April 2011 Archives



[This post was originally written for Crooks and Liars]

I'm almost in denial about having to ask people to do this: sign this petition at change.org to help stop the deportation of Prerna Lal. It's difficult to think of a more stupid move for the Obama administration to make than to initiate removal proceedings against Prerna. Prerna is arguably the most visible undocumented person, or Dreamer (after the DREAM Act), in the U.S.

As her website will tell you, she helped found dreamactivist.org, one of the most powerful online hubs for migrant youth, she's a blogger at change.org, and she's a board member of Immigration Equality. She also earned her Master's degree in International Relations and is currently studying to get her law degree at George Washington University.

The Obama administration is telling us that they're focusing their resources on the worst of the worst while folks on the ground know that they're going after people like Prerna all the time. If you don't want to read on, please sign this petition to stop Prerna's deportation.
I'm happy to report that Crooks & Liars just published the following post. I'm back to blog blazin' if you can't already tell, and trying to get my writing out there any and everyway that I can. Maybe someday I'll be able to make a living off of it :)

I was honored to first have the opportunity to write for Crooks & Liars shortly before the first DREAM Act vote, last year, mostly because it's one of the first blogs I started reading.

Since I couldn't watch most U.S. news in Guatemala, or I didn't have a TV when I first moved up to the U.S., I used to go to C&L to get my daily dose when the internet and my computer was slow enough that I had to download the .wmv files in order to watch them. I still have a lot of those files archived actually.

In honor of that history I'll probably continue to post there first with the sort of content that I used to love to consume. I'll cross-post at Citizen Orange afterwards, of course. Enjoy the post!



If Obama wants any chance of a pro-migrant voter advantage going into 2012, he better start taking lessons from folks like Mass. State Rep. Michael Moran (D-Brighton).

As if to illustrate just how sickening nativists can be Moran was flooded with hate mail after he was rear ended by 27-year-old unauthorized migrant Isaias Naranjo. The responsibility for the focusing this hate on Moran lies primarily with the nativist denizens of the Boston Herald opinion page, like Michael Graham and Joe Battenfeld, who singled Moran out for his courageous pro-migrant stances. Car crashes, huzzah!
I was hoping Julia Preston's latest New York Times piece would provide some light at the end of the tunnel of this mess that the Obama administration has gotten us into.  Instead, it's left me scratching my head even more.  Now, I'm even more certain of my call for Janet Napolitano to resign.  

Preston contrasts the treatment of Olga Zanella who has been fighting her deportation for over two years in Texas, with ICE officials in Central Florida who are doing the following:

ICE officials in central Florida recently invited immigration lawyers to bring forward illegal immigrants facing deportation who did not have criminal records, offering provisional authorization for them to remain here and work legally.
Julia Preston - New York Times (26 April 2011)

It's the first I've heard of this, and at first glance, it's the most reasonable thing I've heard of ICE doing in a long while. I'll reach out to some of the contacts I have in Florida and give them a chance to confirm and respond.

However, the take away from Preston's piece isn't so much that ICE is doing something reasonable, but how much of a mess it is. Gregory Chen at AILA takes it home:


"It's much more like Egypt then MoveOn", is the comparison Roberto Lovato used to describe how migrant youth use social media as we prepared for our panel in the National Conference for Media Reform here in Boston.  It's an apt comparison, I believe.  Unauthorized migrant youth, or Dreamers (after the DREAM Act), have had to use social media differently then most in the U.S.  

This for two major reasons, I believe: (1) because of the widespread political violence, now escalated by the Obama administration, which has been unleashed on our communities (Yes, I count myself as being in community with migrant youth, as we all should), and (2) because only a few years ago there was not a single media outlet you could find that truly gave voice to undocumented youth.  What has sprouted up in resistance to that violence and systemic silence is truly unique, I believe, and it's good to see social media behemoths like Mashable start to recognize it.

Thumbnail image for Obama pensive.jpg

... therefore, the #1 goal of the immigrant rights movement should be to unelect Obama in 2012.

The defendant faces the following charges:

  • Assault: Obama has ushered in a reign of terror against immigrant families in the U.S., with almost 400,000 deportations in 2010, a new record. A generation of children in immigrant families, many of them U.S. citizens, experience the ongoing trauma (pdf) of knowing that their parents could be stolen away from them in the night, any night.

  • Fraud: Obama claims to oppose entangling local law enforcement in federal immigration matters while foisting the national racial profiling program called Secure Communities on localities around the country which does exactly that. He claims to oppose deporting Dreamers while his agencies deport more of them than ever before.
  • Theft: The Social Security Administration collects payroll taxes from millions of immigrant workers who never see a dime in retirement benefits and who are not eligible for SSI disability payments. Increasing numbers of undocumented workers are applying for Temporary Tax ID (ITIN) numbers to pay federal income taxes, yet they are excluded from all public benefits programs and instead are targeted for imprisonment and deportation by federal agencies funded by those same tax dollars.
  • Absence of remorse or rehabilitation. Instead of recognizing the immigration Policy and Political Traps into which he has fallen (or jumped), at every opportunity, Obama boasts of his record as Deporter in Chief. Feeling politically vulnerable as the child of an immigrant himself whose American bona fides have been challenged, he has responded by out-persecuting the persecutors. Like a schoolyard bully, he targets others to avoid being targeted himself.

The evidence is now before the jury, who will deliver the verdict on November 6, 2012. The jurors will not be as easily fooled this time around with promises the defendant doesn't intend to keep. He should hope he has a skillful defense attorney.


I don't believe he can pin these crimes on subordinates or co-conspirators. In the end, responsibility for terrorizing immigrant families rests with the Perpetrator-in-Chief. Unlike the detainees who've died in his jails or in the countries to which he's sent them, Obama's only punishment will be carried out at the ballot box, his only sentence a comfortable and lucrative retirement.

Janet Napolitano has to go.  Her comments to the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board are the last straw.  The Secure Communities program is easily the greatest threat to migrant communities around the nation, today.  

For those not following closely, Secure Communities will turn every local cop into a border patrol agent.  Everyone police arrest will be checked for their immigration status.  Remember the millions of pro-migrant people that marched on the streets in 2006 in opposition to the U.S. House passing H.R. 4437?  This is the sort of criminalization of migrant communities we opposed.  Remember the nationwide boycott against Arizona's S.B. 1070?  These are the sorts of expanded police powers with the potential for racial profiling that we were concerned about.

The only real difference between Secure Communities, H.R. 4437, and S.B. 1070, is that Secure Communities is not a law being debated in Congress or a State House.  Secure Communities federal program that is being imposed upon us by the Obama administration completely against the will of our local elected officials.  Janet Napolitano has now made that clear and that is why she has to go.      

(Sombrero tip to Scott Kersgaard at the Colorado Independent)

It's a rare politician that's willing to lose an election over justice for unauthorized migrants.  Denver mayoral candidate Chris Romer deserves to be praised for taking a stand for migrant youth.  
I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter, today, from Citizen Orange.  It's a special Easter for me this year and I hope that it is for you to.
I don't know how clearly it has been coming out of what little writing I've been doing as of late, but for those who don't know, I started a process of soul searching almost as soon as I started my pro-migrant work.  Five years of prayerful consideration has finally allowed me the great privilege of taking the first steps of what I hope will be a lifelong journey.  

Today, as Holy Week comes to an end, Primero Dios, I will formally be receiving my First Communion and will be Confirmed into the Catholic Church.  For those in the Boston area, the ceremony will officially take place starting at 7:30 p.m. in St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish.  All are welcome.

I've been working on writing something explaining my commitment.  What was meant to be a clear and succinct piece of turned into an almost 6,000 word behemoth.  It's difficult for me to gauge whether Citizen Orange is the place for my religious ruminations, or not.  Still, I feel an obligation to disclose to readers here any new affilations that I have because this decision certainly effects my writing.

What follows is a excerpt from a draft I've been working on explaining my commitment.
One of the hardest truths I learned when I tried to retrace the route of a Guatemalan migrant into the U.S. was that the vast majority of people who try to migrate to the U.S. don't make it.  A National Geographic film "Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary" puts out the following statistic

Of the more than 3,000 Latin Americans who embark upon this journey every day, less than 300 make it to their destination. 

Much of the anecdotal evidence I have collected confirms this and it makes sense systemically, too. You only hear from the migrants that make into into the U.S.  You rarely hear from those that died, ended their journey somewhere else, or turned back.

I bring this up, now, because Renata Avila, a human rights lawyer and one of my favorite Guatemalan activists, tweeted me this link a few days ago:

I'm happy to report that after almost four months of sitting on it, the comments at Citizen Orange are up and running again.  It turns out I was right to wait.  After trying to install Disqus, the new comments system here, a bug came up in Moveable Type, which no longer allowed me to post.

Thankfully, Jose Lopez at tumis.com was gracious enough to help me fix the bug last night.  I met Jose at Web of Change last summer.  Since then Tumis put together the United We Dream website, which I think is really well done, and not just because orange plays prominently into the design :)  This is just a long way of saying that if you ever need a good looking and functional website and want to support pro-migrant web developers, I can't imagine you doing much better than going with Tumis.

I've also got to say that though Jose just informed me that Disqus isn't very compatible with Moveable Type because it's written in Javascript, I think that it functions and looks great.  It's a testament to the design skills of Nezua at The Unapologetic Mexican that many years later I'm still able to build on the beauty he created.  
The idea of coming out, of being undocumented and unafraid and now unapologetic, has become a national movement in great part due to the Immigrant Youth Justice League.  Keep it up herman@s:

Undocumented and Unafraid

[Ed.: In my inbox from TheDreamIsComing]:

Press Advisory
Contact: Juan Escalante | Cell: 407-602-8675 | Email: Juan@dreamactivist.org

7 undocumented youth 'come out' at Hurt Park and share testimonies

Atlanta, Georgia- In what is the first time something like this has happened in Georgia, 7 undocumented youth, 'come out' of the shadows to share their stories. The youth are participating in this action as a part of a larger national campaign asking undocumented youth to step up, shed their fears, and speak out as being undocumented and unafraid.

Georgina Perez, an undocumented young person is coming out because, she says: "I am tired of living in fear; I am tired of being constantly told I cannot do something just because of my status. I was brought to this country over 18 years ago, when I was just 3. I am a proud Georgian, I want to contribute to this nation and I will not let anyone tell me how to live my life. I am no longer afraid."

On Tuesday Georgina will be joined by 6 other undocumented youth in 'coming out' and declaring their status: Dayanna Rebolledo, David Ramirez, Andrea Rosales, Viridiana Martinez, Jose Rico Benavides, and Maria Marroquin.

All of the youth are members of The Dream is Coming project - www.thedreamiscoming.com. Some of their previous actions have resulted in the arrest of undocumented youth. "It is time for those against us to decide which side they are on. As undocumented youth we are no longer going to stand by while our rights are taken away," says Mohammad, an undocumented youth arrested last May while staging a sit-in at the Tucson offices of Sen. John McCain.

According to a July 2010 Migrant Policy Institute report, Georgina is just one of the estimated 74,000 undocumented youth who are currently living in Georgia. She joins the over 2.1 million who reside in the United States.

When: Tuesday, April 5th at 1:30pm
Where: Hurt Park, corner of Gilmer Street SE & Courtland Street SE
What: Undocumented youth come out of the shadows and demand their rights.

###

As TheDreamisComing, we are compelled by our frustration and the fierce urgency of our dreams to act as agents of our destinies and be the catalysts for a future in which we are empowered, mobilized, and living with the dignity we deserve. We are a group of undocumented youth who have worked for years on a path to legalization. We are at a point in our movement where radical action has become necessary for ourselves and our communities.

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