politics

In 2012, The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Fought And Defeated A Harsh Anti-Immigration Bill

Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus / Facebook

It’s Black History Month and we want to celebrate by honoring African-Americans who have taken action to help Latino immigrants. Particularly, the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC), which helped Latinos in an area of the country that isn’t particularly known for having a strong support system for immigrants—the South.

This group of individuals showed that different ethnicities and races can work together to meet a common goal.

The MLBC partnered with the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) to defeat bill HB 488 in Mississippi back in 2012.

Credit: Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus / Facebook

Author David Bacon wrote in The Nation that at the time, Tea Party Republicans thought they would get a victory in Mississippi for their anti-immigration bill and had even brought in some additional ammunition to push the Mississippi bill through.

That secret weapon was Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who had helped co-author the dreaded Arizona SB 1070 bill. Kobach was also instrumental is disenfranchising Latino voters in Texas during the 2018 midterm elections.

The MLBC came out to win and they put up a fight in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Credit: Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance / Facebook

At the start of 2012 legislative session, the Legislative Black Caucus started raising their voices to debate the bill.

HB 488 essentially would have made racial profiling the new normal.

Credit: Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance / Facebook

It could have stopped undocumented immigrants from receiving the most minimal of benefits such as a license for bicycles or a library card.

“We forced a great debate in the House, until 1:30 in the morning,” state Representative Jim Evans, the caucus leader in Mississippi, told the Nation. “When you have a prolonged debate like that, it shows the widespread concern and disagreement. People began to see the ugliness in this measure.”

The director of the the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) told Bacon black legislators spoke out against the bill throughout the night when the bill was introduced on the floor, debating the use of the term ‘illegal alien’ in the language of the bill while others said it could break families apart and promote ethnic cleansing.

Grassroots protests helped usher in a wave of support against the HB 488 bill.

From employers who had undocumented immigrants as employees to Catholics, Methodists, Jews, Muslims, black caucus members and the activists who worked for MIRA, the mission was simple—strike down bill HB 488 through constant protesting in the Mississippi state legislature.

Finally, the Tea Party supporters were thrown off their anti-immigration bill high horse.

The director of MIRA at the time, Bill Chandler, told the Nation that all of these alliances helped defeat the anti-immigrant bill.

Posted by Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

“Because of our history we had a relationship with our allies,” Chandler said. “We need political alliances that mean something in the long term — permanent alliances, and a strategy for winning political power.”

Looking back, history can always teach important lessons—including how seemingly unlikely allies can stand together to fight for a common cause.

To find out more about the defeat of HB 488, click here.

Are you an activist helping defend Latino immigrant rights? Tell us in the comments below!

Here's Why You Need to Know Rep. Adriano Espaillat, The First Undocumented Immigrant in Congress

politics

Here’s Why You Need to Know Rep. Adriano Espaillat, The First Undocumented Immigrant in Congress

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The hot button politician blowing up everyone’s Twitter feeds is the one and only AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). While she may be the youngest, most progressive Congresswoman on record, there is another Latino breaking records that you should have on your radar.

Adriano Espaillat is a Dominican-born American politician representing New York’s 13th congressional district. And, he’s the first formerly undocumented immigrant to ever serve in Congress as well as the first Dominican to ever serve in Congress. He’s not just trying to fit in and make any power grabs either. He’s putting everything on the line to fearlessly serve the immigrant community.

1. Espaillat isn’t abandoning his community and has made them his entire platform.

CREDIT: @VMforCA10 / Twitter

In fact, in response to Trump’s most recent State of the Union Address, Espaillat has led the Democrat party to introduce an Immigration Package to the floor. He wants to protect hospitals, churches and schools from ICE’s grip, so that every individual in this country can access health, education and personal welfare without fear of deportation. Bravo.

2. Espaillat came to the U.S. as a child with his family.

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Twitter

He was born on September 27, 1954 in Santiago, Dominican Republic. His family moved to the U.S. (Washington Heights, NYC) when he was 10 years old.

3. Their family lived without status for a year.

CREDIT: @Almomentonet / Twitter

Their tourist visas expired and the Espaillats had to live as undocumented until their green card applications were approved a full year later. Espaillat was only 11 years old when this happened.

4. He’s known for spearheading the 2007 effort to allow undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses.

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

Caption: “The love felt by parents trying to cross the border with their children is the same love my parents felt for me when my family immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Their families should have the same opportunities that I was given here in America. #ToImmigrantsWithLove”

5. He knows that he “did things right” in his journey to citizenship and is proud.

CREDIT: @johnbcanela / Twitter

Caption: “I came to the U.S. as a child with my family, and today, it is the honor of my life to serve my community here in Congress. And I want to tell every immigrant in this country today: you are welcome here & you are a valued part of our country.”

6. He dedicates all his Valentines Days’ to immigrants.

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Twitter

7. He’s the great-grandson of Dominican President Ulises Espaillat.

CREDIT: @bernat1923bld / Twitter

Soo yeah. Politics runs in his blood.

8. He’s been arrested for speaking out for Dreamers.

CREDIT: @NCRMuseum / Twitter

Caption: “#OnThisDay last year, 3 lawmakers, Luis Gutierrez (IL), Raúl Grijalva (AZ) & Adriano Espaillat (NY), were arrested outside of Trump Tower for demanding more protection for young undocumented immigrants. DACA’s fate is in our leaders’ hands.”

9. Espaillat led the initial effort to Impeach Trump.

CREDIT: @RedTRaccoon / Twitter

While America elected both the first formerly undocumented immigrant to Congress as the most nativist, racist President in history, Espaillat cosigned the bill to begin the impeachment process against Trump.

10. “Not all Trump supporters are racists, but all racists voted for Donald Trump.”

CREDIT: @zabalaaldia / Twitter

In an interview with Vice News, he said, “The Klan used to wear a hood. Now they don’t; they openly come out and spill their venom out there for everybody to see their identity.”

He hosted the first ever  “Dominicans On the Hill” community event in Washington D.C.

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

He plans to make it an annual event to celebrate Dominican community leaders and invite them to Congress and “to highlight Dominican heritage, our culture and diversity.”

11. And he marches with Boricuas at the Puerto Rican Pride Parade también.

CREDIT: @MannyDeLosSanto / Twitter

He flew to Puerto Rico to survey the damages and relief efforts on behalf of his Puerto Rican constituents. He himself used to be the chair of the New York State Senate’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative caucus.

12. He celebrates Three Kings Day with his constituents like a good Latino.

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

13. His group of interns are actually diverse.

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

No more Paul Ryan selfies with a hundred white people behind him. This is why we need to diversify Congress—to give opportunities to brown kids.

14. He loves One Day at a Time!

CREDIT: Netflix

He’s out here retweeting NPR Latino interviews with Justina Machado and Isabella Gomez, shipping the Latinidad of the show.

15. When Verizon and DirectTV dropped Televisión Dominicana, Espaillat called on the companies to change course.

CREDIT: @ChefMimiIsles / Twitter

His exact statement according to Latin Times was this: “The recent decision by AT&T to remove Televisión Dominicana from its lineup shows cultural disregard, indifference, and lack in the network’s efforts to promote diversity among its programming. Promoting diverse voices and minority representation are critical to our success in telecommunications and the marketplace. I strongly encourage both parties to return to the negotiation table to find the best solution in the interests for my constituents and for their customers.”

He also called on Dominicans living in the US to petition the companies and tweeted out their phone numbers to call to complain. The networks ignored the call for diversity. 😡

16.

CREDIT: @hunterw / Twitter

17. His full name is Adriano de Jesús Espaillat Cabral.

CREDIT: @WNYC / Twitter

18.

19.

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

Caption: “@RepEspaillat visited with Colombian President Iván Duque during today’s House Foreign Affairs @HouseForeign Committee meeting.”

20. He’s not letting up anytime soon. #LaResistencia

CREDIT: @repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

Caption: “Delighted to be back in my district! I’m working on behalf of #NY13 and to combat the #FakeTrumpEmergency that this administration is promoting to build Trump’s reckless #BorderWall. My fight continues.”

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