The SanctuarySphere Is Growing - Nativists Are Being Left Behind

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When I started my pro-migrant blogging in 2006, I felt alone.  There were millions marching on the streets, but online, I was shouting into the darkness.  I'll never forget that one of the first people that linked to me was XP over at Para Justicia Y Libertad.  It was the beginning of something that I would soon learn.  Traditional media and even "progressive" bloggers didn't care about what I had to say.  I would have to go to the people that did care, like XP, and work together to create something new. 

Two years later, thanks in great part to the support of the Latin@ Netroots, we have created something new.  It's a web of online pro-migrant activists from all over the nation that are making their voices heard in all kinds of media.  Blogs, particularly Latin@ blogs, have led the charge.  It culminated in the founding of The Sanctuary, which has become the hub of what we have termed the sanctuarysphere.  Pro-migrant blogs were beginning to organize long before anyone else was online, and it shows in the national media attention The Sanctuary garnered by getting Barack Obama to answer a comprehensive questionnaire on immigration policy.

The organization of pro-migrant blogs, though, has spread into all kinds of mediums.  Using new media tools like StumbleUpon and Digg, pro-migrant activists are directing tens of thousands of eyes to pro-migrant content, like my 5 Nativist English Lessons, here on Citizen Orange.  We're also having an effect in mediums like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  Networks of friends, email lists, and blog readers are clearly having an impact where there only use to be only silence and nativism.  A string of recent victories, three in short succession, illustrates this.
1. National Public Radio Is Forced To Answer For Anti-Migrant Financial Support

The first week of November, pro-migrant listeners across the nation started hearing a disturbing advertisement on National Public Radio (NPR) for the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) E-Verify program.  I won't get into all the problems with E-Verify Here.  In short, E-Verify is often used in a discriminatory manner against migrants and people of color and it also hurts lawful U.S. workers. 

Pro-migrant listeners responded the advertisement of this program on NPR through emails, calls, even the NPR ombudsman's twitter page.  It forced NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard to write an article defending the practice of taking the DHS money.  Shepard's article quickly filled up with the pro-migrant comments of listeners saying they wouldn't listen or donate to NPR until NPR stopped taking DHS money. 

2. Undocumented Youth Lead the Charge for the DREAM Act on

I blogged about a second major victory just recently. recently asked for ideas from it's online community for change.  The top ten ideas with the most votes will be delivered to the incoming Obama administration.  It's hard, even for me, to believe that of the many great ideas proposed by the community, passing the DREAM Act is on top by a landslide.  This effort, once again, was lead by a blogger, an undocumented one at that.  Dream Activist who blogs at and A Dream Deferred, led the charge.  As PL said in the comments section of Citizen Orange:

The subaltern is speaking and it is wonderful not to have the DC orgs trying to drown out our voice (yet) like they have so many times. We don't need to be 'led' and then cast aside.


500+ now. Nativist who?
PL - Citizen Orange (1 December 2008)
3. 2000 Strong Against the Facebook's Complicit Support of NumbersUSA

The third example of how powerful we have become is illustrated by a recent success on Facebook and the subsequent reaction of nativists to it.  As I described in an earlier post, the blogger from Damn Mexicans wrote me about the fact that Peter Thiel, who is on Facebook's Board of Directors, might have donated $1 million dollars to the nativist group NumbersUSA.  DM suggested possibly deleting our facebook accounts.  But, taking a lesson from the way people reacted to Obama's FISA stance on, I knew the best way to fight this was within facebook.  So I started up a facebook group.  I couldn't have imagined the response.

In two weeks over 2000 people have joined a facebook group calling on Peter Thiel to either be taken off Facebook's board of directors if Thiel has donated $1 million dollars to NumbersUSA, or to repudiate NumbersUSA if Thiel hasn't.  Until Facebook does this we're all blocking advertising on Facebook to make sure the money Facebook earns off of us does not go towards nativist causes. 

I know this Facebook group has had an effect because right away nativist bloggers responded.  First it was Mickey Kaus on Slate whom I have called out for being a nativist.  Then it was the hateful Peter Brimelow on VDARE.  The Southern Poverty Law Center says all that needs to be said about Brimelow. 

The Sanctuarysphere is Growing

All of these examples illustrate that we are in a very different place online than we were just 2 years ago.  Nativists might still outnumber us when it comes to leaving hate in the comment sections of prominent newspapers, but we run circles around them in emerging online mediums. 

While nativist groups like the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC) sit around teaching 80-year-old "internet fighter pilots" how to type "WHAT PART OF ILLEGAL DON"T YOU UNDERSTAND" in all caps, we're developing sophisticated strategies using online mediums they probably haven't even heard of to run laps around them.  The nativists may have numbers online but we're more internet saavy.  That is without even mentioning the fact that nativists can't elect politicians.  They can't get anyone to show up for a rally.

Just like the young people and people of color that will soon make nativist views irrelevant to politicians, we will soon make online nativist views irrelevant because of their inability to navigate emerging online mediums.

Nativism Vs. Racism

I will end with a note on the word using the word nativism in this blog post.  Several people have asked me why it is that I do this.  I define nativism as the belief that one person is better than another simply because of the country they were born into.  Nativism is inextricable from racism in that certain people of color are always seen as being from outside of the U.S.  This is illustrated by the fact that Asians and Latinos, despite hundreds of years of history in the U.S. are often asked "Where are you from?" as if they are always born into another nation.  It is why migrant rights advocates are right to call out nativists for racism. 

Still, I believe it is nativism, not racism, that migrant advocates should target.  It could be my white privilege that allows me to make this argument, so I am open to counter-arguments, but I sincerely believe this.  As I see it, nativism is the last legitimate refuge of white supremacy.  You can no longer publicly deride people of color for their race, but it is still legitimate to terrorize people for not being born into the U.S.  It's why white supremacists have latched on to migraiton as an issue, and it's why racism against Barack Obama is often tinged with hate for "illegal" immigrants.

I am not suggesting that we should cease to call out racism.  That would be wrong.  It would also be an insult to the amazing work that has been done and the hard work that still has to be done to combat racism.  I am merely suggesting that we have to make nativism illegitimate in the public sphere in the same way that racism has become illegitimate in the public sphere.  That will make us all better off. 

This means that we shouldn't only focus on pegging nativist groups for their racism, we have to make their nativism illegitimate, too.  I will bet anything that if the vast majority of U.S. citizens knew that the only migration policy solution nativists have is "attrition through enforcement", or a campaign of mass terror on millions of migrants, authorized and unauthorized, moderates would quickly swing to the pro-migrant side of the debate.

I'll leave it at that.  I know I've written a long post, but all of this activity has been inspiring.  Feel free to respond in the comments section. 

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I wrote an extremely long entry which included this bit of news, but I wanted to write a separate post to encourage people to join the facebook group.  ... Read More


Hugo Mejia said:

outstanding work.

cj said:

Well said, good work!. I didn't know about the facebook thing, but I am blocking their ads and telling all my friends todo the same.

Anonymous said:

First, I was moved by the video you sent out on Monday. You have to have a good heart and spirit to have been impacted by it and to share it with us. It brought me to tears.

My on-line presence too started about two years ago. I did it on myspace. For the first month I only had about 20 friends. It was discouraging. Then the leading Mexican-American comedian mentioned my site in a bulletin and I soon had hundreds of friends. I can imagine your joy when you were first linked.

I know that when I first read your blog over a year and a half ago I was more than pleased that the issues were being presented in such an intelligent and passionate manner.

I do not write anywhere near as well as you write.

My goal was to distribute information about the real issues of immigration to the youth with the hopes of motivating them to action.

I was going well until myspace decided to lock me out of my account. I made another myspace account but it was closed within weeks. Maybe it was because anti-immigration groups were paid advertisers on myspace.

Discouraged and busy with school and family I rarely blogged except an occasional site that never had any readers.

Now that I graduated I have more time and recently started to blog again. Again I write for no one but I still feel empowered. I also started another presence on myspce but it seems that kids there are more interested in dating than on politics.

I read dreamactivist and enjoy her blog. Now there are so many great bloggers out there that I cannot find time to read them all.

So, I want to thank you for your long efforts for taking up a controversial issue that is important to all of us, but vital to those who live the actual lives of modern migrants sin papeles.

My father was one of those folks.


kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

I haven't had a comment as good as this in a long while. Thanks for the message. I hope you get in touch with me outside of this so we connect.

I can't believe myspace kicked you off. Did they give you a reason? That's ridiculous.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on December 2, 2008 3:20 AM.

Support the DREAM Act On Change.Org was the previous entry in this blog.

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