Editor's note: Angela M. Kelley is vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research and policy institute.
(CNN) - Working diligently for over four months, a bipartisan group of senators - the so-called Gang of Eight - has accomplished a remarkable feat: They have produced an immigration bill that is pragmatic, creative and forward looking. The bill, introduced early Wednesday, is - like any big piece of legislation - a compromise.
Stakeholders will find parts they love and parts they loathe.
First, the parts to love: The senators have largely navigated a dizzyingly complex arena - U.S. immigration policy - in ways that while not perfect, would substantially improve the dysfunctional status quo.
Among other things, the bill would bring the nation's 11.1 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and put them on a road to citizenship. It would increase and streamline border security, mandate a national employment verification system and eliminate the visa backlogs that have caused decades-long family separations. And it would promote economic competitiveness by revamping employment-based immigration so that business can bring in needed workers while still protecting the wages and jobs of American workers.
It is a remarkable starting point but with several crucial missed opportunities.FULL STORY
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - By the time Clarence Jones reached him, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was in bad shape.
He was unshaven, dirty and dejected. King had spent several days alone in solitary confinement with no mattress in a filthy dark jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama.
"Take this out of here," King whispered as he grabbed Jones' belt and stuffed bawled-up newspapers and toilet tissue down his pants.
Jones, King's lawyer, wondered if King was starting to lose it. He didn't pay attention to what King had given him - it was just a mish-mash of words and arrows scribbled on bits of paper.
"Not until five days later did I actually read a mimeographed copy of the letter," says Jones. "To be honest with you, I was more worried about bail money, not what he had written."
Millions of people have since read what Jones first ignored. As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" on Tuesday, the document has become an American epistle. It's considered a classic defense of civil disobedience.
But those who see King's letter as just a tract on nonviolent resistance make the same mistake King's lawyer made: They miss what's special about something that's right in front of their eyes, some King scholars say.
The letter is one of the most intimate snapshots of a King most people don't know: An angry black man who once hated white people and, according to one scholar, was more dangerous than Malcolm X, a man King admired.
"Before everything else, (the letter) is a black man's cry of pain, anger and defiance," says Jonathan Rieder, author of the just-released "Gospel of Freedom," which looks at the "furious truth teller" revealed in King's classic letter.
King's blackness - his fierce racial pride, his distinctively black Christian faith and his belief that most whites were "unconscious racists" - is on full display in his letter, scholars say. The anger that drove King's letter would become more prominent in the speeches King gave until, literally, his last hours, Rieder says.FULL STORY
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) - The border with Mexico must be secure.
This requirement is the cornerstone of an immigration reform bill a bipartisan group of senators are to file on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. There will be no path to legal residency for migrants without it.
Undocumented immigrants may also not reach the status of fully legal residents under the proposed legislation, until the Department of Homeland Security has implemented measures to prevent "unauthorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States."
The bill drafted by the "Gang of Eight" senators stipulates that the security of "high risk border sectors along the Southern border" must be verified, before most undocumented immigrants can access pathways to legal residency laid out in the proposed legislation.
The bill makes exceptions for those eligible for the DREAM Act, law-abiding immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors and completed high school in the country. It also includes allowances for certain agricultural laborers.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker, writer and president of BK Nation, a new national and multicultural organization focused on civic engagement and community development. He is the author of “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.” Follow him on Twitter: @kevin_powell.
By Kevin Powell, Special to CNN
(CNN) - I love baseball, deeply.
I played stickball and punchball growing up on the potholed streets of Jersey City, and dreamed of becoming a second baseman for the New York Yankees.
I hungrily digested book after book on historic and mythical figures such as Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb, and played Little League, Babe Ruth League and high school baseball.
Little did I know that Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball in the modern era, had created the possibility of dreams for black boys like me. As a child I only vaguely knew that he broke baseball's color line.
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) - Every gang needs a leader. And what has become undeniably clear in recent days is that the de facto leader of the Gang of Eight is Marco Rubio.
The Florida lawmaker, and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, appeared on seven Sunday talk shows, discussing - in English and Spanish - the specifics of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he hammered out with three other Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats. The legislation is expected to be formally unveiled on Tuesday.
This means that, by Wednesday, just about everyone will be angry. Conservatives will declare the provisions of the bill too lenient, while Hispanics will condemn them as too punitive. Welcome to the immigration debate.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Adriana Leon (Aguilar) is the lead plaintiff in Aguilar v. ICE, a case brought by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Winston and Strawn LLP against the Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency for its armed raids into Latino homes.
By Adriana Leon, Special to CNN
(CNN) - In the cold, predawn hours of February 20, 2007, shortly after 4 a.m., armed men stormed into the home I owned with my family and burst into my bedroom, shouting at me to show my hands.
My husband had left for work, and our 4-year-old son began to cry with fright. I stumbled out of bed in my nightclothes to the family living area, terrified and confused. Two armed men were coming upstairs from our basement, having searched it without permission, and others were demanding that we tell them the location of my ex-husband, with whom I had not lived for several years. As I had reported to the immigration service on my daughters' citizenship applications, I had been remarried for four years.
The men acted as if they had the right to be in our home, but we knew to ask questions: Who were they? Did they have a warrant? They refused to identify themselves or show a warrant, and they put their hands on their guns when we tried to move.
They interrogated my 12-year-old daughter and ordered my brother, a U.S. citizen since he was a teenager, to produce his papers. That's when I realized the men were U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. When they left, they threatened to return.FULL STORY
By Julie Cannold, CNN
New York (CNN) - A Brooklyn man was arrested and charged on Thursday with hate crimes after 12 mezuzahs were set ablaze as they hung on door frames outside Jews' homes.
Ruben Ubiles, 34, was arrested on 17 charges, many of them hate crimes, including burglary, arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, according to the New York Police Department.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - At 7, Analouisa Valencia was crowned Palmetto Princess in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She relished it - and like a lot of little girls, she dreamed of becoming Miss America one day.
In a few months, Valencia, now 19, will take the stage for the Miss South Carolina contest, hoping for victory and a chance to compete for the coveted national title.
But she's no ordinary contestant. She will mark a first in her conservative home state.
Valencia's father is from Mexico; her mother, an African-American. Valencia came out as a lesbian when she was in the ninth grade and took her girlfriend Tamyra Bell to her high school prom.
She was already shredding stereotypes of beauty pageants because she's biracial. But a lesbian beauty pageant contestant from South Carolina?
"I just really wanted to be an advocate for equality for everyone this year," she says on the phone before heading off to classes at Spartanburg Community College. She eventually wants to earn a business degree at the University of South Carolina.
Her participation in the Miss South Carolina contest is in part a human rights campaign: she is promoting rights for people with special needs (she coaches Special Olympics gymnasts), for racial minorities, for gay people.
She has already thought about her answers if the judges question her on this score. She will be perfectly open and honest about who she is, about their opinions.
"I want to show the judges who I really am," she says. "I want to show them how passionate I am about my platform, how passionate I am for being an advocate for equality."
South Carolina ranks low nationally on LGBT rights. It bans same-sex marriage, does not afford employment, housing or hate-crime protections for LGBT people and has unconstitutional sodomy laws still on the books.
For Valencia to make a run for Miss South Carolina is "courageous," says Ryan Wilson, the executive director of the South Carolina Equality Coalition, a statewide LGBT civil rights group.
"I think it takes a lot of courage for any young person to live openly and authentically. We are extremely proud of Analouisa," Wilson says.
He says beauty pageant contestants can be stereotyped, but they can often afford young women a chance to show leadership.
"She can be a role model for LGBT youth," Wilson says.
There hasn't been negative feedback, Valencia says. So far.
But she's prepared to cope with ugliness if it surfaces. For the time being, she's enjoying her title of Miss Lyman, her hometown just a few miles from Spartanburg.
She's been taking voice lessons every Friday. At the Miss South Carolina pageant in July, she will sing Leona Lewis' "Footprints in the Sand." She's confident she will make an impression.
(CNN) - Randi Kaye reports on the international custody battle over Elián González 13 years ago, and what's happened since then.