Take action: Don't let divisive and racial politics wreck the census

From Restore Fairness blog

Republican Senators Vitter and Bennett are trying to wreck the US Census. Mr. Vitter is demanding that the census be forced to add a question about citizenship status to its 2010 questionnaire - a move that would cost millions of dollars in tax payers money and fundamentally compromise the nature of the census.

In a incredibly narrow minded move, the Washington Times reports that he has written letters to senators from nine states telling them it's in their interest to support him because they may lose seats to states with higher undocumented immigrant or noncitizen populations.

"Voting for cloture or against my amendment could very well be a vote to strip your state of proper representation in Congress and cede your state's influence to other states that reward illegal immigrants like California and New York," he said in his letter to Indiana's two senators, which would be among those at a disadvantage.

The reason for this is that huge immigrant population increases in some states during the last decade will change the proportional representation, resulting in a loss of House seats in about eight states, including Vitter's home state of Louisiana.

If passed, the Vitter-Bennett amendment would throw a monkey wrench into the U.S. Census by requiring over 120 million questionnaires to be reprinted, wasting over $7 billion in research, planning, and preparation that has occurred for Census 2010.

Don't let politics undermine the accuracy of the 2010 population count and inject an anti-immigrant agenda into every realm of public life.

Click here to write your Senator and tell them to vote NO on the Vitter-Bennett amendment.

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Immigrants afraid to call the police - Rep. Jared Polis, ACLU stand up to Arpaio style enforcement

In a floor speech delivered today, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis had some harsh words for the 287(g) program which grants broad immigration enforcement powers to local law enforcement agencies, holding it responsible for a "sweep of terror" that "scares victims and witnesses of crimes to avoid contacting police for fear of being mistreated."

Given Sheriff Arpaio's so called crime and immigrations sweeps over the weekend in Maricopa County, Arizona, the speech is a well planned rebuff to the administrations renewal of 67 agreements with local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws.

Arpaio, whose deputies had arrested 16 people last Friday on unspecified charges said, "I am the elected sheriff. I don't take orders from the federal government." And even though his agreement with the government extends only to immigration enforcement in the jails (and has been expressly removed from the streets), he continues to defy the law. To prove his point, he distributed a document that he claimed included language from Title 8 of the federal code authorizing him to conduct sweeps, which was eventually proven to come from an anti-immigrant Web site, and not from federal statute.

Notwithstanding Sheriff Arpaio's notoriety, stories of racial profiling and violations are emerging across the country.

From Cobbs County, Georgia comes a damning ACLU report showing how the 287(g) program has led to an intense mistrust of local law enforcement within their community. Individual testimonies include Joanna who once put out a fire in her kitchen herself because she was too afraid to call 911 for fear of immigration consequences. Or Jonathan, a Latino man who was shopping for jewelry for his wife at Macy's when a security guard began to follow him and called the police. Jonathan was then detained by the officer without being informed about the reason and was subsequently charged with loitering and deported, charges that were later dismissed by the district attorney. His family now lives in constant fear of the "seemingly unlimited power of the police to arrest a Latino person for any or no reason at all."

The report indicates a marked pattern to the way that the Cobb police regularly use minor traffic violations to detain immigrants, stopping them based on the color of their skin, and then denying their basic rights. Sharon, an American citizen, tells the story about her husband Angel, who was pulled over for an incomplete stop at a stop sign. He was subsequently arrested and when Sharon tried to get him out on bond, the officer told her that there was an immigration detainer on him and he could not be released. He was then transferred to a detention center while Sharon who is disabled waits for the release of her husband, whom she depends on "for everything."

It's time we listen to Members of Congress like Rep. Polis who is willing to stand up to a system that is clearly not working. Or the Law Enforcement Engagement initiative, which has many state and local law enforcement officials speaking out for immigration reform that respects fairness and due process.

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"Illegal alien" Halloween costume sets off firestorm

From Restore Fairness blog

On Friday, news started emerging about a racist and offensive 'illegal alien' costume being sold for Halloween on Target, Toys R Us, Walgreens, Amazon and a host of other retailers. Public pressure including pressure from immigration activists including CHIRLA, United Farm Workers and LULAC helped pull some of the costumes of the shelves - while Target and Toys R Us pulled the costume off their websites, Walgreens showed it as out of stock.

There has been no official announcement from Amazon but it appears that the costumes have been pulled.

The costume, described by CHIRLA as "distasteful, mean-spirited, and ignorant of social stigmas and current debate on immigration reform" consists of "orange prison-style jumpsuit with illegal alien printed on the front, an alien mask and a green card."

The mixed messages in the costume are mind boggling. A green card means legal status, therefore one isn't quite sure what that's doing as part of the costume - unless of course all immigrants are criminals. Being undocumented in the country is a civil offense - not a criminal offense - therefore why is a prison jumpsuit (which looks closely like uniforms worn by people held in Guantanamo) featured at all. Worst of all is the alien mask - clearly denoting how all outsiders are aliens. Maybe its even silly to try and break down such a costume but one can't help it when Fox news is asking where America's sense of humor is? And when William Gheen, president of anti-immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC's President has offered to conduct interviews wearing the costume.

In an even more disturbing and offensive twist, Fox ends their depiction of the news with, "if you're here illegally, go to your local police station and tell them how outraged you are because you're an illegal alien and this costume offends you!"

Perpetuating racism and discrimination, this is only one in a line of costumes, designed to provoke fear and hostility towards outsiders. Here are two more costumes from Party City and Halloween Express that do just that.

Keep up with UFW's petition putting pressure on Amazon and other retailers to pull offensive costumes off their shelves.

Image courtesy of www.amazon.com

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How has the immigration system fared one year under Obama's presidency?

From Restore Fairness Blog

In early 2009, President Obama appointed the governor of border-state Arizona Janet Napolitano, and a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For many, it was a sign that the administration would tackle immigration reform as a priority. In her first week in office, Napolitano ordered a sweeping internal review of DHS, aimed at identifying key areas for reform. March 2010 marks the one year anniversary from that week. So how much has changed for immigration?

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Government abdicating responsibility on deaths in detention

No one doubts the immigration system is broken. But with the dilly dallying that seems to have enveloped any immigration reform legislation, families continue to be broken up and lives continue to be lost in the vast immigration detention and deportation network.

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