Things That Matter

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

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!

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

Things That Matter

Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP via Getty Images

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not a contentious topic among Americans. The program offers young adults who entered the U.S. as children relief from deportation and a chance to live out of the shadows. Now that it has been reinstated, Google wants to help some people achieve the dream of being a DACA recipient.

Google is pledging a quarter of a million dollars to help people apply for DACA.

The Trump administration did everything in their power to end DACA. The constant uncertainty has left hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo. The war waged against Dreamers by the Trump administration came to a temporary end when a federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was illegally installed as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. It invalidated a member from Wolf stating that no new DACA applications would be approved.

Kent Walker, the SVP of Global Affairs, laid out the case for DACA in an essay.

Walker discusses the uncertainty the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients currently face after the tumultuous time for the program. He also touches on the economic hardships that has befallen so many because of the pandemic. With so many people out of work, some Dreamers do not have the money to apply or renew their DACA due to a lack of financial resources. For that reason, Google is getting involved.

“We want to do our part, so Google.org is making a $250,000 grant to United We Dream to cover the DACA application fees of over 500 Dreamers,” writes Walker. “This grant builds on over $35 million in support that Google.org and Google employees have contributed over the years to support immigrants and refugees worldwide, including more than $1 million from Googlers and Google.org specifically supporting DACA and domestic immigration efforts through employee giving campaigns led by HOLA (Google’s Latino Employee Resource Group).”

People are celebrating Google for their decision but are calling on Congress to do more.

Congress will ultimately have to decide on what to do for the Dreamers. There has been growing pressure from both sides of the aisle calling on Congress to work towards granting them citizenship. DACA is a risk of being dismantled at any moment. It is up to Congress to come through and deliver a bill to fix the issue once and for all.

“We know this is only a temporary solution. We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers, but also delivers other much-needed reforms,” writes Walker. “We will support efforts by the new Congress and incoming Administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform that improves employment-based visa programs that enhance American competitiveness, gives greater assurance to immigrant workers and employers, and promotes better and more humane immigration processing and border security practices.”

READ: New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

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Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

Julio César Aguilar / Getty Images

As the number of parents and children crossing the border continues to increase, driven by violence and poverty in Central America, many are growing desperate while being forced to wait in migrant camps in Mexico. While crossings have not reached the levels seen in previous years, facilities that hold migrants are approaching capacity, which has been reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is forcing many to check the status of their claims by crossing into the U.S. to speak to border agents. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more and more women are being forced to give birth in less than ideal situations – putting at risk both the lives of the mother and child.

A migrant woman gave birth on a bridge between U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Mexican border authorities, a Honduran woman gave birth on the Mexican side of the border bridge between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. The woman was apparently trying to reach the U.S. side, but felt unsteady when she got there and was helped by pedestrians on the Mexican side waiting to cross.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said the birth occurred Saturday afternoon on the Ignacio Zaragoza border bridge, also known as “Los Tomates.” It said authorities received an alert from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials regarding “a woman trying to enter the country improperly.”

It said the woman was taken to a hospital in Matamoros, where she was given free care. Her child will have the right to Mexican citizenship.

Hernández is hardly the first woman to give birth while hoping to cross into the U.S.

Just last month, a woman gave birth along the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. She had just crossed the river and her smugglers were yelling at her to keep moving as U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived. But she couldn’t continue, fell to the ground, and began to give birth.

The mother and her her daughter are safe and in good health. “They treated me well, thank God,” said the woman, who didn’t want her name used because she fears retribution if she’s forced to leave the country, in an interview with ABC News.

“There’s so many women in great danger,” Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, told ABC News. “They must really think before they do what they do and risk the life of their unborn child.”

Like so many other women, Hernández was waiting in Mexico under Trump’s cruel immigration policies.

Hernández was reportedly among about 800 migrants sheltering in an improvised riverside camp while awaiting U.S. hearings on their claims for asylum or visas. Other migrants are waiting in Matamoros, but have rented rooms.

Thousands of other migrants are waiting in other Mexican border cities for a chance to enter the U.S. — some for years. The Trump administration has turned away tens of thousands at legal border crossings, first citing a shortage of space and then telling people to wait for court dates under its “Remain in Mexico” policy.

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