September 2, 2009

An Even Longer Struggle for Rights
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed two bills recognizing seven Indian tribes from North Carolina and Virginia, although the legislation does not allow them to build casinos. The bills make the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and six Virginia tribes eligible for up to $800 million in federal funds that would cover housing, education and health benefits. Although the bills have passed in the House, they were both stalled in the Senate as of the last Congressional session.

IDs Regardless of Citizenship
Oakland, California, is planning to join San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut, as the first cities nationwide to issue identification cards to all residents, regardless of immigration status. The new plan, which will not go into effect until a funding mechanism is developed and voted on, will allow for more civic participation and access to city services and banking. Supporters also believe it will result in more cooperation with law enforcement without fear of arrest or deportation.
Refuge for Abused Women
As you read in the last issue of ColorLines, the U.S. government has stalled for more than a decade on the asylum case of Rody Alvarado, who was repeatedly raped, abused and threatened by her husband in Guatemala. But in a sign that times are changing, the Obama administration has filed a legal brief in a similar court case, stating that survivors of domestic violence should receive asylum in the U.S. if they can document the abuse and prove that their home countries don’t have institutions to protect them. It’s up to the immigration courts to make a ruling on the cases now. Let’s hope they do the right thing.

You Need a Visa. No, You Need a Visa!
The Canadian government now requires Mexican and Czech travelers to have visas to enter the country, due, officials say, to the increasing number of people from those countries seeking refugee status. When the restrictions were announced in July, hundreds of people flocked to the Canadian embassy in Mexico City to get their visas in time for summer travel. Not one to be outdone, Mexico’s foreign secretary then announced that Canadian diplomats and officials to Mexico will now be required to get visas. Nice comeback, Mexico!

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