Time to celebrate some victories! The big win story tonight comes from Arizona, home to so many anti-immigrant ballot initiatives in the not-so-distant past. In a victory for hard work and organizing, reported by Mother Jones, Arizonans voted to reverse one of those past measures. The vote in Arizona is consistent with other election results this year. Anti-immigrant scare campaigns failed across the country.
Two other good-news stories—new citizens in Minnesota and closure of a detention center in Pennsylvania—lead off tonight’s post.
After decades of anti-immigrant legislation, Arizonans voted to allow in-state tuition for undocumented state residents, reversing a 2006 ballot initiative. José Patiño was denied in-state tuition and had his scholarship rescinded in 2006. Now he celebrates the victory that will safeguard the educational futures of a new generation.
[Mother Jones] “A 2011 analysis by ASU’s Cronkite News found that between the Spring of 2007 and the Fall of 2010, the number of students without proof of citizenship in public universities in the state plummeted from 1,524 to 106. Proposition 300 effectively made college education unattainable for many of Arizona’s low-income undocumented youth. …
“The majority of voters in Arizona during the recent midterm elections were in favor of Proposition 308, a ballot measure that repealed provisions from Proposition 300 and opened the way for any high school graduate, regardless of immigration status, living in Arizona for at least two years, to access in-state tuition rates at state universities and community colleges. By some estimates, as many as 3,600 students might benefit from the policy every year. … That result puts Arizona alongside 22 other states and the District of Columbia that allow undocumented students to pay tuition on par with their US-born peers.
“’The beauty and the pain of this campaign,’ says Patiño, who worked on the legislative proposal referring Proposition 308 to the ballot, ‘is that the people advocating, finding sponsors for the bill, getting the legislature to pass it, and talking to voters were the same people [Proposition 300] was intended to bury.’”
Becoming a citizen is a goal for many immigrants, and it would take a lot more than a Minnesota snowstorm to stop them from celebrating!
[Star Tribune] “‘I am so happy I don’t really know what to do,’ said Weete Koropuh, who immigrated from Liberia and braved the snowstorm Tuesday along with nearly 2,000 others to take the oath in two separate ceremonies. ‘I am happy to be an American citizen.’
People from at least 99 countries in all colors of winter gear and their best outfits packed the center for the ceremonies — the culmination of years of work. …
“‘Our beautiful state is the current and ancestral home of the Dakota people and the Ojibwe people,’ [Federal Judge Kesha] Tanabe said. ‘But our state is also home to many generations of immigrants, like you, immigrants who have chosen to become citizens of the United States, and who have chosen to make Minnesota their home.'”
One small victory — a detention center holding asylum seekers will be closed.
“County officials announced Wednesday that they have been informed by the federal government that it will be ending its contract with the county on Jan. 31. …
“Over the last decade the facility has become a magnet for protests, with a variety of advocacy groups calling for it to be shut down. They contend the detainment of children is inhumane and made accusations about mistreatment of detainees and poor living conditions in the center. Federal and county officials have consistently denied those claims.”
And in other news
Two bills already passed by the House could give many immigrants a path to safety and permanent residence—if only the Senate acts now, before the end of the year.
[The Hill] “Democratic leaders have put their weight behind a bill to protect “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors — while a broad swath of the agricultural industry is pushing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA).
“The livestock farmers and their supporters argue that the existing system simply doesn’t address their needs. Livestock businesses require year-round workers who have experience with animals — all current agricultural visas are exclusively seasonal.”
Children are resilient, surviving and overcoming all kinds of difficulties in their lives. But should they have to struggle forever? Kenyon survived the painful, dangerous trek across the Darien Gap. Now he lives in a homeless shelter in New York City. He is happy to go to school, but says he is still often hungry. Can’t we do better for him and other immigrant children?
[Documented NY] “Kenyon Madera Vazquez tries to avoid remembering his time in the jungle where he spent his 11th birthday. He traveled with his mother across seven countries and spent ten days in the perilous Darién Gap. At one point, the blisters on his feet became so painful that he couldn’t walk. There were moments of panic, like when the pair got lost off the path as it got dark, when Kenyon had no choice but to be the one to motivate his mother to keep going with strong words of encouragement. Sometimes there was nothing else to eat other than bread, crackers and tuna. …
“’I spent all day – 10 hours, 12 hours – walking,’ Kenyon said.
“Now, Kenyon has to figure out how to navigate his life in a new city in an unknown language carrying the trauma of his journey to New York with him every day.”
The Title 42 bar to asylum seekers is scheduled to end on December 21. Axios quotes unnamed sources on what the Biden administration is considering to deal with border crossings after that time.
[Axios] “Two measures being considered appear similar to controversial Trump policies.
“One proposal would bar from asylum single adults who illegally cross the border and have not first applied for legal pathways offered by the U.S. or protection in other countries they traveled through. They would be placed in the expedited removal process.
“There would be exceptions for extreme circumstances, although the specifics of those exceptions are unclear.
“Another proposal calls for a surge in criminal prosecutions for single adults who have done nothing other than illegally cross the border — with a focus on those who evade Border Patrol. One source, however, said this would be a tough sell for the Justice Department.”
Asylum seekers are fleeing persecution, jail, death threats, and more. Now more than 6,000 asylum seekers who have reached the United States have additional reasons for fear: ICE accidentally released their names, locations, birthdates, and nationalities on its website.
[Los Angeles Times] “The unprecedented data dump could expose the immigrants — all of whom are currently in ICE custody — to retaliation from the very individuals, gangs and governments they fled, attorneys for people who have sought protection in the U.S. said. The personal information of people seeking asylum and other protections is supposed to be kept confidential; a federal regulation generally forbids its disclosure without sign-off by top officials in the Department of Homeland Security.
“The agency is investigating the incident and will notify the affected immigrants about the disclosure of their information. The agency has said it will not deport immigrants whose information it mistakenly posted until it is determined whether the disclosure affects their cases. …
“The disclosure of the information put lives at risk, said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center, an immigrant advocacy organization.”