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Immigration decision now set for late June, Martin Sheen blasts immigrant bashing

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The 11 million legal immigrants in the U.S. will now have to wait until the end of June for the Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s tough new immigration law, reported the AP this week; while earlier this month Martin Sheen decried immigrant bashing.

The Supreme Court met again on Tuesday, May 29, to “issue opinions,” but not its opinions on the highly controversial Arizona immigration law, SB 1970; that it “will likely hand down in late June," stated the Associated Press in a May 27 report on while also stating: “One never knows when the Supreme Court will pronounce its last, often biggest, opinions of the term. But the justices' summer travel schedules make it a pretty safe bet that blockbuster health care and immigration cases will be decided by the end of next month.” In turn, Latino Fox News also reported May 27 that the Arizona immigration case “is one the biggest of the 17 cases that remain to be decided by the end of June.” At the same time, the actor and social justice activist Martin Sheen decried immigrant bashing during a May 10 college commencement address, telling graduates that America is better than this; while sharing that he too came from an immigrant family.

Also, the High Court ruled on May 21 that “the length of lawful residence in the United States by immigrant parents cannot be considered by the federal government in deciding whether their children should be deported.” In turn, “the justices unanimously handed a victory to the Obama administration and overturned a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that immigrants who entered the United States as children may count their parents' years in this country to satisfy the residency requirements,” stated a Reuters report featured on Yahoo!

Martin Sheen blasts immigration bashing

He played the president of the United States in the award-winning TV show “The West Wing,” and now Martin Sheen is using this same bully pulpit as a famous actor and activist to decry immigration bashing in America today.

“I often wonder how my parents would relate to the current wave of immigrant bashing that seems so vogue in certain quarters across the land these days,” said Martin Sheen during recent graduation ceremonies at the New England Institute of Technology in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

In addition, commencement speaker Martin Sheen also pointed to “a growing chorus of conservative voices, some even coming from official circles, blame innocent immigrants for every conceivable form of wrongdoing and lawlessness without just cause, and they target them for deportation, dividing families and destroying communities. These arrogant voices need to be reminded that arrogance is ignorance matured and that we continue to be a nation of immigrants."

Sheen, whose known for his roles in such films as “Wall Street,” “Apocalypse Now” and playing the president on TV’s “The West Wing” – was quoted by the local newspaper, the Warwick Beacon -- when speaking to some 5,000 people gathered for the Institute’s May 10 graduation about issues surrounding current immigration laws that Sheen asserts “seems harbored against immigrants.”

Martin Sheen famous for playing the president

The Warwick Beacon report also noted how Sheen joked during his commencement address about has playing several United States presidents, both real and fictional, and has often been misidentified as an actual former U.S. leader.

In fact, Sheen received six Emmy Award nominations for “Outstanding Lead Actor” in a drama series for playing the fictional Democratic president Josiah “Jed” Bartlet in the acclaimed TV drama, “The West Wing,” that also earned him a Golden Globe Award for best performance by an actor in a TV drama.

Moreover, fans of Sheen’s recall the actor playing President John F. Kennedy in the miniseries “Kennedy – The Presidential Years;” while also playing Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the TV special “The Missiles of October.

Sheen and First Lady talk fairness and equity

Martin Sheen, 71, also explained in the Warwick Beacon report how “he has always been proud of being a first generation American. Born Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estevez, Sheen was the son of a Spanish father and an Irish mother.” Sheen also reminded graduates about their roles in defending America’s freedoms for all people who live here.

In turn, those graduating know of Martin Sheen’s infamous son, Charlie Sheen, who is now flying under the radar after last year’s rant that ended his long-running role on the CBS TV sitcom “Two and a Half Men” that premiered back in 2003.

While Martin Sheen is known as a passionate social justice activist, there are few in the U.S. today who are willing to stand up and defend America’s 11 million legal immigrants other than First Lady Michelle Obama who told ABC’s “The View” TV program on May 29 that despite negative political rhetoric: “There’s more that unites us than divides us.”

In turn, the First Lady also explained how people in America today “want to know we live in a world of fairness and equity;” while also asserting: “We live in a decent country.”

Still, there have been recent calls by some twisted people and groups in this country who seem to be obsessed with promoting negative race issues; while even disrespecting the president for being black, and saying he was not born in America.

Supreme Court set to vote on Arizona’s new immigration law

At the same time, Sheen pointed out in his recent New England Institute of Technology commencement address that immigration issues are relevant now with the Supreme Court set to hand down its decision on Arizona’s tough new immigration law in June.

At the same time, others have joined Sheen in decrying the measures Arizona has taken to make its state’s immigration laws stricter than the rest of the country.

For instance, The New York Times recently featured a statement by Cecillia Wang, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, who said: “Arizona’s law was passed to force Latinos to leave. Officers are required to detain someone they “suspect” is undocumented, and the only way to do that is based on skin color and accent. That is racial profiling.”

Wang also pointed to “racial profiling” that’s currently going on in Arizona with Wang writing about how “the Supreme Court argument on Arizona’s ‘show me your papers’ law, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the government’s lawyer were wrong to suggest that the case didn’t involve racial profiling.”

Moreover, the Arizona immigration law was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. In turn, President Barrack Obama and his administration posed a legal challenge over the acts constitutionality and compliance with civil rights law; while also asking for an injunction against enforcement of the law.

Arizona has sought, unsuccessfully to date, to reverse that decision in the federal appeals courts. Thus, the decision to either keep or stop Arizona’s new tough immigration law now rests with the Supreme Court that’s set to decide next month.

Sheen points to immigration issues that won’t go away

According to the Warwick Beacon report, Martin Sheen began his commencement speech with some humor, talking about his “identity crisis,” as being part of an immigrant family himself.

Although he briefly spoke about his career on the big screen, the newspaper said Sheen mainly talked about his activism and today’s immigration issues.

"While acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive," said Sheen. "I came through the ’60s clinging to the absolute certainty that lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for, and that non-violence is the only weapon to fight with," the actor added while noting how today’s immigrants have the same needs as all Americans.

For instance, the Warwick Beach reported how Sheen said the three most important needs of “every human being on Earth are not food, clothing and shelter, as much as the need for justice, healing and love.”

“Without the latter, the former are useless,” continued Sheen. “It is the gross inequality of food, clothing and shelter that divides us, but it is the absolute necessity of justice, healing and love that can unite us. Clearly we need a far more realistic understanding of who we are and why we are here."

Sheen gets to the heart of the human condition

Moreover, Sheen told the graduates about what it means to be a human being in today’s high-tech world: “This yearning, I believe, is a manifestation of our true selves and leads us to the very first small conscious acts of personal heroism, which often brings rejection from the crowd and satisfaction from the heart,” said Sheen.

“But this yearning can be very costly. If it were not so, we would be left to question its value … And no one has ever made a contribution of any real worth without self-sacrifice, personal suffering and sometimes even death,” he added.

Sheen, a high school dropout who did not attend college, has been active on the political scene, advocating for equality and peace. In turn, New England Institute of Technology presented him with an honorary doctor of humane letters during its recent graduation ceremonies.

Overall, the Institute’s graduates said they were moved by Sheen’s appeal to do the right thing by today’s immigrants; while referring to Sheen’s call for “justice, equality and peace” for all Americans.

Image source of Martin Sheen again “looking presidential” during a speech at Annapolis on May 10, 2004. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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