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NYT Report: Prosecuting Moms for Drug Use Is Personhood in Disguise

New York Times Magazine published an important and long narrative on Sunday about “chemical endangerment” prosecutions of new moms who’ve given birth children believed to have been exposed to drugs. The piece tells the stories of several Alabama women who were prosecuted criminally under a state law that makes it a crime to explose children to drugs. But in interpreting the laws, prosecutors and courts have treated fetuses as children.

Emma Ketteringham, who directs legal advocacy at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told the Times that chemical endangerment laws are essentially, “personhood measure[s] in disguise.”

Marco Rubio Meets with Latino Dems, DREAMers on Alternative Youth Immigration Bill

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is making good on his proposal to work on an alternative DREAM Act. Yesterday he met with congressional Democrats Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and Texas Rep. Charles Gonzalez for conversations about an alternative to the bill, the Huffington Post reported.

Rubio’s plan would likely gut the key relief that the DREAM Act offers undocumented youth who’ve been raised in the U.S.: a chance at eventual U.S. citizenship. It’s been rumored that Rubio’s alternative plan would grant a set of undocumented immigrant youth who clear a host of hurdles some kind of legal status without affording them a chance at becoming citizens someday.

Rubio’s not just trying to get Democrats onboard. He’s also reached out to immigrant youth themselves.

From the Washington Post:

Gaby Pacheco, a vocal immigrant activist, accepted a tantalizing invitation last week from an unlikely source: Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wanted her to help craft a bill that could legalize the children of some illegal immigrants.

Two hours later, Pacheco and other activists got a different pitch from their more familiar White House allies. Be wary of Rubio and his plan, two of President Obama’s top advisers told them in a meeting. It wouldn’t go far enough and wasn’t likely to succeed.

The group was polite but noncommittal. “We’re not married to the Democratic or Republican parties,” said Pacheco, 27. “We’re going to push what’s best for the community.”

The DREAM Act has been around for ten years and came the closest it ever did to passing in 2010 when the House cleared it in an historic vote. Yet the legislative language, and the bill’s political prospects, have dimmed in the virulent anti-immigrant climate, and many immigrants who were once youth when the DREAM Act was first introduced in 2011 are today adults. A win of any kind is long overdue. It may just be that Rubio’s ambitions and the immigrant community’s desperation can help both sides find common ground.

Colbert Shows Anti-Immigrant ‘Environmental’ Group’s Ties to Hate

Colbert Shows Anti-Immigrant 'Environmental' Group's Ties to Hate

Last night on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert and his writers thoroughly took apart a slick new TV commercial by a group called Californians For Population Stabilization. The ad uses bogus science to claim that the real environmental crisis in California is caused by undocumented immigrants. Colbert debunks that quickly, but then moves on to the source of the bad science: the Center for Immigration Studies, one of several “unbiased” organizations founded by influential nativist John Tanton, and a driving force behind SB 1070 and its copycats.

It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the first time that anti-immigrant forces have used the environment to slip their agenda into left-of-center spaces; kudos to Colbert for calling it out.

H/T to the New York State Immigrant Action Fund.

Philadelphia Public School System Braces for Dissolution

Philadelphia Public School System Braces for Dissolution

Philadelphia district staffers and education consultants have proposed a dramatic plan to close 64 Philadelphia public schools over the next five years in the face of a seemingly irreversible budget crisis. The schools would be transferred to so-called “achievement networks,” smaller pilot programs which run by charter school networks and other education nonprofits.

From the Philadelphia Public School Network Notebook:

Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen said that more direct academic services “are now going to be pushed directly into the field,” although a document sent by Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon to principals over the weekend still called for some academic services to run out of the central office.

It’s time to move away from “command and control” to a “service delivery” model for a diverse school portfolio, Knudsen said.

The plan, while saying that it is premised on giving parents more choices, doesn’t include any direct promises that schools will get what most parents say they want - smaller classes, art and music teachers, libraries, nurses, adequate security - all of which has been cut this year. And it relies on being able to attract and keep talented principals and teachers in an atmosphere of fiscal austerity, find the money to properly train and support them, and have the resources to give them the materials they need.

The plan, announced Wednesday, is aimed at closing a $218 million budget shortfall for this year alone, and a projected $1.1 billion shortfall by the year 2018. Knudsen projects that 40 percent of Philly schoolkids will be enrolled in charter schools by then.

Connecticut Gov. Malloy Signs Bill to Repeal Death Penalty

Today Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill abolishing the death penalty in his state for future crimes.

“Although it is an historic moment — Connecticut joins 16 other states and the rest of the industrialized world by taking this action — it is a moment for sober reflection, not celebration,” Malloy said in a statement, CNN reported. Malloy, a former prosecutor, said he signed the repeal in part because of the death penalty’s “unworkability.”

In the last five years, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois have all abolished their death penalty policies, CNN reported.

The compromise bill that Malloy signed states that people convicted of a capital offense will receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Connecticut still has 11 people on death row though, and the new law will not apply to them.

After Review, ICE Puts 16K of 300K Deportation Cases on Hold

After Review, ICE Puts 16K of 300K Deportation Cases on Hold

Immigration officials have suspended 16,544 deportation cases and are moving steadily through a review of nearly 300,000 cases in the deportation queue, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced this week.

The Obama administration announced the deportation review last August as a response to the searing criticism it had received for its record-breaking deportation rate that included DREAM Act-eligible youth, parents of U.S. citizen children and people who had never been convicted of anything. Immigration officials pledged to pore over the 300,000 cases of people slated for removal and administratively close the cases of those who didn’t present a threat to their communities and were not a high priority for removal.

ICE said that as of April 16, it has reviewed 219,554 pending cases of immigrants slated for deportation, and moved to suspend 7.5 percent of deportation cases. Nearly 3,000 cases have been administratively closed.

Government-Funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers Won’t Hire Non-Christians

We’ve discussed the role of Christian-centered Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in the war on women’s reproductive health rights. In a new report, The American Independent details how some CPCs funded by the government require prospective employees, volunteers and board members to “know Christ as their Savior and Lord,” provide church references or declare that they are “mature Christians” on their applications.

Take Texas, which recently gutted its family planning budget but allocated more than $8 million to its Alternatives to Abortion program. CPCs eligible for that funding seem to discriminate against non-Christian job seekers, reports the Independent:

The Life Center, a crisis pregnancy center in Midland, Texas, is looking for a new receptionist. The receptionist is expected to be bilingual in English and Spanish, proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel, and in agreement with the Life Center’s “Common Christian Beliefs.” Typed on each page of the three-page job application is: “The Life Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer” - even on the page that asks for a church reference.

Applicants for the open executive director position at the LifeTalk Resource Center in Frisco, Texas, have to prove they are “mature Christians.” The Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center is only hiring “committed Christians.”

Each of these centers appears on a list compiled and publicized by the Texas health department of organizations that offer free sonograms to pregnant women and that do not provide abortion services or referrals.

It’s not just state funding either. In South Dakota, the Rapid City Care Net CPC received Obama-era stimulus dollars for “capacity building.”


Illinois’ African Women Entrepreneurs Fight For Their Right to Braid [Video]

Illinois' African Women Entrepreneurs Fight For Their Right to Braid [Video]

Hair braiding, done with time and care rather than with harsh chemicals, has been a connecting thread for African culture for a very very long time. But until recently, due to an Illinois law, professional hair braiders in the state were legally barred from operating a business without first attending 1500 hours of cosmetology school. It’s a regulation that not only posed a major barrier in terms of money and time, but which also didn’t make any sense, since most cosmetology schools don’t teach braiding; braiders could be perfect students and learn nothing relevant. As a result, high-skill African immigrant women entrepreneurs who’d learned their trade from their mothers were being pushed underground, and were vulnerable to legal action.

Then, in September 2011, groups like the Illinois Association of Hair Braiders and the United African Organization worked with state legislators to create a separate license for hair braiders. The new license requires 300 hours of classroom and practical experience, ensuring that applicants get relevant schooling and customers get qualified professionals. It’s a real victory for Illinois’ 24,000 professional hair braiders.

In this new video created by Emmanuel García at the Crossroads Fund, whose grant to the United African Organization helped with this lobbying campaign, the folks involved this victory discuss the old law’s skewed economic impact on African immigrant women and how they worked with the system to create a solution for everyone. Inspiring stuff!

20 Years Later: Live-Tweeting the L.A. Riots as They Happened

20 Years Later: Live-Tweeting the L.A. Riots as They Happened

As part of KNBC’s 20th anniversary coverage of the L.A. Riots they’re live-tweeting the events that led to the civil unrest in Los Angeles.

Each @RealTimeLARiots tweet corresponds to the actual date and time (sometimes down to the minute) of each major event as it unfolded back in 1992.

Currently, the account is chronicling the end of the trial of four police officers accused of beating Rodney King. On April 29 at 3:15 p.m., the verdict will be announced and the account will shift focus to the riots, complete with archive footage, photos and breaking news from around Los Angeles.

Supreme Court Skeptical of Striking Down Arizona’s SB 1070

Supreme Court Skeptical of Striking Down Arizona's SB 1070

I’ve just left the Supreme Court arguments over SB 1070. Check back at Colorlines.com for more analysis and coverage throughout the week, and read our SB 1070 primer here.


The federal government got beat up today in the Supreme Court and if the Justices’ line of questioning is any sign, at least parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 are likely to stand. In the hearings, which began this morning at 10am and lasted for more than 20 minutes beyond the allotted time of an hour, the justices launched an aggressive line of questioning of the attorneys for the government and the state of Arizona.

As a general matter, the majority of the justices were skeptical of the federal government’s claim that Arizona’s SB 1070, which was enjoined soon after it’s passage by a lower court, fully preempts federal authority.

Most fundamentally, the justices took issue with the the government’s claim that the state of Arizona cannot mandate its cops to enforce immigration laws and detain undocumented immigrants. The argument here, which was central to Arizona’s appeal, is that the federal government regularly uses local police to detain undocumented immigrants through federal programs like the Secure Communities and 287g, which deputizes local police as immigration agents.

Paul Clement, who represented Arizona in the court said, “The Federal Government doesn’t like this statute, but they are very proud of their Secure Communities program. And their Secure Communities program also makes clear that everybody’s that’s booked at participating facilities is — eventually has their immigration status checked.”

He said Arizona merely, “borrowed the federal standard as its own.”

Four African Men School You on Hollywood Stereotypes [Video]

Four African Men School You on Hollywood Stereotypes [Video]

Written by Benard, Brian, Derrick, Gabriel and the Mama Hope Team the video hopes to dispel Hollywood stereotypes about African.

The video was directed and edited by Joe Sabia.

Mama Hope is a non-profit organization focused on building self-sufficient communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mama Hope partners with Community Based Organizations and invests in high impact, cost effective projects, that meet their fundamental needs for food, water, education and health care.

Immigration Status on Restaurant Health-Grade Placards Proposal Rejected in Calif. County

Immigration Status on Restaurant Health-Grade Placards Proposal Rejected in Calif. County

San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry’s proposal that would have required restaurants to inform customers if they perform immigration background checks on their employees didn’t make it through the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. San Bernardino is located 65 miles east of Los Angeles.

Derry was the only one to vote for the plan which would have color-coded the A, B and C grade cards that restaurants receive during annual health inspections. His proposal suggested the cards that restaurants are required to display include a green background for restaurants that screen their employees and a red background for those that don’t.

“I am disappointed that my colleagues ignored the health of the public and endorsed the stealing of American jobs by illegal workers during this devastating recession,” Derry said in a statement after the vote.

Derry also described the issue as a public health one.

“Citing statistics by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention that the tuberculosis rate among foreign-born residents is 11 times higher than among U.S.-born residents,” according to local San Bernardino news site PE.com.

President Obama Slow Jams the News for Student Loans

When was the last time you heard a presidential pitch for extending lowered student loan interest rates over an r&b beat? Check out President Obama’s turn as he takes part in late night host Jimmy Fallon’s “slow jamming the news” segment to promote extending Stafford loan interest rates for students from low-income families. If Congress doesn’t act interest rates are set to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent come July.

As it turns out, GOP candidate Mitt Romney and Obama happen to be on the same page about the issue. But it was President Obama doing the talking last night. How’d he do?

Meet Madison Moore, Ph.D. Candidate in Critical Fierceness Studies at Yale

Meet Madison Moore, Ph.D. Candidate in Critical Fierceness Studies at Yale

Meet Madison Moore. He’s a Ph.D. candidate in Yale’s American Studies program, specializing in popular culture. His dissertation looks at iterations of glamour in fashion, nightlife, and music.

Moore says he came to his area of study because of fierce women in his life.

“Well, it all starts with my grandmother,” Moore told Blackbook Magazine recently. “I grew up as the only boy surrounded by a bunch of fierce divas. My grandmother and her sisters, so my great aunts I guess, would always get dressed up to the hilt to go out to the casinos (“the boat”), to church or to a concert I was in, and especially for big family parties. I’m talking rhinestones, sequins, feathers, heels, wigs—they were always taking it there.”

Feds: Bias Against Transgender Employees Is Sex Discrimination

A federal agency has ruled that discrimination against employees for being transgender is sex discrimination after a trans woman was denied a job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) when she transitioned from male to female.

Mia Macy worked in the military and law enforcement as a man, and had an expert background in ballistics—qualifications that didn’t change when she transitioned.

In its ruling, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission wrote, “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on … sex’ and such discrimination … violates Title VII.”

The decision means that Macy can now have her case reviewed by the ATF’s Office of Equal Opportunity—an opportunity she had been denied because the ATF argued trans discrimination was not covered by Title VII.

“Our national survey on transgender discrimination found staggering levels of workplace discrimination against transgender Americans,” said Rea Carey, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in reference to a recent report done in conjunction with the National Center for Transgender Equality. “This jeopardizes their ability to have or keep a job, have a roof over their head, and feed and take care of their family. Mia Macy’s situation is a case in point.”

The report found particularly high levels of both unemployment and reports of job discrimination among transgender people of color.

Two Years After BP Gulf Disaster, First Criminal Charges Arrive

It only took two years, but the Department of Justice has made its first arrest for the BP Gulf Coast oil spill, the largest oil spill to originate in the U.S.. And it’s over text messages which contained key information essential for gauging the criminal fines that BP will face.

The AP reports:

A BP engineer intentionally deleted more than 300 text messages saying the company’s efforts to control the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were failing, and that the amount of oil leaking was far more than what the company reported, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

In the first criminal charges related to the deadly explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, the Justice Department arrested Kurt Mix and charged him with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying evidence sought by federal authorities, officials announced in a statement.

TAGS: BP oil spill

Mitt Romney on College Tuition: ‘Shop Around, Find One That Has the Right Price’ [Video]

Mitt Romney on College Tuition: 'Shop Around, Find One That Has the Right Price' [Video]

Worried about student loans? Mitt Romney thinks you should just find a cheaper college.

American Bridge, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, released the video above Tuesday morning that includes a sequence of Romney’s comments on education policy.

“My best advice is find a great institution of higher learning. Find one that has the right price - shop around,” Romney says in one of the clips that was shot in a Youngstown, OH townhall.

“In America this idea of competition - it works and don’t just go to the one that has the highest price, go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education and hopefully you’ll find that and don’t take on too much debt and don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on. I know it would be popular for me to stand up and say Im going to give you government money to make sure to pay for your college but Im not going to promise that.”

Sanford Stands by Disgraced Police Chief in Trayvon Martin Case

The Sanford City Commission, in a 3-2 vote Monday afternoon refused to accept disgraced Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee’s resignation. Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett, who gave Lee a vote of “no confidence” in March for his handling of Trayvon Martin’s killing, said on Monday that he wanted to wait for an that they wanted to wait for the dust to settle to make any lasting decisions about Lee’s status.

Lee had officially offered to resign early Monday. City Manager Norton Bonaparte told commissioners that with Lee already temporarily sidelined, his resignation would allow Sanford to “move forward” after the national uproar over Martin’s death. Sanford police refused to arrest George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watchperson who shot and killed Martin, an unarmed teenager.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

“Is this something that can wait?” Triplett asked Bonaparte. “I’m not ready to have him [Lee] come back and run the Police Department yet. But I’m not ready for this, either. I’d rather wait for the investigation.”

Triplett was joined by Commissioners Patty Mahany and Randy Jones in rejecting Lee’s resignation.

According to CBS, commissioners blamed the ruckus surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death on “outsiders.”

Community Leaders in LA’s Chinatown Question if Wal-Mart Bribed City Officials

Community Leaders in LA's Chinatown Question if Wal-Mart Bribed City Officials

On Sunday, The New York Times made international headlines when it published an investigation that found executives from Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary reportedly used systematic bribery to receive expedited building permits across the country.

Now community leaders in Los Angeles say they’re suspicious of how Wal-Mart received building permits just hours before the city council voted unanimously to block the retail giant from building in Chinatown.

“Walmart fueled its rapid expansion in Mexico with millions in bribes paid to get building permits and land use approvals through quickly. Last month, Wal-Mart suspiciously received building permits only about 12 hours before the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to temporarily block those permits,” James Elmendorf, Deputy Director, of LAANE told Colorlines.com.

Net Migration from Mexico Has Been at Zero Since 2007, Deportations Still at Record High

Net Migration from Mexico Has Been at Zero Since 2007, Deportations Still at Record High

After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom entered the country without papers—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped—and may have reversed, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of multiple government data sets from both countries.

“We don’t know whether the wave will resume, but we do know that the current standstill is more than just a temporary pause,” said Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. “Net migration from Mexico has been at zero——and perhaps less——since 2007.”

“Heightened enforcement of immigration laws has made it more difficult, expensive and dangerous for Mexicans to try to enter the U.S. illegally,” said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center. “In addition, the sluggish U.S. economy has weakened the jobs magnet, and changing demographics in Mexico have reduced the pool of potential migrants.”

TAGS: immigration
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