Republicans playing with fire on immigration, Latinos say


In a move to deny birthright citizenship to babies born in the U.S. of undocumented parents, a group of Republican state lawmakers announced Wednesday in Washington they intend to introduce such measures in their state legislatures. They want to fight all the way to the Supreme Court and revive the concept of "state citizenship."

However immigrant rights supporters and a coalition of civil rights groups say it is an assault on the Constitution and motivated by racism because it specifically targets Latinos. They argue any attempt to deny citizenship to U.S.-born children is inflammatory, impractical, divisive, immoral and in fact un-American.

The Republicans say legislators in about 40 states are signing up to learn how to join an expected court battle over "reinterpreting" the 14th Amendment - which grants citizenship to all children born on American soil. They expect about 20 states to introduce such anti-birthright measures including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nebraska, Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

Meanwhile last week Republican leaders in at least half a dozen states said they plan to propose anti-immigrant bills, following the lead of Arizona. That state passed a controversial law last year, SB 1070, granting police the authority to question people about their immigration status based on a "reasonable suspicion" that the person was undocumented. Georgia and South Carolina along with most of the states mentioned above plan to introduce similar bills to Arizona's. (Central provisions of the Arizona law have been stayed by a federal judge, acting on a lawsuit filed by the Obama administration.)

The reality is the immigrant rights movement is on the defensive right now, said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah in Salt Lake City, an immigrant advocacy group.

"There is a deep resentment growing in the Latino community toward Republican lawmakers," he said. "The issue is obviously a huge concern. Immigrants don't feel safe anymore. There's a lot of mistrust."

The Republican anti-immigrant drive reflects their view that they are threatened by the growing population of Latinos, said Yapias.

But the Republicans are "playing with fire," he said. "In the long term they will eventually pay the price politically."

According to recent Census numbers Latinos are the fastest-growing minority population in the country. They are also the fastest-growing minority voter bloc and are a major political force, as shown in recent elections.

He said the economic crisis has already been especially hard for immigrants when it comes to jobs, and enacting anti-immigrant laws only makes life more difficult for them.

Utah is a state dominated by Republicans but leaders from business, law enforcement, several churches and the Latino community there have formed a coalition and issued a compact urging state leaders to use compassion on immigration issues.

Yapias said the compact calls for immigration issues to be handled at the federal level not the state level. It also aims to keep immigrant families united and sees them as a valuable asset in the community.

Yapias said it's important to recognize that not all Republicans are anti-immigrant or anti-Latino. There are compassionate Republicans out there, he said, and immigrant rights advocates have to find ways to work with them in order to pass immigration reform. "Democrats can't do it alone, so we in the Latino community have to bring Republicans to our camp," he said.

Although the Obama administration supports an overhaul of immigration laws the president and Democrats in Congress have been unsuccessful in gaining Republican support. The 112th Congress was sworn in this week and the likelihood of passing immigration reform is dimmer due to the GOP takeover in the House.

Yapias says he's hopeful that in 2012 Democrats will take back the House and control both chambers of Congress again. "And one day we will look back and know all of this was worth the fight," he said.

Photo: PW/Pepe Lozano


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  • No you are wrong..........

    The Republicans are there to carry out the wishes of the American citizens that showed up and voted for them in November.

    Millions of us former Democrats were tired of being ignored by the Dem's.

    Posted by Dora D, 01/18/2011 7:35pm (5 years ago)

  • "The Republicans are now standing up for citizens! You can twist this any way you like but until there is a excess of jobs the American people will stand up and fight for our rights as CITIZENS!!! ".........Dora D.
    Thanks, Dora, for saying things can be twisted any way. Here's my twist.............

    You say that you'll fight "for our rights as CITIZENS" until there's an "excess of jobs". Yet the very people you claim stand up for citizens, the Republicans ...whether business people or legislators... haven't provided many jobs in the past 30 to 50 years, depending on whom you're speaking to. It might even be argued that there were jobs created, and then many more were lost, all at the hands of the same people or their descendents........that is the Republicans.

    The GOP giveth, the GOP taketh away.......... to assume that after all this time they will now create some jobs...let alone an "excess"... is first to believe that vampires can control their thirst if left to themselves in a bloodbank. And while on the subject of blood, Dora, you need to avoid taking a stance that will guarantee that you cut your throat, when after all... all you wanted to do was to cure a nosebleed. The one suffered by you and yours the LAST TIME the GOP promised you a good time, first with Newt Gingrich, and then with George W. Bush.

    So here's my twist, Dora. There will never be an excess of jobs under capitalism. Capitalism isn't about that. It's about making the most possible money, using the fewest people, to work the longest hours. Or as many people to work very short work weeks. Private industry has lost its ability to provide, and it's now up to the government to fill in the cracks. We can argue about whether it's done well or poorly, but it still has to happen.

    And it will happen because all of those immigrants you think should have their citizenship taken away from them, even if that were to happen, are here to stay. All 15 million of them, and growing. So the excess of jobs is a good thing to fight for. But you should choose as your friends and allies those very people who can make that real. That is, the immigrants both documented and undocumented.

    In short, you should be engaging in this fight as a WORKER, which is a much broader circle of friends than citizens.......... especially when those citizens include GOP leaders and businessmen, who love nothing better than to see you and yours cut your throats, while they hit the bloodbank! And Dora, if I've used your name in order to wrap my argument around it, don't even for a minute think that this is about you alone.

    Posted by gary hicks, 01/07/2011 10:33pm (5 years ago)

  • Next thing they'll want to do is revoke the citizenship of political opponents or labor union members or women or African Americans. Remember Pastor Niemoller: First they came for the Communists...

    It's a slippery slope -- next thing you know they'll be revoking citizenship rights for people named Dora who comment on this website.

    Posted by Teresa, 01/07/2011 12:37pm (5 years ago)

  • The irony of this situation is, when the Democrats controlled both houses along with this Democratic president they refused to close on the issue.

    The Latino community are being duped by a party that cares nothing about them other than their voting power

    Posted by gary gerke, 01/07/2011 5:42am (5 years ago)

  • I love it when "un Americans" call us un American. LOL

    Posted by Dora D, 01/06/2011 6:26pm (5 years ago)

  • I completely disagree!

    The Democrats have been playing with fire over the last 2 years and got badly burned last November.

    The Republicans are now standing up for citizens! You can twist this any way you like but until there is a excess of jobs the American people will stand up and fight for our rights as CITIZENS!!!

    Posted by Dora D, 01/06/2011 6:24pm (5 years ago)

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