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Illinois’ Most Powerful Politicians Back Licenses for Undocumented

Illinois' Most Powerful Politicians Back Licenses for Undocumented

Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton’s effort to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is getting high profile, bipartisan support.

Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and former Illinois governors Jim Edgar and James Thompson attended a press conference on Tuesday to announce support for “legislation that requires all Illinois drivers to get licensed and be insured.”

The bipartisan group of politicians plan to propose the law when the legislature convenes on November 27. Gov. Quinn has pledged to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

“This is a safety issue that impacts every driver in Illinois and we should join together to take swift action to save lives,” Gov. Quinn said in a statement. “Making sure all motorists, regardless of their background, are licensed and insured will drive economic growth and ease the financial burden on all Illinois motorists.”

Chicago Mayor Emanuel has also publicly supported the new law that would benefit an estimated 250,000 unlicensed immigrants.

“I strongly support state legislation that will allow every Chicagoan, regardless of legal status, to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come with a driver’s license,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement. “I commend Senate President John Cullerton for his leadership to introduce legislation during the 2012 veto session to require all Illinois drivers, including undocumented drivers, to get trained, licensed and insured. I will be a strong advocate for this bill as we work to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the country.”

Washington state and New Mexico are the only states that currently allow undocumented immigrants to get licenses. Utah allows driving permits. As the fifth most populous state, Illinois would be the biggest state to adopt such a law.

Starting January 1, 2013, immigrants in California that have received work permits through the federal Deferred Action program will be eligible for Driver’s licenses. The following states will also grant temporary driver’s licenses to individuals with a federal work permit: Texas, New York, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon and Georgia.

Amber Riley Breaks Down in Tears as She Opens Up About Body Image

Amber Riley Breaks Down in Tears as She Opens Up About Body Image

“Glee” star Amber Riley was featured on the MTV series “This Is How I Made It” and broke down in tears as she admitted her struggles with her body image as a Hollywood actress.

The 26-year-old “Glee” actress said: ‘Hollywood is a very hard place to be in. It really is. Being the person I am, you know, the size I am, being a woman, being a black woman, there’s not a lot of roles for us.

Only 14.8% of roles on television go to black actors, according to the latest SAG-AFTRA Casting Data Report.

“This Is How I Made It” airs on Saturdays at 12pm.

Walmart is Nation’s #1 Employer of Latinos, and Also Big Funders of Anti-Immigrant Efforts

Walmart is Nation's #1 Employer of Latinos, and Also Big Funders of Anti-Immigrant Efforts

Walmart is the largest employer of Latinos in the United States. But the company and the founding family—the Waltons—have disproportionately supported politicians who have overwhelmingly anti -immigrant records, according to the United Food & Commercial Workers’s Making Change campaign.

Making Change compared the Walton family and Walmart PAC political contributions to Congressional candidates with the scorecard published in the William C. Velasquez Institute Immigrant Justice March 2010 Interim Report. They found the vast majority of recipients of funding voted against the DREAM Act, supported E-verify, immigrant detention, and militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read their report below. And then go watch this 2-minute video that explains why you don’t want to line up for Walmart’s black Friday deals this week.


Gmail’s 57th Supported Language is Cherokee, Its First Native American Tribal Language

Gmail's 57th Supported Language is Cherokee, Its First Native American Tribal Language

Cherokee has become the first Native American language fully integrated into Gmail. That means users can now exchange emails and instant message chats entirely in the Cherokee Syllabary, just as they would in English, Spanish or other languages.

Google worked with the The Cherokee Nation and Durbin Feeling - the author of the Cherokee-English Dictionary - to translate hundreds of Gmail terms from English to Cherokee.

“When Google decides to support a language, it’s not just about which ones have the largest number of speakers. In order to do business around the world, we need to support languages with millions of speakers, such as Japanese, French or Arabic,” Craig Cornelius, a Google software engineer, said in a statement. “But we also want to include less spoken languages in order to help preserve the culture and diversity that come with them.”

A 2002 survey of the Oklahoma Cherokee population found that “no one under 40 spoke conversational Cherokee.” The partnership with Google is part of an effort to use technology to encourage a new generation to learn the language.

Software engineer Craig Cornelius explains how this partnership came about on the Gmail Blog:

It was just coincidence that I, a Google engineer working on the internationalization of Google products, ended up carpooling back to San Francisco with Vance Blackfox, member of the Cherokee Nation (CN) from an event we’d both attended. But that coincidence kick-started a collaboration that would result in Google Web Search in Cherokee and, starting today, Gmail in Cherokee.

After a 2002 survey of the Oklahoma Cherokee population found that no one under 40 spoke conversational Cherokee, the Cherokee Nation saw an opportunity to use technology to encourage everyday use of the language among the younger generation. Vance connected me with the language technology department at the Cherokee Nation, and the Gmail team worked closely with their highly organized team of volunteers, which ranged from university students to Durbin Feeling—Cherokee living treasure and author of the Cherokee-English Dictionary. Together, we were able to find and implement the right words for hundreds of Gmail terms, from “inbox” (ᎧᏁᏌᎢᏱ) and “sign in” (ᏕᏣᏙᎥ ᎰᏪᎸᎦ) to “spam” (ᎤᏲᎢ).

Gmail in Cherokee and the Cherokee version of Google Web Search both include a virtual keyboard for typing the syllabary writing system invented by Sequoyah in the early 1800s. Now Cherokee students can easily contact their tribal elders, e.g., “Joseph wants to chat” (“ᏦᏏᏫ ᎤᏚᎵ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ”) and connect instantly. As Joseph Erb, Language Technologist at the Cherokee Nation put it, “Projects like these give more life to our language in our communities. It is not just about preserving our language and culture. It is about using our language each day and every day and continuing who we are as a people. And this give us that chance each time we check our email.”

In 2003, Apple added the font “Plantagenet Cherokee” to its MacOS operating system. In 2010, Cherokee became the first Native language and one of only 40 worldwide languages integrated into the iPhone’s operating system.

Mass. Becomes 13th State to Allow Some Undocumented Students to Pay In-State Tuition

Mass. Becomes 13th State to Allow Some Undocumented Students to Pay In-State Tuition

In a letter sent Monday to the Board of Higher Education, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said undocumented immigrants who have obtained a work permit through the Deferred Action program are now eligible to pay in-state tuition in the state’s public colleges and universities.

The decision will cut tuition fees by about 50 percent for undocumented students attending state colleges.

For example, the state’s flagship college, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, charges state residents $13,230 in tuition and fees; students from outside the state pay more than twice as much, $26,645. The state’s flagship college, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, charges state residents $13,230 in tuition and fees; students from outside the state pay more than twice as much, $26,645.

“Our experience has been that the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition is a prohibitive barrier,” Paul Reville, the state’s secretary of education, told the NY Times.

“It’s a step in the right direction but it’s not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, we still need that,” Patrick told reporters on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Massachusetts officials estimate the state has 15,000 to 17,000 residents in the age group affected by the change in the deportation policy, according to the New York Times. Officials would not guess how many might take advantage of new state and federal rules.

Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman told the AP that immigrants would not take the spots of legal residents in the state’s schools. “No place at one of our public colleges and universities will be denied to any other child or student,” Grossman said.

This week’s decision comes after a 2004 attempt by the Massachusetts state Legislature to pass a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition. Then-Governor Mitt Romney vetoed the measure, and subsequent efforts failed.

Currently, 12 states have laws allowing undocumented students who meet specific requirements to receive in-state tuition rates at public postsecondary institutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Earlier this month, Maryland became the first to adopt such a law by popular vote.

Why You Shouldn’t Line Up For Walmart’s Black Friday Deals

Why You Shouldn't Line Up For Walmart's Black Friday Deals Play

Don’t call it Black Friday anymore. The kickoff to the national holiday shopping frenzy has now officially merged with Thanksgiving day itself, with Walmart leading the Thanksgiving evening creep by opening its doors at 10pm on Thursday this week. And the Thursday night opening has given workers at over 1,000 Walmart stores planning a Black Friday strike even more reason to walk out from work.

The planned action has been in the works for some time, long before Walmart announced its Thursday evening opening. The strike comes after months of such walkouts that started in Los Angeles area stores and spread to Maryland, then Texas, for a total of nine states this fall. Workers say they are upset over much more than just having to leave their families on Thanksgiving evening.

“It’s a real hardship for me to go on strike. For those of us who live paycheck to paycheck every hour counts. All we’re doing is speaking out for change,” said Sara Gilbert, a manager at a Seattle Walmart who is protesting what she says are the retail giant’s retaliatory measures to silence workers who’ve raised their voices about working conditions. Since workers with OUR Walmart, a United Food and Commercial Workers union-backed organization, have spoken up about bad pay and inconsistent and unfair hours, they say they’ve been excluded and punished. She joined other Walmart workers in Seattle, Dallas and Oakland who went on strike last week.

Last week Walmart took its first formal steps to cracking down on this next phase of worker organizing by filing an official labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, charging that the walkouts threaten to disrupt its business and scare away shoppers. The NLRB is working to address the issue quickly, but in the meantime OUR Walmart is keeping up the pressure.

Frank Ocean to GQ: ‘I’m Not Trying to Sell You Sex’

Frank Ocean to GQ: 'I'm Not Trying to Sell You Sex'

reg_634.ocean.ls.112012.jpgR&B singer Frank Ocean is tired of people trying to get into his business. In response to a question from GQ writer Amy Wallace about whether or not he identifies as bisexual, Ocean responded:

You can move to the next question. I’ll respectfully say that life is dynamic and comes along with dynamic experiences, and the same sentiment that I have towards genres of music, I have towards a lot of labels and boxes and shit. I’m in this business to be creative—I’ll even diminish it and say to be a content provider. One of the pieces of content that I’m for fuck sure not giving is porn videos. I’m not a centerfold. I’m not trying to sell you sex. People should pay attention to that in the letter: I didn’t need to label it for it to have impact. Because people realize everything that I say is so relatable, because when you’re talking about romantic love, both sides in all scenarios feel the same shit. As a writer, as a creator, I’m giving you my experiences. But just take what I give you. You ain’t got to pry beyond that. I’m giving you what I feel like you can feel. The other shit, you can’t feel. You can’t feel a box. You can’t feel a label. Don’t get caught up in that shit. There’s so much something in life. Don’t get caught up in the nothing. That shit is nothing, you know? It’s nothing. Vanish the fear.

Read the whole interview over at GQ.

Ocean made headlines earlier this year when he he posted a note on Tumblr about falling in love with a man for the first time. Many took it as a coming out letter of sorts, and it heightened the sense of anticipation for his hit album, “Channel Orange.” Whatever its intention, it’s been clear in the months since that Ocean has challenged traditional norms of sexuality in hip-hop — though he obviously still wants folks to respect his privacy.

(Photo: Peggy Sirota / GQ)

Campaign Focuses on Young, Gifted, Transgender and Black

Campaign Focuses on Young, Gifted, Transgender and Black

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual date to recognize the struggles and perseverance of members of the transgender community. Leading up to the internationally recognized event, the National Black Justice Coalition launched its #BlackTransProud social media campaign to raise awareness about what it means to, as organizers put it, “live at the intersection of racial justice and trans equality.”

More from the National Black Justice Coalition:

In 2010, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, transgender women represented 44% of anti-LGBT murders but only represented 11% of the total reports. Within LGBT communities, transgender people represent 8.6% of the general population. Most hate crimes go unreported because of police bias. In fact, NCAVP’s findings suggest that transgender people of color are three times more at risk for anti-LGBT violence from police officers.

There is an epidemic of murders against the Black trans community, yet our nation is deadly silent. Together we can change that.

People.com editor Janet Mock wrote this in solidarity with the campaign:

I’m a woman. I’m black. I’m trans. And I’m alive. That’s a radical idea if you really think about it because trans women of color - specifically black and brown bodies - are active agents in our own survival despite unbearable statistics, lack of resources, dehumanizing media stories and exiling from many spaces.

And this notion of survival and resistance isn’t new.

We’ve always been survivors (I bow to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera as I write this). For me, personally and politically, there’s no separating my womanness, my blackness, my transness from my me-ness.

The day caps off Transgender Awareness Week, a time in which deliberate attention is paid to the health disparities, histories of violence, and resilience of the trans men and women around the world.

Black People Voted on Election Day, Too, By the Way

The growing electoral strength, power and concerns of Latino and Asian-American voters have rightfully garnered significant attention in the two weeks since the re-election of President Obama. But the same can’t be said of black voters who were also a key component of the president’s victory. An under-reported NAACP “Battleground State” poll of 1,600 black voters is worth a look for those who have been disturbed about the comparative silence in pundit-land about the continued and future role that African Americans play at the polls and in policy, particularly in relation to other racial and social justice constituencies.

Here are some highlights from the slidedeck released by the civil rights organization the week of the election:

  • The increased turnout and almost uniform electoral support of Obama, when compared to support for John Kerry in 2004, was decisive in battleground states like Florida, Ohio, and Virginia (Slide 6).
  • Jobs and the economy are the priority issue for black voters, as they are for other racial groups (Slide 9).
  • Black voters continue to believe the federal government should play a role in protecting “minority” interests such as voting rights, public education, housing opportunities, and affirmative action (Slide 10).
  • There’s overwhelming support for the DREAM Act—71 percent strongly supporting and 23 percent supporting (Slide 15).
  • Half of black respondents supported marriage equality (Slide 15).
  • Black support for marriage equality rises to a safe majority figure of 57 percent when a religious exemption for performing ceremonies is included (as was the case in the popularly approved policies in Maine and Maryland), with only 31 percent opposed. That’s a margin of 26 percent that expands to 41 percent for black voters aged 18-30. (Slide 16)

It’s important to also note that black voters anticipate being far less enthusiastic about the Democratic ticket without Obama at its head in 2016 (Slide 18). And while the Democrats enjoy a significant lead over Republicans on black perception of how hard the parties are working on critical problems such as poverty, health care, and job opportunities, both parties get a failing grade when it comes to working hard and caring about the monumental issue of the mass incarceration of African Americans.

One last point: an unfortunate byproduct of elections is the not-always-subtle jockeying for title as the decisive constituency, and I certainly don’t mean to suggest here that black voters should make that claim. But neither should others. The truth is there were several key constituencies that made Obama’s victory a reality, and a re-emphasis on examining how we can collectively advance and enrich each other’s racial and social justice struggles—in both policies and practices—is paramount in the time between the first Tuesday in November every four years.

Dom Apollon is research director of Colorlines.com’s publisher, the Applied Research Center, which served as a paid consultant to Pacific Market Research, the polling firm that administered and oversaw the NAACP poll.

Man Sentenced to 3 Years For Leading Mississippi Prison Riot

Man Sentenced to 3 Years For Leading Mississippi Prison Riot

Juan Lopez-Fuentes became the first inmate to be sentenced for a riot that rattled a Mississippi federal prison in May. Lopez-Fuentes was sentenced in federal court yesterday to 40 months in prison and $1.3 million in restitution, the Natchez Democrat reports.

The riot in the Adams County Correction Facility, a privately operated federal prison for immigrants convicted of crimes, left one prison guard dead. Inmates in the facility said they were revolting against abusive prison conditions at the hands of guards employed by the Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest prison company.

As I reported days after the riot:

At 5 p.m. on Sunday evening, an inmate reportedly phoned a local TV station with a cell phone, sending photos to confirm that he was indeed held inside the facility.

“They always beat us and hit us,” the prisoner told the local reporter. “We just pay them back. We’re trying to get better food, medical (care), programs, clothes, and we’re trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants.”

Two other men have been charged for allegedly participating in the riot. Yoany Oriel Serrano-Bejarano pleaded not guilty in October. A jury trial has been set for next month. Pedro Gonzalez De Los Reyes was charged this month for his part in the riot. He has yet to be arraigned.

Lopez-Fuentes pleaded guilty in August to taking part in the riot. In a complaint filed by the federal government in August, Lopez-Fuentes was alleged to be “an active participant in the riot and appeared to be in charge of the inmates involved in the standoff.” The complaint goes on to describe Lopez-Fuentes as a negotiator, wielding power over inmates and hostages and forcing hostages to act as intermediaries in negotiations between inmates and guards.

The riot left 24-year old prison guard Catlin Carithers dead and several other guards injured.

Family members and advocates in touch with inmates in the prison say that conditions inside the facility were also deadly for inmates. In May and then again in September, I reported on a man named Juan Villanueva whose sister says he’s still be alive had Adams prison officials adequately responded to rapidly spreading cancer:

According to his sister [Angelica Moreno], Villanueva’s illness was ignored for months while locked up in Adams County and his condition deteriorated. “They killed my brother,” she said. Moreno says her brother was prescribed repeated doses of antibiotics even after he complained of pain and was regularly vomiting blood. When months later he was finally taken to an emergency room and diagnosed with cancer, his illness had advanced significantly, but still the prison failed to transport Villanueva to all of his chemotherapy appointments, according to Moreno.

Just before the Adams facility erupted into violence in May, Villanueva was moved to a North Carolina medical facility where two months later he died. His body was flown to Los Angeles, where his family held a funeral.

The Adams County facility is one of a dozen similar private prisons for non-citizens convicted of crimes. As I reported in September:

“Many of the inmates are charged criminally for what’s called “illegal reentry” when they’re picked up by Border Patrol trying to return to the country after a previous deportation. The facilities are among the only ones that the Bureau of Prisons has privatized and their expansion promises more profits for companies, like the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the Adams County Correctional Center where Moreno’s brother was held.

The federal government anticipates the facilities will continue to expand for at least the next eight years:

Despite this track record or neglect and violence, the federal government plans to expand the incarceration of non-citizens in private facilities. A report released on Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office revealed that the BOP projects it will add an 1500 CAR inmates every year until 2020, which will expand the population in these federal facilities to nearly 36,000. The GAO notes that the Board of Prisons annual projections are conservative and “therefore, the actual number of inmates would likely be higher than the projections.”

Felipe Montes Enters Final Day Of Testimony In Fight For His Kids

Felipe Montes Enters Final Day Of Testimony In Fight For His Kids

UPDATE [4:00 p.m. EST]

Arguments in the case over Felipe Montes’s parental rights came to a close today. Judge Michael Duncan told parties in the Alleghany County courthouse in Sparta, NC that he will reach a decision on the widely reported case next week.

His decision will determine the fates of Felipe Montes, who was deported two years ago for driving violations, and of his three children, who are currently in foster care.

The hearing, which ended this afternoon, was dominated by the children’s legal advocate who previously argued that Montes’s three children should be adopted. In court today, the advocate recommended instead that the children remain with their foster families but in a guardianship arrangement rather than through adoption. This would allow Montes some maintain some contact with the boys even if they stay in the United States.

Montes’s attorney pushed back, maintaining that her client’s parental rights should remain fully intact, and that the children should be reunified with him, whether he’s in the United States or Mexico. The decision is now firmly in the Judge’s hands.

“It’s been a lengthy trial, it’s been emotional, it’s been complicated, at times it’s been frustrating,” Judge Duncan said in closing.

Ultimately, “this case is all about three children,” he added. “This case will have long lasting, far reaching effects on these children and I do not take that lightly.”

A final ruling is expected on November 27th.


Testimony in Felipe Montes’s protracted legal case for his parental rights is expected to come to a close today. A final decision in the closely watched case is near.

Montes, a deported father who was allowed to return to the country on a rare humanitarian permit from the government, took the stand yesterday in Alleghany County, North Carolina to ask the judge to reunite the family.

“Why do I fight?” he said yesterday, in response to a question from his attorney, Donna Shumate. “Because I did not abandon my children. I got taken away from them. I got deported.”

Singer Erin McKeown Releases Song About U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

Singer Erin McKeown Releases Song About U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

Writer and performer Erin McKeown attended the Facing Race conference over the weekend and spoke to Colorlines.com editorial director Kai Wright about her new song “The Jailer.”

McKeown’s song “The Jailer” about the U.S.-Mexico border wall premiered on NPR Monday morning.

Erin McKeown tells NPR about the inspiration for the song:

“Last year, I took a trip to Nogales, Arizona to see the wall being built between the U.S. and Mexico. I was struck by how it appeared to be a violent spine rising out of the beautiful desert. While standing next to it, I asked our guide, a local charter school teacher, why the wall was made of long columns of steel set close to each other, not a solid surface like other borders I’d seen. “They built it so the water could get through,” he said. This got me thinking about the toll a wall takes on the hearts of those it divides and on the soul of the builder of the wall.”

Visit NPR.com to listen to McKeown’s song ‘The Jailer.’

Erin McKeown’s album, MANIFESTRA, comes out January 15.

Might Rep. Allen West Allege Voter Fraud to Avoid Conceding?

UPDATE [11:00 a.m. EST]: This morning, Allen West finally conceded to his challenger Rep. Patrick Murphy. West released a statement saying his legal team “does not believe there are enough over-counted, undercounted, or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election.” So while the race has finally been put to rest it’s disappointing that West continues to invoke the possibility of voter fraud among his electorate. While there have been snafus and questionable activity on the part of poll workers, there’s not been any evidence of fraudulent votes. So, it’s not enough to say his campaign “does not believe there are enough … fraudulent votes” to change the outcome. He needs to be honest with voters and say there has been no proof of voter fraud to begin with.

It’s roughly 12 days since Election Day and African-American Tea Party Rep. Allen West still has not conceded a loss in his race against the Democrat Patrick Murphy. In that race, where conservative SuperPACs and advocacy groups like Americans for Prosperity poured over $17 million in for West over Murphy’s $4 million, Murphy came out the unofficial winner by a very slim margin, less than 1 percent of the votes. But a number of voter machine malfunctions and other maladies led to the West campaign demanding a recount, which was granted by a canvassing board, especially after 306 uncounted ballots turned up.

That recount was executed over the weekend with a legal requirement for an official count to be turned in by Sunday at noon. But the St. Lucie County Canvassing Board wasn’t done recounting by that time, so the victory remains with Murphy. When the recount was finished around 2 p.m. yesterday, it turned out that Murphy had an even wider margin of victory — 2,146 more ballots than West.

But West isn’t conceding as of noon today, and is exploring a few Hail Mary options described below by the Palm Beach Post:

West’s options are limited. Shortly after noon, his legal team began discussing an emergency exemption in the law that permits final returns to be filed after the deadline. That exemption defines emergency as any occurrence “that results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population or substantial damage to or loss of property to the extent it will prohibit an election officer’s ability to conduct a safe and orderly election.”

West, R-Palm Beach Gardens, also could challenge the official results using a rarely used law that allows the loser to contest the final results after all the ballots have been certified. Under that law, unsuccessful candidates or taxpayers living in the district can challenge the results by filing a legal complaint by Nov. 30 — that is, within 10 days of the final certification, which will happen Tuesday.

The complaint, called an election contest, can be filed only under several strict conditions: misconduct, fraud, bribery or corruption by an election official; the winner is not eligible for office; illegal votes or rejection of enough legal votes to change or create doubt in the results. West’s legal team declined to say whether an election contest would be filed.

There has been some voter weirdness — like a cartridge of votes from one precinct that wouldn’t load results, which ended up holding up the recount process that pushed them past the deadline. But there’s been no evidence of fraud or corruption. Still, True the Vote, which has been cheering hard for Rep. Allen West all along, is on the premises and wants everybody to know that they are “watching these recount proceedings very closely, as should every American who values the sanctity of their vote.”

They also said: “Secretary Detzner, Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi have shown great leadership on a national scale in promoting election integrity. The State of Florida takes great care in ensuring that voter rolls are maintained in accordance with federal election laws and has also committed to prosecuting interstate voter fraud.”

That’s not what our reporting has shown in Florida

But if an unsuccessful candidate ends up not challenging the results, sounds like there might be some taxpayer Vote Truthers who will.

Undocumented Can Apply for FEMA Sandy Relief Through Citizen Kids

Undocumented Can Apply for FEMA Sandy Relief Through Citizen Kids

If history repeats itself undocumented immigrants will be a large part of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts but they themselves won’t qualify for financial assistance from FEMA.

Undocumented Immigrants on the eastern seaboard are among those bearing the brunt of Hurricane Sandy but many of them won’t be able to access FEMA subsidies unless their is someone with legal resident status in their home.

People issued a legal permanent resident card - commonly referred to as “a green card” - may apply for assistance if they have disaster-related losses. Other non-citizens who can apply with FEMA include those with legal resident status because of asylum, refugee status, parole status, suspension of deportation status or status as victims of domestic violence.

Only one member of a household needs to be eligible to qualify the entire household for assistance, so parents and guardians may apply for FEMA subsidies on behalf of a minor child here with legal resident status. A household with family members with mixed immigration status may be eligible for disaster assistance as long as someone with legal resident status is in their home.

FEMA says they do not collect information on the immigration status of other household members.

The irony is that while some undocumented immigrants will not be able to access FEMA assistance they will likely play a major role in Sandy recovery.

Immigrant labor made was a major part of rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the days after Katrina the government dropped the federal requirement to pay minimum wage and lifted a requirement for companies to prove their workers’ legal status.

If history repeats itself, low-wage and hazardous jobs that involve mold and other toxic environments will be saved for undocumented immigrants.

But so far labor laws are fairing better than they did after Katrina, according to Patrick Vinck, a researcher at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative who studied the contribution of the immigrant workforce in rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina.

“So far we haven’t seen any of the rules change,” Vinck told PRI’s “The World” earlier this month. “That being said immigration enforcement is still there and that very often prevents undocumented worker from seeking help, from demanding that they work in safe conditions, so they will be working in that challenging environments regardless of the requirement from the federal government”

Los Angeles Finally Gets Korean-Language Lakers Games

Los Angeles Finally Gets Korean-Language Lakers Games

Last Friday, for the first time ever, Koreans in Southern California were able to watch Lakers games in their native language. Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s Korean Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) is the first-ever for English-language television.

Time Warner Cable Sports partnered with Radio Seoul to provide Korean-language SAP for games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Sports writer and commentator Paul Lee will call all the games in Korean.

1.4 million Koreans reported their race in the 2010 Census to be either Korean alone or in combination with any race. The largest ethnic Korean population is in Southern California (LA, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties.)

“We are extremely proud to partner with Radio Seoul to provide the first-ever Korean SAP for English-language  television,” said David Rone, President, Time Warner Cable Sports, in a statement. “Between Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s Korean SAP and Time Warner Cable Deportes, the first Spanish-language regional sports network, we’re able to speak to Southern California sports fans in their own languages and include them in a way they’ve been never included before.”

According to the 2009 American Community Survey, 30.4% of Korean Americans speak English only, 69.6% speak a language other than English at home, and 41% speak English less than “very well.”

The popularity of the Los Angeles Lakers among Koreans extends beyond the borders of Southern California and the United States. Leslie Berestein Rojas reminds us on Multi-American blog that in 2011 thousands of Koreans greeted Kobe Bryant in Seoul when he arrived to conduct a basketball mini-clinic with young local players.

“The NBA recognizes that it’s got an international brand that’s become profitable thanks to a range of fans. It’s encouraging to see that the Lakers are making an effort to reach out to its Korean-speaking audience because it’s a hint at just how powerful and racially diverse sports fans are in the U.S.,” said Colorlines.com’s news editor Jamilah King.

‘If God Forgives Us, Then Our Community Should Forgive Us Too’

'If God Forgives Us, Then Our Community Should Forgive Us Too' Play

Tayna Fogle is a mother of two, a grandmother of six, a basketball champion and a formerly incarcerated individual who spent a decade in prison. After a decade in prison and having the right to vote taken away from her she went on to fight through months of legal proceedings to be able to vote again.

Today she works with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth as an organizer and voting rights activist to help other formerly incarcerated individuals regain their right to vote.

In the video at the top of this page, Fogle talks about her work and her experience on the first day of Facing Race 2012 in Baltimore.

Earlier this month the Marguerite Casey Foundation and Equal Voice profiled Fogle in a video titled “Power of Voice.” Watch the video and learn more about Fogle’s work below.

First Black Olympic All-Around Champion Met First Black U.S. President

First Black Olympic All-Around Champion Met First Black U.S. President

President Barack Obama talks with members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams in the Oval Office, Nov. 15, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Steven Gluckstein, Savannah Vinsant, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics President, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Ruling: South Carolina’s ‘Papers Please’ Provision Moves Forward

Ruling: South Carolina's 'Papers Please' Provision Moves Forward

Welcome to the post-SB 1070 world. The latest stop, South Carolina, where a judge’s ruling Thursday will mean that the most contentious “papers please” provision of the state’s anti-immigration SB 1070 copycat law will move forward for implementation.

The provision and the law, modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070, mandates that state law enforcement officers inquire about a person’s immigration status if they suspect a person is undocumented. In U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel’s ruling, he nodded toward the Supreme Court’s ruling on sB 1070 earlier this year which allowed for future legal challenges to the law after it goes into effect. Judge Gergel, also in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling, blocked provisions making it a state crime for people not to carry their papers and provisions which criminalized undocumented immigrants’ daily life.

Much of the law had been blocked in December while the federal court awaited the ruling from the Supreme Court. Already in effect from South Carolina’s law are the state’s now mandatory statewide employment check requirements.

Texas Governor Wants Welfare, Unemployment Applicants To Pee In A Cup

Texas Governor Wants Welfare, Unemployment Applicants To Pee In A Cup

Texas Governor Rick Perry this week threw his weight behind a bill to require all welfare and unemployment applicants to submit to a drug test. The bill, SB 11, was filed on Monday by Republican state Senator Jane Nelson. It deem those who fail a drug test ineligible for assistance for up to a year.

The Texas bill takes the drug testing regime a to new extremes. Not only will a failed test lead to loss of benefits, it also requires the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to report mothers and fathers who fail tests to Child Protective Services.

As I reported earlier this year, dozens of state legislatures considered similar bills in the last two legislative sessions and in several states they became law.

Keeping Up With Colorlines at the Facing Race Conference in Baltimore

Keeping Up With Colorlines at the Facing Race Conference in Baltimore

The Facing Race Conference—the largest national, multi-racial gathering of racial justice leaders, educators, journalists, artists, and activists—starts tonight! Close to 1,400 people are expected to gather in Baltimore and you can keep up with the conference and Colorlines.com writers online.

If you’re on Twitter you can use the #FacingRace hashtag to keep up with conference goers.

Also videos from the conference will first be posted on the Applied Research Center’s Facebook Page. You can “like” them using the widget below to stay up to date. (If you’re not Facebook, you can follow @racialjustice on Twitter.)

Colorlines staff will be participating in the following panels:


Jamilah King will moderate “Can You Hear Me Now? How Activists and Artists are Rebuilding the Media” 

Friday, November 16, 11:15am -12:45 pm

People of color generally pay more for fewer communication services and are sometimes left on the sidelines of some of today’s biggest tech innovations. This session will focus on how people of color are using public policy and art to push forward a new media framework. What are the promises — and the pitfalls — of today’s do-it-yourself ethos? What organizing strategies yield the most effective results? And how are communities responding?



Seth Freed Wessler will moderate “Shattered Families: Racial Justice and Systemic Change in Child Welfare” 

Friday, November 16, 2012 11:15am - 12:45 pm  

The child welfare system is tasked with protecting children from harm. Yet the system targets families of color in unfair ways. Hundreds of thousands of children in foster care are there because the child welfare system feeds off of the effects of poverty and of structural racism embedded in other systems like criminal justice and immigration and inequity embedded in tribal relationships to U.S. institutions. This panel will explore child welfare practices in communities of color, solutions for more equitable policy and strategies for protecting families.



Channing Kennedy will moderate “Like Racism, But Funnier: Social Change Through Internet Jokes” 

Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

 How do we reclaim comedy from the status quo? In this no-holds-barred workshop, three of your favorite social justice joke scientists (W. Kamau Bell, Negin Farsad, Samhita Mukhopadhyay) lay out case studies and strategies for making people laugh (and think), for putting dehumanizing comedy on blast, and for turning the inevitable backlash into positive change.



Julianne Hing will moderate “Tell Your Story, Move Your Campaign” 

Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Stories, well-crafted and honestly told, have the ability to move people to action. But they can be tricky for progressives, who often get hung up on facts and complicated dynamics, and as a result, it can be harder to share solutions and reach possible allies. Learn strategies from organizers including the Drop the I-Word campaign who have developed a strong narrative as a core component to their campaigns, and are using new media strategies to communicate with more people because of it.



Franchesca Ramsey.

Jorge Rivas will moderate “No Budget? No Problem! 2013’s New Tools For Creating Content and Telling Your Story”

Saturday, November 17, 2012 1:45 pm - 3:15 pm 

Video and audio experts will discuss their best practices, what tools they’re using and what platforms you should be considering. SoundCloud fellow Will Coley and YouTube sensation Franchesca Ramsey will be speaking.


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