MO and NM claim the common good to push anti-immigrant legislation, 1-9-12 – 1-15-12

17 Jan

Immigration advocates to fight licenselaw repeal, The New Mexican, 1-14-12

Proposal would require Missouri schools to verify studentsimmigration status, Kansas City Star, 1.12.12

Missouri State Senator Will Kraus has introduced a bill that would require public school students to provide information on their immigration status and would require police to check immigration status whenever they have “reasonable cause.”  In New Mexico, currently only one of three states in the nation that makes drivers licenses available to undocumented individuals, Governor Susana Martinez is again pushing the legislature to “just sit down and vote” to repeal this right. While it is likely that these two efforts will fail, the rhetoric being used to push them is quite troubling. The debate over both is capitalizing on language similar to that used to promote the common good and public health.

The argument in favor of the school reporting provision is that it is merely an effort to collect data on the state’s school children. Sen. Kraus is arguing that the state needs data on the cost and quality of education for all Missouri school children. In a year when the state faces a $704 million shortfall this argument may persuade legislators wanting to demonstrate a commitment to education.
In Mexico, Governor Martinez has stated: “This is not an immigration issue. It is a public safety issue.”  She plays into the discriminatory characterization of undocumented immigrants as criminals by contending that the existing law threatens public safety and makes New Mexico a magnet for criminals.
The efforts in Missouri and New Mexico have nothing to do with data or public safety.  Fortunately, advocates in both states are already working to reveal this legislation for what it is: efforts to intimidate, criminalize and punish immigrants.  Data can be powerful to understand the needs of underrepresented or overlooked groups, but only if collected in a way that does not jeopardize their well-being.  Public safety means ensuring that no one has to live in the shadows where they are vulnerable to abuse or persecution, even, unfortunately, by the government.  All of us in the health and social justice communities have a responsibility not only to support the immigrant rights advocates in these states, but also to send clear messages about what it really looks like to promote the common good.

In other news:

Uncertainties Hover Over California DREAM Act, New America Media, 1.6.12

Despite the passage of the two-part California DREAM Act, undocumented youth continue to face many barriers to higher education and have no immediate path to citizenship.  This article presents the experiences of students in Richmond, CA.

La Opinión Calls ICEAbsurdfor Making SComm Mandatory, La Opinion, 1-10-12

In the wake of the case of a 15-year old citizen being deported to Colombia, the editorial page of nation’s largest Spanish-language newspaper argues that ICE and the Secure Communities program are incompetent and an embarrassment.  The editors ask: “¿Hasta cuándo esto va a ser un riesgo aceptable en nombre de un programa que deporta sin ton o ni son a gente inofensiva con la excusa de la seguridad pública?”  English available here.

Admin. extends Salvadoran deportation freeze, Politico, 1.10.12

The Obama administration announced that it would extend protected status through 2013 to 215,000 undocumented immigrants form El Salvador because “El Salvador remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals.”

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