Tuesday, December 22, 2009

México, D.F: First in Latin America to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Mexico City lawmakers on Monday made the city the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, a change that will give homosexual couples more rights, including allowing them to adopt children.

The bill passed the capital's local assembly 39-20 to the cheers of supporters who yelled: "Yes, we could! Yes, we could!"

Leftist Mayor Marcelo Ebrard of the Democratic Revolution Party was widely expected to sign the measure into law.

Mexico City's left-led assembly has made several decisions unpopular elsewhere in this deeply Roman Catholic country, including legalizing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. That decision sparked a backlash, with the majority of Mexico's other 32 states enacting legislation declaring life begins at conception.

The conservative Nation Action Party of President Felipe Calderon has vowed to challenge the gay marriage law in the courts. However, homosexuality is increasingly accepted in Mexico, with gay couples openly holding hands in parts of the capital and the annual gay pride parade drawing tens of thousands.

The bill calls for changing the definition of marriage in the city's civil code. Marriage is currently defined as the union of a man and a woman. The new definition will be "the free uniting of two people."

The change would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, apply for bank loans together, inherit wealth and be included in the insurance policies of their spouse, rights they were denied under civil unions allowed in the city.

"We are so happy," said Temistocles Villanueva, a 23-year-old film student who celebrated by passionately kissing his boyfriend outside the city's assembly.

Only seven countries allow gay marriages: Canada, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. U.S. states that permit same-sex marriage are Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Argentina's capital became the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex civil unions in 2002 for gay and lesbian couples. Four other Argentine cities later did the same, and as did Mexico City in 2007 and some Mexican and Brazilian states. Uruguay alone has legalized civil unions nationwide.

Buenos Aires lawmakers introduced a bill for legalizing gay marriage in the national Congress in October but it has stalled without a vote, and officials in the South American city have blocked same-sex wedding because of conflicting judicial rulings.

Many people in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America remain opposed to gay marriage, and the dominant Roman Catholic Church has announced its opposition.

"They have given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas," said Armando Martinez, the president of the College of Catholic Attorneys. "They are permitting adoption (by gay couples) and in one stroke of the pen have erased the term 'mother' and 'father.'"

City lawmaker Victor Romo, a member of the mayor's leftist party, called it a historic day.

"For centuries unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans," he said. "Today all barriers have disappeared."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Latino School Dropout Intervention Program

Latino School Dropout Intervention Program

Latino School Dropout Intervention Program

from NCSET

Background: Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success (ALAS) was one of three projects that received funding in 1990 from the Office of Special Education Programs to address the problem of dropout for students with disabilities. The project focused on preventing dropout in high-risk middle school and junior high Latino students through involvement with students and their families, the school, and the community.

Intervention Description: ALAS was developed to prevent high-risk Latino students with and without disabilities from dropping out of school. The model uses a collaborative approach involving the student, family, school, and community. Fundamental aspects of the program in each of four areas are listed below.

* Students receive social problem-solving training, counseling, increased and specific recognition of academic excellence, and enhancement of school affiliation.
* Schools are responsible for providing frequent teacher feedback to students and parents and attendance monitoring. In addition, schools are expected to provide training for students in problem-solving and social skills.
* Parents of program participants receive training in school participation, accessing and using community resources, and how to guide and monitor adolescents.
* Collaboration with the community is encouraged through increased interaction between community agencies and families. Efforts to enhance skills and methods for serving the youth and family are also implemented.

Participants & Setting: This program targeted Latino middle or junior high students who were considered to be at high risk of school failure. The program particularly focused on Mexican-American students from high-poverty neighborhoods who had learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities. Students selected for participation were either (a) students with active Individual Education Programs (IEPs) and an identified learning disability or severe emotional/behavioral disability, or (b) students who did not have IEPs, but who exhibited characteristics placing them at-risk for dropping out of school. Students were required to be able to speak English to participate in the program. ALAS has been used in urban and suburban settings.

Implementation Considerations: Leaders of training sessions for parents and students are required, as are teachers willing to provide extensive and frequent feedback to families. Community liaisons are also necessary to facilitate communication between school, families, and community resources. A program coordinator is used to oversee all aspects of the program and ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Cost: No information was identified in the available material.

Evidence of Effectiveness: Three cohorts of students began receiving the ALAS intervention in seventh grade. The first cohort of students received the intervention for three years. Treatment outcomes for students in ninth grade indicated program participants who had IEPs had significantly lower dropout rates compared to the IEP control group. In addition, students who received the intervention and who were in the program longer had lower dropout rates than IEP participants who began in the second year of implementation. When comparing the high-risk, non-IEP program participants to high-risk, non-IEP nonparticipants, the ALAS students had much lower dropout rates (2.2% compared to 16.7%). In general, this study also found that program participants had lower rates of absenteeism, lower percentages of failed classes, and a higher proportion of credits (on track to graduate) when compared to nonparticipants.

Follow-up data were also collected for a cohort of students in eleventh grade. Results showed a higher proportion of students were enrolled in school as compared to students who were not in ALAS. In order for optimal results, the authors of the study advocate for sustained intervention over time (perhaps until graduation), especially given the risk characteristics of this population targeted for intervention.

Manual or Training Available: A bi-lingual trainer is available who can provide on-site training to school and community personnel. Please contact Magda Neil at (818) 957-2742.


Fashola, O. S., & Slavin, R. E. (1998). Effective dropout prevention and college attendance programs for students placed at risk. Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 3(2), 159-183.

Thornton, H. (Ed.) (1995). Staying in school: A technical report of three dropout prevention projects for middle school students with learning and emotional disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.

Thurlow, M. L., Christenson, S. L., Sinclair, M. F., Evelo, D. L., & Thornton, H. (1995). Staying in school: Strategies for middle school students with learning and emotional disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.

Contact Information:

Katherine Larson
E-mail: larson@education.ucsb.edu

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America

from Pew Research

December 11, 2009

This is part of a Pew Research Center series of reports exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of the teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial Generation


Hispanics are the largest and youngest minority group in the United States. One- in-five schoolchildren is Hispanic. One-in-four newborns is Hispanic. Never before in this country's history has a minority ethnic group made up so large a share of the youngest Americans. By force of numbers alone, the kinds of adults these young Latinos become will help shape the kind of society America becomes in the 21st century.

This report takes an in-depth look at Hispanics who are ages 16 to 25, a phase of life when young people make choices that -- for better and worse -- set their path to adulthood. For this particular ethnic group, it is also a time when they navigate the intricate, often porous borders between the two cultures they inhabit -- American and Latin American.

The report explores the attitudes, values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment and labor force outcomes of these young Latinos. It is based on a new Pew Hispanic Center telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,012 Latinos, supplemented by the Pew Hispanic Center's analysis of government demographic, economic, education and health data sets.

The data paint a mixed picture. Young Latinos are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and place a high value on education, hard work and career success. Yet they are much more likely than other American youths to drop out of school and to become teenage parents. They are more likely than white and Asian youths to live in poverty. And they have high levels of exposure to gangs.

These are attitudes and behaviors that, through history, have often been associated with the immigrant experience. But most Latino youths are not immigrants. Two-thirds were born in the United States, many of them descendants of the big, ongoing wave of Latin American immigrants who began coming to this country around 1965.

As might be expected, they do better than their foreign-born counterparts on many key economic, social and acculturation indicators analyzed in this report. They are much more proficient in English and are less likely to drop out of high school, live in poverty or become a teen parent.

But on a number of other measures, U.S.-born Latino youths do no better than the foreign born. And on some fronts, they do worse.

For example, native-born Latino youths are about twice as likely as the foreign born to have ties to a gang or to have gotten into a fight or carried a weapon in the past year. They are also more likely to be in prison.

The picture becomes even more murky when comparisons are made among youths who are first generation (immigrants themselves), second generation (U.S.-born children of immigrants) and third and higher generation (U.S.-born grandchildren or more far-removed descendants of immigrants).1

For example, teen parenthood rates and high school drop-out rates are much lower among the second generation than the first, but they appear higher among the third generation than the second. The same is true for poverty rates.

Identity and Assimilation

Throughout this nation's history, immigrant assimilation has always meant something more than the sum of the sorts of economic and social measures outlined above. It also has a psychological dimension. Over the course of several generations, the immigrant family typically loosens its sense of identity from the old country and binds it to the new.

It is too soon to tell if this process will play out for today's Hispanic immigrants and their offspring in the same way it did for the European immigrants of the 19th and early 20th centuries. But whatever the ultimate trajectory, it is clear that many of today's Latino youths, be they first or second generation, are straddling two worlds as they adapt to the new homeland.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center's National Survey of Latinos, more than half (52%) of Latinos ages 16 to 25 identify themselves first by their family's country of origin, be it Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republican, El Salvador or any of more than a dozen other Spanish-speaking countries. An additional 20% generally use the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" first when describing themselves. Only about one-in-four (24%) generally use the term "American" first.

Among the U.S.-born children of immigrants, "American" is somewhat more commonly used as a primary term of self-identification. Even so, just 33% of these young second generation Latinos use American first, while 21% refer to themselves first by the terms Hispanic or Latino, and the plurality -- 41% -- refer to themselves first by the country their parents left in order to settle and raise their children in this country.

Only in the third and higher generations do a majority of Hispanic youths (50%) use "American" as their first term of self-description.

Immigration in Historical Perspective

Measured in raw numbers, the modern Latin American-dominated immigration wave is by far the largest in U.S. history. Nearly 40 million immigrants have come to the United States since 1965. About half are from Latin America, a quarter from Asia and the remainder from Europe, Canada, the Middle East and Africa. By contrast, about 14 million immigrants came during the big Northern and Western European immigration wave of the 19th century and about 18 million came during the big Southern and Eastern European-dominated immigration wave of the early 20th century.2

However, the population of the United States was much smaller during those earlier waves. When measured against the size of the U.S. population during the period when the immigration occurred, the modern wave's average annual rate of 4.6 new immigrants per 1,000 population falls well below the 7.7 annual rate that prevailed in the mid- to late 19th century and the 8.8 rate at the beginning of the 20th century.

All immigration waves produce backlashes of one kind or another, and the latest one is no exception. Illegal immigration, in particular, has become a highly-charged political issue in recent times. It is also a relatively new phenomenon; past immigration waves did not generate large numbers of illegal immigrants because the U.S. imposed fewer restrictions on immigration flow in the past than it does now.

The current wave may differ from earlier waves in other ways as well. More than a few immigration scholars have voiced skepticism that the children and grandchildren of today's Hispanic immigrants will enjoy the same upward mobility experienced by the offspring of European immigrants in previous centuries.3

Their reasons vary, and not all are consistent with one another. Some scholars point to structural changes in modern economies that make it more difficult for unskilled laborers to climb into the middle class. Some say the illegal status of so many of today's immigrants is a major obstacle to their upward mobility. Some say the close proximity of today's sending countries and the relative ease of modern global communication reduce the felt need of immigrants and their families to acculturate to their new country. Some say the fatalism of Latin American cultures is a poor fit in a society built on Anglo-Saxon values. Some say that America's growing tolerance for cultural diversity may encourage modern immigrants and their offspring to retain ethnic identities that were seen by yesterday's immigrants as a handicap. (The melting pot is dead. Long live the salad bowl.) Alternatively, some say that Latinos' brown skin makes assimilation difficult in a country where white remains the racial norm.

It will probably take at least another generation's worth of new facts on the ground to know whether these theories have merit. But it is not too soon to take some snapshots and lay down some markers. This report does so by assembling a wide range of empirical evidence (some generated by our own new survey; some by our analysis of government data) and subjecting it to a series of comparisons: between Latinos and non-Latinos; between young Latinos and older Latinos; between foreign-born Latinos and native-born Latinos; and between first, second, and third and higher generations of Latinos.

The generational analyses presented here do not compare the outcomes of individual Latino immigrants with those of their own children or grandchildren. Instead, our generational analysis compares today's young Latino immigrants with today's children and grandchildren of yesterday's immigrants. As such, the report can provide some insights into the intergenerational mobility of an immigrant group over time. But it cannot fully disentangle the many factors that may help explain the observed patterns-be they compositional effects (the different skills, education levels and other forms of human capital that different cohorts of immigrants bring) or period effects (the different economic conditions that confront immigrants in different time periods).

Readers should be especially careful when interpreting findings about the third and higher generation, for this is a very diverse group. We estimate that about 40% are the grandchildren of Latin American immigrants, while the remainder can trace their roots in this country much farther back in time.

For some in this mixed group, endemic poverty and its attendant social ills have been a part of their families, barrios and colonias for generations, even centuries. Meantime, others in the third and higher generation have been upwardly mobile in ways consistent with the generational trajectories of European immigrant groups. Because the data we use in this report do not allow us to separate out the different demographic sub-groups within the third and higher generation, the overall numbers we present are averages that often mask large variances within this generation.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Studies Show Latinos Climb Socio-Economic Ladder of Success

As a front-page story in today’s Washington Post reminds us: “Not since the last great wave of immigration to the United States around 1900 has the country’s economic future been so closely entwined with the generational progress of an immigrant group.” The story highlights the degree to which the children of immigrants from Latin America have become crucial to sustaining the working-age population and tax base of the nation—particularly as more and more of the 75 million Baby Boomers retire. Moreover, the parents of these children most likely would not have even come to this country if not for the U.S. economy’s past demand for workers to fill less-skilled jobs—demand which was not being adequately met by the rapidly aging and better-educated native-born labor force. The Post story also casts a spotlight on the insecurities and anxieties of commentators who feel that Latino immigrants and their descendants aren’t integrating into U.S. society and moving up the socio-economic ladder “fast enough.” Although these concerns are certainly understandable, they are as unjustified now as they were a century ago when they were directed at immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.

By any objective measure, the children of immigrants from Latin America are making significant progress compared with their parents. As demographer Dowell Myers points out in a 2008 report, the experience of Latino immigrants in California reveals not only the vast strides that immigrants themselves make within their lifetimes in terms of English proficiency, homeownership, and declining poverty rates, but also the degree to which the children and grandchildren of immigrants do better than “newcomers.” Similarly, the National Research Council’s Panel on Hispanics in the United States concluded in 2006 that “trends in wages, household income, wealth, and home ownership across time and generations point to the gradual ascension of many U.S.-born Hispanics to the middle class.” And a 2003 study by economist James P. Smith of the RAND Corporation found that successive generations of Latino men experience significant improvements in wages and education relative to native-born non-Latinos. Smith concludes from his analysis that “fears are unwarranted” that Latinos are “not sharing in the successful European experience, perhaps due to a reluctance to assimilate into American culture.”

Of course, the socio-economic progress of Latinos over the course of generations is sometimes difficult to see since two-out-of-five Latinos in the United States are foreign-born. But this is a matter of historical perspective, not substance. For instance, in 1891, then-Representative Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA) warned that “immigration to this country is increasing and…is making its greatest relative increase from races most alien to the body of the American people and from the lowest and most illiterate classes among those races.” He was speaking principally of the Italians, but also the Russians, Poles, and Hungarians. He observed that these immigrants, “half of whom have no occupation and most of whom represent the rudest form of labor,” are “people whom it is very difficult to assimilate and do not promise well for the standard of civilization in the United States.”

Lodge also complained that immigrants such as the Italians:

…come to the United States, reduce the rate of wages by ruinous competition, and then take their savings out of the country, are not desirable. They are mere birds of passage. They form an element in the population which regards home as a foreign country, instead of that in which they live and earn money. They have no interest or stake in the country, and they never become American citizens.

The passage of time has since proven Lodge wrong concerning the upward mobility of Italian Americans, just as it will in the case of today’s immigrants from Latin America. This isn’t to say that the undeniable disparities in educational attainment and income between native-born Latinos and native-born non-Latinos in the United States aren’t pressing social concerns. However, to effectively address these problems, they must first be accurately identified. The challenges confronting—and posed by—a poor immigrant from Mexico differ from those of a poor second-generation Latino whose parents are immigrants, which in turn differ from those of a poor third-generation Latino whose parents are native born. Some of these challenges are unique to the immigrant experience, others derive from being part of a “minority” group in U.S. society, and others stem from dynamics of poverty that are not limited to any ethnic group, immigrant or otherwise.

For instance, if some third-generation Mexican Americans—like other minority groups in the United States—have encountered a “glass ceiling” in wage growth, this says more about the need for educational investment in poor communities than it does about a culturally specific lack of ambition. To treat Latinos as inherently incapable of upward mobility and as a homogeneous group guided by some innate resistance to “assimilation,” as some immigration restrictionists do, serves only to simplistically misidentify what are in fact a diverse range of issues.

Walter Ewing

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Three years later, the battle continues over affirmative action

Three years later, the battle continues over affirmative action in Detroit:

Arielle Bullard had every belief she could get into the University of Michigan. The senior at Cass Technical High School in Detroit mailed in her application during the 2006-2007 winter semester.

The 2.98 GPA student was told in the University of Michigan´s response letter that if she could get a 4.0, her application would be given "serious consideration."

Bullard, an African-American student, did just that and then scored a 26 on her ACT.

But that semester, Bullard´s school was forced to discontinue its program that gave additional admission points to black and Latino students. Her school ended the program because of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot proposal voters adopted in November 2006. Proposal 2, as it was known, added to the state Constitution an end to all "racial preference" and affirmative action-type programs in taxpayerfunded institutions.

Bullard´s application was ultimately rejected. Was it because of Proposal 2? There´s no smoking gun, but the implication is certainly there.

"I feel that Proposal 2 will intensify segregation and close doors that have barely been opened to me and other black and Latino students," Bullard said.

Bullard and several other black students took action by signing onto a lawsuit against the University of Michigan to get MCRI removed from the state Constitution. It wasn´t the first suit against MCRI.

In fact, the long legal road MCRI has traveled began on March 25, 2004.

On that date, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield ruled that putting the affirmative action-killing initiative on the ballot "flies in the face" of the state Constitution. Michigan´s governing document guarantees "equal protection under the law." It ensures that no person can be "discriminated against" because of race or color. MCRI was a proposal to ban any racial preference program in any state-taxpayer entity — be it a city government´s female recruitment program or the University of Michigan giving extra admission points to an African-American applicant.

Manderfield questioned: How can the state ban "preferential treatment" programs and guarantee equality when society´s treatment of minority populations is not equal? Therefore, she concluded, MCRI and the state Constitution are in conflict.

The initiative — bankrolled by Ward Connerly, who successfully baked similar language into California law — should not be put before Michigan´s voters, she said.

Civil rights groups across the state cheered. MCRI was dead … for a few months any way. Long enough to push MCRI off the 2004 ballot and onto the 2006 ballot. Since then, it´s been very much alive in Michigan.

Today, MCRI has been a part of our state´s Constitution for three years. Opponents are still trying to kill it in court, but their options are running out and so are their arguments. It´s been five and a half years since Manderfield´s 19-page decision.

Affirmative action defenders in Michigan are still looking for their second judicial victory.

Latest stop: U.S. Court of Appeals

Civil rights attorney George Washington spent Nov. 17 in Cincinnati in front of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Joined by his legal partner, Shanta Driver, Washington laid out the argument that MCRI violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Washington argues Proposal 2 has made "second-class citizens" of blacks and Latinos. Michigan State University or Central Michigan University or any other state school of higher education can give special considerations to potential students based on their economic status, their military status or the names of their parents.

But not their race. That´s not right, Washington says.

"There are large numbers of Latinos and blacks scattered in school districts across this state and they are discriminated against just like the kids from Detroit," Washington said. "We should be honest about this. We have social problems. Our society has inequalities and we´ve had them for years. We need to deal with it."

Many legal observers believe Washington is tilting at windmills in Cincinnati. This "political process" argument didn´t work for affirmative action defenders attempting to repeal California´s Prop. 209, an initiative functionally identical to MCRI, or for anyone else.

Washington is keeping his head up. He said he believes at least two of the three judges were at least sympathetic to his arguments. It´s possible they agree that a majority of voters cannot take away rights of a minority in the United States, regardless of whether it was 58 percent of the voting population (like it was in Michigan) or not.

Look at the facts. Since this "legalized discrimination" was enacted, the University of Michigan has seen a 27 percent drop in undergraduate admissions of blacks and Latinos and nearly a 33 percent drop in law school admissions. Wayne State University has 64 percent fewer blacks and Latinos in its medical school, according to Washington.

"It´s like many years ago when James Meredith couldn´t get into the University of Mississippi because of open desegregation," Washington said. "Now it´s a more subtle version. Now, it´s accomplished through test scores, where you went to school, who your parents are. The results are the same. We just need a court order to let these programs resume."

But Washington´s legal team has bounced this type of argument off the federal courts before in separate motions and hasn´t been able to get any traction. The courts at all levels have ultimately said (in the simplest form) that MCRI guarantees legal equality regardless of gender and race. So do the state and U.S. Constitution.

If there´s a chance for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which includes By Any Means Necessary, the ACLU and the NAACP, it´s this three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Two of the three judges — Martha Craig Daughtrey and Guy Cole — are two Bill Clinton appointees. The third, Julie Smith Gibbons, was appointed by George W. Bush.

Clinton, however, also appointed the federal judge, David Lawson, who sided in favor of MCRI on March 18, 2008. And even if affirmative action supporters are successful, the decision can be reviewed by the full 14-member Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel has an 8-6 Republicanappointed majority.

Michael Rosman, the lead attorney for the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative public interest law firm in D.C., thinks its chances are "pretty slim."

The appellate court will have to rule that the Michigan Constitution and the U.S. Constitution are in conflict, and toss MCRI into the trash. If it were to do that, the court would be taking the opposite road of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld California´s Prop 209.

In that scenario, Rosman said it´s highly likely the U.S Supreme Court will want to take a look at this MCRI case, titled Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. The University of Michigan.

Washington likes the case´s chances at the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy, universally considered to be the court´s swing vote, does not agree that the U.S. Constitution is color blind.

"He recognizes that there are racial disparities in education and that government has a right to take that into account," Washington said.

Rosman is not of the same mind. Does he think affirmative action defenders are bringing forth a flimsy case?

"Flimsy is a strong word. I just don´t think it´s going to Rosman win," he said.

Killing MCRI an ´uphill climb´

In a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Rosman pointed out that in denying an earlier motion in the case, this same court said affirma- Cox tive action supporters "face an uphill climb" in "contending that the Equal Protection Clause compels what it presumptively prohibits."

In other words, the 14th Amendment bans discrimination based on race and gender. MCRI reads that everybody Manderfield regardless of race, sex and ethnicity should be treated the same. Arguing that the two goals are different is difficult.

If it can be done, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action would need to argue that MCRI is hurting, not helping, establish equal protections, Washington said Wayne State University Professor Robert Sedler.

In the last 40 years, the U.S. Supreme Court decisions has twice thrown out state laws singling out minorities as a demographic group under the cover of creating equal situations. This happened, Sedler said, in a 1969 fair housing case in Akron, Ohio, (Hunter v. Erickson) and a 1982 busing case from the state of Washington (Crawford v. Board of Education).

Sedler declined to make a prediction on what the Sixth Circuit would do, but said he could see a scenario where MCRI could fall.

Rosman disagrees. He said both cases Sedler quotes made it more difficult for minorities to obtain protection from discrimination through a political process of law making. In this case, Proposal 2 of 2006 makes it more difficult for minorities to obtain racial preferences through a political process of law making.

To prove his point, Rosman quoted Lawson´s ruling.

"Admission at elite universities is a zero-sum enterprise, and programs that prefer some students on the basis of race must do so necessarily at the expense of other applicants not of the preferred race.

"The guarantee of equal protection cannot mean one thing when applied to one individual and something when applied to a person of another color," Lawson wrote.

Cox leading the charge

Technically, the University of Michigan is the defendant in the case, but Attorney General Mike Cox is riding herd for the defense in court. As it turns out, Cox is the only one of the five Republican gubernatorial candidates to have openly supported MCRI when it was put before the voters in 2006.

Cox spokesman Nick DeLeeuw said that regardless of where the attorney general came down on Proposal 2 in 2006, there´s no political motivation here.

More than 2.1 million Michigan voters legally voted to make MCRI a piece of the state´s Constitution. Cox views it as his role to protect the Constitution.

DeLeeuw batted away any insinuation that Cox was riding herd on MCRI to bolster his conservative credentials with the conservative base in the months leading up the Republican gubernatorial primary next August.

"It´s his job as the state´s top law enforcement officer," DeLeeuw said. "The people wanted Proposal 2, and when it´s challenged, the attorney general needs to step in and defend it."

That may be true, but that doesn´t mean the rest of state government needs to follow. The Department of Civil Rights and the Governor´s Office are two that are not.

Much of the court´s focus on MCRI has been over the black or Latino student whose admission into the University of Michigan hinges on whether extra admission points are given based on race, said Dan Levy, law and policy director of the state Civil Rights Department. The focus, he said, needs to shift to making sure entire university classes are adequately represented.

Major corporations are hiring from diverse university campuses because they see a benefit from it. Likewise, if a university see a benefit in attracting more minorities into its student body, it shouldn´t be deterred from making its own decision, Levy said.

"We believe that when you´re talking about those few students on the cusp, you´re ignoring the students who are choosing a university," he said. "The majority should not be the ones telling the minorities which rights they should have, and we don´t believe ´the majority´ should be making universities´ decisions. The universities should make the determination on its own."

The Department of Civil Rights and its governing body, the state Civil Rights Commission, has been involved since California’s Connerly, former state Rep. Leon Drolet and Jennifer Gratz first started talking about bringing MCRI to Michigan in 2004. Gratz, who had been denied admission to the law school at the University of Michigan, was one of the two plaintiffs in Gratz v. Bollinger, the 2003 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that the school’s point system aiding minorities was unconstitutional. The body took a more active approach in late 2005 when Civil Rights commissioners began receiving complaints about how MCRI petition circulators were allegedly misleading folks in Detroit and elsewhere into signing the petition.

The commission held several public hearings on the issue in 2006. They concluded Proposal 2 supporters had fraudulently collected signatures by telling registered voters the initiative permitted affirmative action when the opposite was true.

As a result, The state Board of Canvassers tried to keep MCRI off the ballot, despite an order from the Michigan Court of Appeals, which then bypassed the board and ordered the secretary of state to put it on the ballot anyway.

Likewise, when MCRI succeeded at the ballot box, affirmative action defenders asked the courts to keep the initiative from going into effect until they had exhausted all of their legal remedies. The courts, again, shot them down.

But supporters are hoping this time will be different. They feel like this time it has to be different.

The courts, once again, will need to come to the aid of the minority populations after being dealt a tough break by the majority. At this point, they have no other choice but to hope they hit a bull´s eye with their last arrow.

"I think we´re going to win," Washington said. "I don´t have a crystal ball, but I believe we will prevail. … We can´t have universities that are a majority white. It makes no sense. It´s not fair. It´s not equality."

by Kyle Melinn
from CityPulse