Hundreds of Hispanic students were missing from classrooms in the Birmingham area on Wednesday, some Mexican restaurants were closed and workers did not show up at other businesses as Hispanics stayed home to protest the toughest immigration law in the country.
The boycott, designed to demonstrate the contribution that Hispanic immigrants make to Alabama, seemed to have mixed success across the Birmingham area. While some businesses were closed, other employers reported all of their workers came to work. The impact of the boycott appeared more profound in north Alabama, where several poultry plants were closed.
The Immigration Policy Center, an arm of the American Immigration Council in Washington, disagrees. It released a report last week that estimates immigrants comprised 4.9 percent of Alabama's work force in 2010. Citing data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, the Immigration Policy Center estimates that in 2010, unauthorized immigrants in Alabama paid $130.3 million in state and local taxes.
That includes $25.8 million in state income taxes, $5.8 million in property taxes and $98.7 million in sales taxes.
It appears as if Pennsylvania is the next state to enter into the fray of reforming their state’s immigration laws. Last week, the State Government Committee approved the Professional Licensees Illegal Employment Act. If the bill becomes law, it would penalize anyone that hires undocumented workers by revoking their professional licenses from the Bureau of Occupational and Professional Affairs. This Bureau controls the professional licensing of over 30 licensing boards for various occupations including doctors, nurses, and funeral directors.
The Pennsylvania bill has wide support from Pennsylvania Republicans who believe that employers who hire illegal immigrants are not penalized at all. They believe that illegal immigrants are taking vital jobs in a time where the country is facing increasingly high unemployment rates. Opposition to the bill is widespread, with critics citing the bill’s continued failure to set out a clear policy of how it is going to be enforced.
Although Alabama has yet to fully enforce its draconian immigration laws, Alabama is already beginning to suffer because of its new legislation. After Judge Sharon Blackburn upheld HB 56, nearly 25% of the state’s construction workers have failed to show up to work. In a time where Alabama is supposed to be focusing on rebuilding infrastructure following the Tuscaloosa tornadoes of last year, the lack of construction workers in Alabama is troublesome. The Perryman Group stated that Alabama could lose an estimated 18,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in revenue because of the state’s immigration measures. Estimates from the American Immigration Council could also cost the states another $130 million in lost tax revenues.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been beaten up in recent GOP presidential primary debates over his signing of a bill in 2001 giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrant kids in Texas. Look for the issue to come up again at tonight’s debate in New Hampshire.
In a free society, so-called DREAM Act legislation would be unnecessary. Opportunities for legal immigration would be open wide enough that illegal immigration would decline dramatically. And higher education would be provided in a competitive market without state and federal subsidies. But that is not yet the world we live in.
On the federal level, the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would offer permanent legal status to illegal immigrant children who graduate from high school and then complete at least two years of college or serve in the U.S. military. Legal status would allow them to qualify for in-state tuition in the states where they reside, and would eventually lead to citizenship.
Those who respond that such a law would amount to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants should keep a couple of points in mind.
First, kids eligible under the DREAM Act came to the United States when they were still minors, many of them at a very young age. They were only obeying their parents, something we should generally encourage young children to do.
Second, these kids are a low-risk, high-return bet for legalization. Because they came of age in the United States, they are almost all fluent in English and identify with America as their home (for many the only one they have ever known). “Assimilation” will not be an issue.
CHICAGO—According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are approximately 36,000 same sex, bi-national couples living in the United States. These couples have to reach out to alternative methods such as student visas or other legal resources in order to remain together.
Kevin Goodman is associate dean at St. James Cathedral, in Chicago. He met Anton Pulung-Hartanto, who is originally from Indonesia, at Disney world in 2000.
“I went to Disney with a youth group, to try to show them that one could have a religious experience in a place like that, and that’s where I met my partner”, said Goodman at a forum on LGBT Immigrant Rights held at the Adler School of Professional Psychology on September 27th.
Pulung-Hartanto worked at Disney, in Florida, as a cultural host with a Q-1 visa, which is provided specifically for cultural exchange programs.
They have been together for 12 years and plan on marrying next spring in Vermont, said Goodman.
The Final Option
Goodman is from New Orleans and grew up tied to the All Saints’ River Ridge Episcopal church. He studied communication and worked as a television producer. But he’s always been interested in Asian cultures, which is why he traveled to Xi’an in the Republic of China and has taken Asian Studies courses. He also studied in the theological seminary in New York, where his work with indigent youth and people with HIV began.
When he arrived in Chicago he worked with The Night Ministry program, specifically with indigent youth in the Lakeview neighborhood. He was also working with the St. Matthew church in Evanston through the Ravenswood Community Services agency and now with St. James Cathedral.
When Pulung-Hartanto’s Q-1 Visa expired, he applied for a Student I-20 visa which allowed him another 10 years in this country. He studied culinary arts at Saint Augustine College.
The impact of Alabama’s new immigration law, which requires K-12 schools to check the immigration status of their students, could be felt in several states, including Florida.
Sunshine State News reports today that “a number of school districts across Florida have been advised to monitor enrollment numbers for Hispanic migrant families relocating from Alabama after a federal judge upheld that state’s new immigration enforcement law.
The online news outlet adds that “Florida’s Education Estimating Conference said so far they haven’t seen any influx in the counties bordering Alabama or in counties such as Osceola, Hardee and Volusia where migrant families may seek agriculture employment,” and that the “Alabama Department of Education stated that on Oct 3, 5 percent of the state’s Hispanic students didn’t show up for school.”
Our sister site The American Independent recently reported that civil rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department sued to stop Alabama’s immigration enforcement law, “passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in May, from being enforced, as they did in the case of S.B. 1070, the Arizona immigration law. But unlike in Arizona, a federal judge chose to allow most of the Alabama law to go into effect.”
The Immigration Policy Center reported last week that Alabama school administrators “worry that Alabama’s immigration law will impact the state’s already cash-strapped school system.”
The Policy Center added that, “according to Alabama’s Department of Education, 2,285 Hispanic students (of 34,000 Hispanic students state-wide) were absent from school on Monday.”
California Governor Jerry Brown announced Saturday that he has signed the second half of California's Dream Act legislative package, which will begin in 2013. But what is the Dream Act, and what impact will it have on the California?
Each year, about 25,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in California. Many of these students came to America when they were very young, before they had any say in their education or choices. As such, many legislators feel this bill gives them an opportunity both to become Americans and fulfill the American dream.
"After having invested 12 years in the high school education of these young men and women, who are here through no fault of their own," Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D- Los Angeles) said Saturday, "it's the smartest thing for us to do to permit these students to get scholarships and be treated like every other student."
Many undocumented students are not able to attend college without financial assistance. Almost 40% of undocumented students families' live below the federal poverty line, compared to 17% percent for native-born families, according to the Immigration Policy Center.
Approximately 2,500 students are expected to apply under the program thus far.
The long and winding road that is the challenges to Alabama’s Taxpayer H.B. 56 has begun. Federal Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn has issued various rulings, but they are early, preliminary and procedural skirmishes, so there are no winners and losers yet.
But I have to ask Alabama decisionmakers, why bother? Many of the politicians involved are restrictionists and nativists who insist that they do not want government overreaching in their lives. And yet, they do not seem to mind, in fact insist upon, reaching into the lives of undocumented families, even at the state level.
Surely it is not large numbers behind this overreaction that is H.B. 56. Immigration Policy Center and Census Bureau figures reveal that in 2010, only 5 percent of Alabamians are Latino (3.9 percent) or Asian (1.1 percent), and in 2009, 87.8 percent of children in Asian families in the state were U.S. citizens, and 85.1 percent of Latino children in the state’s families were U.S. Citizens. With these small communities, why the rush to symbolize intolerance by enacting the country’s most restrictionist and comprehensively anti-immigrant statute?
Such laws are mean-spirited and punitive. The schoolchildren are already not showing up for classes. In enacting bans on college enrollments and counting measures on schoolchildren allowed by law to attend schools since Plyler v. Doe in 1982, Alabamians reveal themselves not as strict constructionists or conservatives, but as ideologues who will use unnecessary legislation and the power of government to intervene in families to punish innocent children. Public shame on them.
GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s statements on immigration in Florida last week and the reaction of immigration enforcement only policy supporters seems to be having an impact on the Florida Legislature.
According to The Miami Herald:
Florida’s Tea Party activists say they will accept nothing short of requiring every employer to check the immigration status of their workers through the federal E-verify program in January when legislators convene in regular session. But armed with the support of Florida’s powerful agriculture and business groups, the same legislative leaders who last year promised Arizona-style immigration reform are now barely offering tentative support for it.
The Herald adds: “House Speaker Dean Cannon, whose chamber proposed but never passed an Arizona-style immigration enforcement plan last year, said that immigration reform may take a back seat to balancing the budget, reapportionment and strengthening the economy.”
Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolis, R-Merritt Island, said last week that his chamber would pass the same immigration bill it passed in the 2011 session. At this year’s RedState Gathering, Gov. Rick Scott said that an immigration enforcement bill “will happen this session.”
According to Numbers USA — an organization that wants “lower immigration levels” — Perry’s results in the Florida straw poll can be blamed on his weak stance on immigration enforcement. The group writes that “Texas Gov. Rick Perry is proving that appearing to be more concerned about illegal-alien workers than about unemployed Americans doesn’t work in Republican primaries.”
An apparent drunk-driving fatality in the small Massachusetts town of Milford has ignited a state-wide campaign to crack down on illegal immigration.
Last month, Ecuadoran Nicholas Guaman was charged with vehicular homicide for allegedly running down 23-year-old motorcyclist Matthew Denice in his truck while drunk. Guaman didn't have a driver's license.
The victim's family began advocating for Massachusetts to begin using the federal Secure Communities program. Denice's surviving family members maintain that tighter immigration enforcement could have prevented the fatal crash, since Guaman had a prior arrest and a Secure Communities review of his record would have resulted in his deportation.
A few thousand Ecuadorans, many of them undocumented, live in Milford, a town of 25,000 about 40 miles southwest of Boston. The immigrants work primarily in roofing and service jobs, according to radio station WBUR.
"If one of those factors had been different my son would still be here," Denice's mother told the local Fox station. "If we had the Secure Communities . . . he would have been deported."
Research from University of Colorado sociology professor Tim Wadsworth found that in U.S. cities with at least 50,000 people, an influx of immigrants was correlated to a decrease in crime between 1990 and 2000. But because the U.S. Census doesn't distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, it's difficult for researchers to know the specific effect of illegal immigrants on crime. The Immigration Policy Center said in a report in 2007 that incarceration rates for young men of every ethnic group are lowest among immigrants, legal and illegal.
Two dozen college students rallied Werdnesday afternoon outside the San Francisco office of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Oct. 9 to either sign or veto a bill that would allow undocumented students to receive public financial aid for higher education.
The students, joined by a member of the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees, took part in a statewide day of action designed to pressure Brown into signing the bill, AB 131, the second half of the California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act.
In July, Brown signed AB 130, a bill allowing undocumented students to receive private scholarships.
If he signs the second bill, undocumented students attending public higher educational institutions who qualify for the exemption from non-resident tuition would be eligible to receive financial aid at the state's public colleges and universities.
Currently, undocumented students cannot receive state or federal financial aid.
According to the Immigration Policy Center, although some 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, only 5 to 10 percent continue onto college, with many unable to continue for financial reasons or because schools do not allow them to enroll.
Several students, identified only by their first names for their protection, shared stories at the rally about their college experiences.
Through choked tears, Catherine spoke of how she had been a fourth-year political science student at the University of California at Berkeley but had to drop out the semester she was to graduate because she could not afford to finish.
"Sign this bill as if your own children needed it," she said, urging Brown to take action. "Undocumented students are under attack and California can be the beacon of hope."