In recent years, states and localities from Arizona and Alabama to Hazleton, Pennsylvania, have passed laws and ordinances to make immigrants’ lives unbearable—what some call “attrition through enforcement.” Suffolk County, NY (located in the central and eastern portion of Long Island) was until recently a paradigmatic case of such an approach.
Only one week after a historic election in which Latino voters played a deciding role in choosing the president, Suffolk County’s new county executive, Steve Bellone, signed an executive order guaranteeing translation and interpretation services to residents with limited English proficiency. The result: a potential model for how pro-immigrant advocates can work with elected officials to change the tenor of immigration politics in this country.
Until last year, Suffolk County was dominated by County Executive Steve Levy, who frequently blamed undocumented immigrants for Suffolk’s problems, appearing with famed restrictionists like Lou Dobbs and supporting legislative proposals that targeted immigrants. Levy and other officials fanned the flames of nativist sentiment in a tense climate that became rife with hate crimes against Latinos, culminating in the tragic hate murder of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero.
From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Mexico, Germany Host Climate Talks
Germany and Mexico jointly hosted this week informal climate talks aimed at deciding what steps should be taken in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico, in December. The Petersberg Climate Dialogue held near Bonn, Germany, brought together representatives from 45 countries to discuss topics such as the carbon market, reducing emissions from deforestation, and technology. While the talks—initiated by Mexican President Felipe Calderón and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—did not produce any climate change agreements, they “built up trust” and helped to “bring movement to the climate talks,” Mexico’s Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada told Bloomberg. View a video of President Calderón speaking at the Petersberg Dialogue.
LatAm Governments Join Chorus against Arizona Law
The Latin Americanist blog takes a look at rising criticism from governments across the Americas against the Arizona immigration law. Mexico voiced its opposition to the law, and Colombia, Brazil, the OAS, and UNASUR have rejected the law as well. During this week’s summit in Argentina, UNASUR leaders issued a declaration rejecting the law for its “criminalizing of immigrants.”