Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Immigration News Roundup - 7/7/2010

1. Priest Fasts for Immigration Reform: A Chicago pastor is recovering at home after he was hospitalized during a hunger strike for immigration reform and an end to deportations. Rev. Jose Landaverde, head of Our Lady of Guadelupe Anglican Church in the heavily Mexican Little Village neighborhood, was on the 14th day of a hunger strike when he collapsed. He had been only consuming liquids. Emma Lozano, head of the group Centro Sin Fronteras, says Landaverde was treated at Stroger Hospital and released. Landaverde, who has diabetes, had started to fast following another minister, Rev. Martin Santellano of New Hope Apostolic Ministry, a Pentecostal church who, supporters say, went 32 days without solid foods. Other activists will take over in the chain of "hunger strikes" that is meant to draw more urgency to calls for federal legislators to overhaul the nation's immigration system.

Rev. Landaverde understands the importance of immigration reform personally. He came to the U.S. from El Salvador in the early 1990s as a political asylum seeker. Both his parents were killed by government soldiers when he was a boy. An uncle took Landaverde to join the guerrilla movement. In 1990, he was arrested, then beaten and left for dead at a river bank with a group of other suspected guerrillas who had been captured. As for the hunger strike? “I want to raise awareness among the people and contribute to attracting the attention of the authorities,” the priest says. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...

2. Houston’s Clergy Unites to Urge Support for Immigration Reform: Eschewing the more traditional "God and country" sermons this Independence Day weekend, religious leaders across the Houston metropolitan area preached about the need to fix the nation's broken immigration system and welcome the stranger among us. The coordinated effort was part of a broad-based campaign begun in January by an interfaith group, the Metropolitan Organization, to lobby Congress to pass an immigration overhaul package this year. The group has collected 12,000 signatures to be sent to lawmakers and has organized workshops to persuade churchgoers to support their effort. On June 22, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, made a strong appeal in a letter to the priests in all 150 parishes to address the question in their sermons this weekend...

3. Justice Department sues Arizona over immigration law: The Obama administration sued Arizona over the state's new immigration law on Tuesday. The Justice Department lawsuit charges that the Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants conflicts with federal law, would disrupt immigration enforcement and would lead to police harassment of those who cannot prove their lawful status. Filed in federal court in Arizona, it says the state's measure is unconstitutional and asks a judge to stop it from taking effect.

Some advocates do not believe a lawsuit is enough. In a statement issued yesterday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the administration can — and should — revoke the authority the Department of Justice has delegated to Arizona under 287(g) in which Homeland Security trains members of eight state and local law enforcement agencies in Arizona, including the state police, which allows the officers to enforce immigration laws.


4. Advocates for immigrants turn to state legislatures to block Arizona-style law: The Washington Post reports that:

...In states from Pennsylvania to Utah, a battle of bills has been taking place between those who want to reproduce the Arizona law, which hands police more power to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally, and those who want to extend further rights to immigrants.

Lawmakers have been using employment, health and anti-discrimination bills to counter a wave of anti-immigrant legislation. Others have introduced measures specifically designed to keep an Arizona-style law from ending up on their governor's desk.

Most are members of State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy, a group of 54 legislators from 28 states pushing pro-immigrant measures. Membership has jumped 50 percent since the Arizona law was enacted...

5. President Obama Speaks Out for Immigration Reform: One July 1st at American University, President Obama again called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Other than his enthusiastic support of the DREAM Act, the president's speech was less remarkable than the spirited invocation by Methodist Bishop John Schol that preceded it: "...God, today we also ask you to watch over those who protect our borders and those who seek a new life by crossing our borders. Bless those born within our borders and those who have found a new home by crossing our borders." To which, we can only say "Amen". Pastor Bill Hybels of the Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago delivered an unabashed plea for immigration reform as well while introducing the president. You can hear his remarks and the president's in this video from C-SPAN.

6. The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immmigration on United States Taxpayers: Our "friends" at FAIR have come out with a new study that "estimates the annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion; nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84.2 billion at the state and local level." The release of the report has been timed to coincide with the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of Arizona and I'm sure someone will review it and debunk FAIR's methodology and conclusions, as has happened with many of FAIR's previous un-FAIR studies. When that happens, we'll amend this entry. One glaring methodological assumption in this report: "In our cost estimates we also include the minor children of illegal aliens born in the United States. That adds another 3.4 million children to the 1.3 million children who are illegal aliens themselves." Sorry, FAIR, you can't count these kids and inflate your figures because, like it or not, they are U.S. citizens and entitled to all benefits as such.

Photo: Rev. Jose Landaverde

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