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Beyond Borders

A blog about immigration in the New York region

NYCLU raises alarm on schools asking immigration status


The New York State Education Department is making clear to school districts that they cannot seek documentation of immigration status as a prerequisite to enrolling a child in school. The New York Civil Liberties Union wrote to the state in July, saying that a survey of all 694 school districts found that at least 139 were asking, directly or indirectly, for proof of a parent or child’s status.

The organization wrote to Commissioner David Steiner:

Asking for such documentation is at best irrelevant to proving eligibility to attend school in a particular district, and at worst a deliberate attempt to prevent undocumented children from enrolling in school.

Undocumented children have the same right to a free public education as other children. State guidelines recommend proper ways to determine a child’s age and residency, saying schools “should avoid asking questions related to immigration status or that might reveal a child’s immigration status, such as asking for a Social Security number.”

Among the 139 districts where the NYCLU identified problems were these Westchester County districts:

Eastchester, Tarrytowns, Somers, Rye City, Rye Neck, Pelham, Mamaroneck, Hastings, Harrison, Elmsford, Dobbs Ferry, Croton-Harmon, Bronxville and Blind Brook.

The NYCLU analysis and the state guidance are linked on this site. The state regs are also here.

ADDED: Noreen O’Donnell reports on the response of local districts in this Journal News article.

Posted by Leah Rae on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 1:21 pm |

Farm workers and labor rights — a perennial issue


At your local farmer’s market, the discussion is more likely about tomato varieties than farm workers’ rights. But such labor issues have returned to Albany, as sure as the harvest. The New York Senate again defeated a labor-rights bill this month. Journal News reporter Diana Costello follows up today with reaction from growers and worker advocates.

The bill would have provided rights that farm workers are excluded from: time-and-a-half overtime pay and one day of rest a week. New York farmers say the measure would be too costly, particularly because they operate at narrower margins than the rest of the nation. Growers also say their labor needs are different because of the demands of the harvest.

Workers at Stuart’s Farm in Somers (photographed) travel from Jamaica on H2A visas for seasonal laborers. Such workers would not have been subject to the bill. But those visas are the subject of another clash, this one between the U.S. and Jamaica. Workers were not being admitted because of objections that Jamaica took a cut of workers’ paychecks, according to the NY Daily News. Facing labor shortages, farmers sought help from Sen. Charles Schumer. Here’s the story and the update.

(Photo: Xavier Mascareñas/The Journal News)

Posted by Leah Rae on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 11:48 am |

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.”

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Leah Rae on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
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On Long Island, 7 charged in hate crime, death of immigrant


Newsday is reporting in detail on the stabbing death of Marcello Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant who authorities are calling the victim of a hate crime.

Seven teen-agers are charged with first-degree gang assault, and one is also charged with first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.

But some immigrant advocates are placing further blame on Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and the heated debates in the legislature over illegal immigration.

Here is a comment from Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition:

We extend our deepest condolences to the Lucero family, and call on all New Yorkers to come together in the face of this terrible tragedy to affirm their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and commit to fighting racial violence. Such hateful acts have no place in our community and our nation.

This killing was not a random isolated incident without any context. It arises out of a climate of hostility towards immigrants that has festered in Suffolk County for many years, spurred on by irresponsible political rhetoric and divisive legislation.

This is not the first time that the scapegoating of immigrants has created an environment conducive to violence against immigrant communities, but it needs to be the last.

From Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza:

While we are grateful that the authorities have taken swift action, it is important for all Americans to understand that this is part of an alarming trend taking place nationwide.

For too long hate groups and hate speech have dominated the national debate on immigrants, mischaracterizing all Latinos and the institutions that serve them in the process. Lives are literally in the balance.

Posted by Leah Rae on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 at 2:53 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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