The Media Silence About
New Orleans, Louisiana
July 29, 2011, marked the first year anniversary of Arizona's infamous SB 1070 officially becoming a law, and since, it has spawned other states to follow. The new confederacy of Southern states signing harsh anti-immigrant laws has grown considerably this summer, and Tennessee is expected to join South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia with similar Arizona copy-cat laws that demonize Latino immigrants. In Louisiana, the great news is that two such laws, not one but two, were actually voluntarily withdrawn by their respective legislators. A highly effective grassroots campaign and coalition to oppose the passing of these bills was formed by local organizations such as the Congress of Day Laborers, PUENTES New Orleans, Catholic Charities, and the Jesuit Social Research Institute of Loyola University.
Representative Ernest Wooton, an Independent from the Belle Chase area, was forced to voluntarily withdraw his bill called The Louisiana Citizen’s Protection Act or H.B. 411 in a legislative session on June 6 in Baton Rouge. Wooton made a show of continuously identifying "illegal aliens" with exaggerated emphasis on the word "illegal". Had it passed, his bill empowered local and state police to detain anyone they suspected of being undocumented. The $11 million fiscal expense to implement his bill was not received favorably by Louisiana legislators already grappling with a $1.6 billion budget deficit. However, even the state's conservative lawmakers did not exhibit a bloodlust to criminalize Latino immigrants who have been vital to the recovery of this Gulf State post-Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and post-BP oil spill. I filmed three legislatives sessions in Baton Rouge, and while I am no fan of this state's red conservative tendencies, I have to confess that Wooton's colleagues did not exhibit his outrageous passion in trying to pass his odious bill.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune daily hardly mentioned it and public radio stations have been silent as well. One would think that this would be great news to profile for the local and statewide Latino community and for the national community in general. Unlike its neighboring states of Alabama and Georgia, Louisiana has not joined in passing another Juan Crow law.
When an Immigrant Dies in New Orleans …
Sadly but not surprising, there was hardly any news coverage in the local media or public radio station about this tragedy, and it exemplifies how little immigrant lives matter in New Orleans, a city that has been rebuilt by thousands of Latino immigrants after the storm. Currently, Latino immigrants are fighting for the RIGHT TO REMAIN in a city that they have reconstructed, but they live in a parallel universe where their suffering goes unnoticed.
Published in In Motion Magazine August 25, 2011
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