About Tanuka Loha

Tanuka Loha is the director of the Immigrants’ Rights are Human Rights and Demand Dignity Campaigns at Amnesty International USA. She is a board member of the British Institute of Human Rights, worked on the Stephen Lawrence Campaign – a catalyst for far reaching human rights reforms in the UK – as executive director of a rights-based community NGO, on the senior management team of the UK government’s program establishing the Equality and Human Rights Commission and on voter protection issues in the US. Her international work has included migrants’ rights work in France and Germany, legal observation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel and Sudan and education related work with minority children (particularly girls) in India. Tanuka read philosophy at University College London, has a social science Master's degree and is a barrister.
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‘You May Say That We are DREAMers…’

Maryland Dream Act

‘You may say that we are DREAMers…’ But, as the vote on Question 4 of the Maryland ballot demonstrated, we are definitely not the only ones! You helped successfully defend the Maryland DREAM Act last night as Marylanders voted 58% to 42% in favor of the act.

The Maryland DREAM Act is legislation that would afford students from Maryland, who have been state high school students, and whose parents file state taxes, the opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates for their higher education. (For more information regarding the Maryland DREAM Act, check out our Maryland DREAM Act one-pager and our infographic. 

This is an important victory for the students and families who will be affected, for DREAMers across the country and for human rights supporters fighting for immigrants’ rights and the right to education. It’s important for another reason too. Ballot referendums are a critical barometer of public opinion, and an indication of how ready U.S citizens and residents are ready for political change on the issue in question. The results in Maryland are pretty clear – voters strongly support common sense measures that recognize the contributions that our talented young people, regardless of immigration status, are making to the nation.


A Big Chance for Immigrant Students in Maryland?

On November 6, 2012, Maryland residents will vote on a ballot initiative that will allow undocumented students who have lived in Maryland, whose parents have paid taxes in Maryland, and who meet some other conditions, to pay in-state tuition fees for their higher education.

The Maryland DREAM Act, if it is able to come into force, would enable many DREAMers to attend state universities that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. At a time when many states in the U.S. were passing anti-immigrant legislation (adding to a climate of hostility to migrants, those perceived to be migrants, and Native Americans), Maryland passed legislation in April 2011 that realized the right to equal access to education for a significant number of students.

Now, the Maryland Dream Act is in jeopardy. Let’s defend the right to education, and the Maryland DREAM Act! On November 6th, Vote ‘Yes!’ on Question 4 on the ballot. Help spread the word by sharing this graphic widely:


Dear Mandela, Dear Obama?

dear mandela

When the South African government begins ‘eradicateing the slums’, Mnikelo, Mazwi, and Zama refuse to be moved. Dear Mandela follows their journey from their shacks to the highest court in the land as they become leaders in a growing social movement.

Within the first minute of Wednesday’s 2012 presidential debate, President Obama mentioned ‘housing’. It is indeed high time that we had a wide and deep discussion about the U.S. housing crisis, the true dimensions of this crisis in terms of human rights, and what realizing the human right to ‘adequate housing’ would look like in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

But when we think about terrible housing crises, our minds often wander to somewhere outside the United States – the lack of safe housing in Haiti, the crisis facing Roma in Europe or forced evictions in the Occupied Territories.


Rachel Corrie, Michael J. Fox and the Right to Housing

gaza demolitions

The remains of a home in Gaza after it was demolished by Israeli authorities in 2002

A few weeks before she died, Rachel Corrie wrote to her mother from Rafah, Gaza. ‘I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar,’ she said, ‘and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers.’

As we know, she never had the chance to do any of those things again. Following this week’s verdict in the lawsuit filed by Rachel’s parents – accusing the Israeli military of unlawfully killing Rachel, either intentionally or through gross negligence – there has been much crucial discussion of the circumstances surrounding Rachel’s death. It is also imperative that we remember the human rights work of Rachel’s life.


Arizona’s Immigration Law: 3 Sections Down, 1 to Go

Immigrant rights activists participate in the annual May Day rally. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck/Getty Images

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) delivered its ruling on four sections of SB 1070, more than two years after Arizona’s discriminatory immigration bill was signed into law.

In a 5-3 decision, the Court struck down provisions criminalizing the acts of failing to carry immigration papers, seeking or performing work as an undocumented migrant, and provisions allowing police to arrest without warrant anyone suspected of committing a crime that could lead to deportation.

The fact that these provisions will not be able to take effect is a victory for immigrants’ rights activists and those fighting the draconian immigration laws that have been popping up in various parts of the country. Unfortunately, the good news is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that for Latinos and visible migrant communities in Arizona, the chances of being racially profiled have been both increased and de facto legitimized by this decision. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Obama to DREAMers: You Can Stay…For Now

Immigration Activists Demonstrate In Los Angeles

Immigrant students demonstrate for an end to deportations on June 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama stated today, in confirming that an order had been issued permitting some 800,000 DREAMers to remain in the country without fear of deportation and enabling them to seek employment. The President went on:

“Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people.”


TIME to Make the DREAM a Reality

DREAM Act TIME Magazine CoverThis week’s TIME Magazine hits the newsstands today, taking us inside the lives of our fellow community members who happen to be undocumented immigrants.

In his “Not Legal Not Leaving” article, author Jose Antonio Vargas writes about how many undocumented individuals feel American. Like Vargas — an undocumented immigrant himself — these individuals may live an ostensibly American life. Yet these individuals all face the constant threat of deportation and other realities of a life lived with a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

Today’s news that President Barack Obama intends to issue an executive order that will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to young undocumented immigrants who arrived as children is welcome. But it’s only a temporary measure. Immigrant children and their families need a permanent solution — and the DREAM Act, if passed, offers hope. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Housing: It's a Wonderful Right

housing it's a wondeful right

This is usually one of my favorite times of the year – the holidays are approaching, the aromas of cinnamon, orange and cranberry are in the air and it’s time to rest and watch old movies on TV. One of those old movies invariably on at this time of year still resonates today — It’s a Wonderful Life. In this 1946 Jimmy Stewart film, a small town in crisis comes together to prevent George Bailey, the benevolent loan man, from being imprisoned at the behest of the millionaire slum landlord Mr. Potter.

In the last few days, the U.S. government census figures have revealed that  1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are struggling to live on low incomes. And we know that the financial hardships faced by our neighbors, colleagues, and others in our communities will be all the more acutely felt over the holiday season.