HEADLINES: Immigration

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In a controversial move, Ric Elias, the CEO of Red Ventures, a Charlotte based internet marketing firm, announced a new scholarship program for undocumented youth. He endowed his new Golden Doors Scholars program with over 1 million dollars dedicated to helping thousands of motivated undocumented students receive an education they would otherwise be unable to afford. One excellent student talked about his experiences, saying, “I get about 15 letters from colleges across the country asking me to come to their school and I’d love to go, but my residency status doesn’t allow me to get financial aid.” With the help of Golden Doors, however, he may finally be able to attain his dreams. When asked about the name of his project, Ric Elias responded, “we are calling it Golden Door because this is what our country stands for: hope and opportunity. This is not a political statement. It’s about helping kids, and putting those kids through college only makes this a better country.” [Charlotte Observer]

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit last week against the Alabama Department of Education. The department has refused to release findings and statistics to the SPLC regarding the effects HB 56 had on schools when section 28 was in place. The SPLC is suing because, “Alabamians have a right to see the data for themselves, to know the impact this law is having.” Under Section 28 of HB 56, school officials were required to ask families about their immigration status when they enrolled their children in school. The measure went into effect Sept. 29, 2011 and was temporarily blocked by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Oct. 14, 2011. In June, the court ruled that Section 28 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and deemed other provisions of HB 56 unconstitutional. The Alabama government claims that the law does not negatively impact school enrollment, but the Department of Justice has already collected data that proves otherwise. [Huffington Post]

As the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program slowly saunters forward, the Obama administration has announced that it has finally granted more reprieves, and that now 4,591 DREAMers have been approved. There are still over 175,000 who are still waiting for approval, and many hundreds of thousands more who are eligible for the program but who have not yet applied due to fear of future retaliation or lack of funds. Peter Boogaard, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, has said that the average processing time for a DACA application will be 4 to 6 months. [NYTimes]

The number of unaccompanied migrant children who have arrived in the United States this year is expected to be almost double last year, due mostly to a sharp increase in Central American gang violence, according to a new report by the Women’s Refugee Commission. In a recent survey, nearly 80% of these children said that violence was the top motivating factor for their flight to America. Many have harrowing stories of violent gang recruitment and abuse. These children cross over the border alone “because their parents are already in the United States, because they are fleeing domestic violence or because the family cannot undertake the journey together.” Because of this unanticipated influx, children are being detained for unprecedentedly long amounts of time, often times “having inadequate food and water and lights on 24 hours a day, lacking blankets in frigid temperatures, showers and enough room to lie down.” These children also do not receive a right to an attorney, among other basic tenants of our justice system.  [LATimes]

Immigrant advocates received aid from an unlikely ally, as Grover Norquist, a leading conservative politician known for his staunchly conservative views on tax reform, has vigorously thrown his support behind comprehensive immigration reform. In his address at the Forging a New Consensus Midwest Summit, Norquist said:

It’s the most important thing to focus on if you’re concerned about the future of the country both as an economic power and a serious leader of the world, or simply as a successful society. It’s not just good policy to have more immigrants in the United States – dramatically more immigrants than we do today, to having a path forward for those who are already here.  It’s not only a good idea, but it’s good politics.

Norquist went on to call on his party to abandon the restrictionist immigration policies that have been the hallmark of the Republican Party in recent years. He hopes that both Republicans and Democrats can come together an enact immigration reform. [ABC/Univision]

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