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March 7, 2014 5

Anti-Immigrant Movement Dealt Three Major Blows In One Day

Ear­lier this week, two U.S. Supreme Court orders and a set­tle­ment agree­ment out of South Car­olina dealt major blows to the anti-immigrant movement’s agenda.supreme-court-east-facade

On March 3, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals by the cities of Hazle­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Farm­ers Branch, Texas, let­ting stand lower court rul­ings that had struck down both cities’ anti-immigrant ordi­nances.  Hazle­ton and Farm­ers Branch gained national noto­ri­ety when they passed ordi­nances bar­ring undoc­u­mented immi­grants from rent­ing prop­erty in the towns. 

In both cases, lower courts struck down the ordi­nances as uncon­sti­tu­tional and pre­empted by fed­eral law.  The Supreme Court’s orders deny­ing the appeals requests end the legal bat­tles, which have been ongo­ing since 2006, and secure a per­ma­nent vic­tory for immi­gra­tion and civil rights groups. 

On the same day as the Supreme Court’s orders, South Car­olina offi­cials set­tled a law­suit with immi­grant and civil rights groups over the state’s anti-immigrant laws.  In 2011 South Car­olina passed a law sim­i­lar to Arizona’s SB 1070 that, among other things, required local law enforce­ment to inves­ti­gate people’s immi­gra­tion sta­tus if they had rea­son to believe the per­son was undocumented. 

The pro­vi­sion, com­monly known as “papers please,” effec­tively required local law enforce­ment offi­cers to func­tion as immi­gra­tion enforcers.  In a let­ter sub­mit­ted to the court signed jointly by the Attor­ney Gen­eral and the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral, ear­lier this week South Car­olina agreed that local law enforce­ment would not hold peo­ple purely to deter­mine immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  The let­ter fur­ther con­ceded that the law does not per­mit state and local offi­cials to arrest or hold any­one believed to be undoc­u­mented “for any pur­pose, even to trans­fer the indi­vid­ual to fed­eral custody.”

The Supreme Court orders and South Car­olina set­tle­ment are major defeats for the anti-immigrant move­ment and its “attri­tion through enforce­ment” agenda. In the early to mid-2000s, the move­ment crafted this agenda, also known as “self-deportation.”

The goal was to make life so dif­fi­cult for immi­grants that they would “self-deport” from the city or state and move to another, or ulti­mately back to their coun­try of ori­gin.  Kris Kobach, the Kansas sec­re­tary of state and a lawyer with the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), the legal arm of the extreme anti-immigrant orga­ni­za­tion Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), is the mas­ter­mind behind attri­tion through enforce­ment and one of the lead­ers pro­mot­ing the agenda today. Kobach helped to draft and defend the ordi­nances in Farm­ers Branch, Hazel­ton, and many other cities as well as Arizona’s SB 1070 law.

The Supreme Court orders and South Car­olina set­tle­ment are part of a wider trend of defeat for the anti-immigrant move­ment.   Since the begin­ning of 2013 there has been a major decline in anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion intro­duced at the state level nation­wide. Pro-immigrant leg­is­la­tion is on the rise and the anti-immigrant move­ment is on the defense, attempt­ing to stop this influx of leg­is­la­tion instead of con­tin­u­ing to draft “attri­tion through enforce­ment” bills. These lat­est devel­op­ments send a clear mes­sage to the anti-immigrant move­ment and state and local leg­is­la­tors that anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion not only divides com­mu­ni­ties but it does not hold up in court.

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February 7, 2014 3

Challenging Anti-Immigrant Bias with Education

Crit­i­cism of immi­grant pol­icy is not an excuse to under­mine the human­ity of oth­ers with the kind of vit­riol that dom­i­nated the inter­net, espe­cially Twit­ter, after the Atlanta-based Coca Cola Com­pany aired a com­mer­cial with “Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful,” sung in dif­fer­ent lan­guages and fea­tur­ing a diver­sity of peo­ple dur­ing the Super Bowl.

The term immi­grant is a descrip­tor, not a slur. How­ever, it is often used in a pejo­ra­tive way. For those who are will­ing to den­i­grate oth­ers because of immi­gra­tion sta­tus, per­ceived immi­gra­tion sta­tus, or the mis­guided per­cep­tion that spo­ken lan­guage relates to immi­gra­tion sta­tus, we need to make one thing clear. Bias and hate have no place in civil society.

Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy reminded us in his 1963 accep­tance speech for ADL’s America’s Demo­c­ra­tic Legacy Award, “The con­tri­bu­tion of immi­grants can be seen in every aspect of our national life. We see it in reli­gion, in pol­i­tics, in busi­ness, in the arts, in edu­ca­tion, and even in ath­let­ics, and enter­tain­ment. There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immi­grant background.”

Prej­u­dice is learned and counter speech is an impor­tant part of chal­leng­ing prej­u­dice and bias wher­ever we see it, includ­ing online and in our every­day lives.

Every­one can engage in counter speech by respond­ing when they see bias and chal­leng­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion. Unfor­tu­nately, instances of racism and xeno­pho­bia related to the topic of immi­gra­tion are com­mon. In addi­tion, edu­ca­tors can play a unique role in address­ing bias in soci­ety by using the class­room to chal­lenge biased ideals, and in this case, chal­leng­ing anti-immigrant bias among youth. The les­son plan  “Hud­dled Mass or Sec­ond Class: Chal­leng­ing Anti-Immigrant Bias” for grades 3 to 12 can help edu­ca­tors move our nation closer to a more per­fect, less biased nation. Don’t have the time to do a full anti-bias les­son? Famil­iar­ize your­self with some myths and facts on immi­grants and immi­gra­tion.

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December 10, 2013 1

Promoting Human Rights on the 65th Anniversary of the Historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On Decem­ber 10, 1948, the United Nations Gen­eral Assem­bly adopted the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights (UDHR), the first ever global asser­tion that “all human beings are born with equal and inalien­able rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms.” The world cel­e­brates annual Human Rights Day on Decem­ber 10th each year.  This Decem­ber, ADL hon­ors the UDHR’s 65th anniver­sary by con­tin­u­ing to fight for the rights enshrined in that momen­tous dec­la­ra­tion and by teach­ing new gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren to learn about the prin­ci­ples it reflects.

Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Human Rights Declaration

Human Rights Day has par­tic­u­lar mean­ing for ADL because anti-Semitism and the per­se­cu­tion of Jews was the touch­stone for the cre­ation of some of the foun­da­tional human rights instru­ments in the after­math of the Holo­caust.  ADL is com­mit­ted to edu­cat­ing youth about the lessons of the Holo­caust and how big­otry and exclu­sion can lead down a slip­pery slope toward unspeak­able atroc­i­ties, and our web site fea­tures a short list of books for chil­dren on the UDHR and how it relates to the rights of chil­dren globally.

ADL is engag­ing activists in pro­tect­ing the rights cham­pi­oned by this his­toric doc­u­ment whether it is by pro­tect­ing the right of all chil­dren to an edu­ca­tion, free­dom of reli­gion and belief for all, or free­dom to asso­ciate and to seek asy­lum from per­se­cu­tion. This month, our pri­or­ity human rights issues have put the spot­light on:

Today, through our activism and rais­ing aware­ness, we honor the spirit of the mov­ing words of, one of the UDHR’s authors, Eleanor Roo­sevelt, who asked:

Where, after all, do uni­ver­sal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they can­not be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the indi­vid­ual per­son; the neigh­bor­hood he lives in; the school or col­lege he attends; the fac­tory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal jus­tice, equal oppor­tu­nity, equal dig­nity with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion. Unless these rights have mean­ing there, they have lit­tle mean­ing any­where. With­out con­cerned cit­i­zen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

 

– Eleanor Roo­sevelt, “In Our Hands” (1958 speech deliv­ered on the tenth anniver­sary of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights)

 

 

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