July 2011 Archives



If you're coming to this post through listening to Nightside, tonight, and you want Secure Communities out of Boston, make sure you sign these petitions:

Sign the petition against S-Comm at change.org
Sign the petition against S-Comm at presente.org
Jackie Mahendra at change.org is the person who got us the press hit, and I'll be going on with Gloribell Mota the lead organizer of Neighbors United for a Better East Boston, so I'll definitely be reppin' both of them.
A lot has happened over the last few months and I've done my best to keep the readers of Citizen Orange apprised of every thing that I believe affects my writing. I wrote about my commitment to Catholicism in April, and I've tried to inform readers about my recent part-time job at Neighbors United For A Better East Boston (NUBE) working against S-Comm in Boston.

Today, I'm excited to announce that I just completed my first full day working for Presente.org. My first public action was tweeting Obama's NCLR speech. I'm going to be handing off some of my responsibilities at NUBE over the next few weeks, but I hope to continue to work out of the NUBE office to stay connected to the local pro-migrant community and to get out of my apartment.

I've got to say that I'm really excited to be working for Presente alongside of Carlos Roa, Favianna Rodriguez, Felipe Matos, and Laurie Ignacio. It's not just that this is the first time I'll be getting health insurance outside of school (yes I'm frequently among the 2% of folks that don't have health insurance in Massachusetts), it's the first time that I'll be able to dedicate myself full-time to the pro-migrant social media work that I love and am skilled at, and will be able to do it from anywhere.

I'm equally, if not more excited, to be doing this sort of work with people that I trust and respect, which if I can impart some advice, is probably one of the most important factors to consider when you work with people in the public arena. While I don't plan on leaving the Boston area in the next couple of years, it's dream of mine, primero Dios, to be able to do pro-migrant work for an organization like Presente from my home of Guatemala, at some point.

Saying that, I want to be clear about what I envision my role at Presente to be. I identify very firmly as a migrant, as a Guatemalan, and as a Latin American leftist among many other things, but I've tried to be clear since I started blogging that within the racial context of the U.S., I'm identified as white and benefit from white privilege. That's a big part of why Citizen Orange has always been identified as an ally space.

That's not something I feel I have to apologize for, it's just the reality of the world we live in. It is just something that those of us who benefit from white privilege have to be conscious of and have to try to work against to the best of our ability. Though I've certainly made mistakes, as we all have, I believe in general my actions and words up to this point in my life have proven that I'm willing to give my life, several times over, to work against systems of oppression like racism and nativism. I can only pray that I'm able to keep that fire burning in my belly for the rest of my life.

I bring all this up because I see Presente as a Latin@ space, and I envision my role there to be a mostly behind-the-scenes supporting role. In other words, me taking credit for things like the tweets I wrote today won't happen much outside of this blog post. Everyone working at Presente, right now, is a rock star. I want to be there to take some of the work off of their hands so that they can continue to be the rock stars they need to be for the Latin@ community.

That doesn't mean I won't leave my mark. I've already got a few things up my sleeve for when I get into the flow of things, but I'll leave that to discuss at another date. For the time being, I just wanted to inform people of my new role, and to thank everyone at Presente for the honor of working alongside of them.
There's a lot happening, today, and there's a lot happening.  So much so that I don't feel like I can write about it.

First, with the help of change.org and presente.org we will be delivering over 2000 petition signatures, the majority of which are from the Boston area, to Mayor Menino asking him to take the final steps to end S-Comm, now. Please sign both petitions, linked to above, if you haven't done so already. This comes off the heels of Springfield, Massachusetts, the home of the infamous Joe Arpaio, passing a city council resolution against S-Comm. Believe it or not, change.org has been doing some of the best and most consistent reporting on all of this.

Also today will be a hearing on in-state tuition for undocumented youth in Massachusetts. The Student Immigrant Movement has been working hard on this for some time, and they're more organized than I've ever seen them. I hope we can get S-Comm out of Boston so we can start focusing on offense instead of defense. That's all I have time to write, right now, but if you want to follow me throughout the day @kyledeb on twitter is probably the best place to look.


Hilarious Fox & Friends comic through Daily Kos from August Pollak. Fox & Friends is easily one of the most nativist television shows on the air. Recently, I thought they finally aired a more neutral segment on Jose Antonio Vargas only to find out later that they followed up the segment by holding up Vargas as the perfect case for E-[Sc]arify. Media Matters has been doing an excellent job of chronicling their nativism.
The Boston Globe is really bringing the fire against the federal [In]Secure Communities program (S-Comm). Following Maria Sacchetti's article highlighting the abuses of S-Comm, Adrian Walker came out with a column condemning the program, the editorial board wrote against the program, and now Lawrence Harmon has a piece against the program.

Most surprising to me was the harsh public comments Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis had for John Morton. Davis is really changing his tune on S-Comm and deserves credit for doing so. Harmon quotes Davis saying Morton was "cavalier," and "dismissive." From what I've heard from folks who've interacted with Morton, that seems pretty accurate.
Mala at Vivir Latino has the news. If you haven't signed the change.org petition for the California DREAM Act, yet, please do so. California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it, according to Leslie Berestein Rojas of Southern California Public Radio's Multi-American blog, but after Gov. Brown vetoed the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act it's hard for me to say that I expect him to do anything for the pro-migrant voters that got him elected.


I was thinking on what music I should use to resurrect the musical monday feature and it hit me almost instantly that I should begin with a song from a paisano of mine, Ricardo Arjona, that was popular at the time I took my trip.


I think it was my co-blogger Dave that first started doing Musical Monday here at Citizen Orange, and ever since I've wanted to try and do Film Fridays and Book Wednesdays, or something along those lines. Book Wednesdays will probably be the most difficult, but music and a film once a week shouldn't be too hard.

I'm almost embarrassed to start this feature with the film Battle: Los Angeles. Let's just say I'm happy that I waited for it to come up on my Netflix queue instead of paying to watch it at a movie theater. The only reason I'm not ashamed to write about this is that it gives me the opportunity to share this trailer with people. I think I first watched after having come across this Gawker post. There Richard Lawson says it best: "While the film will probably wind up being standard alien fare, the trailer is almost... beautiful."
While I hold the Obama administration responsible for the increasing violence being done to migrant communities (exemplified by the last post I just wrote), it's important to be clear who our friends and enemies are. There is a good contingent of pro-migrant Democrats in Congress that have stood with our communities through these difficult times.

I just received a press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4) which I will paste below that lists some of the pro-migrant Democrats that are standing with us, and also point to a threat coming from the number two enemy of migrant communities, U.S. Rep Lamar Smith (R-TX-21). With everything that's happening it's tempting to ignore it, but I know for a fact that this is precisely the sort of bill that the Obama administration fears if they provide our community with any sort of administrative relief.


Part of the reason I'm not as good at blogging as I used to be is not only because I'm spending more of my time off the computer and on the streets, it's also because the amount of pro-migrant information I'm taking in has exponentially increased and it's easy to become overwhelmed. With very little movement happening nationally, though, and the fights returning to the local level where there's really shoddy media coverage, it's important that I we all do our part to produce media that changes the conversation about migration in the U.S. and around the world.

I don't think it's possible to understand the amount of violence that is being done to our communities through the mass detention and deportation machine that the Obama administration has constructed. A single mind just cannot comprehend the amount of damage that 400,000 deportations a year does to families and communities. I'm hoping that by communicating the stories of a tiny fraction of people that are getting deported through the public deportations that people are trying to stop that together we can try and move towards understanding.
Almost 500 people have signed my petition at change.org asking Mayor Menino to end S-Comm, now, but those signatures are from all over the place.  Presente.org now has over 1,000 local Boston signatures asking Menino to end S-Comm, now.  He's taken some positive steps against it, and hopefully this sort of outcry will push him over the edge.  Let's help get that to 1,250 by next week.

Please sign the Presente.org petition, now!
Centro Presente has been circulating an open letter to Mayor Menino thanking him for his recent steps criticizing S-Comm but asking him to take the further step of ending the program:
Centro Presente through the National Association of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) Somos/We Are Initiative is asking Boston's local NPR Affiliate, WBUR to Drop The I-Word. Here's an email I just received:

Send an email to Dave Shaw WBUR News Editor
daveshaw@bu.edu
or call the newsroom: (617) 353-0770


Dear Mr. Shaw,

My name is __________ I listen to WBUR radio and I support the SOMOS/WE ARE initiative promoted by NALACC and recognize that immigrants of today represent an invaluable asset for the wellbeing and progress of the United States of America.

PLEASE desist in the use of the word "illegal" in your reporting to describe undocumented immigrants, because only things and actions are illegal. Human beings are not. Thank you so much for your attention!

It's been a long while since Citizen Orange has done one of these, but I thought I'd resurrect this feature in honor of our old blogger symsess, and also in acknowledgment of the fact that while I continue to hammer away at S-Comm in Boston, there's lot's of other really important things going on:

CA7.jpgIn my inbox today from DreamActivist.org after another undocumented youth civil disobedience action led by DreamIsComing took place in San Bernadino yesterday:

Hi David

'You are lucky, you must be a citizen. . . aren't you?' the police officer at the jail asked Martha Vazquez, 22, just as she left an interview with ICE. Martha was one of the youth arrested hours earlier at the campus of San Bernardino Valley College.

The catch is that Martha is undocumented, in fact hours before she was at a protest publicly declaring her legal status. Everyone knew she was undocumented. The police and even ICE knew she was undocumented, but they all made a conscious decision not to turn her or any of the youth arrested over to ICE authorities.

The reason for this is simple, ICE authorities are scared of DREAM-eligible youth. If you are public, if you share your story and you are out then ICE is afraid of you. They are afraid to detain you knowing the backlash it would create in the community. They are afraid to come after you because they know we can effectively fight against our deportations and stop them.

This is the reason why we urge all undocumented youth to get active, the more active you are the safer you are. While in jail the youth met many other undocumented immigrants who were not as privileged as them, people who are still in jail and will most likely be detained by ICE.

ICE has power over our communities because they know we are afraid of them. Think for a moment, what would your community look like if the undocumented immigrants there were no longer afraid of being detained by ICE? If they no longer had that fear and could come out of the shadows everyday. Think about it.

We will continue to organize until we reach that point. We hope you will join us.

All of the work we do is completely volunteer run, unlike some organizations we are not funded by any foundations or corporations. If you enjoy or support the work we do please consider making a donation.

Thank you for your support,

Mohammad Abdollahi
co-founder of DreamActivist.org

The nativists that make up the editorial board of the Boston Herald have spoken. Predictably, the shock jocks at FM 96.9 Boston Talks and AM 680 WRKO will follow. Surprisingly FOX 25 in Boston was relatively balanced, though I won't be surprised if the quote they got out of Mayor Menino gets blown out of proportion. Of course, Jessica Vaughan and Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies have also been out in full force against Menino, but I will not link to them because of their association with and refusal to stand against their founder, white supremacist John Tanton.

I'm sure this pattern gets repeated all across the U.S. on a variety of local issues. Unfortunately for those of us trying to build the pro-migrant movement at the local level these nativists echo chambers have been built up over decades, and it will take some time for us to counter them listener for listener, eyeball for eyeball. In the meantime we just have to be targetted, intentional, and efficient at what we do.
Good news for the pro-migrant movement in the Boston Globe this morning: Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has taken a firm stand against the excesses of the [In]Secure Communities program (S-Comm):

"As operated now, Secure Communities is diminishing trust, an essential part of the neighborhood fabric and a vital public safety tool,'' Menino wrote.

"Secure Communities must change substantially or be scrapped,'' he wrote.

[...]

"Boston took part in Secure Communities as a pilot project, with the understanding that only the most serious criminals would be affected and the belief that our feedback would lead to improvements in the program,'' Menino wrote in the letter. "It would be a further violation of the public trust if instead Secure Communities proves to be a knot that the federal government will not untie.''
Martine Powers and Stewart Bishop - Boston Globe (11 July 2011)
The fight is certainly not over.


While Boston is starting to feel the pressure for surrendering local police resources to enforce federal immigration law through the [In]Secure Communities program, the city is reeling from a violent 4th of July.

A dark part of me shuts out the violence around me in Boston by comparing it to my home of Guatemala City, where at least a dozen people are murdered a day. With 4 dead and 15 wounded on the 4th of July, adjusting for the differences in population, Boston came close to approaching those levels over the weekend.

Though I can't say I'm deeply involved, I have a lot of admiration for local organizers in Boston trying to prevent violence. I was particularly moved by listening to Tina Chéry of Louis D. Brown Peace Institute on Radio Boston, yesterday, who's in the video above. Her son was killed and she's honored him through almost two decades of peace activism. "Peace is possible," she said on Radio Boston, yesterday, something that speaks to me personally just as it should speak to governments engaged in endless war.

Aside from the symbolism of all this violence happening on Independence Day, there's a lot of truth that spoke to me over the weekend. Life is precious and I should feel the loss of a life on the streets of Boston as deeply as I feel the loss of a life on the streets of Guatemala. Peace is a practice and it starts in our own hearts.


ACTION: Sign the twitter petition I just created.

Today at 2 p.m. ET, Barack Obama is holding a twitter townhall to "answer twitter users' questions about the American economy." There's a part of me that doubts migrant communities will ever be addressed no matter how many tweets with the hashtag #askobama we produce, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Contrary to the false zero-sum logic of nativists, objective economist after objective economist has shown migration to the U.S., authorized and unauthorized, to benefit the U.S. economy. A job earned by a migrant isn't a job taken away from a native born worker, because jobs given have the tendency to support other jobs and businesses. I will be fair and acknowledge that there might be some instances where migration can have a negative impact on marginalized native born workers, but I think strengthening workers' rights and unionizing them would do those folks a lot more good than turning local police officers into border patrol agents.

Understanding this economic truth isn't difficult for people from migrant sending nations like myself. I wish many of the best and most enterprising Guatemalan people who make lives for themselves in migrant receiving nations didn't have to leave, but the fact of the matter is that people generally know what's best for themselves and I know Guatemala's prosperity, as well as the U.S.'s prosperity, for that matter, is interwoven with the empowerment of migrants.

I don't want Obama to speculate on what I know to be economic truths, though, I want to #askobama why he continues to ask for more and more money for immigration enforcement, and why he continues to waste precious federal resources on deporting migrant youth and ripping apart migrant families with strong ties to the U.S. If the question does get asked, I'm assuming he'll dance around it as he has done every other time. Hopefully one of these days, before the election, we're able to find someone with enough knowledge and courage to be able to press him with targetted follow-up questions.
When will this madness end? Krista Jensen of the Washington DREAM Act Coalition ask me to get a petition to stop Yañez deportation out there. Sign it, please. If Obama continues to force us to stop these one-by-one it will only make us stronger.
Originally posted at Crooks and Liars.


[Please sign the petition, above, and ask Boston to stop allowing the federal government to turn our local police into border patrol agents.]


Boston has made one mistake too many in trying to enforce federal immigration law.

The city is currently enrolled in the federal program with the Orwellian name Secure Communities (S-Comm), which forces local police to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest. The Obama administration wants to force every local police force in the U.S. to enroll in this program by 2013, but states and localities across the nation are resisting. If migrant communities are afraid to go to their local police officers to report crimes, then all residents are less safe. Following the governors of Illinois and New York, the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, recently declined to participate in the program.

While the program is under review in Boston, the latest Boston Globe article from Maria Sacchetti makes clear that the time for Boston to terminate its S-Comm program is now. With DREAMer Lizandra DeMoura now in deportation proceedings, this program has manifestly done enough damage to our communities.

In 2006, one of the first official acts of Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis was to refuse then Gov. Mitt Romney's request to use local police forces to enforce federal immigration law. What wouldn't be made public until four years later is that while Davis was publicly decrying the involvement of local police in enforcing federal immigration law, privately, the Boston Police Department was the pilot for a program that would check the immigration status of everyone they arrested, a program which would later come to be known as S-Comm.

It's easy to understand why the federal government approached Boston about doing this. As one of the most pro-migrant major cities in the U.S., involving Boston early would blunt criticism against S-Comm later. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also promised all participants in S-Comm that the purpose of the program would be to target the worst of the worst for deportation.
Following the revelations of Maria Sacchetti's article in the Sunday Globe, columnist Adrian Walker is standing with the growing chorus of voices asking Boston to terminate it's S-Comm program now. If you haven't signed my petition, yet, please do so.
Thanks in large part to Alonso Chehade at the DREAM Act 2010 facebook page, over 100 people have signed my change.org petition asking Boston to terminate it's S-Comm program. Sign it if you haven't done so, yet.

ACTION: Please sign the above change.org petition, now.

Maria Sacchetti's article in the Boston Sunday Globe has me shaking with rage. She's been able to do as a reporter what we've been unable to do as advocates, which is to publicly bring to light specific cases of people in our communities who have been ensnared by ICE's [In]Secure Communities Program (S-Comm).

What has me shaking with rage an unable to even focus on the rest on the article is the fact that the irresponsibility of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and the Boston Police Department has allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensare a DREAMer, Lizandra DeMoura, in their deportation machinery. If Maria Sacchetti hadn't brought this case to light, DeMoura might have been deported without any of us knowing about it.

I don't know what else the Boston Police Department needs to know about S-Comm. They need to stand against the program, now. They've already irrevocably broken the trust of migrant communities throughout Boston by enrolling in this program in 2006 and not making that public until 2010. The more time that Boston delays standing against this program, the more time we have to organize against it, and the more difficult it will be for migrant communities to regain their trust with the police. It's time for Boston to stand against the program, now. I just started up a change.org petition targeted at some of the right people. Please sign it, now.

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