Tag Archives: anti-immigrant

Milwaukee County supervisors’ vote answers Trump’s executive actions

Milwaukee County supervisors voted on Feb. 2 to re-affirm their opposition to all forms of discrimination.

Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic offered the resolution, seen as a direct response to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from traveling to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, his hold on the U.S. refugee program and promises of further anti-immigrant, anti-refugee actions.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke responded to the White House directives with an eager pledge to enforce anti-immigrant policies but Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has said it is not the responsibility of local police to carry out federal policy.

“We should be finding ways to strengthen relationships between the community and local law enforcement, not create fear and division, as our sheriff has promised,” Dimitrijevic said in a news release after the vote.

She added, “The people of Milwaukee County have told us loud and clear that they do not want to be divided and they are opposed to attacks on immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women and other targeted groups. Today, supervisors said we hear you, and Milwaukee County stands with you against discrimination, hate, and bigotry.”

The county supervisors received hundreds of calls and emails before they took up the resolution, which was endorsed by Voces de la Frontera, the statewide immigrant rights group.

“With the Trump administration threatening to repeal federal enforcement priorities and turn local law enforcement into Immigration agents, we know that local government will lead the way in creating policies that place community trust and public safety ahead of fear-mongering and attacks on hard-working immigrant families,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, said at a news conference introducing the resolution.

The resolution was adopted because, as stated in the document:

• Trump issued executive orders Jan. 25 and Jan. 27 that will “suspend the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days, ban the arrival of Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspend travel from certain majority Muslim countries, and slash overall refugee admissions by at least 50 percent.

• Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order lays the foundation of a mass deportation program through new immigration enforcement priorities that make all undocumented immigrants priorities for removal.

• Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on immigration intends to engage “local officials for the purpose of preparing to enter into agreements under section 287 (g)” in order “to authorize state and local law enforcement officials to perform the functions of immigration”

• The 287 (g) program, which allows Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to delegate immigration enforcement to partners in state and local agencies, has been found to create “discriminatory policy practices” by the federal Justice Department.

• Trump’s sweeping new immigration enforcement priorities make millions of people a priority for removal based solely on the judgment of a low-level immigration officer, violating people’s constitutional right to due process and fair trial.

• In 2012, the board of supervisors approved a policy that specified when ICE detainer requests would be honored, emphasizing that people who do not represent a threat to public safety should not be targeted and requested that the office of the sheriff abide by the policy.

The supervisors, with the vote, resolved:

• That no matter the threats made by Trump, the county will prioritize keeping families together and will remain a safe place for immigrants who contribute to the richness and vibrancy of the community.

• To continue to work for the realization of women’s rights, whether in health care, the workplace or any other area.

• That Black Lives Matter.

The resolution re-affirmed supervisors’ support for LGBTQ equality, including same-sex marriage right and vowed the board will not stop fighting for LGBTQ people, who at this time might “feel scared, bullied or alone.”

And the resolution contained a statement of support for “refugee families who have built their lives in Milwaukee County and now cannot be reunited with loved ones” and a commitment to law enforcement reforms under the Task Force on 21st Century Policing established by the Obama administration.

Finally, the resolution says the county board encourages the county’s chief judge to request ICE agents not carry out enforcement actions in or around Milwaukee County courthouse grounds, opposes the use of Section 287 (g) and urges the sheriff to refuse to enter into Section 287 (g) agreements with ICE and refuses to honor detainer requests unless the request is accompanied by a federal court order or warrant.

“As a co-sponsor of resolution 16-738, I am proud of my colleagues for taking a stand against hate and discrimination,” said Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson. “Today, we stood together for justice and inclusion, in support of our most vulnerable residents.”

In related news, the ACLU of Wisconsin and other ACLU affiliates filed 18 Freedom of Information Act requests on Feb. 2 with local U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices to expose how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s Muslim ban at more than 55 international airports across the country, acting in violation of federal courts that ordered a stay on the ban’s implementation.

“It is imperative that the public learn if federal immigration officials are blatantly defying nationwide federal court orders that block President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, a staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties in California. “To shed light on this critical issue of pressing public concern, 50 ACLU affiliates are using the Freedom of Information Act to expose Customs and Border Protection’s abuse of power.”

Media reports indicate that CBP officials detained and deported individuals, even after federal courts ordered officials to stop enforcing the executive order following a court challenge from the ACLU and other organizations.

“We have received quite a few messages from immigrants in the U.S. and those with family members with visas to legally immigrate from overseas,” said ACLU of Wisconsin senior staff attorney, Karyn Rotker. “The community is fearful and confused by the sudden, extreme actions the government is taking.”

The Trump administration has yet to inform the public of how many refugees, visa holders and legal permanent residents have been affected by this action.

The following ACLU affiliates participated in this coordinated FOIA filing:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northern California
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
San Diego, California
South Carolina
Southern California
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington, D.C.
West Virginia
Wisconsin

Photo: Via Voces de la Frontera on Facebook.

Editor’s note: This report will be updated.

WisDems slam Paul Ryan over ‘hollow’ apology

The reaction to his empty and self-serving speech this week was clearly not what Paul Ryan was hoping for. While the Speaker expressed hollow statements on the state of American politics, the public knows far better than to trust the words of someone who has pushed draconian budgets, contributed to years of gridlock and dysfunction in Congress, and still refuses to stand up to the extreme elements of the Republican Party.

It is easy for Speaker Ryan to stand at a mic and speak in platitudes, but he can’t hide from his record of cutting funding for crucial service programs, voting against raising the minimum wage, voting to ban same-sex marriage, attacking women’s rights, and attempting to repeal health care for millions of Americans.
Just see what some of the national news outlets had to say:

Mother Jones
“The obvious pushback is that while Paul Ryan may have stopped talking about “makers and takers,” his policies are exactly the same as they’ve always been. After all that time spent listening, he changed his rhetoric but apparently none of his substantive views.”

Think Progress
“While offering a mild denunciation of the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-woman, and pro-white supremacist rhetoric in the 2016 race, Paul Ryan failed to acknowledge that the Republican Party has for years pushed bills in Congress that advance similar views and helped create a space for the current election tenor.”

Vox
“Given the chance to reflect on the state of national politics, Paul Ryan does not sense an alarming rise in overt racism or anti-Muslim prejudice. Ryan does not feel that anti-immigration sentiment has gone too far. Ryan doesn’t even express alarm at the backlash against international trade. Ryan isn’t worried about protestors getting beaten up at rallies, and Ryan isn’t worried that a leading presidential candidate lies constantly. Ryan just thinks people should be nicer, in general, and that Republicans should say nice things about poor people. All in all, an excellent day for Trump.”

Washington Post
“Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is quite obviously not a fan of the way Trump campaigns. But here’s the thing: He has said repeatedly that he will back the billionaire real estate magnate should Trump win the GOP nomination. This is a major caveat that should temper any praise of Ryan’s supposed fortitude — and any argument that his words carry weight.”

Washington Post
“There is, in general, plenty of bad behavior on all sides. But the current crisis is very specific: A xenophobe who makes scapegoats of racial and religious minorities is threatening to take over the Republican Party and to throw the country into turmoil — and Paul Ryan isn’t denouncing him, or even saying he won’t support Trump.”

US News
“Paul Ryan didn’t just ignore the elephant in the room; he ignored that a rampaging elephant is tearing the room down around him. In fact, Ryan’s speech displayed just how divorced his words are from the current Republican zeitgeist. The policy he pointed to as indicative of the way the parties can come together – tax reform – is telling. Ryan, as he has always done since arriving in Washington, is hawking a tax plan that will deliver most of its benefits to the richest Americans.”

 

Officials: Immigrants assaulted by border patrol agent were surrendering

An immigrant woman, her daughter and another girl who said they were kidnapped and assaulted by a border patrol agent were in the process of surrendering to the agent when their ordeal began, according to officials.

Agent Esteban Manzanares, who officials say committed suicide last week, is accused of driving the three away from the river after they surrendered and assaulting them. The other agent said Manzanares cut the wrists of the adult woman, assaulted one teenager in the group, and then fled the area with a second teenage girl.

The Honduran embassy in Washington, D.C., said the three are a mother, her underage daughter and another girl not related to them. The FBI has said the three were in the U.S. illegally.

The woman who had escaped the attack and walked upriver tripped a camera at the border fence shortly after 5 p.m. last Wednesday, according to federal officials.

They said in the camera image a woman can be seen walking toward a gap in the fence. The border agent said there was blood covering her wrists. Within 10 minutes of the camera image being taken, agents responded to the woman and began a search for the others.

One federal law enforcement official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to talk about the case because the FBI was leading the investigation. Another border agent spoke on condition of anonymity because the agent was not allowed to speak to the media because of the ongoing investigation.

Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency of which the Border Patrol is part, has said that when it found the woman she told them she had been attacked by a man. The federal official said the woman described the man as wearing green fatigues. Border Patrol agents wear green uniforms. She also described a vehicle that the federal official said authorities believed to be a Border Patrol vehicle.

The official and the agent said a search was quickly launched in the area for the other two victims. One of the teenagers was found near the border in the brush, and hours later the second girl was located in Manzanares’ home in Mission, the federal official and the agent said. Mission is a suburb of McAllen, close to the Texas-Mexico border about 350 miles from Houston.

When authorities approached the agent’s apartment, they heard gunfire. A short time later, when investigators went into the apartment, they found him dead and rescued the other girl.

A CBP official told The Associated Press that the agent was on duty when he encountered the females and that his shift had ended by the time authorities showed up at his house and he shot himself. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing investigation by the FBI.

Karol Escalante, a spokeswoman for the Honduran embassy in Washington, D.C., said the three Hondurans are recovering at a hospital in McAllen. She would not elaborate on their injuries.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement that such acts are not representative of Border Patrol agents. He added that the agency is working to make sure the victims receive proper care.

“I am deeply sorry that this incident occurred and am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent incidents like this from occurring again,” he said.

The Border Patrol agent who participated in the search said Manzanares was assigned to Anzalduas Park. The FBI said it is awaiting an autopsy report on Manzanares, who the Border Patrol said had been with the agency since 2008.

In a statement in Spanish, the Honduran foreign ministry condemned the assaults and kidnapping and asked the U.S. government for a thorough investigation, for psychological and medical assistance for the victims, for financial compensation and for legal immigration status for the victims.

“Lastly, the government of Honduras calls on the U.S. government to protect the human rights of immigrants, whatever their migratory status might be because all countries – their authorities in particular – are obligated to respect the dignity of human beings,” the statement concludes.

The number of apprehensions by the Border Patrol – a figure commonly used to gauge the ebb and flow of illegal border crossers – rose by 16 percent last year to 420,789 people detained. More than half of those arrests were made in Texas.

Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said last October that much of the increase was due to a rise in the number of people from Central America trying to enter the U.S. in South Texas.

While apprehensions of Mexican nationals remained fairly steady, arrests of immigrants from other countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, rose 55 percent. Limited economic opportunities and widespread gang and drug cartel violence in Central America have driven tens of thousands north along a dangerous route through Mexico.

Justices decline to revisit immigration debate

A former Pennsylvania coal town and a Dallas suburb lost a lengthy battle to enact anti-immigrant laws Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeals.

The high court has held since 2012 that immigration issues are largely a matter for federal agencies, not local governments, to regulate.

The ruling Monday involved efforts by the city of Hazleton, in northeastern Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas, to enforce housing and employment rules aimed at people in the country without legal papers, a strategy copied by dozens of other cities that faulted federal efforts to control immigration.

“I think things look really different now than it did when we initiated this case. Cities are not looking to go down the road that Hazleton went down,” said lawyer Omar Jadwat of the ACLU’s Immigration Rights Project, who successfully argued the case in the U.S. appeals court. “What we’re seeing on the ground is much more that cities and states are looking at ways to integrate immigrants into their communities … and not ways to exclude people, or criminalize them.”

Hazleton had passed the first local laws in 2006 to address concerns over an influx of immigrants. The laws sought to fine landlords who rented to people living in the country illegally, deny business permits to companies that gave them jobs, and required prospective tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit. However, the laws were never enacted amid the court challenges.

Former Mayor Lou Barletta, who led the charge, is now in Congress. He had pushed the measures after two people living in the country illegally were charged in a fatal shooting. He argued that those living in Hazelton illegally brought drugs and crime to the city, overwhelming police, schools and hospitals.

“In the end, I blame the federal government. If our immigration laws were enforced, localities would not be compelled to take matters into their own hands,” Barletta, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “It’s why I am firmly opposed to any legislation that hints at amnesty for illegal immigrants. … Today’s ruling will spur me to have an even louder voice.”

Farmers Branch spent eight years and more than $6 million on immigration-related lawsuits and other efforts, as it tried to ban those living in the country illegally from renting property.

The Dallas suburb of 27,000 has since elected a new mayor and elected its first Latina councilwoman, after reforming the electoral process. Mayor Bill Glancy said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court decision. Like Barletta, he felt city officials were trying to step in where the federal government had failed.

“Everybody seems to be interested in the status quo,” Glancy said. “It’s kind of frustrating, that you’d think people would want solutions to problems.”

Glancy supports reforms to allow some legal immigrants and some of those living here illegally grants to become U.S. citizens, and wants Farmers Branch to remain an appealing place for people of diverse backgrounds, he said.

“The people are moving here because they feel like it’s a city and a community that tries to stand up for the rule of law,” Glancy said. “And that’s what this case is all about: The rule of law.”

Protesters deliver cantaloupes to right-wing U.S. Rep. Steve King’s office

Young activists with United We Dream have delivered cantaloupes to the congressional office of Steve King to protest the Iowa Republican’s offensive remarks about the children of immigrants.

King told a conservative news website that “for every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

The White House on July 24 condemned King’s assertion that Dreamers are actually running drugs.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the comments “were extremely unfortunate, and I think a number of people have pointed out that they were offensive.”

“They certainly don’t help any efforts by Republicans to improve their standing among Hispanic Americans, I would assume,” Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to deliver an economic speech in Galesburg, Ill.

Obama’s senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, wrote on Twitter that every Republican should condemn King’s remarks.

A number of House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, have already done so, with Boehner calling King’s comments “wrong.”

King has defended what he said, telling Breitbart, a conservative news outlet, that “what I said is objective, it’s true and it cannot be logically challenged.”

A recent poll by a conservative-leaning organization has found that a majority of voters in King’s congressional district do not share his anti-immigrant views. About 65 percent in the district, according to the American Action Network, support an earned-path to citizenship in immigration reform.

Racial profiling in Arizona? There’s an app to report that

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has released a smartphone app for reporting abuse under the state’s racial profiling law.

The app is part of the ACLU’s campaign against the anti-immigrant SB1070, more widely known as the “Show Me Your Papers” law.

The app allows people to report abuses but also provides a guide, in English and Spanish, on rights when interacting with police. The ACLU also has opened a toll-free hotline, 855-225-8291, to take reports and provide information

An interactive online map shows where abuses have taken place.

“The goal of this campaign is to arm affected individuals with the tools and information they need to stand up for themselves, report abuses, and help us fight back in the courts to get the worst provision of the law struck down,” stated ACLU of Arizona immigrants’ rights coordinator Dulce Juarez, who will be training a corps of volunteer students and community leaders to conduct “Know Your Rights” forums in all 15 counties as part of the campaign.

The campaign comes on the heels of a May decision in U.S. federal court that blocks Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration enforcement practices. In the ACLU lawsuit, the judge barred Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies from detaining individuals for prolonged periods to check their immigration status if they were not suspected of violating any state or federal criminal laws. The judge also prohibited deputies from ever considering race when deciding who to stop, detain or question about their immigration status.

“Arpaio’s practices served as a model for SB1070 and they embody everything that is wrong with it,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “It is frankly impossible to enforce SB1070 without using race or engaging in prolonged detentions, and the decision in the Arpaio litigation sends a strong message to police departments across the state that they cannot hide behind SB1070 and use it as an excuse to violate people’s constitutional rights.”

The “show me your papers provision” in the Arizona law requires local police to contact federal immigration officials to verify individuals’ immigration status. However, in U.S. v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that any attempts to detain individuals for longer than necessary for the purpose of checking their immigration status raise constitutional concerns.

In late June 2012, days after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the provision to go into effect, the ACLU set up a community hotline for affected individuals to report incidents of racial profiling and illegal detentions.  Since then, the organization has fielded more than 6,000 calls, including calls from individuals with “lawful status” such as deferred action recipients, crime victims and domestic violence survivors, who were detained for prolonged periods of time.

The free phone app, developed by OpenWatch, can be downloaded at www.acluaz.org/UnitedAgainst1070.

Arizona sheriff’s posse patrols outside schools

The sheriff for metropolitan Phoenix has launched a plan to have as many as 500 armed volunteers patrol areas just outside schools in an effort, he said, to guard against shootings like month’s attack at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 people dead.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office said that the patrols were launched earlier this week at 59 schools in unincorporated areas and communities that pay his agency for police services.

Arpaio hopes to have as many as 400 posse volunteers and another 100 volunteers known as reserve deputies take part in the patrols.

The plan from the sheriff who is known nationwide for his anti-immigrant policies and for housing jail inmates in canvas tents has led some longtime critics to say Arpaio’s latest effort is meant to grab headlines and won’t be sustained over the long term.

“Why would people complain about my posse being in front of schools to act as prevention?” Arpaio asked, noting that he wants the patrols to last throughout the remainder of the school year.

The sheriff said school shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere and last month’s arrest of an Arizona student accused of planning an attack at her high school led to his decision to launch the patrols.

The volunteers, dressed in uniforms and driving patrol vehicles, won’t go onto school grounds unless they decide they’ve spotted danger and they won’t sit in stationary spots. Instead, they’ll patrol several schools as part of their driving routes.

Andrew Sanchez, a town council member in Guadalupe, said he doesn’t want the sheriff’s posse patrolling outside schools in his town. The community of about 6,000 spends $1.2 million a year to have Arpaio’s office provide police protection.

“We are paying him to have certified deputies here, not to bring a circus and not to use our town as a political platform,” Sanchez said.

He predicted the volunteer patrols would disappear once media attention had faded.

Distrust of Arpaio in Guadalupe runs deep after the sheriff’s deputies poured into the town during one of his first trademark immigration sweeps in April 2008.

During the crackdowns, deputies surge into an area of a city – in some cases, heavily Latino areas –to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders over several days.

Arpaio announced his plans on the grounds of an elementary school, saying he wants the patrols publicized.

“I want everyone to know about it for the deterrence effect,” he said.

The announcement came on the same day that the top Democrat in the Arizona House put forth a proposal to triple funding for school resource officers, add money for mental health treatment and require background checks on all buyers at gun shows.

Arpaio said no taxpayer money would be spent on the patrols and volunteers will be supervised by radio or phone by deputies.

Joselyn Wells, the mother of three children at a school in suburban Anthem, where Arpaio’s posse members have begun patrolling, said she was excited to hear about the initiative.

“A lot of people sit around and watch these things happen, watch key signs and no one wants to do anything about it,” she said. “Nobody wants conflict, nobody wants to be out in the limelight. And he doesn’t care. He wants to do the right thing.”

Arpaio has relied heavily on his posse, which consist of about 3,000 unpaid civilians, including action-film star Steven Seagal.

They assist deputies in duties such as providing free police protection at malls during the holidays, directing traffic at wreck scenes and transporting to jail the people who are arrested in immigration patrols. One group of posse members conducted an examination into the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Members wear uniforms and can get authorized to carry a gun after training, though only 400 can actually carry guns. They can make arrests only at the direction of a deputy sheriff. Posse operations generally don’t receive taxpayer money and instead are funded through contributions and dues paid by posse members.

The reserve deputies who will join posse members in the school patrols have all the training and powers of a regular law enforcement officer but aren’t paid for their police work.

Monica Allread, spokeswoman for the Tempe Elementary School District, which includes an elementary school in Guadalupe, shied away from commenting on Arpaio’s new plan. But she said the district aims to improve safety at its schools.

Outed gay sheriff cleared in abuse of power probe

Paul Babeu has been cleared in a state investigation into whether he abused his authority as sheriff of Arizona’s Pinal County, after his former boyfriend who is a Mexican immigrant accused Babeu of threatening him.

State Solicitor General Dave Cole said that nothing indicates Babeu misused his authority or public money to harass or intimidate Jose Orozco, and Cole declined to file criminal charges in the case. He also exonerated Orozco, whom Babeu accused of property and identity theft in the handling of the sheriff’s Twitter account and other websites.

Babeu had asked the attorney general’s office earlier this year to look into Orozco’s claims. Cole oversaw the seven-month investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest on the part of Attorney General Tom Horne.

“The truth has won out in the end,” Babeu said in a statement. “I was attacked personally, professionally and politically with these false allegations, and today, I’m fully cleared. It’s not surprise that these attacks came during an election year in a failed attempt to destroy me.”

Orozco’s attorney Adnan Horan said his client “is disappointed with the solicitor general’s decision not proceed with any charges against Sheriff Babeu,” but added that it also “confirms Mr. Orozco’s innocence.”

The sheriff, who recently won the Republican nomination in his re-election bid, had pulled out of the race for a congressional seat after news broke of his falling out with Orozco. The two met online in 2006 and had an on-again, off-again relationship.

Babeu, known for his hardline stance on illegal immigration and border security, was considered a strong candidate in the 4th Congressional District. He said he decided to seek another term as sheriff because his deputy could not run and to keep a promise to constituents that he would maintain a continuity of leadership.

Orozco had volunteered to work with Babeu’s campaign and maintained his websites until Babeu hired a consultant to take them over. Even then, Babeu said Orozco was hesitant to hand over passwords and domain names. Orozco told authorities he worked hard on the website as an unpaid volunteer and wasn’t about to turn it over to a paid consultant.

The attorney general’s office had considered filing harassment and other charges against Orozco but determined that prosecution of misdemeanor counts wouldn’t be a good use of resources.

Babeu said he asked Orozco to keep private the details of their personal relationship. Babeu acknowledged he is gay after a picture of him shirtless was posted on a gay dating website.

“Mr. Orozco is pleased that the attorney general’s office has completed its investigation and is ready to move forward,” Horan said.

Babeu still faces another inquiry from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. That office is looking into whether Babeu and his top aides violated the federal Hatch Act, which makes it illegal for certain government workers to participate in political activities.

ACLU challenges Arizona’s executive order on federal immigration program

The American Civil Liberties Union is denouncing Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s executive order on Aug. 15 that bars undocumented immigrants who qualify for temporary legal status in the United States from receiving state or local public benefits.

Brewer issued the order in response to the Obama administration’s implementation of an immigration policy of deferred action on deportation for young and undocumented immigrants. To be eligible for the federal program, immigrants must prove they arrived in the United States before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, have been living in the country at least five years and are in school or graduated or served in the military. They cannot have been convicted of certain crimes or otherwise pose a safety threat.

Brewer’s order denies state or local benefits to immigrants applying under the new federal immigration rules. The order bars them from obtaining an Arizona driver’s license or a state-issued identification card.

Alessandra Soler, the executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, said in a statement on Aug. 16 that “Brewer is distorting federal law and inaccurately interpreting state law.”

She said, “This order conflicts with state and federal law because people who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States and under Arizona law people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification.”

The ACLU has sued the governor over the state’s anti-immigrant law.

Soler said Brewer, with her latest order, is “perpetuating the myth that deferred action applicants are somehow submitting fraudulent documents and that is completely false. Not only is she singling out young people who are eligible for deferred action, but she also is excluding other categories of non-citizens who are authorized to be in the country, including victims of domestic violence, from obtaining state-identification while their immigration applications are being processed.”

A spokesman for Brewer told the Arizona Republic, “As the (Department of Homeland Security) has said repeatedly … these individuals do not have lawful status. They are able to remain in the country and not be deported, and not be prosecuted, but they do not have lawful status.”

Arizona gov asks Supreme Court to overturn domestic partner benefits

Gov. Jan Brewer is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an injunction blocking Arizona from eliminating domestic partnership benefits for gay state employees.

The Republican governor is perhaps best known on a national level as the defender of Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers” anti-immigrant law.

Brewer, in an appeal filed on July 2, is asking the High Court to overturn rulings from a trial court and an appeals court that require the state to continue domestic partner benefits to Arizona’s state employees.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is representing Brewer in the push to reverse the rulings.

Lambda Legal has represented the employees defending the partnership benefits and will have until Aug. 6 to respond to the High Court.

The legal battle goes back to at least 2009, when Arizona lawmakers passed a law to strip gay and lesbian employees of domestic partnership benefits.

Lambda, on behalf of 10 employees, sued to block enforcement of the law and argued that if state officials strip domestic partner health benefits from lesbian and gay government workers, they violate the U.S. Constitution.

Lambda filed its suit in November 2009 and a district court judge issued a preliminary injunction in July 2010. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld the injunction in September 2011 and a request from Arizona for a full panel review was denied in April.

This denial is what prompted Arizona to turn to the Supreme Court, which is on summer break.

A court has not offered a final decision on the case.

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