The United State of America’s Cruelty at its Worst, 9/26-10/2

3 Oct
Alabama Wins in Ruling on Its Immigration Law, NYTimes, 9/29
This week, Federal Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn upheld some of the most repressive elements of Alabama’s HB 56. While some elements of the bill were struck down, the ruling will still allow Alabama to move forward with:
  • Requiring that schools check the immigration status of students and their parents, a provision already taking its toll
  • Requiring police officers to ask for immigration papers from anyone who looks or sounds foreign
  • Making it a crime for failing to carry immigration documents
  • Mandating the indefinite jailing of any undocumented immigrant caught driving without a license

These elements of HB 56 go against Supreme Court precedent and violate rights to due process. In its response to the ruling the Center for American Progress stated that the “legal conclusions are so extreme and such an outlier from rulings on similar cases that they would be laughable if not so dangerous.” The Justice Department and immigrant and civil rights groups will likely move forward quickly with appeals.
As we have discussed here in The Curious Ostrich, the law will also undoubtedly have an incredibly detrimental effect on the well-being of immigrant communities, from increased barriers to health care to increased discrimination and marginalization.

As the legal and health outcomes begin to unfold, one outcome has already emerged: the US’s modern-day capacity for cruelty has reached new heights. While there still remain some legal channels to challenge this law and there will be brave and inspiring individuals and organizations that step up to promote and protect the well-being of  Alabama’s immigrant communities, the only way to combat our nation’s increasing cruelty towards immigrants is through a shift in our national cultural and dialogue. This will take a concerted effort to assert the fundamental humanity of all immigrants from everyone in all of our national spheres/institutions – from the realm of civil rights to the halls of hospitals, schools and workplaces.

Health professionals often provide services or advocate for policies that promote immigrant health. It is time for health professionals to do more than serve from the sidelines, but to be allies and stand next to the individuals who are characterized as undeserving Americans.

Here are three things that you can do this week to start changing our culture of cruelty towards immigrants:

In Other News:
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit, NYTimes, 9/29/11
This New York Times exposé discusses the growing private detention center industry and it’s lengthy record of abuses. In the United States private companies now control nearly half of all detention beds. The companies are economically and politically powerful.
Left Behind by Deportations — Growing Up Poor in The Bay Area, New America Media 9/30/11
This video, produced New America Media and the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children, documents the impact of deportation on a family in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Stance on Immigration May Hurt Perry Early On, NYTIMES, 9/24/11
With a single phrase implying his opponents are heartless, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas plumbed a profound divide between his views on illegal immigration and those of many grass-roots conservatives, who up to now have been the core of his support for the Republican nomination.

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