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State Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal Has A Grande Problem With Mark Parkinson's Immigration Law

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Maria Chappelle-Nadal is smiling but really she's outraged.
Last week, we reported on HB 2449 and Rep. Mark Parkinson's plan to propose a strict new immigration law in Missouri similar to the one recently enacted in Arizona.

On Monday, the Republican from St. Charles explained that he introduced the bill because 95 percent of his constituents want him to "get tough" on illegal immigration and that he wants to "make sure the people who are employed in Missouri are first and foremost citizens."

Today, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, one of Parkinson's colleagues on the Missouri House Committee for Immigration Reform volunteered to explain why HB 2449 is tantamount to "legislative idiocracy."

Rep. Maria Chapelle-Nadal is a Democrat from University City and a member of the National Hispanic Council of State Legislators. Needless to say, she's not a fan of Parkinson's work.

Sit down, fix yourself another margarita and savor the flavor of one pissed-off politician completely eviscerating the ideas of another:

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A Q&A With State Rep. Mark Parkinson, Supporter of an Arizona-style Immigration Law for Missouri

Categories: Immigration
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Mark Parkinson: "95 percent of my constituents wanted me to get tough on illegal immigration"
Last week, Daily RFT reported on HB 2449, a bill introduced in the state House of Representatives that would stiffen penalties for people who "harbor" undocumented immigrants in Missouri and make it "unlawful for any illegal alien to transport himself or herself within the state of Missouri."

The sponsor of the bill is Rep. Mark Parkinson, a Republican from St. Charles. In an interview last Friday, Parkinson said that he has a drafted a substitute for the bill that is "identical" to the controversial law enacted recently in Arizona. We also discussed the potential ramifications of a such a law in Missouri and why he thinks it's necessary.

Why did you introduce this legislation?

It's just some more stiffer penalties for being here in the state of Missouri if you're an illegal. To me it's an economic issue. If you're here illegally you're taking a job. That's the main magnet if you're coming to Missouri. if we can eliminate as many of those magnets as possible we'll have fewer illegals. The vast majority are taking jobs at substandard wages. With the economy struggling to come back and unemployment at about ten percent, I want to make sure the people who are employed in Missouri are first and foremost citizens. If we have a surplus of jobs they can go through federal programs to come here and work.

What about the argument that most of the jobs undocumented immigrants are working are low-paying ones that the average unemployed American doesn't want?

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Pro-Immigrant-Rights Rally Featuring Gigantic Puppets Planned for Saturday

Categories: Immigration
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Puppetistas takin' people power to the streets
It was originally planned by the United Methodist Women as a general "public faith-based vigil for immigrant, civil and human rights."

But ever since the Arizona legislature passed their controversial immigration law last week, and Missouri state rep Mark Parkinson of St. Charles proposed something similar, all kinds of folks are buzzing about the rally downtown tomorrow.

Organizer Yamil Anglada says she's expecting about 1,500 people -- and a fleet of twelve-foot puppets -- to leave America's Center at 11:30 a.m. and march to Kiener Plaza. She says that a big part of the rally will be calling for the City of St. Louis to issue an ordinance that would make racial profiling illegal.

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The Next State to Pass an Arizona-style Immigration Law? It Might be Missouri.

Categories: Immigration
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The flag in the background is all the proof of citizenship Mark Parkinson needs.
Update 4/30/2010 2:24 p.m.: In a phone interview, Parkinson told Daily RFT that when he introduced HB 2449 on April 1 he was unaware of the issues in Arizona. After the state's Governor signed the controversial bill into law and the debate went national he drafted a committee substitute for his own bill that is "identical" to Arizona's law.

"Obviously in this session it's way, way too late to get it passed," Parkinson says. "Upfront this issue would be lucky to make it to the house floor this year, let alone get to the senate. There have been some court cases with the Arizona law too. I want to read what those [judicial] opinions are based on, what they say and make some alterations to the bill and I'll maybe file it again next year."

We'll have a transcript of the entire interview Monday on Daily RFT. Original post follows....

Arizona's strict new immigration law gives police the authority to check a person's documentation when "reasonable suspicion" exists that the suspect is in the country illegally. As public outrage against the measure grows, prompting protests, and legal challenges on the grounds that it is thinly veiled racial profiling, Republican leaders in some states are considering similar measures.

So which legislature is most likely follow-through and make their state as ignominious as Arizona? Even though we're roughly 800 miles away from the Mexican border, it might be Missouri.

Rep. Mark Parkison, a Republican from St. Charles, is the sponsor of HB 2449. Introduced earlier this month, the bill "creates various crimes for trafficking, concealing, harboring, sheltering, or transporting illegal aliens."

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Most Immigrants in St. Louis Work White-Collar Jobs, Says New York Times

Categories: Immigration
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Check out the front page of The New York Times this morning for this eyebrow-raising factoid about our fair city's immigrant pool:

According to a new analysis of census data, more than half of the working immigrants in this metropolitan area [of St. Louis] hold higher-paying white-collar jobs -- as professionals, technicians or administrators -- rather than lower-paying blue-collar and service jobs.
Curiously, the story never mentions one major problem with relying on census numbers to study immigrant demographics: the undocumented don't always mail in their census forms for fear that USCIS will come a-knocking. Because many of these folks work blue-collar jobs, their prominence will thus be underrepresented in the census.

But the story's still worth a read. Local Bosnian, Latin American and Chinese immigrant success stories all get some play.


St. Charles Representatives Team Up to Stop Foreigners from Driving in Missouri

Categories: Immigration, News
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Chuck Gatschenberger
So, just for fun, let's review how St. Charles state representatives are banning together to stop all those funny speaking foreigners (read: suspected illegal aliens) from driving in Missouri.

First there's Chuck Gatschenberger (R - St. Charles County) who -- when not filing legislation having to do with expanding gun rights, drug-testing the poor and repealing federal health care legislation -- has filed no fewer than three bills this session aimed at keeping foreign-language speakers off Missouri roads.

They are:
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Immigration Activists Can't Take Joke; Protest "Illegal Alien" Halloween Costume

Categories: Immigration, News
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I subscribe to an email list-serve for immigration issues. The email thread can -- at times -- be helpful for discovering news bits on legislative concerns, law enforcement initiatives and social matters important to the foreign-born community. 

So when the following email showed up four times in my inbox today, I figured it must be of great urgency and import. That is, until I read the subject line "Illegal Alien" Halloween costume is offensive" and saw the picture (right) attached to the email.

An offensive "illegal alien" costume is being sold at Toys R Us and Amazon.com as well as other stores.
According to these websites, for just $39.99, you can now dress up as an "illegal alien" for Halloween. These stores are selling the costume made up of an orange jumpsuit with the words "illegal alien" written across the chest. The costume even comes with a mask of a space invader with big eyes, and a green card.

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Acción Social "On Hold" After Founder and Executive Director William Chignoli Resigns

Categories: Immigration, News
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photo by Jennifer Silverberg
William Chignoli on the steps of ASC's clinic on South Grand
Just two months ago, the low-cost immigrant healthcare center La Clinica closed its doors owing to lack of funding. 

Now Acción Social Comunitaria, a local nonprofit that offers a broad array of social services for low-income minority groups, is "on hold" after William Chignoli, the organization's founder and executive director, resigned from his leadership position last week.

Chignoli, who was profiled in an RFT feature story in March, founded ASC in 1993 while studying to become an ordained Methodist minister at Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves. The organization began as a means of providing mental health care, clothing and food to impoverished Latino immigrants. Since then services have expanded to include in-home meals for the elderly, vaccinations, after-school tutoring for Hispanic children, bilingual parent training and case management.

In an e-mail to Riverfront Times, Chignoli writes that he left ASC because of its recent financial struggles, which culminated with a decision last month by the organization's board of directors to cancel a fundraiser he had planned that was to be hosted by NPR and Fox News correspondent Juan Williams (emphasis added):

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8th U.S. Circuit Court to Mexican Immigrants: "Adios, illegals!"

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Jennifer Silverberg
Former Valley Park Mayor Jeffery Whitteaker led the fight to pass the anti-illegal immigrant ordinance in 2006
In a ruling that could have national implications, Valley Park's controversial and long-debated ordinance prohibiting city employers from hiring illegal immigrants was unanimously upheld today by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The decision affirms a lower court ruling in favor of Valley Park, where Hispanics represent barely 2 percent of the city's population.

The issue has sharply divided Valley Park's 6,500 residents, ever since the ordinance was adopted in 2006, thanks largely to the efforts of Jeffery Whitteaker, then the city's outspoken mayor.

A St. Louis County judge struck down the original ordinance, which would have imposed $500 fines on landlords and employers who rented homes or offered jobs to illegals. Following that setback, the city revised the law again, this time to repeal the rental prohibition, but keeping the provision in regards to employing them.

In a RFT feature story in 2007 that dealt largely with Whitteaker's anti-illegal immigrant vision for Valley Park, Whitteaker, who last year lost his bid for reelection, explained his rationale for spearheading passage of the ordinance.

"My main issue is overcrowding," he said. "You got one guy and his wife that settle down here, have a couple of kids, and before long you have Cousin Puerto Rico and Taco Whoever from moving in."

Federal Agents Raid Home of Deported Immigrant; Won't Say What They're Seeking

Categories: Immigration
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Photo: Chad Garrison
Federal agents this morning
Federal agents this morning raided the home of a Guatemalan man deported from St. Louis in 2007 after losing a lengthy court battle to seek political asylum.

Roberto Castro had lived in the United States since fleeing his war-torn country back in 1991. He moved to St. Louis in 1992 and eventually started his own landscaping business while appealing a court's decision not to grant him asylum. In the meantime, Castro married a woman from Mexico. The couple has two teenage daughters.

After years of court hearings and additional appeals, Castro -- of the 3300 block of Oxford Avenue just within the city's border with Maplewood -- was deported in 2007 to his home country.

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