Sunday, January 30, 2011

SB 1070's copycats see trouble now

As state legislatures convene this month, lawmakers across the country who had vowed to copy Arizona's strict measure cracking down on illegal immigrants are facing a new reality.

State budget deficits, coupled with the political backlash triggered by Arizona's law and potentially expensive legal challenges from the federal government, have made passage of such statutes uncertain.

In the nine months since the Arizona measure, SB 1070, was signed into law, a number of similar bills have stalled or died, or are being reworked. Some have faced resistance from law enforcement officials who question how states or communities could afford the cost of enforcing the laws.

And some state legislators have backed away from the most controversial parts of the Arizona law, which has been challenged in court by the federal government and others. A federal judge has put on hold some of its provisions, including those that would require police to check immigration status if they stop someone while enforcing other laws, allow for warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants and criminalize the failure of immigrants to carry registration papers. The case is awaiting a ruling before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

"Obviously most places were not going to pass Arizona bills," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tighter immigration laws.

"There's always an initial flush of enthusiasm and then the reality of politics sets in. ... These states are bankrupt. They need to decide what battles they want to fight."

"I won't be surprised to see more state task forces looking more fully at this issue," said Ann Morse, program director of the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Currently, Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Florida, Nebraska, Kentucky, Utah, Pennsylvania, Texas and South Carolina are among the states where Arizona copycat bills have been drafted.

In Florida, an Arizona-style bill that appeared headed for passage a few months ago now appears to be on life support. Even its primary Senate sponsor has expressed concern that the provision allowing police to check a person's immigration status during a traffic stop could amount to racial profiling.

In Utah, a state dominated by conservative Republicans, a couple of bills similar to Arizona's statute are in the legislative pipeline. But in November, state leaders from business, law enforcement, education and the Mormon Church urged moderation - and with some success. They drew up the "Utah Compact," which declares immigration a federal issue and urges legislators to focus resources on local crime.

There could be a political downside to enacting tougher laws headed into the 2012 presidential election.

At a recent conference organized by the new Hispanic Leadership Network, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican who has criticized the Arizona law, noted the importance of Latino voters.

"Hispanics will be the swing voters as they are today in the swing states," said Bush. "If you want to elect a center-right president of the United States, it seems to me you should be concerned about places like New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Texas, places where but for the Hispanic vote, elections are won and lost."

Monday, January 24, 2011

ICE's "Secure Communities" program goes into effect throughout Wisconsin

ICE's "Secure Communities" program goes into effect throughout Wisconsin

January 12, 2011 - Voces de la Frontera

Yesterday the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) announced that its so-called "Secure Communities" program, a merger of the criminal justice and immigration systems, is now in effect in all Wisconsin counties. Secure Communities allows information on arrests from local jails to be shared with ICE, using biometric data, or fingerprints. ICE agents can ask law enforcement agencies to hold long-time legal residents and undocumented immigrants, and then transfer them into ICE custody to face deportation.

Around the country, activists have united in opposition to Secure Communities, concerned about the program encouraging racial profiling amongst law enforcement, as well as undermining the public's trust and safety by creating new fears of immigrant victims and witnesses to report crimes.

In addition, Secure Communities has already proven statistically troubling in the areas of the country where it is in place. As of December 2010, ICE reported that over 25% (13,054 of 50,972) of all deportations nationwide were of non-criminal immigrants, despite assurances by the Obama administration to focus ICE's efforts on criminals.

"Voces de la Frontera strongly condemns Wisconsin's participation in a program that actually makes communities less safe. The justification is that these partnerships will result in "smart" enforcement which prioritizes individuals who are a danger to the community. However, the reality is this casts too wide of a net, abusing due process rights so that someone who is innocent of a charge will still end up in deportation proceedings," says Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera.

"Wisconsin should follow the lead of other states such as New York and Colorado, which have revised a memorandum of agreement to ensure that smart enforcement is a reality."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Todos Somos Arizona January Update

from comrades in Cali: Todos Somos Arizona

January 2011

Since Todos Somos Arizona was created in April 2010, upon the signing into law of Arizona’s SB 1070, we have been busy! Our goal has been to call attention and inspire resistance to laws such as SB 1070, and to call for an end to the criminalization of immigrants and communities of color. It is to these racist laws and policies that place a target on the backs of immigrants and people of color, that we say, “it is our moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Check out these highlights:

  • May 6, 2010: We organized a protest, where 14 people staged a sit-in in front of the Federal Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles blocking buses used for deportations from accessing the facility for several hours.
  • July 18, 2010: We convened a community town hall to educate each other on immigrant rights, histories of migration, current laws that legalize racial profiling and criminalize our communities.
  • July 26th, 2020: Dozens of activists participate in banner drops protesting Arizona’s SB1070 and calling for an end to the criminalization of immigrant communities.
  • July 29, 2010: On the day SB 1070 took effect, 10 more people from our collective engaged in an act of civil disobedience at the Los Angeles headquarters of G4S/Wackenhut Corporation, a private prison and security corporation that lobbied for and stands to profit from SB 1070.

Since then, the 24 Todos Somos Arizona demonstrators along with many others struggling for social and economic justice in Los Angeles have become the targets of an unprecedented politicized prosecution by the Los Angeles City Attorney that seeks to criminalize dissent at a moment when dissent is most necessary. For their decision to stand peacefully for justice, they have been charged with multiple misdemeanors and threatened with the possibility of up to one year in jail. The charges and potential jail time in these cases are far more severe than anything faced by those who took similar actions in Santa Ana, Arizona, and elsewhere.

What does this mean? We have more work to do!

Todos Somos Arizona is organizing an action, in collaboration with the other local groups being targeted by the City for their acts of protest, to denounce this criminalization of dissent and continue to call for end to the criminalization of immigrant communities and communities of color!


WHAT: Street theater demonstration in front of City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich’s office

WHERE: City Hall East.

WHEN: January 18, 2011

TIME: 9:30 a.m.

And please stay tuned for upcoming Todos Somos Arizona events!

In Solidarity,

Todos Somos Arizona