Arizona's SB1070 cannot answer what an undocumented immigrant looks like?

From Restore Fairness blog

After days of protests, petitions and phone calls, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070 - Arizona's anti-immigrant and racist bill - into law. The news has hit hard as fears around racial profiling and civil rights violations become paramount. SB1070 gives police officers the powers to stop, detain and arrest anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is undocumented. It also allows people to be charged with harboring and transporting undocumented immigrants (which means if you have an undocumented immigrant with you in the car or at home, you could very well be in trouble) as well as gives police the power to arrest day laborers and those who hire them.

There's more...

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

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.”

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.

 

 

 

Is the person next to you being racially profiled?

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

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

End it. Not mend it. Message to the administration over failed immigration program.

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for detention and deportations of immigrants, is on a roll. Haitian earthquake survivors and mentally ill detainees are amongst those locked up in inhumane detention centers. Memos leaked last week confirmed a desire for growing deportations of immigrants. And now, the government’s own agency, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General delivers a scathing critique of ICE’s 287(g) program that gives local police the power to enforce immigration law.

60 police forces across the country have signed agreements with ICE that allow their local officers to detain suspected immigrants for deportation. Various reports have documented racial profiling concerns, but the government has failed to listen. Even Members of Congress and police foundations have spoken out against the program, which diverts scarce resources from the police and endangers community safety as people are afraid to report crimes.

The OIG points out serious flaws in ICE’s 287(g) program for its lack of training, oversight and transparency, and its failure to protect against racial profiling and civil rights abuses. In one example, a victim of a traffic accident who was also an immigrant was taken straight to the local jail until federal officers arrived to check his legal status. And although the program is supposed to focus on “Level 1″ offenders or those who have committed serious crimes, almost half of those reviewed had no involvement in such crimes, revealing a misdirection of resources.

The issue around a lack of supervision is grave. “In the absence of consistent supervision over immigration enforcement activities, there is no assurance that the program is achieving its goals.”This has led to severe violations, with Sheriff Arpaio type neighborhood sweeps to locate undocumented immigrants. Other horrific examples – Juana Villegas, 9 months pregnant, was detained on a minor traffic stop and remained shackled while giving birth, while Pedro Guzman, a mentally ill U.S. citizen was mistakenly deported to Mexico.

And finally, the 287(g) training of police officers is very inadequate. In one example, two officers who were enrolled in the program had been defendants in past racial profiling lawsuits, indicating a flawed selection process. The performance records of local officers are not examined properly while many officers are given only a cursory training in immigration law.

While ICE claims that the report was researched before it has made radical changes to the program, the changes that have been made are largely superficial and problems continue unchecked. Many groups consider this report a wake up call and have demanded the 287(g) program be “ended, not mended.” Take action to “Reign in the Cowboys at ICE.”

Photo courtesy of thenation.com

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

A Government that Reflects America's Values

According to a 2007 poll, Americans define human rights as the rights to equal opportunity, freedom from discrimination, a fair criminal justice system, and freedom from torture or abuse by law enforcement. Despite the current political wrangling over how to reform it, a majority of Americans even believe that access to health care is a human right.

There was a time when America’s leaders echoed those sentiments. President Franklin D. Roosevelt embraced them when he told Congress, “Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.” And in 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the Civil Rights Act, forming the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission was intended to conduct critical reviews of social needs and public policy – in essence, to be the conscience of the nation. Regardless of circumstances or leadership, the body was to operate as an independent voice for the broad range of civil rights issues facing the country.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads