Discrimination Against Latinos in Louisiana

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThe Southern Poverty Law Center has sent a letter to the Louisiana Jefferson Parish Head Start personnel informing them that they are in violation of the law. At issue is alleged discrimination against Latino families who want to enroll their three year old children into the federally funded Head Start program. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the personnel at the Jefferson Community Parish of the Head Start program have demanded that Latino famlies, in order to qualify for enrolling their children in the program, must present identification that they are U.S. citizens and that their children are also U.S. citizens. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this is illegal under federal law since enrollment only requires a form of corroboration of address such as a bill or a letter certifying that they live in Jefferson Parish.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, if this sort of illegal activity does not cease, it will bring a lawsuit against the Louisiana Jefferson Parish Head Start. The act by this branch of the Head Start program is not only illegal but also shameful. At a time when so many Latino families need help for their children, they are being denied that basic help because some individuals have taken it into their minds that they must enforce immigration law. This is not only discrimination, it is also hitting at some of the most vulnerable people who really need government help. Most of the Latino families who live in this parish are legal. Yet they are being asked to present a form of identification that non-Hispanic whites are not being asked to present.

This may be happening in only one parish in Louisiana. However, the real danger is if it happens in one place in the state then it can happen elsewhere. Other people might get it into their heads that they must enforce immigration law and then discriminate against Latinos in turn. This in turn can go much further by the State of Louisiana making its own immigration law that will clearly discriminate against Latinos and other ethnic and racial communities. And if one does not think this can happen, we need only look at the examples of Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina as prime culprits in how people in power can abuse their authority. Hence, it is important to fight discrimination now before it grows ever larger.

Comments are closed.