgia colleges—including University of Georgia and Georgia Tech—are thinking about a more measured policy that would ban undocumented students only if schools lacked the space to admit all qualified candidates. Lal notes that such a policy would serve political rather than practical ends, as undocumented students make up less than one percent of Georgia college’s 310,000 students.
Ethnic studies are un-American?
Meanwhile, in Arizona, students of all ages are facing an uphill battle for ethnic studies curricula. A controversial law signed by Governor Jan Brewer (R) last May threatens to abolish a variety of ethnic-based academic programs by the end of the year. The law, which makes exceptions for Holocaust, African-American, and American Indian studies, seems to specifically target Raza Studies—a program that promotes Mesoamerican history, culture, and pedagogies.
Roberto Rodriguez at New America Media reports that school districts are standing against the law and in support of the Raza Studies program which is proven to positively impact student success:
The consensus amongst Tucson’s Mexican- American community is that come Jan. 3, 2011, Raza Studies will be fully operational—continuing to educate and inspire minds and prepare students to attend colleges and universities nationwide. The program is virtually an anti-dropout program (more than a 90 percent graduation rate) and a college student factory (upwards of 70 percent go on to college).
State schools superintendent Tom Horne is a vocal proponent of the law, which renders him the target of a potentially historic lawsuit that some say could rival Brown v. Board of Education. The new law is just the latest in a slew of measures intended to make Arizona a hostile environment for Latinos, thereby discouraging immigration while driving attrition.
Know your rights
In response to growing hostility towards immigrant students of all ages, some schools have started educating youth about their rights—even distributing “Know Your Rights” cards.
As Elise Foley at the Washington Independent reports, a couple of San Diego schools have incurred a fair amount of controversy for doing just that. After receiving reports that undocumented students were having a hard time concentrating in school due to stress related to their immigration status, schools began disseminating pamphlets teaching kids to “protect yourself from immigration raids!” The pamphlets drew ire from local police, who argued that the illustrations portrayed them in a negative light.
Drop the I-Word
In the meantime, Colorlines has launched a campaign to counter negative depictions of the undocumented. They’ve teamed up with a host of other progressive organizations remove the term “illegals” from media discourse. The I-word, according to the campaign, “creates an environment of hate by exploiting racial fear and economic anxiety, creating an easy scapegoat for complex issues, and OK-ing violence against those labeled with the word.”
The I-word is particularly pernicious when applied to undocumented children, whose constitutionally protected right to a public education seems ever in question. By dropping the racially charged term, media outlets can better foster meaningful dialogue about immigrants and immigration instead of producing anti-immigrant sound bites that only foster division and hate.
The DREAM is not dead
In the same spirit of community empowerment, several non-profit organizations have launched a $300,000 Spanish-language campaign to leverage support of the DREAM Act into votes against the Republican Party. According to Sarah Kate Kramer of Feet in Two Worlds, the ads are being aired in nine crucial cities across the country, and feature a montage of voices claiming to be “the undocumented students of the DREAM Act.” They urge the public to vote Democratic, saying:
…who opposed this bill? Who wants to quash our dreams? Republicans. The same people who opposed the extension of unemployment benefits. Republicans. Who try to deny immigrant rights in Arizona and other states. Republicans. Who always seem to stand with big corporations against working families.
As mid-term elections draw nearer, anti-immigrant forces will likely come down harder on undocumented students whom they falsely claim are stealing public education from citizens. Fortunately, with Democrats promising to revisit the DREAM Act post-election, Latinos have everything to gain by getting out the votes.
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.