Tag Archives: AZ

2013: New opportunities for healthy immigration reform?

9 Jan

The Curious Ostrich has big plans for 2013! We are now moving to a monthly format, providing readers with in-depth analysis and commentary on the public health impact of immigration policies and national conversations around immigration. As always, our mission is to bring attention to the ways immigration policies affect health and to provide information and resources for health and immigration advocates alike. Want regular updates on immigration issues? Like our Facebook page!TCO cover

Over the course of 2012, a number of policies and events across the country significantly, and often negatively, affected the health of immigrants and their communities. Deportations continued at an all time high, separating families and at great cost to our economy. Due to programs such as Secure Communities 1.6 million people were deported during President Obama’s first term. Our nation’s growing immigration enforcement system now receives more funding than all other federal enforcement agencies combined. This focus on enforcement and a militarized border increased border violence and resulted in many deaths, some perpetrated  by the US Border Patrol itself.

Immigrants also continue to be denied many basic rights. For example, while the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes a long way in expanding access to health insurance, undocumented immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals-approved individuals are barred from new health insurance programs. At the state level, although the Supreme Court knocked down many of the provisions in Arizona’s immigration bill SB 1070,  the “paper’s please” provision will move forward.  Other states continue to follow Arizona’s lead in anti-immigrant legislation.

The impact of xenophobia and anti-immigrant politicking is not limited to immigrant communities. For example, in 2012 the Violence Against Women Act, a traditionally non-controversial, bi-partisan bill, failed to be reauthorized for the first time in its history. This was in part due to Republican supposed opposition to protections for immigrant women.

In 2012, we also saw promising policies and inspiring activism by undocumented immigrants, particularly youth. Influenced by ongoing activism by DREAMers, President Obama granted deferred action to “childhood arrivals” (DACA), creating the largest opening in many years for undocumented individuals to gain work permission and protection from deportation. While not a long-term solution, DACA created opportunities for many young immigrants.

Exciting grassroots mobilizations also helped raise the profile of immigrant issues and pushed forward a more progressive policy agenda. The Caravan for Peace turned attention to the human impact of border violence and the United State’s role in drug war violence; undocumented youth are using art and creativity to assert their rights; DREAMers sat-in at Obama campaign offices; the Undocubus shared stories at the Democratic National Convention; and the Campaign for the American Dream team walked from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about immigration policy.

Moving into 2013

Building on this momentum, 2013 brings new opportunities for making immigration policy more just and protecting immigrant communities. President Obama’s re-election turned new attention to the power of communities of color in our political system and we now have the most diverse Congress in US history. Polling suggests that the public and elected officials are ready to consider immigration reform. President Obama has repeatedly stated that comprehensive immigration reform will be a priority early on in his second administration. However, for too long, political debates about immigration have focused on controlling immigration through the criminalization and stereotyping of immigrants.  Therefore, we hope to see these policy discussions and decisions acknowledge the importance of immigrants to our society and economy and affirm that all people, including immigrants and regardless of their immigration status, have rights as residents of this nation.  Specific policies that we would like to see from the 113th congress include:

      • Create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the US.  The increasing numbers of young immigrants applying for deferred action demonstrates that creating a process for undocumented immigrants to apply for papers is not only relatively politically non-controversial, but is feasible and has tremendous positive impacts. This is a start, but temporary status for a small portion of undocumented immigrants is not enough.  There are still roughly 11 million individuals who lack papers and a path to citizenship. This is an injustice, not only to these individuals, but to their families and communities and the nation as a whole.
      • Reduce deportations and keep families together.  Enforcement programs and deportations needlessly tear people from their jobs, communities and families, with devastating emotional and economic impacts.  A simple fix would be to end programs such as Secure Communities.  In addition, policies are needed to end the fear that deportations have caused by creating clear delineations between local police officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
      • Create accountability over and reform the detention system. The unregulated and unhealthy network of privatized detention centers must be reformed and regulated. This should include expanding accountability and oversight for current detention centers.  The all-historic-high number of detention beds in centers and county jails creates a gross profit motive and should be reduced.
      • End the militarization of the border.  Border fence and patrolling policies throw money into militarization, rather than the true safety of people in the United States.  There should be an end to financial support for the border fence, reduction in funding for the Border Patrol, and increased oversight over the Border Patrol, including the training and background of officers and their use of surveillance technology.
      • Increase access to education and social services for all immigrants.  Immigrants should be positively included in public policies.  This is a matter of both fairness and of effective crafting of public policies, as economic, social service and health policies ultimately have an impact on immigrant communities, such as the Affordable Care Act and the Violence Against Women Act.

The connection to health

At The Curious Ostrich, we believe that all of these policies and their resulting challenges and opportunities for immigrants are public health issues. Immigration policies, and related social and economic policies, directly impact the health of immigrants in a number of ways – from reduced access to essential services and resources to the  fear and stress that result from discrimination, criminalization and deportation. Over the course of 2013, we will continue to explore these links between immigration policies and health:

      • Access to health care— Many people are barred or have limited access to health insurance and health care services due to their immigration status. Access to regular primary care is important in preventing many diseases (e.g. diabetes), while limited emergency care services results in unnecessary deaths.
      • Diminished rights and protections— Fear of deportation diminishes the rights of undocumented individuals by shaping their decisions about accessing services such as education or police protection. For instance, many undocumented workers are victims of wage theft, yet they do not have legal recourse without risking deportation.
      • Access to resources— Diminished rights lead to reduced access to resources to lead a healthy life. For example, undocumented immigrants may choose not to access public resources, such as education or social services, because they believe they are not eligible or they are afraid of coming into contact with government officials.
      • Discrimination— There is widespread anti-immigrant sentiment embedded in our national policy and media discourses, and anti-immigrant groups continue to advocate effectively for policies that devalue and dehumanize immigrants because of their lack of legal standing. From conservative politicians campaigning on deportation policies, to widespread discriminatory commentary in the news, there is a strong national narrative that a lack of papers justifies less-than-humane treatment.

There are feasible policy solutions that can reduce the risks to and protect the health of immigrant communities. There are dynamic and mobilized advocates who will continue to fight for the rights of immigrants.  Public health advocates can play a critical role.  Therefore, in 2013, our hope is to see not a continuation of the short-term and enforcement-focused policies often associated with “comprehensive” immigration reform, but rather the promotion of healthy immigration reform.


President Obama Wins a Second Term, 11/5 – 11/11

12 Nov

President Obama will have a second chance to enact comprehensive immigration reform that he campaigned for on in his first bid of the presidency in 2008. There is more hope than ever now that the Republican party has begun to realize their need to bolster support from the Latino community. In the analysis of the race, many pundits lay blame for Romney’s loss on the hard line he took on immigration. Romney advocated for “self-deportation” which would make life so miserable for immigrants, that they would return to their home country on their own volition. Romney also counted Kris Kobach, architect of AZ SB1070, among his advisors during his campaign. As a result of these stances, Latinos came out in favor of four more years with Obama by a wide margin. Notable conservatives are arguing for a new strategy that welcomes Latinos to the GOP. With the growing Latino population, GOP would be wise to listen to Sean Hannity. Otherwise, the Democratic victories on Nov. 6th might be the first of many.  Even the notorious sherriff from Maricopa County is striking a conciliatory tone, saying that he wants to meet with Latinos to explain his policies. Although, unless he dramatically changes course he is unlikely to receive a receptive audience. In addition to getting pushback from moderates, there is a growing movement that seeks to push back against his abuse of power.
In other election related news, USC’s Center for Study of Immigrant Integration has released a report on the vote of Naturalized citizens, a group that represents 3.6% of voting aged citizens in the US.

Giants Closer Sergio Romo Makes Statement with t-shirt
On October 31st, the San Francisco Giants led a parade through San Francisco celebrating their World Series victory. Sergio Romo, one of the team stars, and child of Mexican farmworkers, wore a t-shirt that read “I just look illegal.” The shirt brought attention to the debate on immigration and the stigmatizing use of the word “illegal” by many in the anti-immigrant movement. The t-shirt was a bold statement in sport that often prefers to avoid political controversy.

Support health insurance access for deferred action youth! 10/20-10/25

25 Oct

Submit comments to HHS to allow DACA-approved individuals to participate in the Affordable Care Act – [Deadline October 29th]
The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network has released a call for advocates to submit comments to the Department of Health and Human Services to speak out against the recent decision to exclude DACA-eligible individuals from the Affordable Care Act.  Anyone can submit comments and, to make the job easier, a sample letter is available.  Simply follow these instructions to submit comments electronically:

  • Step 1: Go to www.regulations.gov
  • Step 2: Search for document ID ” CMS–9995–IFC2″ to find the regulation on DACA and health care. Make sure you are commenting on the “Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan” Interim Final Rule (Thanks to Natalie for the clarification)
  • Step 3: Click on “Comment Now” button to submit comments

CPHEN’s call reminds us that this policy:

  • Runs counter to the primary goal of the ACA – to expand access to affordable health coverage.
  • Will lead to higher health insurance premiums for everyone by excluding young, healthy individuals from enrolling in coverage in the Health Benefit Exchange.
  • Will likely lead to poorer health outcomes and increase health disparities by denying young immigrants the care they need.

Despite this effort to reverse the recent HHS decision, other undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents who have lived in the U.S. for less than five years are excluded from new coverage opportunities under the Affordable Care Act.  States such as California that have large immigrant populations will continue to have many uninsured individuals.  For more information, visit The Kaiser Family Foundation, which provides an excellent overview of immigrants’ eligibility to participate in health coverage expansion from the Affordable Care Act.

“Adios Arpaio” in full force
A vibrant “Adios Arpaio” campaign has been actively registering voters and mobilizing to ouster Joe Arpaio from his position as Sherriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.  Just this week, a lawsuit was filed against the sheriff for the death of Ernest “Marty” Atencio while in county custody.  The Adios Arpaio campaign is made up of a coalition of Latino and immigrant rights advocates and local unions, such as UNITE HERE, and has registered 34,000 voters.  Particularly active are students from the local high schools who have become politically mobilized because, in the words of one, “they have the same issue inside, that they can’t stand discrimination against Latinos.”  Organizers say this is a long-term strategy to mobilize the Latino vote in Arizona: “The next one will be Jan Brewer.”

President Obama says he’s confident he can achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform during a second term
In an previously off-the-record interview with an Iowa newspaper, President Obama expressed confidence that he could achieve an comprehensive immigration reform bill during a second term, specifically, because “the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community…George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America.”

SB1070 Racial profiling goes into effect in AZ, Presidential candidates visit Univision, Study on Latino Stereotypes, 9/17-9/24

26 Sep
Phoenix SB1070 Protest

Photo by: Ana Ramirez

Protests hit the streets as SB1070’s racial profiling provision moves forward

In Phoenix, AZ hundreds marched on Saturday in protest of the beginning of SB1070’s “show me your papers” provision. The injunction blocking this provision was recently lifted by a US District Court. The provision requires police to ask about legal status of people they stop and has many worried that it will lead to widespread racial profiling. Coverage on Democracy Now acknowledges the lengthy history of  “Brown Fear” and resistance in Arizona. Although the newly enacted state law will undoubtedly affect the civil liberties of Latinos in the state, it has also provoked a massive community organizing effort.

The protest in Phoenix is one of many across the country of undocumented activists who refuse to remain in the shadows and refuse to be silent. USA Today has taken note of the increasing boldness and fearless of young undocumented activists in particular. No longer content to wait for the executive and legislative branches to fulfill promises of comprehensive immigration reform, young people are fully committed to perhap the most prominent civil rights issues of our times.

Presidential Nominees appear on Univision

The Latino vote has been extensively examined in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election. This week, both candidates presented their cases for presidency at the University of Miami to Univision, the Latino media giant. A noticeably tan Romney spoke first on Wednesday when he continued to backpedal from the extremist remarks he made during the Republican primaries. His tone was softer than the Romney of a few months ago, who advocated for self-deportation, a federal Arizona style bill, and counted Kris Kobach (SB1070 architect) among his supporters. The audience was in his corner, as his campaign had orchestrated a favorable audience from Southern Florida when the networks realized that they would not be able to find enough interested college students.

Obama followed on Thursdays with a mea culpa saying that the immigration issue was his “biggest failure.” In the statement he said that he was not prepared for the flip-flopping of senator John McCain and the rest of those obstructionist Republicans.

Study about negative Latino stereotypes

A new study finds that stereotypes common in the media have an impact on public opinion of Latinos. The study by the National Hispanic Media Coalition looked at responses from participants when they heard about “undocumented” or “illegal” immigrants, and found that participants had colder feelings towards “illegal” immigrants. Further evidence of the importance of Colorlines’ Drop the I-word campaign to encourage journalists to stop referring to undocumented people as “illegal”. Also of interest, the study found that 30% of people think that the majority of Latinos are undocumented. There are 50 million Latinos in the United States, of which about 8.5 million are undocumented. Perhaps mistaken assumptions of the Latinos are behind Voter ID and anti-immigrant laws that have spread in the past few years.

6/19-6/25 SCOTUS Oks “papers please”; California attempts to block SComm; South Asian immigrants face barriers to financial stability; DREAMers respond

25 Jun

Source: ACLU

Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona’s SB1070
The Supreme Court has upheld the provision of Arizona’s SB1070 that requires law enforcement to check papers of “suspected” individuals.  The case against SB1070 was based solely on issues of federal preemption, not discrimination.  Therefore, there are still opportunities to challenge the law because, as ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler stated: “It will be impossible to enforce this law without engaging in racial profiling.” The other provisions, such as the one that made it a crime to work without legal documentation, were struck down. For more information, see the ACLU’s inforgraphic.  Immigrant rights groups are moving forward with challenging the law as anti-immigrant groups are hailing the ruling a victory.  On Sunday, in anticipation of the ruling, activists rallied outside of Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Apraio’s notorious tent city to bring attention to the human rights abuses that have take place under his leadership.  This is likely the first of many actions that will continue to speak out against this discriminatory and harmful law.

California attempts to block SComm with Trust Act
This week the New York Times’ editorial page voiced support for California’s Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (Trust) Act.  Currently making its way through the state legislature, the bill would require that local police release undocumented individuals once their bond is posted or their sentencing is completed. Instead of holding these individuals for ICE.  The Trust Act is another promising attempt by a state to block Secure Communities.  It has garnered support from local law enforcement, in addition to immigration rights groups, labor unions and religious groups.

Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian and Vietnamese communities lack access to financial institutions
Family financial stability is important for good health, both because it reduces stressors from financial problems and provides families with their own safety-net.  Having access to banks and other financial institutions allows families to establish financial assets and financial stability.  However, a recent report by the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) found that members of California’s Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian and Vietnamese communities faced significant barriers in accessing these institutions. Specifically, linguistic isolation makes it difficult for many immigrants to set up their own bank accounts or access financial services. In addition, Hmong and Cambodian Californians have some of the highest rates of poverty in the state.

Activist groups respond to President Obama’s Deferred Action policy
As President Obama went on to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed about immigration, DREAM activists around the country took stock of his new policy.  While there is widespread acknowledgement that this is a step in the right direction and could bring relief to many young people, many are also expressing their hesitation and scepticism about what the policy may actually look like once it is implemented.  In particular, there is concern that it is all too reminiscent of last August’s prosecutorial discretion memo that has resulted in only 2% of deportation cases being halted.  The week was filled with ongoing reports of young immigrants who are currently facing deportation and questions of how this new policy will affect them.  Behrouz Saba of New America Media called the policy “a patently miserable substitute” for comprehensive reform.

The Supreme Court, Electoral Politics, and Changing Immigration Trends, April 24- May 1

1 May Supreme Court 2010

Supreme Court 2010The US Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona’s 2010 anti-immigration law SB 1070. Although a ruling is not expected until June, there is a widespread sense that the Court will uphold the law’s central component. While this current case turns on state vs. federal control over immigration policy, some speculate that if the law is upheld appeals will be filed based on issues of racial/ethnic discrimination.

The case is being watched closely, by states that have enacted or are considering similar pieces of legislation, by immigrants rights groups, and by agricultural and business organizations that have raised increasing concerns over the laws’ unintended economic consequences.

Meanwhile, immigration continues to play a central role as the presidential campaigns get fully underway. Marco Rubio, Republic senator from Florida, campaigned with Mitt Romney ahead of what some predict will be a vice presidential candidate. The move is seen by many as an attempt to bring Latino voters into the Republican party, despite polling showing 70% support for Obama.

Obama’s campaign – seeking to ensure that Latino supporters are not prohibited from registering or voting in November – is responding to the numerous new voter registration laws in states like Florida by providing training for campaign workers to guarantee that registration drives are in compliance.

A report released by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that Mexican immigration to the US has slowed significantly, reversing a decades long trend. The causes of this include discriminatory laws, increased border security and deportation, high unemployment, and declining birth rates, among others. However, while the overall trend in immigration is shifting, significant challenges remain; this year found a large increase in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, straining the capacity of the shelter and legal system to provide adequate services and legal rights to these minors.

2/27-3/7 – Heading into the presidential election – Latino voters to send message on anti-immigrant policies

7 Mar

Yesterday was Super Tuesday, when Republicans in ten states across the country awarded over 400 delegates in the race for the GOP presidential candidacy. Although Latinos did not significantly shape these primaries (given the small Latino population in these states, and the low rate of registered Republican Latino voters), they are expected to play a critical role during the general election in many of these states. Everyone along the political spectrum is hoping to win the Latino vote.

Political and demographic analysis by CNN identified 12 key swing states for November’s election and estimated that the Latino population in these states has increased by 700,000 since the 2008 election. Many of these states, including Arizona, Indiana, and Virginia, have also passed a number of anti-immigrant laws, bringing issues of immigration to the forefront of this year’s election. The rise in harsh immigration policies contributes to the findings of a poll conducted this week, reporting that Latino voters support Obama over any of the Republican presidential candidates 6-to-1.

While the changing demographics in many swing states seem to give greater voice to the Latino vote, changes in voting laws could significantly impact voting patterns. A report released by the Brennan Center late last year found that over 5 million voters will be affected by the restrictive voting laws passed in 2011. Two elements of these laws – requiring photo ID and proof of citizenship – could pose barriers that disproportionately threaten the ability of Latino voters to exercise their right to vote.

In response to the growing focus on the role of Latino voters in this year’s presidential race (highlighted by this week’s TIME magazine cover story “Why Latino Voters Will Swing the 2012 Election”), and given the current controversies surrounding anti-immigrant legislation around the country, community organizations and political parties are reaching out to Latino voters. This week, The Hispanic Federation, The League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement announced the launch of a large-scale Latino voter registration campaign – “Movimiento Hispano” – with the goal of registering 200,000 new Latino voters by November’s general election.

Immigration policy remains an important and contentious piece of this year’s presidential politics. A strong Latino presence at the polls may be an important element in fighting against the harsh anti-immigrant policies promoted by the Republican candidates. To create safer, healthier communities, voters in November’s election need to send the message to both parties that they will not win votes by taking anti-immigrant positions.

In Other News:

Across Arizona, Illegal Immigration is on Back Burner – New York Times 2.27.12 The intense focus on illegal immigration in the state has diminished somewhat, as evidenced in last week’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate, when it took an hour before immigration was brought up.

Mitt Romney’s support from Jan Brewer could dismay Latinos – Los Angeles Times 2.27.12 Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has endorsed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and while her tough stance on illegal immigration may help him with conservative voters, it might further alienate Latinos.

Mayor Prohibits City Police From Enforcing Federal Immigration Law – WBAL Baltimore’s mayor plans to sign an executive order “that effectively stops any local enforcement of federal immigration laws.” This comes after federal officials announced that the controversial Secure Communities fingerprint sharing program would be implemented in the city.

164 Anti-Immigration Laws Passed Since 2010? A MoJo Analysis.

MotherJones Magazine has developed a database of anti-immigration laws passed in 2010-11.