NYT Opinion: Migrants’ Freedom Ride

Published July 28, 2012:

On Sunday night or early Monday, about three dozen people are planning to set out on a six-week bus voyage through the dark terrain of American immigration politics. Their journey is to begin, fittingly, in the desert in Arizona, national capital of anti-immigrant laws and oppressive policing. It will wind through other states where laws and failed policies force immigrants to toil outside the law — New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee — and end in North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention.

There the riders plan to deliver a defiant message to a president who is hoping to return to office on a wave of Latino support that they believe he has not earned.

There is something very different about this particular protest. Many of those planning to ride the bus are undocumented and — for the first time — are not afraid to say so. Immigrants who dread arrest and deportation usually seek anonymity. These riders, weary of life in the shadows and frustrated by the lack of progress toward reform, will be telling federal authorities and the local police: Here are our names. This is our plan. If you want us, come get us.

Read more »

WRAL.com: Man on hunger strike for illegal immigrants

Dreamers arrested for disrupting a legislative hearing about immigration in North Carolina.  Uriel Alberto is still in jail:

Raleigh, N.C. — A Winston-Salem man on a hunger strike at the Wake County jail and facing deportation says that he wants to bring attention to U.S. immigration laws and how they are affecting immigrants who have been raised in America yet cannot obtain citizenship as adults.

“I had no control over whether or not I wanted to come to this country, but I’m here, and I’m a contributing member of society,” 24-year-old Uriel Alberto, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said Monday.

Alberto began fasting 10 days ago – two days after he and two other people with the advocacy groups El Cambio and N.C. Dream Team – were charged Feb. 29 with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after they interrupted a legislative committee meeting on immigration laws.

“The last two days have been extremely difficult to stay with it mentally,” he said. “I’m getting through it.”

Already having lost 20 pounds, he plans to fast another 10 days in an effort to empower others to speak out for the way, he says, illegal immigrants have to live under the radar and often fear being deported.

“We can’t live in the shadows, because if we do, then the same things that have happened (legislation regarding illegal immigrants) in Alabama and in Arizona are going to happen here,” Alberto said.  Read more …

The Commercial Appeal: Illegal immigrants, supporters to re-create 1966 march

Daniel Connolly writes about the increasing links between the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the Immigrants Rights Movement in the South:

In 1966, James Meredith set out on a protest walk from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., calling it the “March Against Fear.”

At the time, such an act by a black man could provoke violence. Deadly rioting had erupted when Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1962, and he would survive a shooting shortly after he began the walk.

This year, a young woman from El Salvador named Ingrid Cruz sought out an aging Meredith in Jackson. Would he endorse the concept of a Walk Against Fear, this time focused on immigration matters?

He would. An online video shows a gray-bearded Meredith in an Ole Miss baseball cap talking with Cruz. In a halting voice, he says he supports her effort. “And we’re gonna do all we can to make it a big success,” he said.

Meredith is expected to appear at the National Civil Rights Museum today as Cruz and other members of a small group make speeches before setting off on a weeks-long journey down U.S. 51 to protest what they call anti-immigrant racism. They’re scheduled to arrive April 7 in Jackson.

Cruz is a 25-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Jackson, but two other young men making the march, Memphis residents Patricio Gonzalez and Jose Salazar, acknowledge that they’re living in the country without legal permission. Read more …

SouthCoastToday.com: Blue-collar Americans and blue-collar immigrants caught in same trap

Jack Spillane speaks the truth on this fine Sunday, March 11, 2012:

Reina Rivas stood in the cold outside the former Michael Bianco factory Friday night and talked determinedly to about 100 people about what it was like to be jailed for being an illegal immigrant.

The 34-year-old Rivas, a one-time teacher in Guatemala, on the day of the Bianco raid, was working at the South End factory that used to make canvas bags for military gear used by American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rivas was one of the 361 women and men (mostly women) who were swept up in the now-infamous ICE raid that exposed a raw nerve in the city of New Bedford five years ago this week. She was held at the Barnstable House of Correction after being removed from the Bianco factory.

Many of the women who worked as seamstresses in the Bianco sweatshop were parents, and an estimated 112 children, including some who were nursing, were separated from their mothers after the raid.

But the Bianco raid was just as unnerving to many working-class city residents, with talk radio and protests erupting in anger at the immigrants in the wake of the roundup.

Rivas spoke in Spanish to the gathering, comprising young, Central American families and both Latino and American activists. “She thanked God for healing hearts and memories, and asked that the government policies be more just and respectful of human dignity,” said Father Rich Wilson, translating after Rivas had finished speaking.  Read more …

San Antonio Express News: ‘USA’ chant reflects deep social woes

This is one of those moments when you can see the way national origin and class work out to make a hierarchy of belonging to “America.”  This is a disturbing story about obnoxious high school kids and it also exposes some truths that no one likes to talk about.  Victor Landa says it better below:

When do chants of USA! USA! become a racist rant? It sounds, at first hearing, like an Orwellian proposition. But take that proposition to one of the most American of venues, the high school basketball gym, and that seeming double-speak becomes an ethnic affront; it’s all in the intent.

That’s exactly what happened last week during an important regional basketball match between San Antonio’s Alamo Heights and Edison High Schools. The Alamo Heights Mules defeated the Edison Golden Bears, and with that defeat the Mules advanced in regional tournament competition. But in their post-victory celebration a group of Mules partisans chanted USA! USA! This is the nuance that turned a patriotic chant into a perceived ethnic/cultural slur: both the Mules and the Golden Bears are American High School teams. The USA! chant was entirely out of place, it was not an international competition — unless you dig further into preconceptions.

Alamo Heights is a mostly nonminority, affluent high school. Edison is predominantly Latino, lower- to working-class campus. Within that context the chant has a different implication. It is, at best, demeaning. At worst, it’s insulting. The implied intent is that the victors are American, and defeated are not. The implication goes further still: if the members of the Golden Bears squad are not American, as the chant implies, then what are they?  Read more …

NYT: Vying for Campus President, Illegal Immigrant Gets a Gamut of Responses

We are proud of Jose Luis Zelaya and his supporters.  They are not the “leaders of the future” but the leaders of now.

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. — Jose Luis Zelaya stood with a crowd of other students waiting to hear the news. It was election day at Texas A&M University here, and he was running for student body president. A victory for Mr. Zelaya, a 24-year-old graduate student from Honduras, would make history at Texas A&M: He would become its first Hispanic student body president — and the first illegal immigrant to hold the position.

Mr. Zelaya came to the United States at age 14, fleeing an abusive father and gang violence and hoping to reunite with his mother and sister in Houston. Last year, at a campus rally organized by supporters of the proposed Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who go to college, he spoke of being undocumented, and described his journey from cleaning windshields at stoplights and sleeping under a bridge in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula to attending the sixth-largest university in the United States. Read more …

WNYC: Solidarity Between Immigrants, Civil Rights Marchers After Ala. HB 56 Ruling

On March 9, 2012, Sarah Kate Kramer writes:

Immigrants in Alabama are pushing back against the controversial immigration law HB 56, and it’s working.

In the same week as thousands of Latinos are marching with African American leaders to commemorate the bloody civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery that took place 47 years ago, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked two more sections of HB 56 on Thursday.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined Sections 27 and 30 of the state law until legal challenges brought by the federal government and a coalition of church and civil rights groups are resolved.

The state legislature passed HB 56, a law targeting undocumented immigrants in June 2011, and it immediately gained notoriety as the toughest immigration law in the country. In September, Federal Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn issued preliminary injunctions against a few provisions of the law, including one prohibiting undocumented immigrants from attending public universities, another that outlawed harboring or transporting undocumented immigrants and a third that outlawed stopping for day laborers if a motor vehicle blocked traffic. But Judge Blackburn left intact two of the most controversial elements of the law. Read more …

NYT Opinion : On the Rise in Alabama

Alabama’s ruling class has dug in against the storm it caused with the nation’s most oppressive immigration law. Some of the law’s provisions have been blocked in federal court; others won’t take effect until next year. But many Alabamans aren’t waiting for things to get worse or for the uncertain possibility of judicial relief or legislative retreat. They are moving to protect themselves, and summoning the tactics of a civil rights struggle now half a century old.

The law was written to deny immigrants without papers the ability to work or travel, to own or rent a home, to enter contracts of any kind. Fear is causing an exodus as Latinos abandon homes and jobs and crops in the fields. Utilities are preparing to shut off water, power and heat to customers who cannot show the right papers.  Read more …

Fox News Latino: Alabama Immigration Battle Mirrors Civil Rights Era

"The nation's strictest immigration law has resurrected ugly images from Alabama's days as the battleground state for civil rights.

Sharing a border with Mexico and being flooded with boycotts does not make Arizona the poster state for the challenges of immigration laws in the United States. The four states that followed suit with their own immigration law enforcement aren't either.

No, the case that's likely to be the first sorted out by the U.S. Supreme Court comes from the Deep South state of Alabama, and Alabama's jump to the forefront says as much about the country's evolving demographics as it does the nation's collective memory of the state's sometimes violent path to desegregation.

 

With the failure of Congress in recent years to pass comprehensive federal immigration legislation, Arizona, Georgia, Utah, South Carolina and Indiana have passed their own. But supporters and opponents alike agree none contained provisions as strict as those passed in Alabama, among them one that required schools to check students' immigration status. That provision, which has been temporarily blocked, would allow the Supreme Court to decide if a kindergarten to high school education must be provided to undocumented immigrants.

Its stature as the strictest in the U.S., along with the inevitable comparisons of today's Hispanics with African-Americans of the 1950s and `60s, makes it a near certainty the law will be a test case for the high court." Read more …