February 2008 Archives

I thought I'd post another video today to watch over the weekend.  It's from our friends over at the T. Don Hutto Blog, and it really brings to light the horror of this family detention center.  I wrote about this facility some time ago.  Remember, this facility is located in a privileged nation.

When I read that an ICE agent has committed suicide first there's sorrow that somebody would resort to it and then there's strong concern for the work he did and how it affected him. Para Justicia y Libertad gives us some disturbing facts on this story and truly shows that some jobs can be hazardous to your sanity. It wasn't too long ago that ICE agents were petitioning local police officers to join their raids because it would be "a good time." I guess to some forceful entry and life destruction makes for a fun evening. (round-up posted by symsess)

Let's all congratulate Man Eegee over at Latino Politico on his being given the "E" for excellence award. Congratulations and keep up the good work! Well deserved!

Blabbeando's Thursday post asks that we stay away from the politics of fear which opened the White House doors to Bush. For those that agree with them, that Obama is the best choice, stop over and add your name to their letter advocating for the LGBT community. Today's post focuses on violence against the LGBT community in Latin America.

Culture Kitchen believes that Obama is the right choice and gives an write-up on Obama's views on our relationship with Israel.

Damn Mexicans lists books, movies and games on the subject of migrants, immigration, and prejudice. Stop by and add more to the list. I recommend JFK's book titled A Nation of Immigrants for those that haven't read it.

Latina Lista dishes rumor that Texas GOP voters will vote to keep Clinton off the ticket. Apparently they're not too found of the Clintons. A previous post titled "Solving Illegal Immigration Means Business Not As Usual" exams the lack of understanding many politicians have regarding the solution to this issue. This isn't just about the United States.

"All For A Glass of Water", over at Open Borders Lobby speaks of the dangers of crossing the border through the desert. I remember the idea of water stations being suggested back when I was in Texas, but the Glenn Becks and Sean Hannity's of the world ridiculed the idea to death. Take time to read this article about wonderful people trying to help those in need.

On Latino Netroots we learn that being an Obama supporter can be dangerous - that is if you have a familiar member that supports Hillary.

The digital border is being scrapped according to Border Reporter. However, it will be completed along the 28 miles around Sasabe. If you happen to be in the area they're offering a free wi-fi hotspot which will show up on your computer as "I Love George."

Bill Hobbs as Christ? The Coyote Chronicles offers a little humor.

Dream Act Texas gives us details of the Obama camp's Houston DREAM Act press conference. It's good to see the DREAM Act will have another chance. They also give more details on the question of McCain's citizenship status. Personally I hope there's no issue here because Mitt Romney may decide to take another stab at the nomination.

Peter Guzman is a U.S. citizen was illegally deported to Mexico. Read more about this and refugees in Israel over at Immigration Prof Blog.

People Migrate tells us of Rev. Samuel Rodriguez a pro-immigrant voice in the evangelical community and links to an interview with Bill Moyers.

Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch gives us some changes being made to rules of style in the Washington Times including replacing the term "illegal alien" with "illegal immigrant".

Anti-immigrant movement infighting? Who would have guessed. I guess that's hate for you. Read more over at Pro Inmigrant.

Today The Latin Americanist links to articles on the border fence, Venezuela ad Bush's criticism of Obama for visiting Raul Castro. Yesterday, Manu Chao was the featured musician and they focused on "Rainin' In Paradize” which rails against actions like the invasion of Iraq and oppression in Africa. Manu Chao paints the world as it really is while his crazy upbeat music motivates you to make it better. For those that don't know, and quite contrary to its intent, Bush has his cabinet members listen to "Politik Kills" and finishes the song with "we need more blood!"

Of America continues the discussion of the Time Magazine article stating there's no correlation between immigration and crime.

Nuestra Voice covers Obama's surge among Latino voters in Texas.

Multiplicative Identity gives us a long list of Latino artists who have suffered the anti-immigrant surge.

Ralph Nader, Robb Stein, Vets speak out against McCain and a scene from A Few Good Men - all videos - over at Matt Ortega's blog.

Reading that 1 in 100 adults is behind bars is disturbing. What's going on here? Read more over at Eristic Ragemail.

Support Amnesty International's effort to end violence against women by signing their petition.

"sombrero" tip to the Unapologetic Mexican for this:

Pro-Migrant Round-up

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Kyle has given me the opportunity to post the pro-migrant round-up each day so hopefully all goes well.  Before I post today's entries I just want to thank everyone for the wonderful work you do.  Let me know if I missed anyone and please critique any errors. - symsess (American Humanity)

American Humanity posts on Mayor Lou Barletta, Hazleton's 'English only' mayor running for congress.

Damn Mexicans gives us some information on John Derbyshire who previously violated his visa and is pushing for hard lined punishment for anyone else that does the same - well, if they're from south of the border that is.

Dream Act Texas talks about Julie Myers and her 'teams of terror' working to scare migrants across six states. We have every reason to doubt Julie's intentions as she thinks white people dressing as black convicts is 'original' and deserving of an award.

Eristic ragemail talks about NAFTA and immigration. In Tuesday's debate this was discussed, but only in terms of how it effects the U.S. Hugo dives in to the effects of NAFTA on Mexico. You can also visit a previous Migra Matters post for more information.

Immigration List's feature story details the decline of Republicans who have based their campaigns on anti-migrant rhetoric. We've seen both in last year's elections and in the current primaries that voters don't buy in to the hate.

Justice and Journalism's post titled "No correlation between immigration and incarceration" defends migrants against the claims that they are more likely to commit crimes.

Long Island Wins references the same article found on Justice and Journalism exclaiming "Immigrants Up: Crime Down.

I believe John over at Nonviolent Migration is in Brownsville, TX along with Matthew over at Smart Borders. In his most recent post he tells us of a speech he gave honoring his students for their participation in a Martin Luther King essay contest.

Matthew over at Smart Borders also tells us of a speech he gave and of his belief that everyone wants to to good “they're just looking for an excuse.” I believe this is true and there are many wonderful people here who have found theirs.

Pro Inmigrant asks "Are we waiting to change the world or change ourselves to change the world?"

Tiny Cat Pants links to a report that show people on the lower end of the economic scale are more supportive of a path to citizenship in a post titled "We're All In It Together.

Immigration Prof Blog asks "Is John McCain eligible to be president?"

I was excited to find out over the weekend that David Neiwart, through his own blog and a cross-post on Firedoglake linked to me and others in the pro-migrant blogosphere in the last post of his three-part series on immigration:

The blogosphere can have a role in this change as well. There is a wealth of blogs out there dealing with immigration and Latino issues on a regular basis, and many of them feature not just important perspectives that need to be part of the conversation, but compelling and powerful writing as well. A sampling: Migra Matters, Latina Lista, Matt Ortega,Immigration Prof Blog, The Silence of our Friends, Citizen Orange, The Unapologetic Mexican ... well, the list is long, and this one is certainly incomplete. But you get the idea.

I encourage you to use my blogroll on the right to complete that list, but now that he's finished his series I thought I'd use it as an opportunity to insert my own commentary, and hopefully build or hone on what was a massive and ambitious undertaking for Neiwart.
Lot's of good information in the pro-migrant blogosphere, today.  My entry on the ICED video game has been getting lots of traffic and I only hope that we can convert those eyes into more followers of the pro-migrant blogosphere.  Read on for another one of my weekday pro-migrant round-ups:
"Do the lines that government officials draw on maps sever the heart of humanity?"

We are all migrants in one way or another.  One of the purposes of this blog is to point this out, encouraging us to see the similarities, rather than the differences, between "us" and "others" who move about on the earth.  The more commonalities we see, the more likely we are to relate, empathize, and speak up in support of those who are in some way like us. 

This short memoir, the story of an American family who migrated from one state to another in search of higher wages, a better life, and more promising opportunities for their children, speaks to the common dreams we all share.  You won't find a more American story than this.  You also won't find a more global, or a more human, story than this. 

Thanks to Tomás for putting it out there.

As this blog continues to evolve, and the wonderful writing of yave begnet, changeseeker, janna, and lividsnails graces pages of Citizen Orange, I wonder if there's still a place to give personal updates about myself.  I hesitate because I really want people that I think are better and more knowledgeable writers than myself, to start taking ownership of this page, while I work to give them more visibility.  Which reminds me, I really have to get my photoshop and web development skills in order so I can change the "about kyle" sections of this blog so that they read, "about the authors".

Still, I thought people would be interested in some of the other things that I've been up to, while I'm not typing up a storm here.  
I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.  I'm back this Monday with another pro-migrant round-up:

Watching Occupation Dreamland, a 2005 documentary about the war in Iraq, it occurred to me that the effects of the citizen/noncitizen dynamic we've seen in the U.S. with inhumane and unjust treatment of immigrants in places like Don Hutto, New Bedford, and Oklahoma--presumption of guilt, inhumane treatment of noncitizens, fear and demonization of outsiders, and racism--are exponentially more devastating in Iraq in a war setting. 

Iraqis have been arrested and locked up without charge or trial.  They have been beaten, tortured, raped, and killed by their ostensible protectors--U.S. soldiers and contractors--very few of whom have faced serious consequences for their actions.

What few procedural guarantees exist for noncitizens in the U.S. are almost entirely lacking in Iraq. 

I am officially too busy to breathe any more.  The effects of this remain to be seen.  However, I'm assuming, given what I've been taught about breathing, they will be dire.  Nevertheless, I was tipped to a blog post this morning that won't let me go to bed until I link to it here.  The post is by Joe DeRaymond at Dissident Voice and is entitled The Reality of Migration: the View From El Salvador.  It's one of the most elegant, concise and convincing discussions of immigration and U.S. public policy I've ever read.  If you have any confidence left whatsoever in the reasoning of a person who has allowed themselves to become too busy to breathe, I strongly urge that you read DeRaymond's post as soon as you can.  It's the kind of thing that makes me want to read it from a soap box, put it on the radio, and print out copies to paste side by side like posters on downtown fences.  I wish everybody in the United States could hear it from loudspeakers over and over until this madness ends.

I recently read two remarkable books, and I’d like to talk about them both, in separate posts.  The first is What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, the story of one of Sudan’s Lost Boys as told by Dave Eggers.  The second is The Devil’s Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea.  Both these books became bestsellers, and have been reviewed and discussed extensively elsewhere.  I write about them now because I only read them a little while ago. 

Each of these books revived for me an experience I used to have commonly as a child, but much less frequently in adulthood.  I would pick up a book and not be able to focus on anything else until I had finished it.  I would read on the bus to school, under my desk [clarifying: the book, not me] during class, and often during lunch break.  Late at night I would sneak to my bedroom doorway to read by the light in the hall, which was ostensibly left on to comfort my siblings and I from nighttime terrors.  On Saturdays, I would shut myself in the bathroom for hours to read and avoid my chores.  On Sundays, I resented the three hours that church took away from my books.  As an adult, I read primarily nonfiction, and much more slowly given the multiplying demands on my time, and I thought maybe I had lost that childhood compulsion completely.  But with each of these books, the hunger to continue the story continued until I had read both of them in the same week.  This I find a little strange, considering that either one could be the most depressing book I have ever read. 

Lou Dobbs DOWNes

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The ImmigrationProf Blog has a link to what I think is one of the most reasonable take downs of Lou Dobbs, yet.  It's written by the editorial observer at the New York Times Lawrence Downes.
The pro-migrant blogosphere is buzzing about the presidential debates last night.  Culture Kitchen, Latina Lista, and the ImmigrationProf Blog all have commentary.  Everyone seems to be pretty happy about Clinton's and Obama's stance on immigration last night.  I'm going to rain on the parade. 

Pro-Migrant Round-Up

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I'm trying to make a daily ritual out of the pro-migrant round-up in hopes of better connecting the pro-migrant blogosphere:

Winter Rabbit over at Culture Kitchen just wrote an important post on Native American stereotypes in athletic contests.  Most relevant to this blog is the fact that these stereotypes are especially prevalent in Oklahoma.  I'll transcribe from the video Winter Rabbit embedded to explain:

No disrespect to Man Eegee over at Latino Politico (with a brand spanking new domain name!), but I thought I'd up and start posting some pro-migrant round-ups of my own.  This sort of link fest is a vital part of fostering a pro-migrant community online.  Links are the vehicles through which an online community is created.  Without them we are just disconnected web pages shouting into the darkness.

Francis Fukuyama recently reviewed Samantha Power's new book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World. From the review:

In the wake of the Iraq debacle, the idea that strong countries like the United States should use their power to defend human rights or promote democracy around the world has become widely discredited. From an overmilitarized foreign policy, we are in danger of going to the opposite extreme, forgetting the lessons of the 1990s that hard power is sometimes needed to resolve political conflicts, and that we do not yet have an adequate set of international institutions to deploy it legitimately and effectively.

I take exception to one of the premises above. The U.S. does not use its power primarily to defend human rights or promote democracy. It has never done so. The U.S. acts in its own interest--the fabled "national interest" (as perceived by the ruling elites)--first, last, and always. From time to time, U.S. leaders see U.S. interests as concordant with those of defending human rights and promoting democracy, and act accordingly. But this is always incidental to the real goals of promoting national prosperity and security, and just as often the real goals conflict with the stated goals of saving others from themselves/promoting democracy, stated goals which are themselves often in tension with each other.

One lesson of the 1990s is that sovereign nations cannot be expected to act on their own to further the interests of noncitizens at some unquantifiable risk to their own interests. They simply won't do it absent a more formal institutional structure for using multilateral military force than now exists. Any political leadership that does make significant sacrifices for noncitizens at the expense of citizens will soon find itself out of a job if that country's democratic processes are functioning well, and rightly so, based on the existing parameters of sovereign government and international politics.

In response to this

Amtrak will start randomly screening passengers' carry-on bags this week in a new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains.

The initiative, to be announced by the railroad on Tuesday, is a significant shift for Amtrak. Unlike the airlines, it has had relatively little visible increase in security since the 2001 terrorist attacks, a distinction that has enabled it to attract passengers eager to avoid airport hassles.

Atrios said this:

Trains are not planes, and random checks like this are pointless.

I respectfully disagree.  These searches may well have a distinct purpose: immigration enforcement.  Lately, I have been hearing from clients about immigration searches on trains in upstate New York, even on trains that do not cross into Canada.  Undocumented New Yorkers take a risk anytime they leave the city.  Any undocumented immigrant anywhere in the country takes a risk whenever he or she rides a train or a bus outside a sanctuary city, a risk that passengers will be stopped and searched and questioned about their immigration status.  Those who can't persuade officials of their lawful status may be issued a notice to appear in immigration court for removal proceedings.  This constitutes another step on our national path towards a security state of the kind that would make any 20th-century totalitarian proud. 

These random checks are far from pointless.

Breakthrough TV has finally launched the much talked about ICED (I Can End Deportation) Video game. I haven't had the chance to play it yet, but I think this game really has the ability to turn some heads and get people to think a little bit differently about migrant rights. Digg it, Stumble it, Facebook it, do whatever you have to do to get it out there.

UPDATE:  Some people are having trouble downloading the game.  I don't know if this is the problem, but for myself at least I know the flash player at icedgame.com is too big for my browser, and it doesn't allow me to see the red "play" tab at the bottom.  If that happens just right click to get the option "show all" and you should be able to see the "play" tab after which the website will ask if you have a mac or a PC and the game should begin downloading if you allow pop-ups for the website.  Let me know if there are further questions.

With xenophobia and anti-immigrant bias reaching record highs these days, the crackdown on illegal immigrants is underway.  This has left many agricultural employers, many of whom rely heavily on undocumented workers, wondering how they're going to get their crops picked in the narrow window of time they have for the harvest.  

Growers like workers without papers because they're more easily exploited: they don't have to pay them as much, there are no worker protection laws and the workers cannot complain about any of it.  But the Bush Administration doesn't like growers to hire undocumented workers because of the political fallout.  So what's a poor heartless conservative thug to do?   At the end of his infamous reign, King George has a proposal: help the growers get workers nearly as easily exploitable as undocumented workers but in a perfectly legal, government-sanctioned way.  How?  Through overhauling the H-2A agricultural guestworker program. 

Introducing lividsnails

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Many apologies for this introduction being so long in coming!  When Kyle asked if I wanted to write for Citizen Orange I had just moved to Washington DC to start a new job with a farm labor rights organization.  I'd literally been in town only a few weeks and I was up to my eyeballs in the work of learning a new career and a new city.  (Honestly, I've never worked so hard in my life, not even when I was in grad school!  I can't explain how I do it other than to admit that my favorite beverage at the local coffee shop is the "depth charge" which is super charged coffee with a shot of espresso!) 

I learn by talking with friends and watching films.  And occasionally, I run across a book that brings it all together.  Last week, I finally picked up Across a Hundred Mountains, a book I bought a year ago when I met the author, Reyna Grande, at a writers' conference.  As unfortunate as it was that I let it sit on the shelf for a year, the path I've been on recently, receiving much more input from and about the struggles of brown people, prepared me better to be open to this novel about being Mexican on both sides of the border.

When I came out of the sweat lodge in Tlxacalancingo last year and got hosed down, someone thrust an orange into my hands and before I knew it, I had eaten at least two, maybe three.  I was ravenous for the sweet juicy pulp.

My mind reacted to Grande's book much like my body reacted to those oranges.  I woke up to it and went to bed with it at night until it was finished, thinking about it during the day while I craved to see what the next chapter would bring.

Publishers Weekly calls it, "A topical and heartbreaking border story...Two stories cross and re-cross in unexpected ways, driving toward a powerful conclusion."

Stay calm, relax

Greg Siskind brings us word of this horrific story from Hawaii

The mother of a 2-week-old boy said her son would be alive today if they and his traveling nurse hadn't been held up at Honolulu International Airport by customs personnel.

Luaipou Futi of American Samoa spoke through an interpreter during a news conference Tuesday at the offices of the family's attorney, Rick Fried.

Futi's son, Michael Tony, died Friday at the airport after he, Futi and the nurse, Arizona Veavea, were kept in a locked room after flying nearly five hours from American Samoa so the child could be treated for a birth defect, a hole in his heart, Fried said.

Bring Law in Line With Truth

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The Unapologetic Mexican pulled out all the stops in a post about Flor Crisostomo, the latest migrant to seek sanctuary in the now infamous Chicago church, the Adalberto United Methodist Church.  I can't survive without my daily, Nez Says, but this post is a must read.  My favorite part is how he ends it:

Law, in and of itself, is not Just. Law, all by itself, is not truth. Current law only represents humans' intentions to manifest a just truth at a certain point in the past. And this same law often needs humans, later, to correct it and bring it in line with truth, and what is just in the present moment.

Seeing Clinton's persistent lead in the polls among Latin@ voters, and drawing criticism from some initially sympathetic sources for lackluster outreach efforts, the Obama campaign decided last week after Super Tuesday to guest blog on Marisa Treviño's site, Latina Lista.  The takeaway line for me is in the second paragraph below:

I also know that for women of all backgrounds, keeping their families together is a top priority. It is no secret that Latino families are being separated from their families every day in this country because of raids and deportation policies that do not take family and humanity into account when trying to enforce laws.

That's why when I'm President, I will put comprehensive immigration reform back on the nation's agenda during my first year in office, and I will not rest until it is passed once and for all.

I will take that as a campaign promise to work during his first year to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and I hope migrants and migrant advocates hold him to it. 

I see the Myers blackface story has gotten some additional exposure.  I'd like to address a point that I didn't examine in my earlier post.  Rather than bury it in an update, I'll post again.  The WaPo covered the story, and this part jumped out at me:

In a Nov. 8 letter replying to questions by McCaskill, Myers said that she was "shocked and horrified" to learn that the employee was wearing makeup but that within minutes of leaving the party she instructed her chief of staff to direct ICE's events photographer "to delete all photos of the employee."

"Although I didn't know that the employee had disguised his race, I believed I had made an error in judgment in recognizing an escaped prisoner," Myers wrote.

Explanation 1: She really did think the employee was black, in which case she is not smart enough to run a lemonade stand, much less a large government bureaucracy which requires substantial judgment and wisdom to enforce the immigration laws in a race-neutral way. 

Several people emailed me over the last few days and asked me to cover Janet Murguia's half-hour take down of Lou Dobbs on his nightly show.  Murguia of the National Council of La Raza is embarking on a noble campaign to stop Lou Dobbs from "handing hate a microphone" on his nightly show.

I watched it through a CNN.com link, and I wasn't impressed -- that is until I realized that CNN.com edited out the most important parts of the exchange in the online video.  At minutes 2:50, 6:42, and 7:50 careful observers will notice a white flashes and jumps.  It wasn't until I watched the youtube videos (1 2 and 3) that I got a completely different impression of the exchange.  Murguia did an excellent job with Lou Dobbs.  It turns out CNN.com cut out the meat of the Murguia's pro-migrant arguments with its online video editing.  This is unacceptable, and everyone should email CNN.com regarding these editorial blunders.

In the online video of the exchange, CNN.com edited out some of the most important indictments of the Minutemen, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) along with their connections to hate and vigilantism.  CNN.com also edited out the exchanges quantifying the increase in hate crimes against Latinos, and the few times Lou Dobbs actually says something positive about undocumented migrants. 

A website, We Can Stop the Hate, has been launched to document it all.  Here "The Case" against migrant hate is made through several pdf documents.  I will end this post with all the relevant videos and a transcript of the exchange between Murguia and Dobbs with all of the censored parts bolded.

blackface photos thinkprogress.jpg

CNN recently compelled the government to release photos taken of the official in charge of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) with an ICE employee in blackface and fake dreads dressed in a prisoner's uniform at an office Halloween party last year. View the segment here.  See some of the redacted photos here.

At the party, Julie Myers, then-acting chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security, gave an award for "most original costume" to an employee wearing prison stripes, a wig with dreadlocks and face-darkening makeup.

One of the last anti-migrant politicians that had a chance at winning the presidency will suspend his campaign, according to CNN.  I hope I don't need to remind people of Mitt Romney's contradictory deportation-only approach to undocumented migration that he made a centerpiece of his campaign.
See the introductory post I put up just as the polls opened for more information.

Under the assumptions that (a) a Democrat will win the White House this year and (b) that whoever is crowned the "winner" by the media after Super Tuesday will be the Democratic nominee (this second assumption may be on shakier ground than the first), tomorrow's primary election in selected states might be more important than the November general election. 

So from a pro-migrant, progressive perspective, which of the two leading Democratic candidates is preferable on the issue of immigration?  This blogger concludes that Obama--though far from perfect--is the better candidate for migrants.

Update: [Well, my assumption that Super Tuesday would be the end of the Democratic primary race was quite ill-informed.  I hope the rest of my observations hold up a little better.]  

Thanks to This Week In History, I learned that there was a mass deporting of Mexicans nearly eighty years ago, implementing many of the same techniques and for many of the same reasons as the current rash of anti-immigrant governmental practices.

"A national program of deportation began in 1928 and peaked in 1931. Secretary of Labor William N. Doak instigated a scare campaign against Mexicans with immigration officers, local police and newspapers publicizing deportation “raids” as a way to frighten Mexicans into leaving voluntarily. Dr. Jorge Chinea writes that one problem with the mass departure lay in the fact that it included legal and illegal immigrants, temporary workers and permanent residents, U. S. citizens and aliens."

Sound familiar?  Find out more at the El Paso Community College Local History Project

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