Hope for a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year has fallen by the wayside, but the Obama Administration is rallying for one last hurrah before mid-term elections in November. Late last week, the White House unofficially announced plans to sue the state of Arizona over the now notorious Senate Bill 1070, a state law passed this year to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
SB 1070 allows Arizona police to check the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented, and forces immigrants to carry government papers proving their identify at all times.
Meanwhile, an estimated 15,000 progressives and 1,300 organizations are meeting in Detroit this week to discuss alternative solutions to our broken immigration system at the second U. S. Social Forum (USSF).
US v. Arizona?
As Jessica Pieklo reports at Care2, “After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s nonchalant statement on Ecuadorian television last week that the Department of Justice planned to file suit challenging Arizona immigration law SB 1070, senior administration officials confirmed that such a suit would be forthcoming.”
“Expect a suit to come soon though as the controversial measure is set to take effect in July,” Pieklo writes. “That said, it is only one of many suits already challenging the measure in federal court. Some of those cases have asked a federal judge to issue an injunction which would halt implementation of the measure while the legal issues get sorted out.”
At the Women’s Media Center, Gloria Steinem and Pramila Jayapal argue that “In the wake of Arizona’s SB 1070 — the harsh anti-immigrant law that not only condones but promotes racial profiling that endangers entire groups of the innocent — all sides seem to agree that the Federal government has abdicated its responsibility to institute a fair and just immigration system….”
Eyes on Detroit
In the wake of discriminatory laws like the one in Arizona, many immigration reform activists have come to the USSF, taking place June 22-26, to make their voices heard.
“This is great because it just shows community unity,” Rocio Valerio, an activist with the Worker’s Center immigrant rights group, told GritTV. “Right now the strategy for immigrant voices is being driven by policy groups, and with the social forum we’re saying that decisions can’t be made without us.”
At New America Media, Anthony Advincula interviews Rev. Phil Reller, a coordinator for Phoenix-based Southwest Conference United Church of Christ who is attending the forum. “This is a perfect opportunity to educate people on what’s truly happening in our local communities, not just about the struggles of immigrants in Arizona, but also the momentum of hope among community leaders to repeal SB 1070,” Reller says.
ICE gets a face lift
While activists are trying to find answers in Detroit, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in Washington D.C. is attempting to turn itself into a more attractive bureaucratic juggernaut. As AlterNet explains, “This week, [ICE] announced changes to its management structure, conceived as part of a strategy to ‘re-brand’ the agency to the public.”
The agency has even gone so far as to recruit help from Hollywood, although it’s uncertain where the assistance will be coming from or if ICE agents will be portrayed as the “good guys” in movies. But not even a public relations face lift can cover ICE’s sordid record of terrorizing and deporting undocumented immigrants at a record pace.
The National Radio Project has already reported on numerous abuses in ICE-run immigration prisons. The media outlet notes that the government’s “immigrant detention is the fastest-growing form of incarceration in the U.S., with more than 30-thousand detainees behind bars on any given day.”
While immigration problems and discrimination against Latinos continues, Oliver Stone is releasing a new film titled “South of The Border” that traces the history of popular struggles in South America and how they affect the Western Hemisphere.
According to Free Speech TV, the movie, which is set to premiere at the USSF, features interviews from “several South American heads of state, including Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.” Stone was also interviewed about the movie on Democracy Now!