Monday, May 24, 2010

In Our Community: Immigration News

On Wednesday, I attended the arrival ceremony at the White House for President Calderon of Mexico - you can see him pictured above with President Obama. For more on that and other updates, here it is, your immigration news from Monday, May 17 to Monday, May 24.

During a joint session of Congress, President Calderon spoke strongly against the new Arizona law which, as he said, "introduces a terrible idea: using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement." His remarks on this subject were greeted with a standing ovation. Also during his visit, the United States and Mexico announced the creation of a joint committee on border-related activities.

In the pop culture world, immigration also got a shout-out: The new Miss USA is Rima Fakih, an Arab-American immigrant. She was born in Lebanon and came to the United States as a young child, eventually settling in Michigan. She is believed to be the first Arab American and Muslim to win the contest.

San Francisco is trying to opt out of Secure Communities, a Homeland Security program run by ICE in which fingerprints taken at local jails are run through a national database to check arrestees' immigration status. The city's sheriff has said that Secure Communities conflicts with the city's policy of only reporting foreign-born persons who are booked for felonies. Secure Communities doesn't align with ICE's objective of going after the "most dangerous criminals" - instead it casts a wide net regardless of individual circumstances - and we need cities like San Francisco (and DC) to push ICE to clarify the program's purpose.

As I was perusing the immigration blogs this past week, I came across this concerning clip: South Carolina has introduced a bill copying the Arizona law. The Wall Street Journal has an article on how immigrants are often reluctant to report domestic abuse, if going to the police means risking deportation. This problem, of states taking federal law into their own hands, is clearly going to get worse before it gets better.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL) recently endorsed a plan to include LGBT partners in immigration reform. Currently, LGBT Americans are unable to petition for their foreign-born partners. The inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act in immigration reform would end this long-standing denial of civil rights and equality.

Michelle Obama's visit to an elementary school in Maryland catapulted the question of family unity onto the national stage, when a second-grader expressed fears that her mother would be deported. You can watch the video here. According to the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, families can't wait any longer for a just, humane immigration reform bill.

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