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Beyond Borders

A blog about immigration in the New York region

Archive for May, 2010

Schumer’s worker ID plan raises privacy concerns


Linda Berns of the NYCLU has an opinion piece in the Journal News today about Sen. Charles Schumer’s for biometric worker IDs, a key enforcement provision in his framework for immigration reform. She writes,

Essentially, this proposal would force American citizens to obtain the government’s permission to start a job. It would set the framework for a national identification system that will enable the government to track our daily activities and pry into our private lives.

Here is the document (pdf) describing the Democrats’ immigration framework.

By the way the Washington Post has a long profile on Schumer, looking at his shot at becoming majority leader if Harry Reid loses his seat.

Posted by Leah Rae on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 12:24 pm |

Celebrating culture, as only Port Chester can


What would you expect from a cultural festival in Port Chester, a village where half the population is foreign-born and the Latino population draws from every corner of the hemisphere?

Port Chester Fest, on May 22, is aiming to live up to the community’s own diversity, and you can expect quite the array of cultures.

For example: There will be a “tijeras” or scissors dance, a competitive, gymnastics-like performance from the highlands of southern Peru. Walter Velille and Luis Aguilar are pictured here with harp player Alejandro Velasco and his brother Ignacio on violin.

Tom van Buren, director of Folk Arts and Performance Programs at ArtsWestchester, helped identify performers that reflect the area’s immigrant traditions. Here’s his description of the tijeras performers and th dance he calls “traditional Peruvian break dancing”:

“Walter Velille, whose stage name is Qesqento (the name of a cicada native to Peru) is one of the foremost dancers of this style in the New York region and has lived in Port Chester for over five years.  He grew up in Lima, the capital of Peru, in a family from Apurima in the southern Andean region.  He learned the tijeres dance from elders in his family.  His father was also a Tijeras dancer and later played the violin for dancers during community events.  Later, Walter had the opportunity to teach the dance to apprentices in a program of the Museo de la Nación.  He has performed this dance in Europe, China and Japan, and has also performed widely in the United States since 2002, when he attended a native American gathering in Seattle.  He has performed many times for the UN conference on Indigenous peoples.  He will be performing with Luis Aguilar “Paccaricha” (Quechua for ‘Tomorrow’).”

Another act is Grupo Ujyuna, a group of Bolivian musicians in Port Chester who play Andean flutes (see a video here).

Read on for the list of groups taking part in the festival. For more on the event, click here.

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Posted by Leah Rae on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 3:08 pm |

HVCC leader among 16 arrested in NYC action to press for immigration reform


The executive director of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition and two New York City council members were among 16 people arrested in a civil disobedience action today at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan, to press federal officials on immigration reform. It’s the first of three actions planned on consecutive Mondays. NY1 has a video report.

Here is a statement on behalf of those arrested, according to the New York Immigration Coalition. Betsy Palmieri, of the community coalition, is one of the 16 who signed the joint statement.

“Being conscientiously of opinion that our current immigration laws betray our core principles of democracy, inclusiveness and justice; that they allow for Arizona’s immoral and unconstitutional SB1070; and that their continued enforcement through detention and deportation separates families and destroys communities; we are compelled to escalate our call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the face of inaction from our nation’s elected representatives.

“Today we stand in solidarity with the millions who contribute to our communities and economy while being denied full access to them.  Our act of civil disobedience is performed with the belief that our laws can—and should—be better, and that our nation’s leaders cannot stand on the sidelines as our society’s core values are betrayed by a broken and immoral immigration system.

“We invite the enforcement of the law upon ourselves in the hope that our arrest today will be the catalyst for principled leadership from the President and Congress and for meaningful Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will put an end to the arrests and other mistreatments faced by our friends, families, congregations, and communities.”

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Posted by Leah Rae on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
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Port Chester’s Latino candidates reflect village’s diversity


Port Chester’s June 15 village trustee election is bringing an assortment of firsts. One of them is the unprecedented diversity of candidates for Port Chester village board. I wrote today about the three Latino candidates among the 14 people running for trustee — one each on the party slates and one independent. All six seats are up for election under cumulative voting.

Befitting Port Chester — where the Latino community draws from multiple nationalities and no one group seems to predominate — the three Hispanic candidates are originally from three different countries: Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The Andean nations are quite well represented this time around, though Mexicans, Central Americans and Caribbeans also figure prominently into the population.

Data analyst Tim Henderson sent me this set of Census estimates from 2008 for Port Chester’s Latino population, broken down by region of origin.

Total Port Chester population: 27,773

Hispanic/Latino: 13,633

Mexican: 3,206, or 24 percent of Hispanics

Puerto Rican: 830, or 6 percent

Cuban: 514, or 4 percent

Dominican: 451, or 3 percent

Central American: 2,761, or 20 percent

South American: 5,618, or 41 percent

Other Hispanic/Latino: 253, or 2 percent

For more on the election click here, and check out portchestervotes.com.

Posted by Leah Rae on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 2:30 pm |

ACLU, NAACP, MALDEF join lawsuit over Arizona immigration law


The Arizona immigration law SB 1070 is scheduled to go into effect July 28, but attorneys behind a lawsuit say they will prevent that from happening. The ACLU, NAACP, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund are among the groups behind the complaint.

You can read the complaint (by downloading the PDF file) here.

Here are two of the individual plaintiffs, as summarized by the National Immigration Law Center:

One of the individuals the coalition is representing in the case, Jim Shee, is a U.S.-born 70-year-old American citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent. Shee asserts that he will be vulnerable to racial profiling under the law, and that, although the law has not yet gone into effect, he has already been stopped twice by local law enforcement officers in Arizona and asked to produce his “papers.”

Another plaintiff, Jesus Cuauhtémoc Villa, is a resident of the state of New Mexico who is currently attending Arizona State University. The state of New Mexico does not require proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status to obtain a driver’s license. Villa does not have a U.S. passport and does not want to risk losing his birth certificate by carrying it with him. He worries about traveling in Arizona without a valid form of identification that would prove his citizenship to police if he is pulled over. If he cannot supply proof upon demand, Arizona law enforcement is required to arrest and detain him.

Posted by Leah Rae on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 1:00 pm |

Demonstrators in Spring Valley protest Arizona immigration law


The Rockland Immigration Coalition and other groups rallied Sunday in Spring Valley for immigration reform. And like other demonstrations planned for May, this one protested the Arizona law SB 1070, giving police broad powers to ask for a person’s immigration papers. Here is the Journal News story.

One sign said in Spanish, “We’re looking for work – not privileges.” Others, below, say “Don’t destroy our families” and “We work and pay taxes.”

The Arizona law even made it into the Miss USA pageant as a topic of discussion, when a contestant was asked about it and responded in favor of state’s rights.

And the debate continues about what the effect will be. The Arizona Republic consulted a panel of experts about the central question regarding the law — at what point police officers are authorized to ask about a person’s status. The upshot: There appears to be no consensus. The paper is continuing a series about the law.

Posted by Leah Rae on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 12:38 pm |


Immigrant ‘green cards’ will actually be green


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is adding new security features to the “green cards” given to permanent U.S. residents — and is making it actually green.

Here’s the prototype.

USCIS says the card has the following security features:

Secure optical media will store biometrics for rapid and reliable identification of the card holder.  Holographic images, laser engraved fingerprints, and high resolution micro-images will make the card nearly impossible to reproduce.  Tighter integration of the card design with personalized elements will make it difficult to alter the card if stolen.  Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) capability will allow Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry to read the card from a distance and compare it immediately to file data.  Finally, a preprinted return address will enable the easy return of a lost card to USCIS.

Posted by Leah Rae on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 at 5:22 pm |

The other issue in Arizona: Teachers with accents?


I hadn’t heard this until a segment on NPR today: Arizona is targeting schoolteachers who use heavily accented English. The Washington Post explores the issue and related linguistic studies, and the WSJ reports on the policy.

Click here to read the NPR commentary by Andrei Codrescu — or to listen to it in his own accent.

Posted by Leah Rae on Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

In New York, ‘endangered’ languages survive


Something to get your mind off the bad news coming from Wall Street: Did you catch the NYT video about linguists documenting the “endangered” languages that survive in all corners of New York? Researchers are tracking down people who still speak nearly extinct languages frorm Indonesia and Darfur, or try to keep alive traditional languages like Garifuna from the Caribbean. Check it out here along with the accompanying story.

Posted by Leah Rae on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 3:21 pm |


Immigration reform campaign returns to streets — But Congress?


The immigration reform campaign has returned to the streets — but is it returning to Congress?

Any timetable for an immigration bill remains as uncertain as ever. New York Sen. Charles Schumer seems to have failed to find a Republican co-sponsor for a comprehensive bill after Sen. Lindsey Graham’s change of stance. In the meantime, Schumer has released a “structure” for reform. He is asking Arizona to delay its new law, giving police far-reaching powers to ask for immigration IDs, for a year.

Locally, the Arizona law continues to inspire demonstrations against racial profiling. The Rockland Immigration Coalition is planning a “We Are Arizona” rally May 16 in Spring Valley. Here are photos from the May 1 rally in Peekskill outside Schumer’s office. Read on for my story about the reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070.

(Photos: Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News)

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Posted by Leah Rae on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 12:45 pm |

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Reporters from The Journal News track the latest developments in immigration. Beyond Borders explores the news, the cultures and controversies.
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