Saturday, January 26, 2013
Dear Friends and Partners of SIREN,
Happy New Year! Thank you again for investing in and partnering with SIREN.
Every year SIREN board, staff and community leaders determine how to improve the lives of immigrants in Santa Clara County by identifying key focus areas. While there are a number of issues to address, priorities are based on SIREN values, capacity, and platform.
This will be an exciting year! We hope that you will be able to partner with us to ensure immigrants are valued, integrated, and seen as essential to our society. Our 2013 issue priorities are:
♦ Just Immigration Policies and Civil Rights: SIREN will work with local organizations to
develop a Santa Clara County Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) strategy. In addition,
SIREN will continue working with other advocates to protect the current detainer policy, which
was a policy that minimizes collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration
♦ Quality Immigration Services: As the site leader for the New Americans Campaign, SIREN
will hold large scale collaborative events throughout the year at diverse locations across Santa
Clara County, bringing citizenship resources to historically underserved and underrepresented
communities. With CET, we will lead the planning and coordination of the annual Citizenship
Day. Additionally, we will continue providing quality and affordable deferred action (DACA)
services to young immigrants, and providing free eligibility screening and document review on
a weekly basis.
♦ Immigrant Empowerment: In strengthening and deepening the participation level and
leadership of immigrants, SIREN will continue to focus on the Seven Trees community and
engage them in advocacy efforts to bring about the changes they see necessary in their lives
such as the detainer policy, and participating in Immigrant Day and April Action Days in the
capital. In addition, SIREN will launch its “Welcome to Silicon Valley” public safety campaign,
where community leaders will be meeting with law enforcement officials to address priorities
in the Seven Trees community, increase trust, and find common sense solutions to ensuring
♦ Ensure quality, equal and affordable health care regardless of status: SIREN will
develop community education materials to address the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and
will launch an education campaign to ensure that immigrants understand the benefits and
♦ Affordable and Culturally Appropriate Safety Net Programs: SIREN will continue to
organize around increasing revenues to preserve the safety net in California.
Again, thank you for investing in SIREN. We hope that you will continue being a partner with SIREN in our efforts to advance immigrant rights! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Patricia Diaz, Executive Director, at (408) 453-3003, extension 106.
From the SIREN Team,
Patricia Diaz, Executive Director
Viridiana Reyes, Finance & Administrative Assistant
Zelica Rodriguez-Deams, Policy & Organizing Program Director
Vanessa Sandoval, Immigration Legal Services Program Director
Jazmin Segura, Federal Policy Advocate
Tiffanie Le, Immigration Program Associate
Blanca Hernandez, Community Organizer
Lucila Ortiz, Leadership Development Coordinator
District Court Rules That ICE Agents Have Standing to Challenge the Morton Memo and Deferred Action Policy
The United States Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled yesterday in the case of Crane v. Napolitano that ICE agents have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the policies regarding the exercise of discretion in cases involving deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA).
ICE agents (as well as the State of Mississippi) sued Secretary of State Janet Napolitano to stop the implementation of the Morton Memorandum (issued on June 17, 2011), the directive entitled "Exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children (issued on June 15, 2012) and subsequent guidance and operating procedures for processing DACA applications.
ICE agents argued that they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and their legal obligation under federal law to arrest or issue a Notice to Appear when they encounter an unauthorized noncitizen who are not "clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted," as stated in 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(A). They contended that (1) the Morton Memo and DACA policies violate their oaths, (2) that they have the burden of complying with the policies, and (3) that they will face adverse employment action if they choose not to comply with the policies. The State of Mississippi sued to halt the policies because of the significant "'fiscal costs" that result from undocumented immigrants residing in Mississippi who are permitted to remain in the state as a result of the Morton Memo and DACA policies.
Judge Reed O'Connor rejected the first two of the ICE agents' arguments but ruled that ICE agents met the constitutional requirements for standing under the third argument. Judge O'Connor found that the ICE agents could potentially face disciplinary action from failing to comply with the Morton Meo and DACA directives.
Notably, the court rejected Mississippi's argument, stating that the alleged injury the state faced was too speculative.
Here's the link to the opinion: Download Crane v. Napolitano.
Friday, January 25, 2013
The White House and a bipartisan group of senators next week plan to begin their efforts to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
President Barack Obama will make an announcement on immigration during a Tuesday trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, the White House said on Friday. The Senate group is expected make their plans public around the same time, the Associated Press reported.
See Also: Where Do Labor Unions Stand on Immigration?
For Obama, immigration reform is a campaign promise that has remained unfulfilled from his first White House run in 2008. During his 2012 re-election campaign, the president vowed to renew his effort to overhaul the nation's immigration system. It has long been expected that Obama would roll out his plans shortly after his inauguration.
The president's trip to Las Vegas is designed "to redouble the administration's efforts to work with Congress to fix the broken immigration system this year," the White House said. Read more...
Immigration Article of the Day: How the Charter Has Failed Non-Citizens in Canada – Reviewing Thirty Years of Supreme Court of Canada Jurisprudence by Catherine Dauvergne
How the Charter Has Failed Non-Citizens in Canada – Reviewing Thirty Years of Supreme Court of Canada Jurisprudence by Catherine Dauvergne, University of Bristish Columbia - Faculty of Law 2013 McGill Law Journal, Forthcoming
Abstract: This paper presents a study of all of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charter-era jurisprudence addressing the rights of non-citizens. It traces the jurisprudential evolution from early decisions strongly supportive of non-citizens’ rights claims, to more recent rulings where non-citizens’ rights claims are rejected, sidelined or even ignored. Patterns in decision making are discernible and the decline in protections for non-citizens follows logically enough from a series of interpretive stances made relatively early on. There is evidence here of what I have termed ‘Charter hubris.’ This is a leading factor in explaining the current state of affairs, which works alongside other explanations such as the traditionally broad ambit of discretion in immigration matters and the securitization of all immigration matters in the early twenty-first century.
PENNumbra, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review's online publication, has a discussion between Professors Peter Spiro (Temple) and Kit Johnson (Oklahoma) on "Immigration Preemption after United States v. Arizona."
In the last several years, state and local governments have passed laws that attempt to “get tough on undocumented migrants.” The Supreme Court recently addressed one of these measures in Arizona v. United States, and the Court may soon be considering another. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will soon announces its en banc opinion in the case Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch. The case concerns a law that directs the building inspector of Farmers Branch—a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb—to “‘verify with the federal government’ whether every noncitizen occupant of rental housing is ‘an alien lawfully present in the United States.’” If the building inspector finds that an occupant is not lawfully present, he or she must revoke that occupant’s “occupancy license,” which triggers potential criminal liability for both the occupant and the landlord.
According to Professor Kit Johnson, the Farmers Branch law is an “unconstitutional usurpation of the federal government’s exclusive authority over immigration law and policy,” and she believes the Fifth Circuit should affirm the two opinions below that struck down the law under federal preemption doctrine.
While Professor Peter J. Spiro agrees with Professor Johnson that the law will be struck down, he argues that “it is not clear that it should be.” According to Professor Spiro, the Supreme Court’s immigration preemption doctrine is outmoded, heavy-handed, and forbids states from “undertak[ing] broader experimentation with immigration federalism” that might ultimately benefit immigrants.
Here is a story about how Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs has helped launch a website - The Dream is Now - to promote passage of the Dream Act. The site enables young undocumented immigrants to upload videos about how the Dream Act would change their lives. Others can submit video posts in support of the bill. The videos are inspiring indeed.
Pacific McGeorge School of Law is partnering with the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law to offer the innovative 2013 Inter-American Summer Program in Guatemala. Gonzaga University School of Law, in Spokane, Wash., is also affiliated with the program. The Inter-American Summer Program in Guatemala received ABA accreditation in December 2010. The 2013 Inter-American Summer Program in Guatemala, which takes place in the city of Antigua, will run from May 25 through June 15, 2013, with an optional Externship/Field Placement running from June 17 to Aug. 9.
The Inter-American Summer Program in Guatemala is a truly bilingual and inter-cultural approach to legal education. It offers comparative and transnational substantive law classes about Latin America taught in Spanish and English as well as bilingual field placements and legal Spanish immersion. It allows students the opportunity to study with Latin American students. Program participants will gain professional legal and inter-cultural experience useful in the practice of law in Latin America or to work with Latino issues and clients in the United States. To encourage participation from as many students and recent law graduates, the Inter-American Program is designed to accommodate the learning objectives and needs of participants with varying degrees of Spanish proficiency, as follows:
• Beginning-to-intermediate Spanish speakers may enroll in a combined Spanish Immersion-Legal Spanish course with a substantive law course taught in English.
• Intermediate to fluent Spanish speakers may combine the Spanish Immersion-Legal Spanish course with a substantive law course taught in Spanish or may enroll in two substantive law courses taught in Spanish.
• Only students with a high level of Spanish proficiency may enroll in the field placement. Students enrolling in the field placements must enroll in the two law courses taught in Spanish.
The agencies and organizations in which field placements will be offered work in the fields of environmental justice, criminal law, civil law, commerce and trade, human rights, economic development, and immigration relations. They include placements with prominent government, non-governmental, private, and international institutions, including placements with the highest courts in Latin America. These field placements are offered in addition to Guatemala, in Costa Rica, Chile, and Uruguay.
Pacific McGeorge has entered into an agreement with Rafael Landívar University, a leading Jesuit-run institution in Guatemala that is known for its social justice mission and its offerings of law courses in the field of human rights. In addition, Pacific McGeorge works closely with several other law schools in Guatemala, Chile and Spain. These collaborations allow for exchanges of professors and students from those regions in the program. Students from Rafael Landívar University and other Latin American law schools or lawyers from institutions with which we collaborate in the region may attend classes in this program with U.S. law students, providing a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about the legal systems of Latin America.
In 2012, 37 students from ten different law schools, including eight from three law schools in Guatemala enrolled in the program. Enrollment in the Inter-American Summer Program in Guatemala in 2013 is expected to be about 40 students and will be limited to no more than 50 students and accompanying guests.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Amanda Frost & Jayesh Rathod: Natural(ized) Enemies: How Republicans Made Foes of America's Newest Citizens
Professors Amanda Frost and Jayesh Rathod of the Washington College of Law at American University co-authored an opinion piece in Slate discussing the ways in which naturalized citizens may influence the upcoming debates on comprehensive immigration reform.
They wrote: "Much has been written about the record turnout of Latinos in the 2012 election, which has put immigration reform back on the political agenda. Mostly overlooked is the newfound electoral strength of naturalized citizens, who also care deeply about immigration reform, but who cannot simply be lumped together with the Latino vote. Naturalized citizens comprise more than 8 percent of eligible voters, two-thrids of whom are not Latino. They constitute a discrete, and increasingly powerful, voice in favor of immigration reform."
Very interesting and provocative piece! The link to the full article is here.
After Hurricane Sandy swept in and loosened their toehold on stability, thousands of immigrants on Staten Island did the only thing they know how to do: Put their heads down and work even harder.
At least 60 percent of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, who were affected by the storm did not seek help, according to a report last month by Make the Road New York.
Even business owners, confounded by paperwork, did not look to the government or other groups to get them through the hard times.
Thursday evening, Russian, Italian, Polish, Albanian and Spanish-speaking immigrants who lost their homes to Sandy will share their stories of survival and hope and speak to the needs of the Sandy-affected communities.
The meeting, to start at 7 p.m. in St. Margaret Mary's R.C. Church, South Beach, in the Occupy Sandy Community Room, is free and open to the public. Representatives from the Mayor's Office on Immigrant Affairs will be on hand, to announce a new program to support Sandy-affected families. Read more...
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Unlicensed drivers in California are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash, according to a report by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.
The report, which looked at a 23-year-span of data, found that drivers who were unlicensed or had revoked or suspended licenses were more dangerous than validly licensed drivers. Unlicensed drivers were 2.73 times more likely be in a fatal accident. Drivers with suspended or revoked licenses were 2.6 times as likely.
The report says the number of unlicensed drivers has increased since the passage of a law in 1994 that bars undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses in California. Rates of fatal crashes have held steady since the 1994 law.
Although state and national fatality rates are falling, the number of fatal crashes involving drivers without valid licenses increased by 17 percent nationally from 1998 to 2007. Over the same period in California, such crashes increased by 49 percent.
Unlicensed driving is a significant problem in California. The Los Angeles Times estimates that there are about 2 million unlicensed drivers – the vast majority of whom are undocumented immigrants.
Immigrant rights advocates say offering driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants would address this public safety concern.
"This has always been first and foremost a public safety issue. I am happy the DMV has issued a report outlining what I've been promoting for so many years," former state Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who tried unsuccessfully nine times to pass legislation that would offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. "Our highways will return to being the safest when we test, license and insure all drivers." Read more....
Illinois approved the issuance of drivers licenses to undocumented workers earlier this month.
Recent years have seen the development of increasingly sophisticated legal and policy approaches to address the phenomenon of irregular immigration. Many states have moved beyond traditional means of law enforcement, such as criminalization, without necessarily abandoning them. In addition, they have begun to employ other areas of law (such as administrative law and labor law) in pursuit of controlling irregular immigration. For example, the verification of legal residence status, by means of ID-controls, has become increasingly necessary in the day to day life of all people: citizens and non-citizens alike. Private citizens, and not government agents, are evolving into the primary enforcers of these policies, as they have been made legally responsible for the control of legal residence status, for example in the case of employment. These legal and policy instruments have sometimes been justified with reference to economic theories, such as 'attrition through enforcement', the broken window theory, and most recently 'self-deportation', a term that ironically originated in a stand-up sketch performed by two Hispanic comedians in the mid '90s, and was briefly promoted to a major policy proposal in the Romney campaign for the US presidential elections. Among economic scholars, a debate about the (lack of) effectiveness of these policies has been growing the last couple of years. What is still absent, however, is a more rigorous analysis by legal and other social science scholars. This conference aims to explore the more systemic dimensions of these responses to irregular migration. For this purpose, scholars from all disciplines are invited to consider (any of) the following questions, or to respond with additional insights and approaches: What are the various legal and policy tools that have been developed to move beyond, or away from the criminalization of irregular migrants? In other words, how have the various innovations sought to counter the inflow of irregular migrants? Have these policies had a significant impact within their legal or policy field?
FURTHER INFORMATION: More information can be found here.
PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be emailed (preferably attached in .pdf format) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 7 February 2013. Please also include a short bio in the same document as the abstract. The closing date for submissions of (full) papers will be 30 April 2013. For more information, write to email@example.com
This Migration Policy Institute brief explores how governments in Asia are facilitating diaspora contributions, including creation of conducive legal frameworks and diaspora-centered institutions to initiation of programs that specifically target diasporas as development actors. The authors detail a number of legislative proposals geared at diasporas, including flexible citizenship laws and visa arrangements, political and property rights, and reduced income tax rates.
From the Bookshelves: Militarizing the Border: When Mexicans Became the Enemy by Miguel Antonio Levario
As historian Miguel Antonio Levario explains in this timely book, current tensions and controversy over immigration and law enforcement issues centered on the US-Mexico border are only the latest evidence of a long-standing atmosphere of uncertainty and mistrust plaguing this region. Militarizing the Border: When Mexicans Became the Enemy, focusing on El Paso and its environs, examines the history of the relationship among law enforcement, military, civil, and political institutions, and local communities. In the years between 1895 and 1940, West Texas experienced intense militarization efforts by local, state, and federal authorities responding to both local and international circumstances. El Paso’s “Mexicanization” in the early decades of the twentieth century contributed to strong racial tensions between the region’s Anglo population and newly arrived Mexicans. Anglos and Mexicans alike turned to violence in order to deal with a racial situation rapidly spinning out of control. Highlighting a binational focus that sheds light on other US-Mexico border zones in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Militarizing the Border establishes historical precedent for current border issues such as undocumented immigration, violence, and racial antagonism on both sides of the boundary line. This important evaluation of early US border militarization and its effect on racial and social relations among Anglos, Mexicans, and Mexican Americans will afford scholars, policymakers, and community leaders a better understanding of current policy . . . and its potential failure.
Click here for a review of the book.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Immigration Article of the Day: Jill E. Family's Administrative Law Through the Lens of Immigration Law
Abstract: Immigration law does lag behind in the advancement of public law, but not in all respects. While immigration law is idiosyncratic in many ways, this article finds immigration law in the administrative law mainstream when it comes to its troubles with nonlegislative rules (sometimes called guidance documents). There are concerns throughout administrative law that agencies use such rules to bind regulated parties practically, even if not legally, without the procedural protections of notice and comment.
This article analyzes immigration troubles with nonlegislative rules and makes three main contributions. First, it casts new light on the negative effects of guidance documents by viewing administrative law through the lens of immigration law. In immigration law, the cons of guidance documents play out in the context of some of life’s most fundamental questions: where and with whom to live and to work. Second, by showing how administrative law manifests in immigration law, this article concludes that immigration law’s troubles cannot be divorced from the mainstream administrative law debate over nonlegislative rules. Third, this article also evaluates a procedure new to immigration law: the draft memorandum for comment. Through the draft memorandum for comment procedure, the public may comment on draft guidance documents, but is not afforded the full protections of notice and comment rulemaking. While the new procedure is a pragmatic and positive step for immigration law, this article highlights that nonlegislative rules are not the only administrative tool available and argues for greater priority for notice and comment rulemaking in immigration law.
Below please find the National Coalition for Immigrant Women's Rights (NCIWR) Statement of Principles on Women and Immigration Reform. As you may be aware, there are 5 million undocumented women presently living in the United States, and women now comprise the majority of the immigrant population. Yet past efforts at immigration reform would have excluded many women from a pathway to citizenship, and failed to provide women with the critical protection, services, and opportunities they deserve.
This Statement of Principles calls on policymakers to ensure that immigration reform is inclusive of and responsive to the unique needs and concerns of women. We hope that it will open the space for greater consideration - and participation - of women in the immigration conversation. We invite your organizational sign by COB Tuesday January 22.
Questions? Please contact Natalie D. Camastra of NLIRH at Natalie@latinainstitute.org, Emily Butera of Women’s Refugee Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Wida Amir of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum at email@example.com.
Statement of Principles on Women and Immigration Reform
Immigrant women make great contributions to the rich social, cultural, intellectual, and economic fabric of the United States. They are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, spouses, partners, and friends. They are students, teachers, laborers, business owners, lawmakers, and much more. Yet, despite their many contributions to our families and communities, issues of concern to women continue to be left out of conversations about immigration reform, and women continue to suffer injustice, discrimination, family separation, and fear because of our nation’s immigration laws.
The face of the migrant in the United States is increasingly that of a woman. Women now make up 51% of the immigrant population, and 100 immigrant women arrive in the United States for every 96 men. The majority of women migrate to reunite with family, to make a better life for their children, or to escape oppression, discrimination, and violence that prevent them from living full and free lives in their home countries. Current immigration laws, policies, and programs disproportionally disadvantage women, and women are too often left out of policy discussions that affect their lives. In the absence of sufficient legal channels for migration, more than 5 million women in the United States are undocumented and living on the margins of our society.
Policies that divide communities, separate families, and violate the human and due process rights of migrants reinforce gender inequities and ignore the unique circumstances that compel women, LGBT individuals, and others seeking protection and equality to migrate and dictate their needs after they arrive.
Instead of honoring the contributions of immigrant women to the United States, past efforts at immigration reform have failed to provide for equitable citizenship, adequate protection, and full integration for all women. A reasonable and sustainable solution to current and future immigration needs MUST take into account gender specific perspectives. In addition, the path forward on immigration MUST ensure equality for all immigrants, protect and promote their civil and human rights, and empower aspiring Americans to fully participate in and contribute to our economy and society.
As we begin a long overdue national conversation about immigration reform, we call on policymakers to uphold and incorporate the following principles to ensure that the human rights of all migrants are protected:
· Any pathway to citizenship and integration must be open, affordable, safe, and accessible to ALL immigrant women, including those whose work is in the home and those who are employed in the informal economy.
· Immigrant women must be afforded equal employment-based migration opportunities and workplace protections so that they may safely pursue economic opportunity and support their families with dignity and pride.
· Immigration reform must protect the right of all families to stay together, regardless of immigration status, family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, and provide sufficient family-based channels for migration in the future.
· Immigration reform must advance ALL immigrant women’s access to public services and economic support, including comprehensive health coverage and care, and legal and social services that promote equality of opportunity, integration, and the ability to make decisions regarding reproductive and sexual health and the well-being of the family.
· Enforcement, detention, and deportation programs that compromise immigrant women’s safety, violate their civil, human, and due process rights, and tear families apart must be replaced by sensible and sufficient legal channels for migration that adequately meet family and labor demands and respect our obligations under international law.
· Reforms to our immigration policies must bring an end to programs that disproportionately impact women by discouraging reporting of crimes to law enforcement and compromising the safety of communities, and must advance protections for women fleeing state and interpersonal violence and victims of trafficking or exploitation.
Call for papers: The CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies invites abstracts for its annual conference on Mexican studies. The 2013 conference focus is on "Mexico-NY: Thirty Years of Migration."
Abstracts of 250 words along with a 150 word bio are invited in all disciplines. Abstract submission deadline is Feb. 15, 2013. Please email abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As many as ten abstracts will be selected for participation and other presenters will be invited to participate. Selected participants will be notified by February 28, 2013 and will be expected to submit finished manuscripts of conference papers by April 15, 2013. Please specify if work is eligible for publication (original research, not previously published). Limited funding for travel and accommodations may be available.
Mexicans constitute the fastest growing national sub-group in New York City, due to high rates of immigration and high births. If these rates remain the same, the Mexican population will surpass that of other Latino groups in New York City by the year 2024. The number of Mexicans living in New York City has grown 57.7% in the last decade. The Mexican population in New York City is 319,126 according to U.S. Census data for the most recent year available, 2010. However, due to undercounting, the population is much greater.
The CUNY-wide Institute of Mexican Studies at Lehman College wasw launched in spring 2012 to bridge scholarly networks in Mexico and the United States who share related research agendas.
Call for Papers: Special Issue on Immigration and Global Migration: Politics, Policy, and Human Rights Immigration Reform and the Politics of Immigration
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 October 2013
Special Issue Editor Guest Editor Prof. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson School of Law, University of California, Davis
For close to a decade, there has been discussion of “comprehensive immigration reform” in the United States, as well as developing nations around the world. Reform proposals in many different countries generally address enforcement, labor migration (with a focus on increasing migration of skilled labor), national security, and controlling the flow of refugees. In the United States, immigration reform in general terms would include a path to legalization (or amnesty) for the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, changes to the rules for legal immigration, and increased border enforcement. In addition, a potent political movement of college students emerged calling for congressional enactment of the “DREAM Act,” which, among other things, would regularize the immigration status of undocumented college students. At the same time, with congressional action, a number of states, including Arizona, passed their own immigration enforcement laws, which required local police to participate in immigration enforcement and provoking cries of racism from Latina/os (U.S. citizens as well as immigrants. While U.S. immigration reform may influence changes to other nations’ immigration laws, local politics, conditions, and migration patterns will influence the reform in any particular nation. Scholars can offer important insights on what immigration reform should look like in its particulars, which unquestionably will continue to be a subject of significant debate in many nations.
Fo additional details, click here.
Monday, January 21, 2013
A memorable day today as the country honors Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and we witness the inauguration of Barack Obama for his second term as President.
This year, the inauguration has been marking a more public launch of the battle for fair and just immigration reform, with expectations that the President would reveal his immigration proposal soon afterwards -- and might hint at the issue in his inaugural speech.
So perhaps it is even more fitting today to remind ourselves of the commitment to justice and racial equality for which we honor Dr. King.
A couple of months ago, I spent a beautiful day in Washington, DC, strolling through the MLK Memorial. I had been eager to go there, long-inspired by the deeds and words of Dr. King. My first born son was named in his honor, and I was glad to find a few hours before catching a flight home to finally make the visit.
I found myself pausing to photograph every quote inscribed in stone. And I wasn't alone. I was warmed by the diversity of other visitors, and confess to listening in on their conversations as they stopped to read the quotes selected for the memorial. I also listened to the narration shared by the two young African-American women, park rangers, who told the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- a story they must have told hundreds of times -- and yet did so with evident enthusiasm and pride.
Unfortunately, for many, knowledge of Dr. King is largely based on his most famous quotes -- so much more needs to be done to enrich the telling of his story. But here's a link to more quotes -- and wonderful photos -- that are not often seen or heard, and which tell, in many ways, a story of Dr. King's deeper reflections and commitments to justice for all.
In his words: "If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say...I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity." The Drum Major Instinct (1968)
Let's have a good year for justice.
Executive Director, NNIRR
It seems quite appropriate to spend part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day watching President Barack Obama's second inauguration today at 11 a.m. EST.
UPDATE Here is a transcript of the address. On immigration, the President held out the promise of reform:
"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."
The President also talked more generally about the struggle for civil rights in America:
"Not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes; tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice. We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth."
The Washington Post summarizes the public inauguration events this morning here.