kyledeb: June 2009 Archives

I'm a little late to this, but I wanted to write a short tribute to the former Tennessean columnist, Tim Chavez.  I'm sad to say that I never met Tim Chavez in person, 'but I followed his blogging closely over at Political Salsa.  Hearing of his death truly saddened me.  I didn't know his struggle with cancer was that serious. 

What saddened me the most about Tim's death is that the world lost one of the few truly pro-migrant bloggers that I know of.  Pro-migrant blogging is more of a struggle than people realize.  You're constantly hammered by both nativists with their hate, and allies that want you to get in line.  Tim Chavez was one of the few bloggers I knew that wasn't afraid to do what was unpopular to advocate for migrants, the mark of a true pro-migrant blogger.

Some of Tim's most excellent work was done breaking the news of a pregnant mother in Tennessee who was shackled in handcuffs while she was giving birth, drawing attention to the inhumanity of ICE's 287g program, which Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security still has yet to do anything about.  I'll let Tim explain how outrageous this was in his own words:

Post-election Voto Latino asked its membership what it should be doing and a majority suggested focusing on migration.  This is another indicator of how important fixing the broken U.S. migration system is to voting Latinos.  As a result Voto Latino is beginning a new campaign to fight back against hate.  The kick-off for this campaign is an interview over Skype with Robert Cantu

According to Mount Vernon News, Cantu has been the victim of two attacks in the small town of Mount Vernon, Ohio.  The failure to act on behalf of the local police department raises serious questions about their commitment to justice.  The attack that has been the subject of national headlines is one in which Cantu's attacker, Dale Klein, is alleged to have done the following:

According to Cantu the incident occurred on or about May 30, 2008. Cantu said he was with a friend when Klein and three others jumped him, and tied a rope with a noose around his neck. The other end of the rope was tied to a truck and Cantu said he was dragged for several feet. After stopping the truck, the attackers, allegedly including Klein, exited the truck and began to attack Cantu. According to Cantu, a passer-by, Ezzy Thompson, who was known to Cantu, intervened, chasing off the attackers and removing the noose from Cantu's neck.
George Breithaupt - Mount Vernon News (17 June 2009)

In the Voto Latino video Cantu further alleges that his attackers called him a "spic" and a "border jumper" while they carried out the attack.  Nevertheless, Klein has gotten only 10 days for his offense which clearly fits the profile of a hate crime.  Cantu has reasons to continue to be fearful as he alleges in the Voto Latino he has received additional threats as a result of this case.

I'm happy Voto Latino has listened to its membership and taken up this important cause.  I look forward to the additional material that Voto Latino comes up with.  
I'm still reeling off the heals of the Reform Immigration for America Summit and the National DREAM Act Graduation, for which I have a great deal of material to share.  Still, with President Obama finally convening his twice postponed meeting to begin the process of U.S. migration reform and the subsequent reactions, it's clear that there is a need for some informed pro-migrant commentary on what is happening. 

I personally have been having trouble finding my voice with Obama.  I don't think it's a secret that I have not been happy with his administration.  Still, Obama hasn't completely sold migrants down the river, yet.  There is still a chance he'll come through on his campaign pledge to "make it a top priority" in his first year as President.  I will believe it when I see it.  I haven't seen it yet, but Obama still has five months to prove otherwise.

There are two issues that migrant advocates have to face in trying to push for just and humane migration reform.  The first issue is convincing politicians and the U.S. public that migration reform should be taken up in the first place, which has proven to be no small feat after the U.S. economy almost collapsed.  The second issue is pushing the debate as far to the pro-migrant side as possible, so that when the legislative battle does begin, we have a good starting point unlike with the attempt to pass migration reform in 2007.  Migrant advocates and allies have been doing a decent job with the first issue, but a horrible job with the second issue.  I will discuss both in this post.
It's a story that has been told time and time again.  It has been written in poems.  It has been captured in photos.  It has been screened in videos

If you're on the Internet and you haven't heard of the DREAM Act, you're not doing it right.  Seriously, just throw your computer out the window right now.  Keeping your computer is not worth your money or your time...

If you're still here, I'll let you get away with watching this video:

A Dream Deferred. from Jeesoo Park on Vimeo.

Today, in one of the most impressive youth-led campaigns of the contemporary migrant rights movement, hundreds of youth from over 15 states will converge on Washington D.C. to demonstrate for the DREAM Act.  For those who cannot make it solidarity actions will be planned in a dozen states.  The National DREAM Act Graduation Day on June 23, 2009  "will underscore the importance of advancing the 'DREAM Act' and the 'American Dream Act' to give these youth a chance to attend college and pursue their goals."

More than three years ago, I began an experiment that I would come to call pro-migrant blogging.  What is pro-migrant blogging?  A pro-migrant blogger is someone who uses blogs to promote the interests of migrants.  There are, of course, varying shades of pro-migrant bloggers.  Still, I have a sort mental checklist for determining whether a blog is pro-migrant, or not.  A blogger is pro-migrant if she or he:

Characteristics of a Pro-Migrant Blogger

  • Believes that all human beings are equal, regardless of the nation they were born into.  In other words the blog is not nativist.  What is nativism?  In the same way that racism is the belief that one human being is superior to another on the basis of race, nativism is the belief that one human being is superior to another on the basis of birthplace.
  • Actively promotes the interests of migrants, dispels the myths of nativism, and fights back against nativism. 
  • Provides a safe space from nativism in the online spaces he or she controls, or at least does not allow nativism to go unchecked.
  • Recognizes that nativism is inextricable from racism.  The relationship between nativism and racism is best exemplified by the tendency to view people of color as being from other nations.  One of the most famous and dramatic instances of this relationship was exemplified in the killing of Vincent Chin.
  • Explores the relationship between migrant oppression and other social constructs such as class, gender, etc.  I don't personally see religion as a social construct, but it could be included here.
  • And, finally, he or she sees migration as a symptom of broader global ills.  Hence the use of the word migrant as opposed to immigrant or emigrant.  Immigration approaches the issue from the perspective of receiving nations, emigration approaches the issue from the perspective of sending nations, and migration recognizes the phenomena for its true.  The only criticism of the term migrant is that it has a transitory connotation.  This is why some people strive for the more permanent connotation of the word immigrant.  This criticism, however, implies that a transitory state of being, a being in a state of movement, is a bad thing, and to concede that is a fundamental blow to the dignity of migrants. 
Others are free to contest this list in the comments section.  I am not particularly attached to it.  It's a starting point more than a finished product.  I wrote it out partly so that it could be contested.  Still, serves roughly as my mental checklist for determining whether a blog is pro-migrant or not.    To get on Citizen Orange's pro-migrant blogroll I ask bloggers to go a couple steps further than my checklist.  You have to email me about helping to fight nativism online, and you have to cross-post your writing over at The Sanctuary.

It is important to state that I was not the first pro-migrant blogger.  I also hope I will not be the last.
As I said, previously, I'm not going to blog the Reform Immigration for America summit until I have the time to process everything.  I will cover the last session open to the press live from twitter, though.  I hope you follow along.  
I'm not even going to try and compose a coherent blog post right now.  There's so much running through my mind that I need to process. 

I'm glad Maegan blogged the earlier session, today.  I was able to film it, but I have not been able to sit down at my computer to write until now.  

Instead of trying to compose something, I'm just going to twitter the latest open press event.

A lot is going on at the Reform Immigration For America Summit.  I'm having trouble getting my bearings straight.  Fortunately, I'm not alone in blogging all of this.  You can follow along at both Imagine2050 and Standing FIRM.  A must read blog post is definitely our own MamitaMala's at The SanctuaryTwitter is also an excellent place to follow along.

I am currently sitting amidst a group of over 700 screaming migrant advocates at the Reform Immigration for America Summit.  I came here with the Student Immigrant Movement, and will be working with America's Voice to help mobilize people to push back against hate online.  I believe it is important to state my organizational affiliations for the sake of honesty, but anyone who knows my blogging knows that I write unfiltered.