Compiled by Rachel Barr, a Summer 2012 intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Washington Post
Florida has recently been under the microscope in terms of voting rights as the state has reviewed voter registration rolls and has developed a list of people who are to be purged. People who are listed as non-citizens are being notified by mail of their ineligibility to vote. Unfortunately, the registration rolls and database have inaccuracies, and citizens who have voted for years must now submit proof of citizenship in order to maintain their eligibility to vote. According to a Miami Herald analysis, many of the voters on the purge list are Democrats, independents, and Hispanics, and the review was ordered by Republican Governor Rick Scott. Under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, states cannot carry out such reviews and purges of lists less than 90 days before a state-wide election, and in many cases approval from the Justice Department is needed for these types of changes.
The Washington Post
For most high school seniors, graduation day is a long awaited and exciting event where students celebrate their accomplishments and look forward to their futures. For Heydi Mejia of Chesterfield, Virginia, graduation was much different; it was the end of the road. Mejia came to the United States illegally with her mother at the age of four. Though they were caught crossing the border, the two did not appear in court for their trial and instead moved to Virginia where they have lived ever since. Now, more than a decade later, Mejia and her mother are being deported back to Guatemala just days after the girl’s high school graduation.
Despite appeals from Mejia, which included SAT scores, letters from her teachers and principle, and transcripts, immigration officials have denied the request to reopen her case. Today, there is still no federal legislation that would help students who have come to the U.S. illegally. While some top ranked students have been granted leniency to stay in the U.S., many students like Mejia, who ranked 22nd at her high school and participated in AP classes and National Honor Society, will not be given residency permits and will be deported to their home countries.
The Los Angeles Times
Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction John Huppenthal took seriously a state law passed in 2010 that makes school programs that “promote resentment toward a race or class or people,” encourage “the overthrow of the U.S.,” or support “ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals” illegal. After the law took effect last year, Huppenthal declared the Tuscon Unified School District’s Mexican American studies program illegal. But as The Times, an independent audit last year showed that in reality the ethnic studies program promotes tolerance. Huppenthal ignored the audit and instead threatened to pull $14 million of state funding if the Tuscon school district did not disband the program. A federal court is currently reviewing the case in Tuscon to ensure that the district is in compliance with a 1974 desegregation order that originally established the ethnic studies program.