The comprehensive immigration reform bill released today includes a broad version of the DREAM Act that will allow undocumented immigrants who came to the country before the age of 16 to apply for a green card after five years.
The DREAM Act provisions include no upper age limits for applicants, which means an immigrant who came to the U.S at the age of 10 and is now 60 can apply for a green card after five years. Past iterations of the bill that did not pass have excluded immigrants over the age of 30 from applying for permanent residency.
Leading advocates for the DREAM Act say the provisions are as strong as they could have hoped.
“We’re really excgted about these parts,” said Myrna Orozco, field director for the group United We Dream. “It’s a long time coming, and there are really good measures in it.”
But she said, the group is concerned that the broader path to citizenship will take too long. In the past, UWD has called for a 7 year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“Thirteen years is very long time, especially for older people, for our parents and grandparents,” she said. “We’ll fight to change that.”
Under the DREAM provisions, most immigrants who entered the country as children and who have been enrolled in college for two years, graduated from college or served in the military for at least four years will be allowed to apply for a green card five years after they’re granted the new Registered Provisional Immigrant status. Most other immigrants have to wait 10 years for a green card under the bill. Like all other immigrants, DREAM applicants will have to pass a criminal background check.
The DREAM movement, a vast network of young undocumented immigrants, has transformed the political landscape on immigration reform in recent years. DREAM-eligible youth have led coming-out campaigns to reveal their status to the public and demand a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants. Last year, the Obama administration granted DREAM youth “deferred action” from deportation and the right to work in the U.S. The program was a major victory for the movement, but DREAMer groups kept their eyes honed on citizenship.
The comprehensive immigration reform bill, released early this morning by a group of eight Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, includes provisions to reunite families separated by immigration detention and deportation. It also includes provisions to keep U.S. citizen children of deported parents from languishing in foster care, a problem Colorlines has documented, and to protect deportees from losing parental rights.
Since 2011, Colorlines.com has reported on the the fallout of immigration enforcement on families and children. An investigation we released in late 2011 found there are thousands of children stuck in foster care with deported parents. Data I obtained in December revealed that approximately about 23 percent of deportees have U.S. citizen children. Over 200,000 moms and dads of U.S. citizens were removed in a period of just over two years, according to government records. An unknown number of deportees leave their partners or parents behind.
I reported on Monday that the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act would allow some deported immigrants with U.S. citizen children, parents or spouses to petition to return to the United States and apply for the Registered Provisional Immigrant visa—the 10 year visa that leads to a green card. That’s the case, though the path back may not be an easy one. The bill also includes protections so that children of deportees are not stuck in foster care in the future.
The long awaited Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill was released early this morning by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The landmark bill promises to dramatically realign the U.S. immigration system by creating a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants and others, while overhauling the existing systems to immigrate to the United States. The so-called Gang of Eight, a group of four Republicans and four Democrats has been drafting the bill for months, wrangling over the fine points and the always heated politics of migration.
The bill, at its core, is a product of compromise and, as with all attempts at immigration reform in the last generation, it tilts to the right. It leaves some undocumented immigrants without solutions by cutting them out of the path to citizenship with prohibitive fees, date cutoffs and strict criminal background checks. And the bill allocates billions of dollars to border enforcement, including resources to prosecute criminally greater numbers of people crossing back into the United States after deportation.
At the same time, on a number of points—including the bill’s inclusion of a path to legal status for some deportees with spouses and children in the U.S., and an inclusive version of the DREAM Act—the legislation goes beyond what many reform advocates believed attainable.
This obvious point-counterpoint is what President Obama suggested when he said yesterday, “This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me.”
Parent trigger advocates are now two for three, and their biggest win yet came Tuesday afternoon when the Los Angeles Unified School District school board approved a proposal to overhaul 24th Street Elementary put forth by parents at the school.
Parents approved the proposal for themselves in a special parents-only election held last Tuesday. The plan will bring the school district and Crown Prep Academy, a charter school, together to run a pre-K through 8th grade school on the 24th Street campus. It is the first time that an attempt to invoke the parent trigger has sailed through without a court order.
“This is truly an historic vote for an historic partnership arrangement,” said Ben Austin, the executive director for Parent Revolution, which lobbies for parent trigger laws and organizes parents to make use of California’s version of the tool.
California’s Parent Empowerment Act of 2010 allows parents at schools with chronically low test scores to demand a host of sweeping reforms if they garner more than 50 percent of parental support from a school. Previous attempts to invoke the parent trigger, in Compton and in a small Southern California desert town named Adelanto, were divisive and acrimonious—both ended up in the courts.
At 24th Street, as in the Compton and Adelanto schools, the parents that Parent Revolution organized are predominantly low-income parents of color who’ve long struggled to improve their children’s education. Especially for parents who’ve been locked out of the school reform debate, the parent trigger can appear to be a long-awaited solution to their political disenfranchisement. But the parent trigger is a complicated tool, not least of which because the tactic has attracted the support of a host of conservative groups—from ALEC to the Walton Family Foundation. Critics of the parent trigger have accused Parent Revolution of astroturfing its way across communities of color in order to advance a narrow market-based school reform agenda.
“We thank the school board for its vote of support,” 24th Street parent activist Amabilia Villeda said in a statement released by Parent Revolution. “We are very confident this partnership arrangement will make the difference for our children.”
Los Angeles Unified school board member Marguerite LaMotte, whose district zone includes 24th Street said before logging the board’s only vote against the plan, “Our students are not for sale.”
This post has been updated since publication.
Mississippi will be able to hold on to its last remaining abortion clinic.
Here’s more from a press release from the Center for Reproductive Rights:
Judge Daniel P. Jordan III wrote in his opinion: “Closing [the clinic] doors would—as the state seems to concede in this argument—force Mississippi women to leave Mississippi to obtain a legal abortion…[The state’s position in this case] would result in a patchwork system where constitutional rights are available in some states but not others.”
This ruling isn’t final—the state can still appeal—but it does block the law from going into effect for the time being. The New York Times’ Campbell Robertson wrote that the victory keeps Mississippi “at least temporarily, from becoming the first state in the country without an abortion clinic.”
Last year, Mississippi residents voted against an amendment that would have outlawed abortion in the state. As a result, Mississippi’s anti-choice lawmakers just made it a lot harder for abortion clinics to operate in the state by requiring doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges for their patients to enter local hospitals. Those privileges are extremely hard to get.
Judge Jordan’s ruling this week blocks the state from revoking the licenses of Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic.
Law enforcement officials said Tuesday that a Saudi student who was injured during the violence in Boston yesterday is a witness, not a suspect. That clarification has become important in the aftermath of Monday’s tragic events. False and racially coded reports have surfaced over the past 24 hours speculating that the Saudi student in question was somehow responsible.
Here’s more from the Washington Post:
The Saudi, who is recuperating at a Boston hospital, is in his 20s and is in the United States on a Saudi scholarship to study at a university in the Boston area.
The federal officials’ explanation echoed comments by a Saudi official at the country’s embassy in Washington. The embassy official said that a Saudi national has been questioned as a witness but is not regarded as a suspect. The Saudi official cited information provided to the embassy by U.S. law enforcement officials.
“We’re not aware of any Saudi suspect or Saudi person of interest,” said the Saudi official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary nature of the information.
The young man sustained serious injuries and reportedly volunteered to have his home searched by investigators, according to the Post.
Maria Tallchief, the first Native American prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet, died Thursday at age 88. In her decades-long career, she was instrumental in elevating her companies and her choreographers to stardom, turning once-unfavored productions like “The Nutcracker” into modern classics. For many, she was the quintessential American ballerina, providing a presence to answer to Europe’s and Russia’s centuries of tradition.
Tallchief, née Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief, was born in 1925 to an Osage Indian father and Scottish-Irish mother, and grew up on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma. Interested in dance from a young age, her mother was a perpetual source of encouragement, enrolling her and her sister Marjorie in ballet lessons when the family moved to Los Angeles. As the New York Times wrote:
Ms. Tallchief remained closely identified with her Osage lineage long after she found fame and glamour in Paris and New York, and she bridled at the enduring stereotypes and misconceptions many held about American Indians. Recalling her youth in her memoir, she wrote of a dance routine that she and her sister were asked to perform at Oklahoma country fairs, making both of them “self-conscious.”
“It wasn’t remotely authentic,” she wrote. “Traditionally, women didn’t dance in Indian tribal ceremonies. But I had toe shoes on under my moccasins, and we both wore fringed buckskin outfits, headbands with feathers, and bells on our legs. We’d enter from opposite wings, greet each other, and start moving to a tom-tom rhythm.”
The performance ended with Marjorie performing “no-handed back-flip somersaults.”
While Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief changed her name to Maria Tallchief for the stage, she resisted the suggestion to Russianize it to ‘Tallchieva’ (though she did play Anna Pavlova in the 1952 Esther Williams film Million Dollar Mermaid). Maria and Marjorie Tallchief were two of five Native prima ballerinas on the scene at the time, all born in Oklahoma a few years apart.
The video above includes amateur silent film footage of her star-making 1949 performance of “Firebird,” choreographed for her by George Balanchine, her first husband. It’s some of the only footage that exists of her peforming “Firebird,” and it’s grainy and shaky, but it gives one a sense of what it must have been like at the Osage reservation when Maria Tallchief first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Below, Tallchief discusses her identity as a Native American and as a ballerina: “You see, I think it is an innate thing in the American Indian to want to move, to want to dance. This is the way we are. We express our happiness, or our sorrow, in dance. This is the heritage.”
Earvin Johnson III — aka EJ — has a lot to be thankful for these days. He’s the son of NBA legend and businessman Magic Johnson, he’s out and proud, and he has the complete support of his high-profile parents.
In an interview posted on a YouTube talk show, EJ talked openly about being outed publicly by Hollywood gossip site TMZ. Here’s a recap from ESPN:
“I always wanted to come into the spotlight,” he said. “I always had dreams and plans of doing my own thing and creating my own image, so it came a little sooner than I thought it would but this is still something I knew I would be going through and would have to experience.”
…”It’s almost like they’re attacking me for being me and so to that I can only say, ‘Well, I can only be myself, so I don’t know really what you want me to do,’” he told “Gwissues” host and interviewer Howard Bragman, a publicist who recently began representing Johnson.
“I am very, very, very blessed to have the family that I do,” E.J. Johnson said. “My parents have always been super supportive. My sister and I have always been really close and she’s been really supportive as with my brother. When it was time to come out, I was, obviously, scared as most people are. After I got all the love and support from my family then I knew I could go out and conquer the world, I guess.”
Johnson said he first came out to his mother, who approached him when he was 13 or 14.
“I told her how I was feeling and she obviously told me that she had known and always would love me anyway. The same thing happened with my dad like a year or so later,” he said. “Everyone has to get used to it. No parent is prepared 100 percent and fully for something like that. We all had to work and move forward.”
Check out more at ESPN.
Update: April 16, 2013 at 12:54 EST: Magic came to his son’s defense after black blogs attacked EJ’s fabulosity last week.
Yesterday I reported that the Gang of Eight immigration bill would provide some deported immigrants with immediate family in the U.S. the opportunity to apply to return. Today, the Senate group released a 17-page summary of the bill that confirms the legislation will permit some parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to appy to come back. Similarly, DREAM Act eligible youth who were deported would also be permitted to apply to return.
The summary text reads:
“Individuals outside of the United States who were previously here before December 31, 2011 and were deported for non-criminal reasons can apply to re-enter the United States in RPI status if they are the spouse, of or parent of a child who is, United States citizen or lawful permanent resident; or are a childhood arrival who is eligible for the DREAM Act.”
Approximately 22 percent people deported under the Obama administration have children who are U.S. citizens, according to data obtained last year by Colorlines.com. Many families would have the opportunity to reunite if the provision becomes law. Most immigration reform advocates thought such a provision an impossibility and several Beltway advocates told me it will take a fight to keep the deportee return text of final legislation.
Homeland Security officials have said that nearly three-quarters of deported parents were removed because of criminal convictions. Those deportees will likely be barred from returning, though it’s not clear if parents, spouses and DREAMers deported for minor infractions like traffic violations will be allowed to apply to return.
Yesterday, NPR officially launched its new ‘Code Switch’ blog, a team of folks dedicated to the evolving relationship between race and culture as it plays out in the headlines. And while they’ve been posting for a few days already — listen to their conversation about Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s ‘Accidental Racist’ debacle — things got serious this morning with lead blogger Gene Demby’s inaugural multimedia longread for the site, the must-read 4,000-word “When Our Kids Own America.”
Demby, who also runs the indispensable PostBourgie.com, lays out reporting from across the nation and the Internet, from communities where appropriation and gentrification can no longer be thought of as black-and-white. In talking with linguists and teenagers alike about everything from Macklemore on the Billboard charts to Egyptian protesters getting arrested for doing the Harlem Shake, the story is complicated at minimum.
The bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill expected to be released as early as tomorrow will allow some deported immigrants to apply for waivers to return to the U.S., according to two people who have seen the draft legislation. The provision, according to sources, will permit deportees whose children, parents or spouses are United States citizens or legal permanent residents to ask the government for permission to come back. Immigration reform advocates considered a provision like this unattainable at the outset of negotiations.
The separation of hundreds of thousands of families because of deportation has in recent years become a core rallying cry for advocates pushing for immigration reform. The majority of undocumented immigrants have families in the United States and nearly half are the parents of young children.
In December, Colorlines.com reported government data, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, that revealed that nearly 205,000 mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens children were deported in a period of just over two years.
The deportation of parents and spouses as well as children of citizens and residents has left many families and communities in shambles. Thousands of children are stuck in foster care when their parents are deported, according to a 2011 Colorlines.com investigation.
The return would not be automatic and many deportees who wish to return would likely be denied a waiver, sources said. Those who were convicted of many crimes would not be allowed back and sources were not sure when deportees could start to apply. But many immigrants who would have been eligible for provisional immigration status under the reform bill had they not been deported will be permitted to apply to return to their families.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio schooled rapper Jay-Z on several Sunday morning political shows this weekend. Rubio complained about Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé Knowles’ recent trip to Cuba and also criticized the rapper for wearing Che Guevara t-shirts.
“I think Jay-Z needs to get informed,” Rubio said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “One of his heroes is Che Guevara. Che Guevara was a racist. Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he’s propping up.”
The self-identified conservative newspaper The Examiner points out there is truth to Rubio’s comments but “what Rubio failed to disclose, however, was that Guevara had written such when he was in his twenties. In his later years, Guevara openly confessed to being a changed person.”
As Afro Punk points out, Guevara does have a complex history. It’s a subject many scholars have written about but the blog offers some succinct context:
He’s one of the poster children of revolutionaries. He’s on t-shirts, posters, coasters, the works. But I have to ask myself, why would any self respecting black person, African American, person of color, self proclaimed nigger, revolutionist or whatever deem themselves, honor or respect Che’ Guevara, after reading the following passage from his diary?
[Excerpt from Guevara’s journal entries:]
“The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese.”
“The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.”
It hurts reading that doesn’t it? And I’m sure by now you’ve already set in motion the plot to spread the news of what you’ve just learned. Well before you get you daily exercise of flying off the handle, jumping the gun and jumping to conclusions, those passages where written when he was around 24 years old and first had contact with blacks (what an observation to make of a black person after just meeting us, sheesh!!) and in his later years openly confessed that he was a changed person. He went so far as to fight with an all black army as well as pushing for racially integrating the schools in Cuba, years before they were racially integrated here at home.
Rubio, a Cuban-American, went on to say if the rapper really wanted to take an interest in what’s going on in Cuba, he should have met with oppressed people.
“I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics,” Rubio said. “And I think he missed an opportunity.”
The Washington Post reported Rubio may have been referring to Angel Remon Yunier Arzuaga, whom the senator tweeted about last week. The Cuban rapper was put in jail for lyrics protesting against the Cuban government.
Rick Ross is reeling. The rapper started a huge controversy recently after bragging about date rape in a new song, and last week Reebok ended its endorsement deal wit him. The move is a big win for those organizing against sexism in hip-hop. But over at Organizing Upgrade, Nation Institute fellow Dani McClain asks an important question: “How do we build a sustained effort that holds accountable the people who scout the acts, sign the deals, provide the platform and make the even bigger money?”
McClain draws on her experience as a former online organizer to help others thing long term about the sustained change they’d like to see in the industry.
From Organizing Upgrade:
Who’s your target? What business entity is responsible for the lyric and others like it? Pick a place that prides itself on having a family-friendly brand or claims to be committed to communities of color. Your goal will be to convince the company that it can’t afford to be associated with treating sexual assault nonchalantly.
What is one thing you want your target to do? That’s your ask. Ideally, there should be one ask and one target. The ask is something that could be accomplished within a short amount of time, not a way for you to state your values. Call on your target to do a specific thing that you know - through research - is within their power to make happen.
Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish Council passed an ordinance Wednesday night that will impose fines for anyone who wears pants below the waist in public that expose underwear or what police and the courts determine to be too much skin.
Under the law, violators would face these fines:
- $50 for the first offense.
- $100 for the second offense.
- $100 and 16 hours of community service for a third offense and subsequent offenses.
- “Appearing in public view while exposing one’s skin or undergarments below the waist is contrary to safety, health, peace and good order of the parish and the general welfare,” the ordinance says.
Jerome Boykin, president of the Terrebonne NAACP, expressed his support for the law.
“There is nothing positive about people wearing saggy pants,” Boykin told the Courier. “This is not a black issue, this is not a white issue, this is a people issue.”
According to the latest Census data, 68% of Terrebonne residents are white, 19% are black, 5% American Indians, 4% Latino and 1% Asian.
There were a few unlikely pairings at the Coachella music festival this past weekend.
The XX teamed up with Solange Knowles to cover Aaliyah’s “Hot Like Fire.” (Video above.)
Grammy-winning French indie rock band Phoenix brought R&B singer R. Kelly as their special guest on stage. He joined Phoenix for a mash-up of his hit single “Ignition” with Phoenix’s hit “1901”.
Earl Sweatshirt was also joined by Flying Lotus and Tyler, the Creator on stage Friday.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., broke Sunday TV interview records by appearing on all five major English language networks and the two leading Spanish language stations. And he was on repeat.
The Daily Beast compiled the video sequence at the top of the page that illustrates how Rubio recycled his talking points.
For analysis on Rubio’s immigration talking points from Sunday read Seth Freed Wessler’s story published this morning.
The Port Canaveral, Fla., Port Authority police sergeant who was fired after he brought shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin to a firearms training says he’s the victim of another sergeant’s political agenda. Sergeant Ron King was fired last Thursday for offering two fellow officers shooting targets with Trayvon’s likeness wearing a hoodie and holding a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea—items the young teen was holding when he was killed just an hour away from where the gun training was held.
King published a 5-minute video to YouTube on Saturday to say he’s the victim of a scheme based on “lies, false information and political agenda.” King went on to say he had no intention of using Trayvon’s likeness for target practice, instead, his intention was to use them as a training tool for “a no-shoot situation.”
King went on to say his accusers are using “the Martin family and [himself] as a way to further their own political and career agendas.”
“To the Martin Family, I would like to apologize again for those law enforcement officials that chose to use your son’s death as an element for their personal and political gains. I assure you the use of these targets that are in question is to prevent a tragedy from taking place,” King said in the video.
Port Canaveral officials say the Trayvon shooting targets were inappropriate any way you look at it.
“Whether his act was hatred or stupidity, none is tolerable,” John Walsh, CEO of Port Canaveral, told local news station WFTV.
In a statement from Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family, he said “Using a dead child’s image as target practice is reprehensible.”
Jamie Foxx appeared at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night wearing a T-shirt in honor of teenager Trayvon Martin and the Sandy Hook victims.
“Just a little blip just to keep our minds — not political or anything like that — just think about the children,” Foxx told MTV cameras on the red carpet before the awards ceremony. “My daughter’s here, 19 years old, so just protecting our kids that’s all,” Foxx said.
Foxx wore the Trayvon Martin t-shirt just weeks before George Zimmerman’s case goes to trial. Zimmerman, who faces a second-degree murder charge, is set to go on trial June 10.
“Before they can get their constitutional right to trial, Trayvon’s parents have to go through the ‘stand your ground’ hearing where if the judge rules in the killer’s favor, then they [the parents] never even get a jury trial by a jury of their peers so it’s so important that we stay vigilant and that we don’t forget Trayvon,” Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin’s parents, told Washington Watch earlier this year.
In February 2013 Foxx performed at a memorial for Martin and spoke to Washington Watch about why he was spending his energy bringing attention to this murder. Watch the video below.
UPDATE: 4/15/2013 12:47PM EST: In an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the trial start date.
In a furious show of support for the immigration reform bill he helped draft, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., broke Sunday TV interview records by appearing on all five major English language networks and the two leading Spanish language stations. Rubio’s unrestrained endorsement of the Gang of Eight Senate immigration bill comes after weeks of hedging by the Senator and is seen as a green light for introduction of the bill, expected as early as Tuesday.
The Florida Senator spent much of his screen time Sunday arguing the legislation will be as restrictive as it is generous. He told CBS’s Face the Nation the bill includes the “toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world.”
Anticipating accusations by fellow Republicans that the reform legislation creates a new path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and that it amounts to “amnesty,” Rubio said that the bill will change nothing about existing routes to citizenship.
“What I’ve said in the past is that there is a pathway to citizenship, and that is the legal immigration system. And all this bill does is give people access to the legal immigration system,” Rubio said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Current laws permit undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship if they leave the country for ten years, though backlogs in the system ensure that many don’t outlive the wait times. How the legislation will clear existing green card backlogs is not clear.
The bill will include a ten-year provisional status visa for undocumented immigrants before they can apply for a green card. According to people familiar with the language and Rubio’s descriptions of its content, the journey to provisional status and ultimately toward citizenship will be a treacherous one.
“Quite frankly, it’ll be cheaper, faster and easier to leave and wait ten years than it will be to go through this process that we’ve designed,” Rubio told NBC.
The Gang of Eight legislation will exclude immigrants who arrived without papers after December 31, 2011, and is expected to allocate several billion dollars for additional border security. It will also nationalize the e-verify system to stop private employers from hiring workers who lack employment authorization.
The bill is expected to include a $2000 application fee, with $500 to be paid upfront and the rest paid over the following ten years. Applicants will be required to pass strenuous background checks and, according to Rubio, must “be gainfully employed so that you are not a public charge.”
In interviews in Spanish Rubio repeated similar talking points though softened his framing of the path to citizenship.
“I don’t believe it would be good the country to have two statuses, two different types of people in the country,” he said on Univision’s Al Punto. “Obviously it will be difficult, but it will also be fair. People will have access to work, to travel and to be here legally, and ultimately, to apply for their residency…apply for citizenship.”