HEADLINES: Immigration

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The federal government has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by 11 Latino immigrants who were arrested in 2007 in a series of immigration raids at their homes in New Haven. The government has also agreed not to deport the plaintiffs, a legal group at Yale Law School that is representing them said in a statement. The statement said that the agreement appeared to be the largest settlement ever paid by the United States government in a lawsuit over residential immigration raids. A statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing, adding that “the government is settling in order to avoid the additional time and expense of further litigation.” The lawsuit claimed that during the raids, armed federal officers violated the constitutional rights of the 11 men by arresting them in their homes without warrants and without inquiring about their immigration status, informing them of their rights or explaining why they were being detained. In all, 29 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested during the raids, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. [New York Times]

Hundreds packed the Alabama Statehouse courtyard on Tuesday to rally against the state’s tough immigration law. People bused in from across the state to demand repeal of the law that aims to be tough on those in the country illegally. Protesters carried signs, one addressing Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, reading: “Gov. Bentley, don’t you have a heart?” Other signs read: “No Juan Crow” and “Una Familia, Una Alabama.” The protesters chanted in Spanish and English, “No more HB56” (the bill that became the law) and “One family, one Alabama.” Legislative leaders have said they plan to introduce a bill in the coming weeks to make subtle changes to the law. However, House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, one of the sponsors of the immigration bill, said the proposal will not make major changes and is not aimed at softening the law. Rally organizers said the changes aren’t enough, and a full repeal is needed. The wide-ranging law requires police to determine citizenship status during traffic stops and requires government offices to verify legal residency for everyday transactions like obtaining a car license, enrolling a child in school, getting a job or renewing a business license. [Washington Post]

With protesters chanting and pounding drums outside the Capitol, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the nation’s most prominent advocates of undocumented immigration crackdowns, urged lawmakers Wednesday to force employers and law enforcement officers to help chase off undocumented immigrants. The protesters outside said those laws are more likely to produce discrimination, worker shortages and costly lawsuits. “If Mr. Kobach, who is promoting, not only here in Kansas but all over the country, laws that are separating our families, that are leaving children without their parents, and they’re hurting everyone in our community, we will not stand for that,” Sulma Arias, executive director of Sunflower Community Action, told more than 300 people at the south steps of the Statehouse. Lawmakers are considering a raft of controversial immigration-focused bills this week, several of which have failed in recent years. [The Wichita Eagle]

The Hollywood film director Chris Weitz has joined the campaign to repeal Alabama‘s harsh new laws targeting undocumented Hispanics, creating a series of four short videos that seek to expose the cruelty and racial prejudice that he suggests are inherent in the act. Weitz, whose movie credits include such commercial hits as Golden Compass, About a Boy and one of the Twilight series New Moon, devised the videos as the equivalent of political attack ads against HB56 – Alabama’s anti illegal-immigration law, which passed last June and requires the police to check on the legal status of anyone they suspect of lacking papers. His concern about Alabama was a natural extension of his engagement with immigration issues in the creation of his latest film, A Better Life. The movie revolves around an undocumented Mexican immigrant who works as a gardener tending the lawns of rich white families in Los Angeles, and is shot on location in Hispanic neighborhoods of the city with a largely Hispanic cast.  [The Guardian]


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