Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Over these past few months, you have read several things from us about this thing called the “Supercommittee.”

Need a quick refresher?  To sum it up, the Congressional bi-partisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 in August, was tasked with proposing at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years. The Supercommittee received thousands of recommendations and letters from various stakeholders, but the process has been very hush-hush.

Well, Politico reported yesterday that the Supercommittee failed. Specifically, they failed to produce an agreement that 7 of the 12 members of the committee could approve and submit to Congress.

So, what does all this mean?

Now we move into a process called sequestration, where, starting January 2013, automatic cuts to a wide-range of discretionary spending programs (both defense and non-defense programs), including some that serve low-income individuals, will take place. That sounds and is pretty bad, but Congress could pass legislation before then to change the rules of this process. President Obama, though, announced his intention to veto any legislation that creates an easy “off-ramp” from this process.

This presents a great challenge, but also a great opportunity.



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What if the federal government took action against the long-standing health disparities between groups of different race, ethnic group,  immigration and citizenship status, English proficiency,  sexual orientation and socioeconomic status? Sounds pretty awesome, right?!?

Well, we are closer than we have ever been thanks for the recent introduction of the Health Equity and Accountability Act (H.R. 2954)!

The Health Equity and Accountability Act was introduced on September 15th 2011 by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-9th) with the support of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – and has 72 co-sponsors.

The Latina Institute is proud to note that its recommendations on the issues of affordable mental health services, culturally appropriate care and expanding support for community health services were adopted into the final draft of the bill.


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A week ago, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) voted to cut the media’s long-controversial—and fortunately, not uniform—practice of calling people the dreaded and demeaning i-word. Surely, you know what word I’m talking about: “illegal,” “illegal immigrants,” “illegal aliens.”

For years, the media have taken the liberty of constantly demeaning those folks who not only made this country but who continue to build it, drive it, nurse it, mow it, clean it, and feed it. The use of the i-word has gotten large swathes of the population up in arms—sometimes literally!—by fueling anti-immigrant sentiment. They come here to take our jobs! (No, they really don’t). They are all criminals! (Hardly). They drain our public benefits! (Where do I even begin? “They” are typically ineligible for benefits, not that the U.S. is known for having any kind of magnanimous social safety net. Besides, many of “them” pay taxes on the insultingly low wages they earn doing some of the hardest and most dangerous jobs around.)

Meanwhile, for some of us, just reading the i-word in print is enough to make our stomachs turn—personally, hearing it spoken aloud makes my blood boil. I have a few choice words for the i-word lovers: what part of inappropriate, insensitive, insulting, and inhumane don’t y’all understand?  So today, I’m ecstatic that we should see the i-word being phased out of use in the media. This judgmental (not to mention usually misleading and often inaccurate) term never had a place in respectable media outlets, and it will be refreshing to see those outlets give the i-word its due.

We like to think America is great, and sometimes it really is. But immigrants are what made this country great in the first place and will continue to make us great, and we need to remember that. The media play an important role to play in keeping us informed and keeping us democratic, so thank you to SPJ for taking this initiative—it is truly inspired and truly inspiring.

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It was by a fluke of timing that the We Belong Together delegation was in Georgia speaking out against that state’s SB 1070 copycat legislation on the same day that neighboring Alabama announced that large parts of its copycat legislation survived a legal challenge. But now that parts of Alabama’s strict immigration law have been upheld, the countdown towards implementation begins. In other words, the time has come for the wave of fear that has been building across the country to come crashing over Alabama’s growing immigrant population.

And this fear is warranted:  on its face, the law aims to lock up immigrants or drive them out of the country, or at least the state. Short of driving the immigrant population out, the law may effectively drive immigrants into the factories and the fields as it tries to ensure that they are uneducated, impoverished, and easily exploitable. As the We Belong Together delegation highlighted, Arizona’s concerns have become those of Georgia, and it is now clear that these concerns are very real in Alabama, too.


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By Candace Gibson, Legal Intern

Although I’m just a law student, when I read Representative Lamar Smith’s Keep Our Communities Safe Act I got the overwhelming sense that he wants to keep immigrants who are in detention detained a lot longer.  In Rep. Smith’s opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee which he chairs, he states that his bill “provides a statutory basis for DHS to detain as long as necessary specified dangerous immigrants who cannot be removed.”  He also indiscriminately swaps the term “immigrants” for “criminal immigrants” and “dangerous criminal immigrants.”  His opening statement is just another example of the rhetoric that we have discussed which blurs immigration law with criminal law.

In the actual legislation, its stated purpose is:

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for extensions of detention of certain aliens ordered removed, and for other purposes.

In only one place in the legislation does he exactly describe undocumented immigrants with the adjectives, “dangerous” and “criminal”, and it’s in a section heading.  Once again, we are seeing how policymakers such as Rep. Smith would like to throw the majority of immigrants, which include legal permanent residents, refugees, and asylees, under the bus to go after the annually released 4,000 “dangerous criminal immigrants” he alludes to in his statement.  According to ICE’s Secure Communities’ 2011 First Quarter Report to Congress:

[They] removed nearly 42,900 criminal aliens, which is more than 54.2 percent of all ICE removals. Nearly 34.1 percent of all ICE criminal alien removals were of Level 1 offenders. Level 1 offenses included threats to national security; violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and kidnapping; and drug offenses resulting in sentences greater than 1 year.

It seems that ICE is perfectly capable and will continue to do its job without the help of Rep. Smith.

This is what we ca look forward to if Rep. Smith’s bill is enacted:


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The November 2010 election was a mixed result for Latinas and reproductive health, but one message came through: Latino/as are a powerful and active voting bloc. Unfortunately, the new leadership in the House of Representatives have indicated their intent to drastically limit access and affordability of abortions, and have also taken aim at the health care reform law. But with progressive strongholds elected in California and other allies nationwide, opportunities do exist to continue reform focused on those most in need. The issue of reproductive health, contrary to the opposition of many conservatives, is paramount to women’s health.

Join us for a virtual cafecito as we discuss the challenges and opportunities the 112th Congress presents to those of us fighting for reproductive justice.

Rebecca Medina, Policy Analyst, will present analysis on the 112th Congress from a Latina reproductive justice perspective.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
1:00pm EST – English
2:00pm EST – Spanish

To view our Election Report, Election 2010: Reproductive Justice, Latinas and the 112th Congress, please click here.

RSVP to Yasmine Rodulfo at Yasmine@latinainstitute.org

You will receive the call-in information when we confirm your RSVP via e-mail.

Te invitamos a un Cafecito Virtual: La Justicia Reproductiva, las Latinas y la 112ª Sesión del Congreso de los EE.UU.

La elección de noviembre del 2010, arrojó una mezcla de resultados para las Latinas y la salud reproductiva, pero un mensaje fuerte surgió: Las Latinas y los Latinos representan un bloque de votantes poderoso y activo. Desafortunadamente, el nuevo liderazgo en la Casa de los Representantes ha manifestado la intención de limitar drásticamente el acceso a los abortos, incluso a través del costo, y también tienen puesta su atención en la ley de la reforma del sistema de salud. Aún así, con las victorias electorales en los distritos progresistas y fuertes en California y otros aliados a nivel nacional, sí existen las oportunidades para continuar una reforma enfocada en aquellas personas que más lo necesitan. El asunto de la salud reproductiva, contrariamente a la oposición de muchos conservadores, es crucial para la salud de las mujeres.

Acompáñanos a un cafecito virtual en el cual discutiremos los retos y las oportunidades que la 112. ª Sesión del Congreso presenta a aquellas(os) de nosotras(os) que luchamos por la justicia reproductiva. Rebeca Medina, Analista de Políticas, presentará un análisis de la 112ª Sesión desde una perspectiva de la justicia reproductiva de las Latinas.

Miércoles, 2 de febrero
1:00 p.m. Hora de la Costa Este – en inglés
2:00 p.m. Hora de la Costa Este – en español

Para ver el resumen ejecutivo del reporte de las elecciones “Las Elecciones del 2010, la Justicia Reproductiva, las Latinas y la 112. ª Sesión del Congreso de los EE.UU.”, por favor oprima aquí.

RSVP a Yasmine Rudulfo en el correo electrónico: Yasmine@latinainstitute.org

Usted recibirá la información para la llamada cuando confirmemos su RSVP vía correo electrónico.

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By Hilarie Myers, Communications and Development Intern

The nation is still reeling in the aftermath of last Saturday’s shooting rampage in Tucson, which left 6 people dead and 18 people, including Congresswomen Giffords (D, AZ-8), seriously injured.

The response of politicians, pundits, and other public figures has been varied, ranging from Sarah Palin’s highly criticized speech, in which she defended her own behavior and political rhetoric, to President Barack Obama’s well-received memorial address, in which he emphasized the need for civility and compassion.

The general public’s response to the shootings has also been divided: On one hand, the Community Food Bank of Tucson, Arizona, one of Rep. Giffords’s favorite charities, received over $18,000 in donations in the first seven hours after her husband referred to the organization in a statement on the shooting.  On the other hand, Timothy Williams of the New York Times reports that firearms sales in Arizona have drastically increased over the last few days, most likely due to fears that Saturday’s shootings will result in a push for stricter gun control laws.

In Congress, reactions to the events in Tucson have been just as varied, particularly on the subject of gun control.  Since the shooting, there has been a recent outpouring of support for stricter gun control laws, with a particular emphasis on the need to introduce legislation to ban extended-round ammunition clips, such as those used by shooter Jared Loughner in Tucson.


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