All Articles Tagged "immigration"
Last night, President Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term (we live tweeted it here) and he raced through a number of big issues that he’d like to see Congress act on in the coming months. One of those issues, and possibly most unexpected, was a higher minimum wage.
But there were others that will be up for debate — among Congresspeople and voters alike. Here, we outline nine of the big ones. And in the comments, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and debate. That’s democracy at work!
Coming to a new country and starting over is difficult for anyone. In her new memoir Finally Reid: The Extraordinary Testimonies of an Ordinary Woman, Marcia Reid recounts her journey from Jamaica to the US in the early 1980s. Since then, she’s traveled around the world, graduated from college, and launched a career that has her now working for IPG, one of the world’s hugest advertising, marketing, and public relations companies.
We sent Reid a few questions via email to get a little more insight into her life and times.
Madame Noire: You talk about your life in Jamaica as a relatively carefree one. You worked, shopped, made friends. Yet you decided to come to the US to work and study in New York. Why?
Marcia Reid: There were several reasons for coming to the US. Number one was the socio-economic reason. In Jamaica, the US was known as the “Land of Opportunity” where you have limitless career opportunities and can gain financial wealth at a faster pace. I got the opportunity to shop even more, and it was easier to pursue a college degree here. It was also an excellent opportunity to get away from my very strict upbringing.
MN: It was 1982. What was the experience like coming to the US from Jamaica at 22 years old at that time?
MR: It was amazing, exciting, and scary. Everything was huge and complex compared to what I was accustomed to on a small island. This was the first time I left home and had no directions or money. I spent most of the money I had within two weeks of my arrival. It was the end of August and I went on a shopping spree, not knowing that the reason that clothes were inexpensive was because the season was changing. I soon found out that most of the clothes that I bought could only be worn for another month or so, as it was getting colder. I had not even bought a winter coat, so I needed to find a job real fast.
As I pounded the pavement of New York City daily in search of a job, I soon realized that without the “New York experience” and the coveted green card, the only jobs available to me included house cleaning, baby sitting, or posing nude. In my book, I write about staying with a friend’s mother, sleeping on a pull-out bed in her living room and how I was eventually able to find a great opportunity at a luxury cruise line.
MN: By 1989, you were a mom, had traveled the world, were married and separated, owned an apartment, and had decided to focus on your college studies while working full-time. How did all of that help (or hinder) your focus on your studies?
MR: While all of this made it extremely challenging at the time, I became very focused on my studies. My son was born in 1989 and my life was spinning out of control. I was separated, buried under a mountain of debt and trying to balance motherhood, work and school. It was especially difficult, as I was going to school full-time and working full-time but I was determined to stay focused on my studies. I knew that a college degree would be advantageous to advancing my career so that I could be in a better financial position and provide a better future for my child.
MN: By the end of the book, you’ve got degrees from New York University and Columbia University and you’ve moved from Florida back to the New York area. You’re now the Director of Diversity Management at IPG. Please describe your job and the challenges of promoting diversity at a large company.
MR: My role as Director of Diversity and Inclusion is to help my company become one of the most diverse and inclusive companies operating in business. This is a commitment that IPG takes very seriously, and I work closely with our HR and business leaders across our network of agencies and corporate offices to develop and execute programs that focus on recruitment, retention and development. I help educate our employees about the changing demographics and its impact on our business, our workforce, and our marketplace. I work closely with our Business Resource Groups in the U.S. as well as the Women’s Leadership Networks in Australia, India, China and London. I also launched a mentoring program, lead a fellowship program of young professionals, manage our relationships with schools, and oversee our annual Diversity and Inclusion survey that goes out to all our US employees.
MN: How do your life experiences impact how you perform your job?
MR: My life experiences make me passionate about the work that I do. I can better relate to employees that are similar or different from me in the workplace because of my diverse background. I understand some of the challenges they face and can provide more suitable solutions and resources to create a more inclusive work environment, where everyone can feel engaged and perform at their best to achieve our goal.
In the past three, going on four years, you may have noticed something. President Obama can handle it. By it I mean everything his job as President of the United States entails and all the extra, unwarranted, latently or blatantly racist foolishness that goes with it.
Initially, I too became incensed when the President was openly disrespected. Listening to Rep. Joe Wilson call him a liar in the middle of his healthcare speech, watching as “birthers” and Donald Trump demanded that he produce his birth certificate after he was well into his first term, and seeing a protester interrupt his commencement speech at Notre Dame was enough to make my blood pressure rise. Not only would this have been disrespectful for any layperson to experience, but this inexcusable behavior was being directed at the President of the United States. A president the American people elected.
I couldn’t find solace in the situation until I read an article about the president and his mother in the New York Times. It was a very detailed piece, but the part that stuck out to me was this:
“After lunch, the group took a walk, with Barry running ahead. A flock of Indonesian children began lobbing rocks in his direction. They ducked behind a wall and shouted racial epithets. He seemed unfazed, dancing around as though playing dodge ball “with unseen players,” Bryant said. Ann [his mother] did not react. Assuming she must not have understood the words, Bryant offered to intervene. “No, he’s O.K.,” Ann said. “He’s used to it.”
Reading that paragraph was my “aha moment.” After that article, I came to understand, with calming clarity, that President Obama was meant for this. Not only was he meant for it, he is capable of handling the pressures, the criticisms, the racism and the outright disrespect that comes with it.
But notice I said he can handle it; I, on the other hand, cannot.
Even though I continuously refer to that paragraph to keep myself from popping a blood vessel, incidences like yesterday’s exchange on an Arizona tarmac send me spiraling down that dark hole.
I woke up this morning to news that yet another form of disrespect had been hurled at the president, this time from Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
The president and Brewer already have a rocky relationship because of a book she wrote. In it she says that the president lectured her when she met with him to discuss the Arizona immigration law in 2010.
Yet, Brewer asked to meet with him again and a white house official said: “He’d be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book.”
As far as we know there is no record of their conversation on the tarmac yesterday, but Brewer and reports mention that her book might have been the point of contention.
Fine, whatever. What gets me about the whole thing is what Brewer said to reporters:
“I felt a little bit threatened, if you will, in the attitude that he had, because I was there to welcome him.”
Colombian officials had a change of heart and have now released 15-year-old Jakadrien Lorece Turner, the Dallas teenager who was mistakenly deported to the country after she ran away from home in November 2010.
No concrete explanation has been given as to how the non-Spanish-speaking African American girl was sent to the country, regardless of her claim to be Tika Lanay Cortez, a Colombian woman born in 1990.
Houston police said in a statement that the name was run through a database to determine if Tika was wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but the results were negative. She was then turned over to the Harris County jail and booked on a theft charge.
The county sheriff’s office said it ran her through the available databases and did the interviews necessary to establish her identity and immigration status in the country, with negative results. A sheriff’s office employee then recommended that an immigration detainer be put on her, and upon her release from jail she was turned over to ICE. According to U.S. immigration officials, they followed procedure and found nothing to indicate that the girl wasn’t a Colombian woman living illegally in the country.
“If she looked like an adult, and she told them she was a 21-year-old Colombian citizen, and she didn’t show up in their databases, this was inevitable,” said Albert Armendariz, an immigration attorney from El Paso.
An ICE official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Jakadrien was interviewed by a representative from the Colombian consulate and that the country’s government issued her a travel document to enter Colombia and she was given Colombian citizenship when she arrived. According to the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakadrien was enrolled in the country’s “Welcome Home” program where she was given shelter, psychological assistance, and a job at a call center.
Since her return, Jakadrien hasn’t said much about her experience, but according to an attorney for the family, “She’s happy to be home.”
As outrageous as this story sounds, Stephen Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School, said it’s not all that uncommon.
“There are a variety of legitimate reasons why somebody might not appear to be a U.S. citizen at first glance.” he said. “It’s the duty of the U.S. federal immigration agency to make sure that we do not detain and deport U.S. citizens erroneously. And this, unfortunately happened in this case.”
According to Jakadrien’s family, they simply plan to “do what we can to make sure she gets back to a normal life,” while their attorney pursues answers as to how this incident occurred.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Lorene Turner has been searching for her granddaughter, Jakadrien, since the fall of 2010, when she ran away from home. At the time, the grandmother says the 14-year-old was distraught over the loss of her grandfather and her parents’ divorce. But using Facebook, Lorene finally found her granddaughter’s location—Colombia.
Police determined that Jakadrien was mistakenly deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April of 2011. When Jakadrien ran away, she somehow ended up in Houston from her Dallas hometown, and was arrested for theft. She gave officers a fake name, and when the name was checked it belonged to a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Colombia, who had warrants for her arrest.
Still the question of how an African American girl who doesn’t speak Spanish could end up deported to Colombia still remains. The ICE took Jakadrien’s fingerprints, but somehow didn’t confirm her identity and deported her to Colombia, where the Colombian government gave her a work card and released her. Now, the Colombian government has the girl in a detention facility and won’t release her, despite her family’s request. The 15-year-old is also pregnant.
Every parent with a teenager should tell them this story anytime they even mention running away.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(Washington Post) — The Obama administration is escalating its crackdown on tough immigration laws, with lawyers reviewing four new state statutes to determine whether the federal government will take the extraordinary step of challenging the measures in court. Justice Department lawyers have sued Arizona and Alabama, where a federal judge on Wednesday allowed key parts of that state’s immigration law to take effect but blocked other provisions. Federal lawyers are talking to Utah officials about a third possible lawsuit and are considering legal challenges in Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina, according to court documents and government officials. The level of federal intervention is highly unusual, legal experts said, especially because civil rights groups already have sued most of those states. Typically, the government files briefs or seeks to intervene in other lawsuits filed against state statutes.
My favorite Katt William’s joke is about the war in Iraq in which he poses the question to the audience, “if we are fighting a war on terror than what does the uniform look like?” The answer of course is that there is no uniform because there is no army so in essence we [the United States] are killing, in the words of Williams, people in sweatpants, white-T shirts and flip-flops. I am not usually a fan of Williams or his brand of comedy but that joke, and a few others, gets me every time.
Which is why this controversy surrounding an off-keyed joke he made recently rings kind of hollow for me. If you are not aware, the controversy began when a video was posted online of Williams yelling at an audience member who was heckling Williams during a comedy show in Arizona. Williams claimed that the audience member, who was Mexican, said something “anti-American.” And Williams, who unbeknownst to most of his fan base is a staunch patriot, decided to defend the red, white and blue in a seven-minute rant in which he lampooned the heckler using highly racialized taunts, while the audience chanted “USA.” The video of the exchange went viral, of course, and led to all sorts of reactions from members of the Mexican community, who questioned Williams’ timing and common sense at a time when immigrant issues remain on the forefront of political debate, particularly in Arizona.
After mounting pressure, Williams would issue an apology but later retract it in a hilarious yet boorish interview with TJ Holmes of CNN, saying that he is not sorry for what he said, but apologizes to anyone who thought he was being hateful. He also said that he has nothing against Mexicans and that his lampooning was directly only at that one individual, who was heckling him. Then he pulled the hood of his oversized sweat suit jacket over his head and then faded to black.
Over the last few months, Williams has become no stranger to controversy. Recently he was arrested for witness intimidation for blocking the exit of a man on a tractor after the man had been assault by three women, who were staying at William’s residency, who threw rocks at him. I kid you not. And there has been much discussion of his erratic behavior during standup performances, including a performance in New Mexico where it is alleged that he didn’t so much perform stand-up comedy as much as he did babble incoherently, rip off his shirt, did some push-ups and then left the stage.
Now all of this might reflect the precursor to a man coming unhinged but what I don’t get is that Williams, who is widely known for his off-colored brand of humor and his even bigger alter-persona of a disrespectful “hoe-slapping” pimp named Money Mike, is getting in trouble now for not being politically correct. Quite honestly, nothing he said that night is a departure from what we already heard from Williams in the past. And what is particularly strange about the eagerly offended is that they are either mums, if not accommodating, to his other arsenal of distasteful jokes, which Williams has performed over the years. The “Poor Little Tink Tink” joke, another one of my favorites, should had folks crying foul for satirizing those with prosthesis limbs. The riffing of the San Fransico zoo tiger attack incident, should have had us screaming “too soon” as the wounds of the mauled victim’s face had yet to heal. But we laughed and laughed some more.
I don’t like everything Williams says nor do I think that everything he says is politically accurate or correct. However I don’t much like or think everything Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler, Don Rickles, Andrew Dice Clay, Carlos Mencia and Lisa Lampenilli says is funny, politically accurate or correct either. But occasionally, I do laugh. Why? Well for one, it may be funny. And secondly, because much like most artforms, comedy has always teetered if not crossed the line of intolerance and offensiveness and in doing so, tends to challenge the very taboos and conventional rules of manners and politeness, which society has used to subjugate people in to categories to begin with. So when we engage in these frivolous witch hunts to weed out offensiveness in comedy of all things, we end up championing the very thing in which we claim we are against: intolerance.
And may I remind folks that the only reason why we knew about his latest rant was because of a video, and follow up press reports, who told us to be offended. Barely anyone who was actually at the show noticed anything beyond the usual William-style silliness, which he is known for. Heck, I’m willing to bet that his crass nature is why most of those folks bought tickets to his show in the first place. Yet now folks are trying to use Williams as an example of bigotry and hatred when the focus really should be on the politicians, who enact laws to crack down on illegal immigration through racialized measures. And there’s the problem with offense-taking, particularly in comedy, as it puts the focus of what an entertainer, by trade, has said and ignores the very real actions of what the elected officials, you know the ones that write the laws, are actually doing.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(AP) — More than half of all people sent to federal prison for committing felony crimes so far this year were Hispanic, a major demographic shift swollen by immigration offenses, according to a new government report released Tuesday. Hispanics already outnumber all other ethnic groups sentenced to serve time in prison for federal felonies. Hispanics reached a new milestone for the first time this year, making up the majority all federal felony offenders sentenced in the first nine months of fiscal year 2011, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
(AJC) — Georgia’s top political leaders on Friday named the members of a powerful new investigative panel aimed at cracking down on government officials who fail to enforce the state’s immigration-related laws. Called the Immigration Enforcement Review Board, the seven-member panel will have the power to investigate complaints filed against city, county and state officials, hold hearings, subpoena documents, adopt regulations and hand out punishment.
(Christian Science Monitor) — A federal judge in Alabama has temporarily blocked a controversial state law that is designed to sharply curtail illegal immigration in the state. The ruling was released early Monday afternoon, three days before the law, considered one of the most expansive in the United States, was scheduled to go into effect. Judge Sharon L. Blackburn said the courts need at least a month “to adequately address the numerous challenges” to the law and that the injunction will remain in effect until Sept. 29, “or until the court enters its ruling, whichever comes first.” Judge Blackburn indicated that at this stage her ruling should not be interpreted as a critique of the law. “In entering this order the court specifically notes that it is in no way addressing the merits of the motions,” she wrote. The order follows a nine-hour hearing last Wednesday in federal court in Birmingham that pit special interest groups and US Justice Department attorneys against state legislators who sponsored the bill, which was signed into law June 9 by Gov. Robert Bentley.