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The Media Consortium: Weekly Immigration Wire: The White House vs. Reality

July 9th, 2009, 07:07 pm admin Leave a comment Go to comments

by Nezua, TMC Mediawire Blogger

The immigration discussion is sometimes reduced to symbols or a war of “sides,” be it on blogs, comment threads, or conference calls between legislators, media outlets, and activists. But it’s important to remember what this fight is about: People. In last week’s Wire, we covered the White House’s June 25th meeting with lawmakers, during which an intention to address immigration reform was formally announced. The meeting yielded much celebration and discussion by advocacy groups and activists alike, but waiting for reform does not change the situation on the ground. This week, we look at everyday situations–from students who are deported upon graduation to the growing number of hate crimes–that make a clear argument for reform now, not later.

RaceWire’s Julianne Hing reports on the “good immigrant/bad immigrant” fallacy inherent in even the DREAM Act’s terms:

When the DREAM Act is passed, heck, when immigration reform gets passed, people in this country will feel so magnanimous. But families will still get torn apart because we insist on dividing immigrants into two camps: the good and deserving, and the bad and unworthy.

Hing writes this in reference to the case of Walter Lara, a child of immigrants, who wasn’t aware of his undocumented status until attending college. He was nearly deported this July, but managed to stay thanks to a “a frenzied couple months of multi-pronged organizing” and petitioning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Hing calls Lara’s halted deportation a “pyrrhic victory” for the movement.

The phrase “comprehensive reform” is used by media, activists. and politicians alike, but what does it actually mean? Will comprehensive reform include aid to those fleeing military corruption in Mexico? Or will our immigration policies keep them at bay with a wall or more border troops? In Mother Jones, Richard Bowden writes of reporter Emilio Gutiérrez Soto’s flight from the Mexican Army and appeal for asylum in the U.S., even though “no Mexican reporter has ever been given political asylum.” The U.S. supports Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s harsh Drug War policies, and yet our policies have forced this migrant and many others North, where they often end up in detention. With truly “comprehensive” reform, we could resolve this glaring hypocrisy.

In the video below, Gutiérrez Soto speaks about his belief in the U.S. justice system, and his hopes for the future.

Writing for RaceWire, Michelle Chen reports on Utah’s newly introduced law that requires home childcare providers to show proof of immigration status in addition to normally-required background and safety checks. There is no argument that childcare standards are necessary. But laws like this don’t take the realities on the ground into account. “Utah’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants threatens to throw off a critical balance between quality and accessibility,” writes Chen. The move will cause many to lose their jobs, “while pushing families to seek out less-regulated care.”

In the absence of a definitive immigration policy, restrictionists use convoluted rhetoric to muddy facts. Walter Ewing, posting at Alternet, warns of the “Green Xenophobia” employed by hate groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Ewing handily debunks one of FAIR’s “special reports” that ties greenhouse gases to immigrants. Simply put, the greenhouse gases emitted by the U.S. are “a function not of population size, but of the degree to which we as a society rely upon fossil fuels, power plants, industrial processes, and automobiles.” Ewing also reminds us that John Tanton, an “uber nativist” is responsible for creating FAIR, and several other anti-immigrant groups (like NumbersUSA, and CIS.)

Finally, reporting for the Progressive, Yolanda Chávez Leyva writes a stirring appeal to our better natures as individuals, and collectively as a nation in “Recent Attacks on Immigrants Tell Us Who We Are.” She asks, “What kind of nation are we that allows our youth to stalk and kill others for being ‘different’?” and then draws a line. “It’s time that we take the anti-immigrant rhetoric and its fear-mongering leaders for what they are — not protectors of this nation but destroyers.” It’s hard to argue with that.

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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