Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Immigration News Roundup - 5/26/2010

1. Cultural Boycott of Arizona: Rage Against the Machine lead singer Zack de la Rocha has enlisted dozens of musicians and activists to join The Sound Strike, an open call by artists to boycott the state of Arizona over its recently passed immigration law. Performers like Cypress Hill, Juanes, Conor Oberst, Los Tigres del Norte, Cafe Tacvba, Kanye West, Calle 13 as well as Oscar winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore have signed on to the campaign, which was announced on

"Fans of our music, our stories, our films and our words can be pulled over and harassed every day because they are brown or black, or for the way they speak, or for the music they listen to," de la Rocha wrote in an open letter announcing the campaign. "People who are poor like some of us used to be could be forced to live in a constant state of fear while just doing what they can to find work and survive. This law opens the door for them to be shaked down, or even worse, detained and deported while just trying to travel home from school, from home to work, or when they just roll out with their friends."

Already hip-hop acts Pitbull and Cypress Hill have canceled upcoming shows in Arizona to protest the law. Regional Mexican music acts Conjunto Primavera and Espinoza Paz have canceled their previously-announced Phoenix concerts, while their fellow Latin music stars Jenni Rivera and Wisin & Yandel will be skipping the state on their AEG Live-promoted summer tours.

2. Police chiefs voice concerns to Attorney General about Ariz. law: Arizona's new immigration law and similar proposals in other states would lead to an increase in crime, some police chiefs from around the country told Attorney General Eric Holder in an hourlong meeting Wednesday. The chiefs told the attorney general that having to determine whether a person is in the United States illegally will break down the trust that police have built in communities and will divert law enforcement resources away from fighting crime. If that happens, "we will be unable to do our jobs," said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. "Laws like this will actually increase crime, not decrease crime." The meeting also included John Harris, president of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and chief of police of Sahuarita (AZ) as well as the chiefs of police of Tucson (AZ), Philadelphia (PA), Houston (TX), Minneapolis (MN), San Jose (CA), Salt Lake City (UT) and Montgomery County (MD).

3. Civil Disobedience in New York in Support of Immigration Reform: Nearly 40 people were arrested this week during an act of civil disobedience in Lower Manhattan meant to rally against Arizona's immigration law. New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York State Assembly member Adriano Espaillat, Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Chair, Churches United to Save and Heal, Hector Figueroa, Secretary Treasurer, SEIU 32BJ, and Bertha Lewis, President, The Black Institute were among those arrested during a rally that took place outside 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan. Local clergy, labor leaders, elected officials and community leaders linked arms to form a chain that temporarily blocked traffic.

This is the second time immigration protestors have hit Federal Plaza. Last week, sixteen demonstrators were arrested in the same location, including City Council members Jumani Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez. More protests are planned.

Actions have also taken place in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

4. President Obama ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexico border: Under pressure to help secure the US border with Mexico, President Obama ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the US Southwest and said he would ask Congress to approve an additional $500 million to pay for law-enforcement activities in the region. The State Department emphasized that the troops being sent to the Mexican border will be used to stem the flow of guns and drugs across the frontier and not to enforce US immigration laws. However the deployment is, in part, a bow to political reality. If Obama is to have any chance of passing comprehensive immigration reform, he needs to do something himself about the deteriorating border situation.


Reform Immigration for America Now is concerned that this border militarization trend not be viewed as a substitute for real comprehensive immigration reform. They are asking people to go to their Web site and take action to send a free fax on the subject to their senators.

5. Rep. Gutierrez calls for inclusion of LBGT families in comprehensive immigration reform: In a move that does not bode well for the preservation of the coalition that brought his Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP / H.R. 4321) forward, Rep. Gutierrez this week joined Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) to announce his unwavering support for allowing legal family-based immigration for same-sex couples as part of any comprehensive immigration reform plan that moves forward in Congress. At the moment this provision is only included in the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA / H.R.1024) of which Gutierrez is a co-sponsor, but not in CIR-ASAP. Followers of this issue will recall that last year the US Conference of Catholic Bishops withdrew its support from the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA / H.R.1024) to protest the inclusion of same-sex families. The National Association of Evangelicals, another major religious group that has been supporting immigration reform, has also indicated that it will not support same-sex sponsorship. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has also opposed the inclusion of gay couples. How far we have come from the Familias Unidas tour that opened so many doors in the religious community.

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