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California leads the way in rectifying injustice and discrimination faced by immigrants, 10/3 -10/11

12 Oct

It’s been a very busy week! A lot has happened around immigration and there has been a lot of great energy generated by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Let’s start with the bad news:
Alabama’s atrocious law continues to perpetuate racism, fear and inequities from all sides. A recent article in the Guardian shows that the law is threatening some of the most basic necessities, like access to water. A shameful poster in a town hall said “Attention to all water customers. To be compliant with new laws concerning immigration you must have an Alabama driver’s licence… or you may lose water service.” While the federal government has asked the appeals court to block Alabama’s harsh and discriminatory law, Alabama has countered by urging the court to let them continue with the atrocious law.

In more uplifting news:

Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, congratulates Assemblyman (D-Los Angeles) Gil Cedillo, left, the author of California's version of the Dream Act, AB 130

California is leading the way in rectifying some of the injustices and discrimination that immigrants face. Here are a couple of bills that Governor Jerry Brown signed this past week that support our immigrants and our communities:

  • California DREAM Act. Governor Jerry Brown signs the second part of the California DREAM Act (the first part had already been passed). While the new bills do not allow a pathway for citizenship, they do allow undocumented students to access state and private financial aid streams for college.
  • Checkpoint Impounds. Brown also signs AB 353, which prohibits police at checkpoints from seizing a car solely because the driver is unlicensed. The driver’s car is impounded for 30 days and can result up to $2,000 in fines and fees, generating a lucrative industry for tow companies and local governments. Although the purpose of checkpoints is to stop intoxicated drivers, an investigative report found that, on average, six cars are impounded for everyone one drunk driver that is stopped.  The law will take effect on January 1, 2012. It will give unlicensed drivers time to find someone with a license to retrieve the car and avoid impound.
  • E-verify. Brown also signed AB 1236, a bill the prohibits cities from requiring businesses to use E-verify.

To get more updates on other legislative bills affecting our immigrant communities, check out the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Given all the atrocities that we have seen against immigrants with laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona infringing on basic human rights, I am proud of California for acting for the health and well-being of our communities. It is difficult for me to understand how some governments, like Alabama’s, are endorsing and seeking to enforce laws that infringe on basic human rights. These state governments are choosing to ignore the law’s wide spread negative effects on everyone: families, communities, employers, schools, and societies. This doesn’t even include the poor reputation that Alabama is now going to have with other states and nations.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown should be applauded for his actions to improve the well-being of our immigrants. These actions are not only the fair and just thing to do, but they will also strengthen communities in California. While there is still more to be done, both on a local level and at a national level to provide a pathway of citizenship for our undocumented individuals, it is uplifting to see steps in a just direction. Let’s continue to push the movement of equality for all forward.

Related News:

After Ruling, Hispanics Flee an Alabama Town, New York Times, October 3
The harsh and unjust effects of Alabama’s law are seen almost immediately. People are leaving behind their homes, parents are taking their children out of schools, and workers are leaving their jobs.

Society of Professional Journalists Votes to Drop the I-Word, Colorlines, October 4
In a positive move that supports the “Drop the i-word” campaign, the 7,800-member Society of Professional Journalists passed a resolution which discontinued the use of the term “illegal alien” and is re-evaluating the term “illegal immigrant.”

Georgia farmers losing millions to anti-migrant law, Fox News Latino, October 5
Facing a labor shortage as a result of anti-immigration law, Georgia’s agricultural industry reports losses in millions of dollars ($140 million).

LGBTQ Organizations Come Out for the Immediate Elimination of ICE’s “Secure Communities” Program, Community United Against Violence, October 11
Piggybacking on National Coming Out Day, LGBTQ organizations come out and urge President Obama to immediately eliminate S-Comm. The press release includes a call to other organizations to also endorse this action.