Weekly Diaspora: Immigration Impacts Everything


While many pundits and political analysts are musing about what Tuesday's mixed bag election results mean for Obama administration, New America Media reports that "there's another trend to watch; the surprising prominence of immigration politics." Even in states where other concerns "like small farms and forestry management" are far more immediate, "immigration has become a litmus test issue for the conservative movement," and the expectation is, oddly, a "lockstep" goal toward opposing legalization. One has to wonder how the self-destructive choice to oppose immigration at any cost came about. ColorLines' Leticia Miranda asks "What's next?" now that the infamous Hutto immigration detention center, notorious for myriad human rights violations such as keeping children in prison-like conditions, is closing. Detainees are simply being moved to another detention center in Pennsylvania. So how will we know that substandard conditions and alleged sexual abuse will not be repeated? The problem is not location. The problem is that a class of people have been isolated and assigned lesser worth. making it easy to exploit them. Still, the closing of Hutto is an accomplishment for the ACLU and other activists that worked so hard to make it happen. It's also a sign that our nation will not tolerate such conditions. Another positive sign of progress is the reversal of what the Washington Monthly dubbed "a senseless ban" that prohibited HIV-positive individuals from migrating or traveling to the US. Author Steve Benen notes that progress in overturning the ban, which was imposed by the Reagan administration 22 years ago, began with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and then-Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) in 2008. In negative news, the anti-immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) have released a bizarrely antagonistic press release calling Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) a "traitor," as The Washington Independent reports. The full press release is here. In it, William Gheen, President of ALIPAC, happily warns that ALIPAC is "ready to organize and channel the backlash wave of anger that is coming into peaceful civic action" and for no apparent reason, employing a Dirty Harry quote beseeching an unnamed person to "Make my day, punk!" People like Gheen and Lou Dobbs are forever talking about a culture war and are obviously not interested in human beings. It is far too easy to get the same impression about the Department of Homeland Security's Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Reporting on an Associated Press analysis of previously undisclosed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Wiretap declares ICE to be "critically flawed, replete with agents who have badly bungled ongoing cases." This includes "covering up crimes and even interfering in a police investigation into whether one informant killed another." The list of ICE's violations of the public trust include "soliciting sex from witnesses, letting informants smuggle undocumented folks, sexual relationships with informants" and using their position improperly to accrue "personal gain." As author M. Junaid Levesque-Alam makes clear, any agency will develop some degree of corruption that must be rooted out. But the dangers increase when you empower an agency "specifically created to target the vulnerable" with federal authority and weapons, all the while calling this population "illegal aliens." Also in Wiretap, Jamila King reports on San Francisco's ongoing battle with Mayor Gavin Newsom regarding when deportation proceedings should be initiated against youth that have bee arrested but not tried for a crime. The city recently voted that juveniles accused of crimes must actually be convicted before they are deported. Oddly, even in the face of "crowds of people gathered at city hall to celebrate the board's decision to overturn" the "draconian mandate," Newsom vetoed the change last Wednesday. Supervisor David Campos responded to the veto by saying it was a "sad day for San Francisco" and that Newsom had "chosen to be on the wrong side of history on this issue." King reminds us, however, that Newsom's move is toothless. The Board of Supervisors had enough votes to override his veto. Deportation is a serious issue. Last week the Diaspora featured "Torn Apart" ColorLines' web-only series on deportation's effects on families of color. Free Speech TV has posted an alert to protect families from deportation. It includes a link with actions you can take to help. Finally, as The Real News reports, Mexico is offering amnesty to all undocumented immigrants within its borders, be they from the US or other nations (video below). Juan Ignacio Pedroza, Migratory Regulations Official for Mexico, makes clear why the country is making such a move. The government of Mexico sees immigrants as an economic boon, and wants to offer them a path to citizenship so that they can contribute and be part of the social fabric. Mexico is an older nation and surely imperfect. But this decision demonstrates wisdom about how a people can come together that we might learn from here in the US. This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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