Help us KNOCK OUT Republicans in Arizona!

UPDATE! October 27, 2010: We have already raised $15,760 thanks to your hard work and support! Keep us going strong towards our huge $25,000 grassroots goal!

On October 23, just ten days before the November 2 election, the Arizona Democratic Party launched a new online effort and issued a challenge to our grassroots supporters—“10 in 10 for 2010.” We challenged our friends and allies to donate $10 or more and recruit 10 friends to do the same so that we can KNOCK OUT the Republicans in 2010!

We’ve set a huge goal of raising $25,000 online from our grassroots supporters in the last few days before the election. It’s our most ambitious online fundraising push yet—and we can’t do it without you. Our Republican opposition will be watching closely to see if we can make it.

This $25,000 in the final few days of the election will make a crucial difference in our Get-Out-the-Vote campaign so that we can expand the electorate, reach out to voters, and combat the Republican attack machine.

Supported by million dollar checks from their anonymous corporate donors--and parroting RNC talking points on immigration, Obama and Nancy Pelosi--the likes of Joe “Pink Underwear” Arpaio, “Repeal the 14th Amendment” Russell Pearce, and debate-dodging Jan Brewer are counting on deceiving, confusing or scaring Arizona votes into staying home on Nov. 2.

We cannot let that happen.

There's more...

Weekly Diaspora: Has Obama Failed the Immigration Reform Movement?

by Catherine Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

After signing a controversial $600 million border security bill last week, President Barack Obama is drawing fire from immigration reform advocates and anti-immigrant conservatives alike. While the former argue that the new security measures are a step backwards for comprehensive immigration reform, the latter say the bill does too little to secure our borders.

Arizona’s SB 1070 was a challenge to the federal government’s ability to resolve the immigration issue, and the Obama administration took a strong stood against it. The border security bill is almost certainly a demonstration of the administration’s might. But for what, and at whose expense?

The further right the president moves on immigration, the more absurd the opposition’s tactics become. Anti-immigration activists are now directing their ire towards the unborn children of immigrants. Meanwhile, immigration activists in Arizona are butting heads with an increasingly vocal gang of Tea Party members and have yet to see any positive change as a result of the federal lawsuit.

Obama gets an F

At The American Prospect, Adam Serwer argues that Obama’s immigration policies have failed the reform movement, and that they have also failed to bring anti-immigrant conservatives into the fold:

…While President Obama talks like an immigration moderate, in practice his actions are those of an unapologetic immigration hawk who has tightened border security without fulfilling his promise of immigration reform. […] On matters of border security, the administration is doing just about everything a Republican might do in his place, which means that Republicans have had to go to even greater extremes just to provide an excuse for not going along.

The extremist crusade against the 14th amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to anyone born in the U.S., is just one example of the lengths to which some conservatives will go to defy an administration whose immigration policies are already remarkably conservative.

Exposing the myth of the “anchor baby”

True to form, those calling for a repeal of the 14th amendment are now outdoing one another in an effort to appear even more extremely anti-immigrant. This week’s “terror baby” threat has eclipsed last week’s “anchor baby” threat, as some conservatives claim that pregnant immigrants are not only coming to the U.S. to give birth, but to raise their American babies as terrorists.

Robin Templeton of GritTv and Seth Hoy of AlterNet jumped on the issue this week. Both argue that, in far too many cases, the citizenship of an immigrant’s children has little bearing on whether or not she stays in the country, let alone become a U.S. citizen.

Templeton drives the point home by citing the case of Fatoumata Gassama, mother of six U.S. citizens, who fled Senegal to escape genital mutilation and is now faced with deportation. If deported, Templeton writes, “She will have no choice but to return with her children…including her 4 daughters, who would almost certainly be subjected to the same torture from which their mother sought refuge in the United States.”

The “anchor baby” threat is just the latest in a long list of sensational and unfounded claims put forth to demonize immigrants. According to the anti-immigrant contingent, we are at risk of losing jobs to immigrants, losing social services to immigrants, and even being criminally victimized by immigrants. Propagating such baseless misinformation is a common tactic, as most may remember from the health care reform debates.

Checking in on Arizona

Meanwhile in the nation’s anti-immigrant epicenter, Arizona, Tea Partiers are enjoying their heyday, and immigrants’ rights activists have yet to see any positive change resulting from the federal lawsuit against SB 1070.

As Naima Ramos-Chapman reports at Colorlines, gun-toting tea party activists kicked off the week with a border rally headlined by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who advertised some of his own immigration solutions including “a pre-emptive strike to hunt down immigrants on the Mexican side of the border.”

Arpaio’s apparent disregard for Mexico’s sovereignty notwithstanding, his anti-immigrant zeal is nothing new. As Aura Bogado reports for Mother Jones, the sheriff tormented immigrants for years before SB 1070 became a hot topic, indiscriminately rounding up people of color and jailing them under such poor conditions that many have left prison severely injured, while others have died.

On top of that, federal prosecutions of immigrants in Arizona are at a record high this year. According to Elise Foley at the Washington Independent, newly released data shows that immigration cases made up 84.5 percent of prosecutions in Arizona.

That’s good news, no doubt, to Arpaio. Maricopa county ranks among the highest in its prosecutions of non-criminal immigrants. Such findings are harder for reform advocates to swallow, particularly in light of Obama’s repeated assurances that his immigration measures primarily target criminals. The divide between Obama’s promises and the reality of the situation on the ground is glaring, and anti-immigrant forces know it.

In Arizona, for instance, both the state legislature and Governor Jan Brewer remain defiant even in the face of the federal lawsuit against SB 1070 (which itself challenged the president’s resolve on immigration reform), and have since passed or introduced other anti-immigrant bills, in addition to several currently in the works—Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez at Ms. has a good breakdown of recently passed and pending anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona.

Curbing Arizona’s reach

But while numerous states have come out in support of SB 1070, many copy-cat bills have already failed in other states. Many more are likely to meet the same end.

Suman Raghunathan at YES! Magazine suggests that states are broadly rejecting Arizona—thereby demonstrating that the intense anti-immigrant sentiment currently dominating the media belongs to only a small faction of extremists. Raghunathan furthermore argues that it is actually the anti-immigrant movement that is failing.

Given the highly-criticized events at the federal level, such as the signing of the new border security bill and the expansion of the Secure Communities program, Raghunathan’s position is optimistic, to say the least. But maybe, at this point in the game, the immigration reform camp needs a little optimism.

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: Will $600 Million Border Security Bill Target Innocents?

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Anti-immigrant forces have adeptly shaped the ongoing immigration debate into an issue of crime and punishment. Now, the pending passage of a $600 million border security bill could breathe new life into the narrative of the criminal immigrant – despite the increasing safety of our border communities.

The sentiment is familiar, if false: Crime in Mexico fuels migration, which breeds violence on the border, which must then be combated within our cities. The undocumented must be punished for stealing our jobs, stealing our services and ruining our neighborhoods. In Arizona, lawmakers like state senator Russell Pearce (who claims that his ring finger was shot off by a Latino gang member) used just that rhetoric to justify the passage of SB 1070 and other anti-immigrant laws.

The reality is far different. Not only do Mexicans and immigrants experience the worst of drug-related border violence, immigration enforcement programs have shifted their resources from combating trafficking to deporting non-criminal immigrants.

Securing the border against non-criminals

At ColorLines, Julianne Hing reports that a border security bill passed by the Senate last Friday would provide $600 million in funding for unmanned aerial drones, communications equipment and 1,500 new enforcement agents on the U.S.-Mexico border. The sum is in addition to $701 million recently approved by the House for similar militarization efforts at the border.

The Obama administration quickly affirmed its support of the bill, which was re-introduced in the House and will go before the Senate for another vote today. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano reiterated the president’s assurances that the new resources would primarily target “transnational criminal organizations” in an effort to reduce “the illicit trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons.”

Experts argue that this renewed emphasis on border security may encourage Republicans to cooperate in passing comprehensive immigration reform – a suggestion that some lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have been quick to endorse.

The government’s demonstrated border policing priorities don’t gel with the administration’s assurances that increases in border security will solely focus on organizing crime and trafficking. As the Immigration Policy Institute points out, federal prosecutions of smugglers and drug traffickers have gone down significantly as resources have shifted to the prosecution of non-criminal immigrants crossing the border illegally.

Policing the innocent instead of the criminal

As Elise Foley reports at the Washington Independent, newly released records show that a significant portion of those deported through the Secure Communities program — which requires local law enforcement to share fingerprints with federal authorities — had no criminal records.

That number constitutes one-fourth of deportees nationally, but the proportions are much higher county-to-county. In Maricopa county, Arizona — the home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio — 54 percent of deportees were non-criminals, while in Travis county, Texas, the figure was 80 percent.

Immigration advocacy groups argue that the new data defies DHS’s stated commitment to prioritizing dangerous illegal immigrants over non-criminals. “ICE has blatantly misrepresented the program by saying it focuses on high-risk illegal immigrants,” Sarahi Uribe, an organizer with National Day Laborer’s Organizers Network, told Foley.

Given ICE’s admitted lack of resources and the inhumane conditions documented in many detention centers, prioritization of non-criminal immigrants is a troubling reminder that the anti-crime rhetoric of the anti-immigrant Right is nothing more than a ruse.

U.S. border communities are safer than ever

Yet, despite the ugly picture painted by mass deportations and massively-funded border security bills, communities along the U.S.-Mexico border are actually quite safe.

As Elena Shore reports at New America Media, a new poll commissioned by the Border Network for Human Rights found that 87 percent of people living in 10 different U.S. border towns feel safe in their communities— a finding supported by other statistics:

An FBI report obtained by the Associated Press found that the four big U.S. cities with the lowest rates of violent crime are all along the border: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection report obtained by AP also found that being a Border Patrol agent is much less dangerous than being a street cop in most cities.

No asylum for Mexicans fleeing cartel violence

The relative safety of U.S. border communities stands in stark contrast, however, to that of their Mexican neighbors. While Americans live comfortably on the north side of the border, places like Ciudad Juarez (El Paso’s seedy sister city) are wracked by cartel violence.

At the Texas Observer, Susana Hayward examines the strained relationship between the two cities: one threatened by escalating drug violence, the other a gateway to largest drug market in the world. Chronicling the stories of Mexicans affected by the drug war, Hayward reminds us that while the U.S. repeatedly reaffirms its commitment to combating drug trafficking and to keeping the border safe, it offers no recourse to the scores of Mexicans who seek refuge from the violence.

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: Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Crusade Continues

by Catherine Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Though Arizona’s SB 1070 went into effect without its most controversial provisions, the legislation’s stated intent—attrition through enforcement—is nevertheless gaining traction among anti-immigrant legislators across the nation. In the wake of the law’s enactment, other states are coming out in support of Arizona, some developing policy modeled after SB 1070. Others even hope to alter the U.S. constitution to deny “birthright citizenship” to children of undocumented immigrants.

Arizona stands firm against injunction

After federal judge Susan Bolton blocked numerous elements of SB 1070, Arizona governor Jan Brewer wasted no time and swiftly filed an appeal against the injunction.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for his part, has assured the public that he intends to continue enforcing state and federal immigration laws through “crime sweeps” and immigration status checks. After Arizona’s 287(g) agreement expired last year, effectively stripping local law enforcement of the right to detain individuals on suspicion of their immigration status, Arpaio similarly refused to comply, brazenly maintaining his immigration enforcement campaign.

Jamilah King of ColorLines reports that on the day that SB 1070 went into effect, Arpaio and hundreds of deputies arrested 50 protesters before completing their 17th immigration raid. Those arrested included clergy, journalists, and attorneys. Local civil rights leader Salvador Reza – a particularly outspoken critic of Arpaio’s contentious enforcement tactics, was also taken into custody, as was former state Sen. Alfredo Gutierrez.

No citizenship to “anchor babies”

Meanwhile, Arizona legislators are taking anti-immigrant sentiment to a new level and coming out in favor of potentially repealing the 14th amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

At the Washington Independent, Elise Foley reports that Arizona senators Jon Kyl and John McCain are the latest to join the radical faction of Republican Party politicians calling for congressional hearings to reconsider the amendment. McCain’s new position is particularly curious given his historical support of comprehensive immigration reform, and past advocacy of deportees’ American children.

McCain’s about-face may be prompted by the impending election and, in particular, the considerable popularity of his Republican opponent J. D. Hayworth, who is running on a firm anti-immigrant platform.

Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive argues that the Republican focus on birthright citizenship is a malicious attempt to visit the sins of the father onto the children. Rothschild also calls attention to the fact that a whopping 94 Republicans in the House support the extremist effort.

SB 1070 paves the way

Arizona has long been a testing ground for anti-immigrant measures in the U.S. and SB 1070 is no exception. Now that the new law has gained traction, other states are following suit.

At Talking Points Memo, Christina Bellantoni reports that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued an opinion stating that Virginia law enforcement, including state park personnel, have the same authority to investigate immigration status as Arizona police officers.

Written as an advisory letter to state Delegate Bob Marshall, the opinion has garnered intense opposition – in part because Virginia considers official opinions of the attorney general to be laws. Cuccinelli reinforced his opinion by filing an amicus brief to stand in solidarity with Arizona in its fight against the federal government.

He’s not alone, either. Going back to the Washington Independent Foley reports that three other attorney generals and nine states have filed amicus briefs in support of Arizona’s new immigration law.

Who profits when immigrants go to jail?

While SB 1070 is argued in the courts and debated in the media, Yana Kuchinoff at Truthout reminds us that 300,000 immigrants are languishing in detention centers under notoriously poor conditions. More than 100 deaths have been reported in immigration detention since 2003, sparking investigations by Human Rights Watch, Detention Watch, and even the Department of Homeland Security.

Moreover, private companies contracted to handle the rising number of detentions are making a fortune on the nation’s broken immigration system. Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private immigration detainer in the country, has made record profits since 2003 by billing the federal government an estimated $11 million per month and cutting costs at the expense of detainees’ health and well-being. Telecommunications companies like EverCom are also profiting from detention, charging immigrants in detention as much as $17.34 for a 15-minute phone call.

The irony of our dysfunctional immigration system, Kuchinoff concludes, is that the people who end up spending the most time in detention, are those with the strongest claims for staying in the U.S.

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: Evangelicals Unexpected Allies for Immigration Reform

by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger

With only a week remaining before Arizona’s contentious Senate Bill 1070 becomes law, Arizona human and immigrant rights groups have found unlikely allies among the religious community.

The American Prospect reports that a growing group of evangelical Christian leaders, like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, are rejecting the traditional conservative stance on immigration, instead supporting President Barack Obama’s call for comprehensive reform.

Southern Baptist and Catholic leaders are also among those who have come out in favor of a path to citizenship, according to New American Media. Following last week’s blacklist scandal in Utah, the stance on immigration reform in the Mormon Church (Utah’s dominant social institution) is under scrutiny. After the news broke of the blacklist of undocumented immigrants– which contained Social Security numbers, phone numbers, even the due dates of pregnant women– a firestorm of controversy erupted.

Many religious leaders chimed in, condemning the list and those who compiled it. However, Mormon clergy have come under fire for remaining neutral on the issue of immigration, despite the Church’s high-profile public support for Prop 8, the gay marriage ban.

Voicing Dissent

Opponents of SB 1070 are pulling out all the stops and preparing for a “statewide mobilization” in Arizona on July 29th. Activists are planning rallies, vigils and civil disobedience protests to be held across the state.

Jennifer Allen, director of the Border Action Network, is helping organize the statewide mobilization. She says that the immigrant rights community isn’t in favor of illegal immigration, but rather a better path to citizenship and an alternative to the enforcement-only approach to dealing with immigration. Speaking to Public News Service, Allen explained her position:

“I have yet to meet somebody who’s undocumented that wouldn’t prefer to be here with documents and prefer to be here legally. We need a system and a policy in which people can come out of the shadows, can come into this country in a safe and legal way.”

DREAM on

Immigration protests aren’t just happening in Arizona, as Campus Progress reports. Advocates of the DREAM Act, legislation that would create a pathway for young undocumented students to live in the United States legally, are taking their message all the way to Washington, D.C. As part of a week of action called “The DREAM is Coming”, DREAM Activists conducted a sit in at the Capitol building, during which twelve participants were arrested. All twelve, who were charged with disorderly conduct, are believed to be undocumented immigrants, and face possible deportation.

Arpaio’s ‘Tent City’

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, law enforcement officials are preparing to begin enforcing SB 1070 next week. As Suzy Khimm reports for Mother Jones, Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ, is ready, willing and able to enforce the new law in his signature tyrannical style, imprisoning immigrants in his infamous “Tent City”. Arpaio has announced that “Tent City” can accommodate over 1,000 new prisoners in the oppressively hot desert. This alternative prison is just one of Arpaio’s many extreme anti-immigrant policing strategies. Khimm writes:

”’I put them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,’ Arpaio once said of his tactics, which have also included chain gangs (for men and women), public parades in pink underwear (for men only), and massive illegal-immigration sweeps. Arpaio’s tactics have earned him the nickname ‘Hitler’ among Tent City inmates”

National Guard deployed to Arizona

With tensions along the border heating up as July 29 approaches, President Barack Obama has ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to be deployed to Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California. The troops will begin one-year assignments at the border on August 1st. They will be charged with bolstering the military presence and patrolling the border, but won’t directly enforce laws. Instead they’ll aid in policing drug trafficking and migration, and reporting border-crossers to law enforcement.

According to ColorLines, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has called the deployment insufficient, complaining that it isn’t “tied to a strategy to comprehensively defeat the increasingly violent drug- and alien-smuggling cartels that operate in Arizona on a daily basis.” http://bit.ly/duG1bv Colorlines also reports that in addition to the 1,200 troops, President Obama will be sending $500 million for increased border patrol.

Victories for women

Recent news on immigration reform hasn’t been all bad. As Ms. Magazine reports, women asylum seekers have won an important and somewhat surprising victory. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that women fleeing femicide are eligible to apply for asylum. As Carrie Baker notes, the decision sets an important precedent.

”[The] case builds on the idea that women’s rights are human rights by asking the government to take gender-based harm as seriously as it takes harms based on political belief, race, nationality or religion. The Perdomo decision is revolutionary in its implicit recognition of a state’s responsibility to remedy violence against women.”

Finally, Areli E. Padilla of New American Media reports that 106-year-old Ignacia Moya, born in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, has become an American citizen after her second attempt. According to the report, “Wearing a blue, red and white blouse representing the American flag, Moya celebrated the occasion with her two sons and some of her 20 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.”

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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