On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to look at Arizona's 2010 immigration law, which created a strict enforcement of immigration papers by the state and spawned similar legislation in five other states. The courts' decision, expected to come in June, will affect both immigrants dodging hostile behavior caused by strict enforcement laws as well as other states battling to keep their immigration enforcement legislation.
Immigration and the Church
SAN FRANCISCO -- Recently, in front a packed crowd at Duke University, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice regretted the failure of passing the comprehensive immigration reform act and the shift in Americans' attitude toward immigrants.
Accepting and welcoming immigrants "has been at the core of our strength," she said. "I don't know when immigrants became the enemy."
These days it is refreshing, if rare, to hear someone of Rice's stature to speak on behalf of immigrants. Over the last few years the public discourse has been shrill and, if anything, media coverage seems to stoke anxiety to an unprecedented level.
Instead of a larger narrative on immigration -- from culture to economics, from identity to history -- what we have now is a public mindset of us versus them, and an overall anti immigrant climate that is both troubling and morally reprehensible.
America's difficult love story
Yet I often see the story of immigration in America as a kind of difficult love story.
Speaking at a Celebration/NCR sponsored Immigration conference earlier this month, John Fife, a human rights activist and retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Tucson, Arizona and was a member of the Sanctuary Movement and a co-founder of the immigrant rights group No More Deaths, called the Obama administration's immigration policies brutal and the worst of any in modern history. His attack caught a number of conference attendees by surprise, but a column in today's New York Times lends evidence to the accusation.
If you are interested in U.S. immigration issues in the South, here are two recent stories in Georgia from The Nation and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discussing detention centers and deportations.
The Nation reports the story "How One Georgia Town Gambled Its Future on Immigration Detention ":
Deportations have reached record levels under President Barack Obama, and demand for detention facilities has increased. Starting in 2002, ICE had funding for 19,444 beds per year, according to an ICE report. Today, ICE spends about $2 billion per year on almost twice the number of beds.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- In a wide-ranging presentation Saturday at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said one has to go no further than the 25th chapter of Matthew to find this sacred mandate: "For I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
"All of us as disciples of the Lord are really called by Jesus to look at the strangers in our midst as looking at the face of Jesus," said the retired archbishop of Los Angeles in his talk titled "Surprise: We All Employ Undocumented Workers."
Since retiring last year as archbishop of Los Angeles, Mahony has devoted himself to advancing the cause of comprehensive immigration reform in the nation. Specifically, he has headed an effort to organize Catholic college students, as well as college presidents, around the biblical and moral principles that are the foundation for the church's ongoing support for immigration reform.
The cardinal said Adam and Eve were actually the first migrants in recorded history, noting also that Moses led his imprisoned Jewish people out of Egypt to the Promised Land and Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to protect the life of their newborn son.
WASHINGTON -- In a major talk on immigration reform Friday, Cardinal Roger E. Mahony urged listeners: "Understand our immigrant history and our immigrant future. If we don't understand the past and the present, in the future we're going to proceed in peril."
CHICAGO -- In an effort to put a face on the need for comprehensive immigration reform, a group of college-age immigrant youths publicly declared themselves to be undocumented at a rally here on Saturday.
From The Kansas City Star; read the full story here:
The United States deports undocumented immigrants every day, but few get petitions and a rally on their behalf.
Jesus Torres Salayandia, a former Johnson County Community College student, has gotten that support because his Belton church friends and neighbors say he’s the first undocumented student in their community, that they know of, to face deportation.
Salayandia, whose parents brought him to the U.S. without documentation when he was 6, has been ordered to leave the country by April 13.
On Monday, about 50 people who want the 21-year-old Belton resident’s deportation stopped, gathered outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field offices in the Northland.
PHOENIX -- A group of pro-immigrant rights activists in Arizona aim to develop a smartphone application that would help immigrants notify friends, family and their attorney if they are detained and arrested during a traffic stop.
Arizona was the first state to pass a law to make it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant (SB 1070), leading to an increased crackdown and climate of fear among immigrants. A recent Department of Justice investigation on racial profiling of Latinos by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office found that Latinos were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over in a traffic stop than non-Latinos.
"When someone gets pulled over the first thing to worry about is the family," said Lydia Guzman, the president of the nonprofit Respect/Respeto.
MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA -- March 2009. That was the last time Felix Hernandez saw his wife, Cynthia, in the United States. Immigration and Customs Enforcement picked her up during a raid at her workplace, the former Swift & Company, a meat-processing plant in Marshalltown, for working without documentation. She was deported to Mexico and has been there since.