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Good news and bad news from the U.S. Senate today:

The good: Overwhelming approval of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act ENDA – 64-34. The “ayes” included several Republicans including, believe it or not, that radical leftist Orrin Hatch of Utah (but not, disappointingly, North Carolina’s Richard Burr).Wonder when someone will stick a microphone in the face of Burr and the other opponents and ask them why they think it’s okay to fire people because they are gay.

The bad: More absurd stonewalling of eminently qualified women nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – the nation’s second most important court.  

Good news and bad news on the public education front from NC Policy Watch reporter Lindsay Wagner:

The good: North Carolina fourth and eighth graders continue to do better than average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests.

The bad: Really lousy new numbers for NC students on standardized tests as the state moves to align with the much more rigorous demands of the Common Core education standards. The Common Core, of course, has been a target of frequent attacks from the right (and some progressives).

Good news and bad news from the McCrory administration in recent days: Read More

Immigrants ICEA recent court settlement in Alabama should serve as a warning to North Carolina legislators who still seek to pass anti-immigrant laws. Alabama agreed to settle two law suits brought against it after the passage of its harsh anti-immigrant law, HB 56, in 2011.  Both immigrants’ rights groups and the U.S. Department of Justice sued Alabama over different parts of the law, and both those suits settled last week.

Previously many of the harshest provisions of the Alabama law had already been temporarily blocked by courts, and in the new settlement, Alabama agreed that those provisions would never go into effect, including a provision requiring public schools to verify the immigration status of students, and one preventing all contracts with undocumented immigrants. The permanent blocking of those harmful provisions is a huge victory for immigrants in Alabama and across the nation.

Most of the parts of the law that are now permanently blocked in Alabama never made it into North Carolina’s omnibus immigration bill, HB 786, which was proposed in 2013.  However, several provisions in Alabama’s law were identical or similar to those proposed here, and their fate in this recent settlement should be of interest to state lawmakers.

North Carolina legislators, for example, Read More

We all pay a higher price as the U.S. House continues to drag its feet on comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship, according to the American Immigration Council. This price comes in three forms: dollars, lives, and missed opportunities. The authors co-released this infographic to illustrate the cost of doing nothing.

The authors determine that a significant share of the monetary cost stems from the “enforcement only” approach that has cost billions of dollars since the early 1990s but hasn’t slowed down the number of unauthorized immigrants coming into the United States. The human cost results from people literally dying as they attempt to cross the border as well as from breaking up and shattering families—causing many children to end up in the child welfare system. And, the missed opportunities come in the form of forgone tax dollars and consumer buying power that can support the economy and public investments. Read More

This weekend, for the 28th year, Raleigh will celebrate the diversity of its population during International Festival. I love this event. It’s at the convention center with the shimmer wall, and the hundred-plus booths showcase the cultures of different countries and regions that call the Triangle “home.” There’s food, dance and a whole lot of other activities, including cooking demonstrations.

A naturalization ceremony kicks off the event, inviting more people into the fold of the American experiment of a representative democracy. This will happen despite a government shutdown.

It also happens at a time when immigrants, as well as their supporters in our communities, are clamoring for an overhaul to our broken immigration rules. This week, despite government gridlock, House Democrats worked to refocus attention on moving the country forward by introducing a comprehensive immigration bill. 

This weekend, people will also be raising their voices around the country, participating in events commemorating the National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect.  About 15 events throughout North Carolina alone are planned.

The Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the N.C. Justice Center  will be collecting signatures at International Festival telling our Congressional representatives that we want fair and inclusive immigration reform that focuses on legislation that creates a roadmap to citizenship and reunites families, and to oppose bills that penalize immigrant families and diminish public safety.

 

In addition to the mushrooming movement of fast food workers that is generating protests and strikes around the state today, the good folks at Fair Share will be calling on Congresswoman Renee Ellmers today with a petition calling for immigration reform. This is from the announcement:

“Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform for a fair economy will deliver more than 1,000 petition signatures to U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers Thursday, demanding that the congresswoman call for an up-or-down House vote. The action comes as proponents of immigration reform highlight the issue in North Carolina and across the country as members of Congress prepare to head back to Washington, D.C. in less than two weeks.

‘When we bring 11.5 million aspiring Americans out of the shadows and allow them to join the legal, regulated workforce, Read More