DREAMers Sue U.S. Senate for Blocking DREAM Act with Filibuster

DREAMers Sue U.S. Senate for Blocking DREAM Act with Filibuster

Potential DREAM Act beneficiaries and the government watchdog group Common Cause have joined as plaintiffs to sue the U.S. Senate for blocking DREAM Act legislation with the filibuster rule. The 52-page complaint argues that the filibuster allows senators representing as little as 11 percent of the population to prevent votes in the Senate.

“Most Americans have lost confidence in Congress and its ability to act in the best interest of the American public,” Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause said in a statement. “They have good reason. Congress is mired in gridlock as partisan factions put political advantage over the national interest. Requiring 60 votes to do anything in the Senate is a big part of the problem. It creates a disincentive to compromise, and allows powerful special interests to call the shots behind closed doors.”

Representing the plaintiffs is attorney Emmet Bondurant of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore. The National Law Journal named Bondurant one of the top ten trial lawyers in the United States. He has litigated critical civil rights and constitutional law cases over his career.

Below are more details on the DREAMers involved in the lawsuit, via a press release by Common Cause:

Plaintiffs in the case also include members of Congress and three promising young people whose future in America is being held hostage because of the filibuster of the DREAM Act.

Congressional plaintiffs include U.S. Reps John Lewis, D-GA., Michael Michaud, D-ME., Hank Johnson, D-GA, and Keith Ellison, D-MN, all of whom have seen legislation they sponsored win overwhelming bipartisan support in the House only to be denied debate and a vote in the Senate because of the filibuster.

Plaintiffs Erika Andiola, Ceasar Vargas and Celso Mireles were brought as children to the U.S. from Mexico by their parents. Each earned a college degree with honors and would be on track to become a U.S. citizen under an immigration reform measure, the DREAM Act. Passed in the House of Representatives, and supported by a majority of Senators, the DREAM Act was killed when just 41 senators refused to end the filibuster blocking it.

Details on this case are emerging. will bring you more information as it becomes available.


Newsweek Cover Calls Obama ‘First Gay President’ [Photo]

time-mag-cover.jpgNewsweek Magazine isn’t going let TIME Magazine steal all the headlines with controversial covers. Last week’s TIME mag cover included an image of a mother breast feeding her son, now Newsweek’s cover includes an image of President Obama with a rainbow halo above his head with the headline “The First Gay President.”

The cover story is said to focus on President Obama’s recent shift on gay marriage.

“Obama’s earned every stripe in this haloed rainbow,” Newsweek’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown wrote on Twitter.

The cover story was written by openly gay Newsweek contributor Andrew Sullivan. Newsweek has released an excerpt in which Sullivan argues the president’s move to support same-sex marriage was not just a political ploy.


“When you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work,” Sullivan writes.

Sullivan goes on to draw comparisons between Obama’s growing up in a white household and the experience of gays who grow up in heterosexual families.

“He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family,” Sullivan writes.

Jay-Z: Same Sex Marriage Opposition ‘Holding the Country Back’

Jay-Z: Same Sex Marriage Opposition 'Holding the Country Back'

On Monday, rapper Jay-Z told CNN’s Poppy Harlow he supports gay marriage.

When asked what he thought about President Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriages, the hip-hop superstar said: “I’ve always thought it as something that was still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.”

When asked if he thought Obama’s comments would hurt his re-election campaign, Jay-Z said, “I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s not about votes. It’s about people. It’s the right thing to do as a human being.”

In the interview Jay-Z also admitted to being unfamiliar with Romney, and said he did not “want to talk about the man.”

FBI Considering Hate Crime Charge in Trayvon Martin Death

FBI Considering Hate Crime Charge in Trayvon Martin Death

George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman from Florida charged in the killing of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, could face federal hate crime charges, Orlando’s WFTV reports.

FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses in the retreat at the Twin Lakes neighborhood, seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge.

If Zimmerman is convicted of the second-degree murder charge, he could face life in prison, but a hate crime charge could mean he would face the death penalty, WFTV reports.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said, “What the government would have to prove is that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African Americans. That’s why he came into contact with him. That’s why he shot and killed him.”

Gay Teen Expelled in Stun Gun School Case Attacked at Mall

Gay Teen Expelled in Stun Gun School Case Attacked at Mall

An openly gay Indianapolis teen who made national headlines last week for bringing a stun gun to school to ward of bullies was attacked at a local mall Friday.

Darnell “Dynasty” Young, 17, says he was expelled because he fired a stun gun in the air to ward off bullies that were physically and emotionally abusive. Young’s mother told Anderson Cooper last week she gave her son the stun gun after school officials repeatedly ignored her request to protect her son.

The teen’s alleged attacker, Khyran R. Delay, 34, has been charged with battery.

Indianapolis’ with more details:

According to court documents, Delay told mall security officers that he recognized 17-year-old Darnell “Dynasty” Young from news coverage of his story and tried to talk to Young about it. He said Young got in his face and that he pushed Young.

But Young and Donald Richardson, a janitor who witnessed the incident, told police that when Young walked past Delay’s table in the food court, Delay told Young to get away from him and used homophobic slurs. They said that Delay pushed Young and then hit him in the face, according to court documents. Richardson said he radioed for mall security, and then Delay came toward him because he was mad that Richardson had called security. Security officers arrived and detained Delay.

The IndyStar reports Young’s supporters have organized a rally to raise awareness about bullying Tuesday night before an Indianapolis Public Schools school board meeting.

NY and MA Forced to Join Secure Communities Despite Opposition

NY and MA Forced to Join Secure Communities Despite Opposition

secure_communities_100510.gifDespite opposition from the governors of New York and Massachusetts, federal immigration authorities are moving forward to implement Secure Communities in both states.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials e-mailed police and state leaders to inform them the controversial federal program that checks the immigration status of anyone booked in local and county jails would be activated “in all remaining jurisdictions” Tuesday.

Initially, ICE told localities and states that Secure Communities would be optional but then backpedaled and is now on track to implement finger print-based deportation program in every county in the country by next year.

“In many ways, tomorrow’s activation is just more of the same—Secure Communities has been expanding to new states for four years and the states are just the lastest additions. But the states, especially New York, have huge immigrant populations, and so large numbers of people are likely to be deported once the government flicks the on-switch tomorrow,” said’s investigative reporter Seth Freed Wessler.

Wessler points out New York City already has a relationship with ICE when non-citizens are arrested, but by implementing the Secure Communities program, the path from booking to detention will be streamlined and more people with even lower level charges are likely to be deported as a result. “It’s well documented that the NYPD engaged in systemic practices of racial targeting in its stop and frisk program. The Secure Communities program will now feed on arrests from this profiling,” Wessler said.

Transgender Woman Dies in Fire, So Of Course the News Is About Wild Sex

Transgender Woman Dies in Fire, So Of Course the News Is About Wild Sex

A twenty-five year old woman was found dead in a four-story Brooklyn apartment building that caught on fire early Saturday morning. Police identified the victim as Lorena Escalera.

The New York Times on the other hand identified the woman that died in the fire as “curvaceous,” someone who “drew admiring glances” in her “gritty Brooklyn neighborhood,” and noted she was known to invite men for visits to her apartment.

Just to make sure we’re all on the same a page, a woman was found dead and the first sentence in the New York Times story about the incident was: “She was 25 and curvaceous, and she often drew admiring glances in the gritty Brooklyn neighborhood where she was known to invite men for visits to her apartment, her neighbors and the authorities said.”

The two Times writers Al Baker and Nate Schweber said Escalera was “called Lorena,” as opposed to saying she was “named Lorena” or that she simply was Lorena.

The story that should have been about an apartment fire or even a suspicious fire instead turned in to the reporters interviewing neighbors about who Escalera was supposedly sleeping with and how she dressed.

New York City Becoming Less Dominican, More Mexican, Census Finds

New York City Becoming Less Dominican, More Mexican, Census Finds

More Dominicans left New York City than arrived since 2000 while the growth of Mexican immigrants nearly bumped them ahead of South Americans into third place among Latinos in NYC, according to Census data analysed by the population division of the NYC Department of City Planning.

If the trend continues, Mexicans are “poised” to overtake Puerto Ricans and Dominicans among mothers giving birth in the city. The New York Times’ City Room blog points out “birthrates among Mexican immigrants in North Corona, Queens, are nearly as high as among Orthodox Jews in central Brooklyn, who have one of the highest birthrates of any group in the city.”

Latinos are New York City’s second-largest ethnic group, making up 28% of the city’s 8.2 million residents. More than one in four New Yorkers is Latino.

Florida Black Woman Gets 20 Years After Failed ‘Stand Your Ground’ Defense

Florida Black Woman Gets 20 Years After Failed 'Stand Your Ground' Defense

On Friday, a Florida judge charged Marissa Alexander with three counts of aggravated assault and sentenced her to 20 years in prison for firing a “warning shot” in front of her abusive ex-husband. No one was hurt in the incident but because of a controversial Florida law the 31-year old woman is now facing a mandatory 20-years in prison.

Her attorneys wanted a new trial based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law but the Judge presiding the case disagreed.

Obama Proclamation Urges You Show Your ‘Love, Respect, and Gratitude to Mothers Everywhere’

Obama Proclamation Urges You Show Your 'Love, Respect, and Gratitude to Mothers Everywhere'

An excerpt from President Obama’s Proclamation on Mother’s Day signed earlier this week:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 8, 2011, as Mother’s Day. I urge all Americans to express their love, respect, and gratitude to mothers everywhere, and I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

It’s a beautifully written proclamation but he stuck to the idea that mothers are only female mothers and grandmothers… but we all know mothers come in many different forms.

Even Gun Enthusiasts Are Disgusted With Trayvon Martin Gun Range Targets

Even Gun Enthusiasts Are Disgusted With Trayvon Martin Gun Range Targets

An unidentified man has been selling gun range targets of a black silhouette wearing a hoodie and holding a bag skittles.

A pack of 10 targets were $8 dollars and according to the seller the response has been “overwhelming” and he’s sold out.

Orlando’s Local 6 reports:

Local 6 has been unable to determine the identity of the seller, who had also set up a website to sell the gun range targets.

In an email exchange with reporter Mike DeForest, the seller wrote, “My main motivation was to make money off the controversy.”

The seller would not disclose how many paper targets had been made, but said in an email, “The response is overwhelming. I sold out in 2 days.”

Some of those targets were sold to two Florida gun dealers, according to the seller.

Before DeForest identified himself as a reporter, the seller claimed that targets were still available for purchase. After being informed Local 6 was investigating his online business, the seller claimed the targets would no longer be sold.

Firearm owners are buzzing about the Trayvon Martin targets on several gun enthusiast websites.
Visit Local 6’s website to watch a video report.

Black Leaders Say Obama Won’t Lose Support Because of Gay Marriage

Since President Obama affirmed his support for gay marriage Wednesday a lot has been said about how this will affect his re-election campaign. The big question on everyone’s mind has been: how will this affect black voters who in 2008 came out to vote for Obama in record numbers.

The Root’s Cynthia Gordy posed this question to three black leaders with insight from different spectrums of the black community: a black minister; a black LGBT activist and a scholar on the African-American electorate.

Sheriff Arpaio Unfazed by DOJ Lawsuit: ‘I Can be Re-elected on Pink Underwear’

Sheriff Arpaio Unfazed by DOJ Lawsuit: 'I Can be Re-elected on Pink Underwear'

The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit in federal court Thursday against Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, after it found the department consistently discriminated against Latinos.

The lawsuit comes after an independent investigation that began in June 2008 found the MCSO engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing that included racial profiling in traffic stops, immigration operations and discriminating against Spanish speakers in the county jails.

The DOJ tried to negotiate an agreement with Arpaio to avoid a lawsuit until last month when Arpaio tried to stall negotiations.

TAGS: DOJ joe arpaio

Trayvon Martin’s Mom Has a Special Mother’s Day Message

Trayvon Martin's Mom Has a Special Mother's Day Message

“This will be my first Mother’s Day without my son, Trayvon. I know it will be hard, but with my faith, family, and the outpouring of national support, I will get through,” Sybrina Fulton says in a video released Friday on

Fulton, the mother of Florida shooting victim Trayvon Martin, is asking parents nationwide to support the Second Chance on Shoot First campaign, a new national campaign working to reform, repeal and prevent passage of new Florida-style “Shoot First” laws around the country.

“I’m asking you to join Florida by calling upon the governor of your state to re-examine similar Stand Your Ground laws throughout the nation to keep our families safe. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The Second Chance on Shoot First campaign partners include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, National Urban League, the NAACP, ColorOfChange, National Action Network, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil and Human Rights and VoteVets.

Artist Puts Fake Gardeners Near Clooney’s House Before Obama Fundraiser

street-art-ramiro-gardeners-2.jpgRamiro Gomez painted the piece above specifically for Obama’s visit. (Photo: Jorge Rivas/ Click image to enlarge.

Ramiro Gomez says he’s wanted to place his cardboard paintings of Latino domestic workers and gardeners in front of locations that President Obama has visited but it’s just never worked out.

But this time around it was different.

Obama is expected to arrive in Los Angeles Thursday evening to attend a fundraiser at George Clooney’s house off Laurel Canyon in the Studio City area. Less than a mile away from where Gomez himself is a domestic worker by day.

Gomez, 25, who identifies as a “male nanny,” says he didn’t have to work too hard within his network to find Clooney’s address.

“Every other piece I’ve done has been on a non-news day but today is a busy day,” Gomez told as he was putting his pieces up on a cross-street leading up to Clooney’s home.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that the 150-person guest list includes the likes of Barbra Streisand, Robert Downey Jr., and Tobey Maguire. With tickets reportedly going for $40,000 each, a conservative estimate for tonight’s fundraiser is $6 million.

U.N. Official Recommends U.S. Return Mt. Rushmore to Sioux

U.N. Official Recommends U.S. Return Mt. Rushmore to Sioux

A United Nations human rights official has recommended the U.S. turn over control of lands considered to be sacred to Native Americans, including the site of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

James Anaya, a UN fact-finder on the rights of indigenous peoples, presented his recommendations in Geneva last Friday after completing a 12-day visit to the U.S. where he met with representatives of indigenous peoples in six states.

‘I have heard stories that make evident the profound hurt that indigenous peoples continue to feel because of the history of oppression they have faced,’ Mr Anaya said in a statement.  For over a century, he said, the government had seized lands and resources from Native Americans, removed children from their families and communities, caused the loss of languages, broke treaties with tribes and oppressed the indigenous peoples on the grounds of racial discrimination. ‘The sense of loss, alienation and indignity is pervasive throughout Indian Country,’ Anaya said.

Anaya’s findings will be included in a final report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.

Cancer Patients Remind Us ‘What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger’

Cancer Patients Remind Us 'What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger'

Lots of readers have left comments or sent messages about being disappointed with recent news—specifically, the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina that banned gay marriage.

Yesterday we were reminded by LGBTQ North Carolinians that the true victory was their “renewed commitment to each other and solidarity with all families.”

And sometimes we just need a clear and concise reminder: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

It’s a phrase the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche coined in the 1800s and it’s been proven by several studies that small amounts of trauma can make us more resilient.

But sometimes you have to see it to believe it.

A group of pediatric cancer patients in Seattle are sharing their strength with the world and reminding us “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And they have smiles to prove it.

HBO and VICE Partner for News Magazine Show, International Stories Expected

HBO is partnering with the snark-fueled culture and fashion magazine VICE on a news magazine show to be hosted by VICE founder Shane Smith. The weekly series will be executive produced by Smith, Bill Maher and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria serving as consultant.

Simply titled “VICE,” the new HBO series will showcase a mix of stories from around the globe. Among the segments in production for possible inclusion in the show are: Taliban child suicide bombers; North Korean slave labor camps; New York’s underground voodoo heroin clinics; Somalian pirates; and Satanic dentists in the Pacific Northwest.

While a lot of VICE Magazine’s print content demeans people regularly, a handful of their international videos have positively portrayed marginalized groups of society in ways other big media doesn’t even begin to approach.

It’s either a hit or a really big miss though so we’ll proceed with caution but with a name like Zakaria attached (he’s the host of CNN’s international affairs program GPS) there’s high hopes here.

But still, proceed with caution. People like ‘Girls’ story editor Lesley Arfin who said defecating is ‘taking Obama to the White House’ have been employed by VICE.


Violence at Rikers Island is Out of Control, Inside Sources Call it ‘House of Horror’

The Village Voice has obtained disturbing images from inside sources in New York City’s jail system that show inmates with knife wounds and beating injuries to the face, neck and arms. Documents obtained show Correction Department employees may be pitting inmates against each other to “keep order.”

The Correction Department launched a major investigation in 2008 after teen inmates beat 18-year-old Christopher Robinson to death as guards looked the other way. Documents obtained include inmate interview transcripts that show guards were deputizing inmates, often in the teen jail, and pitting them against one another in fights as a way to keep order and extort them for phone, food, and television privileges.

Several sources, told the Village Voice, that the practice is very much still in place, which is backed up by hundreds of internal Correction Department documents obtained by the Voice.

(Just a warning, link below includes graphic images.)

Luchadora DREAMer Fights for Her Life On and Off the Ring [Video]

Luchadora DREAMer Fights for Her Life On and Off the Ring [Video]

Alicia Torres Don is a luchadora who fights in the wrestling ring but she’s also fighting a daily struggle to keep her mother alive. And that’s just the beginning of her story.

The short film “The Fighter” by Joshua Davis follows Don and illustrates the complexities of the lives that many DREAMers face outside of their organizing efforts.

In the ring she is known as La Aguila Dorada, or the Golden Eagle, a luchadora character Don says she developed around her fight for justice and what is right. However, outside the ring she is best known for another fight: for the rights of undocumented youth that she says are living in a state of fear and uncertainty inside the U.S.

La Aguila Dorada” is a member of the N.C. Dream Team. ( has reported on their actions previously.)

“When I’m down and getting beat, I’m not thinking that I’m down — I’m thinking how the hell do I get out of this,” Don says in the video.

“The more involved and the more active you become, the more you realize that you’re not going to be able to do it forever — you get burned out, honestly and all of it is a result of my status and how hard it is to be an undocumented immigrant in the United States,” Don goes on to say.

“The Fighter” is part of The Undocumentary Project, a multimedia project about undocumented immigrant youth living in North Carolina.

  • Update 9/11/12: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the filmmaker as Josh David.
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