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Latinos React to Supreme Court Decision of Arizona Immigration Law

June 26, 2012

by AQ Online

Following the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to strike down three of four SB 1070 provisions being challenged by the federal government, many in the U.S. Hispanic community breathed a sigh of relief while expressing uncertainty and concern over the “show me your papers” provision that was left intact. Section 2(B) requires state and local police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest and suspect of being in the U.S. without authorization.

Hispanic leaders and experts argue that the clause will lead to racial profiling and unjust arrests, in addition to fostering a climate of fear among Latinos in the United States. Eliseo Mendina, Secretary-Treasurer of the International Service Employees Union Concern, said, “We are extremely disappointed that [the Supreme Court] upheld the ‘show me your papers’ provision. We think that it is a clear violation of human and civil rights and will, in fact, lead to racial profiling.” Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, concurred:  “If it’s at the discretion of a police officer, clearly someone who has brown skin and an accent is more at a disadvantage than a blond person with white skin,” he said. Mario H. López, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, an advocacy organization, said in a statement, “There is no reason to have confidence in the ability or willingness of officials like Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio to implement this law” in a way that upholds constitutional protections for all Arizona residents.

Community leaders and activists vowed to keep fighting the law. Carlos García, executive director of Puente, a grassroots migrant and human rights movement, said “many people will suffer as a result of this law,” and that his organization and others “will inform the community well and keep fighting.” Mendina urged Latino voters to use the power of their vote in the November 6 elections to help overturn the law.

Outside of the U.S., the Mexican government also lamented that the Supreme Court had failed to invalidate Section 2(B). The Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement that SB 1070 and other similar laws fail to recognize “the numerous contributions immigrants have made in their destination communities,” and that the Mexican government will continue to implement “all legal, political and diplomatic actions at its disposal to defend the fundamental rights of Mexicans in [the U.S.], without regard for their immigration status.” The Ministry of Foreign Relations estimates that there are about 12 million Mexicans living in the  U.S., about half of whom lack documentation.

Tags: integration, U.S. immigration, SB 1070

Monday Memo: AQ’s Top Expected Stories for the Week of June 25

June 25, 2012

by AQ Online

Top stories this week are likely to include: effect of Fernando Lugo’s impeachment; Supreme Court verdict on Arizona’s immigration law; Mexico elects a new government; Julian Assange’s asylum request to Ecuador; and Mercosur summit in Argentina.

Backlash to Lugo’s Ouster: After former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was impeached last Friday by the opposition-dominated legislature in a 39-4 vote, his vice president, Federico Franco, was sworn in later that evening as the country’s new head of state. Lugo, while accepting the decision of Congress, likened the move to a “parliamentary coup.” Franco belongs to the same coalition—the Patriotic Alliance for Change—as Lugo, who was ousted due to his handling of deadly land clashes the week prior that killed at least 17 people. In response, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Venezuela removed their ambassadors to Paraguay while other countries such as Colombia recalled its ambassador in Asunción for consultations. According to CNN, the governments in Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic said they will not recognize Franco as the legitimate leader of Paraguay. It was just announced this morning that Paraguay will be suspended from this week’s Mercosur summit in Mendoza, Argentina, although Lugo will still attend. However, pay attention for any official declarations from Mercosur later this week on the Paraguay situation. Notes AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini, “As we saw in the case of Honduras in 2009, democratic institutions and rules—when weak—can be manipulated to undemocratic ends. In both cases, presidents were denied fundamental rights of due process. I fully expect that at the Mercosur summit member governments will take action to threaten punishment of the post-Lugo government. UNASUR will likely do the same. The question is: Will anyone care if the OAS does?”

Supreme Court Verdict on SB 1070: The U.S. Supreme Court verdict on Arizona’s restrictive immigration legislation—SB 1070—was delivered this morning, which invalidated three of the four controversial provisions of the law but did uphold the “papers please” provision, which permits police officers to ask for documentation from anyone they suspect of being in Arizona illegally. This ruling could have ripple effects in other U.S. states that have adopted similar legislation, such as Utah, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. AQ Senior Editor Jason Marczak observes: “Today’s ruling is a partial victory for the rights of immigrants and for any American who may appear to be an immigrant. By blocking three of the four provisions, including the section that would have allowed police officers to arrest anyone if there was probable cause of their being in the U.S. without authorization, the Court by and large held firm that federal regulations must supersede the growing  patchwork of state-level immigration laws. It is unfortunate that the Court upheld the bill’s provision whereby police officers can conduct status checks, but it did severely restrict when and how those checks can be applied.”

Mexico Elections on Sunday: Aside from the presidency, all 628 seats in the Mexican legislature (500 in the Chamber of Deputies, 128 in the Senate) are up for grabs in the nationwide election on Sunday, July 1. In addition, the executive and legislative branches of the Federal District government will be chosen as well as the governorships in the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco and Morelos. While Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI) presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto looks poised for victory as he has led the polls for months, a Barclays Capital analysis predicts a PRI win in Congress.

Assange’s Asylum Request: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange broke terms of his house arrest in London last week when he sought refuge in Ecuador’s embassy to the United Kingdom, claiming asylum under the UN Declaration on Human Rights. Sweden is seeking Assange’s extradition from the UK based on sexual assault charges; Assange fears that Sweden will turn him over to the United States. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño has said that Ecuador is considering the request, based on Assange’s account that he is being persecuted. Sabatini says that an agreement from Ecuador to take in Assange “would be said because he would effectively be given asylum for rape charges, not as a martyr for freedom of expression.”

Mercosur Assembly in Mendoza: An annual meeting of Mercosur members and observers is taking place this week in Mendoza, as Argentina holds the rotating presidency of the trade bloc. Higher-level meetings will occur on Thursday and Friday. While this summit has been planned for months, Friday’s news of Lugo’s ouster—Paraguay is a founding member of Mercosur—has thrown Paraguay’s future status in the alliance under speculation. A statement this morning from the Argentine foreign ministry, signed by all Mercosur nations, “energetically condemns the rupture of the democratic order in the Republic of Paraguay for not having respected the right to due process.” Observes Sabatini, “Watch for the member governments to take formal action to isolate the post-Lugo government.”

Tags: Mexico, Mercosur, Arizona, Ecuador, Paraguay, SB 1070, Fernando Lugo, Enrique Peña Nieto, Ricardo Patiño, Federico Franco

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

April 25, 2012

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

U.S. Defense Secretary Tours Brazil, Chile, and Colombia

Colombia, Brazil, and Chile will host U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta this week. “This is a way of making contact and dealing with the region at a time when there’s growing concern over the ability of many countries to be able to handle the threat posed by transnational crime and, specifically, drug trafficking organizations,” one former Pentagon official told Voice of America. In Colombia, Panetta secured the sale of 10 U.S. helicopters to that country to be used in combatting drug trafficking and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Panetta met with Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim in Brasilia as part of the first U.S.-Brazil Defense Cooperation Dialogue, established during Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s visit to Washington earlier this month, and discussed ways to expand bilateral trade in defense technology. Panetta will next head to Rio de Janeiro before departing for Chile, where he is expected to discuss joint naval drug-patrol operations off the Central American coast.

Mexican Migration to the U.S. at a Standstill

A poll from the Pew Hispanic Center finds that Mexican migration to the United States has stopped and perhaps even reversed. The research finds that from 2005 to 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans emigrated to the United States, and 1.4 million Mexican immigrants returned to Mexico from the United States. The report also finds that the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States dropped by nearly 1 million by 2011. The report says the decline is a result of “weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico.”

U.S. Funds to Fight Intellectual Property Crimes in LatAm

Last week, the U.S. State Department announced 12 international intellectual property training programs, designed to combat transnational crime and piracy by educating judges and law enforcement agents on the subject. Of the $2.6 million set aside for these efforts, $438,814 is destined for programs in Mexico, $150,644 for Brazil, $100,000 for Chile, and $70,000 for Colombia. 

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Tags: SB 1070, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Mexico Migration, Intellectual Property, Puerto Rico Primary

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

December 14, 2011

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Links Uncovered between LatAm Cartels and Hezbollah

ProPublica examines the links uncovered by U.S. authorities between Latin American drug traffickers, Lebanese banks, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Connections have been uncovered concerning Latin American drug trafficking profits laundered through Lebanese banks with connections to Hezbollah, as well as in cocaine shipments from South America to the Middle East and Europe. The NPR blog takes a look at the banking connections, and Slate provides an explainer to answer the question: “Why would a Mexican drug cartel selling cocaine to North America want to launder its money through Lebanon?” 

Supreme Court to Decide on Arizona Immigration Law

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will rule on the constitutionality of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070, in mid-2012.  After the law’s passage in April 2010, the Justice Department sued against the measure, and an April 2011 federal appeals court decision prevented parts of the law from taking effect. The Supreme Court will rule on these four blocked parts of the legislation, including a section that allows police to ask for the immigration status of anyone who they believe could be in the United States illegally. 

U.S. and Canada Sign Border Accord

This week, Canadian and U.S. officials agreed to “Beyond the Border,” a non-binding plan intended to reduce red tape and speed up border crossings. It would expand the NEXUS program, a membership initiative which helps “trusted” travelers cross the border more easily. It would allow Canadians changing planes in the United States to avoid having their luggage rescreened, and eases rules for business travelers. The plan would also allow for more information sharing about travelers between the two countries, which could raise privacy concerns in Canada. The Economist’s Gulliver blog notes that those who oppose the new measures “can always take solace in the fact that, as with any other government program, it could take years to be realized, even though pilot projects are slated to start this April.”

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Tags: Kyoto Protocol, Supreme Court, SB 1070, Arizona Immigration, Hezbollah, Mexico Student Protests

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

November 9, 2011

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Former General Wins Guatemalan Election

Otto Pérez Molina, a former general who promised to take a mano dura (iron fist) to Guatemala’s rising crime problem, won Guatemala’s presidential election on November 6, capturing close to 54 percent of the vote. In an article for Time’s Global Spin blog, Tim Padgett says Guatemala needs a more effective police force, prosecuters, and judges rather than an iron fist. Writing for the Latin American Herald Tribune, COA’s Eric Farnsworth notes: “Guatemala’s task, along with others of its Latin American neighbors, is to develop effective democratic institutions that go beyond periodic elections.”

Ortega’s Rival Contests Nicaraguan Election Results

In Nicaragua’s November 6 election, current President Daniel Ortega coasted to reelection, capturing more than 60 percent of the vote—twice the percentage of his closest rival, Fabio Gadea. However, Gadea refuses to concede citing a "plague of irregularities." Among them, says Gadea, lies the questionable legality of Ortega’s second term. In an AQ web exclusive, James Bosworth puts Nicaragua’s electoral events in the context of other contested Latin American elections and explores what could come next. 

Obama Signs Economic Development Agreement with El Salvador

In an interview with El Salvador’s El Diario de Hoy, U.S. President Barack Obama explained the Partnership for Growth Initiative. Signed on November 3, the plan was originally proposed during Obama’s visit to El Salvador in March. The plan aims to aid development and growth in El Salvador through increased investment, public-private partnerships, and technical support. Commenting on the plan, Obama said: “The success of this partnership will be seen through teamwork between the government of El Salvador, the private sector, international partners, and the Salvadoran people.”

Calderón’s Sister Vies For Governorship in Mexico

President Felipe Calderón’s older sister Luisa Maria Calderón is running for governor of Michoacán state on the National Action Party (PAN) ticket in the November 13 elections. If she wins, the victory could give a much-needed boost to Calderón’s beleaguered party before the 2012 presidential elections, reports Reuters.

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Tags: Nicaraguan Elections, SB 1070, President Daniel Ortega, Otto Perez Molina, Guatemalan Elections, DEA Afghanistan

Supreme Court Shows Inconsistency in U.S. Immigration Policy

June 7, 2011

by AQ Online

The Supreme Court ordered a federal appeals court on Monday to review a ban against anti-immigrant legislation in Hazelton, PA. Hazelton’s infamous Illegal Immigration Relief Act of 2006 was deemed unconstitutional by Federal Judge James Munley in 2007. Last September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld most clauses of Judge Munley’s injunction, effectively shutting down the law.

The Supreme Court can order lower courts to reconsider a decision in light of a more recent high court decision. In this case, the higher court ruling to uphold key provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070—namely that employers would lose their business license if they knowingly employed undocumented immigrants—has led to a revision of the Hazelton law with similar penalties for employers. Ironically, the Illegal Immigration Relief Act is considered the impetus for punitive immigration laws in Arizona, Georgia and across the U.S. since 2006.

But local reaction in Hazleton is mixed. In the wake of this news, one resident commented: “elected officials should bury it [Hazleton's law] , be done with it and get to work on fixing real problems.” The law has also had far-reaching  social and economic consequences. Roughly half of Hazelton’s 10,000 Latinos—including its documented population—reportedly left the city due to its immigration law. The town also saw an estimated 20 percent to 50 percent drop in business in the months following its implementation, even though it was eventually blocked.

The Supreme Court decision on Hazelton’s law in many ways exemplifies the current tension at the federal and state levels over progressive versus regressive immigration policy. On the one hand, the Supreme Court decided yesterday to allow California to grant in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. But last Thursday, the Alabama Legislature passed an Arizona-style immigration bill with a wide margin, and Georgia’s punitive immigration law goes into effect on July 1. The inconsistency of immigration law presents newfound urgency for, as well as clear challenges to, a comprehensive federal immigration policy.

Tags: Immigration Policy, Supreme Court, SB 1070, Arizona Immigration, Alabama Immigration, Georgia Immigration, Hazelton, PA

Court Sides with U.S. on Arizona Immigration Law

April 12, 2011

by AQ Online

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled to uphold an injunction against controversial Arizona state law SB 1070. In July 2010—only a day before the law was to go into effect—the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit in federal court to block six of the legislation’s toughest statutes. Monday’s ruling agreed with the DOJ’s position that immigration policy falls under federal jurisdiction and not that of individual states.

SB1070 in its original form required state law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status while enforcing non-immigration-related laws, provided there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person may be undocumented. While the DOJ contested six of the law’s provisions, the rest went into effect on July 29, 2010, and included penalties for municipalities with more lenient approaches to undocumented immigration, as well as sanctions on employers who hire undocumented workers.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who  filed a countersuit against the DOJ in February, 2011, will likely take her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, because SB 1070 only affects Arizona, there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case, in which case the Circuit Court’s ruling would stand.

Tags: Arizona, Supreme Court, SB 1070, Jan Brewer, U.S. Department of Justice, Court of Appeals

Labor's Stand for Immigration Reform: An Interview with Eliseo Medina

September 8, 2010

by Daniel Altschuler

Over the last decade, organized labor has become a major player in the movement for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).  With more members, resources and political clout than most other immigration reform supporters, union support has become a sine qua non for any potential legislation.  As part of an ongoing series of interviews on the current prospects for immigration reform, I spoke with Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of labor’s most outspoken advocates for immigration reform.  Mr. Medina spoke to me about various issues, including labor’s position in the pro-CIR movement, SEIU’s role in the boycott of Arizona, and the union’s efforts to increase Latino political strength throughout the country.

Altschuler: How has Arizona SB 1070 affected SEIU’s organizing strategy on immigration issues?

Medina: When SB 1070 was introduced, we spent a lot of time and energy trying to lobby the legislature, and then for the governor not to sign it. We felt it was unconstitutional, mean-spirited and divisive.  Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful.  From there, we switched to a strategy of trying to deal with the law and how it was introduced.  Our strategy built on the following components:

Number one, challenge the law in the courts.  We joined with a number of other organizations in Arizona and nationally to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the initiative.

Number two, we joined with the NCLR [National Council of La Raza], the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], and a number of other groups supporting a boycott of Arizona, because we felt that the only way we were going to be listened to was if there was some economic pressure brought to bear on Arizona.  It became apparent to us that this was not a question of good, sound policy arguments, but rather a political and ideological battle.  If they weren’t going to listen to us with their minds, we felt maybe they’d listen to us with their pocketbooks.

The third thing we did was campaign to bring together different groups in Arizona that were interested not only in fighting 1070, but also empowering the Latino community to advocate for its own interests.  We put together a table of 501c3 and 501c4 organizations with the goal of reaching out to the Latino community, giving them the information they would need to come out and vote in November, and actually getting them to vote.  This would help us deliver a powerful message at the polls.

Because SB 1070 has begun to rear its ugly head [through potential copycat laws] in 21 or 22 other states, we’ve been working with partner organizations and individuals across the country, lobbying at the state level to stop legislation while trying to make the boycott as successful as possible in order to send a message to other states.

Altschuler: You mentioned the boycott.  Decades ago, you worked on an organizing effort that led to the California grape boycott. Now you find yourself in a movement boycotting the state of Arizona.  What lessons from your earlier boycott experience can you apply to the current effort?

Medina: Boycotts work, because economic pressure can really focus the mind.  They also allow the broader public to do something very specific in support of the movement and to express their opposition to SB 1070.  So we have organizations [that] have cancelled their conventions, musicians and artists who have cancelled their performances, individuals who have cancelled their vacations to Arizona—not going to that state is their statement.  A boycott is something that is very democratic, because it’s something in which everybody can participate.  They don’t have to be in the state of Arizona; they can be anywhere in the world and participate.  It helps to build a movement, while at the same time putting pressure on and ensuring that the message about this law is picked up. 

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Tags: SB 1070, Service Employees International Union, National Council of La Raza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Ecuador’s Open Border Rhetoric

May 13, 2010

by Sabrina Karim

In a world shaped by bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, where goods and services cross borders with relative ease, it is often difficult to say the same about people. However, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has been a leader in championing integration efforts, in particular open border policies in the Western Hemisphere. Ecuador’s 2008 constitution has provisions guaranteeing the free movement of people through Ecuador’s borders and the country is planning to pressure the Organization of American States (OAS) to adopt open-border policies that allow all people from the Americas to have free movement across the region.

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Tags: Andean Community, Rafael Correa, SB 1070, Ecuador Trade Policy

Hilda Solis Talks Immigration

May 12, 2010

by Jason Marczak

The nationwide fury over Arizona’s SB 1070 has yet to diminish. And rightfully so. When this new law goes into effect at the end of July, any American citizen can be asked for their documents if they look to be undocumented. This is just plain un-American.

As President Obama said at a Cinco de Mayo event at the White House last week: “We can't turn law-abiding American citizens—and law-abiding immigrants—into subjects of suspicion and abuse. We can't divide the American people that way.”

A similar message is being reiterated by members of his administration including Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the first Latina to serve on a presidential cabinet. At the Council of the Americas’ 40th Washington Conference on the Americas today, Secretary Solis, the last speaker of the day, emphasized that the U.S. “must change the direction of our immigration policies.” Speaking before business leaders at the State Department, she flat out said that she “doesn’t agree with what’s happening in Arizona.”

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Tags: Immigration, SB 1070, Hilda Solis

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