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Advocates Launch Fund to Help DREAMers Pay $465 ‘Deferred Action’ Fee

Advocates Launch Fund to Help DREAMers Pay $465 'Deferred Action' Fee

Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (ICE) will begin accepting requests from young undocumented immigrants hoping to quality for President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program that would grant them protection from deportation and work permits for at least two years. It is estimated that more than one million young people brought to the U.S. as children and raised in the country may be eligible for the program.

In order to be granted the two-year protection from deportation, the young undocumented immigrants popularly known as DREAMers will have to pay a $465 fee, pass background checks and offer up biometric data, as well as clear other paperwork hurdles. ICE has pledged to keep the information that DREAMers provide in their applications confidential and away from the enforcement side of the Department of Homeland Security unless the applicant commits fraud by lying on their applications, or if applicants have serious criminal records.

“President Obama’s announcement brings peace and relief to many DREAMers,” Lorella Praeli, a member of the United We Dream network, told Colorlines.com earlier this month. “It is one step in the right direction after years of work that will allow students to apply their professional degrees and know that they need not fear deportation, that they will be able to continue living as Americans in the only country they call home.”

Recognizing that the application fee of $465 may prevent some from applying to the deferred action program, Public Interest Projects has launched a national fundraising effort to support DREAMers who need financial assistance. The public charity group has dubbed the program “Fund for DREAMers” and say they’ll disperse the funds to eligible low-income DREAMers through “vetted local groups via a rigorous allocation process.”

To learn more about the Fund for DREAMers and/or to make a donation visit http://bit.ly/Fund4Dreamers.

‘We Women Warriors’ Challenges the Way We Think about Colombia’s Civil War

Colombia’s civil war will soon enter its fiftieth year. The media narrative about the bloody conflict, which has claimed a 250,000 lives and displaced millions of people is often focused on the armed insurgents, the Colombian military, and right-wing paramilitary squads—the latter of which have been largely demobilized. This frame leaves little room to consider those people who make an effort to resist the violence that’s become an everyday phenomenon for rural people in Colombia. It also fails to remind us that, aside from drug cartels, the war is fueled by the US. Now, a new independent documentary challenges the way we think about the conflict.

We Women Warriors” features three indigenous women in northern and southern Colombia who develop courageous strategies against violence—after a long organizing effort, for example, one woman leads a group to completely dismantle a set of military barracks. Indigenous groups that take no side in the conflict have become targets; since men are often the ones killed by military or guerrilla troops, more women are taking leadership roles.

Michelle Obama Jokingly Scolds Gabby Douglas for Egg McMuffin

Michelle Obama Jokingly Scolds Gabby Douglas for Egg McMuffin

First Lady Michelle Obama, an advocate of healthy eating, and Gabby Douglas were guests on “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno on Monday night.

When Douglas was asked how she celebrated her three gold Olympic medals, she said she splurged on a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.

“You’re setting me back, Gabby,” the First Lady told Douglas.

“Sorry!” said Douglas in between giggling.

Gabby Douglas Gets a Mural in Her Hometown and She’s Going to be on ‘Oprah’

Gabby Douglas will return to her hometown of Virginia Beach, Va to find a new 9-by-30 foot mural made in her honor. The mural painted by Eric Lindbergh of T.A.L.E.N.T. Murals on the side of the Gator’s Sports Bar & Grill depicts Douglas holding a gold medal and reads “Way to Go Gabby.”

“WOW!!! This is amazing!! #so honored,” Douglas tweeted Friday from the Olympics in London, where the 16-year-old gymnast won two gold medals at the Summer Games.

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(Photo: T.A.L.E.N.T. Murals)

Douglas will also appear on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” with Oprah Winfrey at the end of the month.

According to a press release, Winfrey will discuss the new found media attention Douglas has received and visit Gabby’s mother as well as the host family that provided a second home for Douglas during her training.

The interview will air on Oprah’s Next Chapter at a special time on Sunday, August 26, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

30 TSA Officers Report Racial Profiling at Boston’s Logan Airport

30 TSA Officers Report Racial Profiling at Boston's Logan Airport

More than 30 federal officers with the Transportation Safety Administration in Boston have reported that a new passenger screening program frequently leads to racial profiling, the New York Times reported over the weekend. The news made waves in part because the program that’s in question at Boston’s Logan airport is being eyed as a potential model for airports across the country. But for black passengers who’ve already been targeted, news of the report, and the potential for accountability, were welcome — and clear signs that it’s not so easy to be “race-neutral” in an already flawed method of surveillance. 

It’s never seemed random to me,” Steven Wellman, a computer programmer  who’s black and flew into Logan airport on Sunday, told the Boston Globe. “When I travel alone, I am pulled from the line every single time — every single time.”

That sentiment was shared by another black man who once sued the airport after being illegally detained. King Downing is an attorney and director of the Human Rights-Racial Justice Center  who was moved to legal action in 2003. “No one should be surprised, because it’s been going on for years, at airports and in other law enforcement situations, and there has been evidence of it for years,” Downing told the Globe. “My first reaction was, ‘Finally, it’s about time.’ Now let’s see if we can do something about it. It’s been way too long.”

The TSA officers’ steps in reporting their concerns is unprecedented, according to the Times, which reported:


Distinguishing Your Friends From Potential Terrorists

Distinguishing Your Friends From Potential Terrorists

The RedEye, which is published by the Chicago Tribune, recently published the “Turban primer” which illustrates the differences between Sikh men, Iranian leaders, Taliban members, Indian men and Muslim religious elders. Seems like a ridiculous attempt to teach readers the religious significance of turbans for Sikh men versus the turban-donned Taliban member after the tragic shooting at the Wisconsin Sikh temple.

Angry Asian Man compares this to the a 1941 article in Life magazine on how to distinguish Japanese from Chinese people. Amazing how 71 years later, folks are still using the same finger-pointing tactics.

Deported Dad’s Parental Rights Hearing is Postponed

Deported Dad's Parental Rights Hearing is Postponed

After 21-months separated from his children, a deported father who was allowed back to the United States on August 1 to fight for his parental rights will have wait another two weeks for his court hearing. Felipe Bautista Montes was originally scheduled to appear in the Alleghany County, N.C. courthouse today where a judge was expected to decide the next steps in the parental rights case. But this morning, court officials told reporters gathered at the courthouse that the presiding judge would not appear in court, citing health issues.

“I have been waiting for this for so long,” Montes told Colorlines.com this afternoon after he heard the news of the postponement. “I’m getting desperate. I thought today was the day.”

Montes, who was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was deported from rural Sparta, N.C. in late 2010 for repeated traffic violations. His three U.S.-born children were soon removed from the custody of his wife, Marie Montes, who could not support the children without her husband, the primary caretaker and breadwinner in the family. But the county child welfare department refused to respect the family’s requests that the kids be placed with Mr. Montes in Mexico. Isaiah and Adrian, the couples 4 and 2-year-old children, were placed in one foster home and their baby, Angel, who was born weeks after Montes was detained, in a separate home.

Montes’s case has made national headlines since February when Colorlines.com broke his story and Presente.org launched a petition calling for the reunification of the family. After over 21,000 people signed the petition, the Mexican consulate in North Carolina applied to federal immigration authorities for a permit for Montes to return to the United States to attend his hearing and try to reunite with his children. Montes was granted a 90-day “humanitarian parole” and on August 1 he flew into the Charlotte, N.C. airport. Consular officials say the grant is the first of its kind for a deported parent.

It’s unclear if Felipe Montes will be allowed to visit with his children while he waits for the hearing, now scheduled for August 24. On Tuesday, the child welfare department allowed him to see his youngest child, and last week he saw the two older children for the first time since his deportation. As Felipe left the visitation room at the social services office, Isaiah asked his father, “Will you take us with you, daddy, will you adopt us?”

“No,” Montes replied, “I don’t have to adopt you, you’re my babies, you’ll go with me as soon as I fix everything.”

Donna Shumate, Montes’s court appointed attorney, walked out of the historic brick courthouse this afternoon and told Colorlines.com, “Felipe is disappointed but we’re moving forward.”

Montes’s case is one of thousands around the United States in which children of deported parents are stuck in foster care. In many of these cases, child welfare departments and juvenile courts argue that it’s in the best interest of the U.S.-citizen children to stay with foster care providers rather than be returned to their parents in another country. An unknown number of these children have been adopted and deported parents are severed from all contact with their kids.

Michael Jackson’s Family Appreciates Incredible Olympic Swim Tribute

Like pretty much everyone else, Michael Jackson’s family was impressed by Russian synchronized swimmers Natalia Ischenko and Svetlana Romashina, who pulled off an incredible routine to honor the late singer recently. The two swimmers wore Michael Jackson-themed bathing suits and performed to the King of Pop’s amazing, “They Don’t Care About Us.” The performance won them a gold medal.

LaToya Jackson told TMZ, “I’m thankful for the honor that the Olympian swimmers paid to my brother Michael’s memory.”

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Rep. Joe Walsh Calls Obama ‘Son’, Wants to ‘Pat Him on the Head’

Illinois Republican Representative Joe Walsh actually went there with the patronizing, racist remarks. At a BBQ in his district on Sunday, Walsh called the president “son” and said he wanted to “pat him on the head.”

“There’s something different on the ground, and I think it’s going to overtake us all again, think it’s going to overtake the political class,” Walsh said. “I think it’s going to respectfully pick this president up and pat him on the head and say, son, son, son, Mr. President, you were never ready to be president, now go home and work for somebody and find out how the real world works.”

Here’s video of the whole thing:

Activists Celebrate as José Luis Sin Censura Goes Off the Air

For 18 months, activists from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Hispanic Media Coalition have fought to get José Luis Sin Censura off of television. The show, which is basically the Spanish-language equivalent to the Jerry Springer show, as been derided for its repeated use of homophobic slurs. Today, those activists won.

GLAAD and NHMC received a letter today from Liberman Broadcasting, Inc. outlining the company’s decision to drop the show. Basically, all the negative press was bad for business. The company said that it’s “pleased to have amicably resolved this matter” and is “glad NHMC and GLAAD will no longer discourage companies from advertising with Libereman Broadcasting.”

You can see the letter in its entirety over at GLAAD’s blog.

NYC Holds Rally to Honor Gurdwara Shooting Victims [VIDEO]

NYC Holds Rally to Honor Gurdwara Shooting Victims [VIDEO]

New Yorkers held a rally yesterday to honor the those killed in the Oak Creek shooting massacre. The day marked a national day of remembrance and solidarity for people across the country. Here’s a video of scenes from Manhattan.

TAGS: Sikhs

Individual Choices and Shared Costs: The Case of Protesting Chick-fil-A

Two websites have responded to Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay stance with a novel approach. Instead of forcing millions of Americans to chose between their fried chicken sandwiches and support for LBGT civil rights, Chicken Offset and Chick-fil-A Confessional allow people to perhaps do both.

Though glib and slightly campy, these sites represent a growing movement by economists to grapple with the fact that our individual choices have broader consequences. To our detriment, the way that both our economy and the broader society is organized often passes the costs of those choices on to others, while we solely enjoy the benefits.

These sites want to change our approach. At Chicken Offset, progressive minded Chick-fil-A addicts can purchase a $1 credit for each meal eaten at the Mayberry-esque establishment. The site pledges that $0.90 of the dollar credit will end up at It Gets Better Project or the Williams Institute. But their essential thrust of the websites is correct.

Chick-fil-A Confessional takes a slightly different approach. Instead of a flat rate, this site calculates donations based upon the amount spent at the poultry-pushing restaurants. The more you spend the more you have to give.

In addition to It Gets Better, the site lists the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD as potential beneficiaries. Recognizing the impact that the recession has had on many, “hugging a gay” is also a compensatory option offered by the site.

It would be great if these portals also listed LGBT grassroots organizations on the front lines of local communities, as well as those dealing with the crisis of queer youth of color. As our publisher, the Applied Research Center, has explored, these groups are horribly underfunded and the LGBT movement suffers as consequence.

Romney Enlists Gingrich on Welfare-Bashing Kick

Romney Enlists Gingrich on Welfare-Bashing Kick

The Romney campaign is ratcheting up it’s charges that President Obama “gutted” welfare reform by ending work requirement’s for program participants. Following the release yesterday of a campaign ad titled “Right Choice” that claims the Obama administration now “just send(s) you your welfare check,” the Romney camp today enlisted Newt Gingrich to throw down in the ring.

On a conference call with reporters today, Gingrich launched a forceful attack saying, “On the hard left there is unending desire to create a dependent America. There is a deep repudiation of middle-class work ethic,” the Hill reported.

“It’s not just Obama’s a radical, but the people he appoints are even more radical,” Gingrich said.

The former primary rivals have joined forced to attack an administrative policy shift last month that will grant states more power over the administration of their cash assistance programs. The attacks are based on lies, but the assaults are likely to help the Romney campaign sure up the GOP’s white, working class base.

Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S.

Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S.

On Tuesday, Mexican-born American runner Leo Manzano won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter final, running the fastest time ever by a U.S. athlete at the Games. Manzano, 27, entered the U.S. at the age of 4 without papers, according to LetsRun. He didn’t gain legal residency until 10 years later.

“Silver medal, still felt like I won! Representing two countries USA and Mexico!”, Manzano tweeted shortly after his win. Most of his tweets throughout the Olympics have been in both Spanish and English.

“I am honored and excited to represent both the United States and Mexico by earning this silver,” Manzano told the Associated Press. “Standing on the podium has been a dream of mine and I share it proudly with my family, friends, coaches and all my supporters from Austin, Marble Falls, and Granite Shoals, Texas as well as Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico.”

On the track Manzano celebrated with the U.S. flag and the Mexican flag.

Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara Shooter Talked of ‘Racial Holy War’

The more authorities find out about Wade Michael Page, the man who shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on Sunday, the worse it gets.

Christopher Robillard, who told CNN Page was his “closest friend” when the two were in the military, said that Page talked often about a “racial holy war.”

“He would talk about the racial holy war, like he wanted it to come,” Robillard said. “But to me, he didn’t seem like the type of person to go out and hurt people.”

Page was trained as a psychological warfare specialist and rose to the rank of sergeant before he was discharged for showing up to formation drunk. Robillard nonetheless said Page as a “very kind, very smart individual.”

Authorities also know that Page fronted a white supremacist band. They know that Page was once in the military, before he was discharged. They know that the he was tattooed with the logo of Stormfront, an online community of white supremacists.

For many, those pieces of information are enough to settle the whys of Page’s brutal last act. But authorities insist they are continuing to look into Page’s motives for an act they’re investigating as domestic terrorism.

Gabby Douglas Too Busy Competing to Care What You Think About Her Hair

Gabby Douglas Too Busy Competing to Care What You Think About Her Hair

No one was mystified by the uproar over her hair more than Gabby Douglas, the two-time gold medalist and history-making Olympic gymnast.

“I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair?” Douglas told the Huffington Post. “I’m like, ‘I just made history and people are focused on my hair?’ It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair.”

“I don’t think people should be worried about that,” she said of all the fuss about her hair. “We’re all champions and we’re all winners. I just say that it’s kind of, a stupid and crazy thought to think about my hair.”

Today’s the Voting Rights Act’s Birthday. What’s It to You?

The Voting Rights Act, it seems, is not going to be allowed to ease into middle age quietly. There ought to be festivities greeting the Act today, on the 47th anniversary of the day President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the bill which outlawed voter discrimination that disenfranchised African-American voters. Yet, this year in particular it’s come under aggressive attack by states intent on dismantling the Act. Forget the birthday cake. It may be time to light a candle for the civil rights law.

Colorlines.com’s Voting Rights Reporting Fellow Brentin Mock says the VRA’s been under attack for a while now, but this year’s been different. “Certain counties and states have been sling-shotting at the Voting Rights Act for years, but this year they’ve pulled out bazookas and hope to blow a hole right in its heart: Section 5, which protects voters in certain states and counties that have histories of racial discrimination.”

As the court case dealing with Section 5 of the VRA winds its way toward the Supreme Court, so much is at stake.

An Olympic-Sized Income Gap Even Among Our World Class Athletes

An Olympic-Sized Income Gap Even Among Our World Class Athletes

The division between the 99 percent and the 1 percent extends to the U.S. Olympic team.

The United States sent 529 athletes to compete in 25 sports. The gaping income inequality seen in the wider society is stark even amongst this group carrying the nation’s pride in London.

Sure, Gabby Douglas just garnered a multi-million dollar endorsement deal from Kellogg’s with her two gold medals. Millionaires populate the US Olympic Basketball Team. The seven-figure Williams sisters dominate Olympic tennis. And high-performing runners in track and field events might break six-figures.

But for every Gabby, Lebron, and Serena, there are medal-winning Olympians in less well-known sports, like shot put and archery, who must work two and three jobs to represent the world’s richest country. Even Gabby’s mom had to sell her jewelry and do without to keep her daughter in the running until fortunes could turn.

NBC paid almost $2 billion to carry the games and the U.S. Olympic Committee budget is $170 million, but little of it flows to the actual competitors. Even top athletes in key events struggle.

According to CNN’s Money, “only 50% of American track and field athletes who are ranked in the top ten … earn more than $15,000 a year in income from the sport.” Many struggle to pay their bills.

Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooter Bought His 9MM Gun Legally

Lethal weapons are not so difficult to come by, even legally. Wade Michael Page, the identified shooter who gunned down six Sikhs at a temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, this weekend, bought the firearm he used in the attack legally, law enforcement authorities said today, Reuters reported.

According to FBI special agent in charge Teresa Carlson, Page had no criminal record before the attack, though the Southern Poverty Law Center had been tracking Page’s white supremacist ties for years.

Page wasn’t the only shooter who acquired his weapons legally. James Holmes, the man charged with killing 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater just weeks ago, bought all four of his guns legally as well.

The Wisconsin attack is being investigated as an act of domestic terror, authorities said. Those who belonged to the Wisconsin gurdwara have called it a hate crime, though.

State Legislatures Passed 20% Fewer Immigration Laws in 2012

When Arizona rocketed to national notoriety when it passed SB 1070, it kicked off an anti-immigrant craze in state lawmaking. But state lawmakers found other things to occupy their time this year. Fewer states passed immigration bills this year, according to an analysis released by the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Immigrant Policy Project today.

In the first six months of the year 41 states enacted 114 immigration bills and passed 92 immigration-related resolutions, down 20 percent from the more than 250 laws and resolutions state legislatures passed in the first half of just last year, when lawmakers introduced a record number of immigration bills. States still tackling immigration are doing so namely to restrict the lives of undocumented immigrants by empowering law enforcement officers to engage in immigration investigations.

But the costly, protracted Supreme Court battle over SB 1070 gave state lawmakers pause. “States took a bit of a pause on the issue of immigration as they waited for the Supreme Court to rule,” Senator John Watkins of Virginia, co-chair of the NCSL Immigration and the States Task Force said in a statement.

In the meantime, state lawmakers went back to other, more pressing issues, like tackling budget deficits, and restricting voter access to the polls.

Read the NCSL report for more.

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