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racial profiling

Weekly Diaspora: Local Laws Target Immigrants; Activists Take to the Streets

by: The Media Consortium

Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 12:18:32 PM EST

By Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

While immigrant rights groups pressure the federal government via high-profile marches and rallies, anti-immigration forces are pushing punitive laws on the state and local levels. Thousands of immigration reform proponents rallied last week to push federal lawmakers to pass reform this year, but the Arizona House of Representatives passed one of the toughest immigration laws in the country, which enables racial profiling of Latinos.

If the Senate fails to propose a reform bill this Spring, immigration reform won't be on the agenda for 2010. With elections at the end of the year, it's uncertain if reform will pass after that, as the resulting Congress could be more conservative.

More rallies from the grassroots

As Seth Freed Wessler reports at RaceWire, "Rallies for immigration reform were held in at least seven cities on Saturday, including Las Vegas, Seattle and Chicago, and were meant to maintain momentum from the massive march in Washington last month." The rallies were part of a sustained effort by reform supporters to pressure the Senate to take up reform this year.

In Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made an appearance and told supporters that the Senate would start work on reform soon after legislators came back from a brief recess this week.

"Speaking before a crowd of more than 6,000, Reid, a vulnerable incumbent, assured his audience of his commitment," Steve Benen wrote for the Washington Monthly.

"We're going to come back, we're going to have comprehensive immigration reform now," Reid was quoted as saying. "We need to do this this year. We cannot wait."

New America Media cites a report from Univision, writing that "Reid, fresh from the fight for health system reform and with a difficult re-election campaign ahead, told demonstrators that there is some urgency to passing legislation to reform the immigration system, including improving border security and creating a guest worker program for seasonal workers."

New America Media also reports on a surprising conservative-evangelical alliance that supports comprehensive immigration reform that protects children and families. "While not entirely new, the involvement of conservative Latino and evangelical leaders in the immigration debate puts additional pressure on Congress and the president to take up the issue this year."

In Seattle, AlterNet reports  on the large presence of Asian immigrants at the local rally, quoting Diane Narasaki, executive director of the Asian Counseling and Referral Service:  "There are about 1 million Asians living in this country who are undocumented, so comprehensive immigration reform is really key to our community," Narasaki said.

Local laws target immigrants

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled Arizona House of Representatives voted along party lines this week to pass a state law that would, as RaceWire's Freed Wessler reports, "make it a criminal offense simply to be an undocumented immigrant on Arizona soil and to require local cops to determine a person's immigration status if there is any 'reasonable suspicion' the person is undocumented."

"The law would essentially require police to racially profile Latinos and threatens to terrorize immigrant communities already trying to survive in what is arguably the country's most anti-immigrant state," writes Freed Wessler.

In Colorado, where a similar state law passed despite wide criticism of civil rights abuses, there are reports on an effort in Denver to push back against a a local city-wide anti-immigrant  law that encourages police to impound vehicles of undocumented immigrants.

"Members of the city council here are considering eliminating a controversial vehicle impound law that has raised financial and constitutional questions," Joseph Boven reports for the Colorado Independent. "It's unconstitutional, for example, to require Denver police to judge whether someone driving in Denver without a license might be an illegal alien."

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Linking national concerns with local issues, the National Radio Project reports on a panel called "Race, Immigration and the Fight for an Open Internet," which focused on how telecommunications corporations' moves to restrict internet access could affect immigrant communities.

"Right now, telecommunications companies are pursuing a restrictive pay-for-play business model for online access that many say will only further the digital divide, discriminating between those who have Internet access and those who do not," the news outlet notes.

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.

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Arizona's harsh anti-immigrant bill gives racial profiling the green light

by: Restore Fairness

Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 17:05:04 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog.

The passage of SB 1070 by the House of Representatives in Arizona  will have chilling repercussions if signed into law by Governor Brewer.  The bill dramatically expands police powers to stop, question and detain  individuals for not having proper identification, a move that will  instigate racial  tension and fear and driving a wedge between groups.

SB 1070 effectively makes it a crime to be undocumented in   Arizona,  and will be one of the harshest anti-immigrant legislations in the U.S. if  it becomes law. The bill passed in Arizona’s House of Representatives  and is to be combined with a similar bill that passed in the  Senate,  after which it is expected to be signed into law Governor Brewer. Senator  Russell K. Pearce (R-AZ) who introduced the bill has publicly  stated that if it passes, 10 other states will follow suit with similar  legislation.

So what’s in it? The bill requires the police to  investigate the immigration  status of every person that they come  across, whom they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the  country unlawfully. This implies that everyone has to carry their papers  with  them at all times in order to avoid being stopped, arrested, and   detained, effectively fashioning Arizona into nothing short of a police  state. Currently,  police officers can only inquire about a person’s immigration status if   the person is a suspect in a crime. In addition, the bill allows anyone  to sue a local, country or state agency if they   believe that the agency is not enforcing immigration law, expressly  forbids cities from adopting “sanctuary”  policies that prevent  police from carrying out immigration  enforcement, and makes  it illegal to solicit work or hire day laborers.

While opponents of immigration have been rooting for this measure for   a long time, immigrant rights advocates have unanimously condemned the   bill as an affront on the civil liberties of the residents of Arizona.  From business groups and faith leaders to municipal governments and  police chiefs, the bill has seen increasing opposition. Even within the  police, while police  unions support the bill, the state  police chief’s association has opposed the bill,  saying that it  will hamper the trust that immigrant communities place  in the their  services. Outraged by its potential passage, groups like the ACLU,  NDLON, Bordern  Action Network and  national networks have gone into  overdrive to  protest the bill. According to Alessandra Meetze,  President of the ACLU of Arizona,

Instead of working on real solutions to  the  immigration crisis, our  legislators have devised a proposal that  is full  of  shortcuts…Contrary to what proponents of SB1070 say, the  bill does   not prohibit officers from relying on race or ethnicity in  deciding who   to investigate…A lot of U.S. citizens are going to be  swept up in the application of  this law for something as simple as  having an accent and leaving their  wallet at home.

While Senator Pearce believes the bill simply  “takes   the handcuffs off of law enforcement and lets them do their  job”, in reality, it promotes racial profiling and cements  anti-immigrant sentiment already prevalent in Arizona. The grounds of  “reasonable suspicion” on  which police officers will  investigate  people about their immigration  status will in many cases be based on  racial and ethnic grounds. One immigration group, Somos America,  likens it to the  system operating under apartheid or pre-civil rights  America  with Jim Crow laws, where people of color were disallowed from   entering “white” land, yet were exploited for their labor by  the white  population. Given Arizona’s infamous Sheriff Arpaio whose dictatorial methods  favor neighborhood sweeps, tent city detentions, and racial stops the  fear of the misuse of the bill is not far fetched.

Sign a petition to tell Governor Brewer to stand up  for Arizona and stop  signing a bill into law that will terrorize communities and create  painful divisions.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 
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Is the person next to you being racially profiled?

by: Restore Fairness

Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 16:54:47 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Roxana Orellana Santos was sitting by a pond and enjoying her lunch when two officers walked over to her and asked her for identification. They immediately took her into custody, detained her, and very soon she was handed over to government agents for possible deportation. For the month and a half that Roxana then spent federal custody, she was separated from her son, who was a 1 years old. She was released after 46 days.

Immigrant advocates later filed a civil rights lawsuit on her behalf, challenging her arrest, stating that neither of the police officers who questioned Roxana Santos had any authority to arrest her based on her immigration status. As Jose Perez from LatinoJustice (a New York-based nonprofit civil rights organization) said in the Washington Post-

Since there was never any suggestion of criminal activity by Ms. Orellana Santos, her questioning and detention were clearly based on one element: her ethnic appearance…This is the essence of racial profiling.

Why did the officers walk up to Roxana on that particular day? She had no criminal record and her information was not previously in the system. It seems to add up that she was asked for her identification purely based on her ethnic appearance. Unfortunately Roxana’s story is far from unique. Racial profiling is a very real and serious problem in the United States, and its integration with immigration enforcement in the past year has increased it by horrific leaps and bounds.

Racial profiling affects members of many communities across the country, including Latinos, African Americans, Arab Americans and Native Americans. Researchers at the Center on Race, Crime and Justice recently analyzed data provided by the New York Police Department (NYPD) examining the demographic trends of their stop-and-frisk policy and found that in 2009, African Americans and Hispanics were stopped at a rate that was 9 times higher than whites, even though they account for only 27% and 24% of the population of New York City. And once stopped, they were far more likely to be frisked and faced with physical force than whites who were stopped.

Even though profiling people on the basis of their race and ethnicity is a deeply alarming trend, a recent study found that subjecting the issue to public scrutiny is one of the most effective ways to reduce racial profiling. Heightened coverage in the media has proved to reduce racial profiling practices of police officers in routine traffic stops, making it important to highlight individual stories and put pressure on the authorities to respect civil rights.

Make a difference by writing a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Assistant Secretary John Morton in ending an egregious immigration enforcement program that has led to many racial profiling and civil rights abuses. Take action now.

Photo courtesy of allpsychologycareers.com

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How many more hate crimes against immigrants will it take?

by: Restore Fairness

Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 17:12:52 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Quintessentially ‘New York,’ Port Richmond is a diverse and vibrant neighborhood that has been home to most of Staten Island’s Latino community for many years. In incidents that often go unreported, in the past few years this neighborhood has seen more hate crimes against Latino immigrants than one can bear to count. The latest one took place early morning on April 5th when 26 year-old Mexican immigrant Rodulfo Olmedo was attacked by four young men outside his apartment. In this horrifyingly vicious assault, the attackers yelled racial slurs at him, beat him with wooden planks, metal chains and a baseball bat, and took his money, leaving him with a fractured skull.

Although Olmedo is home from the hospital and recovering from his injuries, the entire community is reeling from the psychological and emotional trauma caused by yet another episode of race-based violence in their midst. Last night, there was a combination of sadness and outrage as 150 community members gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the bakery where Olmedo was employed. Led by a local priest, they prayed for an end to the violence that has plagued the immigrant community for years. Speaking about the frequency of hate crimes in the area, Gonzalo Mercado, the director of the Center for Immigrant Families in Port Richmond, said that “the community is living in fear, because these types of situations are not new to this area.”

Rodulfo’s mother, Margarita Olmedo, said that the family is traumatized by the violent attack and is determined to make sure that it does not go unnoticed. She spoke to local press on Rodulfo’s behalf-

He’s under a lot of medication, so he’s resting sleeping…He just wants to make sure that everybody says something about it, that nobody should keep quiet. He does not want this to happen to anybody else.

The attack was captured by two surveillance cameras, and was broadcast on the local television channel (NY1). Following the broadcast the police received a tip, and, after searching their “stop-and-frisk” database, they arrested four suspects on Friday, the 9th of April.  The arrested youth face assault and hate crime charges, and if convicted, could received up to 25 years in prison. The arrest of the suspected perpetrators has given rise to a controversy around the NYPD database that contains information of all the people they stop, question or frisk on grounds of “reasonable suspicion,” as a part of their “stop-and-frisk” policy.

Begun in 2001, the database was started as a safeguard that recorded information of all police stops, thereby ensuring against racially disproportionate action on the part of the police. This case has brought to light the fact that a database that was initiated to prevent against racial profiling, is being used by the police to track down suspects, raising concerns amongst civil liberties advocates like the New York Civil Liberties Union. Speaking about the potential of the database to allow for racial profiling, Chris Dunn, associate legal director of the ACLU said-

The prospect of occasionally finding additional information about suspects already known to the police does not come close to justifying a police database of millions of innocent black and Latino New Yorkers.

While this case received coverage in the press, most of these cases go unreported. On Friday, community leaders in Staten Island gathered to tell people that the only way for concrete action towards putting an end to such violence is if people who are victims or witnesses of hate crimes come forward and report them. The “April 5 bias crime,”as the press has named it, drives home the fact that race-based violence against immigrants has seen a dangerous surge in the past few years.

As the momentum is growing towards just and humane immigration reform, it is important to keep in mind the horrific reality of individual stories like Rodulfo’s, unfolding in our own neighborhoods, right before our eyes.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org
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How many more hate crimes against immigrants will it take?

by: Restore Fairness

Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 17:12:26 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Quintessentially ‘New York,’ Port Richmond is a  diverse and vibrant  neighborhood that has been home to most of Staten  Island’s Latino  community for many years. In incidents that often go  unreported, in the  past few years this neighborhood has seen more hate crimes against Latino immigrants than one can   bear to count. The latest one took place early morning on April 5th   when 26 year-old Mexican immigrant Rodulfo Olmedo was attacked by four   young men outside his apartment. In this horrifyingly vicious assault,   the attackers yelled racial slurs at him, beat him with wooden planks,   metal chains and a baseball bat, and took his money, leaving him with a   fractured skull.

Although Olmedo is home from the hospital and  recovering from his  injuries, the entire community is reeling from the  psychological and  emotional trauma caused by yet another episode of  race-based violence in  their midst. Last night, there was a combination  of sadness and outrage  as 150 community members gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the bakery where Olmedo   was employed. Led by a local priest, they prayed for an end to the   violence that has plagued the immigrant community for years. Speaking   about the frequency of hate crimes in the area, Gonzalo Mercado, the   director of the Center  for Immigrant  Families in Port Richmond, said that “the community is living in fear, because   these types of situations are  not new to this area.”

Rodulfo’s  mother, Margarita Olmedo, said that the family is  traumatized by the  violent attack and is determined to make sure that it  does not go  unnoticed. She spoke to local press on Rodulfo’s behalf-

He’s under a  lot of medication, so he’s  resting sleeping…He just wants to make sure  that everybody says  something about it, that nobody should keep quiet.  He does not want this  to happen to anybody else.

The attack was  captured by two surveillance cameras, and was broadcast on the local television channel (NY1).   Following the broadcast the police received a tip, and, after searching their “stop-and-frisk”   database, they arrested four suspects on Friday, the 9th of April.  The   arrested youth face assault and hate crime charges, and if convicted,   could received up to 25 years in prison. The arrest of the suspected   perpetrators has given rise to a controversy around the NYPD database that contains   information of all the people they stop, question or frisk on grounds    of “reasonable suspicion,” as a part of their “stop-and-frisk” policy.

 

Begun in 2001, the database was started as a   safeguard that recorded information of all police stops, thereby   ensuring against racially disproportionate action on the part of the   police. This case has brought to light the fact that a database that was   initiated to prevent against racial profiling, is being used by the   police to track down suspects, raising concerns amongst civil liberties   advocates like the New  York Civil  Liberties Union. Speaking about the potential of the  database to  allow for racial profiling, Chris Dunn, associate legal   director of the ACLU said-

The prospect of occasionally finding   additional information about suspects already known to the police does   not come close to justifying a police database of millions of innocent   black and Latino New Yorkers.

While this case received coverage  in the press, most of these cases  go unreported. On Friday, community  leaders in Staten Island gathered   to tell people that the only way for concrete action towards   putting an end to such violence is if people who are victims or   witnesses of hate crimes come forward and report them. The “April 5 bias crime,”as the press has named it,    drives home the fact that race-based violence against immigrants has    seen a dangerous surge in the past few years.

As  the momentum is growing towards just and humane   immigration reform, it is important to keep in mind the horrific reality   of individual stories like Rodulfo’s, unfolding in our own   neighborhoods, right before our eyes.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org
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"(Pre)Viewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration"

by: Restore Fairness

Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 16:08:41 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog.

As we continue to fight for immigration reform, one  thing that we can  be sure about is a right-wing attack. A preview of  this came about in  the days building up to the successful immigration march in D.C. when fringe right-wing   groups like Numbers USA, The John Tanton Network and the Tea Party Movement started pulling out all the stops to counter the building   momentum for immigration reform. Predictably, their approach mirrored   the strategies they employed a few years ago, during the last big push   for reform that took place in 2007 under former President George Bush.

 

A report by liberal advocacy group People for the American Way called “(Pre)Viewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration”  has pulled from years of expertise on the right to lay out a list of   the key strategies that are traditionally employed to defeat immigration   reform, followed by tools to retaliate against these irrational and unsound attacks.

One of the  most common strategies employed by the right is an appeal  to racial  fear. This is carried out in a number of ways, including the  positing  of the “Brown” threat to a “White America,” and the outrageous   portrayal of immigrants and their supporters as invaders and enemies of   the United States. Inciting prejudice against Latinos, Rep. Tom  Tancredo  commented in November 2006-

Look at what  has happened to Miami. It  has become a Third World country…. You would  never know you’re in the  United States of America. You would certainly  say you’re in a Third  World country.

Not to be  left behind, former Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan  continued in  the vein of this fear-mongering around the “immigrant  invasion”. He wrote in 2007-

What is  happening to us? An immigrant  invasion of the United States from the  Third World, as America’s white  majority is no longer even reproducing  itself. Since Roe v. Wade,  America has aborted 45 million of her  children. And Asia, Africa and  Latin America have sent 45 million of  their children to inherit the  estate that aborted American children  never saw.

It goes without saying that claims that  America has been built by and  for White people are historically  incorrect and intensely racist. More  importantly, this country  continues to be shaped by immigrants and draws  immense political and  economic strength from its diversity.

Continuing in the vein of  racial divisiveness is the idea that  immigration rights advocates are  themselves racist, a notion that has  emerged in the post Obama election  days. While television personality  Glenn Beck has referred to  President Obama as someone who was opposed to  white people, he has  generated the idea from numerous accusations of  racism thrown at  pro-immigration advocates during the 2007 push for  reform. At that  time, the radio host Michael Savage attacked the National Council of La Raza by calling it “the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic   people.” He went on to say that it was “the most stone racist group I’ve   ever seen in this country”.

Portraying undocumented immigrants  as responsible for terrorism and   crime waves, as well as positing them  as “unclean” carriers of disease   and bio-terrorism is one of the  tactics that the far right has employed   on both local and national  levels during past debates around   immigration. Such as when  Lou Dobbs claimed immigrants were   causing an   epidemic of  leprosy in the country which was simply untrue. Or when   during the debates over immigration reform, Rep. Steve King, of the   House Republicans’ “Immigration Reform Caucus” extrapolated fictional   statistics claiming that 12 American citizens “die a violent   death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day”. If that’s so,   then why is it that the President’s  Council of Economic Advisers reports that immigrants have lower crime rates than   U.S. citizens and that immigrant men ages 18 to 40 are less likely  than  other U.S. residents to be incarcerated.

While we hope that  most of you would be taken by the impulse to laugh  off these  strategies as racist, rabble-rousing garbage, we must take  note that  such nativist fear-mongering has the power to garner  significant  support from many, especially within the current climate of  an unstable  economy. Work such as People For the American Way’s “Right Wing Watch: In Focus” series gives us the   best tool to fighting these attacks – truly understanding the reasoning   behind them, and countering them on their own territory.

Let’s  fight racism on our route to humane immigration reform!

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Racial profiling in Georgia a microcosm of what's happening all over the U.S.

by: Restore Fairness

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 15:35:07 PM EST

From the Restore  Fairness blog.

As the dust settles around  the 200,000 March for America in D.C. this weekend, it is   important to remind ourselves why we need immigration reform. A new   report by the ACLU is one such reminder of racial profiling that is   alive and kicking in the United States. As one of the most   unconstitutional implications of our broken immigration system, racial profiling takes place when police stop,   interrogate, and detain people on the basis of their appearance, accent   or general perceived ethnicity, rather than on the basis of concrete   evidence of criminal activity.

Called “The Persistence of Racial Profiling in Gwinnett: Time   for Accountability, Transparency, and an End to 287(g),” the report   uses individual testimonies from the community to examine the   persistence of racial profiling in Gwinnett County, Georgia, before and   after the introduction of the 287(g) program that partners local law   enforcement with federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to   enforce immigration law. Dedicated to the brave undocumented students walking the Trail of Dreams who  marched into this “risky”  287(g) county, the report focuses on Sheriff  Conway known as the “Joe  Arpaio of the South”, who claimed that November 16th, 2009 or the day that   the 287(g) program officially took off in Gwinnett County “was a great   day for Gwinnett County citizens.”

Racial profiling has always  been prevalent in Gwinnett County. In a  case that took place before the  implementation of 287(g), a  woman named  Mary Babington witnessed two  police offers stop a white  Sedan and pull  out two Latino men at  gun-point, shouting at them the  entire time.  They were then cuffed and  made to lie on the ground,  shirtless. One of  the men was crying and  asked the officer for his  shirt, saying he felt  cold. The officer then  kicked him on his back and  yelled at him not to  move. Mary then heard  one ="padding-left: 30px">They  wouldn’t come out when I pulled my   gun, so I sprayed the whole can of  pepper spray. I emptied the whole   can on them…Dude, I emptied the can  in his face. I love my job.

According  to the witness, Mary, the officers did not tell the men why   they had  been stopped, and did not read the men their rights at any   point.  Finally the officers administered a breathalyzer test and gave   one of  them a ticket for driving under the influence.

The implementation  of the 287 (g) program has  only exacerbated  racial profiling. Many  people of color have been stopped, interrogated,  detained and even   abused based on minor traffic violations even though  287(g) is supposed  to be implemented to catch serious criminals. Some  were stopped  without any  probable cause and never given an explanation.

A  case in point is the testimony of Juan, a 48-year maintenance   technician who is a legal permanent resident, entitled to live and work   in the U.S. In the last year he has been stopped by local police on two   different occasions, both times without any legal basis. On the most   recent occasion, a Gwinnett police officer asked Juan to pull over as he   was driving home from work. Despite him asking the officer five times   why he was being stopped, he was given no answer. Instead the officer   continuously screamed at him for asking questions and asked him for his   driver’s license, which he handed over. Juan was eventually released   without a citation but never found out why he had been pulled over and   detained. He is now constantly worried about such an event recurring and   avoids driving in certain areas of Gwinnett County.

In a podcast interview, Azadeh   Shahshahani from the ACLU talks about the ways in which the 287(g)   program has been extremely harmful for the 70 jurisdictions in which it   operates. Local profiling has threatened public safety so that instead   of trusting the local police, people are increasingly afraid to  approach  them, creating a dangerous communication barrier between local  law  enforcement and the community. In addition to diverting resources,  the  287(g) program employs local police officers who are not trained  in  making immigration and status determinations, resulting in them   restoring to their perceived notions about people’s race, ethnicity and   accent.

While 50% of U.S. states have enacted legislation  against racial  profiling, legislation is still pending for Georgia. According   to Azadeh -

In Georgia the problem is compounded   because not only is there not any meaningful federal oversight, but   there is also no oversight at the local or county level that we have   seen…One of our main recommendations would be for law enforcement to   revert to a policy of having federal immigration laws enforced only by   federal immigration officials, and leave police to the job of protecting   our communities.

So what’s the best outcome? Lacking training and   oversight, stop 287(g) program all over the country. Document all the   stops that are being made in the name of the program to check for   patterns of racial profiling. And pass anti-racial profiling legislation   so everyone is protected.

Photo courtesy of acluga.org

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200,000 marched for America this weekend. Now it's your turn...

by: Restore Fairness

Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 17:13:15 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Do you know what it feels like to be a part of a  200,000  person-strong protest? In a word- amazing. But why scrimp on  words when  describing the largest demonstration for immigration reform since 2006!

On Sunday March 21st we joined tens of thousands  of people from every  corner of the country as they came together in  Washington D.C. to  demand humane immigration reform NOW. With thousands  of workers, faith based groups, young   people, LGBT  folks and African-Americans demonstrating, the atmosphere on   the National Mall was electric. Once we finished taking in the sheer   magnitude of the sea of people that stretched across five blocks of the   Mall, we held our signs up high and joined in the innovative and   energetic rallying. It was difficult to not be distracted by the variety   of colorful banners, signs, puppets and slogans that people creatively   designed, and we were inspired by chants of “Sí Se Puede”, “No Human   Being is Illegal,” and “Change Takes Courage.” The most prominent colors   of the day were red, white and blue as demonstrators proudly waved   American flags as they marched for justice.

Drawing on the  history of the civil rights movement, Reverend Jesse  Jackson was one of  the enigmatic speakers who spoke of immigration as a  civil rights  issue that impacted all Americans. Other speakers included  Rep. Luis  Gutierrez, the leader of the movement for immigration reform,  whose speech mirrored the spirit of urgency palpable in   the crowd.

We’ve been patient long enough. We’ve  listened quietly. We’ve  asked politely. We’ve turned the other cheek so  many times our heads  are spinning…It’s time to let immigrants come out  of the shadows into  the light and for America to embrace them and  protect them.

Cardinal  Roger Mahony from L.A. made a touching and inspirational speech reminding us of the pain visited upon immigrant families impacted by the broken   immigration system.

Consider what happened to little Gabby, a   U.S. citizen whose father  was taken from their home at 5 a.m. when  she  was nine.  Now 14, instead  of playing with her friends she takes  care  of her baby brothers while  her mother tries to make ends meet.  Gabby  prays that Congress and the President enact immigration reform,   so that  she can once again feel the warmth of her father’s embrace and   never  again have nightmares that she will be left alone.

The  surprise highlight of the “all star” line-up was President Obama’s video speech that was projected   on giant screens to the vast crowd.

If we work together, across ethnic,  state  and party lines, we can build a future worthy of our history as a   nation of immigrants and a nation of laws…I have always pledged to be   your partner as we work to fix our broken immigration system, and  that’s  a commitment that I reaffirm today.

As health  care reform passed by evening, the time for talk seemed  likely over.  Sunday showed us that the lack of forward movement on  reform and the  unending enforcement actions targeting innocent workers  and families  would be tolerated no further. The next day, we joined a national action organized by FIRM at the Republican   National Committee offices to call for stronger support and leadership   for immigration reform from Republican leaders. As we picketed  outside,  organizers marched into the RNC office and demanded a meeting  with RNC  Chair Michael Steele, who had rejected an earlier request. The  strategic  sit-in action met with success as a meeting was fixed for March 31st.

There will  be a lot of hard work in the upcoming weeks. For now, we  need you to  send a free fax and tell your Members of Congress that if   they “don’t choose courage over hate, we’ll elect people who will.” And   keep tuned for our video of this momentous event.

Learn. Share.  Act. Go to restorefairness.org
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Is the criminal justice system "The New Jim Crow?'

by: Restore Fairness

Tue Feb 09, 2010 at 15:29:43 PM EST

Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole. – From ‘The New Jim Crow’.
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Is the Tea Party's racist rhetoric going to save broken families?

by: Restore Fairness

Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 17:52:54 PM EST

From the Restore Fairness blog. 

While it is difficult to find much coherence within the fractured and fast-changing Tea Party Movement, a look at their convention in Nashville last week shows that the issue of immigration seems to have gained greater popularity, emerging largely from the links made between immigration and the healthcare debate at their town hall meetings held last summer. Spearheading this issue for the Tea party agenda was Tom Tancredo, a former Colorado Congressman who kicked off the Nashville Tea Party Convention with a slew of racist comments meant to further the argument against immigration reform.

And then because we don’t have a civics literacy test to vote, people who couldn’t even spell vote, or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House named Barack Hussein Obama.

The Nashville Convention sought to unite the movement against the path to legalization. Tancredo’s opening speech included the argument that while Obama’s plans for immigration reform needed to be halted, it was a good thing that McCain had not been elected or he would already have ensured that Rep. Gutierrez’s bill for immigration reform was passed and “amnesty” given to the country’s undocumented immigrants. He incited the audience to protect the country’s culture saying “our culture is based on Judeo-Christian values whether people like it or not!”

While some, such as a Tea Party blogger Keli Carender said that immigration was not a part of the official agenda, Tancredo’s opening remarks, the prominent presence of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA, as well as a number of signs against “amnesty” from their individual supporters at the convention indicated that immigration issues could become a prominent feature on the movement’s agenda.

So what would Tom Tancredo have to say about the latest report by the Urban Institute that holds that immigration enforcement has a large-scale, detrimental effect on children? The truth is that the immigration system is in dire need of reform and racist rhetoric is not going to solve the complex problems caused as a result of a broken immigration system.

The report is based on research conducted amongst over 100 children of undocumented immigrants that were targeted by raids and arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in six U.S. states. Of the 190 children interviewed for this study, two-thirds were U.S. born citizens. The study says,

Children whose parents were detained for longer than a month experienced more changes in eating, sleeping, frequent crying, fear, anxiety, regression, clinginess, and aggressive behavior.  68% of parents or caretakers questioned said they noticed at least three behavioral changes in the short-term, or three months after a parent was arrested. In the long-term, or nine months after an arrest, 56 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 12 to 17 showed angry or aggressive behavior. The most typical changes were an increase or decrease in eating among all age groups.

Long-term separation of children from their parents is “exceptionally harmful” to the development and growth of children. The report recommends immigration reform must include alternatives to detention such as electronic monitoring and supervised released, as well as a priority quota for immigrants with children to be considered for legal residency.

It’s groups like Tancredo’s that have gone on about the connections between immigrants and crime. An ACLU brief finds that the increasing criminalization of undocumented immigrants has led to a diversion of attention and resources away from more serious criminal offenses such as organized crime, gun trafficking and white collar crimes. For starters unlawful presence in the United States is NOT a “crime”. And secondly only the Federal Government can regulate immigration. So when states and localities use criminal laws to go after undocumented immigrants, they are not only adding to the misinformed rhetoric around “criminal” immigrants but actually diverting resources from where they should be applied. Moreover, studies have shown that increased immigration does not lead to increased crime and that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated for violating criminal laws than non-immigrants.

Once again, we urge the leaders and citizens of this country to step away from their petty vendettas and take a look at the bigger picture, both in terms of what already exists and in terms of what would be best for all.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Weekly Immigration Wire: Modern Day Slave Trade Uncovered

by: The Media Consortium

Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 08:38:55 AM EST

 

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

The Wire will be brief this week, as I'm attending New America Media's Expo and Awards at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. I'll be speaking about New Media and accepting an award on the behalf of the Sanctuary group at ProMigrant.Org.  

 
There's More... :: (1 Comments, 579 words in story)

Peaceful Prayer Vigil Scheduled to Pray for Unity in Shenandoah

by: dee321

Fri May 08, 2009 at 16:10:49 PM EST

The Pennsylvania Latino community is planning a Peaceful Prayer Vigil to Pray for Unity in Shenandoah. In a recent interview, Dr. Agapito Lopez, a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Latino Affairs and vice president of the Hazleton Latino Association said, "Everyone is concerned about this decision. Not only in the community here, but the whole Hispanic community in the United States."

On May 16, a vigil is planned to "Pray for Unity in Shenandoah." Dr. Arroyo said, "This will be a very Peaceful Prayer Vigil."  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 122 words in story)

Another Workplace ICE Raid, this time in Murderer Dannie Baker's Neighborhood!

by: dee321

Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 16:52:02 PM EST

On Thursday, March 19, another workplace raid occured. Bay County Sheriff's Office Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit (a 287(g) group) and the Panama City ICE group conducted the raid. Workers were arrested at "Construction Enterprise Inc." located at the Waterside Apartments of Jenks Avenue construction site in Panama City, FL. Panama City is just miles down Highway 30 from Chilean Student murderer Dannie Baker's Miramar Beach, FL neighborhood. Panama City is also the Headquarters for the "League of the South", a group listed as a racist hate group by the SPLC.  
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New PEW Report Provides SHOCKING Link between Racial Profiling and Latino Federal Prison Sentences!

by: dee321

Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 22:09:22 PM EST

According to a new study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, Latinos accounted for 40% of all people sentenced to federal crimes in 2007, even though they made up only 13% of the U.S. adult population. This is clearly a result of all of the Racial Profiling brought about by the 287(g) policies and the restrictionist policies promoted by the ANTI Immigration Reform forces.

The study, which relied on data from U.S. Sentencing Commission statistics, analyzed the ethnic makeup and citizenship status of offenders sentenced in federal courts in the U.S. from 1991 to 2007.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 432 words in story)

House Judiciary Committee Calls for Investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

by: rachelfirm

Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 15:12:35 PM EST

arpaio-march-22

Today, the House Judiciary Committe released a letter to Janet Napolitano and the Attorney General, calling on the Department of Justice to investigate Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.  And I couldn't be happier.

Last week, Sheriff "Arpayaso" reached a new low, when he paraded over 200 immigrant detainees to a "tent city", surrounded by electric fences, shackled and forced to wear striped prison uniforms. This move, a horrofic publicity stunt using people as props, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sheriff Joe's Human and Civil Rights abuses.

It is high time that this maniac be held accountable for his actions. As Frank Sharry of America's Voice wrote today on the Huffington Post:

Arpaio is a modern day Bull Connor and his publicity-seeking crusades have made the Latino community scared and Maricopa County less safe by prioritizing racial profiling over executing the felony warrants that have piled up on his desk. His most recent scheme, rounding up immigrants and shipping them off to separate "tent cities," is just the latest in a career filled with dangerous and anti-Latino demagoguery.

It is also great news to hear that the Judiciary Committee is recommending an investigation of the 287(g) agreement between DHS and Maricopa County - it is this agreement that gives Arpaio the ability to enforce Federal immigration law, but not "to create mini Gitmos".

The letter was sent from the office of Rep. John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and stated:

"Racial profiling and segregation are simply not acceptable." said Conyers. "Media stunts and braggadocio are no substitute for fair and effective law enforcement."

Arpaio must be stopped, before his brand of hate is normalized and becomes an acceptable form of "law enforcement". He is not just an isolated rogue, but rather the pulse of the racist anti-immigrant movement that is working to dehumanize immigrants and strip them of their rights.

For more on this, check out www.sheriffjoemustgo.com and sign onto the petition from America's Voice.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

HATECRIME:Punched Face for Speaking Spanish!Why "Official English" Laws will Increase Hate Crimes!

by: dee321

Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 17:16:59 PM EST

Breaking News:

A 53-year-old San Jose man was having a personal conversation on his cell phone, speaking in Spanish, minding his own business, when he was suddenly attacked, punched in the face, as the white suspect, Scott Pontzious, 28, of San Jose, screamed "Speak English!!"

Imagine, walking down the street, having a private conversation with your friend on a cell phone, then, out of the blue, some young maniac comes up to you and punches you in the face and runs away!

Of course this is not surprising news, given the rhetoric going on daily on any ANTI Immigration Reform website or newspaper comment section discussing "Official English."  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 417 words in story)

Devil is in the Details: Heritage Foundation's Immigration Recommendation

by: dee321

Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 20:20:28 PM EST

Dear President Obama,

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank based in DC. They promote conservative public policy. They became influential in the Reagan years. They view themselves as traditional conservatives and they proudly display the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Shawn Hannity on their home pages.

On January 13, 2009, they came out with their official Immigration policy statement. In reviewing their policy, their recommendations are consistent with past Conservative/ANTI policy.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 491 words in story)
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