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A round up of stories today about opportunity in America, pulled from a variety of nonprofits, race and immigration blogs, and mainstream media outlets.  Cross posted at State of Opportunity, a blog about human rights and the American Dream.

  • Louisiana news station WDSU is offering a live video feed from the New Orleans City Council meeting on the impending demolition of public housing.  In addition to those speaking at the meeting, hundreds of people are standing outside City Hall in protest of the lack of affordable housing in the region since the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina two years ago. Present-day inequities in New Orleans are often framed with respect to human rights; the demand for affordable housing is just one aspect of ensuring that residents have the social and economic security needed to provide for their families with dignity.
  • Bloggernista has reported that Congress has lifted a nine-year ban on using public funding to support needle exchange programs in Washington, DC.  Despite the fact that syringe exchange programs have proven effective in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, this ban had held firm while the capital city has the developed the highest rate of HIV infection in the nation, a true modern epidemic noted for its immense racial disparities.
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog reposted an Associated Press article entitled 'State supreme court rules counties are liable for inmates' care,' including conditions that existed prior to imprisonment. It's great to see a court ruling in favor of the responsibility of the community to provide a basis level of health care for those in custody without other options -- this is a good step towards the recognition that all Americans deserve access to health care.

Justices voted 8-0 on Tuesday in favor of HCA Health Services of Oklahoma, the parent company of OU Medical Center. The hospital sued Oklahoma County commissioners and Sheriff John Whetsel over $2.2 million in medical payments for treating prisoners in the jail from February 2003 through September 2006.

The county's argument was that much of the expense was to treat conditions that predated the prisoners' arrests, Justice Marian Opala wrote in the court opinion.

  • The DMI Blog analyzed a recent New York Times editorial on Arizona's new law intended to crack down on undocumented immigrants, offering praise for what it refers to as an 'example of smart immigration policy.' Author Suman Raghunathan expounds:

I am, in fact, waxing poetic on a stellar editorial in yesterday’s  Times.  This gem of a piece outlines in plain, centrist-liberal-speak why going after employers who employ undocumented immigrants instead of enforcing existing labor law makes for poor immigration policy.

What’s more, Arizona’s law (and believe me, there are many more in the works across the country) will do nothing to address our nation’s desperate need for smart and fair policies that welcome immigrant contributions into our economy. Worse yet, it does nothing to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows with a legalization program to level the playing field on wages and labor conditions for all workers – documented and undocumented, green card holders and US citizens.

Meanwhile, the Presidential election campaigns continue to work themselves into a fevered state, trying to say as little as possible on immigration policy (pick a party, any party) while sounding tough on undocumented immigrants (again, pick a punching bag, any punching bag). 

Here’s to hoping those high-falutin’ political operatives take a page from the Times’ editorial board’s playbook when they think about immigration. 

Originally posted to The Opportunity Agenda on Thu Dec 20, 2007 at 12:48 PM PST.

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