Archive | October 2011

No place in America for “show me your papers” laws!

The state of Arizona started a wave of anti-immigration laws which have been replicated by four (4) states to date. In response to the enactment of these laws, many organizations and individuals have taken decisive action to indicate that there is no place in a free nation for “show me your papers” laws. The ACLU and other national advocacy organizations remind us that that these  anti-immigration laws[i] — already signed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama[ii] — pose a grave threat to our civil liberties.

It is the ACLU’s assertion that these “show me your papers” laws which were passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama intrude on the federal government’s immigration authority and institutionalize racial profiling and discrimination in states and localities throughout the nation — in direct violation of the Constitution’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. As a result, the ACLU has brought class action suits to halt this wave of anti-immigration laws and is urging the Department of Justice to take immediate action to challenge these laws in court.

In July of this year, I wrote about Alabama’s anti-immigration law because it was termed the strictest anti-immigrant law in the nation. There is great opposition to the law not only within that state but also across our nation. Alabama’s anti-immigration law, HB56, took effect in September of 2011. Before the law could go into effect, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian American Justice Center and the Asian Law Caucus filed a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law (HB56)[iii]. After the suit was filed in this case a press release was sent out by the ACLU which read:

“Alabama has brazenly enacted this law despite the clear writing on the wall: Federal courts have stopped each and every one of  these discriminatory laws from going into effect,” said Cecilia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Local Alabama communities and people across the country are shocked and dismayed by the state’s effort to erode our civil rights and fundamental American values.”

Many community leaders oppose the anti-immigration law for a range of reasons. “This legislation not only violates our values as a community but will also create astronomical costs at a time when our state can least afford it,” said Shay Farley, Legal Director, Alabama Appleseed. “If these legislators have their way, millions of taxpayer dollars will be squandered and our already underwater state economy will take another serious hit.”

In response to the class action suit brought by the ACLU against the State of Alabama, on September 28, 2011, a federal court judge issued a ruling in that case. Here are comments from the ACLU on the court’s ruling in that case, as they appear in the press release, “While the court has blocked some extremely problematic provisions from going into effect, thereby allowing Alabamians to continue engaging in everyday activities such as seeking employment and giving rides to neighbors, we are deeply concerned by the decision to allow some unconstitutional provisions to stand,” said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Laws that require police to demand ‘papers’ from people who they suspect appear undocumented encourage racial profiling, threaten public safety, undermine American values and have no place in our society.”

With that said, the ACLU is continuing the fight to halt the wave of racial profiling laws via filing law suits and other advocacy efforts. Currently, it is requesting that the Obama administration do its part to stop the anti-immigrant activists from putting these laws on the books. To assist in this effort to get Justice Department involvement in this issue, the ACLU is asking each of us to, Tell Attorney General Holder: There is no place in our country for “show me your papers” laws.  Toward that goal the ACLU prepared a petition which appears on its website. Please join me in signing and circulating the petition entitled “No place in America for “show me your papers” laws!”.

For further information about anti-immigration laws, visit the website(s) for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU,  the National Immigration Law Center,  the National Immigration Forum, or the Asian American Justice Center.

Source(s): ACLU website. ACLU Press Releases. ACLU Press Release September 28, 2011. Alabama Coalition for Immigration Justice Press Release, National Immigration Forum, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center,  the Asian American Justice Center, “Anti-immigration law march in Birmingham draws a crowd and keeps commenters divided, too”, The Birmingham News, June 26, 2011, “Report: Anti-Immigration Law Cost Millions, Jamilah King, COLORLINES, Thursday, January 27, 2011, Huffington Post, and America’s Voice on Line, “Alabama anti-immigration law facing court challenge”, Tom Baxter, Southern Political Report, July 8, 2011, “HB 56: Alabama May Pass Nation’s Harshest Anti-Immigrant Law”, Nsenga Burton, the Root, June 9, 2011.

Photo Credit Microsoft Clip Art


[i] .Alabama is the fifth state to pass anti-immigration law. Some opponents of the law have deemedAlabama’s anti-immigration law to be the most comprehensive/extreme in the nation. To date, the anti-immigration laws have not been fully implemented due to legal challenges by a coalition of national advocacy organizations. The coalition members include: the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, Latino Justice PRLDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

[ii] It has been reported that the Alabama anti-immigration bill (HB 56) replicates some portions ofArizona’s anti-immigration law. As it was written,Alabama’s anti-immigration law:

  • Allows local law enforcement to demand papers from and detain those they believe are in the country illegally.
  • Makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to hold a job in Alabama, and make it a crime for any immigrant in the state to be caught without documentation proving status.
  • Makes it illegal to sign a contract with undocumented immigrants, to knowingly rent property to them, to knowingly hire them for jobs.
  • Requires businesses to use E-Verify, the government database of names, to check employees’ legal status.
  • Mandates that parents report the immigration status of their children to public schools to assist the schools to: maintain legal status records on all their students; and document the costs of educating undocumented children.

[iii] The decision in this case came down at the end of September of this year.

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this blog post seeks to: raise awareness about the prevalence of this pressing public health issue; delineate steps you can take to support a victim of domestic violence; and provide you with a course of action to help eradicate domestic violence.

For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Despite concerted efforts to eradicate domestic violence, data indicates that intimate partner violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless persons. Social science research indicates that one (1) in four (4) women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. [i] Indigent women are more vulnerable.

On average, more than three (3) women a day are murdered by their intimate partners in our country [ii]. Annually, women experience an estimated two (2) million women injuries resulting from an abusive relationship.[iii] Women who are between the ages of 20-24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.[iv] Research indicates that most incidents of domestic violence are not reported to the police. [v] The dearth of safe, decent, affordable housing causes many poor women to confront the unenviable choice of homelessness or remaining in a home plagued by violence and turmoil resulting from domestic violence.

If someone you know is being abused, the National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends that you do the following:

Listen to the victim. Tell the victim, “I believe you.”

Acknowledge the abuse and that the behavior is inappropriate. Tell the victim, “No one deserves to be abused.”

Respect the victim’s choices. Tell the victim, “It’s important for you to make decisions that are best for you.”

Be supportive—if the victim wants to file a police report and/or a restraining order offer to accompany them. Tell the victim, “You are NOT alone.”

Provide encouragement to the victim that might be feeling hopeless. Tell the victim, “The National Domestic Violence Hotline is anonymous and confidential and provides information and referrals. The telephone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. You could call them for help.”

Domestic violence thrives on apathy and ignorance. It can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, here is a list of additional ways that you can help eradicate domestic: share domestic violence resources with a victim of abuse; volunteer at a domestic violence agency; speak out against domestic violence; donate money and/or items to your local domestic violence organization; donate your old cell telephone and its accessories via Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine; and encourage your community to support domestic violence services as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their illegal behavior.

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[i] Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy, National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1993, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).

[ii] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.

[iii] CDC. Adverse Health Conditions & Health Risk: Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence. 2008. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, February 8, 2008.

[iv] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.

[v] Frieze, I.H., Browne, A. (1989). Violence  in Marriage. In L.E. Ohlin & M.H. Tonry (eds.) Family Violence, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Sources: Listed above including but not limited to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Bullying Online

With the growing prevalence of the Internet and online social networks, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, and cyber harassment have become ever growing phenomena. For some, it took the tragic deaths of countless victims such as Phoebe Prince, Hope Witsell, Ryan Halligan, Tiffany Barwick, Tyler Clementi, and Megan Meier to bring these issues into the public conscientiousness. This post will focus on cyber bullying. Cyber bullying occurs between minors. When an adult is harassing children or teenagers, it is known as cyber harassment or cyber stalking. As the Internet becomes more popular and online communities become more close-knit as well as more prevalent, online misconduct is occurring at an ever increasing rate in cyber space.

What constitutes Cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying has been defined by some experts as a willful and repeated act where a child or teenager is harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, threatened or tormented through the use of digital technology such as computers, cell telephones, and other electronic devices. It is not limited to the Internet; cyber bullying also encompasses bullying done through such methods as text messages. It is important to reiterate that experts state that cyber bullying can only occur between minors. Research data indicates that cyber bullying can be just as devastating as bullying in real life. In some cases, cyber bullying is an extension of bullying already endured by the victim at school.

Cyber bullying is often a systemic attempt to cause another person to experience emotional pain as the result of an electronic communication or a series of communications. Traditionally, it occurs more than once, and includes but is not limited to: creating disturbing blog and website posts; leaving demeaning messages on victim’s Facebook or MySpace page; spreading gossip or rumors through instant messaging and text messaging; uploading embarrassing photos of the victim; and/or sending defamatory tweets on Twitter. Bullies have demonstrated that there are countless methods to humiliate and threaten a child or teen online. Because the damage is often psychological, and carries over into the real world, the threats posed by cyber bullying can be devastating for the victim. There have been cases where cyber bullying has been linked to severe depression, self-harm, and even suicide.

Prevalence of Teens and Cyber bullying
Research indicates that electronic dating violence and teens is a significant social problem. The Cyberbullying Research Center reported that an online survey of teens sponsored by the Liz Claiborne company revealed that 36% of teens say their boyfriend or girlfriend checked up on them as many as 30 times per day and 17% reported that their significant other made them afraid not to respond to cell phone calls, email, or text messages. Another recent poll spearheaded by MTV and the Associated Press found that 22% of youth between the ages of 14 and 24 who were involved in a romantic relationship said that their partner wrote something about them online or in a text message that was not true. (Cyberbullying Research Center) This same survey reported that 22% of youth felt that their significant other checked up on them too often online or via cell phone. (Cyberbullying Research Center). The results of these studies referenced on the Center’s website illustrate that electronic dating violence is occurring across a meaningful proportion of youth in our nation.

In response to this pressing problem, the Obama administration has taken important and necessary measures to combat bullying. His administration is directing resources for the express purpose of reducing bullying in schools and to raising awareness around its ramifications, and, of course, to countering its negative impact. Toward that end, the White House convened a conference on preventing bullying, on Thursday, March 11, 2011. The Obama administration also launched a new website, http://www.stopbullying.gov, devoted to bullying prevention.

For further information on bullying and/or cyber bullying prevention and intervention strategies, there are several websites you can visit including but not limited: http://www.fightcrime.org; http://www.bullypolice.org; http://www.healthline.com; http://www.cyberbullying.us; http://www.stopbullying.org; http://www.stopbullying.gov; http://www.isafe.org; and others.

Source(s): White House website, §2 – C.18A:37-13.1 §1 – C.18A:37-13.2 §16 – C.18A:37-15.3 §§17; www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/AL10/122_. PDF. Fight Crime.org; Bully Police USA, Inc.; Healthline.com; Politics Daily; MyFoxPhilly.com; NJ.com; Cyber Research Center; Stop Bullying, Inc.; i-Safe, Inc.; “NJ Assembly, Senate Passes “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ in Wake of Tyler Clementi’s Death” November 22, 2010, NJ.com; “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi Commits Suicide After Video Voyeurism”, October 5, 2010, Star Ledger.  Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer still attacks 10,000,000 people per year worldwide. Annually, 1.3 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer and nearly 555,000 people will die in our nation this year alone. According to the CDC, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women.

In 2006 (the most recent year numbers are available)—
• 191,410 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.*†
• 40,820 women died from breast cancer.*†
If you are concerned about developing breast cancer, or if you know someone who has been diagnosed with the disease, one way to deal with your concerns is to gather as much information as is available. For more information, you can visit the websites for: American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , and the National Cancer Institute.
†Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2006 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2010. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
*Note: Incidence counts cover about 96% of the U.S. population and death counts cover 100% of the U.S. population. Use caution in comparing incidence and death counts.Photo Credit Microsoft Clip

CALL CONGRESS AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR WORKING FAMILIES

 

Tell your members of congress that you care about working families and so should they. As you have seen with the on-going federal budget battles, essential programs for low-income and vulnerable people are threatened with cuts:  Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP/food stamps, and unemployment benefits. These cuts will make things worse, not better. Countless families will be hurt by cuts in these very necessary programs for low and moderate income person. Additionally, more jobs will be lost in a period of record unemployment.

As I have indicated in my blog posts on the economy, our nation needs a prudent economic plan that will put us on the right track by investing in jobs, protecting low income people, sharing the burden by asking top-income households and profitable corporations to contribute more revenue, and reducing waste elsewhere. It is apparent from the raging federal budget discussions in order for that to occur our US Senators and US Representatives need to hear from us that there must be “shared sacrifice”. Toward that goal, 9 to 5 prepared a simple script on how to reach and speak with your congress persons about saving very necessary programs for families which is provided below.

1. “
To reach your members of congress you can dial this toll-free number:  1-888-907-1485.

2. Follow the instructions and you’ll be connected to your Senators and Rep. Here’s a message you can use:

Hi, my name is ____ and I am from (city, state). 

  • I know that a Select Committee is working on a plan to reduce the federal deficit.  No plan can work if it does not protect Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance and other basic safety net programs. 
  • And it must create jobs. The plan must have increase revenue from upper-income households and profitable corporations, and savings from cutting unneeded military spending. 
  • I urge [Rep or Senator ___] to work with the Select Committee to develop such a plan, and to reject proposals that harm the poor and stall economic recovery.

It’s easy to think of a million reasons why you don’t want to call.  You may think they don’t pay attention.  But they do – when people showed up in town meetings across the country this summer insisting that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security be protected, and some cuts were beaten back.  But they’re not done – and neither are those who are using the deficit as an excuse to slash services and shrink government.

So please join people of faith, service providers, advocates for children and seniors, working and jobless people and call Congress on October 4 and 5: Toll-free number: 1-888-907-1485.

We need jobs!  We don’t want to hurt the most vulnerable.  Slashing funding for much needed services will put a slam on the brakes on our economic recovery. With fair revenues and military and other savings, we can reduce the deficit the right way.”

Source: Action Alert 9 to 5.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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Nichelle Mitchem Encourages You to Join the Battle Against Cancer Among Women

Cancer Among Women

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, aside from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year. An estimated 40,170 women are expected to die from the disease in 2009 alone. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.

Note: The numbers in parentheses are the rates per 100,000 women of all races and Hispanic origins combined in the United States.

The Three Most Common Cancers Among Women

Breast cancer (119.3)

  • First among women of all races and Hispanic origin populations.

Lung cancer (55.0)

  • Second among white, black, and American Indian/Alaska
    Native women.
  • Third among Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic women.

Colorectal cancer (41.1)

  • Second among Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic women.
  • Third among white, black, and American Indian/Alaska
    Native women.

Leading Causes of Cancer Death Among Women

Lung cancer (40.2)

  • First among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and
    American Indian/Alaska Native women.
  • Second among Hispanic women.

Breast cancer (23.4)

  • First among Hispanic women.
  • Second among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and
    American Indian/Alaska Native women.

Colorectal cancer (14.5)

  • Third among women of all races and Hispanic origin
    populations.

Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2006 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer

Photocredit: Microsoft Clip Art

A Simple Act of Kindness: Sign the Pledge

Our criminal justice system is flawed as most recently demonstrated in the Troy Davis case. Because of the life or death consequences in states where the death penalty is permissible under the law, the criminal justice system must be flawless or there is a possibility that an innocent person could be executed. When justice is administered by humans, it susceptible to error. Under the afore-referenced circumstances, the death penalty must be eradicated nationwide. With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action, we can eradicate the death nationally as well as internationally.

As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008 :” … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.” Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been seeking to do just that. Specifically, these organizations have been quite successful in raising awareness about the problems with criminal justice system and the need to end the death penalty. The number of persons supporting their work is growing as demonstrated in the case of Troy Davis, a former death penalty inmate in Georgia’s penal system. The petition seeking clemency in the Troy Davis case was signed by almost one million persons. NAACP and Amnesty International have experienced steady progress in this important undertaking to end the death penalty. However, the Troy Davis case reminds us that more work needs to be done to end the death penalty.

Like Laura Moye, Director of the Death Penalty Campaign, at Amnesty International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President and CEO, Ben Jealous, recent wrote in an open letter about the important work being undertaken to abolish the death penalty in the United States and the need for it to be continued. Both letters highlight the problematic outcome in the Troy Davis case—specifically, these documents delineate how the justice system failed to obtain a just outcome and as a result Troy Davis lost his life on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.

Ben Jealous wrote in his recent letter to NAACP’s membership that, “…Current Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm acknowledged that if it were up to him today, he would not try this as a death penalty case (i.e. Troy Davis). Yet, when he could have acted to stop the execution, he refused to do so. The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, designed specifically to ensure that executions never happen amidst so much doubt, allowed it to happen anyway.

Justices on the Georgia State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court — men and women who know that our justice system is degraded when we allow someone to be executed even when the former warden [Dr. Allen Ault, retired Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former Warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and  Classification Prison] of the very prison the inmate is in says there is too much doubt to proceed — cleared the way for the execution to be carried out anyway. These failures are the result of a system that gives the power of life and death, God-like powers, to humans who are as prone to error and susceptible to bias as any of us. Human nature won’t change, so the system must. This must never happen again.”

“I [Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP] promised Troy that no matter what happened we would keep fighting until the death penalty is abolished. That is the only way we can possibly guarantee our government will never make such a tragic and irrevocable mistake again. Until that day, we are all Troy Davis. And in the name of Troy Anthony Davis, we must all carry on the fight.”

“In the past two years, the NAACP and our allies have abolished the death penalty in three states. When we succeed in abolishing it in ten more, we will be in a position to ask the Supreme Court to abolish it entirely. In the meantime, there are effective strategies we can use, in even the most conservative states, to diminish its use greatly. In the months ahead, we will convene teach-ins around the country and implement an aggressive state-by-state agenda to end capital punishment for good. We will host a national summit in Georgia to launch this next wave of activism.”

“As Troy Davis — a fellow NAACP activist — said so many times, “This movement began before I was born … it must continue and grow stronger … until we abolish the death penalty once and for all. Together, we can ensure that Troy’s death was not in vain and this will never happen again.” Toward that goal, the NAACP’s  President and CEO along with Laura Moye, Director of Amnesty’s Death Penalty Campaign encourage each of us to pledge to work to eradicate the death penalty. Jealous’ letter ends with “Help us all carry out Troy Davis’ mission.”

With that said, here are three (3) important things you can do RIGHT NOW to advance the fight to stop the death penalty:

1)      Sign the pledge (NAACP and/or Amnesty International) and join the movement to eradicate death penalty.

2) Contact your local Amnesty International State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinators (pdf). Ask about the death penalty in your state and how you can get involved locally.

3)       Reach out to other death penalty organizations operating in your state/country. Find out more information.

Amnesty International Pledge:  “Not in my name” <http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/site/c.6oJCLQPAJiJUG/b.7741827/k.62FF/Not_in_my_Name_Pledge/apps/ka/ct/contactus.asp?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&amp;b=7741827&amp;en=dmIPI6PPJcIYLgOSLbKULiM9LvL9KmN4LtI9LqNaIAK>

Sources: NAACP. Amnesty International. “The Killing of Troy Davis”, NATION OF CHANGE/OPED, Wednesday, September 21, 2011.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art