Among the legal barriers that today’s dramatic Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage sends tumbling down is the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage-based immigration benefits. As Congress debates immigration reform, the rights of LGBT immigrants and their U.S. citizen partners have been a central sticking point, with Republicans threatening to kill the immigration bill if Democrats insist on legislating LGBT rights. Today’s historic decision, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, largely puts that debate to rest, by allowing gay and lesbian U.S. citizens to apply for legal residency for their partners.
Immigration through marriage has long been a core component of U.S. citizenship policy. Under existing law, U.S. citizens in opposite-sex marriages can sponsor their immigrant husband or wife to come to the U.S. or remain here with legal authorization. But same-sex couples have been excluded and countless partnerships have been thrown into limbo.
Twelve states currently have laws that permit same-sex marriage. This limits the reach of the court’s decision, because the remaining 38 states retain heterosexist marriage laws. The decision does not create a constitutional right to marriage and thus does not immediately impact laws in those states. But the decision is likely to have a ripple effect, as states may now move to pass marriage equality laws. And the court’s DOMA decision means that marriages performed in one of the 12 states that recognize same-sex unions will be considered valid for federal benefits, even if couples reside in another state.
After making the decision to table his same-sex couple amendment, Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, reintroduced the same-sex marriage amendment last week on the Senate floor. Few observers think that provision has a chance of passage in the current effort to garner Republican support for the bill. Instead, advocates of equal rights for all couples took to watching the court for a remedy. The Supreme Court decision today changes the calculus for Democrats like Leahy, basically making the decision for lawmakers. Whether conservative elected officials like it or not, married same-sex couples will have the same rights as opposite-sex couples to sponsor non-citizen husbands and wives for green cards."
— Seth Freed Wessler, “DOMA Ruling Clears Path For Binational Couples,” Colorlines 6/26/13
To be in proximity to any NBA franchise during a championship run, for lots of kids in our sports obsessed culture, is a dream come true, especially if you are from the city of San Antonio. That could be said for mini-Mariachi phenom Sebastien de la Cruz, who sang the national anthem yesterday for game 3 of the NBA finals. A former participant in the show America’s Got Talent, de la Cruz, in many ways, represents the city of San Antonio most perfectly. Of the 1.3 million people who call the city home, 27% are people under the age of 18 and 63.2% are Hispanic or Latino/a (2010). The Spurs or Los Spurs, as they are often affectionately referred to by their Hispanic fan base, are keenly aware of the diversity that makes up the city of San Antonio, the other major ethnic groups in the city non-Hispanic whites at 26.6% and African Americans at 6.9%. They have been successful at cultivating a fierce loyalty to the franchise that is mindful of these demographics. San Antonio is a huge Hispanic market hub that brokers commerce between the U.S. and Latin America, and the Spurs franchise intimately understands this, and goes to great lengths to have the city’s diversity and economic interested reflected in the city’s NBA team.
So why are people outraged that 10-year old Sebastien de la Cruz sang the National Anthem in a Mariachi outfit? Simply put, because the figure of the Latino/a child citizen subject bounds with possibility, represents a position of vulnerability, and thus is a potential threat to the nation. Never mind that the city of San Antonio was part of the Spanish American empire until 1821, or that it was part of Mexico until the founding of the Republic of Texas in 1836, or that many of the individuals who fought for Texas Independence were Mexican. As hundreds of tweets referred to him as “the little Mexican kid” or the kid that “snuck in the country like 4 hours ago and now he singing the anthem” we see the vitriol and hatred that have become a response to the shifting demographics in this nation. Not surprisingly, many of the twitter haters were minorities or individuals with Spanish surnames, showing that there is a clear divide about immigration politics and minority communities. If people knew the history of San Antonio, and of Texas, they would know that Sebastien represents both the past and future of the state, one that is simultaneously American and basketball loving and yet tinged with a very real Hispanic past. This young man representing his multiple cultures and experiences were cultivated in U.S. schools, reinforced every time he says the pledge of allegiance, and takes the standardized tests required of school-aged children in Texas. So why is he any different? As the tweets suggest, he is brown, young, a threat, a potential criminal, and not worthy of protection. Instead, these rants against a Latino/a child represent the gendered and racialization of how moral discourses about childhood are not universal. Instead they are predicated on phenotypically ideas of belonging, whiteness, and gender. He is different, a child, and thus a vulnerable and easy target for hate speech.
— Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, “Why Sebastien de la Cruz Should Be Respected And Protected,” The Feminist Wire 6/13/13
Israel plans to send thousands of African migrants to an unidentified country, according to a court document, in an attempt to address one of Israel’s more pressing issues: what to do with an influx of roughly 60,000 African migrants who have sneaked into Israel from Egypt over the past eight years.
Most of the migrants have come from Eritrea or Sudan, some fleeing repressive regimes and others looking for work.
Over the past year Israel has taken a series of steps to halt the influx. It built a fence along the border with Egypt and last year offered some migrants cash to leave voluntarily, warning they would be expelled otherwise.
According to the document, a state lawyer told the Israeli supreme court on Sunday that a deal had been reached with an unidentified country to absorb some migrants and that Israel was in talks with two other countries to secure a similar agreement."
— “Israel Planning To Deport African Immigrants To ‘East African Country’,” Guardian (UK) 6/3/13
The next time someone tells you that the U.S. isn’t going after the people who cross the border, you can respond with a very simple answer.
Over the past 10 years, prosecutions for illegal entry and reentry have increased 1,400 and 300 percent, respectively, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.
Crossing the border without authorization is now the most prosecuted federal crime.
As the prosecutions have gone up, so has the percentage of non-criminals who are targeted — people whose only offense is crossing the border illegally.
The percentage of non-criminals prosecuted for illegal entry went from 17 percent of all prosecution in 2002 to 27 percent in 2011, according to the report.
“I never could understand why so much was being put into these particular individuals, who were not our high-level criminals,” said Terry Goddard, a former attorney general of Arizona quoted in the report. “It’s a use of resources disproportionate to the threat.”"
— Ted Hesson, “How Crossing The Border Gets More And More Criminalized,” Univision 5/24/13
More good news from the West Coast! From Greg Moore, Editor-In-Chief:
During the past decade I have had several conversations with groups and individuals that eventually landed on use of the term illegal immigrant to describe those who have unlawfully come to the United States. I have heard all kinds of arguments. I always tensed up when someone arguedillegal immigrant was the same as racial epithets used to describe blacks and Jews. I still believe those comparisons are wrongheaded. But other examples stayed with me. I remember once being told that a young girl cried upon seeing a relative described as an illegal immigrant.
Yesterday, I decided The Denver Post will no longer use the term “illegal immigrant” when describing a person in the country unlawfully. If we know the actual circumstances we will describe them. The word “illegal” will not be applied to a person, only an action.
We began discussing this issue about a month ago after The Associated Press changed its policy. The AP’s action followed a number of other news organizations, such as NBC News, that had long abandoned the use of “illegal immigrant.” A cross section of staff was invited to discuss their views, and then we reviewed the usage in our own news organization. There were not many instances outside of quotations where we described a person as an illegal immigrant, and even rarer in a headline. Why? Because we generally don’t know a person’s status and it is not our practice to ask.
Some people say you can never win an argument with a newspaper. We certainly believe in what we do. But we also believe in listening and learning. We appreciate all of the thoughtful arguments mustered over these many years.
I feel good about how we got here. I am also thinking about that little girl I heard about a while back. She can wipe away those tears.
The Los Angeles Times will no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.”
By EMILY DERUY
The Los Angeles Times will no longer use the terms “illegal immigrant” or “undocumented immigrant,” the paper announced Wednesday. While the Times has generally avoided such terms for some time, the new guidelines make the policy official.
Now, if we can get the New York Times to get with the times and drop the i-word…
A generation ago, whites made up roughly two-thirds of the population in this rarefied Los Angeles suburb, where most of the homes are worth well over $1 million. But Asians now make up over half of the population in San Marino, which has long attracted some of the region’s wealthiest families and was once home to the John Birch Society’s Western headquarters.
The transformation illustrates a drastic shift in California immigration trends over the last decade, one that can easily be seen all over the area: more than twice as many immigrants to the nation’s most populous state now come from Asia than from Latin America.
And the change here is just one example of the ways immigration is remaking America, with the political, economic and cultural ramifications playing out in a variety of ways. The number of Latinos has more than doubled in many Southern states, including Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, creating new tensions. Asian populations are booming in New Jersey, and Latino immigrants are reviving small towns in the Midwest.
Much of the current immigration debate in Congress has focused on Hispanics, and California has for decades been viewed as the focal point of that migration. But in cities in the San Gabriel Valley — as well as in Orange County and in Silicon Valley in Northern California — Asian immigrants have become a dominant cultural force in places that were once largely white or Hispanic.
“We are really looking at a different era here,” said Hans Johnson, a demographer at the Public Policy Institute of California who has studied census data. “There are astounding changes in working-class towns and old, established, wealthy cities. It is not confined to one place.”
Many of the immigrants come here from China and Taiwan, where they were part of a highly educated and affluent population. They have eagerly bought property in places like San Marino, where the median income is nearly double that of Beverly Hills and is home to one of the highest-performing school districts in the state. The local library now offers story time in Mandarin.
But the wealth is not uniform, and there are pockets of poverty in several of the area’s working-class suburbs, particularly in Vietnamese and Filipino communities.
“This is kind of ground zero for a new immigrant America,” said Daniel Ichinose, a demographer at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “You have people speaking Mandarin and Vietnamese and Spanish all living together and facing many common challenges.”"
— Jennifer Medina, “New Suburban Dream Born Of Asia And Southern California,” New York Times 4/28/13 (via secretarysbreakroom)