Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Changing Immigration Law in Alabama

New immigration laws in Alabama aim to decrease its population of illegal immigrants, after the state experienced a 67% increase in its foreign born population in the last decade.

Like many changes to immigration policies, the new law is controversial- for example, state and local officials now have the ability to check the citizenship of students in public schools and even detain them. Other recent policies require proof of citizenship to register a vehicle, or obtain a handicap license plate, among other items. The law also outlawed hiring, renting to, or transporting illegal immigrants.

Alabama authorities and residents report mixed results from the changes. School districts have reported a decrease in the number of Hispanic students attending school each day, which has some worried for the already-existing educational gap between ethnic groups. Others have found that the new policies cause hassles in local government in already-frustrating locations, like the DMV. Still others have found the new policies to be discriminatory.

However, many unemployed Alabama residents saw positive changes. Unemployment dropped .6% in the month of November, after many illegal immigrants lost their jobs due to the new policies- jobs that were filled by American citizens.

A Republican Representative is reported as saying that the law aims to make life so miserable that illegal Hispanics will leave.

What do you think? Is the law a move in the right direction? As readers of Enrique's Journey, we may also wonder: is "miserable" life in Alabama still an improvement over the poverty and starvation that Enrique and Lourdes faced in Honduras? Leave a comment and let us know!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

While many feel that the United States government has done little to address the true problems of immigration, some believe a recent step has been taken in the right direction.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, according to a recent LA Times article, phases out "quotas on the number of legal permanent residents who can be admitted in any given year from a single country." Previously, thousands of foreigners would be approved to enter the U.S. as legal permanent residents, but thanks to such quotas, candidates would have to wait for their number to come up in order to obtain a visa- a terribly backlogged process. For Mexican immigrants, the wait is ten years, and Indian immigrants, seventy.

The act aims to increase the ability of high-skilled immigrants, such as researchers and engineers, to come to America, a step which many believe is crucial toward improving the economy. Family-based visas will also be extended, so family members of immigrants who have already become citizens will be able to more easily enter the country legally.

While many argue that this act does not go far enough, others maintain that it's still a step in the right direction. What do you think?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sonia Nazario Interviews with Progressive Radio

Looking for more information after Sonia Nazario's author talk? In a newly released interview with Progressive Radio, Sonia Nazario discusses Enrique's Journey, the political implications of her book, and more.

While Nazario continues to discuss her own harrowing experiences riding the trains from Honduras, she also touches more on her own political opinions, citing how she thinks the United States should respond to the rise in illegal immigration in recent years. Enforcing border control, in Nazario's opinion, is not the answer. Currently, the US is spending $5 billion a year on border control. Instead, she maintains, we need to reevaluate our foreign policy, helping to create and support jobs in countries where the immigrants are coming from. She recognizes that, in America, hostility towards immigrants increases during a recession, and it's low-income Americans, especially the 1 in 14 without a high school degree, who lose out the most as the illegal immigrant population increases.

Nazario also touches on the relationship between immigrant mothers and the children that many leave behind, as well as her own relationship with Enrique and his mother Lourdes, who she has now known for over ten years.

We invite you to listen to the podcast of the interview, visit our News page, or access the video and transcript from Nazario's author talk in October. Leave a comment and let us know YOUR opinion. What do you think of Enrique's Journey? How should the United States respond to the issues that Nazario describes?