Amicus Brief by Earl Warren Center at U.C. Berkeley Boalt Law School on impact of anti-immigration laws on Latinos:
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
PEDRO LOZANO, et al.,
CITY OF HAZLETON,
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
BRIEF OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN INSTITUTE ON
RACE, ETHNICITY AND DIVERSITY AT UNIVERSITY OF
CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY LAW SCHOOL AS AMICUS CURIAE IN
SUPPORT OF THE PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES, SUPPORTING
AARTI KOHLI CHARLES WEISSELBERG
MARÍA BLANCO PROFESSOR OF LAW
CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN INST. BERKELEY LAW SCHOOL
BERKELEY LAW SCHOOL 688 SIMON HALL
BANCROFT RESEARCH CENTER BERKELEY, CA 94720
2440 BANCROFT WAY, SUITE 303 (510) 643-8159
BERKELEY, CA 94704
Dated: April 18, 2008 Counsel for Amicus Curiae
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES ................................................................................... ii
IDENTITY AND INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE............................................1
IIIRA IS IN CONFLICT WITH IRCA WHICH CONTAINS A
COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-DISCRIMINATION SCHEME ...........................3
Social Science Studies Support the Theory that “Mexican
Appearance” is Equated with Illegal Status .........................................5
Social Science Studies Have Documented the Harms to US
Citizens and Legal Residents of Profiling Latinos as
Undocumented Immigrants: Harassment, Fear and Alienation...........7
Local Law Enforcement and Private Parties Are Not Experts in
the Complex Field of Immigration Document Verification and
Instead Rely on Stereotypes and Bias ................................................10
Demographic Change and Anti-immigrant Sentiment Have Been
Accompanied By an Increase in Hate Crimes Against Latinos
State Laws that go Beyond Federal Law Deter Lawful Immigrants and
Even Citizens From Seeking Services for which They Are
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES
Lozano v. City of Hazleton, 496 F.Supp. 2d 477, 484 (M.D. Pa. 2007)………...5, 9
Statutes and Regulations
Immigration Reform and Control Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1342b…………...…………. 3, 4
Broder, Tanya, Most State Proposals to Restrict Benefits for Immigrants Failed in
2005: Measures Targeting Immigrants Promised for Next Year, available at
proposals_article_112105.pdf................................................................. 15, 16
Cantú, Lionel. The Peripheralization of Rural America: A Case Study of Latino
Migrants in America’s Heartland, 38 Soc. Persp. 399 (1995)…………………..5, 7
Capps, Randolph, Rosa Maria Castañeda, Ajay Chaudry, Robert Santos. Paying
the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America's Children (October
2007), available at
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hate Crime Statistics 2006, available at:
Fenton, Joshua J., Ralph Catalano, and William A. Hargreaves. Effect Of
Proposition 187 On Mental Health Service Use In California: A Case Study,
15 Health Aff. (1996)……………………………………………………………. 16
Fenton, Joshua J., N. Moss, H.G. Khalil, and S. Asch. Effect of California’s
Proposition 187 on the Use of Primary Care Clinics, 166 W.J.Med. (Jan. 1997).. 16
House of Representatives Report No. 682, pt. 1, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. 46, reprinted
in 1986 U.S.C.C.A.N 5649 (regarding P.L. 99-603)……………………………… 2
INS and Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment
Practices Before the Subcomm. on Immigration and Claims of the H. Comm. on
the Judiciary, 107th Cong. 14-26 (2002) (statement of Juan Carlos Benitez, Special
Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices)………………... 4
Jiménez, Tomás, Mexican-Immigrant Replenishment and the Continuing
Significance Ethnicity and Race, 113 Am. J. Soc. (May 2008), manuscript at
Johnson, Kevin R. The Case Against Race Profiling in Immigration Enforcement,
78 Wash. U. L.Q. 675 (2001)……………………………………………………. 10
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Cause for Concern: Hate Crimes in
America (2007), available at: http://www.empowermentzone.com/hate_rpt.txt... 13
Margolis, Ellie. Beyond Brandeis: Exploring Uses of Non-Legal Materials in
Appellate Briefs, 34 U.S.F.L. Rev. 197 (2000)…………………………………… 2
Migration Policy Institute, 2006 American Community Survey and Census Data on
the Foreign Born by State, available at
Mock, Brentin. Immigration Backlash: Hate Crimes Against Latinos Flourish,
available at http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=845........... 13
Orfield, Gary, and Chungmei Lee. Historic Reversals, Accelerating Resegregation,
and the Need for New Integration Strategies (August 2007), available at
Pew Hispanic Center, Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2006
(January 2008), available at
Ramakrishnan, Karthick, Kevin Esterling, David Lazer, and Mike Neblo. What do
you mean by “Immigrant”? Framing Effects and Attitudes Towards Immigration
in a Survey Experiment. Presented at Politics of Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity
Consortium conference (Riverside, CA, Feb. 2007)…………………………........ 6
Romero, Mary. Racial Profiling and Immigration Law Enforcement: Rounding Up
of Usual Suspects in the Latino Community, 32 Critical Soc. 447 (2006)…. 6, 9, 11
INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE
The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity,
(Warren Institute) at the University of California, Berkeley Law School submits
this brief as amicus curiae in support of Appellees Pedro Lozano, et al. The
Warren Institute urges the Court to affirm the District Court’s ruling that the City
of Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance (“IIRA”) and the Tenant
Registration Ordinance (“RO”) are unconstitutional.
Founded in 2005, the Warren Institute is a nonprofit organization based at
the University of California, Berkeley Law School whose mission is to advance
research, policy and advocacy in pursuit of racial and ethnic justice. The Warren
Institute devotes significant attention to immigration issues, including access to
education for immigrant children, the economic and social impact of state and local
laws attempting to regulate immigration, and pathways to integration for
immigrant communities. A central focus of the Warren Institute’s research has
been the review and development of scholarship that provides insights into the
impact of state and local laws governing immigration. Because of its core mission
and its research and advocacy work in defense of civil rights, specifically in the
area of immigration, the Warren Institute has a direct stake in the outcome of this
case. However, the Warren Institute does not, in this brief or otherwise, represent
the official views of the University of California, Berkeley.
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
This case, like many others currently being litigated around the country,
results from local efforts to deter unauthorized immigrants from working and
residing within their territory. Congress has long been keenly aware of the
connection between measures targeted at undocumented immigrants, and race and
national origin discrimination; the efforts of Hazleton and other municipalities to
create new immigration regulations plainly would upset the careful balance struck
by Congress in federal law. See e.g., H.R. REP. NO. 682, pt. 1, 99th Cong., 2d
Sess. 46, reprinted in 1986 U.S.C.C.A.N 5649 (regarding P.L. 99-603).
Amicus submits this brief, in the tradition of “Brandeis briefs,” to inform the
Court of scholarly studies presenting legislative facts relative to the matters at
issue. See Ellie Margolis, Beyond Brandeis: Exploring Uses of Non-Legal
Materials in Appellate Briefs, 34 U.S.F. L. Rev. 197, 198 (2000) (asserting that
Courts may take into consideration history, social and psychological science,
empirical studies and current events when developing a rule of law; these sources
are known as legislative facts when considered for developing a rule of law).
Social science studies have documented the harms to lawful residents and U.S.
citizens, especially those of Latin American descent, when law enforcement and
private actors attempt to identify undocumented immigrants. The research shows
that notions of illegality are strongly correlated with a specific racial profile and
that this phenomenon is exacerbated within communities, like Hazleton, which
have experienced rapid demographic change with the arrival of Latinos. This
backlash against Latino populations has resulted in increased alienation amongst
U.S.-born and naturalized Latinos.1 Documented harms of immigration
enforcement and anti-immigrant rhetoric include a lack of trust in government
entities and a potential increase in hate crimes. In an increasingly diverse society,
ordinances such as Hazleton’s fuel racial divisions and create barriers to
integration for a large segment of the population. As such, they are not only
unlawful but bad public policy.
IIRA IS IN CONFLICT WITH IRCA WHICH CONTAINS A
COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-DISCRIMINATION SCHEME
As the District Court noted, IRCA prohibits discrimination and creates a
new anti-discrimination system as a necessary counterweight to its employer
sanctions regime. 8 U.S.C. § 1342b. IIRA contains no such anti-discrimination
1 In this brief, the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used to refer to “a Spanish-speaking person of Latin American
birth or descent who lives in the U.S." Webster’s New World Dictionary 2000.
protection. In its analysis of IIRA, the Court states, “it will affect every employer,
every employee who is charged as an illegal alien, and every prospective employee
especially those who look or act as if they are foreign . . . the Ordinance, unlike its
superior federal counterpart, contains no anti-discrimination provisions.”
IRCA created an Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair
Employment Practices to enforce its anti-discrimination provisions. 8 U.S.C. §
1342b. The head of the Office of Special Counsel testified before Congress in
2002, “[e]ven today, 16 years after the law was passed, we see discriminatory
treatment of U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants based upon whether they appear
or sound foreign.” INS and Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related
Unfair Employment Practices Before the Subcomm. on Immigration and Claims of
the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 107th Cong. 14-29 (2002) (statement of Juan Carlos
Benítez, Special Couns. for Immigr. Related Unfair Emp. Prac. at 16). The Special
Counsel further testified, “[w]e have a number of cases in which United States
citizens of Hispanic origin and lawful immigrants were denied employment
because their lawful documents were rejected by employers as ‘suspicious’ even
though a non-Hispanic U.S. citizen presented similar documents that were
accepted.” Id. at 18.
Social science research supports the testimony of the Special Counsel noting
the connection between race and perceived immigration status and reveals that
laws like Hazleton’s will lead to discrimination in a variety of contexts.
A. Social Science Studies Support the Theory that “Mexican
Appearance” is Equated with Illegal Status
Numerous case studies and survey reports have found that people use the
word, “illegal” interchangeably with “Mexican” to refer generally to persons of
Latin American descent, regardless of their actual origin or immigration status.
For example, in his study of a small rural community in Iowa that experienced an
influx of Latino migrant workers, sociologist Lionel Cantú documents the
perceptions of the newcomers by the racially homogenous community of white
Euro-Americans. Lionel Cantú, The Peripheralization of Rural America: A Case
Study of Latino Migrants in America’s Heartland, 38 Soc. Persp. 399 (1995)
(“Peripheralization”); accord Lozano v. City of Hazleton, 496 F.Supp. 2d 477, 484
(M.D. Pa. 2007) (finding that Hazleton’s population had increased sharply as a
result of an influx of Latino immigrants). Although many of the migrant workers
in Cantú’s study were U.S. citizens from Texas who had migrated north to take
jobs in the local food processing plants, Professor Cantú writes: “[i]n my
interviews with ‘Anglo’ residents of Midtown, many of these respondents assumed
Latinos in Midtown were ‘Mexicans,’ and ‘Mexican’ in this case . . . means
‘illegal outsider.’” Peripheralization at 407. Moreover, in a recent national
survey, when given no qualifier, many respondents interpreted the term
“immigrant” to mean illegal Mexican immigrants. See Karthick Ramakrishnan et.
al., What do you mean by “Immigrant”? Framing Effects and Attitudes Towards
Immigration in a Survey Experiment, presented at Politics of Race, Immigration,
and Ethnicity Consortium conference (Riverside, CA, Feb. 2007) (copy on file at
In another study, Professor Mary Romero analyzed a five day joint operation
between local police and Federal Agents to identify and deport undocumented
individuals in the town of Chandler, Arizona and found the dominant feature of
those questioned by law enforcement was that all were of Mexican ancestry or
Latino. Mary Romero, Racial Profiling and Immigration Law Enforcement:
Rounding Up of Usual Suspects in the Latino Community, 32 Critical Soc. 447,
455-461 (2006) (“Usual Suspects”). Data available for 42 complainants uncovered
that, “11 were U.S. citizens of Mexican ancestry, 15 were Latino legal residents . .
.there is no documentation in the reports or in the newspaper coverage of a white
person stopped during the raid.” Id. at 461.
If the IIRA and RO were to be implemented, landlords and employers
would be tasked with enforcing immigration laws and questioning prospective
employees and tenants about their status. The data, which strongly suggest that
Latino U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are often misjudged to be
undocumented immigrants, demonstrate the importance of the anti-discrimination
protections of federal immigration law. As the District Court found, IIRA strikes
no balance between anti-discrimination and immigration enforcement; as such,
IIRA conflicts significantly with IRCA. The implementation of IIRA and RO
would further exacerbate a well-documented tendency towards profiling Latinos as
illegal immigrants, possibly leading to attendant harms.
B. Social Science Studies Document the Harms That Profiling Latinos
as Undocumented Immigrants Inflict on U.S. Citizens and Legal
Residents: Harassment, Fear and Alienation
In addition to the numerous injuries to the plaintiffs identified in Judge
Munley’s opinion, social science research demonstrates that Latino U.S. citizens
and authorized immigrants are disproportionately impacted by efforts to enforce
immigration laws. Law enforcement and private actors feel justified in questioning
the very presence of Latino residents as they engage in daily activities. Professor
Cantú documented many instances in which documented Mexican workers’ papers
were confiscated and even cases in which U.S. citizens were harassed by Iowa
Department of Transportation officials who issue drivers’ licenses.
Peripheralization at 408. One resident complained that “they were picking up our
birth certificates saying that they were fake and we were illegal aliens.” Id. Based
on this and other interviews, Cantú concludes that Latino U.S. citizens and lawful
permanent residents feel alienated and afraid of being questioned by law
enforcement, despite their awareness of their own lawful status. Id. at 410.
In a survey of second, third and fourth generation Mexican-Americans (by
definition all U.S. citizens) in Garden City, Kansas and Santa Maria, California,
sociologist Tomás Jiménez finds that residents of Mexican descent in Santa Maria
were deeply offended by the Mayor’s proclamation that the town had a “Mexican
problem”. Jiménez notes, “Many respondents still referred to this verbal attack on
Mexican immigrants in the interviews I conducted nearly twelve years after the
fact.” Tomás Jiménez, Mexican-Immigrant Replenishment and the Continuing
Significance Ethnicity and Race, 113 Am. J. Soc. (May 2008), manuscript
available at www.law.berkeley.edu/centers/ewi/research_ImmigrationPolicy.html
(“Mexican-Immigrant Replenishment”). In 123 in-depth interviews, Jiménez
discovers that almost all respondents report, “witnessing anti-Mexican nativism2
perpetrated by non-Mexican friends, peers, co-workers and strangers.” Id. at 21.
Professor Jiménez finds that these experiences of nativism hinder the integration of
later-generation Latinos. Id. at 22. Similarly, in a national survey, the Pew
Hispanic Center found that more than half of Latinos, “say discrimination is a
major problem that is keeping Latinos from succeeding in this country . . .” See
2 Jiménez defines nativism as, “an intense opposition to an internal minority on the ground of its foreign (i.e., ‘un-
American’) connections.” Mexican-Immigrant Replenishment at 20 (citing John Higham, Strangers in the Land:
Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925 (1963)) (internal citations omitted). Pew Hispanic Center, 2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration
Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill (December 2007). This research supports
Judge Munley’s finding that, “there may have been legal residents who did not
desire to live in a town that appeared (to them) to seek to exclude Spanish speaking
residents.” Lozano, 496 F.Supp. 2d at 489.
If local ordinances like the IIRA and RO proliferate, it is likely that
Latinos will seek to live in localities that do not foster nativist tendencies. As a
result, ordinances that appear to target Latino residents will also result in
increasing residential segregation of Latino residents. In fact, recent scholarship
on school segregation finds that, “Latino students have become, by some measures,
the most segregated group by both race and poverty and there are increasing
patterns of triple segregation—ethnicity, poverty and linguistic isolation.” Gary
Orfield and Chungmei Lee, Historic Reversals, Accelerating Resegregation, and
the Need for New Integration Strategies (August 2007) at 31, available at
(last visited on April 15, 2008).
In the Chandler, Arizona sweeps described above, the stops occurred as
residents were participating in harmless activities such as driving, walking in their
neighborhood, riding bikes and shopping. Usual Suspects at 462. Romero
concludes, “The Chandler Roundup fits into a larger pattern of immigration law
enforcement practices that . . . places Mexican Americans at risk before the law
and designates them as second-class citizens with inferior rights. . . During
immigration inspections, individuals stopped were demeaned, humiliated, and
embarrassed.” Id. at 468. Legal scholar Kevin Johnson asserts that, “although
stops and interrogations about citizenship may appear to be minimal intrusions to
people unlikely to be stopped and interrogated, such enforcement practices affect
the sense of belonging to U.S. society of Latino citizens and immigrants.” Kevin
R. Johnson, The Case Against Race Profiling in Immigration Enforcement, 78
Wash. U. L.Q. 675, 711 (2001).
Implementing the IIRA and RO will lead to further ethnic divisions within
Hazleton. As the literature above demonstrates, expressions of nativist tendencies
– whether through legislation or the words of political leaders – reinforce the
notion that Latinos are not full members of U.S. society. This lack of integration
has far-reaching consequences for the political and social incorporation of
authorized Latino immigrants and Latino citizens.
C. Local Law Enforcement and Private Parties Are Not Experts in the
Complex Field of Immigration Document Verification and Instead Rely
on Stereotypes and Bias
Under the Tenant Registration Ordinance (“RO”), a person seeking to rent
housing in Hazleton would need to file for an occupancy permit. In order to
receive an occupancy permit, a person would have to provide, “proper
identification showing proof of legal citizenship and/or residency.” RO at 6.
Although the IIRA and RO do not directly require that law officers enforce the
ordinances, the RO authorizes the Hazleton Police Department, the Code
Enforcement Office, and other local agencies to examine the paperwork of those
seeking occupancy permits. The RO does not provide further guidance or training
for local agencies for their new role as immigration enforcement officers. Under
this procedure, social science suggests that Hazleton law enforcement and other
government agencies are likely to engage in discriminatory behavior when
screening for immigration status.
As Professor Romero explains, this discrimination follows from local law
enforcement agents who do not know how to ask for and verify citizenship status.
These “status” checks are particularly problematic for U.S. citizens of Latino
appearance who have never been asked to prove their citizenship before. In
Professor Romero’s case study of the Chandler, Arizona sweeps, the requests
ranged from the general – “papers”, “identification”, “cards” – to more specific
requests – “Social Security cards”, “green cards”, “drivers’ licenses”. Usual
Suspects at 463. Professor Romero notes that persons were detained, some for
long periods in the 100-degree-plus weather in July, until documentation was
produced. Id. at 462-3. These events highlight local and private actors’ difficulty
in enforcing immigration law due to their unfamiliarity with the various statuses
and documentation that lawful immigrants may carry and how it leads to overly
broad and even illegal requests, mainly directed at citizens of Latino appearance.
Demographic Change and Anti-immigrant Sentiment Have Been
Accompanied by an Increase in Hate Crimes Against Latinos
As noted in the District Court’s opinion, Hazleton’s population increase has
been attributed to a “recent influx of immigrants.” Empirical social science studies
analyzing demographic change have demonstrated the link between increases in
minority populations and parallel increases in hate crimes.3 In an analysis of
patterns of racially-motivated crime in New York City, political scientist Donald
Green finds that demographic change, not economic hardship or inequality,
predicts racially-motivated crime directed at minorities. Donald Green et al.,
Defended Neighborhoods, Integration, and Racially Motivated Crime, 104 Am. J.
Soc. 372 (1998). The study concludes, “(r)acially motivated crime appears to
coincide with patterns of demographic change, rising where non-whites move into
3 Studies have also demonstrated a relationship between demographic change and the enactment of anti-immigrant
ordinances nationwide. In analyzing the demographics of 104 localities, one study found that these initiatives are
correlated with a “rapid increase in the foreign-born or Latino share of the population, especially since 2000” and
that “almost three-quarters of these localities…have populations under 65,000.” Jill Esbenshade, Division and
Dislocation: Regulating Immigration through Local Housing Ordinances, Special Report, Immigration Policy Center
(Summer 2007) at 1. Another study analyzing local ordinances found that those localities that experienced more
“rapid influxes of immigrants were more likely to consider anti-immigrant ordinances,” and that it is the rate of
change and not the absolute number of Hispanic residents, that drives localities’ decisions to adopt these ordinances.
Daniel Hopkins, Threatening Changes: Explaining Where and When Immigrants Provoke Local Opposition,
Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, available at
http://people.iq.harvard.edu/~dhopkins/immpapdjh.pdf (last visited April 16, 2008).
white strongholds and falling where nonwhites have long resided in significant
numbers.” Id. at 397.
Over the past two decades, Latinos have increasingly been the target of hate
crimes in the United States. In 1995, 63% of all hate crimes in the United States
were directed against Hispanics. Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Cause
for Concern: Hate Crimes in America (1997), available at
http://www.empowermentzone.com/hate_rpt.txt (last visited on April 1, 2008).
The rise in hate crimes appears to be correlated with an increase in anti-immigrant
initiatives and ordinances at the state and local level. Following the intense debate
over Proposition 187, hate crimes against Latinos increased dramatically in Los
Angeles, with the County Human Relations Commission reporting an 11.9%
increase in 1994 alone. See id.
As the issue of confronting illegal immigration continues to dominate
national political debates, as well as state and local politics, there has been a
dramatic increase in the number of hate crimes against Latinos nationwide.
According to hate crime statistics published annually by the FBI, anti-Latino hate
crimes rose by almost 35% between 2003 and 2006, the latest year for which
statistics are available. Brentin Mock, Immigration Backlash: Hate Crimes
Against Latinos Flourish, available at
http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=845 (last visited on April
14, 2008) (“Immigration Backlash”). In California, the state with the highest
number of Latinos in the country, anti-Latino hate crimes almost doubled in the
same period. See id. In addition, according to 2006 FBI data, Hispanics
comprised 62.8% of victims of crimes motivated by a bias toward the victims'
ethnicity or national origin. In 2004, hate crimes against Latinos were 51.5% of
the total number of hate crimes.
Table 1: Hate Crimes Against Hispanics in the United States, 2003-20064
2006: 576 anti-Hispanic crimes against 819 victims
2005: 522 anti-Hispanic crimes against 722 victims
2004: 475 anti-Hispanic crimes against 646 victims
2003: 426 anti-Hispanic crimes against 595 victims
The rise in hate crime violence against Hispanics has coincided with the
dramatic increase in the consideration and enactment of anti-immigrant ordinances
at the local level and in racial profiling and discrimination against Hispanics based
on their ethnicity. The increase in anti-Hispanic hate crimes and racial profiling by
state and local officials highlights the danger of placing primary immigration
enforcement in the hands of such officers, particularly without the concurrent civil
rights protections provided for in federal law. This provides further support for
4 Data source for this table: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hate Crime Statistics 2006 (2007), available at
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2006/index.html; see also Immigration Backlash.
upholding federal supremacy in immigration law and disallowing local efforts to
regulate this domain.
E. State Laws That Go Beyond Federal Law Deter Lawful Immigrants
and Even Citizens From Seeking Services For Which They Are Eligible
At the state level, initiatives targeting immigrants have negatively impacted
lawful immigrants’ propensity to access state resources. In Arizona, the passage of
Proposition 200, which requires individuals to produce proof of citizenship prior to
applying for public benefits or registering to vote, had a negative impact on both
legal and undocumented Latino residents of Arizona.
After the passage of Proposition 200, many immigrants and their U.S.-citizen
family members were deterred from seeking services for which they remained
eligible. The media reported drops in visits to health clinics and in participation in
literacy training, nutrition assistance, and health programs, as well as accounts of
domestic violence victims afraid to report abuse and parents confused about
whether to keep their children home from school. Tanya Broder, Most State
Proposals to Restrict Benefits for Immigrants Failed in 2005: Measures Targeting
Immigrants Promised for Next Year at 2, available at
proposals_article_112105.pdf (last visited on April 14, 2008). An Arizona
state representative described the turmoil experienced by his constituents: “A fear
factor has set in. People tell me that they are legal immigrants and their children
are citizens, but they are afraid to apply for the Arizona Health Care Cost
Containment System.” He continued, “They ask me: ‘Should I go to court on a
traffic ticket?’ They say they have witnessed a crime and are afraid to report it.”
Id. (citing John Turner Gilliland, Anti-Immigration Initiative Takes Effect in
Arizona, CNS News (Dec. 24, 2004)).
The experience of Latinos in California after passage of that state’s
Proposition 187 demonstrates the deleterious impact of such legislation on Latinos.
Despite the fact that most of its provisions were invalidated by federal courts:
[T]he harm and political fallout stemming from the initiative
lingers today and contributes to the confusion and fear that prevent
families from securing services. After the initiative passed, there
was a documented rise in hate crimes, as well as harm resulting
from a reluctance [sic] by immigrants to approach government
agencies to report crimes, seek critical services, or otherwise
participate in protecting public health and safety.
Id. In addition, the passage of Proposition 187 affected Latino residents’ use of
mental health and primary care facilities. See Joshua J. Fenton et al., Effect Of
Proposition 187 On Mental Health Service Use In California: A Case Study, 15
Health Aff. (1996) (identifying a 26 percent decrease in the initiation of outpatient
mental health services by younger Latinos at service sites in San Francisco County
following passage of Proposition 187 in 1994); Joshua J. Fenton et al., The Effect
of California’s Proposition 187 on the Use of Primary Care Clinics, 166 W. J.
Med. (Jan. 1997) (reporting that half of clinic directors (51%) surveyed believed
clinic visits declined after the passage of Proposition 187 and many also believed
deterrent effects persisted for weeks to months).
Anti-immigrant raids and other police activity have led to discrimination
against authorized Latino immigrants and substantial harm to U.S.-citizen children,
as well. Sometimes conducted in conjunction with local law enforcement,
immigration raids have often occurred while children are away at school, “[e]ven if
the parent returned within a day or two [after a raid] or soon thereafter, the period
of separation remained current in the child’s memory and created ongoing anxiety
in many cases.” Randolph Capps et al., Paying the Price: The Impact of
Immigration Raids on America's Children (Oct. 2007) at 51, available at
visited on April 7, 2008) (documenting the harmful impact of the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement’s intensified immigration enforcement activities, in the form
of several large-scale worksite raids across the country through an in-depth study
of raids in three communities—Greeley, CO, Grand Island, NE and New Bedford,
MA). Stress manifested itself in loss of appetite, trouble falling asleep, and
increased displays of “acting out.” Id. This indicates that if the IIRA and RO are
implemented, it is likely that there will be a further erosion of trust between the
Latino community and government actors, especially law enforcement and medical
There are over 26 million Latino U.S. citizens residing in the United States;
at least 408,000 of them live in Pennsylvania alone. Pew Hispanic Center,
Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2006 (January 2008),
available at http://pewhispanic.org/files/factsheets/hispanics2006/Table-1.pdf (last
visited April 16, 2008); Migration Policy Institute, 2006 American Community
Survey and Census Data on the Foreign Born by State, available at
http://www.migrationinformation.org/datahub/acscensus.cfm# (last visited April
16, 2008). Social science studies show that if the proliferation of local ordinances
such as Hazleton’s continues, these citizens and many other lawful permanent
residents will face increased discrimination, fear and alienation. In IRCA’s antidiscrimination
provisions, Congress recognized the potential harms of
employment-based immigration enforcement to U.S. citizens and authorized
immigrants. Nevertheless, Hazleton’s ordinances do not offer any protection
against discrimination; as social science research indicates, they are in fact likely to
harm Latino U.S. citizens and authorized immigrants. As a matter of law and
policy, the Warren Institute urges the Court to affirm the District Court’s ruling.
s/ Charles D. Weisselberg__
Aarti Kohli, Esq.
María Blanco, Esq.
CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN
INST. ON RACE, ETHNICITY &
Berkeley Law SchoolBerkeley, CA 94704
Charles D. Weisselberg, Esq.
688 Simon Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
Dated: April 18, 2008 Counsel for Amicus Curiae
Barak Obama on Race and Religion
March 18, 2008,
Text of Obama’s Speech: A More Perfect Union
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.
Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”
“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
New Orleans 2005
Twenty-five Questions about the Murder of the Big Easy
By Mike Davis and Anthony Fontenot
We recently spent a week in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana interviewing relief workers, community activists, urban planners, artists, and neighborhood folks. Even as the latest flood waters from Hurricane Rita recede, the city remains submerged in anger and frustration. Indeed, the most toxic debris in New Orleans isn't the sinister gray sludge that coats the streets of the historic Creole neighborhood of Treme or the Lower Ninth Ward, but all the unanswered questions that have accumulated in the wake of so much official betrayal and hypocrisy. Where outsiders see simple "incompetence" or "failure of leadership," locals are more inclined to discern deliberate design and planned neglect -- the murder, not the accidental death, of a great city.
In almost random order, here are twenty-five of the urgent questions that deeply trouble the local people we spoke with. Until a grand jury
or congressional committee begins to uncover the answers, the moral (as opposed to simply physical) reconstruction of the New Orleans region
will remain impossible.
1. Why did the floodwalls along the 17th Street Canal only break
New Orleans (majority Black) side and not on the Metairie (largely
white) side? Was this the result of neglect and poor maintenance by New
2. Who owned the huge barge that was catapulted through the wall of the
Industrial Canal, killing hundreds in the Lower Ninth Ward -- the most
deadly hit-and-run accident in U.S. history?
3. All of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish east of the Industrial
Canal were drowned, except for the Almonaster-Michoud Industrial
District along Chef Menteur Highway. Why was industrial land apparently
protected by stronger levees than nearby residential neighborhoods?
4. Why did Mayor Ray Nagin, in defiance of his own official disaster
plan, delay twelve to twenty-four hours in ordering a mandatory
evacuation of the city?
5. Why did Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff not declare
Katrina an "Incident of National Significance" until August 31 -- thus
preventing the full deployment of urgently needed federal resources?
6. Why wasn't the nearby U.S.S. Bataan immediately sent to the aid of
New Orleans? The huge amphibious-landing ship had a state-of-the-art,
600-bed hospital, water and power plants, helicopters, food supplies,
and 1,200 sailors eager to join the rescue effort.
7. Similarly, why wasn't the Baltimore-based hospital ship USS Comfort
ordered to sea until August 31, or the 82nd Airborne Division deployed in New Orleans until September 5?
8. Why does Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld balk at making public
his "severe weather execution order" that established the ground rules
for the military response to Katrina? Did the Pentagon, as a recent
report by the Congressional Research Service suggests, fail to take
initiatives within already authorized powers, then attempt to transfer
the blame to state and local governments?
9. Why were the more than 350 buses of the New Orleans Regional
Transportation Authority -- eventually flooded where they were
parked -- not mobilized to evacuate infirm, poor, and car-less
10. What significance attaches to the fact that the chair of the
Transportation Authority, appointed by Mayor Nagin, is Jimmy Reiss, the
wealthy leader of the New Orleans Business Council which has long
advocated a thorough redevelopment of (and cleanup of crime in) the
11. Under what authority did Mayor Nagin meet confidentially in Dallas
with the "forty thieves" -- white business leaders led by Reiss --reportedly to discuss the triaging of poorer Black areas and a
corporate-led master plan for rebuilding the city?
12. Everyone knows about a famous train called "the City of New
Orleans." Why was there no evacuation by rail? Was Amtrak part of the disaster planning? If not, why not?
13. Why were patients at private hospitals like Tulane evacuated by
helicopter while their counterparts at the Charity Hospital were left to suffer and die?
14. Was the failure to adequately stock food, water, potable toilets,
cots, and medicine at the Louisiana Superdome a deliberate decision --
as many believe -- to force poorer residents to leave the city?
15. The French Quarter has one of the highest densities of restaurants
in the nation. Once the acute shortages of food and water at the
Superdome and the Convention Center were known, why didn't officials
requisition supplies from hotels and restaurants located just a few
blocks away? (As it happened, vast quantities of food were simply left
16. City Hall's emergency command center had to be abandoned early in
the crisis because its generator supposedly ran out of diesel fuel.
Likewise many critical-care patients died from heat or equipment
failure after hospital backup generators failed. Why were supplies of
diesel fuel so inadequate? Why were so many hospital generators located
in basements that would obviously flood?
17. Why didn't the Navy or Coast Guard immediately airdrop life
preservers and rubber rafts in flooded districts? Why wasn't such
life-saving equipment stocked in schools and hospitals?
18. Why weren't evacuee centers established in Audubon Park and other
unflooded parts of Uptown, where locals could be employed as cleanup
19. Is the Justice Department investigating the Jim Crow-like response
of the suburban Gretna police who turned back hundreds of desperate New
Orleans citizens trying to walk across the Mississippi River bridge -- an image reminiscent of Selma in 1965? New Orleans, meanwhile, abounds
in eyewitness accounts of police looting and illegal shootings: Will
any of this ever be investigated?
20. Who is responsible for the suspicious fires that have swept the
city? Why have so many fires occurred in blue-collar areas that have
long been targets of proposed gentrification, such as the Section 8
homes on Constance Street in the Lower Garden District or the wharfs
along the river in Bywater?
21. Where were FEMA's several dozen vaunted urban search-and-rescue
teams? Aside from some courageous work by Coast Guard helicopter crews,
the early rescue effort was largely mounted by volunteers who towed
their own boats into the city after hearing an appeal on television.
22. We found a massive Red Cross presence in Baton Rouge but none in
some of the smaller Louisiana towns that have mounted the most
impressive relief efforts. The poor Cajun community of Ville Platte,
for instance, has at one time or another fed and housed more than 5,000
evacuees; but the Red Cross, along with FEMA, have refused almost daily
appeals by local volunteers to send professional personnel and aid. Why
then give money to the Red Cross?
23. Why isn't FEMA scrambling to create a central registry of everyone
evacuated from the greater New Orleans region? Will evacuees recent
absentee ballots and be allowed to vote in the crucial
municipal elections that will partly decide the fate of the city?
24. As politicians talk about "disaster czars" and elite-appointed
reconstruction commissions, and as architects and developers advance
utopian designs for an ethnically cleansed "new urbanism" in New
Orleans, where is any plan for the substantive participation of the
city's ordinary citizens in their own future?
25. Indeed, on the fortieth anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights
what has happened to democracy?
Mike Davis is the author of many books including City of Quartz, Dead Cities and Other Tales, and the just published Monster at our Door, The
Global Threat of Avian Flu (The New Press) as well as the forthcoming Planet of Slums (Verso).
Anthony Fontenot is a New Orleans architect and community-design activist, currently working at Princeton University.
Copyright 2005 Mike Davis and Anthony Fontenot
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS A THREAT TO WORLD PEACE
September 10, 2002
In a rare interview, the South African demands that George W. Bush win United Nations support before attacking Iraq.
Nelson Mandela, 84, may be the world's most respected statesman. Sentenced to life in prison on desolate Robben Island in 1964 for advocating armed resistance to apartheid in South Africa, the African National Congress leader emerged in 1990 to lead his country in a transition to non-racial elections. As president, his priority was racial reconciliation; today South Africans of all races refer to him by his Xhosa clan honorific, Madiba. Mandela stepped down in 1999 after a single five-year term. He now heads two foundations focused on children. He met with NEWSWEEK'S Tom Masland early Monday morning in his office in Houghton, a Johannesburg suburb, before flying to Limpopo Province to address traditional leaders on the country's AIDS crisis.
NEWSWEEK: Why are you speaking out on Iraq? Do you want to mediate, as you tried to on the Mideast a couple of years ago? It seems you are reentering the fray now.
NELSON MANDELA: If I am asked, by credible organizations, to mediate, I will consider that very seriously. But a situation of this nature does not need an individual, it needs an organization like the United Nations to mediate.
We must understand the seriousness of this
situation. The United States has made serious mistakes in the
conduct of its foreign affairs, which have had unfortunate
repercussions long after the decisions were taken.
support of the Shah of Iran led directly to the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Then the United States chose to arm and finance the [Islamic] mujahedin in Afghanistan instead of supporting and encouraging the moderate wing of the government of Afghanistan. That is what led to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
But the most catastrophic action of the United States was to sabotage the decision that was painstakingly stitched together by the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending to the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms. And you will notice that France, Germany Russia, China are against this decision. It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America. If you look at those factors, you'll see that an individual like myself, a man who has lost power and influence, can never be a suitable mediator.
NEWSWEEK: What about the argument that's being made about the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's efforts to build a nuclear weapons. After all, he has invaded other countries, he has fired missiles at Israel. On Thursday, President Bush is going to stand up in front of the United Nations and point to what he says is evidence of...
NELSON MANDELA: Scott Ritter, a former United
Nations arms inspector who is in Baghdad, has said that there is no
evidence whatsoever of development of weapons of] mass destruction.
Neither Bush nor [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair has provided
any evidence that such weapons exist. But what we know is that
Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody talks about that. Why
should there be one standard for one country, especially because it
is black, and another one for another country, Israel, that is
NEWSWEEK: So you see this as a racial question?
NELSON MANDELA: Well, that element is there. In fact, many people say quietly, but they don't have the courage to stand up and say publicly, that when there were white secretary generals you didn't find this question of the United States and Britain going out of the United Nations. But now that you've had black secretary generals like Boutros Boutros Ghali, like Kofi Annan, they do not respect the United Nations. They have contempt for it. This is not my view, but that is what is being said by many people.
NEWSWEEK: What kind of compromise can you see that might avoid the coming confrontation?
NELSON MANDELA: There is one compromise and one only, and that is the United Nations. If the United States and Britain go to the United Nations and the United Nations says we have concrete evidence of the existence of these weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we feel that we must do something about it, we would all support it.
NEWSWEEK: Do you think that the Bush
administration's U.N. diplomatic effort now is genuine, or is the
President just looking for political cover by
speaking to the U.N. even as he remains intent on forging ahead
NELSON MANDELA: Well, there is no doubt that the United States now feels that they are the only superpower in the world and they can do what they like. And of course we must consider the men and the women around the president. Gen. Colin Powell commanded the United States army in peacetime and in wartime during the Gulf war. He knows the disastrous effect of international tension and war, when innocent people are going to die, young men are going to die. He knows and he showed this after September 11 last year. He went around briefing the allies of the United States of America and asking for their support for the war in Afghanistan. Dick Cheney, [Defense secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, they are people who are unfortunately misleading the president. Because my impression of the president is that this is a man with whom you can do business. But it is the men who around him who are dinosaurs, who do not want him to belong to the modern age. The only man, the only person who wants to help Bush move to the modern era is Gen. Colin Powell, the secretary of State.
NEWSWEEK: I gather you are particularly concerned
about Vice President
NELSON MANDELA: Well, there is no doubt. He opposed the decision to release me from prison (laughs). The majority of the U.S. Congress was in favor of my release, and he opposed it. But it's not because of that. Quite clearly we are dealing with an arch-conservative in Dick Cheney.
NEWSWEEK: I'm interested in your decision to speak out now about Iraq. When you left office, you said, "I'm going to go down to Transkei, and have a rest." Now maybe that was a joke at the time. But you've been very active.
NELSON MANDELA: I really wanted to retire and rest and spend more time with my children, my grandchildren and of course with my wife. But the problems are such that for anybody with a conscience who can use whatever influence he may have to try to bring about peace, it's difficult to say no.