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Are you voting tomorrow?

Tomorrow is voting day, so make sure you get out there and vote. Here are some things that might motivate you to make your vote count and have your voice heard in the 2010 elections-

Our friends at Colorlines have been running a blog section on their website called ’2010 Elections’ that keeps you up to date with all news, events, and information pertaining to the mid-term elections. Their latest entry features Senator Harry Reid’s interview with Univision in which he promised Univision reporter Jorge Ramos that he would bring the DREAM Act up for a vote again, regardless of whether he won or lost tomorrow’s election. Reid’s opponent is a Tea Party supporter Sharron Angle, who’s election campaign centered around a series of racist, anti-immigrant ads. Another article on ’2010 Elections’ illustrates the hypocrisy of Republican strategist Robert de Posada, the man who created the ad that advised the Latino community not to vote in this election. Colorlines tells us that after creating this ad that told Latinos not to vote, it turns out that he himself voted by absentee ballot in Virginia earlier this month. The ad says-

Democratic leaders must pay for their broken promises and betrayals…If we go on supporting them this November, they will keep playing games with our future and keep taking our vote for granted…If they didn’t keep their promise on immigration reform then, they can’t count on our vote…Don’t vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted. Don’t vote.

It is exactly this sort of voter suppression that we need to fight by voting tomorrow. Our friends at Presente.org told us about this and other voter suppression tactics that have been seen impacting the Latino community and their allies around the country. In Texas, a voter registration group called Houston Votes has been the victim of a systematic suppression campaign, including baseless allegations of fraud by the local registrar, and a string of threatening emails strewn with racist insults. The result: registrations have dropped from 1,000 per day to under 200. In Arizona, Senator Russel Pearce — the same man who authored SB 1070 — is accusing organizations like Mi Familia Vota of “voter fraud” in a thinly veiled effort to hamper their registration activities and scare Latino voters from the polls.

A number of radicals are resorting to fear-mongering and scare tactics to ensure that certain communities are denied a voice in this election. In addition to voting tomorrow, get involved with an important project called Video the Vote, a national network of everyday people on who watch out for problems on Election Day. The project helps people report things they see when voting and also document incidents that occur in their area. Started in 2006, Video the Vote volunteers have helped raise national awareness of voting problems by recording over 1,000 videos that have been broadcast on networks like CBS, CNN, and ABC and viewed over 1 million times online.

It’s essential that voter suppression problems get reported right away and that their full story is told by the media on Election Day. Video the Vote urgently needs more volunteers, so if you want to help protect the right to vote, join today and tell your friends about the program as well.

And one last thing. Did you know that thousands of people didn’t cast in 2008 because they didn’t know where to vote? Luckily, for the first time in American history, every voter can now look up their polling place. All you have to do is enter your address to find out which polling station is yours. And make sure to share this handy tool with your friends through Facebook and Twitter.

Happy voting!

Photo courtesy of colorlines.com

CNN and ABC stories show impact of unfair immigration laws

As the countdown to Arizona’s SB1070 law draws nearer (July 29th), and Congress continues to skirt the issue of immigration reform, a number of excellent stories have emerged from the news on our broken immigration system. A shocking story on CNN reveals how every day, Americans are wrongfully deported because of a broken system, and many worry the problem could get worse. They interview one such U.S. citizen who was wrongfully deported to Jamaica in 1999 and finally able to return ten long years later. And even though he knew was a citizen, he was given a deadly choice – stay in detention indefinitely and fight your case, or leave and gain your freedom. Laws like SB1070 will only suck more U.S. citizens into the deportation pipeline, just like in this case, denying adequate due process to many.

On ABC, a 10 part special series “Out of the Shadows” illustrates the constant struggle of 10 undocumented immigrants and their impact on America. In the first of the series, Mohammad Abdollahi, an undocumented Iranian immigrant comes bravely forward, arrested after staging a sit-in in Arizona to persuade Senator John McCain to support the DREAM Act. Mohammad is gay, and faces deportation to Iran, a country where homosexuality is a capital crime. If he doesn’t gain asylum, he could face real danger in the country he barely knows as home. Stay tuned for more stories.

So what is Congress doing about the broken immigration system. We got to hear a few of their thoughts at Netroots Nations, a large gathering of progressive bloggers, non profits and filmmakers mobilizing the online space for good. An impressive line up of speakers included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Most everyone spoke of the difficulty of passing immigration reform in an election year, but with more stories like these coming to the fore, maybe Congress will realize the ramifications of our broken immigration system on the ideals we hold dear, due process, fairness, and justice. Because when we deny due process to some, we put all of our freedoms at risk.

Immigration reform was a strong theme at Netroots Nation and Restore Fairness was on some excellent panels. Presenting with some other incredible films, Restore Fairness screened at the Immigration Screening Series alongside Speaking in Tongues, a film on language and its importance at breaking down barriers between ourselves and our neighbors, and Not In Our Town, focusing on the murder of a 37-year-old Latino immigrant Patchogue, New York. A lively discussion on race, immigration and pluralism followed. Restore Fairness was also on a distinguished panel with other immigration advocates – “Crimmigration Under Obama: Pushing back against the “enforcement-only” immigration regime”. Immigration enforcement under the Obama administration has continued almost unchanged from the Bush administration even as Department of Homeland Security officials have promised to reform the immigration detention system. A growing collaboration between local police and immigration enforcement is being encouraged, its worst manifestation seen in Arizona’s SB1070. And despite moving away from massive workplace raids, the agency has continued home and business raids under the radar. All in all – overall levels of deportation have actually increased under President Obama. Meanwhile, legislative reform is stalled in Congress. Watch it here.

As July 29th approaches, the state of Arizona is ill prepared for the consequences of SB1070 which will likely include many due process violations, racial profiling and an even more broken immigration system.