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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "immigration"

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Arizona Vigilante Declared Guilty on All Charges

February 15, 2011 ·

Via Colorlines:

This afternoon a Pima County, Arizona, jury found Minuteman border vigilante Shawna Forde guilty on two counts of first-degree murder for killing nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul Flores Jr. in May 2009, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Forde was also convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting Brisenia’s mother Gina Gonzalez, along with other aggravated assault and robbery charges.

When the judicial procedures following the murder of a 9-year-old and her father conclude in the sentencing of those responsible, it’s a sign that, at least in its corrective functions, the law has done its job. But in the larger scheme of things, the factors that gave rise to the monstrous Minuteman movement that claimed the lives of Brisenia and Raul Flores continue unchecked, and seem likely to stay that way for a long time.

Forde’s activism thrived in an era when Americans have become more alarmed about immigrants. In 2010, on average, American respondents believed that 39 percent of the population was born abroad, according to a Transatlantic Trends poll. The real number is about 14 percent. In Congress, the Democratic strategy to appease the anti-immigrant voices by engaging on their level of finger-waving discourse has lefts us farther away from immigration reform than before Obama took office. The DREAM Act is dead, and any version that could clear the GOP-dominated House would over-emphasize the enforcement that people like Forde want.

Latino voices and experiences continue to be shut out. The mass media did not cover this trial for months, and then only on the surface. In its own lethargic reaction, the FBI knew in advance that Forde’s group was planning to break in to houses where they suspected they could steal from drug cartels. Their surveillance and intelligence was useless in preventing this loss of life.

Shawna Forde, the gun-happy, conspiracy-minded member of the Minuteman American Defense, seemed to enjoy the attention she got by border-watching in this 2008 video dug up by Crooks and Liars: “When the sun goes down, all bets are off,” says a smiling Forde to a Norwegian TV crew that traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border. “I have my gun, and you’ll be very sorry that you did not have one.” Forde will be sentenced next week, and her two associates will go to jury trial later this year.

Our prayers remain with Brisenia’s family and the people in Arizona working everyday to bring this human rights crisis to an end.

Justice for a 9-Year-Old Girl's Killers in the Courts and in Print

February 2, 2011 ·

A chilling trial is underway in Tucson for the murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father. According to eyewitness testimony from her mother (the attackers thought she was dead), Brisenia pleaded with anti-immigration vigilantes who had invaded her own home, not to shoot her—shortly before they murdered her anyway.

Outraged over this incident or the fact that you've never heard about it? As the Village Voice argues, it deserves more national attention. The murders occurred in Arizona (which has seen its fair share of journalists reporting for prominent national media outlets lately) in May 2009. News of the trial has finally made it to CNN and ABC News, but not The Washington Post or The New York Times. That these papers of record haven't managed to print anything when British newspaper The Daily Mail ran this article on Jan. 26 is particularly baffling.

We at OtherWords ran an op-ed by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Heidi Beirich about the Minuteman vigilante movement in May 2010 that referenced this tragic incident. "We don't need armed vigilantes patrolling the border," Beirich wrote. "What we need instead is for Congress to act without further delay to bring our immigrant workers out of the shadows and into the American community as full-fledged citizens." Please read it for background on this case.

I also recommend the Seattle Weekly's account of the courtroom proceedings. It identified Shawna Forde, leader of Minuteman American Defense and a prime suspect in this murder case, as a former Seattle prostitute. It also mentions "Forde's sister Aranda (taking) the stand to recall family moments with her sibling, including Shawna's dreams of someday robbing drug cartels."

A New Attack on the 14th Amendment

January 5, 2011 ·

In yet another waste of their own time, and ours (seriously, have these people heard of the unemployment crisis or what?), some eager lawmakers took to the National Press Club in DC today to unveil a fresh attack on immigrants, this time dragging the US Constitution down into the dirt with them. The 14th Amendment, which guarantees that kids who are born in America are American citizens (something we all take for granted with our children), is their target.

It would be a logistical and bureaucratic nightmare of epic proportions, requiring a bigger government (I am sure the tea partiers would LOVE that!) to manage it, and folks to dig up proof of grandpa's citizenship (my great-grandmother was Cherokee, do you think they would count that?), yet this scary proposal does little to address what Americans are really asking for: sensible immigration reform.

Immigration reform, you've heard of it... a real plan to value the economic and social contributions of immigrants, helping to preserve the unique cultures they bring to the melting pot while at the same time helping them assimilate, learn English, pay taxes, and become citizens. Other than riling up some anti-brown people hatred, what is the goal of this proposal? All we're doing here is distracting lawmakers from existing, constructive ideas for reform and improvement of our immigration system.   

While the idea probably doesn’t stand a chance of getting the 2/3 majority in Congress required to alter the Constitution (despite the popularity of racist laws like Arizona’s SB1070), it still takes away time and attention from the real issues that Americans care about… like the economy (stupid). We don't have time for this stuff!

And now for a fun video of some activists interrupting the press conference, via ABC News. I particularly liked the woman chanting “sit down” so no one could hear the protesters speak, and then saying they, the protesters, needed to respect First Amendment rights:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/activists-disrupt-immigration-press-conference-12546020

You can find information about the history and importance of the 14th Amendment via the Congressional Research Service

Bringing a Human Focus to the Immigration Debate

July 22, 2010 ·

The July 15th “National Women and Children’s Advocacy Day” brought the essential human focus that is unfortunately missing from the national immigration debate that revolves around figures and dollars. When politics becomes so far removed from human interest, an environment exists that allows laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 to be created. To confront the issues discussed in Tiffany Williams’ post, “Organizing Against Arizona’s Immigration Law,” priorities on Capitol Hill and around the country need to be refocused toward an agenda of human rights.

I witnessed the power of testimony when children were brought to Capitol Hill from Arizona, as well as other parts of the country, to share their heartbreaking stories with representatives.

Two young victims of a broken system testified at an ad-hoc congressional hearing. Heidi’s story especially resonated with the crowd. When she was only 10 years old, her mother was arrested and detained by Sheriff Arpaio, poster boy for the harm caused by 287(g). Heidi was left to take care of her sister and two little brothers. Her youngest brother was only three months old and still being breastfed. She got up early to take her siblings to school and learned to cook for the family. When this poor young girl was testifying in Congress, she spoke as if she were two or three times her age because she has already been through more trauma than most see in a lifetime. When multiple teary-eyed representatives reached out to thank the children for sharing their stories of fear and heartache, the impact was obvious.

Earlier in the day, I met with two staffers who were quick to point out their representative’s main priority was security. Although they recognized the harm caused by 287(g) and agreed the federal government needed to take back control of immigration enforcement, they were hesitant to declare this publicly due to the certain anger it would provoke in their constituents.

I found the problem faced by Rep. Melissa Bean, who represents a suburban area of Illinois, particularly striking. Despite the reality (that illegal immigration is basically a nonissue in this community), anger over illegal immigration never fails to come up in town hall meetings.

How did it get to this point? The answer to that is probably a whole other blog post, if not a dissertation, but what is most important to realize is that Americans are angry at the wrong people. There should be more of an effort to make people see this.

Returning to the issue of security, the focus on borders rather than the security of the children who are the future of this nation is frighteningly problematic. Sharing children’s personal stories served the important purpose of highlighting the unconsidered consequences of these policies on the youth of our country, most of whom are United States citizens. Policymakers and law enforcement should be less concerned with tearing apart families and more concerned with what is being done to the future of our nation.

We need to make our concern for human rights clear by standing in solidarity with the people of Arizona on July 29th.

Organizing Against Arizona's Immigration Law

July 22, 2010 ·

We Will Not ComplyArizona is expected to begin enforcement of SB1070 on July 29th unless President Obama succeeds in suing the state to prevent the law from being implemented. While the Justice Department is acting on the grounds that Arizona’s appropriation of immigration authority from the federal government violates the supremacy clause, groups around the country say local immigration enforcement endangers the health and safety of Arizona families. 

Enforcement of SB1070 practically requires racial profiling and discrimination, leaving people of color vulnerable to harassment and abuse at the hands of police and racist individuals emboldened by the legislation. We predict that if SB1070 is allowed and similar laws follow, many survivors of crimes like human trafficking, worker exploitation, domestic violence, and sexual assault won't be able to tolerate the risk of coming forward to seek help. 

Control of identity documents and immigration-based threats are commonly reported in investigations of human trafficking. Over the last 10 years, clients of the Break the Chain Campaign at IPS (BTCC), have reported threats like “if you run away, you will be deported,” or “the police hate immigrants, they will go after you,” or simply “you are illegal here, so you do not have rights.” When these threats are reinforced through well-publicized laws like SB1070 and the federal 287(g) program, they become irrefutable fact.  

Even before SB1070, victims' advocates and social workers have been struggling with law enforcement protocol that takes a punitive approach to dealing with undocumented victims. Countless survivors of heinous crimes have been arrested, detained, and questioned before receiving trauma counseling and emergency services, and unknown numbers have already been deported. While much progress has been made in training law enforcement to better identify and protect potential victims, an overall lack of training is one of the biggest problems for most social service advocates in the field. How will SB1070, which forces police to act (though at least one officer has already come forward to resist), affect this progress?  

Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, an outspoken critic of SB1070, held an ad-hoc hearing in June. There, 10-year-old Katherine tearfully recalled the experience of being separated from her family:

It was very hard for me every time I went to school. I kept thinking that maybe I would see my parents when I got back home. I would also have bad dreams where the deputies would take my aunt, her family, and me to jail. I’m still afraid of the deputies. We went to the hospital to visit a relative and I saw deputies and I did not want to go in.

The hearing was spearheaded by a coalition that included BTCC, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, The National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON), Legal Momentum, Jobs with Justice, the 9to5 National Association of Working Women, and the AFL-CIO.  

On July 15th, these groups and others convened a follow-up “National Women and Children’s Advocacy Day." At this hearing, Dr. Carola Suárez-Orozco, representing the American Psychological Association, referenced an Urban Institute report on the detrimental effects of immigration enforcement: 

The report indicates that the vast majority of children whose parents were detained in ICE raids in the workplace and in the home exhibited multiple behavioral changes in the aftermath of parental detention, including anxiety, frequent crying, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, withdrawal, and anger. Such behavioral changes were documented both two to three months after the arrest, as well as at a nine-month follow-up. Disturbingly, the children also experienced dramatic increases in housing instability and food insecurity, which are both dimensions of basic well-being. 

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who also attended the July hearing, introduced the HELP Separated Children Act, which ensures “parental rights of immigrant women are protected and the risk of family separation is reduced during immigrant enforcement.” The coalition joined dozens of women's groups in urging Congress to support this act. 

Now we're organizing around the country to plan actions before July 29 against SB1070. Join us!

Or call your representatives. Ask them to consider the impact of immigration enforcement on children like Katherine, and support the HELP Separated Children Act.

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