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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/15/nyregion/new-york-regents-plan-a-push-for-the-dream-act.html?ref=immigrationandemigrationby Fernanda Santos for The New York Times
When they vote on their legislative agenda on Tuesday, New York State’s
top education officials will focus for the first time on the contentious
topic of illegal immigration.
The agenda, proposed by the state education commissioner, John B. King
Jr., to the Board of Regents, has as a top priority a proposal to push
Congress to pass legislation that would provide a path to citizenship
for illegal immigrants who go to college. Included in that legislation,
known as the Dream Act,
is a provision that would give students who are in the country
illegally access to tuition assistance at city and state universities.
The agenda is expected to be approved.
The lobbying effort would thrust the State Education Department into the
heart of a highly politicized debate that has divided communities for
years and spawned a hodgepodge of state regulations in response to the
federal government’s inaction on reforming the country’s immigration
New York already allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates
at state universities. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas signed a similar
measure into law in 2001; controversy surrounding it has threatened to
derail his effort to gain the Republican presidential nomination.
In an interview, Dr. King said that the Regents’ strategy on the Dream
Act would address one of the most significant roadblocks faced by an
estimated 345,000 illegal immigrants who attend public schools in New
York. By providing help with tuition and with residency documents, the
federal law would allow those who graduate from college to strive for
more than the menial jobs they must often accept because of their
“It’s about making sure that students are able to fulfill their
aspirations after they graduate from high school, which is something
that’s currently not available to those who happen to be undocumented,”
Dr. King said. In addition, he said, “it aligns perfectly with our
college-and-career readiness goals.”
Dr. King said that lobbying Congress would be the “first step” in a
campaign that could progress to asking the State Legislature to do what
California did just a few days ago: offer state-financed scholarships
and aid to illegal immigrants attending state universities.
For now, the plan is to write to and visit the members of Congress from
New York, as well as legislators from other states who could play
decisive roles in the Dream Act’s passage. The bill, first introduced in
2000, has yet to gain enough support for passage. It would create a
path to citizenship for certain young illegal immigrants who came to the
United States as children, completed two years of college or military
service and met other requirements, like passing a criminal background
For the past several months, Dr. King and the Board of Regents’
chancellor, Merryl H. Tisch, have taken an interest in addressing the
needs of the state’s immigrant students, most of whom go to school in
New York City.
“These people are going to be citizens of this country some day, and we
need to prepare them for a life of independence,” Dr. Tisch said.
On Wednesday, Dr. King announced an agreement to improve the services
offered in city schools to students who are still learning English, like
more access to certified teachers and to the language lessons to which
they are legally entitled.
Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration
Coalition, an advocacy group, said the Regents’ agenda was a natural
evolution of a process begun years ago to refine the state’s policies
regarding students who are not proficient in English.
“It really brings the focus back to what the issue is about,” she said.
“It’s about education, and it’s about our children.”
Some critics of immigration reform criticized the Regents’ plan as going
too far. “This amounts to a much broader amnesty than the New York State Board of Regents
wants to portray it,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation
of American Immigration Reform, which has called for reducing the levels
of illegal immigration.
But Daniela Alulema, a board member of the New York State Youth
Leadership Council, a supporter of access to higher education for
illegal immigrants, said she hoped the Regents would eventually throw
their support behind a version of the Dream Act introduced in the State
Legislature in March. Among other things, the bill would give illegal
immigrants access to tuition assistance and driver’s licenses, a
provision that crumbled under intense criticism in 2007, after it was
proposed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Ms. Alulema has pinned her hopes on state action. “The truth is, it’s
very hard for something to happen in Congress because of the climate
there now,” she said.
Join us Monday September 19 at 12:30 in room 102 as we hold elections for the 2011-2012 Executive Board. New and prospective members are welcome! Pizza will be served for lunch! *Those interested in running for a position must submit a short statement of interest by 5 pm on Friday, September 16th. Contact email@example.com for details.
Available Positions are: President; Co-President Acting as Treasurer; Secretary; Chair of Community Outreach Committee; Chair of Event Planning Committee; Chair of Fundraising Committee.
August 28, 2011
Alabama Legislature opened its session on March 1 on a note of humility
and compassion. In the Senate, a Christian pastor asked God to grant
members “wisdom and discernment” to do what is right. “Not what’s right
in their own eyes,” he said, “but what’s right according to your word.”
Soon after, both houses passed, and the governor signed, the country’s
cruelest, most unforgiving immigration law.
law, which takes effect Sept. 1, is so inhumane that four Alabama
church leaders — an Episcopal bishop, a Methodist bishop and a Roman
Catholic archbishop and bishop — have sued to block it, saying it
criminalizes acts of Christian compassion. It is a sweeping attempt to
terrorize undocumented immigrants in every aspect of their lives, and to
make potential criminals of anyone who may work or live with them or
show them kindness.
effectively makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant in
Alabama, by criminalizing working, renting a home and failing to comply
with federal registration laws that are largely obsolete. It nullifies
any contracts when one party is an undocumented immigrant. It requires
the police to check the papers of people they suspect to be here
new regime does not spare American citizens. Businesses that knowingly
employ illegal immigrants will lose their licenses. Public school
officials will be required to determine students’ immigration status and
report back to the state. Anyone knowingly “concealing, harboring or
shielding” an illegal immigrant could be charged with a crime, say for
renting someone an apartment or driving her to church or the doctor.
American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department have also
sued, calling the law an unconstitutional intrusion on the federal
government’s authority to write and enforce immigration laws. The
A.C.L.U. warns that the law would trample people’s fundamental rights to
speak and travel freely, effectively deny children the chance to go to
school and expose people to harassment and racial profiling.
arguments have been made before, in opposition to similar, if less
sweeping, laws passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. What is
remarkable in Alabama is the separate lawsuit by the four church
leaders, who say the law violates their religious freedoms to perform
acts of charity without regard to the immigration status of those they
minister to or help.
“The law,” Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile said in The Times, “attacks our core understanding of what it means to be a church.”
think that any state would think twice before embracing a law that so
vividly brings to mind the Fugitive Slave Act, the brutal legal and
law-enforcement apparatus of the Jim Crow era, and the civil-rights
struggle led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But waves of
anti-immigrant hostility have made many in this country forget who and
what we are.
was once on the brink of an ambitious bipartisan reform that would have
enabled millions of immigrants stranded by the failed immigration
system to get right with the law. This sensible policy has been
abandoned. We hope the church leaders can waken their fellow Alabamans
to the moral damage done when forgiveness and justice are so ruthlessly
denied. We hope Washington and the rest of the country will also listen.
From Physicians for Social Responsibility
This essay is in response to: How does our nation's reliance on pesticides affect the health of those who plant and harvest our food?
Farmworkers feed the world. Anyone who eats and who purchases food
at a grocery store in the US has an intimate connection to farmworkers, whether
they are aware of it or not. Some 50 years after the birth of the farmworker
movement in California, farmworkers are still virtually invisible, even though
agriculture in our country could not exist without them. Yet, farmworkers risk
daily exposure to pesticides, and the consequent health impacts, in the course
of their daily work.
Our food supply in the United States today depends largely on the hard
work of an agricultural labor force that plants, cultivates, harvests, and
packs the food crops that we all depend on for sustenance. That labor force
today is made up largely of men and women of Hispanic background. Statistics
show that these farmworkers have some of the highest rates of chemically-related
illnesses of any workers in the US. Farmworkers are at the nexus of the
agricultural industry’s use of some 1.1 billion pounds (1) of pesticides
annually. While the EPA has developed the Worker Protection Standards in an
effort to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure, lack of compliance,
problems with enforcement, and weaknesses in the standards themselves all
amount to inadequate health and safety protections for workers. One action,
however, could go a long way toward rectifying what amounts to an injustice
against these workers: bilingual pesticide labeling.
Thousands of different kinds and millions of pounds of chemical
pesticides are used in agriculture in the US every single day. Material Safety
Data Sheets (MSDS) are required to accompany every pesticide product registered
for use by the EPA. The MSDS contains critically important information about
the proper usage, disposal, and application methods for the particular
pesticide product. While some of the information relates to the specified crops
and specific usage conditions, other information is of vital importance to the
people who are working with the pesticide, such as instructions for safe use
and handling. Critical information for handlers, such as the proper personal
protective equipment (PPE), the required re-entry interval (REI), proper
disposal of empty pesticide containers to avoid soil or watercontamination
and/or human exposure, proper first aid, not to mention the acute signs and
symptoms of pesticide exposure, is included on the labels. Yet, except for a
few rare exceptions, those MSDS sheets are written only in English.
According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey, 81% of
farmworkers reported Spanish as their native language and 53% said that they
cannot read, write or speak English. Pesticide labels contain EPA-required information
in order to safeguard the environment and reduce the risk to human health. Yet,
the majority of the people who work around and/or are exposed to these
pesticides do not have access to that information, since they do not read
English. That is why, in 2010, Migrant Clinicians Network, Farmworker Justice, and
several other organizations petitioned EPA to require pesticide manufacturers
to print pesticide labels in both English and Spanish. In response, EPA opened
up a public comment period on bilingual pesticide labels that closed in June,
2011. The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) and PSR, along with other
farmworker, environmental health, and workers’ groups around the country,
submitted comments to EPA in support of the need for bilingual pesticide
As recently as ten years ago, there were very few scientific
studies on the long-term and chronic health effects of exposure to various
pesticides and/or classes of pesticides. In recent years, that knowledge
deficit has begun to change. Chronic exposure to pesticides can result in
long-term and severe health consequences. Parkinson’s disease, as well as
reproductive and immune system problems, some cancers and thyroid disorders, in
addition to learning disabilities, autism, and ADHD in children have been
shown, in some studies, to be correlated with chronic pesticide exposure.
Emerging research links diabetes and obesity with higher body burden of toxins,
including pesticides. Increasingly, pesticides that had once been deemed to be safe
are coming under greater scientific scrutiny. While the environmental
persistence of the mostly (except for endosulfan) banned organochlorine
pesticides has been known for some time, new studies, such as a recent one on chlordane
(2) and autoimmune impacts on humans, are indicating that the end of their use
is not the end of their story. Chlorpyrifos (3), on the other hand, while
banned for residential use in 2001, is still commonly used in agriculture, and
has recently been linked to ADHD in children. A favorite for families’ homes
and gardens, as well as in agricultural fields and orchards, Roundup, or
glyphosate, has been found to be not so benign after all, as shown in recent
studies that link Roundup to birth defects (4) and seepage into groundwater. Mancozeb,
a fungicide, has been implicated in the notorious AgMart birth defects
incidents in Immokalee, Florida in 2005, in which three separate young
farmworker women, all of whom had worked harvesting tomatoes while they were pregnant,
gave birth to babies with severe birth defects (5).
The most sensational Immokalee case was that of Carlitos, a baby
boy born with no arms or legs. AgMart farms had a history of multiple
violations of the EPA Worker Protection Standards. The young farmworker women
probably never saw a pesticide label, and may not have been literate in Spanish
or English. However, if the persons responsible for applying the pesticides on
those fields had been able to read the labels on the pesticides that they used,
they may have been able to warn the women of the dangers to pregnant women of
working without proper protection around such toxic chemicals.
Sadly, most farmworkers are never told even the names of the
pesticides that are being used in their workplaces, much less given the
pesticide labels to read. However, the Farmworker Association of Florida, in
multiple pesticide trainings that staff have conducted over the past five years,
found that 60% of the farmworkers explicitly stated that they wanted to know
the names of the pesticides; 37% wanted to know the dangers of pesticide
exposure or what they could do to decrease the negative health effects; 6%
wanted to know how to better prepare or apply pesticides; and 4% asked to know
the re-entry period after pesticides had been sprayed. Pesticide handlers (mixers, loaders, applicators) must know the
information on the pesticide labels in order to properly store, handle, apply
and dispose of the toxic chemicals that they are using, and they must know the
health and environmental risks of improper usage and first aid procedures in
case of exposure. For Spanish-speaking pesticide handlers, English-only
pesticide labels put them at a disadvantage, with potential risk to themselves,
others, and the environment.
The agricultural industry is resisting bilingual pesticide labels,
siting cost and language variation and dialects as being prohibitive and
problematic. Yet, pesticide manufacturers are often required to translate
pesticide labels for export to other countries and this cost is easily
absorbed; and translators agree that there is a standard Spanish that is
generally universally understood by Spanish speakers. EPA already requires Worker
Protection Standards training materials in English and Spanish. If information
is deemed by EPA to be important enough to be required on a pesticide label,
then it is equally important that the information be understood by those that
are using and/or who are being exposed to the product.
Protection at the front end of
agricultural pesticide usage, in the long run, is far less expensive than improper
handling, application, and storage of pesticides. FWAF believes that providing
pesticide applicators and handlers, as well as farmworkers and others in
agriculture, access to information in a language they can read and understand
will greatly reduce the risks of needless and dangerous exposures to
themselves, to other workers, and to the environment.
Are pesticide labels in Spanish the
cure-all for protecting farmworkers from any kind of exposure to dangerous
agricultural pesticides? No, but at least it is an important place to start.
Editor's note: if
you'd like to take action on pesticide policy, click here.
(1) EPA: Pesticide Industry Sales and
Usage 2006 and 2007 Market Estimates
(2) Research Brief 199: Foray Into Tackling the Toxicity of Environmental Pesticide Mixture
(4) Roundup: Birth Defects Caused By World's Top-Selling Weedkiller, Scientists Say
(5) Case Report: Three Farmworkers Who Gave Birth to Infants with Birth Defects Closely Grouped in Time and Place
New American Media
Posted: Aug 26, 2011
Editors of La Opinión write that it is time for Alabama
to understand that restrictive immigration state laws have serious side
effects that hit everyone’s pocketbooks.
First, it happened
in the state of Georgia. Now, it is time for Alabama to understand that
restrictive immigration state laws have serious side effects that hit
The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen
Protection Act, believed to be the country’s toughest law of its kind,
was supposed to, among other things, reduce the high unemployment rate.
This has not been the case. Although the law led legal and illegal
immigrants to leave the state, more than two months after its enactment,
their jobs remain unfilled.
Alabama Agriculture Commissioner
John McMillan is concerned about this, since the lack of workers is
endangering the harvest of peanuts, tomatoes and squash. There have been
reports of small farms giving up on planting because of uncertainty
regarding the labor force.
The same is happening in the
construction industry, which can’t find enough workers to rebuild towns
damaged by the April tornadoes.
Once again, this situation
debunks the arguments used in state legislatures as well as the House of
Representatives, which claim that the unemployment issue can be solved
by expelling undocumented immigrants in order for citizens to take over
Alabama has an unemployment rate of almost 10%, while
undocumented immigrants account for slightly less than 8% of the
state’s workforce of 1.9 million. Immigrants are leaving and local
unemployed people are not filling those jobs, impacting the state’s
economy. The reality is as simple as that.
What is happening in
Alabama, like in Georgia, shows that these states’ economies need the
immigrant workforce. It also highlights the error of creating laws based
on false and stereotyped perceptions, which have more to do with
anti-immigrant sentiment than with common sense.
reform is the only path to resolving numerous issues related to
immigration. The workforce and the economy are certainly some of them.
If there is some doubt, Alabama’s situation proves the point.
From the Huffington Post - Click here for more
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration announced on Thursday it will
do a case-by-case review of deportations, allowing many undocumented
immigrants without criminal records to stay in the United States
indefinitely and apply for work permits.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will send a
letter on Thursday to Senate members who had asked for details on how
the agency would prioritize its immigration enforcement. The policy
change is meant as a framework to help prevent non-priority undocumented
immigrants from "clogging the system," senior administration officials
said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.
First, the agency will look at its pending immigration cases and
close the low-priority cases, so immigration courts can focus on the
most serious ones, administration officials said. The low-priority cases
can be reopened if circumstances require. Next, guidance will be given
to immigration enforcement agents to help them better detect serious
criminals and other high-priority undocumented immigrants.
Undocumented immigrants whose cases are closed will be allowed to
apply for work permits, but will not be given them automatically,
The move was perhaps meant to combat harsh criticism
from Latino groups and immigration reform advocates, who have rebuked
President Obama for continuing to deport undocumented people at record
rates, while at the same time insisting he supports immigration reform.
Although the Obama administration has repeatedly said its deportation
policies focus on the "worst of the worst," immigrant rights groups say
enforcement agents still net a large number of non-criminal
The administration had earlier attempted to defend its record on Tuesday, with a blog post meant to "set the record straight" on the Secure Communities enforcement program.
Cecilia Munoz, White House director of Intergovernmental Affairs,
wrote that more than half of all removals are of people with criminal
records. Among non-criminals, most of those removed were apprehended
crossing the border, had recently arrived in the United States or had
been previously deported, she wrote.
"Those statistics matter," Munoz wrote. "While we have more work to
do, the statistics demonstrate that the strategy DHS put in place is
The administration earlier tried to clarify its immigration enforcement policies in a June memo,
which specifically recommended prosecutorial discretion. That memo
cited the possibility of considering whether a person under removal
proceedings would otherwise be eligible for the DREAM Act, an un-passed
bill that would allow some undocumented young people to gain legal
status in exchange for two years of college or military service.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the key supporters of the DREAM Act, applauded the administration's decision Thursday.
"The Obama Administration has made the right decision in changing the
way they handle deportations of DREAM Act students," Durbin said.
"These students are the future doctors, lawyers, teachers and, maybe,
senators, who will make America stronger. We need to be doing all we can
to keep these talented, dedicated, American students here, not wasting
increasingly precious resources sending them away to countries they
Durbin pledged to "closely monitor DHS" to ensure the new policy would be implemented.
But increased discretion on the part of administration prosecutors
may not be enough to please advocacy groups, many of which argue the
administration should abolish certain enforcement programs altogether.
"In order to fulfill its promises, the administration must end
policies like Secure Communities that result in the criminalization of
innocent immigrants who are Americans in Waiting like those who came
before them," said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day
Laborers Organizing Network, in an email statement. "The administration
has pursued policies that are sowing fear and devastation among
immigrant communities, and it must reverse course to stop the
Arizonification of the country," he added, referencing Arizona's strict
immigration enforcement policies.
View this slideshow to see who could benefit from prosecutorial discretion:
Check out a couple of our new albums in the media section. Trying to decide whether it's better to just post slideshows or direct links to albums. If you have any Pictures where AIRR is involved (face to faces, actions, events) please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, working on a resources page. Hopefully some useful materials will be up soon.
Welcome to the new Advocates for Immigrant and
Refugee Rights website! We are working on creating a place for members
to hang out, share events, and become more cohesive as well as a place
for visitors to familiarize themselves with our organization. These are
the first few minutes of our new website - hopefully it will be a large
and eventful place very soon!