Leyla Martinez didn’t expect to be accepted to Columbia University. She applied to demonstrate a lesson — not to limit himself — to her then-16-year-old son. She was 40, a single mother and formerly incarcerated, not the typical Columbia applicant.
A nearly three-year legal battle has come to an end for a young undocumented immigrant whose 2010 arrest sparked a national debate over U.S. immigration policy, particularly the right of undocumented immigrants to attend public universities. Thursday, a Cobb County, Georgia, judge dismissed a false-swearing charge against the now 23-year-old Jessica Colotl stemming from her arrest on March 29, 2010. A Kennesaw State University (KSU) police officer stopped Colotl, a KSU student, for a traffic infraction on campus. She was arrested the following day after failing to produce for authorities a valid driver’s license. Colotl’s case has been widely publicized nationally, drawing renewed attention to the use of 287(g) programs, which allow local police agencies to enforce immigration law and detain suspected undocumented immigrants.
With President Barack Obama’s mid-June executive order that protected certain children of illegal immigrants from deportation, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that invalidated most of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, immigration has finally been yanked onto the front burner. And with that spotlight has come some misleading shorthand: that immigrant means Latinos and illegal, and that legal immigrants, including immigrant youth, if mobilized to become citizens will vote Democratic. But immigration in the United States today is far more comprehensive than stereotypes and myths can convey, and we owe it to ourselves to understand the nuance of their politics and influence on our country, especially in an election year. There are about 40 million immigrants in the United States today, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, that is more than at any time in U.S. history. Almost two-thirds of them have arrived during the past 20 years. Immigrants, defined as people born outside the United States and residing here legally or illegally, now comprise about one-eighth or 12.5 percent of the U.S. population.
Jessica Colotl says her life is a series of hearings since the struggle began between her and federal and state authorities over whether she can stay in the country she's called home since she was ten years old. Read the English version here and the Spanish version here. Colotl is young; she's in limbo like many other immigrants, her story shifts from her college to a detention facility to a presidential announcement to a tenuous freedom. It's a story that's dramatic, tense, and now it's presented in a way more accessible to young people. Furthermore, the story is reported through an innovative new form: illustrative or comics journalism.
My husband, Steve, and his first wife, Laurene, moved to Eastern Europe shortly after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. The day before they boarded the plane to move to Bratislava, Slovakia, Steve and Laurene discovered that they were expecting, unexpectedly, twins! Since Bratislava’s medical care was still behind those of Western Europe and the birth of twins is a higher risk pregnancy, they chose to go to Vienna, Austria for the pregnancy care and birth. Early one morning Laurene’s water broke and they made a harried run across the Danube River for the Slovakia/Austria border. Before long David and Paul made their dramatic debut about a minute apart via C-Section. Steve and Laurene planned on living there long-term, but a breast cancer diagnosis short-circuited those dreams. At six months of age, the twins were brought to America for the first time.
The Obama administration will no longer deport and begin granting work permits to young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, The New York Times reports. The policy change does not need Congressional approval. President Obama will discuss the plan at a press conference in the Rose Garden Friday afternoon. The policy change could affect some 800,000 immigrants who are younger than 30 and arrived in the United States before they turned 16, according to The Times. Additionally, they must have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have a high school diploma or GED earned in the United States, served in the military or have no criminal history.
This story originally appeared on iWatchnews.org by the Center for Public Integrity
Immigration officials, advocates clash over policies
A new report is adding fuel to a growing debate over the impact of deportations of illegal immigrants who have roots in communities and U.S.-born children. Between January and June of 2011, immigration officials deported more than 46,400 people who said they were parents of children who were born in the U.S. and therefore U.S. citizens, according to a new study for Congress prepared by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. No solid information exists to measure what happens to deported parents’ children. Some leave with their parents, others remain here with family members or on their own and some may go into foster care. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report with an estimate that about 100,000 parents of U.S. children were deported over the course of a decade between 1998 and 2007. Congress directed ICE to begin tracking numbers to better gauge the extent of this phenomenon.
A new formula for calculating who receives food stamps in Kansas has left many U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants without aid. The change affects the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal program administered individually by the states. By law, illegal immigrants are not eligible for food stamps but their U.S.-born children are, according to The Kansas City Star. Previously, Kansas excluded illegal immigrants as members of the household in the formula but adjusted the family’s income proportionately. The new rule doesn’t adjust the income, so a family’s earnings are spread over fewer people in the calculation.