Administration begins to pare down immigration cases
The Obama administration says it will drop cases against immigrants with no criminal histories.
November 17th, 2011
06:12 PM ET

Administration begins to pare down immigration cases

By The CNN Wire

(CNN) - The Obama administration said Thursday it immediately will begin reviewing all new immigration cases to make sure they comply with administration priorities - which focus on pursuing cases involving criminals who endanger public safety or national security, while dropping cases against immigrants with no criminal histories.

Beginning December 4, officials will begin to apply the same criteria to the backlog of some 300,000 deportation cases pending in federal immigration courts, beginning with courts in Baltimore and Denver.

The policy was touted by administration officials as "smart and effective immigration enforcement."

Immigrant communities have long sought the change, but critics blast it as a "backdoor amnesty program."


Court: California same-sex marriage fight can continue
Supporters and opponents of banning same-sex marriage in California clashed in front of a courthouse last year.
November 17th, 2011
01:48 PM ET

Court: California same-sex marriage fight can continue

By Bill Mears, CNN

(CNN) - A complex legal fight over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage is back on track after California's highest court on Thursday allowed an appeal over a controversial ballot initiative to move ahead in federal court.

At issue is Proposition 8, a voter-approved measure that would recognize marriage only between one man and one woman. A federal judge had earlier struck down the law as a violation of equal protection, prompting an appeal to a higher court.

The sticking point was who would defend "Prop 8" in court, after the state's top officials– including the governor and attorney general– refused to do so. A federal appeals court had asked the California Supreme Court to weigh in and decide whether supporters of the law - called the "official proponents" - could take the place of state officials.

In its ruling Thursday, the state high court said yes.


Engage: National Book Award winners announced; EPA takes action against plant
Jesmyn Ward's novel "Salvage the Bones" was a suprise National Book Award winner.
November 17th, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Engage: National Book Award winners announced; EPA takes action against plant

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported, untold stories from undercovered communities.

Jesmyn Ward's second novel a surprise National Book Award fiction winner
"Salvage the Bones" unpacks how a Mississippi family deals with Hurricane Katrina.  Author Jesmyn Ward spoke of her inspiration in her acceptance speech: "I understood that I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor and the black and the rural people of the South, so that the culture that marginalized us for so long would see that our stories were as universal, our lives as fraught and lovely and important as theirs." –The Los Angeles Times

EPA: Arizona copper plant emitting dangerous substances for years, state failed to take action
Residents of Hayden, Arizona, a community of 900 poor, mostly Latino residents had long complained about health problems. "The company has been continuously emitting illegal amounts of lead, arsenic and eight other dangerous compounds for six years."  - National Public Radio- Center for Public Integrity FULL POST

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November 17th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

Opinion: Jim Crow revisited through Alabama's immigration law

Editor's note: Martin Luther King III is president and chief executive officer of The King Center in Atlanta. Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO.

By Martin Luther King III and Richard Trumka, Special to CNN

(CNN) - It is one of the painful ironies of our time that in the same season Martin Luther King Jr.'s memory is finally honored with a memorial in our nation's capital, the state where he began to lead the civil rights movement is once more the center of an ugly conflict over racial injustice.

The passage of Alabama's anti-immigrant legislation, HB 56, invokes inhumanity reminiscent of the Jim Crow South. And the police state it has created is equally cruel.

If the law stands, children will be denied admission to public schools if they can't prove their citizenship, and schools will be turned into enforcement operations. Poor people of color will be ripped from their families if they are caught in public without their papers in order. Samaritans and people of conscience who employ, harbor or help undocumented workers will be severely punished.

Read the full commentary

The unlikely Occupier who just can't stop
Jeannie Lee was unmoved by the early days of Occupy Wall Street. Now, she can't tear herself away.
November 17th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

The unlikely Occupier who just can't stop

Editor’s Note: Jeannie H. Lee has been a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. She received a Masters of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and previously worked as a community organizer with Church Women United.

By Jeannie H. Lee, Special to CNN

Something revolutionary has happened to me: Occupy.

Occupy Wall Street has radically transformed my life.

Until a month ago, I merely watched from afar, in print and on TV, as Occupy Wall Street took shape. There was nothing on the Occupy agenda that moved me into action.

That’s changed. My participation at first was innocuous; I went down to Zuccotti Park out of curiosity. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years, but my past work as a community organizer had stirred my interest. I still wanted to help the movement for justice, especially as it relates to our children’s futures.

The fire was truly lit under me when the phrase “marginalized communities” was used at one of the first Occupy organizational meetings I attended. Folks at the meeting kept saying how the “marginalized communities” had to come to Occupy, to “them,” to Zuccotti Park, where New York’s Occupy movement was based.

They were referring to people like me.