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Weekly Immigration Wire: Modern day slave trade uncovered

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

The Wire will be brief this week, as I'm attending New America Media's Expo and Awards at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. I'll be speaking about New Media and accepting an award on the behalf of the Sanctuary group at ProMigrant.Org.

But the situation on the ground doesn't pause for conventions or award ceremonies. So, in lieu of a full post, here are a few important stories from the Immigration Ladder this week that are worth checking out. We'll be back in full force next week.

In the American Prospect, Renee Felts and Stokely Baksh examine the Obama administration's Secure Communities initiative, which "supporters say will be more focused in its pursuit of undocumented immigrants with felony records" than Bush-era immigration measures, which indiscriminately corral immigrants and Latinos alike. Felts and Baksh offer a wary admonition to the White House: Trying to draw a line between those who cry for harsher enforcement and "comprehensive reform advocates" might result in further racial and ethnic profiling, which has bloomed since the implementation of programs like the 287(g) agreement.

On Monday, the "Reform Immigration for America Campaign" launched in over 35 cities and Mary Kuhlman reports on the local event in Chicago, Ill. for Public News Service. "Community, faith, labor, and business leaders" met to begin the campaign designed to "build momentum" for the immigration reform that so many hope to see in 2009. "We hope people will join us in fighting for sensible solutions," Kuhlman quotes Joshua Hoyt, the executive director for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

OneWorld reveals that while the U.S. military recruits non-citizens by offering them "expedited citizenship" for enlisting, "loopholes in immigration policy are preventing military personnel from becoming citizens even after years of service to the country." One soldier is still in limbo, even after eight years of service as a Marine. This is yet another example of immigration policy that badly need fixing: Sometimes the families of these soldiers are deported. This is horrific treatment for those who offer their lives in a bargain for inclusion.

Finally, RaceWire's Michelle Chen reports on the discovery of a "modern-day" slavery operation based in the U.S. Any involved in the struggle for human rights must read this article. A group of "Missouri-based employers" now face allegations of running an international operation that solicited, transported, and housed foreign nationals so they could enter the U.S. workforce. The ring was a grossly exploitative scam in which humans were "essentially held captive, crammed into substandard housing, and charged huge fees." Worse, yet, the threat of deportation was leveraged against them when they dared seek better living arrangements.

We must change how we handle those who offer their lives for our nation's well-being, reshape the entire conversation on immigration, and recognize the great value in accepting those who work to make their dreams come true and keep their families safe. These changes are essential to our country's well-being and future health. Let's make big changes this year. Especially in light of the newest supreme court nominee, made by a President who hails from Hawaii and Kenya, let's live up to our potential and remember what it means to be a "nation of immigrants."

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration.

Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter.

And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net.

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.

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