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November 25, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Hispanic Access Foundation takes action to help more Latinos get into college
With Latinos now making up nearly a quarter of the 18-and-under population in the country and projected to grow, the importance of promoting and expanding post-secondary opportunities for them has become a critical need. As part of this effort, Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) has made education one of its four core priorities and will be participating in New Futuro’s College Prep Fair.
“Education is the key to building a better life. A strong foundation of learning can unlock doors to financial and personal success for Latinos,” said Maite Arce, HAF’s executive director. “Education is the critical centerpiece not only to the future of the Hispanic community but also to the country’s future.”
While Latinos aged 18 and under currently make up 23 percent of the country’s population, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that total to rise to 36 percent by 2020. As of 2010, only 13 percent of Hispanics held at least a bachelor’s degree, while 6.2 percent of full-time college students were Hispanic.
“The numbers tell us that more needs to be done to help Latinos gain access to higher-education opportunities,” said Arce. “Latinos want to go to college and parents place an extremely high value on education, but often times they lack the knowledge, resources or support to make it happen.”
Affordability is often one of the main barriers for Hispanics in attending or completing college. A Pew Research Center study found that 87 percent of Latinos identified lack of resources as a barrier to their higher education and career development.
As part of the College Prep Fair, HAF is providing workshops for parents and students on how to prepare for and finance higher education, including the use of financial aid, tax-free savings accounts and scholarships. Additionally, Arce is participating on the College Prep Fair’s panel discussion televised by Telemundo. In the exhibit hall, HAF has been providing laptop giveaways to those students who show their desire to go to college through HAF’s Facebook page.
This work has been an extension of HAF’s other work. In its tax education workshops, held throughout the county, HAF has helped parents and students get their financial documentation in order to apply for financial aid. The organization has also launched youth leadership development initiatives in Colorado.
“We need to make sure Hispanics understand how to navigate the university system,” said Arce. “They need the tools to tear down the roadblocks and continue on the college-degree path. If we don’t take action now, a vast segment of our country’s population will lack the education necessary to strengthen us as a whole.”
The next College Prep Fair, which takes place on Nov. 10 in Chicago, is one of several in a series that have taken place this fall. HAF has presented at the fairs in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Houston.
September 28, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Eleven Latino high schoolers and six parents from Denver visited the District of Columbia to encourage their elected officials to protect Browns Canyon by providing it with monument status and to preserve other Colorado outdoor locations. The students also met with White House staff, representatives from the Department of Interior and the director of the National Parks Service.
“These kids are vocal champions for the outdoors,” said Maite Arce, executive director for Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF). “They are eager to make a difference for Browns Canyon – they are inspired to fight for its protection so that other young people will be able to enjoy it in the future.”
The students met with Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who is spearheading the effort to afford permanent protection for Browns Canyon, and Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO), who successfully led the charge to designate Colorado’s Chimney Rock as a national monument.
“These Latino youth learned the power of their voice when they participate in public policy,” said Linda Sosa, an educator with St. Cajetan Catholic Church. “Browns Canyon and other public spaces have become a passion for these kids. They want to see other generations enjoy what they’ve been able to experience.”
The participants of the visit, which was arranged by HAF, included eight students from St. Cajetan Catholic Church and three from Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK). In July, these same students attended a weekend rafting trip in Browns Canyon organized by HAF and ELK, which helped to teach leadership skills and develop these youth as environmental stewards.
Browns Canyon has become a popular destination, but the area has been degraded by illegal roads leading to erosion and habitat destruction in one of the country’s last remaining unprotected wilderness areas. In the 2012 Colorado College Western States Survey, Latino voters expressed stronger pro-conservation views than their Anglo-counterparts. For example, 75 percent said they would support the creation of new parks and monuments in their states.
The voices of the students were also heard by key presidential advisors including Nancy Sutley, chair of the President’s Council for Environmental Quality, John Jarvis, director of the National Parks Service and representatives for Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“This has been a dream of ours – to be able to go to Washington and build the skills, confidence and knowledge of our church’s youth,” said Sosa. “They know they can achieve their dreams by having access to our nation’s leaders, and becoming leaders themselves in fighting for what they believe in.”
Source: Hola Arkansas
June 15, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
The Obama administration announced today that it will offer indefinite reprieves from deportation for young immigrants who were brought to the country as minors and meet other specific requirements.
The move, hailed by immigration advocates as a bold response to the broken immigration system, temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for youths who would qualify for relief under the DREAM Act, giving Congress the space needed to craft a bipartisan solution that gives permanent residence to qualifying young people.
In a statement from the White House, President Obama said the policy was “the right thing to do,” calling DREAMers “Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every way but one: on paper.”
According to a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security, immigrants may apply for a two-year renewable grant of “deferred action” if they entered the United States before age 16; are younger than 30; have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor; and are currently in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. Although not granted lawful immigration status, recipients will be able to obtain work permits under existing regulations.
Today’s memo, issued by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, comes almost exactly one year after the release of a memo from ICE Director John Morton setting forth an extensive list of factors for agents to consider when exercising prosecutorial discretion. The so-called “Morton memo” was initially hailed by immigrant advocates, who believed it would prevent the removal of foreign nationals who would have qualified for relief under the DREAM Act. Calls for bolder executive action grew stronger, however, after an ongoing review of pending removal cases yielded disappointing results and examples continued to surface of immigrants being denied prosecutorial discretion despite compelling circumstances.
Although not defined under federal regulations, deferred action has long been used by U.S. presidents to prevent the removal of immigrants for humanitarian reasons. Contrary to some headlines, immigrants who are granted deferred action—which can be revoked without notice at any time—will not receive “immunity” from removal. In addition, although they will be permitted to apply for work permits, immigrants who receive deferred action will not receive green cards or any other lawful immigration status, will not be permitted to sponsor family members, and may be unable to travel abroad.
According to the memo and a Q&A released by the administration, immigrants who are not currently in removal proceedings will have to submit applications demonstrating their eligibility for deferred action. Meanwhile, immigrants who are currently in removal proceedings will be eligible for deferred action, even if they previously declined an offer of “administrative closure” under the ongoing case review process. Although eligibility determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, administration officials said that immigrants who satisfy the criteria in the memo should presumptively be granted deferred action.
Secretary Napolitano’s memo comes two weeks after nearly 100 law professors sent a letter to President Obama outlining his authority to provide temporary relief from deportation. The announcement also comes on the thirtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe, which held that states cannot exclude undocumented schoolchildren from elementary and secondary schools.
Targeting innocent Latinos for detention and arrest. Stopping Latino drivers without reasonable suspicion. Forcing Spanish-speaking inmates to speak English to make requests. Throwing inmates into solitary confinement for not understanding commands given in English.
The Justice Department’s 22-page report comes after a three-year investigation of Arpaio’s office. It describes “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos at MSCO that reaches the highest levels of the agency.”
The civil rights division of the Justice Department interviewed more than 400 inmates, deputies and others as part of the review.
Here are some of the latest details released by the Justice Department and the media:
- Latino drivers were four to five times more likely to be stopped in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, than non-Latino drivers.
- Roughly one-fifth of traffic-related incident reports contained information showing that stops may have violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures.
- In a number of instances, the office acted on immigration-related crime suppression activities. But the complaints that initiated the enforcement described no actual criminal activity. Instead, complaints referred to people with “dark skin” gathering in one area, or people speaking Spanish at a local business.
- Detention officers punish Latino inmates with limited English proficiency by locking down their cells or imposing solitary confinement when they don’t understand English commands.
- Detention officers refuse to accept forms completed in Spanish when inmates have limited English proficiency. Forms include requests for daily services and forms allowing inmates to report mistreatment.
- Detention officers use racial slurs and profanities against Hispanics in Arpaio’s jail.
- MCSO treats all Latinos as if they are undocumented, even if there is no basis for suspecting that a person is undocumented.
- Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez told reporters on Thursday that the department is also “reviewing allegations that MSCO may have failed to investigate a large number of sex crimes.” There are reports of 432 cases of sexual assault and child molestation, many involving Latino victims, that may have not been properly investigated.
Arpaio has been called “America’s toughest sheriff” because of his strict law enforcement tactics. He worked for the Justice Department for 28 years as a law enforcement official and is a former agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
At a news conference on Thursday, reporters asked Arpaio whether he cared about the Latino community.
“I do have compassion, but enforcing the law overrides my compassion,” he said.
As a result of the report, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the federal government will no longer allow the sheriff’s deputies to check the immigration status of inmates in their custody.
This is an issue that greatly affects our community. Thanks to the following sources for covering this story, and thank you to the U.S. Justice Department.
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A deportation program that is central to the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement strategy has led disproportionately to the removal of Latino immigrants and to arrests by immigration authorities of hundreds of United States citizens, according to a report by two law schools using new, in-depth official data on deportation cases.
About a third of the deportees had spouses or children who were American citizens.
The report also found that about a third of around 226,000 immigrants who have been deported under the program, known as Secure Communities, had spouses or children who were United States citizens, suggesting a broad impact from those removals on Americans in Latino communities.
The report found that 93 percent of immigrants arrested under Secure Communities were Latinos, although Latino immigrants are about three-quarters of the illegal immigrants in the United States.
The report is the first analysis of deportations under the Secure Communities program based on data about individual cases, which was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the University of California, Berkeley, law school and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.
The Secure Communities program has drawn intense criticism from immigrant communities and from some state and local officials, who have said it led to deportations of many immigrants who were not dangerous offenders and eroded trust between the communities and local police.
Obama administration officials have just as vigorously defended the program. On Tuesday, immigration officials said that the latest deportation figures show that Secure Communities and the Obama administration’s larger strategy are working, announcing that they had deported a total of 396,906 foreigners over the last year, a record number in the last decade.
The officials said that 55 percent of the immigrants deported were criminal convicts, including 51,620 people convicted of felonies like homicide, drug trafficking and sexual offenses. The results were an 89 percent increase in deportations of criminals since the beginning of the Obama administration, the officials said. Of the remaining illegal immigrants deported, the great majority were arrested soon after they crossed the border illegally or had returned illegally after being deported, officials said.
“We came into office focused on creating a smart enforcement system by setting a rational system of priorities, and we have done that,” John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said on Tuesday. “We said criminal offenders would be our highest priority, and lo and behold, they are the highest priority.”
Under Secure Communities, the fingerprints of anyone booked after arrest by local police are checked against F.B.I. criminal databases and also against Department of Homeland Security databases, which record immigration violations. Initiated in 2008, the program has been expanded by the Obama administration to more than 1,500 jurisdictions, and officials have said they will extend it nationwide by 2013.
“The Secure Communities protocol too often is arrest first and investigate later, and that is not what the Constitution dictates,” said Peter L. Markowitz, a professor of immigration law at the Cardozo law school and an author of the report. The other authors were Aarti Kohli and Lisa Chavez of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute at the Berkeley law school.
Robert Gebeloff contributed reporting.
See full article at NYTimes.com