January 2009 Archives
Even though Nogales is a more tranquilo border city than the ones in the news (Tijuana, Juarez), I don't usually linger too long near the line because as a guera (light-haired, light-skinned), I'm recognized as an American (which I am mostly), assumed to have money (which I don't really), and solicited for a taxi, taxi or to buy pharmaceuticals or souvenirs "for your boyfriend", as I'm told in impressively unaccented English. This interaction, sort of amusing and novel the first time I crossed 5 months ago, lost its appeal pretty quickly and I've trained hard to maintain an as-uninterested-as-possible expression on my face to reduce the solicitations to buy stuff. It's sort of worked. It also helps that I'm chaparrita (short) so I blend in more if I travel alone.
A few days ago I had the chance to linger for a longer while and observe the pedestrian traffic on the Mexican side. I wasn't exactly surprised by what I saw, since I have been a foot pedestrian for a while now, but standing there and doing nothing but watching, I became newly aware of the contrasts and different degrees of privilege before me, all coexisting for brief moments as they pass and don't pass each other. These are the people that I share foot space with on the Nogales border:
- The most privileged crossers: American-passport carrying retirees venturing into Mexico on an excursion to try burros (burritos), buy cheap medicine among the sea of pharmacies and perhaps a mask or some animal horns (no joke, I saw retirees carrying this as a souvenir a few weeks ago).
- The second most privileged crossers: Mexican-Americans with US passports, mostly residents of the border on the US side, going to visit their families, work, conduct business, and carry out the million other activities that link the two sides. I think of this group as the second most privileged because they tend to have less disposable income than the retirees and are often treated rudely by Customs officials for being Mexican.
- The semi-privileged crossers: A little known but large group totaling several million border residents who after proving their ties to Mexico (through business, employment, family, property, or other ties), i.e. that they are only entering the US for a temporary stay, applied successfully for border crossing cards that entitle them to enter the US, 25 miles inland, and up to Tucson 65 miles away in Arizona, for a period of 30 days. This group, a huge chunk of border traffic, is semi-privileged because they have to jump through a lot of hoops to cross legally, and even when they do their movement in the US is limited.
- The non-crossers: The majority of Mexicans do not qualify or cannot afford visas to the US and cannot cross through legal means. (Mexicans who hail from areas south of the border do not qualify for the border crossing cards.) Those who want/need to cross but can't are forced to cross illegally. When I lingered, I watched about 25 crossers in camouflage dark green, blue and black clothing. It wasn't clear to me which of them were preparing to cross and which had just been deported. Some carried Homeland-Security issued plastic bags with clothes in them. I'm not sure whose clothes they were. Although I was intensely curious, I respected their privacy and held back from asking questions since they were either about to embark on a possibly deadly journey or had been forcibly returned from one.
I feel like it's so obvious, but I still need to point out how incredibly unfair it is that people like me can cross on a whim, that the hierarchy of border crossers exists and that the "non-crossers" have to risk their lives to cross. On a return visit to the border on Friday, I snapped these two shots. The first is a small section of the wall in which Nogalenses have attached crosses to mourn the Mexicans who have died crossing. You can't see it in the picture but the crosses bear the names of the dead.
And this is the graffitied sentiment on the wall generated by unequal border policies and the resulting deaths.
For those who don't know Spanish, the graffiti reads, "BORDERS, SCARS ON THE LAND."
In an ideal world, I would advocate for the erasure of borders. In the real world, I want to push for a sensitization of borders to people's needs and wants, to be with family, to work, to travel, to move more freely.
The border crossing card that allows the semi-privileged crossers entry into the US may be the model that we need to build off of. This card could possibly increase Mexicans' and other foreigners' access to the US and create reciprocity between US immigration policies and the freer immigration policies of countries that allow us unlimited entry. Obviously the border visa card would need to be revised - 25 miles and 30-day restrictions just don't cut it - but it is a start. The border visa card could even win over conservative Americans. Its laser technology means authorities can regulate who is entering, and because it allows people to come and go, it is likely to reduce "illegal" immigration. This is by far not the only solution, but one that seems fairly obvious for this border resident.
Janet Napolitano sounds like a good business manager. I have been a manager in business for over 30 years and she is taking some of the same steps I take when I go into a new assignment.
Yesterday, she issued a press release which said she gathered all of her department heads together and asked each department head to provide assessments about their current programs, including metrics of success, gaps in service/ resources, partnerships with state and local governments and other federal agencies as well as offer suggestions for reforms, restructuring, and consolidation where needed. Each department head is to provide a final report due February 20th.
When I have done this with teams, they bring back their results, we identify the top issues, then we set our goals for the year(s).
Ms. Napolitano has already stated her overarching goal: "As a nation of immigrants, we will manage America's borders in a way that furthers this heritage, promoting legal immigration and cross-border commerce, while upholding the rule of law."
If you further analyze this overrarching goal, you see she leads with, "nation of immigrants" and ends with "rule of law". When I studied various news reports, some of her famous immigration quotes include:
. You build a 50 foot wall, somebody will find a 51 foot ladder.
. Crackdown on employers who hire illegal workers, not workers.
So already, we know her focus. She is going to tackle employers and felonious criminals (e.g. drug cartels & gangs).
Now, let's look at her department heads' programs. She asked them to ANALYZE, REPORT and PROVIDE "What Worked and What Didn't Work" (and I love this part because this is what I always do).
I. The Criminal & Fugitive Aliens Program. The subgroups include:
A. The Secure Communities Program
B. The Institutional Removal Program
C. The Fugutive Operations Team
D. The Electronic Travel Document Program
E. The 287(g) Program
II. Legal Immigration Benefit Backlog
III. Southbound Gun Smuggling
IV. National Guard
V. Widows & Widowers of US Citizens
VI. Immigration Detention Facilities
Obviously Napolitano is going to find plenty that DID NOT WORK.
Tops on the list:
1) Arpaio's 287(g) policies didn't work. She has said for years that this program was meant to target felonious criminals (e.g. the Drug Lords, gangs, felonious criminals). It was NOT meant for Arpaio like "suppression sweeps" which targets and racial profiles Latino neighborhoods. Napolitano has a unique way of expressing her perspective: "jail model agreements versus task force model agreements."
2) Felonious Criminals: What didn't work was targetting the workers. What will work is getting your Task Forces to Target the Felonious Criminals, the gangs! the Drug Lords! Stop the Guns from going back into Mexico to the Cartels! Everyone will support you on this! Stop targetting the workers or little towns like Latino Guadalupe, AZ and the Confirmation Ceremonies. Tell the evil Sheriff Arpaio to STOP his masked posse from harassing little children and their moms.
3) Southbound Gun Smuggling: For Heaven's Sake, STOP The Gun Smuggling!! And STOP or put a halt to the Border City Drug Cartels and the Violence. Pull all the stops! WE Support You!!
4) Immigration Detention Centers: Close the Family Detention Centers! Period! The End! They do not work and they cost lots of money!
Now, I do not know if Janet Napolitano will succeed in her process improvement efforts, but I can tell you this. She has a very good approach for identifying and resolving the major issues. She is studying the issues and putting forth recommendations for improvements. Such lofty goals. This is the only path to process improvement!
Secretary Napolitano Issues Immigration and Border Security Action Directive
As a Russian Jewish immigrant, I feel a special sympathy for all seekers of the American dream. My immigration experience, however, was very different from that of the majority of immigrants; because of the strength of the American Jewish lobby and the network of Jewish support groups, we were welcomed in 1989 with open arms, given the tools to get ourselves on our feet and naturalized. Though incredibly grateful for the open door policy towards my family, I am indignant that most (non-white) immigrants instead have the doors slammed in their faces, with racist and discriminatory quotas, no path to legality and citizenship, and deportations. It is this indignation and desire for change that will motivate my writing. I will probably focus on Mexico and the US-Mexico border, my current home.
The ANTIs are fully aware their ability to stop this change would be like stopping a runaway train. Four years ago, officials had projected the shift would come in 2050. The main reason for the accelerating change is significantly higher birthrates among immigrants.
This is not a new prediction. John Tanton, self-proclaimed godfather of the ANTIs, made this proclamation in the 1970s, detailing this "threat" in the most racist of terms. He rallied his followers to put in place strategies to stop this prediction. He could not convince the government to help him so he formed several ANTI Immigration groups including FAIR, NumbersUSA, ProAmerica PAC, ProEnglish Group, You Dont Speak for Me and more. He and his teams developed politically correct talking points, created slanted reports and spoke before Congress to push their agenda. After 9/11, they capitalized on the wave of fear and paranoia encompassing the nation. They stepped up their rhetoric, bringing in local/national groups including the minutemen, AMShockJocks, politicians seeking election and various cable news networks. Their cause gained momentum after the 2006 Immigration marches. Perhaps their most significant accomplishment was gaining a group of well trained internet followers who badgered Congress with mass form letters, faxes, emails and phone calls. This small group of followers were masters at monopolizing the communication links into Congress and being at the beck and call of their leaders who drove their PC agenda.
The PRO Immigration Reformers were slow to enter the blogosphere. Even though millions marched, very few blogged. The ANTIs convinced the majority of Americans that the marchers were all "illegal aliens." It was not until 2007 that a significant number of PRO supporters entered the blogosphere. We are still trying to catch-up, but the massive increase of Pro Bloggers in 2008/2009 has been amazing. It has only been since 2008 that Pro Bloggers began joining forces to communicate our same message to all of our millions of supporters.
Now that we do have a significant presence on the internet, what is important for all PRO Immigration Reformers to remember is, we cannot be fooled by the ANTIs politically correct (PC) talking points. As I previously reported, the Heritage Foundation recently published their updated recommendations. While very PC, the devil is in the details. Their recommendations speak to the ANTI Core Agenda.
If the ANTI Immigration Reformers had their WISH, here is what they want:
1. Mass Deportation of the 12M people they term illegal aliens. Their plan is to make their lives so miserable, they will leave on their own or they will get caught up in ICE Raids/Detention Centers or Neighborhood Sweeps (ala Arpaio). They want these raids stepped up so they leave within the next 4 years. The problem is, the 287(g) sweeps lead to Racial Profiling (ala Arpaio) and all of this hate mongering has led to the increase in Hate Crimes against Latinos, as reported by the FBI. The ANTIs, however, could care less how all of this Racial Profiling or Hate Crimes impact the American Latinos and we already know they treat the workers like vermin.
2. Limit Future Immigration to only Educated Europeans. (see Heritage Foundation recommendations)
3. End Jus Soli - Birthright Citizenship (14th Ammendment), what they term, Anchor Babies.
4. Continue Guest Worker Programs but put some type of device on the workers so they can be monitored and told to leave when work is done. And take their babies with them. (read my biometric data blog)
5. ProEnglish legislation and Stop anyone from Speaking Spanish. (read my Pro English Violence blog, especially comments)
If they do get their wish, their Core Agenda will be realized. They will stop or at least delay the Census bureau's majority minority predictions. As you read through the comments of most articles about these issues, the ANTI core agenda becomes abundantly clear. If you analyze their core agenda, it is obvious, this is a racist agenda. Regardless of how they bluster and complaine about the racist term, once you discuss this with them, the racist core agenda becomes obvious. It is as clear as the "punch in the nose for speaking spanish" on your face.
For the PROs, our mission is clear. We need to stay involved, stay linked together, engage in discussion forums with ANTIs in newspaper comment sections across the country and communicate our message and our knowledge of their core agenda. We must stay civil, open and honest. Afterall, we do have Truth, Justice and the American Way on our side. We are evolving into a beautiful, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural society.
Now for my opinion about PRO actionable items for this year. Our President has a lot on his plate. He has to deal with the Economy, the War and getting his Administration in order. Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is the elephant in the room. There are far too many well trained ANTI fighters for us to expect to obtain CIR this year. But there are three things we can ask for and our President can provide this year.
1. Stop/Reduce ALL Hate Crimes: Ask President Obama to state he is against All Hate Crimes. Acknowledge the increase in Hate Crimes particularly against Latinos (as the FBI reported), Blacks and Lesbian/Gays. These groups have the highest incidents of occurence. Ask for his public repudiation of Hate Crimes and Ask for his support in ensuring those guilty of these crimes are charged to the fullest extent of the law. This includes the Hate Crimes committed in Patchogue, NY and Pottsville, PA.
2. Stop/Reduce Racial Profiling: All Racial Profiling is wrong. We have seen a significant amount of racial profiling occur in Maricopa County by Sheriff Arpaio under the 287(g) provisions. Several Mayors in Arizona, including the Mayors of Phoenix, Mesa and Guadalupe have written Federal Authorities and requested an investigation. We should ask President Obama to put a hault to the 287(g) provisions and ask Eric Holder to conduct a Federal Investigation on the Mayors charges.
3. Stop the Inhumane Treatment occurring in ICE Raids and Detention Centers: Postville, with their CattleBarn injustice, was a prime example of what can go wrong during an ICE Raid. Ask President Obama to put a halt to these inhumane raids. Additionally ask President Obama to investigate the inhumane treatment in Detention Centers, particularly the Hutto Family Detention center where entires families are jailed.
Each of these three items are Humane, they can be completed without legislation and they can be accomplished this year. If he does them, this will serve as a significant message to all of his Latino and Humanitarian supporters that he supports our message and his Latino supporters.
God Bless America
God Bless our President
In a Generation, Minorities May Be the U.S. Majority
The BBC and the International Herald Tribune are reporting on a horrific practice in Southeast Asia. Migrants from poorer countries regularly pay people to smuggle them into Thailand in hopes of scratching out a better life for themselves and their families. One way they get their is by trusting their lives to rickety boats. According to the BBC, the Thai navy is rounding these boat people up, binding their hands, and pulling them back out to sea with meager supplies. They are essentially sending them back out to sea to die.
Every day is the same. An endless routine that never ends no matter how bad you want it to. You're stuck in eternal purgatory because of a decision your parents made for you when you were only seven years old. Too young to understand what's going on, but old enough to know that things would never be the same again.
For the last 16 years of your life, you've adapted and embraced your adopted country, assimilating and succeeding in spite of all of the daily hardships that you have to overcome. You ask your parents why they decided to bring you to the U.S. and it's always the same answer, "Te queriamos dar las oportunidades que nosotros nunca teniamos," but that isn't enough. It's never enough. Good intentions have led to some of the most horrific atrocities in human history, but you can't blame them. After all, they're your parents.
Growing up in the shadows, you learn to adapt, to hide your true identity like a costumed super hero. No one can ever know the real you because you don't know how they'll react. All you want to do is be another regular person, but eventually you realize that you're not. You excel in your studies and take advantage of the system, fulfilling the destiny your parents laid out for you.
My first post of the 2009 was a poorly written interior monologue about the conflicts between blogging and organizing. If there's any place that blogging and organizing intersects, it's with undocumented youth, or DREAMies as they like to be called. For those that aren't familiar with the DREAMie struggle, DREAMies are those who were brought over to the United States as children, usually without any say whatsoever in the matter. As Senator Dick Durbin, one of the major sponsors of the DREAM Act has said, the only sin they've committed is "the crime of obeying their parents."
Often, the only country DREAMies have ever known is the United States. Though I'm not a fan of the word, they are culturally "American" in every sense of the word, except for they don't have papers that say they are a U.S. citizens. Personally, that's not the most significant reason why I advocate for the DREAM Act though and support DREAMies whenever I can.
I still have a lot of work to do. I'm completely done with two classes already but still have two finals to take for two more. It's my first semester back at school. It looks like I'm going to be able to get through it. I had my doubts, but I'm not here to write about all that.
I had an incredible break in Central America. It gave me a lot of time to think about what I want out of this year.
Thousands of students are hoping for the chance to realize their dreams of higher education and employment as fully contributing members of society through the passage of the DREAM Act. Undocumented students are currently faced with closed doors at every turn, through no fault of their own. They are barred from receiving financial aid and scholarships, and some states have begun to bar undocumented students from attending community colleges. Even after working hard and paying their own way through college, their job prospects are cut off by their lack of working papers. They can't get a driver's license, can't work legally, can't be the fully productive Americans they want to be.
We all lose when the talent and ambition of these bright young people goes to waste.
We can all win by opening the doors of opportunity to those who work so hard and deserve the chance to succeed.
You can take 2 easy steps to support the passage of the DREAM Act!
At Change.gov, add your vote and your voice to President-elect Obama's Citizen's briefing book. The most popular ideas will be presented to him after his swearing in, so every vote is vital to getting the DREAM Act the attention it deserves!
At Change.org, your vote will help make the DREAM Act a priority in making positive change in our country a reality. The deadline for this action is Thursday, January 15, at 5 p.m. EST.
Help ensure a bright future for the United States of America through our immigrant children. It's how this country has always grown and prospered! It's the American Dream!
Daft Punk is one of those obscure iconic global acts that never hit the top in the States but manages to sell out stadiums 13 years after the release of their debut album ... kind of like Radiohead, I guess.
Rather than stretch too far to find meaning from a duo that seems intent on sabotaging efforts to do just that, I'm going to take some lines from their song Face to Face and cram it into the context I'll construct for it.
O anger, you are the root of conflict; compassion never rises up in you. You take the corrupt, sinful beings in your power, and make them dance like monkeys -Sri Guru Granth Sahib
You don't need a hate barometer to understand that the anti-immigration movement is fraught with intolerance, hatred and in many cases racism. The anti-immigration activist puts themselves above all others in a sick narcissism veiled as patriotism. While patriotism can be a good thing it loses it's flavor when the idea or thing becomes more important than the suffering and needs of others.
This morning I opened up my feed reader to get started back into the SanctuarySphere posts only to find that Robb Pearson, a former anti-migrant activist from New Jersey, conducted an interview, or confession, with 9500Liberty. I figured this deserves its own post and what better way to start the new year then to have a former anti-'illegal' immigrant protester confess. The following comment from Robb is very telling of the mindset many possess in this movement.