ISSUE BRIEF: Racial and Immigrant Justice

Racial Justice

Every Friday, PRA brings you a monthly update on a different social justice issue. This week, we are recapping the last month in Race and Immigrant Justice.

California’s New Law Prohibits Deportation for Minor Crimes
Undocumented immigrants in California can breathe easier now that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a group of bills pertaining to immigration rights. The Trust Act, known officially as California Assembly Bill 4, establishes that local law enforcement officers cannot detain undocumented immigrants for deportation if they have committed a minor and nonviolent crime. In addition, the bills also include allowing undocumented peoples to apply for professional licenses, as well as fining employers who threaten their employees with deportation. This comes with the hope of giving approximately 11 million people the opportunity to “come out of the shadows,” so they can “live without fear of deportation.”

1/3 of Asian Americans Face Voting Booth Problems.
Roughly one third of Asian Americans in the United States face issues at polling booths because of their limited knowledge of the English language. As there is no official language in the U.S., these citizens are provided assistance as outlined by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which “requires local jurisdictions to provide language assistance when the language minority population reaches a certain size and its English ability and literacy rate is low.” According to the national affiliation Asian Americans Advancing Justice, however, many districts across the country are not meeting standards. Despite these failures, AAJC has composed a list of the best practices implemented at successful jurisdictions, in hopes of encouraging officials to reexamine Section 203 to ensure that these voters receive the aid guaranteed to them by law.

Black Pennsylvania State College Sues for ‘Illegal Racial System”
While thirteen of fourteen Philadelphia state colleges are sharing a $100 million budget surplus, the fourteenth school, Cheyney University, unlike its predominately White colleagues, is suffering a $14 million deficit. Cheyney, one of the oldest historically Black colleges in the United States, and its students, faculty, and supporters are not accepting this racial injustice. A coalition for Cheney University is currently seeking the revival of a civil rights lawsuit filed in 1980, which stated, according to the plaintiffs then and today, that Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth maintained “an illegal and racial ‘dual system’ of higher education.” Cheyney’s coalition hopes to receive more funding for their school through this lawsuit.

Report Details Top Groups Promoting Islamophobia
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group, has listed 37 individuals and institutions they found to be “at the center of promoting Islamophobia in America.” This information, offered in their report, titled “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States,” also named organizations battling Islamophobia. CAIR reported that these Islamophobic nonprofit organizations have grossed more than 119 million dollars in order to tarnish the religion of Islam as a whole. With CAIR’s list, more attention can be brought to these anti-Muslim groups so that action can be taken to stop them.

Native American Veterans File Federal Lawsuit for Better Voting Access
To participate in elections and exercise his constitutional rights, U.S. veteran Mark Wandering Medicine must travel a total of 157 miles. A member of the Northern Cheyenne nation in Montana, Wandering Medicine and his community have struggled to cast votes in the past because of the lengthy journey from their reservation to the nearest county seat. With no public transportation, and due to the economic injustices on American Indian reservations, it’s nearly impossible for some to even reach a voting booth. Rather than allowing this inequity to persist, Wandering Medicine and other veterans are filing a federal lawsuit. Filed on behalf of the Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, and Assiniboine nations, they aim to receive the same treatment White voters have when it comes to voting ease.

Jan Brewer Bans Drivers Licenses for Deferred-Action Recipients in AZ
In mid-September, as a response to President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—which temporarily suspends the deportation of an undocumented immigrant who meets its criteria, allowing them to work in the U.S.—Governor Jan Brewer pushed to expand Arizona’s ban on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The new policy now encompasses all deferred-action recipients, not just the DREAMers. Brewer claims, that “only Congress has the authority to grant non-citizens legal presence, which is required under state law to obtain a driver’s license or state ID.” This measure will be especially harmful to recently abused immigrants who are granted deferred action, because they won’t be able to receive a driver’s license to work.

Native Americans Hit Hard by Government Shutdown
The Native American community was one of the hardest-hit communities during the government shutdown. Because so many Native American programs depend on federal funds—from nutrition programs to financial assistance for low-income groups—this shutdown has stripped away assistance to over 75,000 people in approximately 276 nations.

Judge Dismisses ACLU Lawsuit Against Racist Anti-Abortion Law in AZ
A federal district court in Arizona dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Arizona on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of Maricopa County and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. The suit was challenging Arizona’s anti-abortion law that the groups alleged relies on harmful racial stereotypes to shame and discriminate against women of color who decide to end their pregnancies.

Report Reveals Racial Prejudice in L.A. Canine Police Unit
According to a new report on the Los Angeles Sheriff Department Canine Special Detail, in the first six months of 2013, 100 percent of the LASD dog bite victims were Black or Latino. Urban areas of Los Angeles, where a majority of the residents are people of color, have experienced more dog bites than 21 other areas with higher White populations combined. The LASD has also been singled out by the Department of Justice for their stop and seize tactics, which target mostly Black and Latino people.

Video Reveals Rick Warren and Saddleback Church’s Anti-Asian Skits
White evangelicals at a conference hosted by Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California are under scrutiny after a video of the event was posted publicly, revealing White pastors engaging in a skit rife with racist Asian stereotypes. In a “parody” of the 
Karate Kid, a White pastor “joked” about “making his church-planting apprentice do menial activities, such as getting him coffee, giving him massages and holding his towel.” The pastor and apprentice then engaged in speaking with fake Chinese accents, as stereotypic Asian music played in the background, and performing a karate segment where they bow to one another. This follows Rick Warren himself posting a Facebook photo of the Red Guard during China’s Cultural Revolution with the caption: “The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.” Warren later offered a weak apology, stating that he apologized if people were offended by his insensitivity. No comments have been made by the Saddleback staff regarding the skit at their conference.