Remembering Rosanell Eaton, An Outspoken Advocate for Voting Rights

When the Supreme Court shot down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act — which required that certain places with a history of discriminating against voters get federal

With Trump At The Border, A Look Back At U.S. Immigration Policy

President Trump traveled to a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, today, continuing on his campaign to drum up support for a $5.7 billion border wall. The visit came after

What A Case Of Mistaken Identity Tells Us About Race In America

Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old black girl, was buried this week in Harris County, Texas. She was fatally shot while sitting in the car with her mother and siblings on the

With Trump At The Border, A Look Back At U.S. Immigration Policy

President Trump traveled to a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, today, continuing on his campaign to drum up support for a $5.7 billion border wall. The visit came after weeks of Congressional debate about border security that has resulted in a partial government shutdown.

In his address from the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump described a “humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border,” and focused on crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

But as NPR has previously reported, studies show that undocumented immigrants in the U.S. commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans.

This fight over the border wall is just one part of the Trump administration’s hardline stance on immigration. He’s ended DACA, and pushed to make it harder for people to apply for asylum or to get greencards. He also tried to terminate the Temporary Protected Status program, which was designed to help people affected by environmental disasters or armed conflicts.

So we’re revisiting this interview with Hiroshi Motomura, an expert on refugee and immigration law who teaches at UCLA Law School. The subject of immigration isn’t merely academic for him. He comes from a family with mixed immigration statuses (he himself was declared “stateless” at one point,) and has spent decades researching, and living, the shifting fortunes of immigrants and their families.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Trump At The Border

Supporters of immigrants’ rights have criticized President Trump for saying he wants to limit family-based immigration. These critics have compared his policy proposals with parts of the Immigration Act of 1924, which had a national origins quota, or the Chinese Exclusion Act. Is that a fair assessment?

There’s a couple ways to think about the legislative proposals coming out of the White House. We’ve had a system for many years that has put a high value on family unity. So the proposals would seriously cut back on that.

What does that actually mean? Since 1965, we have family-based immigration playing a central role, as it always has, but a central role in a non-discriminatory system — at least as far as the legal categories are concerned. That’s meant that we’ve really diversified who can come to this country.

So now, the administration is trying to cut that back. One way to think about that is to look at the consequences: This would really make it hard to immigrate from Latin America. You’d have cutbacks in immigration from Latin America, you’d have cutbacks from Asia. The proposals to cut back on the diversity lottery would cut off a significant amount of immigration from Africa. So at one level it looks like it’s very neutral. But the fact is, in historical terms, it’s really a rollback to the period from the 1920s until 1965.

What A Case Of Mistaken Identity Tells Us About Race In America

Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old black girl, was buried this week in Harris County, Texas. She was fatally shot while sitting in the car with her mother and siblings on the morning of Dec. 30.

Initial reports stated that the shooter was a white man. Those reports led to a national outcry that this was a racially motivated attack. Activists and politicians demanded that the shooting be investigated as a hate crime. But in the days since the shooting, deputies in Harris County have charged two black men in relation to the shooting.

Gene Demby spoke to David Greene of Morning Edition about what this incident reveals about the current landscape of race and violence in the United States.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

David Greene: Could you walk us through the timeline of events in this story?

Gene Demby: Jazmine Barnes was in a car with her mother and three sisters on Dec. 30 near a Walmart when shots rang out. Her mother was shot in the arm but survived. But Jazmine, who was 7, was shot in the head and died at the scene. The other girls in the car during the shooting said the gunshots came from a red pickup truck driven by a white male. And The New York Times reports that there was another still unsolved shooting in 2017 in the same area that witnesses say was committed by a white man in a Ford pickup.

So that, in combination with a police sketch of the suspect, created a real fear that this was a racially motivated attack.

But we now know that the suspected shooter was black

Right. This week, the police have charged two suspects, Larry Woodruffe, the alleged shooter, and Eric Black Jr., the alleged driver. The police say they think the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. Eric Black and the alleged shooter, they say, were trying to retaliate against someone they had gotten into an argument with earlier, and they misidentified the car Jazmine Barnes was in.

The police said that they believe that both the white male and the red pickup the girls in the car saw were real, but probably belonged to an innocent bystander who sped away during the confusion of the shooting.

Race In America

What did race have to do with this story capturing national attention?

In the days after the shooting and before the arrests, Shaun King, an activist who is very prominent on social media, offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest and helped publicize the police sketch of the presumed white suspect. During that same period, Sheila Jackson Lee, a congresswoman from Houston, called Barnes’ killing a hate crime.

The context here is important. Remember, it was only two decades ago that a black man named James Byrd Jr. was lynched by white supremacists about two hours away from Harris County. That killing helped fuel federal hate crime legislation. More recently, there was the mass shooting by a white supremacist at a historic black church in 2015 in South Carolina, and the fatal car attack by a white nationalist in Charlottesville in [2017]. The FBI said in a report last fall that hate crimes were up 17 percent in 2017 — the third straight year that hate crimes went up. So the suspicions that this was a racially motivated attack, even though they were wrong, are based in this very real trendline around interracial violence.

If this suspect were identified as black from the beginning, how might that have changed this story?

Crimes with both black victims and black perpetrators tend not to make national news. Just two weeks before Jazmine Barnes was shot, another 7-year-old in Harris County was seriously injured in a drive-by shooting. When these crimes do bubble up to this level, it’s usually invoked to wave away concerns around structural racism or police violence — you know, concern-trolling like, “Well, what about black-on-black crime?”

There are sadly a lot of Jazmine Barneses in America, and lots of neighborhood rallies and memorials for slain little kids like her. It’s telling that the relatively less common instance is one of a very few conditions in which those deaths would garner national coverage.