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Weekly Diaspora: The game plan for immigration reform

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), started a hubbub among comprehensive immigration reform advocates last week when he expressed to members of the Capitol press corps that  progressive immigration legislation was “dead” for 2010 due to the contentious passage of health care reform. But the battle isn’t over yet. In an interview with Sandip Roy at New America Media, Frank Sharry, the executive director of DC-based immigration organization America’s Voice, says, “I think we have a good chance of seeing a bipartisan bill being introduced in April.”

Graham’s declaration mirrors similar antics that happened around the health care debate—where insurance reform was pronounced dead countless times by a wide array of pundits and lawmakers.  In fact, Seth Freed Wessler of ColorLines reports that Graham, who has been working with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on an immigration reform bill for a year later changed his tune, stating that he would continue to craft a bipartisan bill.

The Battle in the Senate

Gabriel Arana with The America Prospect questions just how the GOP lawmakers will react to the upcoming immigration debate, arguing that, “Even for those Republicans who are willing to publicly support immigration reform, partisan rancor all but ensures it won’t go anywhere.”

And outside the Capitol? As Laura Flanders of GRITtv points out, the immigration debate, “has the potential to be far, far messier—and more violent—than the health care battle,” and will likely galvanize those with xenophobic tendencies on the far Right to become even more unhinged.

On top of that, providing a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States will most likely be dead in 2010 if a bill isn’t proposed in the Senate this Spring. There needs to be time to debate the issue before the end of the year, and more importantly, before election season kicks off in the Fall. While there’s already an immigration bill in the House of Representatives, a timeline for when one will actually be introduced in the Senate is unknown.

Immigration agents go rogue

Combined with the uphill battle for immigration reform, AlterNet reports on a government memo revealing that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has set quotas to initiate more deportations of undocumented immigrants, targeting those who had committed no crimes. The memo was in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s stated goal to focus on deporting criminal offenders with violent histories, and prompted immigration rights groups to question the White House agenda.

At the same time, anti-immigration activists are also trying to label all immigrants as criminals. As the Colorado Independent documents, the shooting death of an Arizona rancher near the Mexican border has influenced former Colorado lawmaker Tom Tancredo and his followers to demand that the National Guard be sent the border—even though the death has not even been tied to an undocumented immigrant at this time. (The Department doesn’t have jurisdiction over the National Guard to begin with.)

The Inter Press Service also reports on the  results of such criminalization, as human rights abuses in immigration detention continue to increase each day. “More abuses in the U.S. immigration detention system came to light last week,” notes the media outlet, writing that “It was revealed that two mentally disabled men continue to be held in detention while facing possible deportation for criminal assault convictions, despite having already served their time.” The inmates were later released after the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed legal petitions against federal government.

For more links on immigration check out:

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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