November 2008 Archives

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When I hear this song, I think of Guatemala, and I think of Mexico. I think of the fathers of the migrants I know, who depend on their sons to send home money to sustain the family. I think of the fathers who have lost their pride by their inability to provide for their families, and who become desperate in their need. I think of the men who give in to that desperation and leave their families, and I think of the men who stay and continue to fight.

Happy Thanksgiving

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There is much to be unhappy about in the world, but today is a good day to count your blessings.  It is gratitude, not guilt, that inspires much of the work I do.  Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, today is a good day to reflect on what you're thankful for.  I'm in Michigan with family preparing to eat a delicious meal and watch the Lions lose.  Stay well everyone.  When Gandhi said "be the change you want to see in the world" he was speaking as much about taking care of yourself as he was about making change.  

Acting from fear, stealing life


Taj hotel fire.jpg

My thoughts go out tonight to the victims of the terror attacks in Mumbai.  One upsetting aspect of these crimes is the selection of targets by nationality. 

When I see evidence of the dedication and resourcefulness of these young bombers brought to bear to kill other human beings, I think "what a fucking waste." 

You could have used your gifts, your energy, your life to bring life to others, to make other lives richer.  Instead, you brought death.  You stole life. 

Times like this call for personal and public affirmation of the principles of nonviolence to which Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave their lives.  Violence begets violence unless a conscious choice is made to break that cycle.

[Image: AFP]

Hearing Virgil Goode rant against anchor babies months ago inspired me to write an indictment of nativist attacks on the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution.  I'm happy to report that another nativist Republican has lost his congressional seat to a more moderate Democrat.  While Tom Perreillo is not the most pro-migrant candidate, I'll take him over Virgil Goode any day.

Virgil Goode isn't alone in illustrating that nativism is a losing electoral strategy.  An analysis by America's Voice (pdf) shows in "battleground" races for House and Senate seats pro-migration reform candidates beat nativists 19 out of 21 times.

So, not only is nativism a despicable electoral strategy, it's a stupid one too. 

As always The Unapologetic Mexican brings us some poverful words. Read Anti-Migrant Democrats Aiding Wave of Hate Crimes.

You know what's worse than a scumbag politician who uses his position of power to blur lines between humans in need and criminals, apathetic to or ignorant of the fact that they are feeding a tide of violence that gets innocent people killed? When that politician is so cowardly that he tries, at the same time, to distance himself from his own doings and come off like a saint.

The Real First Thanksgiving: Revisted at Para Justicia y Libertad.

The trouble is, almost everything we've been taught about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is only half the story. Little is told about the pilgrims persistent injustices to its indigenous peoples after this "harvest feast." Even worse, the root of America's history is on Colonial American history, which is solely based on the 13 New England colonies. But this is no surprise because this pattern of belief is one of the pillars of American nationalism. And because our desire to view this country in a positive light, it is also not surprising that the subject of US genocide against American Indians is conveniently swept under the rug.

Yerba Buena is a New York based Latin collective that has produced some very danceable music.

I first heard them coming over the speakers in a cafe in Fort Green, Brooklyn, and asked the waitress who it was. Later that day, I got both albums on eMusic.

The band's sound is hard to pin down, and it's magnetic. From Wikipedia:

Yerba Buena's music (as described by Razor and Tie, the band's record label) is a blend of African-rooted Latin music (Cuban Rumba, Colombian cumbia, Pan-Caribbean Soca, and Nuyorican Boogaloo) with hip-hop, Motown soul, Nigerian Afrobeat with a dash of Middle Eastern themes.

Dismantle the DHS: Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere

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This first post on dismantling the DHS couldn't be more right on. If we want real change we'll do away with the DHS and create an organization that does not treat immigrants as terrorists. The DHS was created in response to 9/11 and has since simply been a tool to demonize immigrants.

Forget Janet Napolitano; Dismantle the DHS at The Sanctuary. Dream Activist explains that no matter who you appoint to head the DHS it was built by Bush and should be dismantled if we want real change.

I was recently asked by a reader if I felt all immigration retrictionists were racists. Basically I'd have to say that yes, on some level, I believe their desire is based in racism whether it be fostered or innate. My view comes from the fact that I'veseen no immigration retrictionists who have sought to do what is necessary to ebb the need for migrating to the United States - helping others abroad. 

Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle investigates a new Texas administrative rule that seems part of the state GOP's scheme to turn Texas blue in the next 10 years:


The Houston nonprofit executive was shifting weight in line at an Humble DPS office earlier this month, waiting to renew his driver's license, when he noticed a couple of people in front of him come away looking confused or exasperated.

When he got to the front, he understood why.

The woman behind the counter ran his name, Jose Villarreal, in her computer. Then, he says, she promptly asked him to prove his citizenship.

Villarreal was taken aback. He was born and raised in South Texas, in a little town called Orange Grove, and moved to Houston in 1976. At 61, he'd never been asked by DPS to prove he was here legally.

"One, I was mad. Two, I was humiliated," he told me. "Why should I have to justify my citizenship, when, as far as I can tell, we have three or four generations of Villarreals living on this side of the border?"

When he asked questions, a supervisor handed him a copy of a new Texas Department of Public Safety rule aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses.
"I read that over and said, 'This doesn't apply to me. This is for someone who's applied for citizenship,' " Villarreal recalled. "And they said, 'Well, the computer doesn't show you in here, so you're going to have to show a birth certificate.' "

... the new administrative rule ... was quietly adopted over the summer by the Public Safety Commission after lawmakers refused for years to pass it. ... the one thing the rule wasn't supposed to do is snag citizens. The rule specifically states, "If U.S. citizen, no documentation needed." That's a bit of a Catch-22 since, in some cases, the state can't tell if you're a citizen without seeing documentation.

Just Say "No" To Immigrant Bashing

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Roy Beck of Numbers USA recently published an article on his group's website on the murder of Marcello Lucero.  What starts off as a piece against hate quickly turns into a piece explaining that Marcelo's death has nothing to do with his (anti-immigrant) movement while attacking those he calls "pro-illegal-immigrant" supporters.  He also states quite coldly about Lucero's murder:

My guess is that these teenagers are opportunistic thugs who would have found somebody else to beat up if they hadn't had some animus toward Latin Americans.

Yes, and we can also state Lucero wouldn't be dead if he didn't look Mexican.  Just like Luis Ramirez, of Shenandoah, wouldn't be dead if he'd wasn't in the Unites States without permission as was stated by the local anti-migrant group. 

Et Tu Mother Jones?

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I knew FAIR was pushing their anti-immigration views through ads both in print and on television, but I never expected to find one in Mother Jones.

What you notice first is the large image of a bulldozer scrapping through a forest above the caption "One of America's Best Selling Vehicles." For an environmentally conscious person who reads Mother Jones this ad would seem to be right up their ally. Who doesn't want to stop the destruction of forests? However, for those of us with a conscious it'd serve us well to understand who's selling this message and what they're really asking us to do.

The groups pushing this ad are all groups founded by John Tanton better known as The Puppeteer to those familiar with the Southern Poverty Law Center. We know the SPLC considers FAIR a hate group, so why would Mother Jones allow them to spread their hateful message within the pages of this supposedly caring publication? While I don't know how they would answer I do know that FAIR's pro-environmentalist message helps them squeeze into places they normally wouldn't be welcome. takes on this notion that immigrants are responsible for urban sprawl in FAIR Ads Unfairly Blame Immigrants for Urban Sprawl

The blogger from Damn Mexicans emailed me tonight pointing me to a news item on Peter Thiel.  Thiel is on Facebook's board of directors and is a major investor in the social networking company.  According to Vallewag, it appears that Thiel might have donated $1 million to NumbersUSA, an anti-migrant group we are all very familiar with. 

A source within Clarium Capital, Facebook investor Peter Thiel's multibillion-dollar hedge fund, claims that Thiel has just donated $1 million to NumbersUSA, the largest anti-immigration group in the U.S. Another source denies that Thiel made the donation -- but Rob Morrow, a principal at Clarium and close Thiel associate, has backed the group with a small donation of $1,000 or less.
Owen Thomas - ValleyWag (5 Nov 2008)
Anonymous sources making allegations and denials certainly aren't the most credible, but DM dug up something else that certainly makes this more probable.  Peter Thiel coauthored a book, "The Diversity Myth", in 1998 which argues that "multiculturalism" is used to promote intolerance on campuses.  With a views like that I wouldn't be surprised if Thiel was in the anti-migrant crowd.

If Thiel really did donate $1 million to NumbersUSA, Facebook should kick him off the Board of Directors.  If Thiel didn't, it's important that Thiel and Facebook publicly deny the affiliation and denounce NumbersUSA.  Until either of these two things happen, I'm disabling advertising on the Facebook, and I've created a Facebook group to ask others to do the same.  Facebook won't get my advertising dollars while nativism like this is tolerated.
tigres.jpg Tres Veces Mojado - Los Tigres Del Norte

Oftentimes in debates and discussions of illegal immigration, all indocumentados get lumped into one category: Mexicans.  When it comes to migration from south of our border, however, Mexicans make up only a part.  There are many who come from farther away, who have to cross not one, but many borders to make it here.  Those from countries further south - Guatemala, Hondurans, El Salvador, and beyond - face unspeakable hardship in crossing Mexico.  Most are robbed, beaten, raped, arrested, and some are maimed trying to ride the train.   

Those watching closely will have noticed some changes on Citizen Orange.  Most notably the authors page has been updated, and soon we'll be releasing a regular schedule for bloggers that will be posting here. 

In the meantime, I wanted to encourage everyone interested in writing at least once every two weeks for Citizen Orange to contact us here.  Citizen Orange is one of the most widely read migration blogs in the United States, maybe even the world, and it certainly has a tangible impact on the U.S. migration debate. 

Through Citizen Orange, I've been able to meet some of the biggest movers and shakers in the U.S., and what's even more surprising to me is that most of them have heard of Citizen Orange.  It's a testament to what can be accomplished through blogging.
Whoop. Di. Do. 

I applied for a $10,000 blogging scholarship a little while ago since I'm back at school and I've been selected as one of the finalists.  You can vote for me here.

I guess this is when I'm supposed to mobilize everyone I know to vote for me, or I could just use the tricks that the nativist folks at ALIPAC are fond of which allow you to vote multiple times in polls like these.  That's just not me though.
Thumbnail image for Underground America.jpgI attended a dramatic reading tonight here in Philly of personal stories taken from a book edited by Peter Orner called Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives.  The book contains the oral histories of undocumented immigrants as told in recent years to the editors of the work.  The stories are real and all too familiar--they reminded me of the clients I work with each day.  The daily petty slights endured, the enveloping fear, the ambition, the scars, the regret, and the hope. 

From an LA Times review of the book from earlier this year, excerpted on the McSweeney's site for the book:

There are 24 stories documented here. Editor Peter Orner and a team of graduate students from San Francisco State University went looking for stories for Voice of Witness, which publishes "oral histories of people around the world who have had their human and civil rights violated." The storytellers hold many different jobs, have different reasons for leaving home and different expectations about U.S. life. Mr. Lai left China after officials found that he and his wife had violated the one-child policy. Saleem, 54, was summarily deported to Pakistan after Sept. 11. Roberto came from Mexico at 14; it took him 30 years to get a green card. "Everything we do is a crime," says a Mexican man called El Mojado. "You don't have papers, it's a crime. You buy fake papers, it's a crime." Elizabeth, an English teacher in Bolivia, came to the U.S. in 2004 to get help for her 8-year-old daughter, diagnosed with a severe form of arthritis. With no money, she slid through the American underworld, down the steps that so many of these people describe: rape, robbery, exploitation and a complete lack of credibility--no way to get help, and no way out.

Decades after arriving, many want desperately to go home and cannot. "I wouldn't make it back across," says Adela, a Mexican woman who has been here for 18 years and longs to see her family but doesn't dare leave her children. "No, there are too many that have died in the desert, too many who have drowned."
The book owes much to recently-deceased Studs Terkel, a pioneer of the oral history genre and a board member of the oral history series, Voice of Witness, of which Underground America is an installment. 

Please visit and let President Elect Obama know what you want done.  Even though I don't agree with many of Obama's stances on immigration I've always seen his presidency as a first step towards taking back the government.  Bush and Cheney have hijacked so much of the it that we've got a lot to get back.

Hopefully letting your voice be heard at will be more than a cathartic exercise.  I believe the first thing we need to do is ask that the raids be stopped and then I'd like to see the DREAM Act passed. 

If you're a pro-migrant reader of this blog let us know what you'd like to see. 

I'm reading Legalizing Moves: Salvadoran Immigrants' Struggle For U.S. Residency, by Susan Bibler Coutin, for a class I'm taking here at Harvard with Dr. Sarah Willen.  I can't comment on the whole book, since I'm only reading the first two chapters, but I came across this powerful metaphor for mass migration to the U.S.:

Jorge Lima, a Salvadoran who had been active in opposition groups in both the United States and El Salvador, attributed [denying asylum to individuals] to the lack of responsibility regarding the consequences of U.S. policies that destroyed lives in El Salvador. 

Jorge told me that the situation of Central American immigrants "is like when a woman has been raped and is pregnant, see?  Then there's a reality! Understand? She has conceived, and however you try to exterminate that fact, it's a reality!  You can't keep it a secret.  You may not register it in your structures, as though it never existed.  But yes, it did exist!" 

In this graphic image, El Salvador is a raped woman, the United States is the rapist, Central American immigrants are the illegitimate child, and U.S. immigration law is a means of denying the child's existence.
Susan Coutin - Legalizing Moves (2000 : pp. 40-21)

It would be a fair criticism of my writing to say that I dwell too much on doom and injustice.  That's not the best way to attract converts to your cause.  Still, I believe graphic imagery like this metaphor Jorge Lima expressed in an interview is useful for putting migrant rights in perspective. 
I think RicTresa's comment was a first for me the other day:

Hey Kyle.. Come on buddy. Time to get it going! New week and all. Write something good so I can use my brains again.
RicTresa (10 November 2008)
While I'm sure others have been unhappy with my absences, RicTresa (who has a user blog at is the first to express it in a comment and ask me to come back, I believe.  It means a lot.  In many ways it is an expression of the importance of pro-migrant spaces like this.

Another group of teens have targeted, and killed, a man simply for being Hispanic.  The anti-Mexican sentiment is becoming so strong that even a Hispanic youth teamed up with a group of whites to "beat up some Mexicans."

Police and prosecutors say the teens _ six of them white and one Hispanic _ were hanging out in a park on Saturday night around midnight when someone suggested they go "beat up some Mexicans." (link - KTAR)

These teens didn't care who they attacked as long as they 'looked' like a Mexican. Just like Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA Lucero was attacked for sport. How could a man be killed simply out of hate? We've warned time and time again that this will keep happening as long as hate groups are allowed to spout their venim. Some do it in small communities and other can do it from a cushy studio - broadcast to millions.

Friends in Patchogue found it both tragic and ironic that Lucero, 38, was stabbed to death Saturday night in what police describe as a hate crime. They describe him as a thoughtful, quiet man who avoided arguments and often went out of his way to help neighbors. (link - Newsday)

Orishas: Desaparecidos


a los presidentes asesinos

a los responsables
de desaparecidos
pa' los que trafican con ninos
el culpable sabe de que hablo yo

To the assassin presidents
To those responsible
for the Disappeared
For those who traffic children
The guilty knows of what I speak

This week's musical entry comes from Orishas, a hip-hop group of Cuban migrants that combines rap en Español with a traditional Cuban sound.

From the group's Wikipedia page:

Orishas is a hip-hop group whose members had emigrated from Cuba. . . . The Orishas delved into a realm of music in which they challenged "Castro's ideal of a colorless society" and created a black identity that the younger generations could relate to. They tackled important and obvious issues that dark skinned Cubans faced everyday though the government refused to recognize.

. . .

The name "Orishas" refers to the set of deities worshipped in African-based religions that were brought to the Americas by slaves of the Yoruba people in West Africa. These religions, parts of the Yoruba mythology, include Santeria in Cuba and Candomblé in Brazil. These orishas, or deities, each represent a natural element (such as the ocean or leaves) and exhibit a human characteristic (such as motherhood or love). The choice of this name for the hip hop group is a way of creating a direct link between this band and the African diaspora. This link is evident in the lyrics to "Nací Orichas" and "I Sing For Elewa and Changó".

One of my favorite Orishas songs, Desaparecidos, is about the "Disappeared," the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people kidnapped and murdered by their governments in Latin America during the Cold War, from Cuba to Guatemala to Argentina to the DR. Anyone who believes the Cold War was relatively casualty-free didn't spend much time in Latin America while it was happening.

ICE and the Stargazers is an excellent post on the ICE and its task and tactics. With Julie Myers resigning and Obama moving in to the White House it's an great time to work on changing the terrible organization.  I wonder why Julie left?  Does it have anything with the 11th hour story on Obama's aunt?  We all remember when Julie awarded a white colleague for his jailed Rastafarian costume. Do I really need to say more?

ICE Raid Results in the Closing of Agriprocessors in Postville and the END of this Small Town! at Immigration Talk With A Mexican American. I believe we all wanted to see Agriprocessors prosecuted after this terrible raid, but we didn't want to see the town shut down.  Unfortunately this is the outcome. blogging

change_logo_72dpi.jpgSome attentive readers might have noticed a recent change in the Citizen Orange blogger lineup.  Some guy named "yave begnet" was replaced by yours truly without much explanation.

So here's a bit of explanation.  When the website relaunched about a month ago, I joined the site as the immigrant rights blogger.  I also changed jobs and moved to a new city around the same time, and the time seemed right to stop using my pseudonym, "yave begnet."  So that is why you've been seeing less of yave, and more of me.  It's less schizophrenic this way and less confusing to me, at least. 

So check out the new site, if you get a chance.  I'll still be blogging here regularly, but not quite as frequently as I have been for the past year. 
Slc_mormon_tempel.jpgBecause when one person's rights are disrespected, we are all diminished. 

Because we can no longer remain silent.

Because we stand at a tipping point in this, one of the crucial civil rights battles of our day.

Because we are not single-issue voters, nor single-issue human beings.

For these reasons and more, I chose to speak out today against those who would deny the basic right of marriage to same-sex couples.  I will no longer be associated, however tenuously, with an institution that fights to reverse such a historic civil rights achievement. 

Change will come.  It's only a question of when, and of how much damage the churches will sustain to their long-term viability in the process of publicly battling civil rights. 

More on how to take action here.

Time for Reflection

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Citizen Orange has been a little silent since the election.  Perhaps this is a good time to take in the historic significance of what has just occurred.  There is still much work to be done, especially when it comes to the rights of migrants, but for now, I'm going to take a step back from the outrage and just reflect.
From the NY Times today:

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An airstrike by United States-led forces killed 40 civilians and wounded 28 others at a wedding party in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Wednesday. The casualties included women and children, the officials said.

The United States military and Afghan authorities were investigating the reports about the latest attack, the American military said in a statement, but it gave no confirmation of the strikes or any death toll.
By now, this is a familiar pattern.

The outlines of a cynical strategy emerge: deny, deny, deny for the first week or two until the story recedes from the front pages, then concede in bits and pieces until the story is broken up and defused over time and new distractions materialize. 
But this strategy only works if you stop blowing up wedding parties or villages every other month.
dead Afghan babies.jpg
You know it's over if The Crimson says so.  Let's see how the other races turn out.

UPDATE: New York Times calls it for Obama.  It's over.
Here's the report.  Here's the map.  Here's the state.  With McCain relying almost exclusively on a Pennsylvania win to pull his strategy off, I would say it's look like an early night for Obama.  The House and the Senate races will make the night interesting.

I Wish I Could Say More

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Get out and vote, tomorrow.  If you think democracy is a sham, you're not doing it right.  I started my pro-migrant blogging with the quote, "the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality."  Silence is neutrality.  Get out and vote. 

There's no such thing as a wasted vote. gives Obama a 98.1% chance of winning this election.  It doesn't matter if Obama has it locked up.  If you're pro-migrant, I've got news for you.  It's the local elections that matter.  That's where a few hundred votes can often make the difference.  So I'll say it for a third time:

Get out and vote.
In celebration of tomorrow's election day, la música del día is from the Voto Latino Benefit Album. If you haven't already done so, download it for only $3.99 and support their efforts to empower the fastest growing voting demographic in our country. Then tomorrow, dance your way to your polling station and vote! If you're not sure where to go to vote, Voto Latino also has a handy interactive map to help you find your way.

The way the mainstream "progressive" netroots have handled the story of Obama's Aunt is a complete embarrassment.  I wrote about it earlier this morning.  First, I was told several times by commenters on Daily Kos that "this is a non-story".  Wrong.  It has been on the front page of memeorandum all day.  If you have turned on your TV, it has been blaring all over the 24-hour cable news networks.

The silence is deafening on the front pages of major "progressive" blogs like Daily Kos and Firedoglake.  My only conclusion can be that they agree that this is a non-story.  It's to be expected from blogs that exist to elect "more and better Democrats."  If it helps Democrats to be silent on one of the most important social justice issues of our time, U.S. migration policy, you can expect that the "progressive" blogs will follow.  It's to be expected from those that have called migration a "pet issue.

The few that have covered the story, like, Matt Stoller of Open Left, Digby, and Josh Marshall and Zachary Roth of Talking Points Memo, have completely ceded the U.S. migration debate to nativists.  The debate over this story has devolved into one of Republican nativism and Democrats and their allies either describing this as smear or running as far away from this as they can. If having an unauthorized migrant relative is a smear, than smear me too.

Obama's Aunt Is "Illegal"

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Two days ago, on October 30, the London Times reported that Barack Obama's Kenyan aunt, Zeituni Onyango, was living in public housing in Boston.   This Saturday morning, the Associated Press reported that Onyango is an unauthorized migrant. 

Nativist bloggers are already foaming at the mouth.  Michelle Malkin has highlighted a typical nativist comment, capital letters and all:

Obama's aunt is here ILLEGALLY living in poverty, and is a deportation FUGITIVE. She's collecting WELFARE and has DONATED to Obama's campaign, ILLEGALLY! Obama. Family in poverty as he makes millions. Complete lawlessness. Giveaway your hard earned tax payer money to illegal fugitives. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.
Ace of Spades - Commenter (1 November 2008)
Is it even possible for nativists to make an argument without using ALL CAPS?  Nativists want you believe that Onyango's immigration status makes her a criminal.  Not true.

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