Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Nation (almost) Lost in Xenophobia Part 2

National Immigration Law Center emailed their latest information on the Dream Act. Arizona has passed a proposition (300) that will affect almost 4,000 students:

AZ: 3,850 College Students Denied In-State Tuition
The Arizona Republic, January 9, 2008
By Anne Ryman

Nearly 4,000 students at Arizona universities and community colleges have been denied in-state tuition this year because they failed to prove they were legal residents. The largest share is at the community colleges.

Arizona universities and colleges recently began requiring students to prove their citizenship after state voters passed Proposition 300, a ballot initiative that prevents undocumented students from getting in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid...

Below is the continuation of Schrag's article:

This article can be found on the web at

Divided States
The Nation
[from the January 7, 2008 issue]


Some fifty jurisdictions, among them San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have declared themselves sanctuary cities or cities of refuge and/or ordered their employees not to cooperate with the feds in enforcing federal immigration laws. Some, like Stamford, Connecticut, have created "no-hassle zones" for day laborers seeking jobs, nearly all of them undocumented. Detroit has an anti-profiling ordinance that prevents cops and other city employees from questioning people on the basis of a whole range of characteristics, including immigration status. Oakland, California, requires all municipal departments to have bilingual employees to deal with its diversity of non-English-speaking residents.

Some jurisdictions have changed their minds. Phoenix, which had been a quasi-sanctuary city, seems to be on the verge of reversing itself. Riverside, New Jersey, conversely, repealed its anti-illegal-immigrant ordinance after the resulting exodus (mostly of Brazilians) hit restaurants, beauty parlors and other local businesses--some were forced to close--and left a growing number of boarded-up downtown storefronts. In Oregon the legislature passed a law prohibiting businesses from gouging customers during emergencies, including "a crisis influx of migrants unmanageable by a county." But the state also requires notaries to translate documents for those who don't speak English, even as Kansas and a number of local jurisdictions this year made English their official language. In Pahrump, Nevada, it's illegal to fly a foreign flag unless the American flag is flying alongside it.

Yet anyone looking for simple red state-blue state patterns is likely to be frustrated. Eight states--Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Idaho and Nevada, among them some of the most conservative in the country--have called for the repeal or deferral of the federal Real ID Act of 2005, which, beginning next May, will start to impose a set of stringent verification requirements for issuing driver's licenses and other state identification documents. Some have pledged not to comply. The issue here is not liberal principle but cost and the expected aggravation of motorists (which would obviously be directed at state bureaucrats and politicians, not at Congress) once the rubber meets the road at the state DMV.

And then there's Littleton, Colorado, an upscale Denver suburb with a growing Latino population, where the foundation-supported Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative (LI3), housed in a city library, offers counseling on healthcare and countless other matters, citizenship tutoring and English-language training to all comers, regardless of documentation. Littleton sits in the heart of the district represented by Tom Tancredo, the Republican (and presidential candidate) who's probably the most rabid foe of illegal immigration in Congress. Alejandra Harguth, who directs the program, says she's rarely gotten any criticism from the community, and none from Tancredo.

Meanwhile, in the uproar that's probably gotten the most recent attention, awkwardly amplified by Hillary Clinton's clumsy handling of the issue in the Democrats' October 30 debate, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, citing public safety considerations, moved to grant driver's licenses to illegal residents. But he was quickly forced--in part by pressure from Washington, in part by upstate backlash--first to modify the policy and then to abandon it altogether. Of all the issues concerning illegal immigrants, giving them driver's licenses (as de facto national ID cards) is far and away the one that generates the fiercest resistance. Even strong backers of legalization concede that this isn't the issue they want to fight about.

If there is any geography here, it's the geography of the immigrant dispersion itself. As more immigrants, Latino immigrants particularly, either move from or bypass the traditional immigrant states--California, Florida, Texas, New Mexico--and move into the Midwest and Southeast, where residents have rarely seen brown faces or heard Spanish spoken on the streets and in the malls, the backlash spreads with them. In many places, the new immigrants, stretched to pay for housing, live three or four to a room--often a total of ten or twelve people or more, with junk cars crowding driveways--in houses or condos designed for families of four. And of course, there are the new kids in the schools, many speaking little English and requiring additional services, crowding classrooms that were all-white a few years before. Illegal immigration, the Escondido city council determined, "diminishes our overall quality of life." Illegal immigration in such contexts, of course, always means Latinos. But there are also towns in California's Central Valley and in the Midwest that would die without those immigrants.

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