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Hi all!

As you know I have a progressive parenting blog called MotherTalkers.com and consult for a family advocacy group called MomsRising.org. Recently, my supervisor at MomsRising, Mary Olivella, and I wrote a column for the Huffington Post -- my first time being published there woo-hoo! -- about the effect Arizona's new immigration law will have on Latino children, 92 percent of whom are American citizens.  

Not surprisingly, anything remotely mentioning immigration -- or not -- is garnering lots of vitriolic comments about Latinos, immigrants and "illegals." Funny thing about that last word is that I have never heard anyone, not even rapists and murderers, being referred to as an "illegal." Only Latinos. Hmm...

But not to digress here, I thought I would share the column with you. And if you feel inclined, please submit your comments here, or even better, the Huffington Post. :)

Here is my first venture writing for them:

The conversation is everywhere -- Arizona has a new immigration law that requires police officers to detain anyone who "looks like" an illegal immigrant and fails to produce proof of American citizenship. And legislators in seven other states are now debating similar bills as are gubernatorial candidates in several more states who have promised to enact similar legislation if they are elected.

While news stories out of Arizona are describing the chilling effect the new law is having on men and women of Latino origin, what's not being adequately covered is the impact on Latino children--specifically, the fact that 92% of Latino children in this country are United States citizens. These young Americans are going to carry the burden of this policy for many years to come.

Imagine a Latino family being stopped on the street and asked to show their identification papers. Nine times out of ten, the children will be United States citizens with the same rights as your child, or any other child you know.

And in truth, Latino children are similar to other American kids. The vast majority speak English as their primary language, they want to please their parents and teachers, and they carry forward the American dream of working hard and succeeding, of becoming "someone." These dreams can be seriously crushed when a guy wearing a uniform and carrying a gun pulls them and their family over on the side of the road to demand papers.

However, the impact of this 92% situation runs even deeper than these civil rights abuses in the name of immigration law enforcement.

Last week the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Population Reference Bureau released a report entitled "America's Future: Latino Child Well-Being in Numbers and Trends." Why call a report about Latino children "America's Future?" Likely because projections are that by 2035, one-third of all children in the United States will be of Latino ancestry.

How about we take a pause here and project this logic out further? When these Latino children become adults, we are looking at a future where a huge share of America's economic engine will be riding on them. The problem is that unless we improve social-economic conditions for these future voters and taxpayers, our future is in jeopardy.

The NCLR reports that the Latino population in the United States boasts many strengths, including a strong work ethic, strong family ties, vibrant and cohesive communities, and especially a commitment to the well-being of their children. Yet this commitment to a bright future for their children is often thwarted by unfair forces beyond their control.

Relative to white children, Latino children are more than twice as likely to grow up in low-income families. If current trends continue, in twenty years 44% of all U.S. children living in poverty will be Latino. And the reality is that poverty is not due to deadbeat parents: the majority of low-income families in the U.S. have at least one full-time working parent.

Working class families face a unique set of challenges. Given tight family budgets and that parents often hold multiple jobs or work during off-peak hours, finding quality and affordable childcare as well as early learning and afterschool programs is a difficult proposition. Also, low-wage earners devote a larger share of their income to housing compared to those with higher incomes (leaving little for savings), workplace health benefits are scarce (risking debt or bankruptcy due to medical problems), and their jobs do not provide room for advancement, all of which leaves too many children in poverty from infancy to adulthood.

Children who live in poverty without a healthy start and access to quality educational opportunities will not be able to contribute their full talents to the future of America. For us to excel as a nation, we need all of our country's children, including Latino children, to be operating at their full God-intended capacity.

As Janet Murguía, the executive director of NCLR, recently stated here in the Huffington Post: "Latino youth are strong and resilient and can thrive with adequate support and equal opportunity...As a country we need to think about how the policies and laws we adopt will affect our country's future workers, taxpayers, parents, voters, and leaders."

So when we think of police officers stopping families with children on the streets of Arizona, or any other state, it's critical to remember that 92% of them are United States citizens. But we also have to assess the overall way in which our country is helping or hindering Latino children in being able to thrive and prosper. Carrying the burden of racial profiling in the name of immigration law enforcement is one among many obstacles these children face on their path to adulthood.

To turn things around, we'll need more than just Latinos working for change. We'll need experts from multiple professions including public policy, economics, city planning, education and youth advocacy all recognizing that Latino children's wellbeing is an American problem, and an American opportunity. Our laws and social structures will need to reflect the reality that these children's lives are inextricably intertwined with that of our country as a whole.

(To read all the heart-warming comments about immigration at the Huffington Post, just click here.)

Originally posted to Elisa on Tue May 04, 2010 at 08:01 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Say what? (4+ / 0-)

      Arizona has a new immigration law that requires police officers to detain anyone who "looks like" an illegal immigrant and fails to produce proof of American citizenship

      I don't mind valid criticism, but this complaint is already outdated. The racist dog whistle of "reasonable suspicion" has been changed in law -- now you have to be breaking a law in order to have one's papers checked.

      Granted, this is still crap, and unless the AZ legislature mandates that ALL people that are being stopped for violating a law be asked for their citizenship papers, then profiling will occur; but it is not as ludicrous as it was originally.

      Note: I am NOT advocating for the latter, but in order to avoid the charge of racism, the bill must be repealed or modified further.

      The art of listening is the ability to pay attention to that which is most difficult to hear

      by dRefractor on Tue May 04, 2010 at 08:42:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did The Governor Sign Those Proposed Amendments? (0+ / 0-)
      •  "reasonable suspicion" has been changed in law (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        revgerry, nosleep4u

        nope - the standard is still 'reasonable suspicion' - not 'probable cause' - we're all still presumed to be 'illegal' (those of us that look Mexican) until we prove that we're not - asking for a drivers license in a moving violation applies to us all - they don't need a new law for that.

        •  Yes the standard has changed, though I understand (0+ / 0-)

          the continued angst.

          Race is now explicitly prohibited from consideration of "suspicion". Here's the law.

          Again, there are plenty of reasons to dislike this law as it now stands, but there is no language left that leaves the police any legal latitude to ask for your papers because of how you look.

          What there is, is the opportunity for selective enforcement of existing laws, and that potential selectivity might certainly be based on race for those law officials so inclined to be racist. Yet this sort of selective "legal" enforcement has been going on long before this bill and will continue long after it.

          I think the real problem will not be solved until the federal government gets off of its ass and figures out how to deal with immigration and the drug wars in a much better fashion than exists today; in the meantime, the circus continues -- along with its attendant elephant and donkey shit.

          The art of listening is the ability to pay attention to that which is most difficult to hear

          by dRefractor on Wed May 05, 2010 at 01:34:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not true... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dRefractor

            The exact wording of the law is that the police can ask you for documentation during "lawful contact." (http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070h.pdf)

            This, too, includes the possibility that your neighbor, who may not like Latinos, could call the police under the suspicion that you are illegal, and the police under the law, would be in their right to request documents of everyone living in your home. Furthermore, this law allows your neighbor to SUE the police if he/she suspects that the police did not properly follow through with a search.

            •  Read it again (0+ / 0-)

              They can only ask for documentation beyond the normal procedure of contact if "reasonable suspicion" exists and "reasonable suspicion" now explicitly excludes race. The dog catcher does not ask for a driver's license and is not going to start to do that -- there is nothing in the law to mandate or suggest that they start doing so.

              Any person who is a resident of this state has standing in any court of record to bring suit against any agent or agency of this state or its political subdivisions to remedy any violation of any provision of this section...

              So a person can not just walk up to a law enforcement officer and say, "I don't like the color of that person's skin. Go check them out." Because there is no legal pretext for the law enforcement officer to honor that request.

              Will frivolous lawsuits be filed by emboldened racist neighbors? Undoubtedly, hence one of the many stupidities of the law as written.

              The art of listening is the ability to pay attention to that which is most difficult to hear

              by dRefractor on Wed May 05, 2010 at 12:22:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  "reasonable suspicion"... (0+ / 0-)

                is what is up for debate. But no one is going to go up to a police officer and say they don't like Latinos. What they are going to say is "the woman next door has a lot of people living with her. She must be harboring illegal aliens" and this law would make it perfectly acceptable for the police to check it out. Actually, the police is MANDATED to check it out, or face a lawsuit.

                •  And again... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dRefractor

                  just because racial profiling is illegal, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I don't know of any Latino or African American who is not a little suspicious of the police because of it. We have accepted it as a part of life in the United States.

                  This bill will only embolden the police further -- although to their credit, even they are suing the state over the bill -- which is why I won't be going to Arizona any time soon.

                  •  Perhaps just the opposite (0+ / 0-)

                    This bill will only embolden the police further -- although to their credit, even they are suing the state over the bill

                    WIth the amount of attention the original "reasonable suspicion" immigration amendment created, it actually forced a revision to specifically exclude race as a consideration for immigration enforcement. Rather than just talking around it, law enforcement management must now set explicit policies to comply with the law -- in a perverse way, it shines light on a subject heretofore taken far too lightly, and that's a good thing as borderline racists will be forced to confront their prejudices in stark legal terms.

                    which is why I won't be going to Arizona any time soon

                    I hope you see an irony in your stance. Two of the top 3 cities in Arizona are heavily democratic and had no part in passing the law. A fair response would be to say, okay, I'm not going to Scottsdale Arizona because it's legislator is a supporter of racist-leaning legislation. But to punish, for example, Flagstaff and Tucson is, well, discrimination.

                    Take care and thanks for the civil conversation :)

                    The art of listening is the ability to pay attention to that which is most difficult to hear

                    by dRefractor on Thu May 06, 2010 at 02:52:21 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  So you are conceding that your (0+ / 0-)

                  diary claim is inaccurate. Law enforcement cannot just out of the blue harass brown people due to this law. They just can't. And saying that the law will embolden them to do so doesn't pass the smell test -- those who are racist law enforcement officers are already abusing their discretionary powers to the fullest extent of the law, and this law gives them no additional legal extension.

                  As for your claim above, again there is no legal language compelling/mandating a law enforcement officer to "check out" the scenario you have presented.

                  What law enforcement AND municipalities are concerned with is that

                  a) If they did check out such a complaint, they would be sued by the "woman next door" (to use your example) for an unreasonable search

                  or

                  b) Be sued by the neighbor for failing to persecute er, aggressively enforce the immigration law

                  This puts law enforcement and the municipalities in a lose-lose situation, hence their vigorous denunciation of the law.

                  So here's the deal; the law was created with ill intentions towards brown people -- it is at its heart a xenophobic piece of crap. But in all reality, it is toothless. I guarantee that most municipalities would rather risk fighting off frivolous charges for "lack of enforcement" than to try to defend the essentially indefensible and undefinable "reasonable suspicion" angle and indeed that is the reaction you are already seeing from Arizona cities including many of their police departments.

                  The art of listening is the ability to pay attention to that which is most difficult to hear

                  by dRefractor on Thu May 06, 2010 at 02:34:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  And if Duncan Hunter had his way (14+ / 0-)

    ... being an American citizen wouldn't matter when it comes to Latino children:

    First, it was the Arizona law that has spurred some California Democrats to call for a boycott of the state. Now, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) says the federal government should deport U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

    "Would you support deportation of natural-born American citizens that are the children of illegal aliens," Hunter was asked. "I would have to, yes," Hunter said. "... We simply cannot afford what we're doing right now," he said. "... It takes more than just walking across the border to become an American citizen. It's what's in our souls. ..."

  •  and the republicans are never worried about (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dorsano, cfk, begone, lazybum, bythesea, Oh Mary Oh, Aji

    illegal asian or irish immigration.  silly them.

    write on, elisa!  you rock.  as always.  

  •  the reality is (4+ / 0-)

    for all the furor about the Arizona law, is that since about 2006, the federal government has poured billions into deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented persons. We don't hear about it, because this happens after arrest for another crime. Depending on the jurisdiction, the police run the immigration status of people in their custody upon arrest, or upon conviction, for a felony or for a misdemeanor, or upon incarceration after sentencing. The moment the "immigration hold" goes on varies from place to place. In Los Angeles, for example, the holds used to only get placed after a felony conviction, but now it's upon booking into any city or county jail. So anybody who comes into contact with the police has a good likelihood of getting a hold placed on them. Once the hold is in place, the person is held indefinitely, even after their sentence runs out or they are cleared of the offense which got them booked in the first place. Eventually the feds come and transfer them to the ICE Gulag that is in place all over the country, the brutal immigrant holes where the people languish until they are eventually deported.

    This is going on in every community around the country, not just in Arizona. The Arizona thing is just so much smoke, a typical sleight of hand in our smoke and mirrors police state. The reality is, just as Pasternak wrote in "Doctor Zhivago" - a man leaves his home, driving without a license, as most illegals are forced to do, and then never comes home again, disappearing into the Gulag. And the children remain at home, waiting for him to return.

    This is all in the minds of the participants. - Gen. McChrystal (powerful Afghan warlord)

    by Marcion on Tue May 04, 2010 at 08:45:46 PM PDT

  •  Who's your daddy? (0+ / 0-)

    How many parents leave home with their children without any proof that the child is theirs? Where is the identification for your child? How could you proove it; especially, immediately when you are away from your home?

    Dear President Obama, You must do the right thing; even if it is the most difficult. Investigate George W. Bush for war crimes!

    by DerAmi on Tue May 04, 2010 at 09:00:57 PM PDT

  •  Racism? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tnproud2b, edtastic, IT Professional

    92% of them are United States citizens.

    I certainly agree that we need to take steps against racial profiling. That being said, would you consider any measure to enforce immigration laws (i.e. deport illegal immigrants) as being not racist? It seems like "racist" is being used as a catch-all. Suppose Brewer said tomorrow she would remove the "as permitted by the Arizona and US Constitution" exception for considering race and pass a state law against racial profiling, as many other states have. Would that be enough? If not, then what?

    •  I know that 95% of all statistics (0+ / 0-)

      are made up on the spot.  I wonder where the 92% U.S. citizenship rate statistic came from.

    •  Request documentation of... (0+ / 0-)

      EVERYONE, not just Latinos. Also, bills against racial profiling have done nothing to stop police from disproportionately stopping African American and Latino motorists.

      Furthermore, the spirit of this law comes from a nasty place. With all the anti-Hispanic rhetoric out there -- even though the grand majority of us are American citizens, some who have even lived here for generations like my children -- surely you can understand why enforcement of this bill is making people who "look" like Latinos nervous. Under the current law as it is, your neighbor, who genuinely does not like or perhaps understand Latino culture, could call the police on you for suspecting that you are an "illegal alien." You could get a knock on the door requesting documentation of everyone who lives in your home -- even if you all are American citizens! Furthermore, your neighbor could sue the police if s/he feels that the police have not enforced the law. I have a feeling if this law truly applied to everyone, you would hear a lot more grumbling.

  •  We may not like everything the experts tell us. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tnproud2b, IT Professional

    There’s an uncompromising principal called The Law of Supply and Demand. Overpopulation, in almost every example, produces lowered standards of living. Population control is going to be paramount in establishing and maintaining a reliable standard of living in the US. Better regulation of immigration must be part of the formula, along with better regulation of international trade.
    This argument of "undocumented immigrants provide numerous benefits to their employers which enriches the lives of all Americans" is what I call the "Save money live better" philosophy, which is not only Wal-Mart’s slogan, but it’s also basically the same argument that conservatives have used for decades to justify deregulated trade (i.e. globalization). And it has wrecked the country.
    We really are fucked as a country if we continue to buy into the "save money live better" philosophy. Without better regulation of both trade and immigration, we will end up in the same boat as the citizens of our largest trading partners (i.e. China) and the citizens of our southern neighbor, whose undocumented workers we haven’t been able to regulate.

    •  Population control vs Economic exploitation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IT Professional

      America is not over populated. The desire for workers who will work for lower wages is always going to exist in any developed economy. When exploiting them over there is not convenient they will try to exploit them over here. Americans will pick fruits and vegetables if you paid them enough. Yes the food would cost more, and it should. We should stop exploiting other human beings so we can buy more cheap crap. A desire for cheap crap without having to pay the workers is how we ended up with 400 years of slavery.

  •  never heard anyone but latinos called illegals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nosleep4u

    And immigration violations are 'civil' for the most part not 'criminal' - a fine and limits on reentry(no misdemenor, felony etc).

    This law presumes that Hispanic Americans (the legal ones for those in our country that need that pointed out) are guilty of being 'illegal' and it forces them to prove that they are not. That's the case that should be made it seems to me - a law which assumes us to be 'guilty' are requires us to prove that we are innocent.  

    •  Thats because we share a border with Mexico (0+ / 0-)

      Most illegal immigrants that enter without documents don't use trans oceanic transportation to get to other countries. There are a small number that do but you just cant beat the convenience of having your country sitting right under the one you want to go to.  I am sure if we shared a border with Eastern Europe, Russia, or China we would have a whole lot of them jumping the border and yes we would call them illegals.

      Having to show ID is pretty standard fair when dealing with the police in most places.

      •  Thats because ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marja E

        Times may be tough (though the crime and illegal entry numbers show that times are not as tough as they've been) but even tough times are not an excuse for turning us all into criminals first and asking use to prove our innocence. I think most people will agree with me on that.  

    •  I have heard of many other nationalities (0+ / 0-)

      referred to as "illegal aliens". Many from my own native land, and long before I knew that Mexicans made up the majority of those so referred.

  •  It's not rape that I'm opposed to. (0+ / 0-)

    Funny thing about that last word is that I have never heard anyone, not even rapists and murderers, being referred to as an "illegal."

    It's illegal rape that I'm opposed to.

    Illegal is illegal.

    What part of illegal don't they understand?

    Folks like to talk about rape, but they are being dishonest by lumping legal rapists in with illegal rapists, and pretending like there is no distinction.

    Lumping the two together is a slap in the face to all of the honest law abiding legal rapists out there who are only so-called crime is raping their wifes, which the law in their states may very well allow.

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