Equal Voice Community Briefs




Report Reveals Scope of Children Separated from Parents as a Result of Immigration Enforcement

♦ Nov 8, 2011

One America

A new report from the Applied Research Center (ARC) estimates that there are more than 5,000 children living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported.

The report identified at least 22 states across the country, including Washington, where children in foster care are separated from their parents because of immigration enforcement.

“We have real families here in Washington State suffering the tragic consequences of permanent separation due to harsh immigration policies,” said OneAmerica Executive Director Pramila Jayapal who has been speaking about this report with public defenders who represent parents.

ARC’s “Shattered Families” reveals historic levels of detention and deportation which, combined with a clear lack of child welfare policies, are resulting in the separation of thousands of families across the United States.

ARC, a racial justice think tank that publishes Colorlines.com, projected that at least 15,000 more children will face these threats to reunification in the next five years, if the same rate holds true for new cases.




Texas Parents Ask Environmental Panel to Just Say No to Big Oil Tax Rebate

♦ Nov 1, 2011

Texas Organizing Project

While Texas parents sending their children to public schools that have had their budgets slashed and their classrooms expanding, oil and gas giant Valero is asking the state for a $92 million tax refund that would come directly out of Texas School District funds.

Gov. Rick Perry’s appointees on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are considering the request.

Valero has been denied this tax refund once before. The refund Valero is looking for is one offered to companies that make on-site environmental improvements. Yet Valero is requesting a refund for equipment that actually increases local pollution.
According to the Houston Chronicle:

“A tax time-bomb is ticking at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that could cost Texas counties, school districts and other entities millions of dollars

The Texas Organizing Project (TOP) is taking a stand against this misguided request to gut school funding in favor of big oil. TOP is attending the public hearing in Austin to force them to talk about the issue.




COFEM And Univision Join to Promote Education

♦ October 28, 2011

Council of Mexican Federations

The Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM) coordinated various activities as part of Univision’s education week, “¡Edúcate! Es el Momento,” to encourage Hispanic educational attainment.

The Los Angeles Univision forum was one of three taking place across the country, focusing on how parents can better prepare their children for college and careers. Other topics covered included parental engagement in education, planning for college, and local school reform efforts.

Forum attendees and education experts discussed the critical importance of educating young Latinos to be a strong future workforce in the U.S

COFEM’s participation in this year’s La Feria, Es el Momento took place at the California State University, Dominguez Hills and allowed the organization to demonstrate its shared vision with Univision to empower Latino families and learn more about the importance of pursuing a higher education.

The 2011 Mexican-American Dream Scholarship ceremony recognized 16 extraordinary college students who were selected to each receive a scholarship of up to $2,000 to support their dreams of going to college.

COFEM’s mission embraces a community-centered approach to promote the advancement of the Latino community through public policy advocacy, educational and cultural programming, strategic mobilization, community organizing, and bi-national economic development.




Rural Community Alliance to Launch Ozark Byways Project

♦ October 26, 2011

Rural Community Alliance

The Rural Community Alliance in Arkansas will launch a regional revitalization project featuring 12 communities in the north central Arkansas Ozarks on October 28.

Called Ozark Byways, the project will build on the revitalization work facilitated by Rural Community Alliance in Leslie, Lead Hill, Diamond City, and Alpena and on work being done by individual communities.

A regional website, www.ozarkbyways.com , with linked websites and social media for each community will create a digital network for the area.

In addition to the digital media aspect of the project will be marketing campaigns both within the communities and within the region; training in e-commerce, strategic planning, foundation and endowment building, grant writing, and other skills to build capacity in the participating communities; and development of communication strategies within and among the communities.

The project will highlight the communities of Leslie, St. Joe, Valley Springs, Jasper, Bruno-Pyatt, Alpena, Lead Hill, Diamond City, Norfork, Timbo, Shirley, and Fox.

Rural Community Alliance is a non-profit organization of rural community members whose purpose is “helping rural schools and communities survive and thrive.” Founded in 2005, the organization now has 50 chapters and over 1,200 members throughout the state. Its original mission of advocating for rural schools and students has been expanded to advocating and building capacity in rural communities.


City Candidates Asked to Pledge Support for Police Oversight

♦ October 24, 2011

Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane

The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS), along with a coalition of other organizations and citizens, is asking Spokane elected officials and candidates for public office to declare their intent not to approve a new contract with the Spokane Police Guild unless the Spokane Police Ombudsman agrees to release findings in citizen complaints against Spokane police officers.

The pledge request comes two weeks after the Spokane City Council voted 5-2 to repeal the 2010 City ordinance that had given at least some semblance of independence to the Ombudsman office, according to PJALS.

The repeal was ordered by an arbitrator who, last July, ruled that the 2010 ordinance violated the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the Guild. In voting to repeal the ordinance, the City Council chose not to contest the arbitrator’s ruling in state court.

“In rejecting our testimony, Council members stated their belief that the City would be better off using the process of bargaining with the Police Guild to achieve these reforms than pursuing the City’s legal appeal rights in the courts,” said Liz Moore, director of the Peace and Justice Action League. “This pledge simply calls upon our elected officials to follow through and secure independence for the Ombudsman’s office.”

 



Futuro Media Presents “ Lost in Detention”

♦ October 13, 2011

Futuro Media Group

Frontline correspondent Maria Hinojosa goes inside the hidden world of immigration detention in “Lost in Detention”, airing Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

More than one million immigrants have been deported since President Obama took office. Under his administration, deportations and detentions have reached record levels.

The administration has promised to make the detention system more humane, and more selectively target the most serious criminals. But it faces Republican critics who urge stricter measures — and a growing backlash among Latino voters, a key 2012 electoral force.

Hinojosa, president of The Futuro Media Group, takes a penetrating look at Obama’s vastly expanded immigration net and explores the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program.

In a co-production with the Investigative Reporting Workshop, Hinojosa tracks the enforcement sweep from the neighborhoods of Illinois to the expansive Willacy Detention Center in south Texas. During a yearlong investigation, Frontline and Hinojosa uncovered a troubling picture of abuse inside immigration detention facilities, as well as alleged cases of beatings, racism and management cover-ups.

This is a “must watch” report that goes to the heart of the immigration debate and to the heart of why The Futuro Media Group and the public media vision and leadership of Hinojosa is needed today more than ever before.

The Futuro Media Group is an independent non-profit media organization dedicated to producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives voice to the diversity of the American experience.

 




Alabama Community Leaders Respond to Latest Ruling on HB56

♦ October 6, 2011

Alabama Coalition For Immigrant Justice

Today Federal District Court judge Sharon Blackburn denied emergency requests to block egregious provisions of HB 56 the Alabama anti-immigrant law. The team will appeal her decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The following are statements by advocates and community leaders representing the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice:

Isabel Rubio, Executive Director Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama:
“Hispanic families across Alabama, immigrants or citizens, who want nothing more than to call Alabama home, are feeling under attack. Children are terrified that they are going to lose their mothers or fathers, or other close family members. Because of this law, more and more children who have known only Alabama as home, are feeling afraid and confused about why they have suddenly become unwanted by the state of Alabama. The people of Alabama must come to together and show that Hispanic families have a place, a home in Alabama.”

Rev. Angie Wright for Greater Birmingham Ministries:
“Today’s ruling has heightened the fear and deepened the despair suffered by our immigrant communities, but we pray that they will not lose hope. There are some who would have us believe otherwise, but we are all one family – una familia – and you don’t turn your back on your family.”

Bernard Simelton, President Alabama NAACP:
“We are again disappointed by the courts decision not to stop the implementation of HB 56 which legalizes racial profiling throughout Alabama. It’s clear that this law detrimentally impacts the Hispanic and other communities of color in our state. The Alabama NAACP urges Alabamans of conscience to join us in our efforts to fight against this law and to demand its repeal.”

 




Chicago Slush Fund Points to Need for Reform

♦ October 4, 2011

The Grassroots Collaborative

A report released by Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson this week documents how Chicago developers were forced to donate taxpayer dollars to the politically-connected After School Matters – taxpayer money that was intended to help blighted communities, according to The Grassroots Collaborative.

After School Matters is run by Maggie Daley, wife of former mayor Richard Daley, who left office in May. The reportedly misused money was Tax Increment Finance funds.
“It is troubling that Chicago taxpayer money was abused so egregiously by city officials. Even more worrisome, the city continues to lack transparency in TIF deals, allowing the continued possibility of corruption in taxpayer dollars,” said Amisha Patel, executive director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“We call on Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel to push through real TIF reform. A key first step is to address the TIF slush fund – hundreds of millions of tax dollars require real accountability, and real purpose,” said Patel.

The Grassroots Collaborative is working together with Alderman to address the enormous budget crisis facing Chicago.

“We urge the administration to put taxpayers first. TIF money cannot continue to be accumulated in slush funds that benefit not only the corporate elite, but politically connected private charities as well,” said Patel.

 




Laura Hunter to Chair South Bay Wildlife Advisory Group

♦ September 29, 2011

Environmental Health Coalition

Laura Hunter of the National City-based Environmental Health Coalition has been elected Chair of the South Bay Wildlife Advisory Group, a group created as part of a settlement related to the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan.

“We will be working hard over the next year to ensure that we develop a protective Natural Resources Management Plan and to provide ‘wildlife-friendly’ input to the city and the port on the many issues facing wildlife in south San Diego Bay,” Hunter said.

In recognition of the sensitivity of the natural resources in the Chula Vista Bayfront and the importance of the protection, restoration and management to protect these resources, a Wildlife Advisory Group was formed to prepare a Natural Resources Management Plan (NRMP) for the Chula Vista Bayfront.

The coalition is comprised of the Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego Audubon Society, San Diego Coastkeeper, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, Southwest Wetlands Interpretative Association, Surfrider Foundation (San Diego Chapter) and Empower San Diego.

 




Huge Immigrant Integration Conference Comes to Seattle

♦ September 28, 2011

One America

OneAmerica and the National Partnership for New Americans are hosting the National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC 2011) in Seattle on October 24-26.

Nearly 600 leading experts, activists, educators, and government officials from around the world will be sharing best practices on integrating immigrants. NIIC 2011 is planning a mix of special events, interactive sessions, and workshops.

NIIC 2011 participants are coming to Seattle to design a new future for America that includes immigrants by sharing best practices, discussing challenges, and developing effective strategies. NIIC 2011 is the signature event of the National Partnership for New Americans, a collaboration of the twelve largest statewide immigrant rights organizations.

Highlights include:

  •  Naturalization Ceremony, presided over by Director Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.
  •  Special event with Emmy-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson who will screen clips from his documentary Freedom Riders and join a discussion with Ron Sims of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development,national DREAM leader Gaby Pacheco, Seattle CORE founder Joan Singler, Executive Director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice Saket Soni, and author Eric Liu.

 




LUPE Members Celebrate Achieving US Citizenship

♦ September 27, 2011

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)

The one hundred immigrant members of La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) who have achieved U.S. citizenship will be celebrated Friday. LUPE will hold a U.S. Citizenship Opportunity Program graduation, Friday to recognize those who, through devotion and hard work, have made a deeper commitment to the United States as their home. The graduation ceremony will take place at LUPE’s San Juan office in Texas.

LUPE’s Programa Escalera offers U.S. Government classes, and reading and writing in English as preparation for the Naturalization examination administered by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. The program allows participants to overcome their perception that they cannot fully participate in U.S. public life due to non-citizenship.

As new citizens, graduates of the program are ready to integrate themselves into the fabric of American society, and are able to participate fully in the democratic decision-making processes.

 


Privatizing Landfill a Risky Decision

♦ September 26, 2011

Center On Policy Initiatives

San Diego’s City Council has decided to continue with an expensive and misguided process to contract out Miramar Landfill without any hard data on the potential benefits or costs and despite many red flags, according to the Center on Policy Initiatives.

More than 150 San Diego residents representing themselves and a variety of community groups, expressed their concerns Monday about the many risks in contracting out the landfill to a private operator.

Most council members said before the vote that the landfill is extremely well-run now by city staff, and makes money for the city.

After studying the issue for more than a year, CPI has determined that the risks of handing over control to a private operator far exceed potential gains. The need for strong oversight of private contractors and subcontractors adds to taxpayers’ long-term costs.

The landfill outsourcing process could continue for many more months, although an Environmental Impact Review hasn’t yet been done and the owner of the land, the Navy, hasn’t approved the plan.

 


Deportation Family Support Hotline Launches in Chicago

♦ September 16, 2011

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

In the last five years, about 48,330 people have been deported from the Chicago ICE region, leaving an estimated 80,550 children without a parent. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is partnering with dozens of social service agencies, churches, legal experts and immigrant organizations to launch the country’s first 24-hour hotline for families facing the crisis of deportation.

The Hotline will serve callers in Illinois in English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese. It launches on Monday in the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago.

The hotline is the result of 15 months of research, training and organizing by ICIRR’s Family Support Network, in cooperation with law enforcement and elected officials to provide up-to-date information on complex immigration matters.

The group also received inspiration and instruction from advocates working in domestic violence, homelessness and with rape victims to understand crisis response.

 


Proposal to Fine Banks for Blighted Properties

♦ September 14, 2011

Center On Policy Initiatives

San Diego City Councilmember David Alvarez is proposing an ordinance that would fine banks $1,000 a day for each foreclosed property they fail to maintain in the city. A coalition of community, faith and labor organizations including the Center on Policy Initiatives, support the plan.

Community members will testify today on the need for the Property Value Protection Ordinance, designed to reduce the impacts of neglected vacant, bank-owned properties on surrounding neighborhoods – and the city budget.

When banks leave homes vacant and in disrepair, neighboring property values decrease, property tax revenue is lost and the city must pay for upkeep, code enforcement, and often police services.

The proposal will be presented to the Land Use and Housing Committee, and is expected to be referred to the city attorney to clarify the ordinance language. Nearly 100 people attended two earlier town hall meetings on the plan.

The proposed ordinance, similar to those already enacted in 75 California cities. It is a key part of a state and national effort to hold Wall Street banks accountable for the damage caused by the foreclosure crisis.

The Center on Policy Initiatives and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment released a report in June showing that the projected 57,000 foreclosures in San Diego will cost homeowners $19 billion by next year, while draining hundreds of millions of dollars from local government.

 



More Alabamians Uninsured, in Poverty, Census Data Show

♦ September 13, 2011

ARISE Citizens

The recession left more Alabamians in poverty and without health insurance coverage, new U.S. Census Bureau data released today shows.

But those already-high numbers could climb even higher in coming years if Alabama does not provide adequate funding for Medicaid, education and other programs that help low-income people improve their lives, said Kimble Forrister, executive director of Alabama’s ARISE Citizen Policy Project.

More than one in six Alabamians, or 16.9 percent, were in poverty in 2009-2010. That figure was well above the national average of 14.7 percent.

“Deep service cuts could send even more Alabamians into poverty and stall our efforts to rebound from the recession,” Forrister said. “Investments in education, health care, public safety and transportation improve our quality of life and make Alabama a better place to do business. We need jobs and economic growth through a balanced approach that includes significant new revenues to protect these vital public structures.”

Approximately 700,000 Alabamians, or 18.3 percent of residents under age 65, lacked health insurance in 2009-10, according to Census data. That figure is up significantly from 13.3 percent in 2007-08.

“The growing number of uninsured Alabamians highlights the importance of the state’s planning for health coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act,” Forrister said. “Now is the time to lay the groundwork so that workers and small business can count on affordable health care.”

 


More Southerners Fell into Poverty in 2010

♦ September 12, 2011

Southern Education Foundation

The American South was the only region in the nation to show increases in both the poverty rate and the number of poor persons from 2009 to 2010, according to U.S. Census data released today.

More than half the total increase (56 percent) in the number of poor persons in the United States from 2009 to 2010 resided in the South,” said Steve Suitts, vice-president of the Southern Education Foundation.

“In other words, the South had more people fall into poverty in 2010 than did all of the states across the rest of America combined,” said Suitts.

The South’s poverty rate and numbers ‒ 16.9 percent and 19.1 million in 2010 – were up from 15.7 percent and 17.6 million in 2009.

“The highest rates of poverty in 2010 in the South and the nation were among adults and young people with far too little education,” said Suitts.

“Even in hard times, the South must build a better future by increasing the education and care of more children and more young people,” Suitts said. “It is the only way the region will reverse these trends over time and build a prosperous, inclusive future for every Southerner.”

 


Florida New Majority Calls on Senators to Support Obama’s Jobs Program

♦ September 9, 2011

Florida New Majority

Florida New Majority is calling on U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) to support President Obama’s Jobs Program and to actively work to move other senators to support the bill.

Florida is suffering an unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, and millions more have been shut out of the labor market for years or don’t qualify for unemployment insurance. This crisis is devastating working and low-income communities across the state.

“The million-plus Floridians who are unemployed need action from our federal government to address this economic crisis,” said Joseph Phelan, of Florida New Majority’s Just Work Campaign. “At over 10 percent unemployment in Florida, cities and even the state, do not have the resources to address this crisis alone. President Obama’s proposal is a needed first step.”

“This is a plan that has broad political appeal. Senators Rubio and Nelson, along with the entire Florida delegation, must support the President’s plan and do more to help Floridians who have been hurt by the worst crisis to hit the United States since the Great Depression,” said Phelan. “Not doing anything or working against this plan is not on this country’s best interest.”

Florida New Majority is a statewide organization that mobilizes the vote in African American and Latino Communities.

 


Citizens for Second Chances Build Skills and Relationships at Annual Retreat

♦ September 9, 2011

Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana

Families and friends of those serving life without parole since they were children recently gathered for the annual Citizens for Second Chances strategic planning retreat at St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria, LA.

Ethan Ashley, the new attorney for the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, will help coordinate a campaign to end “life without parole” sentencing for youth. He will represent those affected by the Graham v. Florida ruling which made life without parole sentencing unconstitutional for youth in non-homicide cases, allowing several juvenile lifers in Louisiana to go back to court to be re-sentenced.

Second Chances members also focused on building a base of support in their communities, gaining the support of faith leaders and those that work in corrections, as well as to strategize for the 2012 legislative session.

Retired Warden Buddy Knight from Avoyelles Parish talked to the group about why giving people second chances makes safer and more productive prison environments.

The retreat ended with families sharing stories of loved ones serving juvenile life without parole. This gave family members practice in advocating to members of the legislature for more fair and equitable sentencing for theirloved ones.

 


Alabama Activists Speaking Out Against HB-56

♦ August 31, 2011

Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama

The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA), along with many other organizations and leaders, will gather in opposition to the state’s anti-immigration law, HB-56, on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Linn Park in downtown Birmingham.

The law was originally scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 1, but was postponed for 30 days while a federal judge reviews motions in a lawsuit filed to repeal the law.  The lawsuit was filed by HICA and others soon after Gov. Robert Bentley signed the legislation into law in June.

“Fifty years after the 16th Street church bombing, the eyes of the world are on Birmingham once again,” said Isabel Rubio, Executive Director of HICA.  “Alabama’s anti-immigration law – HB-56 – keeps Alabama tied to our racist past. HICA is committed to continue fighting against this draconian law.”

The event will be hosted by Sharrif Simmons, a songwriter, poet and activist.

Along with Rubio, other speakers at the gathering, are expected to include Birmingham Mayor William Bell; AL Rep. Merika Coleman;  Odessa Woolfolk, founding president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Kee Sloan, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama; Roderick Royal, president of Birmingham’s City Council;  George T. French, Jr., president of Miles College; Daniel Ortega, chairman of the National Council of La Raza;  Andrew Turner, Southern Poverty Law Center and Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries.


Alabama Anti-Immigrant Law On Hold Until September 29

August 29, 2011

Southern Poverty Law Center

A federal court announced today that enactment of HB 56, the Alabama immigration law, has been temporarily placed on hold. The law was scheduled to go into effect on Thursday, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The temporary hold was ordered to give by U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn time to issue a decision on motions filed in three consolidated lawsuits to block the law. The court’s temporary order does not reflect any view about the substance of the motions. 

The new law won’t go into effect until Sept. 29 when the court is expected to decide on the three pending motions.  The motions were filed by a coalition of civil rights groups, the Obama Administration, and bishops of the Episcopal, Catholic and Methodist churches in Alabama.

Gutierrez Effort to Inform Immigrant Families about Deportation Rules

August 29, 2011

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) is planning a press conference on Tuesday with key Chicago leaders, pro-immigrant advocates, and immigrant families to follow-up on new deportation guidelines announced by the Obama Administration and to warn immigrant communities about attempts to exploit or mislead them.

The Congressman is the nation’s leading advocate for changes to Obama’s immigration enforcement policies. He wants to ensure that immigrants in Chicago and nationwide know the scope of the new policy and what it means for them and their loved ones.  The event is being organized with help from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

On Aug. 18, the Department of Homeland Security announced new policies to prioritize the deportation of serious criminals, and de-prioritize the deportation of other immigrants with deep roots in the U.S. Some are worried that scam artists will capitalize on the confusion over the announcement and will try to “sign up” immigrants for services that do not exist.

Gutierrez said he is leading a national effort to provide accurate information to advocates, service providers and immigrant families.

Corporate Welfare Tour Takes Aim at United Airlines

August 28, 2011

Grassroots Collaborative

Corporate accountability is at the heart of the City of Chicago’s budget solution, according to community leaders who have held protests throughout the city in recent weeks.

The latest gathering was on Sunday, outside of United Airlines headquarters, to raise awareness of a sales tax evasion effort. Since 2007, United Airlines has received $50 million in city subsidies, according to the Grassroots Collaborative.

Organizers are demanding corporate accountability.

Amisha Patel, Director of the Grassroots Collaborative, said if the mayor is serious about shared sacrifice, the first thing he can do is ensure an end of corporate subsidies to companies like United.

The protest is part of a Corporate Welfare Tour, said Patel. The tour dramatizes how the city subsidizes corporations while working families struggle.

San Francisco Mural Shares 67 Dreams of Immigrant Youth

August 26, 2011

American Friends Service Committee – US Mexico Border Program

A 100-foot wide mural called “67 Sueños Mural (67 Dreams) was unveiled last week in San Francisco at Ninth Avenue, between Mission and Market streets.  The mural was born from the dream of San Francisco migrant students looking to raise awareness of current immigration laws that neglect the realities of  undocumented youth in America, according to the American Friends Service Committee – US Mexico Border Program.

Seven students who are being impacted by immigration laws have over the past year become true leaders in the struggle for migrant justice. They have led marches, organized walkouts, met with legislators, and held community events to galvanize other migrant youth and challenge the media, legislators and activists to the realities of undocumented youth.

The unveiling of the mural coincides with the launch of 67suenos.org where young people will share their work documenting the stories of their community through art, digital storytelling and video interviews. Their goal is to showcase 67 stories to lift the missing voices in the Immigrant rights debate.

March Down “Not-So-Magnificent Mile” a Call to Raise Minimum Wage

August 26, 2011

The Raise Illinois

The Raise Illinois coalition, convened by Action Now, and made up of low-wage workers, community, labor and religious organizations, marched down the “Magnificent Mile” to draw attention to the need for a higher minimum wage for working families in Chicago.

The Miracle Mile is a shoppers’ Mecca, a tourist attraction, and a concentration of low-wage jobs in Chicago.

Illinois’ current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, or $16,500 a year, is keeping working people in poverty and forcing them to depend on public assistance to make ends meet. A proposed Minimum Wage Bill (SB 1565) calls for increasing the minimum wage by 50 cents an hour, plus inflation, every year for the next four years until it reaches $10.65 an hour. Going forward, the minimum wage would then be adjusted each year for inflation.

College Tuition in Arizona Spikes for Out-of-State Students

August 22, 2011

Arizona Dream Act

Tuition rates for Out-of-State Community College Students in Phoenix, Ariz., will cost three times more than last year, and school officials are required to report the immigration status of enrolling students.

“The process in which these changes were implemented was done in secrecy, with original implementation task forces disappearing and other political interest groups supplanting a cross-section of the departments that deal with enrollment”, said Dulce Matuz, chairwoman of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition .

Last March Maricopa Community Colleges District approved a tuition hike close to 230% targeting  students from out of state, including, but not exclusively, undocumented students, who had w already made countless sacrifices to pay for one or two classes each semester.

“This situation is contrary with the well-being of the state. Arizona will not have a globally competitive workforce if higher education affordability is eliminated for thousands and thousands of students,” said Matuz.

Vigil Held as Court Considers Delaying Alabama’s Anti Immigrant Law

♦ August 20, 2011

Southern Poverty Law Center

As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and ACLU attorneys prepare to ask a federal judge on Wednesday to stop the Alabama’s harsh anti-immigrant law from taking effect on September 1, youth leaders from United We Dream continue their peaceful vigil Alabama’s North District Court in Birmingham.

Alabama’s HB 56 law is more restrictive than Arizona’s SB 1070, which has been blocked by the courts.

The Alabama law essentially turns educators, employers and landlords into immigration officers, and punishes anyone caught hiring, housing or even giving a car ride to an undocumented person in the state.

The vigil will focus on encouraging solidarity among Alabama residents, with speakers sharing stories and discussing potential impacts of the anti-immigrant law for individuals and for the state.

Communities Push Banks to Clean Up Foreclosed Properties

♦ August 15, 2011

Center on Policy Initiatives

In a recent study the Center on Policy Initiatives reports that the price for servicing San Diego’s foreclosed homes from 2008 through 2012 is at least $134 million, and could run as high as $855 million.

Vacant, neglected properties are dangerous and detrimental to neighborhoods.

CPI is holding community meetings to find ways to make sure banks pay their fair share of the bill, and reduce the amount of money from city and county budgets to maintain properties.

One proposal is a “Property Value Protection” ordinance that would create a registry of foreclosed homes in the city and levy a steep fine on banks that don’t property maintain the properties.

Elected Leaders Tune Out Hate Speech in Washington State

♦ August 15, 2011

One America

A lack of outrage by elected leaders in Washington state following hostile comments by a Kennewick City Council candidate including “If they value their lives they would leave” and more hate remarks, underscore the need for leaders from communities of color, said Ada Williams Prince, policy director for OneAmerica.

The redistricting process going on in Washington state and throughout the country is an opportunity for immigrant communities to create political districts that will elect leaders who understand the issues.

“The deadening silence from our elected leaders is even more proof that communities of color in Washington need a champion,” said George Cheung, director of the Win/Win Network.

CLASP Looks at Impact of State Task Forces on Poverty

♦ August 2, 2011

The Center for Law and Social Policy

Even before the Great Recession, state governments began taking steps to address poverty and provide opportunity through poverty task forces. Since 2003, 20 states have launched reviews and made recommendations to end poverty.

Some of the results are starting to show. In a new report, Poverty and Opportunity: What Difference Can a Task Force Make? CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, looks at some of the emerging results. The most successful task forces drive legislation, build bi-partisan engagement, and foster greater understanding of the realities faced by low-income people.

Clasp has compiled a list of the state task forces with links to their reports.


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