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October 7, 2014 1

Anti-Immigrant Groups Call For Immigration Bans Following Ebola Scare

jessica-vaughan-ebola

Jes­sica Vaughan

As news broke of the first per­son inside the U.S. diag­nosed with the deadly Ebola virus, anti-immigrant groups seized the oppor­tu­nity to use this infor­ma­tion as a way to speak out against “mass immi­gra­tion.” Over the past month, anti-immigrant groups used the same tac­tic when attempt­ing to bring the ter­ror­ist group ISIS into the immi­gra­tion debate.

In an inter­view with the Daily Caller, Jes­sica Vaughan, the pol­icy direc­tor of the anti-immigrant think tank Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (CIS) argued that Africans will try to come to the United States for treat­ment. She attempted to back up this claim by equat­ing Ebola patients with unac­com­pa­nied minors flee­ing vio­lence in Cen­tral Amer­i­can and seek­ing refuge in the United States, claim­ing both are try­ing “to take advan­tage” of U.S. bor­der pol­icy. Vaughan has made prior big­oted state­ments about immi­grants. In 2008 Vaughan claimed, “One legacy of TPS (Tem­po­rary Pro­tected Sta­tus for refugees) has been its con­tri­bu­tion to the bur­geon­ing street gang prob­lem in the United States.”

Vaughan’s col­league, Mark Kriko­rian, con­tin­ued the argu­ment in a col­umn for National Review Online, titled, “Ban Travel from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea—Now.” In the col­umn, Kriko­rian again voiced his oppo­si­tion to Mus­lim immi­gra­tion to the United States, stat­ing, “Why has the gov­ern­ment per­mit­ted the num­ber of Saudi immi­grants in the U.S. to dou­ble in just three years?… Why are we going to ‘greatly expand reset­tle­ment for Syr­ian refugees’?”

Anti-immigrant extrem­ists also used the Ebola news as an oppor­tu­nity to call for a reduc­tion to immi­gra­tion. In an Octo­ber 1 arti­cle, Patrick Cle­burne, a writer for the racist web­site VDARE founded by white suprema­cist Peter Brimelow, stated, “My own ques­tion: why does Amer­ica need immi­gra­tion from this famously unhealthy part of the world any­way?” Cle­burne ended his arti­cle by claim­ing the U.S. needs to revisit the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­ity Act of 1965, which abol­ished racial quo­tas con­tained in pre­vi­ous immi­gra­tion laws. Also on Octo­ber 1, the Tea Party Immi­gra­tion Coali­tion headed by racist Rick Olt­man posted an arti­cle on its Face­book page about Ebola ask­ing, “Is this how Obama will kill us?”

The anti-immigrant move­ment often paints immi­grants as dis­ease car­ri­ers in an attempt to cre­ate a cli­mate of fear around the issue and call for a restric­tion on immi­gra­tion. Attempt­ing to cap­i­tal­ize of the recent Ebola diag­no­sis is the lat­est exam­ple of this trend.

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October 3, 2014 2

California Takes Lead In Ending School-To-Prison Pipeline

Cal­i­for­nia has once again shown itself to be a leader in pro­mot­ing civil rights and equal­ity for all by ban­ning school sus­pen­sions for K-3rd grade stu­dents and expul­sions for all stu­dents under the sub­jec­tive and often-abused “will­ful defi­ance” stan­dard in the Edu­ca­tion Code.  As part of our mis­sion to fight big­otry of all kinds, ADL has had a long his­tory of sup­port­ing equal access to qual­ity edu­ca­tion for all students—the goal promised in the land­mark Brown v. Board of Edu­ca­tion Supreme Court rul­ing in 1954.  This momen­tous change in Cal­i­for­nia law, which ADL proudly sup­ported, will bring us a sig­nif­i­cant step closer to that ideal.school-to-prison-pipeline

The new law spec­i­fies that a pub­lic school stu­dent in grades 6–12 may be sus­pended for will­ful defiance—which can be as minor as a dress code vio­la­tion or fail­ure to hand in homework—only after the third offense in a school year, and pro­vided that other means of resolv­ing the behav­ioral prob­lems were first attempted.  The law also pro­hibits a school from rec­om­mend­ing that stu­dent for expul­sion solely for will­ful defi­ance.  The law now encour­ages schools to invest in chil­dren rather than resort­ing to harsh out-of-school dis­ci­pline for rel­a­tively minor offenses.  Its pas­sage will ensure that stu­dents remain where they need to be—in class—and not on the streets or in the crim­i­nal jus­tice system.

Although there are many fac­tors that con­tribute to a student’s inabil­ity to thrive in school, the cycle of sus­pen­sions and expul­sions is among the best indi­ca­tors of which stu­dents will drop out.  Stu­dents who drop out of school have more dif­fi­culty find­ing gain­ful employ­ment, have much lower earn­ing power when they are employed, and ulti­mately are more likely to wind up in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.  This trou­bling phenomenon—which dis­pro­por­tion­ately impacts stu­dents of color, stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties, and stu­dents who iden­tify as les­bian, gay, bisex­ual or trans­gen­der—has become known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”  Work­ing to dis­man­tle the pipeline has become a key focus of ADL’s civil rights and edu­ca­tion agendas.

Both the Los Ange­les Uni­fied School Dis­trict and the San Fran­cisco Uni­fied School Dis­trict have already com­pletely banned sus­pen­sions and expul­sions for will­ful defi­ance, tak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant step towards dis­man­tling the school-to-prison pipeline.  California’s new statewide law will sun­set in three and a half years.  Dur­ing this time, ADL will be work­ing with coali­tion part­ners on new bills and ini­tia­tives to strengthen pro­tec­tions for stu­dents and develop addi­tional alter­na­tive meth­ods for chang­ing neg­a­tive stu­dent behav­iors with pos­i­tive interventions.

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October 3, 2014 0

Sectarian Legislative Prayer – Walking In The Religious Minority’s Shoes

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent leg­isla­tive prayer deci­sion (Greece v. Gal­loway) gen­er­ally sanc­tions sec­tar­ian prayers before meet­ings of local leg­isla­tive bod­ies except for the most egre­gious cir­cum­stances.  In oppos­ing the Court’s deci­sion, Jus­tice Elana Kagan astutely con­cluded that “[w]hen the cit­i­zens of this coun­try approach their gov­ern­ment, they do so only as Amer­i­cans, not as mem­bers of one faith or another.  And that means that even in a partly leg­isla­tive body, they should not con­front government-sponsored wor­ship that divides them along reli­gious lines.”  At a recent county com­mis­sion meet­ing, a local com­mis­sioner may have expe­ri­enced the les­son of Jus­tice Kagan’s admonition.seal-of-escambia-county

The Escam­bia County, FL Com­mis­sion allows sec­tar­ian invo­ca­tions at its pub­lic meet­ings by a com­mu­nity mem­ber of any faith or reli­gion.  At the Sep­tem­ber 25th Com­mis­sion meet­ing, David Suhor, who is Pagan, recited a pagan prayer song “call­ing of the direc­tions north, east, south and west.”  Regard­ing his prayer, Mr. Suhor later stated “[i]n a way I would like for other peo­ple to expe­ri­ence what it’s like when I go to a meet­ing and am asked to pray against my conscience.”

Mr. Suhor’s prayer appar­ently offended at least one per­son in the room. Accord­ing to a news report, County Com­mis­sioner Wil­son Robert­son, “left the room because of his Chris­t­ian beliefs,” and he stated “[p]eople may not real­ize it, but when we invite some­one a min­is­ter to pray they are pray­ing for the county com­mis­sion­ers for us to make wise deci­sions and I’m just not going to have a pagan or satanic min­is­ter pray for me.”

ADL opposes sec­tar­ian leg­isla­tive prayer prac­tices because of the reli­gious exclu­sion and divi­sion result­ing from them – par­tic­u­larly for reli­gious minori­ties.  If the com­mis­sioner does not want a com­mu­nity mem­ber to pray for him in a faith that offends his con­science, per­haps he and other com­mis­sion mem­bers should adopt a moment of silence pol­icy or at least a non-sectarian invo­ca­tion policy.

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