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Weekly Immigration Wire: Reform stagnates, polarization grows

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by Nezua, TMC Mediawire Blogger

President Obama has often stated that immigration reform cannot be approached in a piecemeal fashion, and that his administration would tackle the issue in 2009. This week, Obama will be meeting with members of Congress to kick off a bi-partisan approach to reform. These meetings don't guarantee any legislative action will take place this year, but are at least an encouraging sign. In the meantime, the deportation industry shows no sign of slowing, hate crimes are rising and hate groups are being main streamed. As a result, the polarization between reform advocates and foes is getting worse.

New America Media's Jun Wang writes about the disapointing consensus reached by a panel of immigration activists last Thursday at California State University in Los Angeles. A lack of movement around immigration reform won't help curb rising rates of hate crimes against Latino/as, and compounds other instances of "othering" and racism. According to one panelist: "Employers in conservative cities" are learning that "they are better off not hiring people who are 'foreign looking or having foreign sound names.'”

Not content with simply raiding homes, workplaces, or storming the local 7-11, Immigrations Customs and Enforcement (ICE) is escalating its enforcement tactics. Also in New America Media, Hiram Soto reports on the joint operation between the Border Patrol and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in deporting three high-school age girls, one as young as 16, who were stopped by ICE on their way to school. Immigration attorney Lilia Velasquez, who is representing the minors, said she "hasn’t seen anything like this in her 25-year career," because the children are being let back into the U.S. to fight their deportation.

The plight of these girls is proof that the destructive deportation fetish sweeping the Department of Homeland Security is producing increasingly ridiculous results.

Pundits like Michael Savage are also feeding the violent and anti-immigrant, anti-Latino/a energy in the U.S. Samhita Mukhopadhyay at Feministing writes that these broadcasts are are created "for the purpose of inciting violence against immigrants and to fuel racial tension." Exposing Savage's "paranoid" and fearful obfuscation of reality, Mukhopadhyay clears up the anti-immigrant propaganda by pointing out that despite Savage's tortured logic, the truth is that Immigrants are the "working base" of California, and not the ones creating a drain upon it. California's immigrants pay roughly $40 billion in taxes every year.

One of the loudest politicians feeding anti-immigrant hostility is Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman from Colorado. The Colorado Independent has linked Tancredo to the Minuteman American Defense (MAD) and its former Executive Director Shawna Forde, accused of murdering Raul and Brisenia Flores, via a letter expressing the politician's solidarity and gratitude to the organization for organizing a rally. It turns out that not only was this beaming "boilerplate rejection letter" (as campaign chair Bay Buchanan hopes to position it) sent to Forde, but a story published by the Everett Herald in 2007 places official Tancredo campaign staff at the event. The connections don't end there and only grow more unsettling.

Those fighting for justice and on the side of human rights are hardly laying low in this time of legislative uncertainty. In a guest column for RaceWire, undocumented immigrant Sonia Guinansaca writes about how over 500 students from all over the U.S. attended a "Mock Graduation ceremony" on Capitol Hill last Tuesday. The ceremony was intended to both draw attention and show support for the DREAM Act. Guinansaca reminds us of our country's most inspiring ideals: To be a nation where "nothin' is impossible."

RaceWire also brings us more news of youth behind change in Immigrants’ Kids File Lawsuit Against US, and Other News. In this political lull, "the kids of hundreds of deported parents are filing a lawsuit against the government claiming their constitutional right to stay in the U.S. is violated by the deportation of their parents."

*Editor's note: The original version of this post implied that all movement towards immigration reform had halted. We've updated this blog to reflect recent developments. Stay tuned to next week's Wire for in-depth analysis of the push for effective immigration reform.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration.

Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter.

And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net.

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.

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