VAWA reauthorization still blocked; Speaking out against the criminalization of immigrants; DACA moves forward; Conservative news media and xenophobic attitudes, 9/12 – 9/18

19 Sep

On 18th anniversary, VAWA still held up by Republican House
Last week marked the 18th anniversary of the Violence Against Women’s Act, a piece of legislation that has provided legal and financial support to survivors and to groups working to end violence against women.  However, the bill has yet to be reauthorized due to House Republicans who want to strip it of important protections for immigrant women, as well as Native Americans and LGBT individuals.  As two law enforcement officers wrote last week in Politico, House Republicans, by holding up reauthorization of a critical piece of legislation on xenophobic grounds, are endangering the lives of immigrant women.  

Advocates speak out against the increased criminal prosecution and incarceration in private prisons of immigrants who re-enter the United States after deportation
Advocates held a briefing in Washington, D.C. last Thursday to try to end both the criminal prosecution of immigrants who re-enter the United States and their incarceration in privately run prisons. The Bureau of Prisons now has plans to contract with another for-profit prison company to add 1,000 more beds for “low security, adult male inmates, that are primarily criminal aliens…”  Joined by groups such as the ACLU and family members of imprisoned immigrants, Grassroots Leadership shared their report on the Streamline Program, the federal policy that started in 2005 and puts re-entrants into criminal proceedings and, eventually, federal prison.  This and other reports document the widespread abuse and neglect of immigrants in these privately-run prisons and the waste of taxpayer dollars to, in the words of Bob Libal, director of Grassroots Leadership, incarcerate “people who merely sought to reunite with their families.”

Thousands submit DACA applications, President Obama reaps some political benefits
It is estimated that over 70,000 individuals have submitted applications under President Obama’s Deferred Status for Childhood Arrivals and that number may reach 200,000 prior to the presidential election.  Reports also indicate that it is taking many young people time to gather the needed paperwork and the $465 filing fee required by the application.  Groups such as Dream Activist have established funds to help individuals pay the fee.  Other young people are awaiting election results before applying.  President Obama has gained support from Latinos because of DACA and is only likely to gain more as young people move through the process and acquire deferred status and work permits.  In the meantime, Romney, speaking before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Monday, tried to blame President Obama for a “broken” immigration system while explaining how his anti-legalization stance is good for Latinos.

Consumers of conservative news media more likely to hold xenophobic and racist attitudes
A recent study by National Hispanic Media Coalition highlights the power of the media to influence people’s views on immigrants and immigration. They found that individuals in the United States who watch Fox News or listen to conservative radio, as compared to those who listen to National Public Radio, are more likely to hold negative views towards both Latinos and immigrants.  Specifically, Fox News viewers are “more likely to agree that Latinos are on welfare (56%), take jobs from Americans (43%) and have too many children (42%).”  However, Ostrich followers, before you assume that NPR is doing a good job of fairly portraying Latinos and immigrants, consider another study finding: One in three of all respondents falsely thought that at least half of all Latinos in the United States are undocumented.

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