Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

Family Reunification

Family reunification accounts for nearly two-thirds of lawful permanent migration to the United States: it’s the largest avenue by which people receive admission to the country.

Yet, family separation remains a part of daily living for countless immigrants. And current legislative efforts at Comprehensive Immigration Reform is focusing on family unity as a key component of any new immigration policy.

Reporter Sean Powers examines the issues facing lawmakers… and families.


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Slideshow: Marta Barrera & Carlos

9500 Liberty

Maria talks with filmmaker Eric Byler about the documentary “9500 LIBERTY,” which he made with Annabel Park. It chronicles the public discussion, passage, and eventual repeal of an anti-immigrant measure in Prince William County, Virginia.

Byler describes the role of FAIR — the Federation for American Immigration Reform — in the anti-immigrant legislative efforts popping up around the country, including Arizona. FAIR, founded by John Tanton and directed by Dan Stein, is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “Teflon Nativist Hate Group.”


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The innovative film began with an interactive YouTube channel online. You can still watch many of the scenes which would eventually become the final documentary.

State legislators across the country have announced plans to introduce bills similar to Arizona’s SB-1070. Already, in just the first quarter of 2010, legislatures in 45 states have considered bills and resolutions dealing with immigration. The National Conference of State Legislatures is tracking the movement.

Newspaper Takes Politicians to Task

Last weekend, The Arizona Republic, the largest daily in Arizona and a newspaper known for a conservative editorial stance, lambasted public figures for their failure of leadership on the issues of Immigration.

The banner headline on the front page of Sunday’s (2 May 2010) paper read—in what might be viewed as a case of typography-as-commentary—in black & white, and gray: STOP FAILING ARIZONA; START FIXING IMMIGRATION.

We need leaders. The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border. Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear. The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration. This represents years of failure. Years of politicians taking the easy way and allowing the debate to descend into chaos.

The Arizona Republic has been calling for comprehensive immigration reform continuously since 2002. For a brief time, our congressional delegation led the nation on this front. But no more.

Now, it seems our elected officials prefer to serve political expediency instead.”

—The Arizona Republic

The paper then went on to catalog the leadership failures of ten prominent Arizona politicians: Jan Brewer, Janet Napolitano, John McCain, Jon Kyl, J.D. Hayworth, Phil Gordon, Russell Pearce, Raúl Grijalva, Joe Arpaio, and Andrew Thomas. (You can read the editorial here.)

Linda Valdez serves on the editorial board of the paper; she describes the decision to run the full-page editorial on the front page of last Sunday’s edition.


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Recuerdos de mi Barrio: Chávez Ravine

Home is at the heart of any conversation about immigration. Where we call home says something about where we were born, but just as much about where we are loved, and nurtured, and connect with the people who care about us.

The hillsides around Dodger stadium in Los Angeles were once thriving neighborhoods of Mexican-Americans. In the late 1940s, the City of Los Angeles eyed the area for development. Public housing was planned there.

But by the 50s, things changed and the city claimed the property through eminent domain and sold it to the Dodgers.

Some people left on their own. Some were forced out. And the place changed drastically.

Our colleagues at StoryCorps: Historias were in LA recently, and recorded stories about the old neighborhood of Chávez Ravine. Carol Jacques’ family moved out in the early 1950s. Alfred Zepeda and Albert Elias have been friends for more than 70 years; they grew up in Chávez Ravine.


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You can connect with StoryCorp: Historias and tell your story.

Chávez Ravine has been the subject of a number of documentary efforts. The historical photos you see here are the work of photographer Don Normark.

The PBS series Independent Lens featured a history of the neighborhood in a film titled “Chávez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story.” The website for the film has more of Don Normark’s haunting photos.

Daisy, Ernesto, Gregorio, & Justine

These four university students were arrested last week for an act of civil disobedience: chaining themselves to the doors of the capitol. The four friends are all students at ASU: they’re studying social work, journalism, political science, and trans-border Chicana/Latina studies. They talk to Maria about reaching a point where they felt it was time to act in response to SB-1070, and how they’re looking out for one another as they manage life in Arizona.


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See video of the arrests last week at the capitol. (Courtesy of the Cronkite News Service at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.)

The music at the end of the segment is Amaze Me by the Brooklyn-based trio Girlyman.

Rene and Claudia

We first met Rene on the lawn of the state capitol. He was dressed in desert fatigues: harkening back, perhaps, to his years of U.S. military service during the first Gulf War.

The military was a pathway to citizenship for Rene; it has been for hundreds of thousands of immigrants over the years.

Rene and Claudia were married in 1995. Claudia is undocumented. And the couple has repeatedly tried to normalize her immigration status in the years since their marriage.

Claudia didn’t want to come to the capitol to speak with us. She was afraid to do so. For this couple and their children, fear has become a common part of their lives in Arizona.


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Arizona’s SB-1070: Signed Into Law

As we reported last week, the Arizona State legislature has approved, and now the Governor has signed, the nation’s most stringent law aimed as curbing undocumented immigrants from living and working in Arizona.

Governor Jan Brewer’s signed the measure into law Friday afternoon, saying she acted in response to “the crisis the federal government has refused to fix.” She also issued an executive order directing that police agencies receive training in what does or does not constitute reasonable suspicion that someone is in the country without documents. “People across the country are watching Arizona,” the Governor said.

Thomas Saenz is the general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF). He’s convinced the law will not stand the scrutiny of higher courts.

The week in Arizona has seen numerous protests — both in favor of the measure, and those that were encouraging a veto. Here’s video from one protest in Phoenix, which ended in the arrest of demonstrators who chained themselves to the State Capitol.

(Video courtesy of the Cronkite News Service, a service of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU in Phoenix. Used with permission.)

Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law

What role should local police agencies play in the enforcement of federal immigration law? The controversial “Section 287(g)” of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to delegate federal immigration enforcement authority to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Critics of Section 287(g) say the program lacks oversight and has become an avenue for human rights abuses across the United States. Now, a report from DHS’s own Office of Inspector General agrees.

Maria talks with Clarissa Martinez who directs Immigration and National Campaigns for the National Council of La Raza about the report and its implications for ICE and for local police authorities.


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Read the report: The Performance of 287(g) Agreements [.pdf]

Watch an episode of NOW on PBS focusing on local enforcement of Federal Immigration Law, including Maria’s interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. [link will open PBS website / video requires Flash.]

NOW on PBS videolink

Thousands Rally in Washington

As the House of Representatives moved on the final passage of Health Care Reform last weekend, tens of thousands of people rallied in the bright sunlight a few hundred yards west of the Capitol. Thousands had arrived by trains and busses and cars from all across the nation—many are without documents to be in the U.S. legally—to urge President Obama to fulfill a campaign promise and to advocate that the Congress make Immigration Reform the next item on the national agenda.

Yasmeen Qureshi reports that the crowd was filled with hope.


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Watch the video from the White House that was shown at the rally on the Mall:


source: whitehouse.gov

Documenting Border Violence

In January of 2009, independent producer Scott Carrier produced a report for NPR’s Day-to-Day program (now defunct). In it, Scott followed around a Mexican photographer whose job it was to photograph gruesome drug-related murder scenes before the bodies were taken away to the local morgue. Most of the photos would appear in the next morning’s newspapers.

Here again is that broadcast.


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

This story was part of Day to Day’s “Hearing Voices” series. CLICK HERE to link to the original broadcast dated January 5, 2009.

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