MAY 13, 2010 12:21PM

Weekly Diaspora: More Hypocrisy in Arizona

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by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

After passing what is arguably the harshest immigration law in the country—SB 1070 forces local police to adhere to detain someone if there is “responsible suspicion” that they are undocumented—Arizona has now passed a law banning ethnic studies courses, as Feministing reports.

At The Nation, Jon Wiener writes that the new law “bans classes that ‘promote resentment toward a race or class of people,’ ‘are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,’ or ‘advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals.’” Hypocrisy much?

Arizona is a bad influence. “At least 10 other states — many inspired by Arizona — are talking about enacting similarly draconian legislation,” Zachary Roth over at TPMMuckraker writes. “And most aren’t places that are traditionally thought of as hot-spots in the immigration battle.” States considering harsh laws include South Carolina, Texas and Georgia, according to Roth.

But along with a growing national boycott, Arizona is also facing major tourism backlash. AlterNet reports that “as tourists increasingly shun Arizona over the state’s new immigration law, their desertion is likely to spill some paint of their own: red ink stains all over state and local budgets.” At least nineteen conferences have been canceled so far in the state, according to the article. Currently, Arizona is also facing a major budget shortfall totaling $2 billion.

United we stand

As Daisy Hernandez reports for RaceWire, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than 2 million members, has vowed to focus more on immigration. While unions offered less than stellar support during the 2007 immigration reform debate after disagreeing with provisions for a guest worker program,  they are now expected to be a key ally in 2010.

SEIU is joining the boycott against Arizona for its anti-immigration law, and Hernandez also notes that “the news comes as the union swore in its new president Mary Kay Henry over the weekend.”

From dreams to reality

On GRITtv, Laura Flanders discusses the growing movement to support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), “a bipartisan bill offering a road to citizenship for undocumented minors who attend college or join the military,” as Flanders says.

Undocumented students backing the DREAM Act are an integral part of the immigration reform movement. They’ve successfully organizing to stop deportations of young immigrants and lobbied members of Congress to support their cause. Most recently, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote a national op-ed this week boosting the act.

Currently, the DREAM Act is lingering in the Senate, and reform supporters are pushing for a immigration reform bill (which would likely include a DREAM Act provision) to be proposed and debated in the Senate this year, although it’s unknown when that will happen.

The value of immigrants

At New America Media, Jacob Simas reports on the state of immigrant workers who pick crops around Fresno, California. “Nobody knows how many farm workers here are homeless,” Simas writes, “And while longtime community members say they are likely a small percentage of the unemployed farm worker population, it is the first time they can recall seeing living conditions get this bad for the workers who help put food on our tables.”

Thanks to the recession, migrant workers are now struggling to find work. “Scattered groups of farm workers, unemployed and desperate, are emerging from a long cold winter spent living outdoors, in the same orchards that were once their livelihood,” according to Simas, who quotes one worker as saying, “We’ll go to town and ask people if we can work in their yard for ten, fifteen, maybe twenty dollars.”

Why the census matters

In Michigan, local governments are encouraging undocumented immigrants to participate in the census in order to gain more funding for federal services. Todd A. Heywood writes for the Michigan Messenger that in Macomb County, which borders Detroit, “a low count that ignores residents without proper documentation in 2010 could cost the county hundreds of thousands of federal dollars.”

The county loses more than $1,000 for each resident who doesn’t fill out the census, per year, according to Heywood. This year alone, the federal Census Bureau has launched the largest campaign in history to reach out to undocumented immigrants and other communities of color, amid a history of low turnout and a reluctance to give information to the government. Advocacy groups have been urging undocumented immigrants to be counted in the census this year, and note that immigration status is not asked on the form.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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