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Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Let’s Militarize the Border, They Said. It Worked for Nation-Building.

Yesterday I participated in a meet and greet with New Mexico State Senator Tim Keller.  I really wanted to write a whole post about that, considering that it’s super rare to get any state-wide candidates or leaders to come down to our region of the state.  However, because of today’s news dump, I realize that the campaign for New Mexico’s Office of State Auditor is going to have to wait awhile.

In addition to the ongoing NSA scandal and the mission impossible chase of Edward Snowden, today we all awaited news from the Supreme Court on various cases, more importantly related to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 decision.  As for Snowden, we have absolutely no idea where he’s at.  Apparently he never made his flight to Cuba and is MIA.  There is, however, David Gregory, who wants to arrest Glenn Greenwald and the Supreme Court ends up deciding to keep us all in absolute jitters by going another Monday without decisions on DOMA and Prop 8.

While we wait around for important outcomes of stories mentioned above or watching mainstream media ignore the important, non-sensationalist stuff, many of us sat through the torture of what we all call, the United States Senate.

Immigration reform has a better chance of passing Congress this year than any other year in my fifteen years of advocating for reform. Reasons are simple.  Latino’s scared the crap out of the Republican Party during the November elections, when an overwhelming amount of Latino voters came out in huge numbers, in support of President Obama.  While many of them voted, those who couldn’t vote encouraged friends and families who could, to do so with a simple request. Vote Democrat, because the likelihood is that they won’t say boneheaded things about your community.  So here we are.  President Barack Obama was reelected, the Senate remained a majority of Democrats, both insisting immigration reform was a priority and necessity.  The House, well…that’s a different story.

The Senate came up with its bill in April and after debates in the Judiciary committee, has finally made its way to the Senate floor for, up until Friday, we all believed that most of what many of us asked for (i.e. pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants) would stay in tact as it headed for the House for a debate. I mean, come on?  The Republican’s need to do what we’re asking from them, right?

Friday around noon, when all the Senator’s had left DC for their home states for the weekend, an amendment was introduced, now known as Corker-Hoeven, that overhauls border security in a way no one was expecting.  (womp womp)

Image

Courtesy of Center for American Progress

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security reported that the border was as secure as it possibly could be.  Politically, however, we know that we can’t depend on Republican support without them insisting on more security. So the initial Gang of Eight bill not only provided for increased border security, but the President and Democrats made security a priority when the entire conversation began.  Well, I guess a “beefed” up border was not enough because what Corker introduced was border security on steroids.

The measure would double the total number of patrol agents and add more than 700 miles of fencing along the US-Mexico border at a cost of $38 billion.

As someone who follows Congress, I get that we have to compromise because that’s how our system works.  I get that our process makes it impossible for one party to dominate it all and pass exactly what their supporters expect.  But as an activist, who works day in and day out to defend and protect those that don’t have a voice, to what extent do we compromise and at whose expense?  When do we just stop handing over everything to the Republican Party, especially when they’ve been hijacked by extreme nativists who do not want immigration reform?

When the initial bill came out, a group of activists from across the state of New Mexico came together to develop a state platform and border security was one of the components we were worried about.  After speaking with New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, we insisted, and he agreed, that the border was as secure now as it ever will be. However, although we were very concerned with the discussion of border security back in April, in no way did we expect it to reach today’s levels.  Not at all.

So here is the question.  Do we end our mission for reform because of plan to militarize the border, creating a greater nightmare for all those living along the US/Mexican border? Or do we suck it up and move forward despite the fact that a pathway to citizenship will come at a very tough cost?

NEXT UP…THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

If today’s vote reflects anything we’ll see on Thursday on the Senate floor, it will head to the House.   But the question remains.  Will Speaker Boehnor get his group of Republican’s in the House of Representatives to support this plan and send it to the President for his signature?

Remember.  This Congress has done absolutely nothing when it comes to public policy and bi-partisanship in the last four years.  As awful as this updated immigration bill is, can we actually rely on Congress to get it to the President and sign it into law?

The next few days are crucial as Democrats seek out Republican’s to get those critical 70 votes in the Senate for a final vote on the floor.  Unless Senator Ted Cruz manages to coerce his Republican colleagues and convince them to agree with his awful justifications for denying 11 million people their turn for citizenship, the Senate bill should be heading to the House.

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Supreme Court of the United States of America Did What??

June 26, 2012 2 comments

So…I’ve had a few hours to figure out this whole Supreme Court, SB1070 ruling and it’s pretty clear.  We might be ok.

Now, it’s not the perfect decision.  The one provision that scared the crap out of me is still a

Courtesy of ACLU Nationwide

haunting threat to our communities of color.  However…it could be a lot worse, I suppose.  I mean, it’s the Supreme Court of the United States! They’ve not been gentle to us in the last few years, so I’m extremely surprised that we got at least 3 out of 4 on this one.

According to the ruling:

“The Supreme Court struck down three central sections of Arizona’s law, which had been regarded by opponents as the most harsh. In allowing the “show-me-your-papers” provision to stand, the court accepted, for the time being at least,
Arizona’s word that police officers would not engage in racial profiling as they put it into practice.” 

For more (clearer and easier language) information pertaining to this ruling, please check out Amy Howe’s, “SB1070: In Plain English.”

So, although Governor Jan Brewer declared a victory yesterday, those who were victorious are the countless organizers on the ground in many parts of the nation where anti-immigrant/anti-Latino laws have sprung up in the last few years and are prepared to face the overwhelming possibilities of legalized “racial profiling” this country has not seen since the times of Jim Crow.

There was a silver lining, however, with today’s announcement, in terms of law enforcement taking positive steps to making sure our communities are safe.  Unlike Sheriff Arpaio, who is no stranger to breaking laws within his own state of Arizona (and is committed to make no changes on his end with this Supreme Court decision) others were not quick to defend the upheld policy themselves.

Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia attempted Monday to reassure residents that police will not discriminate based on race, saying that he will not tolerate profiling and that the agency will continue to concentrate resources on violent criminals and property crimes.

Furthermore, in a move by the Obama Administration, one in which Governor Brewer called, “political,” Homeland Security revoked 287 (g) agreements in Arizona, creating even more friction between the “states-rights” Governor and the Obama Administration.

In terms of the immigration debate, it’s no surprise that President Obama’s announcement on June 15 and the Supreme Court decision will only become a wedge issue between the President’s re-election efforts and flip flopping Mitt Romney’s prospects.  For a Republican Presidential candidate attempting to regain some confidence amongst the immigrant community, his delayed responses to the June 15 announcement and again yesterday provides very little hope for any mass support especially after Mr. Romney’s long awaited comment of, “And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws

This comment did very little to settle any uneasiness I’ve had with the candidate in regards to this issue.  Not sure how much better it is now for immigrant right’s and legal advocates across the country.

So…who won?

Every where you looked, both sides declared themselves a winner.  All over Fox News, Governor Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio, the main proponents of this bill, both declared victory for states rights in this country.  However, after much further review of reports, it seems that the real winner was the Obama Administration who challenged SB1070 and opponents of the bill who have worked hard the last two years to organize communities around this racially charged law.

Adam Serwer, a reporter for Mother Joneswrites about how the media got yesterday’s ruling all wrong.  Reflecting on a post written by Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, stated the following:

“Although some early news reports said that the court upheld this “show me your papers” provision, that wasn’t quite right. The court determined that it didn’t have enough information about how the law worked in practice, especially considering the law explicitly commands the police not to engage in racial profiling. So the justices sent the dispute over this provision back to the lower courts for further fact finding. Nevertheless, the court specifically noted that if this law led to racial profiling, as I suspect it will be concluded, the law would be invalidated.”

The good news is, the Supreme Court may have, in effect, found the entire law itself unconstitutional.  The bad news is, many people in our communities will have to be subjected to racial profiling for the courts to determine that the upheld provision was in fact, unconstitutional.

The proof is in the numbers.

Until then, we continue to rely on our communities and our leaders, to do the right thing in hopes that laws like SB1070, never see the light of day.

Arizona’s SB 1070: What If My Family Were The Supreme Court?

April 25, 2012 6 comments

“I’m not a social worker, I’m a cop.”

These words came out of the most infamous sheriff we know of today, Joe Arpaio. But it might as well have come out of the mouth of one of my cousin’s over the weekend. A state trooper, he finds the idea of illegal immigration a scary situation for our country and, “a matter of national security.” As serious as this may sound, he also was unable to provide any specific reasons other than, “these people are breaking the law.” Sidenote: Both of his parents were born in Mexico.

I have been an immigrant rights activist for over ten years now and defending the immigrant community has never gotten easier. In fact, it has gotten that much tougher. On the eve of SB1070’s oral arguments in the highest court in the land, the judicial fight has only just begun. Yet, the divisive issue of immigration reform (or lack thereof), amongst our Latino community specifically, is alive and well and perhaps a long and winding road.

It’s funny. I usually joke about my Mexican family and how they are the root of my blog material, but it can’t be further from the truth. With so much diversity amongst my people, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Although I’m psyched for the material, the debates are always awful and never easy to write about.

Never.

In the case of Arizona’s SB1070, my family’s debate and/or conversations about immigration sound a lot like individuals who call in to a radio show. Let’s take for example, On Point with Tom Ashbrook, who yesterday morning, discussed in great detail, SB1070 and the Supreme Courts decision to begin to hear oral arguments tomorrow. As I listened in, I couldn’t help but compare the callers calling in to the conversations I had over the weekend with my own family. Some callers provided great insight on the issue, but then there were the other callers who were incredibly disingenuous, providing no real concrete information other than their biased feelings towards the issue of illegal immigration. Like a few in my family.

So I ask myself. If I’m an immigrant activist, who has been defending the rights of undocumented immigrants for years, how is it that I plan to make a difference in the overall immigration debate of this nation when I can’t even influence those within my own immediate family?

I don’t know.

I am confused and nervous tonight because the Supreme Court, like the anti-immigrant members in my own family, may get this whole SB1070 wrong. Come June, the Justices may rule for Arizona and uphold the disastrous law we’ve come to know.

What if?

So far in the last two years, activists and supporters have tried their best to alleviate the burden on undocumented immigrants, appealing the law and its legalities, getting the courts to successfully rule the laws unconstitutional. In other cases, law enforcement have felt that they’re too overextended so have chosen not to pursue enforcement of the law. However, by Supreme Court ruling for Arizona, the floodgates would open up big time, making things much worse under very unimaginable circumstances. If we thought things were bad now, they will only get worse.

Politically, Democrats and immigrant rights activists have begun to strategize, looking at different scenario’s if and when the Supreme Court rules in favor of SB1070. If the ruling comes in June, that’s five months prior to the presidential election, which means the Democrats in Congress can send an anti-SB1070 bill up for a vote, Republican’s will be forced to take a side and the Democrats will come out as the one to choose, right? Sounds all nice and dandy, doesn’t it? The problem with this however, is that the Latino vote will once again be used for political gain. How do we know we won’t be used and taken for a ride once again, to only be disappointed in the end? (Again.)

Hmmm…

But let’s be frank, the Democrats aren’t the only one’s guilty of this spectacular nonsense. Just a few months ago, Mitt Romney criticized Rick Perry during a GOP debate for supporting and implementing the DREAM Act in Texas. Days later, Romney boasted that if the DREAM Act were to ever pass at the national level, he would repeal it as president. Now, as the general election campaign against President Obama begins to unfold, Romney, as well as other Republican’s, appear to have changed their minds about the DREAM Act (again), convincing the token Latino, Senator Marco Rubio (no relation, thank gawd) from Florida, to write his own version of the DREAM Act and parade around the country with it as a perfect alternative to those of us who have been fighting for the real thing for over ten years!!

Neither side have been very effective in supporting and helping immigrant rights activists like myself. We’ve been courted and dumped time and time again. Can the Justices on the United States Supreme Court be objective enough as possible to throw out something as horrendous as SB1070, forcing both political parties to finally come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform?

The infighting within our politics is one thing, but when the infighting takes place amongst my people, taking each other on to satisfy political leaders at the top, at the expense of our own is an insult to our parents and grandparents before us, who came to this country when the border was just a line in the dirt. It is an insult to the millions of undocumented immigrants all across this country today, working long hours and being exploited by money hungry employers getting rich off the sweat of their brow. It is an insult to the countless human beings who have died in the sweltering deserts of the US/Mexican border, attempting to arrive and reach that American Dream, to provide for their family here and back home. It is an insult to the millions of families who are separated each and every day from his/her children and deported to their home country without knowing if and when they will ever speak to their families again.

SB1070 is as divisive as anything I’ve ever known in my own life time, yet reflect the awful history this country once endured many years ago. With just hours left before oral arguments begin in Washington, DC, those of us on the front lines will listen and wait for the momentous occasion in which our Supreme Court will either choose to move forward and rule in favor of a future of equality and unity for all, or rule in favor of stepping back into history, to defend the darkest times in our country’s past.

We can’t afford to go back.