How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

MALDEF staying neutral on Kagan confirmation


Photo by Talk Radio News/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Elena Kagan at a Senate confirmation hearing

In an unusual move, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has decided not to endorse the likely confirmation of Elena Kagan as Supreme Court Justice, opting to take a neutral position.

In a Huffington Post piece published this afternoon, MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas A. Saenz wrote: "The decision to take a neutral position on the confirmation was not easy, and several prominent members of MALDEF's board strongly advised support for Kagan's confirmation."

The modern confirmation process is partly to blame, as is scant record of the U.S. Solicitor General's views due to her work in government service and academia, Saenz wrote:

The outcome arises largely from the way the Supreme Court confirmation process has developed over the last quarter century. Simply put, that process no longer elicits much in the way of useful additional information about a nominee; instead it has devolved into a predictable battle of partisan sound-bites, many of them resting on half-truth and unsupported assumption.

Added to this un-illuminating process is a nominee whose admirable legal career is marked by government service, where a public lawyer's own views are generally not recorded or retained; and a tenure in academia, where, aside from scholarly production in a limited subject-matter arena, views and activities also are not recorded. All of this means that, through no particular fault of the candidate's own, the record lacks an indication that Kagan has an understanding and appreciation of some of the major legal issues of concern to many in the Latino community, such as immigration, language services, and the use of race-linked proxies for discrimination.


Picketers target Meg Whitman's East L.A. campaign office


Photo by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Picketers outside Meg Whitman's new East L.A. campaign office

A crowd mobilized by labor unions picketed the opening today of gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's East L.A. campaign office, chanting "Meg, you're fake!" and criticizing the Republican candidate's tough stance on illegal immigration, 89.3 KPCC reports. Whitman discussed her plans to create jobs and other campaign details during the opening event.

The former eBay CEO, who has been courting Latino voters, has faced criticism from Latino and union groups for simultaneously campaigning on an immigration platform that includes tighter border security, a ban on admissions of undocumented students to state colleges and universities, and a stated opposition to bilingual education.

A Whitman ad targeting Latino voters, via YouTube:


DREAM Act hunger strikers decide to quit

The students who began a hunger strike two weeks ago today outside California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office in Westwood have announced plans to end their strike with a vigil there tonight.

In a statement, the group that organized the hunger strike said, "Californians have been calling Senator Feinstein's office every day, and over 300 people visited the hunger strikers to show their support. The immigrant rights community has shown incredible solidarity with DREAM youth and they are ready to take the next steps forward."

The strikers' stated goal had been 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 if they attend college or join the military.


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.