How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Video exemplifies SB 1070 confusion: Police can and do alert immigration authorites, even in CA

This video taken yesterday in Arizona is making the Twitter rounds via YouTube.

The video shows the arrest of a motorist in Tucson, stopped for a traffic violation, on grounds of her immigration status with the statement that SB 1070 is "in FULL effect." And it's an example of just how complicated and confusing matters have become following last week's ruling by a federal judge blocking certain sections of the law, which was partially implemented last Thursday.

One of the sections blocked by last week's injunction was a requirement that police attempt to ascertain the immigration status of people stopped or detained during regular law enforcement activity. However, just because there is no longer a requirement, there is nothing on the books preventing them from asking, either. A section of the law that was implemented last week allows the state to ban so-called "sanctuary" policies by law enforcement agencies or jurisdictions, i.e. policies that limit local officers' enforcement of federal immigration laws. The law as implemented also allows citizens to sue agencies that adopt such a policy.


In the news this morning

A brief roundup of some of the top immigration-related stories this morning:

  • Fox News asks, "Is Virginia the next Arizona?" Perhaps so, now that the state Attorney General has ruled that police can inquire about immigration status during routine stops. The Washington Post reports that Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said he "has spent months trying to reach an agreement with the federal government to train and deputize state troopers to act as immigration and customs agents," and CNN reports on a case adding fuel to the fire, the recent death of a nun after an accident involving an undocumented repeat DUI offender, which is prompting a federal investigation.

  • The controversy over a leaked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo continues, with more GOP lawmakers calling for an inquiry, according to Fox News; meanwhile, Immigration Daily, a resource for immigration professionals, has an immigration attorney's interpretation of the memo, which outlines possible avenues for legal status for some classes of undocumented immigrants.


In case you missed it

There were two great segments today on 89.3 KPCC's Patt Morrison show that involved minority communities. One examined why it is that the residents of some of Los Angeles County's poorest cities (including Bell, where city officials earn six-figure salaries) pay some of the highest property taxes.

Another segment dealt with prospective Latino voters in San Bernardino, caught in a political battle over voter registration. Latinos are a growing population in the county, yet they fall dramatically short of other San Bernardino County residents in voter registration and election day turnout. Who should take the lead in contacting them to register to vote and ensuring they turn out for elections? Audio from both segments is online.


DREAM Act hunger strike continues, entering third week

dreamact hands

Photo by DreamActivist/Flickr (Creative Commons)

DREAM Act supporters

Almost two weeks after they started, several students on a hunger strike in support of legislation known as the DREAM Act remain camped out in front of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office on Santa Monica Boulevard in Westwood.

Five hunger strikers remain, only three of them original ones. "Obviously they have lost a few pounds, but they are hanging in there," said Vanessa Castillo, a graduate student and U.S. citizen acting as a spokesperson for the strikers, a combination of undergraduate and graduate students who have been sleeping in a tent just outside the office.

Castillo said their goal is to convince Feinstein, already a supporter of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, to champion the legislation as a separate bill and push it toward a vote. The DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for qualifying 1.5 generation undocumented immigrants who were brought here as minors. Those who qualify must have arrived in the United States before age 16, have been here continuously for five years, and must attend college or join the military. They must be between 12 and 35 at the time they apply.