New America Media - 2 hours 32 min ago
On March 22, 1991, a visibly shaken and angered President George H.W. Bush said he was sickened and "outraged" by what he saw on television. That was the beating of black motorist Rodney King by a swarm of LAPD cops.... Earl Ofari Hutchinson http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - 5 hours 18 min ago
A national poll found that 89 percent of Latino voters support for President Obama’s use of executive authority on immigration. Eighty percent say they are opposed to congressional Republicans’ plans to block executive action by defunding programs that would support... New America Media http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - 5 hours 57 min ago
Last night hundreds took to the streets of Oakland to protest the ruling by a grand jury that officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters marched from Downtown Oakland to... Anna Vignet http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - 6 hours 50 min ago
The Darren Wilson grand jury has decided that the officer will not be indicted for the August 9 fatal shooting of unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown. The decision comes within the context of intense local and national protesting and organizing. So what does the lack of an indictment in the Michael Brown killing mean? Here's what leading activists and thinkers told Colorlines immediately after the decision was announced:
How do you feel about the decision? The decision to not indict Darren Wilson is infuriating, frightening, and maddening. This country has shown time and time again that black life is invaluable. I also know that the indictment or non indictment of one officer will not end the rampant terror police departments enact upon black communities. We can not jail or indict our way out of white supremacy.
What can we do to move forward? We must continue to be in the streets, lobby for new laws and push for the demilitarizing of police departments as well as reducing their budgets. We need to believe that safety does not have to rely on a badge or gun, but rather healthy communities that are provided with jobs, shelter and proper education.
Brittney Cooper, Crunk Feminist CollectiveWhat can we do to move forward?Revolt.
Imani Perry, professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton UniversityHow do feel about the decision? The decision is harrowing and yet mundane. Police violence, a lack of due process, surveillance, presumptions of black guilt, and the absolute devaluation of black life are all everyday business in America. The American criminal justice system is so rotten, perhaps it is a fools errand to ever seek justice or fairness from it. Had Darren Wilson been indicted, the odds that he would be convicted would have been minimal. If he had been convicted, it wouldn't have changed the fact that law enforcement is an engine of anti-black racism in this country. Yet this decision is still a terrible blow. It is a green light for an ever more murderous police state.
What can we do to move forward?We must follow the organizers, both Ferguson organizers and national organizers. It is time for us to remember the legacies of SNCC, Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer, to hold them close as our inheritance. It is time for us to study the systems of racial and economic injustice in order to best struggle against them. It is time for establishment and bureaucratic civil rights professionals to step back and make space for this rebirth of the freedom movement. It is time for us to join this movement, to listen, to learn, and to keep our hands on freedom's plow.
Deepa Iyer, Race Forward board of directors and former director of South Asian Americans Leading Together
How do you feel about the decision? I am deeply saddened and outraged by the failure of the grand jury to indict Darren Wilson. The legal system too has failed Michael Brown and his family. But I'm also trying to draw courage and inspiration from the protestors in Ferguson who have, for three months now in the midst of a virtual police state, reminded us why we must continue to fight for reforms in the criminal justice system, from police accountability to the demilitarization of law enforcement to anti-profiling laws.
What can we do to move forward? As a South Asian American, I am committed to the struggle for racial justice and my responsibility to our movement has become even more clearer in light of the events in Ferguson.
Dr. Yaba Blay, director or Africana Studies, Drexel University
How do you feel about the decision? I'm frustrated with myself for expecting, if only for a moment, that people who have historically not valued black life, would actually value black life. More than anything, I'm sad. I'm just sad. This is no way to live.
What can we do to move forward?Organize. Organize. Organize.Mychal Denzel Smith, writer and Knobler Fellow at the Nation Institute
How do you feel about the decision? The decision was as expected. The United States is founded on white supremacy and the destruction of black bodies and continues its existence on those principles.
What can we do to move forward? Moving forward, toward justice, is a matter of making the privileged uncomfortable. The marginalized and terrorized communities of America will have to assert their right to existence in every way possible, from politics to the arts, from classrooms to corner stores, and beyond. The fight is on.
Bakari Kitwana, executive director of Rap Sessions and author of the forthcoming "Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era
How do you feel about the decision? The debt America owes the Brown family can never be paid. This verdict reveals the salient message lost on the powers that be: There is no conditioning that can be imagined that can prepare black people to accept that death of an unarmed teen at the hands of a police officer is justifiable. America has just lost the latest generation of black Americans who imagined justice could be found in the land that prides itself on a perverted sense of the rule of law.The country has no jobs for black youth. No affordable meaningful education. No justice. With every new state sanctioned murder, America is signing its own death certificate. Minus an apparatus of justice, black people are left to mete out a brand of justice of their own.
What can we do to move forward?It is clear the police have been empowered by the state to shoot to kill with impunity. In the reformist lane, that means at the very least disarming the police and requiring officers to live in the communities they serve. In the revolutionary lane, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with the second generation of black Americans to come of age after the civil rights movement. The promises that black folk imagined two generations ago have not been realized. This is a generation to whom America feels no obligation. No obligation to provide jobs. No obligation to provide a living wage. No obligation to get the vampire corporations out of their pockets. No obligation to provide affordable, meaningful education. We have a generation that imagined justice would prevail who just had that snatched away. Much like the second generation that came of age after the civil war, who ushered in the great migration, this is a generation whose backs have been pushed to the wall. They have nothing to lose. In my estimation, no form of vigilante justice is off the table.
Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, co-founder, A Long Walk Home
How do you feel about the decision? Waiting for this [decision] is the ritual of black life in America: dying, grieving, fighting, demanding, mourning, mounting protests, hoping, voting, being disenfranchised, shot at and dying again. Right now, I am wondering how to stop a cycle that African-Americans neither created nor condone and how far from freedom we still remain.
Last time Black America gathered around like this was probably when Barack Obama became president in 2008. How little the word "hope" means right now and how huge the project/practice/principle and radical act that? #?BlackLivesMatters? means today, as it did then, as it is always has in this grand experiment we call America. Rest in power, beloved prince. ?#?FergusonGoddam.
What can we do to move forward? We continue to organize with vigilance to dismantle a capitalist, racist, and sexist system that predicates itself on rendering black lives as weaponized bodies, as inferior, and not worthy of state protection and due process. This means we continue to take on the prison-industrial complex, violence against women, wealth inequality, and our elected officials (even those who claim to be with us) with deep, unwavering resistance.
Dorian Warren, Columbia University assistant political science professor, Roosevelt Institute fellow, Race Forward board member
How do you feel about the decision?Deeply saddened for the family of Mike Brown and deeply angered by the lack of justice in this country for black people. I feel like this is the millennial generation's Emmett Till moment.
What can we do to move forward? Mourn. And then organize. Strategize. We have plenty of demands and solutions to change, systematically, racially unjust policing and a criminal justice system that does not value black life. Now we have to organize--over the long haul--to win.
Darnell L. Moore, co-managing editor of The Feminist Wire and member of Black Lives Matter
How do you feel about the decision? That I continue to not be shocked when the legal system fails black folk is a problem. New laws and polices are great, but if we fail to change anti-black ideologies we won't experience the type of transformation necessary to ensure black folk can live free from extrajudicial murder, state sanctioned police killings, and the various affects of institutional racism.
asha bandele, author, advocate, mother
Even as I expected the decision to be what it was, it still hurts deeply. Who can be shown their babies' lives don't matter and expect to feel anything but pain and rage? And fear? The decision leaves me in fear for the safety of the children I love so deeply.
What can we do to move forward? As the process followed the terrible historical arc of cynical, vulgar, anti-justice and racist actions undertaken within American jurisprudence it tells me that we have to be as disciplined, focused, loving and courageous as so many of our progenitors were to ensure we even made it this far up the mountain. I believe in organizing. I believe in agitating. I believe in confrontation and speaking truth even when it's unpopular or frightening. And I believe that all of these done together and with integrity and an other centered spirit will ultimately be lifesaving.
Gary Delgado, Alliance for a Just Society and Race Forward board memberHow do you feel about the decision?The preparation, timing, and cautions for peaceful protest all pointed to an unjust decision. I'm angry but not surprised. The most common result of a police murder is the exoneration of cop who didn't get the memo that America is post racial. As Wilson's defenders say, "He was doing what he got trained to do." Now, as communities of color express, a deep sadness, and a glowering rage, men in riot gear are doing what they are trained to do--channeling their fear into defending bricks, glass, and concrete.
Feminista Jones, activist
I did not expect an indictment. I have seen this happen too many times over the years. When police are held accountable for taking the lives of black Americans, I find myself surprised; it is troubling, yes, but honest. This is a great miscarriage of justice and a reminder that we cannot give up our fights for justice and liberation. We must have true freedom and that freedom includes the ability to live without fear of being killed by police simply because we were born black. We are still awaiting news on whether or not Officer Pantaleo will be indicted in the choking death of Eric Garner. Officer Dante Servin goes on trial soon for killing Rekia Boyd in 2012. Joseph Weekley may face a third trial in the shooting death of Aiyana Jones. Officer Randell Kendrick was indicted after a second grand jury reviewed the case. There is more to come.
What can we do to move forward?We cannot become complacent. We must fight for our rights and for the rights of our children to live as free human beings in this country.
Jessica Luther, freelance writer
How do you feel about the decision?I am not surprised by this outcome; all signs pointed to it. That doesn't make it less painful or less frustrating. My thoughts are with Mike's family and the community of Ferguson.
I think moving forward there are some things we can do. First, follow the lead of the Ferguson community and the organizers working there. Continue to listen to them and see what they need and want, what they think is best. Second, look into our own communities because the problems in Ferguson are in your community, too. I live in Austin, Tex. The People's Task Force (http://taskforceatx.org/) is a group whose singular goal is to "hold the police department accountable for any and all police shootings." They are doing the work here. And if you look where you live, you will find people there doing it already. Listen to what they want and need and offer support, and begin to change things where you are. Finally, us white folks need to talk to other white people about the injustices happening around this country, about the fact that the police around the country keep committing violence against black people disproportionately, from the shooting deaths of the unarmed like those of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, or Akai Gurley, to the deaths of the mentally ill like Tanesha Anderson and Kajieme Powell, to the sexual assault of black women at the hands of cops like Daniel Holtzclaw. White people need to tell other white people about the risks that black people take for simply existing in this world, risks that we will never face because of the privilege we carry in our skin. And maybe that will feel uncomfortable but so what. We are talking about people's lives and risking uncomfortable conversation seems like the least we can do.
Barbara Ransby, professor, historian of African-American history, writer and longtime activist based in Chicago
How do you feel about the decision? It is profoundly disturbing but not terribly surprising. The threshold was so low, one would hope a group of jurors would at least consider the possibility of involuntary manslaughter, which suggests at a minimum, Wilson's actions were reckless. Given this decision, we do have to ask, "Do black lives, especially the lives of poor and working class black youth, really matter?" People have a right be outraged by this. It is another way of denying our humanity to suggest that in the face of rampant police violence across this country and disregard for the lives of young black people, that we should not be upset. What kind of parents, grandparents, teachers and elders would we be to not be upset? And for young people, if they do not speak out for themselves and their peers loudly and forcefully, who will?
What can we do to move forward? Well, if the decision had been different, the next steps would have been virtually the same. Why? Because the underlying problem is racist policing practices, the criminalization of poor black youth, regardless of whether they are engaged in criminal behavior, as well as poverty and the lack of jobs and quality education. So, this is not about one death and one rogue cop. We need to fight for access, resources and accountability. This case is not an isolated one. It is symbolic of the plight of poor and working class black communities all across this country. This is so much bigger than Ferguson and Darren Wilson and we have to remain clear about that. Building broad coalitions, rejecting the idea of outside agitators, and generating creative and sustainable tactics of direct action to push for change.
Joan Morgan, writer
How do you feel about the decision? I expected this decision. Optimism is something that is too dangerous an indulgence in a country deeply and historically invested in using both racism and sexism to maintain white supremacy. I know many feel this is a different political moment. I think what we just saw was a long, condescending rationale that was tantamount to saying to us black and brown people, "Same shit, different day."
How do we move forward?I don't know that the immediate response should be to "move forward". I'm tired of lost black lives being a teaching moment. I think we need to feel every bit of this pain. Every bit of this anger before we move anywhere.
Colorlines - 6 hours 51 min ago
Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, visibly broke down before a crowd of supporters and a phalanx of cameras last night as news spread that a St. Louis grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of her unarmed, 18-year-old son. McSpadden learned of the decision, according to USA Today, through a phone call received by Benjamin Crump, a family attorney, minutes before the public announcement.
[She] cried and shouted when Crump told her there was no indictment and that the prosecutor was willing to meet with the family. ... Her body vibrated with pain as she jumped to her feet. "I do want to meet with him right now," McSpadden screamed. "What do you mean no indictment?!" She then ran out of a hotel room followed by family members.
Wilson, like Brown's family, issued a public statement last night stating in part, "Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law." Wilson's testimony to the grand jury in which he describes encountering and ultimately shooting Brown, has been publicly released (see page 195). At one point, Wilson, a little under 6 '4" and 210 pounds to Brown's 6' 4" nearly 300 pound frame, describes grabbing him: "I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan." Summaries can be found at CNN and the Washington Post.
Colorlines - 7 hours 2 min ago
Atlanta rapper Killer Mike was performing in St. Louis last night when it was announced that a Ferguson grand jury would not indict Darren Wilson for Michael Brown's death. He spoke openly to the crowd about his own fears as a black father to two sons. "I knew it was coming and I knew when Eric Holder resigned, I knew it wasn't going to be good." the rapper said tearfully. "I have a 20-year-old son and a 12-year-old son and I am so afraid for them."
Colorlines - 7 hours 34 min ago
After a Ferguson grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Mike Brown's killing, nationwide protests and actions took place to bring attention to the extrajudicial killings of young black men. Here's a look at different scenes from across the country.
Ferguson: Protesters gather in 90 cities http://t.co/P7NLTXBU4U Black lives do matter but why don't they matter w/black on black murder-- NJ Kingston (@jakeandpooky) November 25, 2014 Ferguson, Missouri: November 24, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014
Oakland, California:November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 Chicago, Illinois: November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: November 25, 2014 Seattle, Washington: November 25, 2014 Washington, D.C.: November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 New York City: November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014
Union Sq protest in NYC for Ferguson and Mike Brown https://t.co/MhQSxsI3qW-- Mikell Kober (@mikellkober) November 25, 2014 November 25, 2014
Colorlines - 7 hours 57 min ago
This is what I'm reading up on today:
- A Ferguson grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, triggering protests nationwide.
- St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch released Officer Wilson's grand jury testimony late on Monday night, in which Wilson said that Brown "looked like a demon." Also released: photos of Wilson after Mike Brown's shooting.
- The night's most heartbreaking image: Mike Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, screams and sobs over the grand jury's decision.
- Despite President Obama's pleas for peace, anger and violence broke out on the streets of Ferguson. One police officer was shot near Ferguson; 61 people were arrested.
- Don Lemon said predictably Don Lemon-esque things from Ferguson.
New America Media - 11 hours 37 min ago
Photo: Hong Kong-based dementia-care expert, Timothy Kwok, PhD, spoke at the recent Gerontological Society of America conference in Washington, D.C. The University of Miamis Sara J. Czaja looks on. (Rong Xiaoqing/Sing Tao Daily)WASHINGTON, D.C.--International research is demonstrating that online educational program... Rong Xiaoqing http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:18
President Obama, who addressed the nation Monday evening shortly after a grand jury announced that it declined to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, said that while, “the decision was the grand jury’s to make,” disappointment and anger about... Colorlines http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 19:50
President Obama, who addressed the nation Monday evening shortly after a grand jury announced that it declined to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, said that while, "the decision was the grand jury's to make," disappointment and anger about the announcement "is an understandable reaction."
Obama echoed the calls of Michael Brown's family who in recent days have called for peaceful protests following the grand jury's decision. "Michael Brown's parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes," Obama said, also adding an appeal to police officers in Ferguson, "to show care and restrained in managing" protests.
But Obama also commented on the popular frustration with law enforcement officers and their policing of black and Latino communities. "We need to recognize the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges we still face as a nation. The fact is in too many parts of this country distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color."
"Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country," Obama said. "This is tragic because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with high crime rates."
"There are still problems and communities of color aren't just making these problems up," Obama said, adding that there are still too many cases in which "the law too often feels as if it is being applied in a discriminatory fashion."
New America Media - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 19:34
A grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, has decided against indicting a white police officer in the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown, the office of the St. Louis County Prosecutor announced Monday night — a decision local and national... Washington Informer http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 19:20
A St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in a case that has sparked national protests. Darren Wilson, 28, will not be indicted for killing 18-year-old... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 18:57
A St. Louis grand jury today decided not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, 28, with the fatal shooting this August of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The much anticipated decision comes three months after the Saturday afternoon shooting ended with Brown's body lying uncovered in the street for four hours and Wilson reportedly leaving town soon after. Local police and city government response both in the immediate aftermath and the ensuing weeks drew national and international attention to Ferguson, Missouri, population 21,000, and ignited more than 100 days of protests.
New America Media - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 18:52
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This afternoon, a St. Louis grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of unarmed Mike Brown which took place earlier this year.“Today, immigrant youth across the country are coming together... New America Media http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 17:55
To acknowledge the amount of time that Ferguson, Mo., police caused the dead body of unarmed, black, 18-year-old Michael Brown to lay in the street after his slaying by white officer Darren Wilson, Brown's family is requesting a 4.5-minute moment of silence after the decision of the Wilson grand jury is announced. The moment of silence is in keeping with the message of Brown's parents, who have consistently demanded justice through the courts and peaceful protest.
Today, Brown's family explained:
We are not here to be violent," says the family statement, as quoted at Fox 2 Illinois. "We are here in memory of our son. We are here for protection of all children. We are here to support justice and equality for all people. We lift our voices to ensure black and brown men, women and children can live in this country without being devalued because of the color of our skin.
Brown's killing by Ferguson Officer Wilson has renewed a nationwide dialogue about the police accountability in brutality cases.
New America Media - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 16:15
Last week, President Obama took bold action to grant relief to an estimated five million undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the United States.This step represents a huge victory after Congress refused to pass legislation to overhaul and repair... Maya Rupert http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 13:34
Police in Utah have killed more people in the past five years than gang members, drug dealers or child abusers. That's the sobering finding of a Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides over the same period. Only intimate partner violence surpasses police use of force as the most common way that Utah residents kill each other. A number of high-profile incidents this year--Michael Brown's, Eric Garner's and John Crawford's deaths, the death this weekend of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy holding a toy gun, and a slew of cell phone videos capturing police brutality--has catapulted the issue of "police use of force" and public trust into main street conversations. Last month, outgoing attorney general Eric Holder urged the creation of a national commission to examine and modernize police tactics and training.
Colorlines - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:52
Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, undocumented youth are eligible to obtain a work permit and relief from deportation for a renewable two years at a time--so long as they meet certain criteria. They must have arrived to the U.S. before the age of 16, have been here for a minimum of five years, have graduated high school or have a GED, or have completed a tour of military service. But, any person seeking DACA must have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, the date DACA was first announced.
Activists have long insisted that that upper age limit is far too arbitrary. Under Obama's executive action, the upper age limit is suspended--which means that anyone who was at least 16 when they entered is now eligible, no matter their age today. The date of arrival for eligibility moves from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. DACA will also be available for a renewable three years at a time, instead of the current two years.
Anyone who arrived over the age of 16, regardless of whether they attended and graduated high school in the U.S., is still not eligible. The cost is still $465 to apply, and a background check, including biometrics, remain part of the program.
The program's expansion will take 90 days to roll out, by which time newly qualified immigrants can apply. It's estimated that close to 300,000 people will be eligible for DACA under this move.
Colorlines - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:50
Under President Obama's historic executive action announced Thursday, Maru Mora Villalpando, a Washington State-based undocumented immigrant activist with the #Not1More campaign, could win a three-year reprieve from the threat of deportation. But Villalpando, who talked to Colorlines while attending a gathering of other undocumented and immigrant rights activists Thursday night, said "As Obama was speaking, we kept bringing up names of people we know who will not qualify."
They include Ramon Mendoza, a father and undocumented immigrant who led a 56-day hunger strike inside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., this spring. He has a DUI on his record, Villalpando said, which under the terms set out by the White House, will make him ineligible for protection from deportation. Cipriano Rios, who also went on a hunger strike while in detention, is a father, but of DACA kids--undocumented youth who were given short-term work permits and deportation relief by Obama two years ago. Rios has no U.S. citizen children so he will not qualify. And Miguel Armenta, Villalpando said, has "been detained six months, he is gay, HIV positive, and he doesn't have children. He won't benefit from deferred action."
"I can go on and on with names," Villalpando said. As large and as historic as Obama's second executive action is, with the potential to offer nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants short-term work permits and a shield from deportation, it's also limited in scope. The terms are stringent: It will apply only to those who have been in the U.S. for five years or more; those who came to the country as young teens; and parents of U.S. citizen children and green-card holders. People with various criminal violations on their records will be barred from relief.
Immediately after the announcement, organizers and advocates tallied up who won't qualify for relief, identified broad classes of people who will continue to be criminalized under the updated enforcement regime--and named a people's win. Those who will lose out include:
Parents of DACA Youth + Seasonal Workers + LGBT Immigrants + Domestic Violence Victims
Excluding the parents of DACA youth "is a huge example of family separation," said Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "Not to include parents [of DACA recipients] in this pool is actually kind of mean. You will have families who, on one hand, have children who are DACA recipients and have some reprieve, but on the other hand, their parents won't."
The rub here is that in the years following Obama's first deferred action to benefit undocumented youth, it was their parents who stood at the forefront of national organizing. They did so even as the Obama administration steadily racked up 2 million deportations. "After all the work they put in," said Families for Freedom executive director Abraham Paulos, "it is unjust."
Seasonal agricultural workers and others who work so-called "low-skilled" jobs who don't have ties to U.S. citizen children will also be excluded, noted Sandra Sanchez, director of the Iowa Immigrant Voice campaign for the American Friends Service Committee. And many women who've escaped violent spouses aren't eligible for visas covered by the Violence Against Women Act. "They are going to be left behind," Sanchez said.
Black Immigrants + People With Felonies
When Obama announced that the U.S. would put a stronger emphasis on deporting "felons, not families ... Gang members, not a mother who's working hard to provide for her kids," activists who advocate for black and criminalized immigrants raised serious concerns about that rhetoric and the policy it'll inform.
"People with felonies have families too," said Paulos, whose organization Families for Freedom advocates for families who've been separated by criminal deportation."That's a false binary [Obama] is setting up," said Tia Oso, the Arizona organizer for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Oso pointed out that because blacks in the U.S. are already targeted by the War on Drugs and racial and ethnic profiling by police, partnerships between law enforcement and immigration authorities mean that black immigrants are in detention and criminal deportation proceedingsat a rate five times their actual presence in the U.S. undocumented community.
Paulos pointed out the irony of what he calls "explicitly anti-black policy":"President Obama--the son of an African from Kenya, who is part of a mixed-status family [that had] an undocumented aunty and [has] an uncle with a conviction, says, 'If you're a criminal -- you'll be deported.'"
LGBT Youth + People Convicted of Low-Level Crimes
Research shows that LGBT youth experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate. So cutting off young LGBT immigrants with records of "low-level survival crimes," such as prostitution and others connected to homelessness, will disproportionately affect LGBT immigrants, especially transgender immigrants, said Harper Jean Tobin, policy director at the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Basing relief on parental relationships," and limiting benefits to those who haven't landed in the criminal justice system will exclude most of the estimated 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants in the U.S., Tobin said
What's more, when Obama describes "felons," he leaves out pertinent details, advocates say. The U.S. has designated "illegal entry"--entering the country without papers or authorization--a misdemeanor but made "illegal re-entry"--crossing back in the U.S. after a prior deportation--a federal felony offense. In the last decade, prosecutions for illegal re-entry have skyrocketed some 300 percent, and, as prosecutions have increased, the proportion of those who have no or only a minor criminal record has also ballooned. It turns out that those who risk criminal prosecution, incarceration and deportation are usually people who crossed back into the U.S. to reunite with children and loved ones.
On Thursday night Obama touted his record of beefing up the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border without noting that many Border Patrol agents who have abused migrants and killed those who live along the border aren't held accountable for their actions. "To say we're going to double up our efforts on enforcement is really insensitive to what the impact has been," said National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights' Tactaquin.
Obama's ongoing emphasis on border enforcement and enforcement across the U.S. also ignores the evidence that "what has affected the level of migration has been things like the improved economy in Mexico or increased violence in Central America," Tactaquin adds. "It's not had to do with levels of border enforcement."
The People's Win
For immigrant rights activists who have fought against the enforcement program Secure Communities, its elimination is a victory. But, #Not1More's Villalpando and others raised concerns that the program which will take its place, "Priority Enforcement Program," (PDF) is just the same deportation dragnet by another name.
Still, the executive action itself, "is the undocumented people's victory," said Villalpando. "The reason he did it is because of all the pressure undocumented communities built up to this point, so we must thank the people who went on hunger strike and even the people who got deported."
"We have at least 5 million reasons to celebrate," said AFSC's Sanchez. "But we have just as many--another 5 or 6 million reasons to keep working." To Iowa Immigrant Voice's Sanchez, the real win was that the president "finally stood up to respond to the people's will."
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