Jury Rules Immigrant’s Murder a Hate Crime, Even as Vicious Ads Continue to Stoke Racial Tensions

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Guest Blogger: Jackie Mahendra from America's Voice.

While the mainstream media has been largely absent, Latina Lista has been busy covering the dramatic trial of the two men charged with the hate crime killing of immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa. It turns out the 2008 murder was, indeed, a hate crime. 

A federal grand jury has convicted the two Pennsylvania men, in a verdict that many argue was long overdue.

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death by a group of teenagers who yelled racial epithets throughout the killing.  A retired Philadelphia police officer said she heard one of the defendants yell to Mr. Ramirez’s friends, “Tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you’ll be [expletive] laying next to him.”  Defendants were reported to have yelled, “Go back to Mexico” as they beat him to death.

Despite the evidence, an all-white jury found two of the defendants “not guilty” of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation last year, to cheers in the courtroom and the astonishment of the Latino community.  The Federal government took up the case and finally justice was served.

Yet, two years after Ramirez' gruesome murder, we continue to see egregious examples of race-baiting and immigrant bashing for political gain. This campaign season, a number of candidates are running race-baiting campaign ads that demonize immigrants. They use extreme, anti-immigrant rhetoric instead of offering real solutions to our immigration crisis.  Republican Senate candidates David Vitter (R-LA) and Sharron Angle of Nevada are both running anti-immigrant ads that paint Latinos as dangerous criminals, freeloaders, and the enemies of "real" Americans.  

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Latinos rose 32% between 2003 and 2008 (the last year for which data is available), and groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented a correlation between anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Latino violence.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

Hateful campaign ads and rhetoric that demonize immigrants have no place in America today.  It’s as if some politicians think there is no cost for immigrant-bashing.  Well they are wrong.  This type of rhetoric creates a climate where violent crimes are committed against human beings simply because of the color of their skin.  Yesterday’s verdict in the Luis Ramirez murder is just, but it’s not nearly enough.  Politicians and pundits must stop using immigrants as scapegoats and instead use their microphones to spread a message of tolerance, humanity, and the need for common sense immigration reform.

In light of this tragic case, we believe it’s time for politicians and pundits to end the hateful rhetoric and immigrant bashing that has created a hostile climate for Latinos and encouraged hate crimes like the murder of Mr. Ramirez. Luis Ramirez lost his life because of the unaccountable, incendiary, and out-of-control immigration debate in this country.

Politicians who stoke racial fears and hatred need to realize that their rhetoric has severe -- but not unforeseen-- consequences.

The ruling on Luis Ramirez' murder should serve as a wake-up call to those who refuse to end the politics of division and fear.

Photo courtesy of americasvoiceonline.org

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

Jury Rules Immigrant’s Murder a Hate Crime, Even as Vicious Ads Continue to Stoke Racial Tensions

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Guest Blogger: Jackie Mahendra from America's Voice.

While the mainstream media has been largely absent, Latina Lista has been busy covering the dramatic trial of the two men charged with the hate crime killing of immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa. It turns out the 2008 murder was, indeed, a hate crime. 

A federal grand jury has convicted the two Pennsylvania men, in a verdict that many argue was long overdue.

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death by a group of teenagers who yelled racial epithets throughout the killing.  A retired Philadelphia police officer said she heard one of the defendants yell to Mr. Ramirez’s friends, “Tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you’ll be [expletive] laying next to him.”  Defendants were reported to have yelled, “Go back to Mexico” as they beat him to death.

Despite the evidence, an all-white jury found two of the defendants “not guilty” of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation last year, to cheers in the courtroom and the astonishment of the Latino community.  The Federal government took up the case and finally justice was served.

Yet, two years after Ramirez' gruesome murder, we continue to see egregious examples of race-baiting and immigrant bashing for political gain. This campaign season, a number of candidates are running race-baiting campaign ads that demonize immigrants. They use extreme, anti-immigrant rhetoric instead of offering real solutions to our immigration crisis.  Republican Senate candidates David Vitter (R-LA) and Sharron Angle of Nevada are both running anti-immigrant ads that paint Latinos as dangerous criminals, freeloaders, and the enemies of "real" Americans.  

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Latinos rose 32% between 2003 and 2008 (the last year for which data is available), and groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented a correlation between anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Latino violence.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

Hateful campaign ads and rhetoric that demonize immigrants have no place in America today.  It’s as if some politicians think there is no cost for immigrant-bashing.  Well they are wrong.  This type of rhetoric creates a climate where violent crimes are committed against human beings simply because of the color of their skin.  Yesterday’s verdict in the Luis Ramirez murder is just, but it’s not nearly enough.  Politicians and pundits must stop using immigrants as scapegoats and instead use their microphones to spread a message of tolerance, humanity, and the need for common sense immigration reform.

In light of this tragic case, we believe it’s time for politicians and pundits to end the hateful rhetoric and immigrant bashing that has created a hostile climate for Latinos and encouraged hate crimes like the murder of Mr. Ramirez. Luis Ramirez lost his life because of the unaccountable, incendiary, and out-of-control immigration debate in this country.

Politicians who stoke racial fears and hatred need to realize that their rhetoric has severe -- but not unforeseen-- consequences.

The ruling on Luis Ramirez' murder should serve as a wake-up call to those who refuse to end the politics of division and fear.

Photo courtesy of americasvoiceonline.org

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

Weekly Diaspora: Real Immigration Reform in 2010

By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger

“Is it ever ‘the right time’ to pass immigration reform and a path to legalization?” asks Maribel Hastings at New America Media. The short answer? Yes. Our national economic situation dictates that we are smart about the resources available to us all. It’s also a moral imperative to adjust our laws to protect the most vulnerable of us.

Hastings runs through the complications, campaign promises, and opportunities facing the Obama administration in regards to immigration reform. While acknowledging the nature of our government as “a complex organism,” Hastings nonetheless signs off with a warning: There are many awaiting action today, people “who voted for Democrats with the expectation that they would make comprehensive immigration reform a reality.”

This year is primed for immigration reform. Activists worldwide are pushing for a “record number of ratifications” to The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families (ICRMW), as Oneworld.net reports. The ICRMW was adopted by the United Nations in 1990, and “sets standards for humane working and living conditions for migrants.” To date, 42 countries have are signatory to the ICRMW and 15 more have taken “preliminary steps to approve the convention.” While the U.S. debates reform, protecting and supporting migrants should be at the front of the list.

The Washington Independent looks back at 2009, a year in which immigration was never center stage, and yet it managed to impact every other major issue on the table, from health care reform to the economy. Daphne Eviatar profiles five individuals who shaped the immigration debate for good or bad in 2009. Characters such as the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, and commentator Lou Dobbs, formerly of CNN are included in the list, but admirable women like Dr. Dora Schriro also made the cut. Dr. Schriro’s reports on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention system led directly to “a major commitment” to overhaul it.

In the light of policy and compacts, it is important to remember that there is a dark and often violent side to the immigration reform debate. Luis Ramirez was beaten to death by multiple local youth in Shanendoah, PA. The local police worked to obscure the facts of the murder and thwart justice, but their complicity and hand in the judicial process has been uncovered, as RaceWire reports.

Former Shenandoah mayor Thomas O’Neill’s description of the police department reads, essentially, as a gang felled by hubris: “If they want to help somebody, they will, If they want to hurt somebody, they’ll hurt them. There’s nothing they could do that they couldn’t get away with. That’s what they thought.”

Another incident that exposes the inadequacy of current immigration laws can be found in the case of Haitian community activist Jean Montrevil, who now faces deportation, as Democracy Now! reports. Montrevil is a working father of four, married to an American woman, a “longtime community leader,” is very involved with local immigrants rights groups and checks in with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regularly and voluntarily. During one such check in Montrevil was detained and marked for deportation.

ICE is removing a tax-paying and productive member of society for a 20 year-old drug conviction for which Montrevil did his time—11 years in prison. There is no chance of a legal appeal, though ICE has the power to defer the deportation. If it isn’t halted, Montrevil’s wife Jani will be left alone with their four children. Before 1996 immigration reforms passed by Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton, a judge would have had discretion to consider the effect of such a deportation on the children.

Melissa del Bosque reports for the Texas Observer on the violent fallout from Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s continued drug war “on the Mexican side of the [U.S.-Mexico] border.” del Bosque notes a disturbing trend: A growing number of uninvolved people in the proximity of State- or cartel-initiated violence in Mexico are being impacted by the violence. This is an important balance to mind, as law and State forces are designed to help the populace thrive. Various sources place the death toll in Mexico between 9,000 and 13,000.

We conclude this week’s Diaspora with a big shout out to Wiretap, which is closing its doors. Wiretap was a well-written, vibrant, and relevant collection of writing by younger people. Their writing on immigration was original, provocative, and useful. We wish them well. You will be missed!

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 Immigration Wire: Enforcement Creates Aura of Criminality

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

The Latino/a community has had ample reason to hope that President Obama would take on immigration reform in a humane manner. While Obama is undeniably centrist in his political approach, and has long been fond of language stressing punitive solutions to the immigration issue, he certainly seems to understand that "America is changing and we can't be threatened by it." Enforcement policies are becoming a threat, not only to immigrants, but the country at large.

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Weekly Immigration Wire: Fighting H1N1 Hype

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

This week's Wire focuses on the opportunities for change that crisis can introduce. From the H1N1 "Swine" flu's declining fervor to 2009's May Day marches for worker rights and immigrant solidarity; from the tragic killing of Luis Ramirez to legislative movement on immigration, these are tumultuous times. But it is precisely such conflict and challenge that provides the best opportunities to make lasting change.

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