Tag Archives: Immigration

Immigration: Arizona Debates Anti-Immigrant Bill

Thousands marched on Washington this past weekend to demand that the administration turn its attention to immigration reform, in order to ensure that the basic human rights of immigrant workers and their families in the United States are upheld. But, meanwhile, legislation is quietly making its way through the Arizona State Legislature which would make the status of immigrants in the state far worse than under current law.

A proposal being debated in the Arizona House today (HB 2632) contains many of the same provisions that sparked widespread protests in 2008. Undocumented immigrants would be charged with trespassing, and law enforcement officials would be required to determine the immigration status of anyone they come in contact with during an investigation.

A number of pro-immigrant groups have launched opposition campaigns to HB 2632, among them the Tucson-based Border Action Network, which deemed the legislation “the most far-reaching anti-immigrant bill ever introduced in the Arizona Legislature.” The Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference pointed out in a statement:

“We are concerned that the present language of these bills does not clearly state that undocumented persons who become victims of crime can come forward without fear of deportation. Anything that may deter crimes from being reported or prosecuted will only keep dangerous criminals on the streets, making our communities less safe.”

If signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer, “the bill also would make Arizona the only state to criminalize the presence of an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants through an expansion of its trespassing law.” An identical bill (SB 1070) has already passed through the Arizona Senate, and a House vote is expected this week.

This would undoubtedly act as a foil to any kind of sweeping immigration reform that the administration may attempt to address in the coming months. The nation must now turn its eyes to Arizona; the battle for a more just immigration policy will need to be fought on a more localized level before it can be tackled by the Obama administration.

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Filed under Crime, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Politics

Turkish PM Counters Armenian Genocide with Threats of Expulsion

Turkish Prime minister Erdogan’s proposed course of action regarding the Armenian genocide is painfully ironic. The logic goes something like this: “Our nation did not systematically round up and murder over one million Armenians during World War I. And to prove it, I will now systematically round up and expel hundreds of thousands of Armenians living on Turkish soil.” Try arguing with that.

In response to recent resolutions passed in the US Congress and Swedish Parliament characterizing the war-time massacres of Armenians as genocide, the Turkish government has recalled its ambassadors from both countries. Then, the Prime Minister suggested in an interview with the BBC that such international recognition of the genocide would prompt an expulsion of Armenian immigrants living in Turkey.

“There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000. If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens. I don’t have to keep them in my country.”

The undocumented workers to which the PM refers are mostly women from Armenia’s impoverished countryside who have migrated to Istanbul where they work in the service sector. While a number of politicians have described Erdogan’s comments as empty threats, they are a troubling reminder that Armenians are still unwelcome in Turkey.

To date, over twenty countries have officially recognized the Armenian genocide, as well as international organizations including the European Parliament and MERCOSUR.

Posted By Mary Tharin

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Human Rights

Vitter Proposes Potentially Unconstitutional Census Change

Senator Vitter (R-Louisiana)

This week Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter proposed the 2010 U.S. Census only count legal citizens.  The area in which this amendment would have the most impact is on the upcoming reapportionment of Congressional seats.

Vitter attached this language as an amendment to the appropriations bill for the Departments  of Commerce and Justice.  The bill has been approved by the House, without the Census amended language and is currently under debate in the Senate.

Senator Vitter would require the 2010 Census to ask for citizenship status in their survey.  On October 13, Vitter explained his intentions:

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the single most important thing we use the decennial census for is to reapportion the House of Representatives, to decide how many House Members each State gets. Under the Federal plan, the way the census is designed, the House would be reapportioned counting illegal aliens. States that have large populations of illegals would be rewarded for that. Other States, including my home State of Louisiana, would be penalized.

New analysis released by Andrew A. Beveridge of Queens College shows the winners and losers under this proposal:

Result of Vitter Proposal State
Lost Congressional seats from current California (5), New York (1), Illinois (1)
No change in Congressional seats from current Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (each expected to lose one seat)
Gain in Congressional seats from current Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas (each gain one)

Note: Texas is expected to gain 3 seats, but with the change will only gain one.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest losers in this equation are blue populous blue states while smaller red states have the most to gain.

With a number of recent criticisms of the Census in recent months, it is important to look back to the history of the Census in our nation.  A census is as old as America itself.  Starting in the early 1600’s colonies counted the number of individuals for purposes of reporting back to England.  Later, Benjamin Franklin championed the Census and the inclusion of it in the young nation for purposes of counting the resources available and the growth of the country. With the end of slavery, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution called for a count of “all whole persons” for the purpose of apportioning representation in Congress.

The Constitution does not specify citizenship in it’s clear instruction of the census. The Amendment before the Senate would exclude millions of people that call America home. It would be a step backwards both for the country and the interpretation of the Constitution.

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Filed under Economy, Foreign Policy, Health Policy