October 2007 Archives

Another Voice for Migrants

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Anyone who cares about migrants would be so blessed to have the passion, stamina, patience, and optimism that Kyle possesses.  It takes tact to answer comments full of bile, discernment to know how to speak up loudly about what you believe, and toughness to keep from taking personally attacks on your position.  I am honored by Kyle's invitation to contribute to Citizen Orange, and especially thankful for the opportunity to work alongside such a dedicated, talented warrior for migrants' rights. 

My name is Janna.  Some of you have seen my comments put forth here, and on other blogs that aim to increase awareness of injustice and understanding of those who need to be better understood.  I have my own little blog, quite different from this one, but which carries a similar mission.  Kyle has provided a link to La Mariposa en la Pared over on the right.  Check it out if you get a chance.  Otherwise, it is my hope that my posts here will complement the ones that Kyle writes, and provide a balance of information, compassion and practical action that our readers will find useful.

   

Living Under the Trees

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The recent fires in California have shed light on migrant workers living on the fringes of the farmlands where they harvest our nation's vegetables.  Living in tent communities, secluded from basic human services, these migrant workers are sometimes nonetheless located within sight of expensive new homes inhabited by people living a totally different existence from theirs.      

Long before the fires came, photographer David Bacon spent time among the migrants, creating an intimate portrait of their lives.  There's still time to catch his photography and oral history exhibition, "Living Under the Trees."  Since its debut in March, this exhibition has appeared around Los Angeles, and is slated next for San Francisco and San Diego between this December and April 2008.

Whether or not you can make it to the exhibition, definitely check out David Bacon's breathtaking photos at his website.  He has done amazing work documenting the lives of those who live in the shadows, as well as those who struggle for workers' rights, both here and around the world.  Bacon's stories and photos are worth volumes of mere words.  He has traveled to communities south of the border, including the pueblito where I spent 3 months long ago, catching my first glimpse of migrants traveling north by train.  His work on immigrants focuses largely on migrant farm workers and should not be missed.
"Los Angeles is Burning" - Bad Religion

When the hills of Los Angeles are burning

Palm trees are candles in the murder wind
 
So many lives are on the breeze

Even the stars are ill at ease
 
And Los Angeles is burning

(Picture from NASA)
(Rest of the Lyrics)

It's strange.  Of all the recent happenings in Southern California and around the U.S., wildfire probably make the most sense.

While seven fires continue to tear through thousands of homes on the West Coast, Boston Red Sox fans are doing the "Papelbon Jig" on the helmets of riot police on the East Coast.  That's O.K. though, because a columnist in this morning's Boston Metro writes "let it burn" of the California wildfires.  Meanwhile, Governor Spitzer is back-pedaling on his heroic drivers' license stance and Tom Tancredo is retiring (tip JTD).  Compared to all of this, wildfire is sanity.

(Picture taken by Lisa Hornack / Boston Herald)

There's three things I want to convey about the California wildfires: Fire knows no borders and neither do Mexican firefighters, forgotten migrants are the real victims of the wildfires, and anti-migrant hate has reared its head, yet again, in the form of a hurtful fake news article.  I will, of course, finish the post with the best way to help out.

I've had a picture burned into my mind for almost a month, now, .  I think about it every time I hear about the ongoing crisis in Burma.  The news I read in this morning's Boston Globe was a small piece of good news, fortunately, but it doesn't remove the cloud that looms over Burma or the image that has been etched into the back of my eyes.

I will not link to, or display the picture on the front page.  It is too graphic.  But I will attempt to describe the circumstances that led to it.  If people want to click through, I will display it. 

On September 29, hundreds of people were massacred in Rangoon, Burma, in an attempt to stifle campaigns for democracy in the country.  Customarily, riot police use rubber-coated rods to stifle unrest.  Outside of the Number 3 High School in the Township of Tarmwe, soldiers beat protesters with heavy metal rods.  One young student was killed on the spot after his skull was bashed in.   His body was soon carried away, but in a nearby gutter, a piece of his brain remained.

That's the picture that has been burned into my mind.  A brain in the gutter next to a high school.  There are pictures that capture a moment.  Then there are pictures that stand for something greater.  Seeing part of a young student's brain, a brain that might have been used for great things, languishing in the gutter next to a place of learning says more than my words ever could. 
The picture on the left is from the website of the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM), an migrant youth organization here in Massachusetts.  SIM is a big part of why Massachusetts is relatively pro-migrant compared to everywhere else in the U.S.  It is students like these that I keep in mind as I write this post.  Their undying hope is inspiring.  Just read the words of  Patricia De Oliveira:

As a student, I am not going to let these Senators decide my future. They will NOT take my future from me. We are going to fight until we have the right to an education. We are in this until we win. That’s the bottom line.

Still, the way their hopes were crushed yesterday, for at least a year, should force all migrant advocates ask some really hard questions.  This entry comes from someone that was on the front lines of recent DREAM activism.   I did everything in my power to move the DREAM Act forward.
I'm in the middle of writing a long post on the failure of the DREAM Act, but while I was writing it I spent a lot of time and effort transcribing the words of Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) who was the chief proponent of the bill.  Instead of bogging down what is already going to be a long post I thought I would post his words separately.

I was invited onto a conference call with him yesterday and have transcribed that, and I've also transcribed the entire speech he made on the floor of the Senate today in support of the DREAM Act and embedded the youtube videos of it, from the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigraiton Reform.

His words are definitely worth reading.  Below is what he said during the conference call.

DREAM Act Fails 52 - 44

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The final count was 52 in favor and 44 against where 60 votes were needed.  I'll write more later.

UPDATE: The Associated Press just reported on the failed cloture vote

The Anti-Migrant Online Machine

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Migrant advocates realize that online opposition is strong, but I don't think everyone realizes just how sophisticated and efficient the online anti-migrant hate machine is. 

I spent almost all of last week doing work around the DREAM Act.  A lot of the work I did was dedicating Youtube videos to key Senators that will decide the fate of the DREAM Act.  By the way if you have a second, today, call the following senators:

Murkowski (R-AK) 202-244-6665
Stevens (R-AK) 202-224-3004
Pryor (D-AR) 202-224-2353
Martinez (R-FL) 202-224-3041
Inouye (D-HI) 202-224-3934
Brownback (R-KS) 202-224-6521
Landieu (D-LA) 202-224-5824
Collins (R-ME) 202-224-2523
Snowe (R-ME) 202-224-5344
Conrad (D-ND) 202-224-2043
Dorgan (D-ND) 202-224-2551
Dominici (R-NM) 202-224-6621
Voinovich (R-OH) 202-224-3353
Smith (R-OR) 202-224-3753
Graham (R-SC) 202-224-5972
Johnson (D-SD) 202-224-5842
Cornyn (R-TX) 202-224-2934
Warner(R-VA) 202-224-2023
Rockefeller (D-VA) 202-224-6472
All you have to say is "My name is __, and I urge Senator ___ to support the DREAM Act".  Often times, they won't ask you your location.

To get back to my story, while I was uploading my Youtube videos, it didn't take more than 3 views for someone to plant an anti-migrant comment on them.
I've only started making videos this month, so my skills aren't anywhere near Nezua's, but this is my submission to be Massachusetts' reporter for MTV Choose or Lose '08.  I'm still using a digital camera that was ravaged in my adventures through Mexico, and it certainly shows. 

I'm completely riding on this idea of a pop punk report.  I think humorously horrible pop punk songs are a good way to appeal to a young demographic.  I only hope MTV News likes the idea enough to support it and invest in me.  I will cover issues beyond migration, it's just my best footage and pictures had to do with migration, and that isn't saying much. 

Enough talk, here's the video:


Duke on the DREAM Act

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There's a discussion going on in my previous post that just doesn't deserve to be buried in the comments section.  Here Duke from Migra Matters is responding to one of the best articulations of the problems with the DREAM Act, written by XP at Para Justicia Y Libertad.  I think it exemplifies why we need pro-migrant spaces online.  We need places that are not infected with anti-migrant hate.  It allows us to be honest and truthful with advocates and migrants about the benefits and pitfalls of the choices before them.  This is what Duke had to say:
When anti-migrant advocates speak up, they get called racists.  When pro-migrant advocates speak up, they get deported.  Is there even a contest?

Tam Tran bravely testified before Rep. Zoe Lofgren's panel (D-CA) and was covered on the front page of USA Today.  Three days later, her family was detained by Immigration and Custom's Enforcement (ICE).  Duke has already written a better post about Tam Tran then I will ever be able to write, so I'm going to write about this from the unique perspective that I bring.

First, ICE is the most frightening enforcement agency within the U.S.'s borders.  ICE is accountable to no one and it has far too much power.  Second, Tam Tran is a stateless individual like so many others on the earth, today.  She can't go back to her country because she doesn't have a country to go back to.  What is her place in the world? Is she worth nothing like so many others that weren't born within the borders of a prosperous country?  Third, Congress need to pass the DREAM act.  There are problems with it, sure, but I can't look in the faces of the many young migrants that have their hopes tied up in the DREAM act and tell them I don't support it.  Migrants need a victory, and we'll fix the problems with the DREAM Act later.

It is with that in mind that I've taken a series of the best nine videos on the DREAM Act and dedicated them to nine senators that hold the fate of the legislation in their hands.  Below is the video that I got from the Illinois Coalition on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), which I've dedicated to Senator Mel Martinez. 
I've often wondered where the indignant self-righteousness of anti-migrant advocates comes from.  It is impossible to live in the United States without deriving some benefit from the work of migrants.  There has been no effective effort to catalog and boycott businesses that employ migrants.  Even if someone tried to avoid the benefits of migrant labor, it would be near impossible to live a happy and healthy life in the U.S.

But instead of trying to get through to anti-migrant advocates, I thought I'd bring attention to the leaders that represent them.  Again, there's no real effective list of biggest migrant employers.  Yet there are some prominent pro-migrant businesses, businesses anti-migrant advocates have highlighted themselves, that are contributing substantial amounts of money to anti-migrant politicians.  I'll explain further in the post, but in the meantime check out this youtube video I made drawing attention to the political contributions of the Bank of America Corporation State and Federal Political Action Committee:

"Tear Down This Wall"

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If you seek peace,
if you seek prosperity...
if you seek liberalization:
Come here to this gate! ...
Open this gate!...
Tear down this wall!
    -Ronald Reagan

Tuesday's a pretty busy day for me, so I won't be able to write too much, today.  Still, I wanted to draw people's attention to the winners of the Reform Institute's "Design Your Portion of the Border Fence Campaign".  Except for maybe the person who won the "Passion Prize" and a paid internship at the Reform Institute, all of the winners put forth what I interpret to be pro-migrant messages.  I have to say I was especially please with the first place winner, who played on concepts very familiar to the pro-migrant community.

The Soul of Guatemala

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Nic Askew has been taking Guatemala by storm with his monday9am.tv in attempt to "capture the soul of Guatemala" as he puts it. According to his introduction, he was offered the chance to capture the soul of Guatemalan presidential candidate, Alejandro Giammattei, and he extended his assignment to the whole country. The reason I bring this up, is to show you this gem of a video.

I'll follow this with analysis of the video, and Nic Askew's whole trip, but if you don't have time for it, just watch the video.  It's worth it.  I think this video of Feliciano Pop is priceless.  Not so much because of the way Nic Askew framed it, but just because the privileged online world needs to see more of people like Pop.
Nezua will probably be helping me with a few more things, but Citizen Orange is up and operational and I'm going to be extremely happy to move operations here on Monday.  I've been doing so much administrative work lately that it will be nice to get back to blogging on the weekdays.

Immigration Orange will still be up and I will put up a post every now and then over there, but I'll link to them here and everyone should migrate over to this platform if they want to keep up with my writing.  Nezua has helped me set up links to all of the blogging features that I could have ever dreamed of, an RSS Feed, a Podcast, a Technorati Favorite Button, a Contact Form, and a Donate Page, each with beautiful custom-made designs.  I also have complete control over my blogroll, and it's been difficult for me to remember everybody, so if I missed you don't hesitate to let me know.

The real reason I wanted to write this post, was to thank The Unapologetic Mexican.  If you want one of the best looking blogs on the web, please contact him, and click to read more about why this blog kicks so much ass.

(Picture from the White House website)


(Picture from the Washington Post)

Every time I think of the infamous raid in New Bedford, Massachusetts, I can't help but think of these two photos and the impact they had on me when I first laid them side-by-side.

(Picture from CNN)

My sister was the first to email me with this CNN story, but since then I have been emailed by several people that are completely enraged by the story of Pedro Zapeta. Janna sent me one of the most heartfelt messages. Her latest post on Zapeta is titled "I no longer feel good about this country". Latina Lista sums up the situation very well in this post. Even my friend at Chromed Curses has come out against this one.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2007 is the previous archive.

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