Progress on the Move?

A four-day march in support of immigrants' rights and immigration reform launched yesterday from Chicago's Chinatown. The 50-mile trek will end on Monday at the door of House Speaker Dennis Hastert's home office in Batavia, Ill. This is something we mostly haven't heard about thanks to a lack of coverage outside the Chicago region. (Check out the rather anemic coverage in The Washington Post.) Several hundred people, according to The Chicago Tribune, are making the journey, stopping to pray and rally at various places along the way.

Miller Lite has donated some $30,000 to the effort -- in hopes of making good after having donated to U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), who sponsored the draconian immigration bill that the House passed last December.

Chicago has long served as a crux of cultures and has emerged as a hotbed during the swell of the debate over immigration. Recently, Elvira Arellano, an undocumented migrant from Mexico, was granted sanctuary in a church in the Midwestern metropolis. She hopes to avoid deportation because of the hardships her expulsion would cause for her seven-year-old, U.S.-citizen son, who officials originally planned to turn over to the state. Law enforcement has so far resisted entering the church to arrest her.

In other news (--I've always wanted to say that), enforcement of the beleaguered Hazleton, Penn., law cracking down on undocumented immigrants will not go into effect on Sept. 11 (coincidence?) as originally planned. The law will impose penalties on landlords' renting to and employers' hiring people without valid papers. It will also make English the town's official language. The ACLU and various Latino-advocate groups have sued to have the law declared unconstitutional because the Constitution grants only the Federal government authority to enforce immigration laws -- and because the law would promote discrimination against legal immigrants and U.S. citizens of Latin descent.

But the delay does not come from a change of heart on the part of the city, according to Mayor Lou Barletta.

"'We're not enforcing it because we are in the midst of amending it,' said Barletta, who has championed the law. "'The amended ordinance will be even stronger and more defensible.'" (From the AP.)

The city has seen protests both for and against the law, complete with Confederate flags.

Similar battles are raging in cities and towns around the country, with proponents of these laws claiming that the Federal government's "failure to enforce our immigration laws" leaves them no other choice. They argue also that undocumented migrants are ruining their standards of living. (The Hazleton law emerged after two undocumented migrants were charged with murder.) But the argument against such measures -- the worry of enforcement that discriminates against immigrants -- certainly has precedent in U.S. law -- at least as far back as the famousYick Wo v. Hopkins in 1886. Should we continue to repeat those mistakes out of shortsightedness and panicked prejudice?

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Blogger Beth said...

Funny. I did hear brief mention of the Chicago march, but the report focused heavily on the brewery-support aspect. Guess alcohol currently outsells activism in this country.

12:47 PM, September 06, 2006  

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