Hispanics encountering hostility in the South, report says


A new report published today by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that many low-income Hispanic immigrants in the South “are encountering widespread hostility, discrimination and exploitation” that some liken to racial disparities during the Jim Crow era.

The center is a civil-rights advocacy organization that monitors hate activity in the U.S.

These findings are based on a survey of 500 Latino immigrants in Nashville, Charlotte, New Orleans, rural southern Georgia and several towns and cities in northern Alabama — some of the same places where some other population studies have found a rapid increase of the Hispanic population over the last decade.Florida was not included in this survey of the southeastern United States.

The survey included immigrants in the country legally and illegally as well as Hispanics who are U.S. citizens.

Some of the key findings were:

–Eight out of every ten Latinos in New Orleans, a city where many immigrants went to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, said they were not paid for work they had performed. Many of those had not even heard that they could file complaints with the Department of Labor.

–Most Hispanics in Georgia said they did not trust the police. Fewer than three of every ten Hispanics in that state felt confident about law enforcement and many of them were concerned about racial profiling in immigration enforcement.

–Immigrants in Charlotte and Nashville said they were apprehensive about cooperating with the police, because local law enforcement agencies had entered into cooperation agreements

–known as 287(g)

— with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

–A majority of Latinos in Alabama said they feel targeted in traffic stops.

–Seven out of every ten Hispanics in Charlotte believe they are treated differently on the job.

The report ends with a series of recommendations, including among them support for immigration reform “which brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows by providing a workable path to citizenship.” The center also calls for the strengthening of wage and other employment laws and for Congress and President Barack Obama to act to end racial profiling.


• NO HISPANICS IN BIRACIAL? The local advocacy group “Frente Unido 436” has scheduled a Thursday press conference to denounce that the Orange County Public Schools have not included Hispanics in a biracial committee that has been recently reconstituted to review the district’s decisions on school closures. Advocates will meet in front of the Orange County School Board’s headquarters, starting at 11 a.m. at 445 West Amelia Street.

• ORLANDO CONGRESSMAN WANTS TO TALK VIEQUES. Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson called Friday for a congressional committee hearing on Vieques, the island in Puerto Rico that was the site of U.S. Navy military exercises. Island activists and other environmentalists say that the U.S. needs to conduct extensive cleanups in the island to get rid of the damaging pollution it left behind. The hearing, before the Science and Technology Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, would examine those claims. Congressman Grayson said, “The Navy used Agent Orange, napalm, and white phosphorus over the course of 62 years of weapons testing near the island. The people of Vieques and constituents of mine from that region are suffering from an inordinately high number of health problems. There is heavy metal in the shellfish and vegetation in the region. Scientists have discovered the same thing in the hair of many of the people who live there.”

• MUJERES ADVOCACY. Latinas from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., spent two days lobbying on behalf of Hispanic women’s access to reproductive health. While the birth rate has been increasing among undocumented families, group advocates said, those same women have gone without appropriate medical care and advice. “What the report doesn’t say is how many undocumented mothers went without prenatal care and how many will face unwanted pregnancies because they lack basic health coverage,” said NLIRH’s Executive Director Silvia Henriquez. “Latinas want to end these disparities, but they need information and skills to do this powerfully. This is why our advocacy training is so timely and so important.”

• CALLING FOR REFORM. LITERALLY. The National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., is launching a campaign of calls to elected officials in support of “just and humane immigration reform.” It has been asking Latinos throughout the country to host call in parties to express support for the legalization of undocumented immigrants. More info here: www.nclr.org/immigrationcall-in.

• OBAMA APPOINTS FLORIDA LATINO. President Barack Obama nominated Francisco (Frank) Sánchez to become Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce. He had been the Chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Council for the Obama for America Campaign. Víctor Manuel Ramos can be reached at vramos@orlandosentinel.com. He is also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/vmramos.

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