December 2007 Archives

I'm An MTV Scab!

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Well, not really.  But this post will certainly be a test of my independence from big media.

If you haven't heard the news yet, I am one of the 51 citizen journalists selected for MTV's newly unveiled Street Team '08.  I'm going to be a one man media outlet (written, audio, and visual media) for Massachusetts youth.   MTV's press release, in one form or another, has found its way to the Associated Press, the Guardian, and Fox, and other outlets.

Home for the Holidays

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Thought I'd post a couple random personal updates.

I will be traveling back to Guatemala soon so I might not be able to blog as much as I would like.  It'll be the perfect time for me to do some reading, and work on some longer writing projects that I've been hoping to get, too.  The speed and instantaneousness of the blogosphere certainly doesn't allow for the sort of developed thinking and reasoning that is often necessary for personal intellectual progress, as good as it is at documenting history.

Also, I was invited onto the Mario Solis Marich Show yesterday to talk about my Amy Chua post.  There's no way to hear it again, but Mario will be inviting a lot more familiar names from the pro-migrant blogosphere onto his show, soon.  I gave a shout out to Duke because I used his phrase, "the extreme is becoming the mainstream", and Mario also complemented Citizen Orange's design so I gave a shout out to Nezua and Xolagrafik Design, for that.  He also invited me back to talk about the trip where I retraced the route of a Guatemalan migrant into the U.S.

2008 is going to be a big year for the pro-migrant blogosphere.  I hope people stick around for the ride.

Walk In Their Shoes

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Follow the ill-fated journey of a group of Mexican migrants with this interactive map developed by UC Davis digital design students Derek Huntzinger and Nathan Couch.  Based on Luis Alberto Urrea's book The Devil's Highway: A True Story, this map guides you along the route which has come to represent, more and more, the path most traveled, as migrants are pushed into more dangerous desert crossings by tighter border security. This story has never been more relevant than now, as migrants continue to die in unprecedented numbers in their attempt to reach el norte. 
I admire people that work to build unity where there is division.  Building unity leads humanity in the direction of ideals.  Building consensus is admirable, but compromising with hate is not.

In her Washington Post op-ed, "The Right Road to America?", Yale Law Professor Amy Chua compromises with hate.  In an attempt to forge a middle ground between tolerance and toughness, she makes deals with the devil.  The net result is an argument that rests on nativism. 

Chua makes the fallacious argument that, within nations, "pluralism and diversity" leads to "violence and instability".  Reading her op-ed, I couldn't help but be reminded of the lunatic mission statement of Frosty Wooldridge's website (Another front for NumbersUSA):

MigrantRoots: We Are All Migrants

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There seems to be a sufficient enough lull in migrant suffering and anti-migrant hate, that I will be able to start a series of posts that I've been meaning to write for sometime now. 

So much has happened over the last few months, much of which I will be able to reveal on Citizen Orange shortly.  The pro-migrant blogosphere is exploding and soon will become an integral part of the fight for migrant emancipation.  Just on Citizen Orange there has been an incredible burst of new and positive energy with the efforts of janna, yave and duke, and I'm hoping for more!

With all of this energy and all of these new voices, increasingly I find myself thinking about how best I can contribute.  As more pro-migrant bloggers come into the fold and each of us defines our areas of expertise, it's looking like mine, increasingly, is going to be the angle of global justice that so few willingly discuss.  For too long, now, we have separated the local from the transnational, the national from the global.   I personally have been trying to build power locally and nationally here from Massachusetts, but it has always been with an eye towards global justice.

Update below - 12/20/07 10:58 EST

From the website of Surviving Spouses Against Deportation:


Marlin Coats didn't hesitate to jump in the water to try to save two drowning teens caught in a riptide at San Francisco Beach Park.  He lost his life that Mother's Day in 2006, but because of his heroism those two teenagers survived.  So why is the U.S. now responding to Coats' ultimate sacrifice by deporting his wife Jacqueline Coats?

U.S. Army contractor Todd Engstrom of Illinois gave his life for his country when he was killed in Iraq, and now the federal government is telling his wife Diana she too must go.  And so must Dahianna Heard of Florida, whose husband Jeffrey Heard was shot in the head by insurgents in Iraq.  What will happen to their children?

Because of a flaw in the law, women and men who entered this country legally are facing deportation when their spouses die during the lengthy administrative visa process.  There are scores of these cases across the country affecting women, mothers and children.

The "widow penalty" is an obscure interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that puts widows or widowers of U.S. citizens at risk of deportation if they have not been married for at least two years and are waiting for an application for permanent residence (the "green card") to be approved.  I say it's an "interpretation" of the INA because several federal courts that have ruled on the issue have disagreed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) interpretation of the statute.  More on this below.

**contact your Senators and Congressional Representatives to end the widow penalty**

Sunday Skim

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For those of us who are busy with the season's festivities, here is a sampling from the pro-migrant blogosphere and other happenings from the past week to enjoy:

December 12 marked the day of La Virgen de Guadalupe.  Even if you missed the awesome Mañanitas on Univision that night, which included many beautiful musical requests for Her protection of migrants, you can still see a slideshow and video of the festivities from Antigua, Guatemala.

The Gringa in San Miguel has been following an evolving documentary about the immigration debate in Virginia, with a series of videos guaranteed to warm you up, via a boost in your blood pressure.

For a Guatemalan migrant's take on immigration issues in Canada, check out El Toronteco.

La Bloga featured an update of the proposed border fence, and how our government is trampling the rights of our indigenous people.

Luis Alberto Urrea posted his exclamation-evoking Immigration Monday, with its weekly arsenal of information to help better equip us pro-migrant warriors.

Latina Lista called for an end to raids as ICE has been spreading la mala onda all week, from the insultingly named Operation Tamale, to stooping to a new low in the capture of families in Oklahoma.

Nezua offered some food for thought as we approach the season of consumerism and consumption.  If that motivates you to make a change for the better, Man Eegee has made some excellent suggestions for giving to help offset some of the suffering of migrants.  

House of Nezua

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Nuestro amigo Nezua is shrugging his shoulders, stepping outta his skin, and chillin out in a funky new space.  Go check out his new pad where creativity flows like wine, love rules, and la lucha takes a back seat to tranquilidad for a while. 
Updated below: 12/13/07 5:50 p.m.

One portion of the Q&A from the USCIS National Stakeholder Meeting on December 4, 2007, addressed the issue of how an applicant for some immigration benefit (like a green card or work permit) could notify the government of an address change as required by law if a notice acknowledging receipt of the application had not yet been sent to the applicant due to large backlogs stemming from this summer's fee increase.  The receipt notice contains a tracking number that USCIS uses to update an applicant's file with the new address.  Without the tracking number to process the address change, USCIS could have difficulty getting in touch with an applicant with information about the case, and in theory, a case could be denied if an applicant did not show up to a fingerprint appointment or otherwise respond to USCIS's instructions.  Here is the exchange (pdf):

Question: The instructions on the USCIS website for change of address in cases where the person has yet to receive a receipt number are very confusing. This question was posed last month and the answer given was to look at the website. Are there any other suggestions you can provide for people who do not have receipt numbers? (The website says to look on the back of the cashed check for the receipt number, but many clients with receipt delays have not had their checks cashed.)

Response: USCIS is working to update the information currently on the website concerning receipt delays and change of address information to make it more clear. Thank you for your feedback. If a customer has a pending application but has not yet received a receipt notice they must call the national customer service number at 1-800-375-5283 to request a change of address. When the customer calls the national customer service number they should specifically state that they have a pending application, have not yet received a receipt notice but would like to change their address. They should also be prepared to tell the customer service representative when they mailed in their application. The customer service representative will then issue a service request which will be routed to a service center having jurisdiction over that application The applicant will receive a letter acknowledging the completion of their change of address request once his/her application is receipted and the change of address has been updated. Customers are required to complete a Form AR-11, notifying DHS that their address has changed. An AR-11 can be completed on-line without a receipt number.

All clear now?  

From Ryan Lizza's recent New Yorker article on immigration and the GOP:

Dean Allen, a plump and friendly fellow sporting an American-flag tie, told me that he runs something called Spirit of Liberty; he's also helping Witherspoon's campaign. "Some of these people may be coming in here to get jobs washing dishes, but some of them are coming in here to hijack airplanes," he explained. "If you're down there trying to look at the people coming across the border, maybe a lot of them are just motivated by economics, and they want a job washing dishes or cutting grass. But I can't tell Jose Cuervo from the Al Qaeda operatives by looking at them, because they cut their beard off. It's like trying to get fly manure out of pepper without your glasses on, you know? I mean, not a racist thing, but they're all brown with black hair and they don't speak English and I don't speak Arabic or Spanish, so if they don't belong here and they don't come here legally, I want to know who's here."

Anytime someone prefaces a statement with, "I'm not a racist, but . . ." make sure to turn your bulls%#t detector up a notch or two. 

It's alarming to consider that much of the animus and fear behind anti-migrant politics right now is apparently attributable to a simple case of mistaken identity.  It bears repeating since it hits me in the face like a sledgehammer: "They're all brown with black hair and they don't speak English and I don't speak Arabic or Spanish." 

Translation: They're different from me in ways I don't really understand but that worry me, so they'd better make sure they keep their distance.  

Huckabee's New Strategy: Embrace Hatred

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Today, two important events demonstrated just how far to the right the Republican Presidential candidates are shifting on the immigration issue. The first was the endorsement of Iowa front runner, Mike Huckabee, by Minutemen founder, Jim Gilchrist –not so much for the fact that Gilchrist is once again is trying to thrust his agenda center stage – but rather Huckabee's willingness to embrace it.

On stage at an event in Council Bluffs with Gilchrist ,Huckabee characterized the anti- immigrant vigilante as "a person who just got fed up with what he saw as a breakdown of his own government.…Since October of 2004 he's been one of the leading voices in this country trying to bring sanity to an issue that's spiraled.." adding:

"Frankly, Jim I've got to tell you there were times in the early days of the Minutemen I thought what are these guys doing, what are they about," Huckabee said. "I confess I owe you an apology." He said of Gilchrist, "nobody can question his commitment to his country."

Washington Post

The second event was an announcement by the leading civil rights watchdog group, The Southern Poverty Law Center, that the parent organization of the Washington think tank that's been credited with formulating Huckabee's new tough nine-point plan on immigration has been officially placed on their list of Hate Groups operating in the US.

It was a lot of fun watching Kieth Olbermann lay the smackdown on Lou Dobbs for his complicity in hiring the same migrants that he rails against nightly.  Yave wrote a brilliant post on this, and Duke writes that the blogosphere was way ahead of Olbermann on this one.  Still, there was one part of Olbermann's monologue, quoted below, that bothered me a bit.

Updated below - 12/11/07 6:10 p.m.

Marisa Treviño at Latina Lista wasn't shy about calling out the Republican candidates for a suspicious confluence of scheduling conflicts that prevented all but one of them from committing to a Univision debate earlier this year.  Por ejemplo:

It's very telling that the strongest advocate who hasn't been afraid to speak out for the Hispanic voters to his Republican colleagues is none other than Karl Rove.

Donde estan los demas?

"Where are the rest?"  Lo and behold, last night all the GOP candidates but one dutifully appeared on Univision in front of a Latino audience broadcast to millions across the country.  I guess someone in scheduling got the message that a debate targeted to a key constituency in danger of being lost completely to the GOP in 2008 was a higher priority than forever attempting to placate the implacable, one-note restrictionist wing of the party. 

On immigration lately, the GOP primary campaign might as well have been composed of Ron Paul, John McCain, and six Tancredos, for all the policy difference there has been between them. 

That changed a little on Sunday night at the Univision debate, if only temporarily. 

UPDATE: This anti-migrant troll continues to post from Madison, Alabama, forcing me to ban IT.

I don't usually post on the weekends.  But, in managing Citizen Orange's comments, I came across the tactics of another despicable anti-migrant troll.  Not only is this troll so cowardly that IT refuses to identify ITself, but this troll has engaged in misrepresenting ITself as one of Citizen Orange's beloved bloggers.

The troll commented here and here.

Pretending to be yave begnet, this troll has engaged in spewing anti-migrant and twisted logic, which I refuse to answer, because of the underhanded way in which IT has identified itself.  This is the sort of hate that we have to confront online, and in real life.  It is in anonymity that we are confronted with the true hate and cowardice of the anti-migrant viewpoints that are responsible for the suffering of millions.

I've written this post and published these cowardly comments, and expose the world to what the pro-migrant blogosphere has to confront on a daily basis.
One of the benefits of cross-posting on Daily Kos is that you find people like Nightprowlkitty, who has become one of the most fierce defenders of migrant rights on the net.  Check out NPK holding it down and telling her story on Docudharma, a site that's becoming a pretty big deal.

Illegal Is Not a Noun

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Check out the new badge at the bottom of the right hand column.  Via Duke at Migra Matters...
I'm proud to have another link in the pro-migrant blogroll, today.  T. Don Hutto is a blog "dedicated to providing information on the growing movement to shut down Hutto and prevent this model of immigrant detention from spreading nationally". 

The "Don Hutto Family Residential Facility", was the first prison designed specifically for immigrant families.  It is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, the U.S.'s largest for-profit corrections company.   If the thought of profiting from one of the largest prison populations in the world isn't sickening enough, check out the information the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has on the Hutto Detention Center.  The letter I've pasted here, from a detained child identified as Kevin to the Canadian Prime Minister, has haunted my dreams.  I will quote it below.

(Picture from the American Civil Liberties Union)
I don't think we can do enough back-patting in the pro-migrant blogosphere.  We are few and the opposition is strong. Any recognition we get is cause for celebration.  I'm extremely happy to announce that XP of Para Justicia Y Libertad, otherwise known as Edmundo Rocha, was recently given a silver star by the Texas Progressive Alliance after being nominated for Texan of the Year

xpEdmundo Rocha. Blending lends heavy-handed social critiques, local and national politics, and a heaping dose of common sense in his blog, Edmundo Rocha tackles heavy topics like imigration (sic), teenage pregnancy, racial and gender politics, and backs up everything with a sense of style and spirit. With a loyal and unwavering audience (his Texan of the Year nomination, in fact, was suggested in the comments of a blog by one of Edmundo’s readers), Rocha has rapidly become one of the state’s most prominent Latino bloggers. No issue is too tough, and none taboo for this blogger.
Congratulations, XP and I'll never forget your early support for Immigration Orange.
In a "Memo to the Netroots on Immigration" Elana Levin of the Drum Major Institute gave a nod to the Latino Blogosphere and Citizen Orange for our work on immigration.

The burgeoning Latino/a blogosphere, front-lined by the likes of Latino Pundit, Latina Lista and Para Justicia y Libertad and which includes immigration policy blogs like Immigration Orange and Migra Matters, continue to expose anti-immigrant myths, call attention to under-reported stories, promote immigrant voices and drive on-the-ground pro-migrant activism. Diarists on community blogs like “Colorado Luis” and Migra Matters editor “Duke1676”’s crossposts to DailyKos have kept blog readers outside of the immigrant rights community informed of ICE raids and deportations. There must be greater attention for their efforts outside of immigrant rights circles.
While I don't think Elana could have ever given the Latino blogosphere enough credit for the pro-migrant haven they have provided, it's still nice to know that our work is getting recognized.
Salto - show jumping.jpg

[Image: uploaded by schlupcav to Flickr]

There’s this thing about rich people.  They need poor people to work for them.  In this country, often those poor people are immigrants.  Some of those immigrants may not have their papers in order.  But the richer you are, the harder it’s going to be to avoid employing some immigrant labor that is not work authorized (a concept that didn’t even exist in the U.S. until 1986).

While the American people continue to be fed a daily dose of inflammatory rhetoric and simplistic solutions to the complex issue of immigration reform, that rely far more upon ignorance and bigotry than facts and practical proposals, the real-world problems that are the cause of the current worldwide migration remain trivialized or utterly ignored.

And while arguments over border walls, drivers licenses, and who can inflict the most pain and suffering upon the unauthorized migrant population, might make for effective sound-bites and attack ads in the circus that now passes for political campaigning, they do little towards addressing the root causes of the issue….or reaching any meaningful solutions.

Politicians, pundits and the media have tried to avoid the issue of root causation like the plague, but any serious examination of the issue cannot ignore the United States' roll in fostering the very conditions that have driven millions of people in this hemisphere to uproot themselves for the uncertainty of life as unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Here is just one example:

Which is why any meaningful attempt to reform US immigration policy must go beyond the scope of the current debate and legislation and move towards addressing the policies that have promoted conditions that can only lead to social and political unrest and poverty in sender nations.
(Boston Globe Photo)

Massachusetts has been buzzing with the news that Mitt Romney was caught employing migrants staying in the U.S. illegally, yet again.

The Boston Globe broke the story last night, and David at Blue Mass. Group was quick to jump all over it.  After the Globe inquiry, Romney quickly fired the landscaping company and his Republican rivals have been quick to jump all over it.

My favorite quote came from a member of the Fred Thompson campaign:

"First Mitt Romney was FOR illegal immigrants working on his lawn, and then he was against it, then for it, and now I guess he's against it again," spokesman Todd Harris said in a statement. "Sounds like his position on amnesty."

Rather than just sit back and laugh at the political theater, I thought I'd delve into a deeper analysis of Romney's hypocrisy on this issue.
Let's play a game.  Decipher the following acronyms and tell me which organizations are pro-migrant and which are anti-migrant:  FIRM, FAIR, CCIR, CCIR, CIS, NILC. 

Having trouble?  How about if I write them out and link to them:

Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR), California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

Still having trouble? 

Cause and Effect

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Speaking of yesterday's debate, and the consequences of dangerous questions, today on Democracy Now! Amy Goodman is speaking with Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center about the increase in hate crimes against latinos.

On the bright side, New York is trying to make it easier and safer for immigrants to report crimes.

Gracias a Nezua y Tomás.
My favorite quote from today's NPR/Iowa Public Radio Democratic debate.  Senators Hillary Clinton (NY), Barack Obama (IL), Christopher Dodd (CT), Joseph Biden (DE), former Senators Mike Gravel (AK) and John Edwards (NC), and Representative Dennis Kucinich (OH) answered questions about Iran, China, and immigration.  If you missed it, check back for streaming and downloadable audio later this evening after 6 p.m. EST.

Due to the format of the debate, with each speaker introduced before he or she spoke, it was sometimes unclear who was speaking.  As I listened, I was also working, so once in a while a statement caught my attention, only to leave me frustrated as they moved on at the end of the statement without thanking the speaker by name.  This was, unfortunately, the case with the above quote.  Therefore, the candidate who made that statement will have to remain a mystery until I re-listen to the debate in the quiet of my home this evening, or until one of our readers posts the answer in comments.

UPDATE: I was ready to bet the farm that it was Kucinich who said this, but as it turns out, it was Joe Biden

Lou Dobbs Race Baiter

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When it comes to race baiting, Lou Dobbs is a hypocrite.  Check out this new video that I've put together where Lou Dobbs gives a pass to a staunch racist at forum in Illinois.  Then, just a day later, he accuses Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) of race baiting on his show.  This and Gutierrez didn't even mention race once!  I can't help but see hypocrisy when Dobbs gives a pass to an anti-migrant racist in his forum at the same time that he constantly calls out pro-migrant advocates for race-baiting on his show. 



Dobbs's popularity results from filling the vacuum spineless establishment Democrats are leaving in their wake.  In the absence of strong progressive leadership, Lou Dobbs has been able to twist populist rhetoric into anti-migrant hate and economic irrationality. 

Make sure to sign the petition to boycott Lou Dobbs over at boycottdobbs.us .  Let him know that the people he claims to represent will not stand for his harmful rhetoric.  His words divide and degrade human kind.

I also want to thank Max and the Marginalized for giving me permission to use their music in the video.  Check out their myspace page to hear more music.  Their only asking for a donation of 50 cents for each downloaded song.  Not bad for quality work like this.  The lyrics for Dobbs-inspired song, "Weeknights at Six" are below.

Via Nezua comes word of a proposed reality TV game show show called "Who Wants to Marry a U.S. Citizen" that "aims to create televised matrimony between legal citizens and immigrants who have temporary visas."

The show's backers at Morusa Media hope to make a sort of love match between reality TV and a national obsession with immigration. But the producers make no promise that a marriage will occur or lead to U.S. citizenship.

That's partly because any marriage that resulted from a game show with marriage to a U.S. citizen as the prize would lead to a strong presumption that the marriage was entered into for the sole purpose of circumventing the country's immigration laws--hence, no green card.  

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