In Immigration Bill, More Criminal Prosecutions For Deportees Who Try To Return

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

One of the things I’m looking for as I cull through the Senate immigration bill are places where immigration enforcement expands. The U.S. already deports more 400,000 people each year and spends more on the border than at any point in U.S. history. It’s been widely reported that at least on the border, more is coming. Before any currently undocumented immigrants will be allowed to apply for a green card in a decade or citizenship three years later, the Department of Homeland Security will spend as much as $6.5 billion to deploy 3,500 additional border patrol guards and add walls, fences, drones and checkpoints to the southern border.

But here’s a piece that’s gained less attention. As part of this buildup, the bill expands the number of immigrants who will face criminal prosecutions for trying to come back to the country after they’re deported. People get sent to federal prison for crossing the border. They’re locked up for years.

A Synopsis (in Progress) of the Senate’s Immigration Bill

A Synopsis (in Progress) of the Senate's Immigration Bill

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

Yesterday, I spent the day reading an 844-page piece of legislation that promises to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. The big picture is this: the immigration reform bill pulls in two very different directions, as it attempts to codify the country’s troubling understanding of good and bad immigrants.

On the one hand, the bill tries to fix a system that’s done incalculable harm to millions by separating families and leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation. For example, it:

On the other hand, the bill adds more restrictions, more punishment and draws more lines in the sand about who’s welcome and who’s not. For instance, it:

In the end, the bill retains all the trappings of American public policy’s manic relationship to citizenship and migration: the country embraces some and despises others, thinks some immigrants are good immigrants and other immigrants are bad. Perhaps this is a given, but to make these decisions, it’s important to remember that these distinctions and the trades that come with them are not just about political compromise, they’re about who is included in the path to citizenship and who is left behind. About what kind of enforcement is built into the bill and who gets locked up or excluded as a result. And about whether the legal immigration system becomes more or less inclusive. It’s about lives.

I’ll be back in the details of the bill today, trying to answer a set of questions that I couldn’t get to yesterday. Follow along in our What’s in the Bill tag.

On Visas, Senate Bill Clears Family Backlog, But Closes Diversity Door

On Visas, Senate Bill Clears Family Backlog, But Closes Diversity Door

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

There’s been a lot of talk about what the immigration bill does to change existing pathways for legal immigration. Everyone in the political universe seems to agree that the country needs an expansion of visas for “high-skilled” immigrants—people with degrees in science and technology fields. Even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wants more of those visas. But Republicans often argue that in order to make space, Congress will need to cut other legal immigration routes. They usually go after two targets for the cuts: family-based visas and the Diversity Lottery program.

They appear to have won. The Senate bill makes cuts in both of those categories. The changes will strike a blow to many families and to geographic equity in who can immigrate.

Same-Sex Couples Are Not Part Of Immigration Reform Bill

Same-Sex Couples Are Not Part Of Immigration Reform Bill

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

The immigration reform bill released today by the Senate’s Gang of Eight will not include same-sex couples. Many advocates for LGBT families and for immigrants had hoped that the reform bill would include sections that side-step federal marriage laws and allow bi-national gay and lesbian couples to petition for green cards for non-citizen partners. No such language is in the bill.

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, bars same-sex couple from marriage and from federal benefits that come with legal partnership. This includes exclusion from immigration benefits. A 2011 report from the Williams Institute at UCLA estimated there are at least 40,000 same-sex couples who were barred from applying for immigration benefits available to straight couples with similar immigration status. That estimate is intentionally low and there may be many more families in this situation.

As I wrote last week:

Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced a stand-alone [Uniting American Families Act] to provide immigration petitioning rights to gay and lesbian couples. The bills drew support from a few Republicans but appear unlikely to pass on their own. Some members of Congress, including Rep. Jared Nadler, D-N.Y., who introduced one of those bills, said this week that the [same-sex couples] provision could be inserted into reform legislation once the Senate and House bills are conferenced.

“I will fight like hell to ensure that LGBT-inclusive language remains in any House and Senate conference report,” Nadler told the Blade.

But most acknowledge that the best chance for bi-national same-sex couples rests in the Supreme Court, which is currently considering the constitutionality of DOMA. If the justices overturn it, gay and lesbian couples in states with marriage equality laws could petition for green cards like other married couples.

“The reality is that when the Uniting American Families Act is not in there,” Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, told Metro Weekly yesterday. “[T]here is nothing in here for [LGBT] families, and that is not comprehensive.”

Tim Wise on Understanding the Power of Whiteness, Terrorism and Privilege

Tim Wise on Understanding the Power of Whiteness, Terrorism and Privilege

Anti-racist writer and educator Tim Wise published an essay yesterday that explores white privilege in the context of the bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon. 

Wise’s essay entitled, “Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness,” explores the cultural fallout that could result if the person (or persons) responsible for the violent marathon events turns out to be a person of color.

An excerpt from Tim Wise’s essay is below:

White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for whites to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.

White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Robert Mathews and David Lane and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page and Byron Williams and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker, among the pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize and kill, but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

And white privilege is being able to know nothing about the crimes committed by most of the terrorists listed above — indeed, never to have so much as heard most of their names — let alone to make assumptions about the role that their racial or ethnic identity may have played in their crimes.

White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we  will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

White privilege is knowing that if you are a white student from Nebraska — as opposed to, say, a student from Saudi Arabia — that no one, and I mean no one would think it important to detain and question you in the wake of a bombing such as the one at the Boston Marathon.

And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Belfast. And if he’s an Italian American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.

Read Tim Wise’s entire essay on at

Immigration Bill’s Criminal Checks Include ‘Gang Affiliation’ Without Conviction

Immigration Bill's Criminal Checks Include 'Gang Affiliation' Without Conviction

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

The immigration reform bill made public today by the Senate’s Gang of Eight will tighten ties between the criminal justice system and the immigration system. It will require all applicants to the path to citizenship, what will be called the Registered Provisional Immigrant status, to pass a stringent criminal background check. And immigrants who have been deemed to have affiliation with a gang can be barred from the provisional visa even if they’re not convicted with an actual crime.

Background Checks

Immigrants with convictions for felonies, three misdemeanors, or what’s called an “aggrevated felony” in immigration law, will be barred from the RPI status. The bill does create an exception if one of the three misdemeanors directly related to the fact of being undocumented. The provision is aimed at state laws, like those in Arizona, that attempt to criminalize immigrants for lacking papers. Broadly though, immigrants with many minor run-ins with police will be ineligible for Registered Provisional Immigrant status.

Aggravated Felonies and Judge’s Discretion

The bill does little to roll back what for years immigrant rights advocates have labeled a draconian fast track from conviction to deportation. In particular, the bill maintains a set of 1996 immigration laws that revoked judges’ discretion to stop a deportation in cases involving so-called “aggravated felonies.”

Through the phrase evokes serious crime, aggravated felonies include minor drug, theft and fraud charges, as well as failure to appear in court, and many offenses by people who were previously deported and then comes back. In these cases, judges have no power to stop a deportation even if an immigrant has lived in the U.S. nearly all of their life and has family here. Thousands of non-citizens, including green-card holders, are deported for crimes they were convicted of decades ago.

In some cases that don’t involve aggravated felonies, the bill would expand judge’s discretion to weigh the impact of deportation on family or communities members.

New Criminal Categories

The bill adds several additional categories of criminal system involvement that will bar immigrants from provisional visas and make them deportable. These include a gang related crime or association with a gang and drunken driving.

According to several people familiar with the bill drafring process, who spoke to on background, these provisions were added at the last minute because several Republicans members of the Gang of Eight perceived the legislation to be tilted in favor of Democrat’s demands.

The bill changes existing law so that any immigirant “who has been convicted of an offense for which an element was active participation in a criminal street gang” will be ineligible for legalization and can be deported.

The bill goes further, though, and bars from the path to citizenship any immigrant with established gang affiliations even if there’s no criminal charge against them. The bill reads:

“An alien who is 18 years of age or older is ineligible for registered provisional immigrant status if the [Homeland Security] Secretary determines… by clear and convincing evidence, based upon law enforcement information deemed credible by the Secretary, has, since the age of 18, knowingly and willingly participated in a such gang with knowledge that such participation promoted or furthered the illegal activity of such gang.”

As I reported in February, these gang affiliation provisions often feed on questionable police practices that peg young people of color as gang members without cause:

Belinda Escobosa Helzer, an attorney with the ACLU of Southern California, says that laws like these cast an overbroad net that encourages racial profiling. “What we’ve seen in practice in California is that a lot of youth of color are being documented as gang members because of where they live, who they went to school with, who they were walking with,” she said, not because they’ve committed a crime.

The bill also expands the consequences of drunken driving. Currently, immigrants can be deported for drunken driving convictions. But the bill would automatically remove any immigrant with three or more DUI convictions. Further, immigrants who are convicted of a single DUI after the legislation becomes law would be ineligble for immigration status.

The bill also expands punishment for non-citizens who were deported and reenter the U.S. I will get to these provisions in another post.

This post has been updated since publication.

President Obama Says He’s Not Jay-Z’s Travel Agent

President Obama Says He's Not Jay-Z's Travel Agent

DREAM Act in Senate Bill Includes No Age Cap and Faster Path to Citizenship

DREAM Act in Senate Bill Includes No Age Cap and Faster Path to Citizenship

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

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.

Immigration Bill Includes Protections for Families Broken Up by Deportation

Immigration Bill Includes Protections for Families Broken Up by Deportation

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, 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 Senate Immigration Bill Has Arrived! Here Are Its Basics

The Senate Immigration Bill Has Arrived! Here Are Its Basics

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

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.”

Los Angeles School Board OK’s Landmark Parent Trigger Proposal

Los Angeles School Board OK's Landmark Parent Trigger Proposal

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.

Federal Judge Stops Mississippi’s Anti-Choice Law — For Now

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.

Injured Saudi Man is a Witness, Not a Suspect, in Boston Marathon Violence

Injured Saudi Man is a Witness, Not a Suspect, in Boston Marathon Violence

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.

Watch Maria Tallchief, Barrier-Breaking Prima Ballerina, Perform ‘Firebird’

Watch Maria Tallchief, Barrier-Breaking Prima Ballerina, Perform 'Firebird'

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.”

Magic Johnson’s Fabulously Gay Son Doesn’t Care About Haters

Magic Johnson's Fabulously Gay Son Doesn't Care About Haters

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.

Senate Drops Immigration Bill Summary, Will Let Some Deportees Return

Senate Drops Immigration Bill Summary, Will Let Some Deportees Return

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 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.

Gene Demby at NPR’s ‘Code Switch’: As Our Demographics Change, Will Our Stories Follow?

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, 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.

Big Win? Senate Immigration Bill May Let Some Deportees Return

Big Win? Senate Immigration Bill May Let Some Deportees Return

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, 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 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.

Who Needs to ‘Get Informed’ on Che Guevara? Jay-Z or Marco Rubio?

Who Needs to 'Get Informed' on Che Guevara? Jay-Z or Marco Rubio?

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.

It’s Bigger Than Rick Ross: How to Organize Against Sexism in Hip-Hop

It's Bigger Than Rick Ross: How to Organize Against Sexism in Hip-Hop

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.

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