This week’s immigration blog roundup will cover a new bill aimed at uniting immigrant families, abuses of local police in enforcing federal immigration policy, anti-immigration hate crimes, and more.

In an effort to amend the outdated family-based immigration policy in the United States, Rep. Mike Honda (CA) has reintroduced the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709) in Congress, aimed at better accommodating the large number of immigrants faced with choosing between working in the United States and living with their families.  In his Monday article in Roll Call, Rep. Honda recalled the example of how a California woman, Judy Rickard, must relocate to Europe because she is unable to sponsor her partner, Karin Bogliolo, a UK national, for residency in America.  Such a sponsorship is legal for married heterosexual couples.  According to Rep. Honda, “[f]ailure to reunite families means failure to keep communities healthy, physically and financially.”

The ACLU has released a report on the abuses of local police in Cobb Country, Georgia in their implementation of section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows local law enforcement to act as immigration officers.  According to the report, Cobb County officers are unduly “round[ing] up immigrants for deportation,” largely by targeting them in traffic-related offenses. The ACLU suggests that there be greater oversight and accountability on the federal level in order to remedy these abuses.
Latinos continue to lay victim to anti-immigrant hate crimes in the United States. The development of the “sport” of “beaner hopping,” a “[d]erogatory term used by racist youth for group attacks on people perceived to be undocumented immigrants,” is a sad reminder of not only the status quo for immigrants in America, but also the need for immigration reform and human rights protections. Read more here.

A new study based on data from 2007 finds that 71% of Brazilian immigrants in the greater-Boston region were undocumented.  Jim Rizoli, co-founder of the group Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement, responded to study by blaming undocumented immigrants for crime, education and health-care costs, and lost jobs in Massachusetts during the recent economic downturn.  The study was conducted in order to provide policy-making data to Governor Deval Patrick for an upcoming proposal to better incorporate immigrants into the “state’s economic and civic spheres.”  The study made several other findings that have raised eyebrows from advocates and critics alike.  Such as: less than one percent of Brazilian immigrants relied on welfare; and two out of three Brazilian immigrants plans to spend retirement in Brazil.

Migrants moving north through Mexico now risk being kidnapped by those seeking ransom from the migrant’s loved ones waiting for them in the United States. While migrants are typically poor, with little cash on hand, they often have notified well-off friends and family of their impending arrival.  Kidnappers will often beat and rape migrants until they surrender the telephone numbers and email addresses of those waiting for them in order to demand payment for their release.  Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission estimated that 10,000 migrants have been kidnapped while migrating to the United States from September 2008 to February 2009.  However, the actual number of victims may be much higher since many migrants are too afraid to report these crimes in fear of being deported by Mexican immigration authorities.

This past Friday, over a thousand activists held a vigil for immigration reform in Santa Clara, CA.  The march advocated for immigration reform in 2010, focusing on a message of bringing immigrant families together instead of tearing families apart.  The peaceful protesters coordinated the rally with a speech by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on global security.

Lastly, immigration groups are up in arms over an “illegal Alien” Halloween costume that is available at several of the nation’s leading retailers including Amazon, Target, and Walgreens.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

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