Hazleton Immigration Ordinance to get New Review

JSPAN Newsletter - June 17, 2011

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: June 17, 2011
JSPAN Welcomes New Directors
JSPAN warmly welcomes its new Board members who are being introduced at the Annual Meeting on June 16. David Boonin
David Gutin
Raechel Hammer
Rabbi Elliot Holin
Joanna Klein
Nathan Kleinman
Marlena Kleit
Jay Meadway
Ilene Wasserman
Rabbi Joshua Waxman
Gail Zukerman



Conflicts over Abortion
A broad, new study finds that Americans struggle with the issue: They are committed to the availability, but waver on the morality.
By David Crary
Associated Press (June 10, 2011)

NEW YORK - Americans, regardless of generation, are deeply conflicted as they wrestle with the legality and morality of abortion, with large numbers identifying themselves as both "pro-choice" and "pro-life," according to a sweeping new survey.

While 56 percent say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, 52 percent say abortion is morally wrong.

The detailed and nuanced findings were released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute, based on a survey of 3,000 adults - one of the largest to focus on Americans' views of abortion.

The survey devoted particular attention to the views of young adults. It noted that 18-to-29-year-olds were far more likely than their elders to support same-sex marriage, but found there was no comparable generation gap regarding abortion. The survey also tracked other polls over the last 12 years to highlight a sharp discrepancy in attitudes toward the two most prominent hot-button issues of the culture wars.

Views on abortion have been stable, with 56 percent of Americans telling Gallup pollsters this year that it should be legal in most or all cases, compared with 57 percent who said that in 1999.

Support for same-sex marriage has surged - from 35 percent in 1999 to 53 percent in 2011, according to Pew Research Center polls. A key factor relates to attitudes of the so-called millennials between the ages of 18 and 29.


[read more]


Hazleton Immigration Ordinance to get New Review
By Michael Matza, Inquirer Staff Writer (Posted on Tue, Jun. 7, 2011)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave the Northeastern Pennsylvania city of Hazleton another chance to resurrect its 2006 ordinance cracking down on illegal immigrants.

The closely watched local law would penalize landlords who rented to illegal immigrants, and employers who hired them. It was immediately challenged by Hispanic and other groups, and blocked in 2007 by a federal district court. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia affirmed the lower court's ruling. While acknowledging that local governments might be frustrated by stalled immigration measures, it ruled the law unconstitutional because it preempted the federal government's exclusive jurisdiction to regulate immigration.

Monday's order sent the case back to the Third Circuit for further review in light of Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting - the high court's May decision upholding an Arizona law that allows the state to suspend the licenses of businesses that knowingly employ "unauthorized aliens." Although the Arizona and Hazleton laws have some similarities, the Arizona law applies only to employment. Hazleton's law would suspend the licenses of employers and landlords.

Peter Spiro, professor of immigration and constitutional law at Temple University Law School, said the Hazleton case can be a national bellwether.


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Supreme Court Allows California to Grant In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrants
The high court rejects an appeal to California's policy of giving in-state college tuition to state high school graduates who are in the country illegally. The action leaves in place laws in 11 other states that permit illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition.

By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau (L.A. Times) (June 6, 2011)

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to California's policy of granting reduced, in-state tuition at its colleges and universities to graduates of its high schools who are illegal immigrants.

The justices turned down an appeal from lawyers for a conservative immigration-law group that contended "preferential treatment" for illegal immigrants violated federal immigration law. They cited a little-known provision in a 1986 law that barred states from giving "any postsecondary benefit" to an "alien who is not lawfully present in the United States … on the basis of residence within a state."

But last year, in the first ruling of its kind, the California Supreme Court said the state's policy did not conflict with federal law because the tuition benefit turned on a student's high school graduation, not his or her residency. In the 2001 law, the state said it would give in-state tuition to a qualified student who attended a high school in California for three years and graduated.


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Alabama Sets Nation's Toughest Immigration Law
By Peggy Gargis (Reuters)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala | Thu Jun 9, 2011 6:57pm EDT

(Reuters) - Republican Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday signed into law a crackdown on illegal immigration in Alabama that both supporters and critics consider the toughest in the nation.

The measure will require public schools to determine the citizenship status of students -- a provision not included in an Arizona law that has been at the forefront of actions by several states to curb illegal immigration.

Under the Alabama law, police must detain someone they suspect of being in the country illegally if the person cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason.

It also will be a crime to knowingly transport or harbor someone who is in the country illegally. The law imposes penalties on businesses that knowingly employ someone without legal resident status. A company's business license could be suspended or revoked.

The law, which is scheduled to take effect September 1, requires businesses to use a database called E-Verify to confirm the immigration status of new employees. "We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country," Bentley said after signing the law. "I campaigned for the toughest immigration laws, and I'm proud of the Legislature for working tirelessly to create the strongest immigration bill in the country."


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Rights Group: Detained Immigrants Suffer Frequent Transfers
By Michael Matza

The nearly 400,000 immigrants locked up each year by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sit in county jails - from days to years - awaiting asylum hearings, deportations, or court decisions that would set them free.

The federal government generally prefers to subcontract with local jails, rather than build detention centers. But fluctuating bed space in those facilities means the immigrants often get moved around the country.

Frequent transfers "don't just move people, they push aside their rights" by making attorney-client relationships "unworkable," and family visits prohibitively "costly," says a report released today by the nonprofit advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

The report, which analyzed 12 years of data - some two million transfer records - found that half of all detainees were transferred at least twice. More than 3,200 were transferred more than 10 times. One was transferred 66 times.

The report says total transfers nearly tripled from 2005 to 2009, and "a frequent transfer pattern" was from Pennsylvania's York County Jail to facilities in Texas - a distance of more 1,600 miles.

Several Philadelphia-area immigration lawyers who have had clients at York said the scenario is familiar.


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Voting Rights Act: I was Wrong about Racial Gerrymandering
By Cynthia Tucker (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) (June 1, 2011)

WASHINGTON — I won’t procrastinate. I’ll get the most difficult part of this column over right now: I was wrong. I was shortsighted, naïve and narrow-minded to endorse the concept of drawing Congressional districts to take racial demographics into account.

In 1982, the Voting Rights Act, with its emphasis on Southern states, was amended to encourage the creation of awkwardly named “majority-minority” districts in order to give black voters the strength of a bloc. I believed that drawing such districts was a progressive political tactic, a benign form of affirmative action that would usher more black members into a Congress that had admitted only a handful.

The tactic worked. In 1980, there were only 18 blacks in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now, there are 44, many of them elected from districts drawn to meet the mandates of the Voting Rights Act.

Unfortunately — like so many measures designed to provide redress for historic wrongs — those racially gerrymandered districts also come with a significant downside: They discourage moderation. Politicians seeking office in majority-black or –brown districts found that they could indulge in crude racial gamesmanship and left-wing histrionics.

While black-packed districts yielded some quite respectable pols — including U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House — they also launched the Congressional careers of clownish legislators such as former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, last heard cozying up to the savage dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Hemming most black voters into a few districts also had a deleterious effect on surrounding areas, now “bleached” of voters whose interests tend toward equality of opportunity. Their absence encourages pols in districts left overwhelmingly white to use the “Southern strategy” of playing to the resentments of white voters still uncomfortable with decades of social change.


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Russia Seeks Exemption From Cold War-Era Law Aimed at Soviet Repression
By Nathan Guttman
The Forward, issue of June 10, 2011.

Washington — The goal the statute sought to achieve is long accomplished. In fact, the country at which it was aimed doesn’t even exist anymore.

But as successor government to the Soviet Union, Russia is still being sanctioned by the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a 1974 piece of legislation imposing trade penalties against communist countries that restricted free immigration.

Now, after years of trying to convince Congress to grant Russia exemption from the Jackson-Vanik list, activists — including a former Soviet dissident — have turned to American courts in hopes of winning a legal ruling that would facilitate Russia’s removal from the sanctions list.

“Jackson-Vanik helped me in my struggle, and I thanked Jackson and Vanik personally for that,” said the former Soviet dissident, Edward Lozansky, in a telephone interview. “But now I think it is wrong to keep it in the books.” Lozansky now heads the American University in Moscow.

Both the legislation’s critics, who see it as a Cold War relic, and Jewish activists, who view it as a milestone in the fight to free Soviet Jews, agree that it is time to re-examine the amendment and revise the list of countries the law sanctions. But behind the scenes, myriad political and business interests have complicated that discussion. While everyone involved agrees that today’s Russia has nothing to do with the Soviet Union’s policy of preventing free Jewish immigration, many in Congress wish to use the law to pressure Russia on other issues relating to its human rights record and its foreign and economic policies.


[read more]


The Way We Eat
The Forward (issue of June 17, 2011.)

Two images of America’s children this summer illustrate the sharp divide over the way we eat: The first is from one of the growing number of Jewish summer camps with a fresh emphasis on healthy diet and helping youngsters make informed choices about food. These camps are raising fruits and vegetables, reducing the amount of soda and sweets that are served, and purchasing ingredients from local and organic sources. Goodbye bug juice, hello salad bar.

The second image comes from the depressing statistics contained in a June 7 report detailing how participation in Summer Nutrition Programs has continued to erode because of recession-driven budget cuts. The Food Research and Action Center, an advocacy group working to end hunger in America through changes in public policy, reported that the number of poor children receiving free meals during the summer dropped by 90,000 from July 2008 to July 2010.

“Our choices about food should not depend on where we happen to live,” writes Oran B. Hesterman in his new book, “Fair Food.” But they do. As Hesterman argues with uncomfortable clarity, America’s broken food network is not apparent if you happen to live and shop near abundantly-stocked supermarkets and fabulous restaurants. But if you happen to live in Detroit, the 11th largest city in the country, you have to leave town to find a major supermarket. Most of the nearly $500 million in food stamps pumped into the city last year was spent at gas stations, dollar stores, pharmacies and the like — not because the poor of Detroit are irresponsible, but because they have little choice.


[read more]


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