Immigrant Rights News - Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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1. Clarion Ledger: Incidents reflect racial tension
4. The Times News: Wake County widens immigration checks.New test program enhances 287(g)
5. Wall Street Journal: Economic Crises Will Take Precedence Over Near-Term Immigration Overhaul
November 8, 2008
Incidents reflect racial tension
Barack Obama's election is being heralded as a milestone for
For example, a school bus driver and a coach allegedly chastised students in
Those reactions are sharply different from those of Americans surveyed after the election.
A recent USA Today/Gallup Poll showed Obama's election has sparked a wave of optimism about the future of race relations.
According to the poll, two-thirds of Americans predict relations "will eventually be worked out" in the
But allegations in
Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, said she is worried students' free speech has been limited since the election.
"We've been hearing that students have been told they couldn't say the name Barack Obama," Lambright said.
An educator in
"This is a historic time for our country, and it's really unfortunate that students aren't able to talk about it," Lambright said.
The bus driver and the coach with the
"It is unfortunate that some employees mishandled this situation, but they have been disciplined, and I have spent the day clarifying our policies," Superintendent Greg Ladner said in a written statement.
He did not say what form of discipline they received.
"The whole nation was excited, and in no way and at no time will children be disciplined for saying the name of the president-elect of the
McLemore said he had tried to avoid worrying over what would happen with regard to racial altercations if Obama was elected.
"I think these incidents reflect the long history of race relations in
When the votes were tallied and Obama was declared the victor, profile updates on Facebook - a social networking site popular among college students - went into overdrive. Many of them exposed racial biases and fears.
"These attitudes often are passed on by the parents to young people," McLemore said.
Federal agents determined there was no actual threat to Obama, and the four students will not be charged.
At the University of Mississippi, sophomore Aaron Thomas said he was celebrating outside Kincannon Hall, yelling "Obama won, Obama won," when three students started yelling at him and calling him the n-word. Thomas and the three scuffled, he said. Campus police broke it up. No arrests were made.
Campus Police Chief Calvin Sellers said racial slurs were overheard from the fourth floor of the dorm and an investigation was under way to determine who made them. The results will go to the dean of student's office and the judicial council. "I don't know what laws were broken," he said.
McLemore said he thinks the best way to work through the racial divide will be to open the lines of communication.
"It's an ongoing struggle, and instances like this reflect a lack of dialogue and understanding," McLemore said. "We don't have enough people who are stepping up to be the bridge builders."
Stabbing of immigrant in New York comes amid increase in hate crimes against Hispanics
By DEEPTI HAJELA and FRANK ELTMAN
Associated Press Writers
4:22 AM EST, November 12, 2008
Marcello Lucero never made it. His walk, and his life, came to a brutal end when the Ecuadorean native was allegedly beaten and stabbed by a group of teenagers who police said wanted "to beat up some Mexicans."
Lucero's death Saturday night on
Observers and Hispanic advocates blame a climate of harsh rhetoric surrounding the national immigration debate.
"I don't think it's merely coincidence that these hate crimes are going up at the same time there's a violent at times debate over immigration," said Kevin Brown, dean of the law school at the University of California-Davis.
"We talk about immigration, we're not particularly careful in the terminology," he said. "Inflammatory terminology is frequently used, that helps to sort of rile people up."
According to FBI statistics released last month, there were 595 incidents of anti-Hispanic bias in 2007, with 830 victims reported by law enforcement agencies. That's a 40 percent rise from 2003, when there were 426 incidents involving 595 victims.
The increase mirrors greater activity in the immigration debate, with mass rallies, attempts at reform legislation, increased government crackdowns and efforts by states and municipalities to pass their own immigration laws. Census estimates of the population of Hispanics in the
And the rhetoric around the topic, in the media and elsewhere, has been divisive, advocates say, sometimes portraying immigrants as stealing jobs and gobbling up resources.
"The debate about immigration has been damaged by anti-Latino, anti-immigrant sentiment that's been hijacked by extremists and that some politicians have seen fit to exploit for whatever reasons," said Luis Valenzuela, executive director of Long Island Immigrant Alliance.
"The point at which policy debate goes beyond what's appropriate in our public discourse is the point where you're demonizing an entire community," said Peter Zamora, Washington, D.C., counsel for the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Not everyone agrees with the connection. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a co-founder of a national group called Mayors and Executives for Immigration Reform, rejected suggestions that the killing on
"The beating, stabbing and killing of Marcello Lucero wasn't a question of any county policy or legislation; it was a question of bad people doing horrific things," Levy said.
Seven teens were arraigned Monday on gang assault charges and entered not guilty pleas in connection with Lucero's death. The teen believed to have wielded the knife was also charged with manslaughter as a hate crime.
Joselo Lucero spoke Tuesday near the scene of his brother's killing, where a makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and a picture of the victim lay near bloodstains in the street.
He said his brother, who had been in the
"He had a good heart and he stayed out of trouble all the time. He took care of my mom in
Tensions over immigrants among longtime residents have been particularly sharp on
Things got so bad in the summer of 2005 that the head of the Mexican Consulate in
The discourse surrounding immigration has to change, advocates say.
"We have to have a debate about immigration that's focused on workable solutions that uphold our national values," Valenzuela said. "The debate as it's currently entertained is very divisive."
On the Net:
Long Island Immigrant
01:35 PM CST on Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Normally, when prisoners are booked into jails, their fingerprints are run through a national database to check their criminal history. Under the new initiative, prisoners’ fingerprints will also be run through a similar database to check their immigration status.
If the computer shows a prisoner is in the country illegally, he or she will be referred to the federal government for possible deportation.
Currently, a prisoner’s immigration status is checked in jails only if they are referred to federal immigration agents. For years, the
The new database link with the
The goal is to give all local jails in the country a link to the federal government’s databases. By next spring, ICE plans to make this database link available to more than 50 state and local law enforcement agencies.
The Dallas and Harris county sheriff’s departments were the only two
The immigration status database is the work of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.
The Times News
New test program enhances 287(g)
November 12, 2008 - 9:15AM
Wake County jailers will have access to a fingerprint-based database that includes data about visa applications, previous deportations and residency applications -- part of a pilot program starting today by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The purpose, says Wake Sheriff Donnie Harrison, is to find out whether someone arrested is in the country illegally. Fingerprint records will be used in addition to the resources the sheriff's detention officers already have to check inmates' immigration status. The Wake Sheriff's Office participates in the 287(g) program, named for a section of a federal law that allows local jailers to check the immigration status of inmates and begin deportation proceedings.
Only seven agencies in the country were selected for the pilot program, including jails in Wake, Gaston, Henderson and Buncombe counties. The other three are in jails in
``The goal is to have a virtual ICE presence in every jail in the country,'' said Julie Myers, ICE's assistant secretary.
With a new presidential administration coming to
``I'm very hopeful that the new administration will see this program as a priority,'' Myers said.
Congress has designated $350 million for the program. Eventually, that cost is expected to rise to up to $3 billion a year nationwide and flag for deportation an estimated 300,000 to 450,000 people arrested on criminal charges each year, according to ICE figures.
But the expanded searches, done at the same time a person's criminal history is checked, are also being viewed warily by Latino advocacy and civil liberties groups. They cite instances in which illegal immigrants have faced deportation proceedings after arrests for traffic violations. The fingerprint checks mean that more of a person's personal information will be shared with law enforcement, said Rebecca Headen of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.
``We're once again seeing criminal enforcement allied with immigration enforcement,'' Headen said. ``They're two totally separate systems in our country.''
``Even though they say that they might be born here, they'll still be checked,''
Wall Street Journal
NOVEMBER 12, 2008
Economic Crises Will Take Precedence Over Near-Term Immigration Overhaul
The next administration's preoccupation with economic crises will likely prevent immigration advocates from capitalizing on steep losses suffered by their foes in last week's election, delaying any attempt to ease entry for people in the U.S. illegally.
Of the 13 House Republicans who lost their seats on Nov. 4, nine were members of the Immigration Reform Caucus, which has opposed a path to citizenship for the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. A 10th member,
In addition, caucus founder Rep. Tom Tancredo of
Watch an ad from Sen. Elizabeth Dole on her work linking local sheriffs to a federal program targeting illegal immigrants.
Together, these losses shifted the political landscape on a problem that has defied solutions over the past two decades.
The camps break down roughly along these lines: Business and immigrant groups argue for a three-pronged approach that includes legalizing immigrants who overstayed visas or entered the
Many Republican candidates' strong stand against illegal immigrants was read by voters as anti-Latino, and likely hurt incumbents in
Immigration wasn't the only issue in any of those races. But in a study to be released Wednesday, the pro-immigration group
Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole of
Sen. Dole's contest was one of five Senate races in which anti-immigrant candidates lost,
Roy Beck, of the group Numbers USA, disagrees. "Voters didn't punish anybody for taking strong enforcement stands," Mr. Beck wrote. "In most cases, our allies were replaced by challengers who worked hard to convince voters that they were just as tough -- or tougher -- on illegal immigration as the incumbents."
But the defeat of so many caucus members has left immigrant groups optimistic that the Obama administration will reward Hispanic voters for their support with some sort of legalization program.
That doesn't mean a comprehensive immigration overhaul will be a legislative priority, or that its chances of passing are significantly better in Congress, though -- and the president-elect didn't make any promises during the campaign. Mr. Obama will be focused on the economy and tax policy and isn't likely to expend political capital on such a divisive issue, many immigration experts say.
There is also no leader to take up the immigration cause in place of Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who is fighting cancer. Sen. John McCain was the lead Republican advocate of revamping immigration laws, but he took intense heat from primary voters for his stand and largely dropped the issue during his presidential campaign.
"Conventional wisdom that amnesty is a done deal is incorrect," says Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a
Immigrant groups have long feared that any stand-alone bill seeking legalization for millions of undocumented residents would fail, and have insisted on legalization being part of a broader immigration bill. "Illegals are so divisive [as a political issue] that the groups know there have to be sweeteners to get an overhaul passed," said Kara Calvert of the Information Technology Industry Council.
But various groups have their own reasons to avoid lumping every immigration issue into an omnibus bill.
High-tech employers may argue for a separate bill that would provide more temporary visas and permanent green cards to engineers, mathematicians and scientists whom they believe would help spur the economy, she added. Agriculture may make the same case, arguing that it needs field workers to prevent production from moving to
That could fracture the business-union-immigrant coalition behind bills that failed in 2005 and 2007. Trade unions will likely oppose a temporary-worker plan that was part of both earlier bills -- and a must-have for employers -- because it would affect jobs during a recession.
A hint of Congress's and the administration's intentions could come in March when the E-Verify program, which lets employers electronically verify the status of new workers, expires. The program is a cornerstone of the Bush administration's enforcement policies, but has detractors among civil-libertarian and immigrant groups. The next administration could seek a five-year renewal, a brief extension or let it expire.
Another key will be whether the Obama administration continues workplace raids, which have resulted in the arrest of thousands of illegal workers and criminal prosecution of at least some managers. The Bush administration, after pushing Congress for a legalization program, stepped up the raids after legislation failed.
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