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Weekly Diaspora: Legislating Hate

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Anti-immigration groups and pundits cling to phrases like “Illegal Alien” because they only focus on foreignness and danger. These extreme factions are all about casting immigrants as what ails our society, conjuring up demons upon which to focus national ire, and perpetuating a subhuman category of being. It’s a convenient distraction from things that are actually endangering our nation. A new web-only series from ColorLines called “Torn Apart by Deportation is the perfect antidote to people like CNN’s Lou Dobbs.

The stories in this series are thoroughly investigated, not sensationalized, and haunting. “Torn Apart” reveals how the push against immigrants in the U.S. is, once all the pieces come together, a cultural death wish on families of color. “Torn Apart” gives faces and feelings to the results of the nation’s post-1996 immigration policies, which made it easier deport undocumented people for any criminal infraction. Two articles are currently available:

  • Home in Name Only” follows Calvin James, who was deported after living in the US since the age of 12, back to Kingston, Jamaica. James is percieved as an undesirable and unwanted part of Jamaican society, which pins its crime rates on deportees. James was uprooted from a loving, productive life in the US and cast into a criminal class spanning two nations.
  • Double Punishment” explores the nexus that people like James find themselves in, where they suffer under a clash of laws that target immigrants and criminals in a justice system already slanted against people of color.

Wiretap tackles the issue of the upcoming census count slated for Spring 2010. The census has become a point of political contention and moved abruptly away from its very practical purpose of counting all people in the country. Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) are trying to add an amendment to an appropriations bill that would include a question about citizenship status to the census form, disrupting the entire well-established process of the census. The move would also cement growing fear in immigrant communities that the census is not to be trusted.