A project of the Center for Community Change

FIRM Update 4.28.08

Building America Together!

On May 1st, FIRM member organizations in a number of cities across the United States will engage in rallies and marches calling for unity in the movement, an end to raids, a pathway to citizenship and emphasizing the importance of civic participation as we gear up for the general election this fall. We’ve partnered with America’s Voice, a new 501c4 non-partisan communications organization, to make press and communications resources available to a number of events. If your organization is interested in participating, but has not yet contacted us, please e-mail mgraciosa@communitychange.org. More details to come soon.

Then on May 2, a delegation of FIRM leaders will follow-up on our joint action with National People’s Action with a meeting with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service to further pressure that agency to resolve the naturalization backlogs that could prevent one million naturalization applicants from becoming citizens in time to register to vote in the elections this fall. FIRM’s efforts build on the work of the New Americans Initiative, implemented by FIRM member organizations across the nation, including Illinois, Maryland, Washington, and several other states. For more information about the New American’s Initiative, launched by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, go to http://www.icirr.org/nai/aboutnai.html. FIRM’s focus on USCIS also builds on the powerful work of our partner organizations in the Ya Es Hora campaign (http://www.yaeshora.info/), the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (http://www.naleo.org/) and ACORN (http://www.acorn.org/) in holding the Department of Homeland Security accountable to democracy. For more information, contact rstolz@communitychange.org.

Politics 2008

As the Democratic candidates for President look down the final stretch toward the Democratic Convention in Denver, CO, how Senator John McCain positions himself on immigration remains a major question in this presidential election. For insight into McCain’s campaign, and his home state of Arizona, here is an article from The Politico: http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=58F65022-3048-5C12-00DD9CAEA3AACE30.

On April 16th, Janet Murguia, Executive Director of the National Council of La Raza gave an important address at the National Press Club on the matter of the tone of the immigration debate and the impact on the Latino community. For excerpts of the speech, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKcDn5TQJUA.

Congressional News

Growing frustrated with Democratic leaders, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus attacked the Democratic Leadership last week for failiing to act on comprehensive immigration reform. For an AP article on the scuffle, go to http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iVvNEQTRBcKr1H77I1lD06ZPkCbAD907QPTG0. Pressure is mounting on all sides, as proponents of smaller immigration related mesaures (visa reforms and expansions, enforcement measures) are held up by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ demand that nothing move if it does not address the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. A series of hearings will begin in the House of Representatives on the issue of employment verification, beginning with the Ways and Means Committee (as early as the week of May 5).

State & Local News

In Prince William County, Virginia, the County Board of Supervisors has begun debating in earnest the merits of the anti-immigrant ordinances that the county adopted a year ago. A vote on whether to repeal these higly-publicized ordinances could come up as early as this week. For information on politics in Prince William County, take a look at the following blog: http://www.antibvbl.net/index.php/2008/04/23/stewart-distances-himself-from-fair/

In Iowa, the State Senate rejected proposals to go after illegal immigrants and instead passed a proposal that would penalize employers for violating Iowa’s wage laws, combat the practice of misclassifying employees as independent contractors to evade those wage laws, and protect workers that report such violations from retaliation. To view the bill passed by the Iowa Senate go to http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&frame=1&GA=82&hbill=SF2416.

Please find a useful story that ran in NY Newsday relating the experience of Riverside, New Jersey. “Don’t do what we did.” http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-vptrkn5658355apr21,0,985355.story. This came out of an event organized by Long Island Wins, which took the trouble of putting some of the footage from this event on the internet at: http://www.longislandwins.com/blog/video_and_recap_from_last_nigh.php. It’s worth a view.

In Arizona, state legislators that enacted legislation that helped to drive undocumented workers either further underground or out of the state are now considering legislation to import Mexican guestworkers. Article from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/20/AR2008042001755.html

Raids, Detention, Deportation

For Americans concerned with the growing for-profit motives behind immigrant detention, there is a new website with useful and timely information: http://www.businessofdetention.com/.

In the wake of a series of ICE raids in Los Angeles, notable civil rights attorneys have filed suit against ICE and how they implemented the raids on behalf of undocumented workers and legal residents. For more information, please view the Los Angeles Times article at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-raid25apr25,1,1031241.story.

Please find a column reporting on the recent tour that media took of the Hutto family detention facilities in Texas. It provides some insight into the response of key DHS officials, especially Gary Mead who is the acting Director of Detention and Removal, with respect to these facilities and their response to public criticisms: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/falkenberg/5725902.html

Immigration Agencies and Federal Regulations

As the 30-day comment period on the Department of Homeland Security “No Match Letter” regulations ended on Friday, advocates hammered the proposal. For an article, go to http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/04/25/MNDP10C1S8.DTL.

FIRM Member Activities

Earlier this month the New York Immigrant Coalition succeeded in getting the New York City Council to hold a hearing on immigration as part of its Truth About Immigrants Campaign. For more information about the hearing, write alee@thenyic.org. A video on the Truth About Immigrants Campaign can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/nyicrebel. Various excerpts from testimony provided by a range of witnesses can also be seen on this page.

On April 29th, simultaneous vigils will be held across the state of Tennessee in support of workers and families impacted by ICE Raids. For more information on the events organized by partners and allies of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, go to http://www.tnimmigrant.org/news.php?viewStory=123. These vigils are largely in response to recent raids on Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plants that took place earlier this month.

The Colorado Council of Churches in partnership with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and other groups recently announced the creation of a new faith-based curriculum on immigration. The DVD, which is free to members of the Colorado Council of Churches, may be purchased for $25. For more information please contact jrryan7@qwestoffice.net.

Allies and Partner Activities

Members of the Low Wage Immigrant Worker Coalition, including FIRM member organizations, held a series of actions on Wednesday, April 23 to bring attention to the business tactics used by Dunkin Donuts brand franchises related to improper implementation of proposed No Match rules. Dunkin Donuts is owned by the Carlyle Group, a massive private equity fund, and groups were demanding that the Carlyle Group direct their subsidiary to no longer improperly fire workers that receive No Match letters. Actions took place in Washington, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York and other cities. To sign the petition to put pressure on the Carlyle Group, go to http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/371/t/6161/signUp.jsp?key=3265.

ONE LA, an interfaith organization in Los Angeles, is involved in a campaign to increase the language and work skills of immigrants in the context of addressing demographic realities in California – an aging population, fewer skilled workers capable of replacing retiring workers, and a growing younger population without the job and language skills they need to replace retiring workers. Thoughtful policy and organizing could turn this situation into a win-win program, if anti-immigrant grandstanding doesn’t get in the way: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-immiglabor21apr21,0,4195567.story.

MALDEF recently launched a new web site: www.truthinimmigration.org, which provides further up-to-date information on the tone of the immigration debate. MALDEF also recently announced the settlement of a lawsuit against the Otero County Sheriff’s department on treatment of local residents during immigration-related sweeps in that county. For more information go to http://www.maldef.org/.

Resources & News to Use

Please find attached in English and Spanish a popular education piece that grassroots organizations can use to educate their membership on the impact of the SAVE Act. For more information, please contact mpayes@communitychange.org.

In case folks missed Rep. Tom Tancredo’s screed against Pope Benedict during the prelate’s trip through the eastern United States, this editorial in the Wall Street Journal provides an amusing summary. A compilation of immigration-related statement made by the Pope during his visit to the United States is attached to this bulletin. For an article in the NY Times on the Pope’s statements, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/us/20catholics.html?_r=1&ref=nationalspecial2&oref=slogin.

That ‘Insulting’ Pope
April 22, 2008; Page A24
It’s not everyday that a backbencher in Congress draws international attention by insulting the spiritual leader of one in four Americans. But Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, the anti-immigrant obsessive, wasn’t about to miss his moment.
Pope Benedict XVI called on U.S. bishops last week to “continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials and to help them flourish in their new home.” Mr. Tancredo’s response was to accuse the pontiff of “faith-based marketing” and claim that “the pope’s immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church.”
Mr. Tancredo – who sports T-shirts that read “America Is Full” – also cited a March 1 Wall Street Journal editorial to support his argument. The editorial concerned a new Pew survey on religion in the U.S. and noted that in recent decades the Catholic Church has been losing members among the native born but gaining them among the foreign born. “We’d encourage our friends on the right who want to limit immigration to consider the health of our churches,” we wrote.
Our point, evidently missed by the Congressman, was that the U.S. Catholic Church has traditionally been an immigrant church, helping to settle and assimilate generations of Irish, Polish and Italian newcomers. The pope made a similar argument during his visit last week in separate remarks to U.S. educators. “Countless dedicated religious sisters, brothers and priests together with selfless parents have, through Catholic schools, helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society,” he said.
To Lou Dobbs, another Tancredo-like compulsive, all of this amounted to the pope “insulting our country.” The CNN anchor said, “I really don’t appreciate the bad manners of a guest telling me in this country and my fellow citizens what to do.” You know the restrictionists have gone head-first into the fever swamps when they denounce a Christian religious leader for sounding like a Christian.
The pope welcomes immigrants because he’s Catholic, not because they are. He isn’t “marketing” his faith. He’s practicing it.

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