Recently in Progressive Category

If there's ever been a time that I've felt better about speaking with folks privately before needlessly putting them on blast, this is it.  I just got off the phone with Nicole at PostBourgie who was originally cited by both Adam Serwer at The American Prospect and Ezra Klein at the Washington Post in their defenses of using the word "illegal." I was told by Nicole that she no longer uses the word illegal in her writing.  This right after Serwer confirmed with me over the phone that he no longer uses the i-word.  Two major victories in a row!  I'll update this post with a statement from her if she has time to write something today.

Sign a twitter petition thanking Nicole for dropping the I-word.


As has become a near daily addiction for me, I was getting my daily political news from Memeorandum, yesterday, when I noticed, to my horror, that the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) website had made the headlines.  Even worse was that Tim Murphy of Mother Jones, and Adam Serwer of The American Prospect, both of which are supposed to be "progressive" magazines, had helped to get it there by linking to it. 

For those who are not familiar with the venerable work of pro-migrant organizations like the Center for New Community or the Southern Poverty Law Center, CIS is a spin-off of the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform, and was founded by the white supremacist John Tanton. 

If these connections aren't reason enough to make the organization illegitimate, any studious observer of CIS can ascertain through their actions, the horrific policies they advocate for, and their shoddy scholarship, that the sole purpose of the organization is to provide a facade of statistics to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of the U.S. through deportation, detention, and spreading fear and misery in migrant communities.

I don't like to publicly attack anyone that has even the most remote chance of identifying with my interests and the interests of migrants.  On the substance of these posts, at least, Serwer and Murphy are right on.  Still, driving traffic to and legitimizing a hateful organization like the Center for Immigration Studies was enough to bring back waves of feelings regarding progressives betraying migrants.  As such, I started reaching out to different progressive bloggers whom I believe have recently enabled nativism in the last few months in order to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I like to reach out to people privately before I write about them publicly.

From Imagine2050 comes word of the Freedom from Fear Award, "a new national award that will honor ordinary people who commit extraordinary acts of courage on behalf of immigrants and refugees."

Fifteen individuals who have contributed to the immigrant rights movement will be chosen to receive the award and a $5,000 prize. Nominations close February 28. Here is the nomination form.

It's likely that many readers of this blog know a Dreamer whose local group could use $5,000, no strings attached, to build capacity and push for progressive immigration reform. Or a Dreamer who could, with that money, afford to take some time off from waiting tables or selling fast food to organize full time. Or to cover some of next semester's tuition. So let the nominations commence!

From the Economist on the Tucson shooting:

Opportunists who seek to gain political advantage by blaming the shootings on words would do America better service if they focused on bullets. In no other decent country could any civilian, let alone a deranged one, legally get his hands on a Glock semi-automatic. Even in America, the extended 31-shot magazine that Mr Loughner used was banned until 2004. As the Brady Centre, established after the Reagan shooting to commemorate one of its victims, has noted, more Americans were killed by guns in the 18 years between 1979 and 1997 than died in all of America's foreign wars since its independence. Around 30,000 people a year are killed by one of the almost 300m guns in America--almost one for every citizen. Those deaths are not just murders and suicides: some are accidents, often involving children.


The tragedy is that gun control is moving in the wrong direction. The Clinton-era ban on assault weapons expired in 2004 and, to his discredit, Mr Obama has done nothing to try to revive it. In 2008 the Supreme Court struck down Washington, DC's ban on handguns, and in 2010 Chicago's went the same way; others are bound to follow. In state after state the direction of legislation is to remove restrictions on gun use (those footling bans on bringing weapons into classrooms or churches or bars), rather than to enhance them.

I'm not sure what the Economist's definition of a "decent country" is, but I take the point to be that the U.S. far outpaces all other wealthy countries in both the rate of gun violence and overall homicide rate. Yet Americans continue under the delusion that guns keep us safer.

I haven't seen as much soul-searching, discussion, and fingerpointing within the immigrant rights movement as I expected after the 111th Congress ended with no measurable progress for the immigrant community in the U.S. Democrats spent the last two years claiming to be champions of the immigrant community but in the end accomplished nothing despite holding large majorities in both houses of Congress.

Since the DREAM Act was defeated in December, I haven't heard anything new from President Obama.

I haven't heard anything from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

From the Democratic leadership in the Senate.

From the Reform Immigration for America campaign.

From America's Voice or the National Immigration Forum.

From AILA.

Maybe I haven't been paying attention. Or maybe I haven't heard much that is new, something that doesn't replicate the failed strategy of the past several years.

I know some have been taking time to decompress after a fierce extended campaign. I know others have been depressed and unsure of what comes next.

I have to accept accountability for the current situation as well ... I've been working towards the goal of legalization for a few years with as little success as anyone else. And drifting from necessary introspection to counterproductive acrimony is a real danger.

But the silence right now is deafening.

Whatever happens going forward, the immigrant rights movement can't repeat the mistakes of the past several years. I hope that this silence from those who formulated and implemented the comprehensive immigration reform strategy represents a tacit acknowledgment that something went badly wrong. And that now it is time to listen to new voices and new ideas. I hope that conditions now are favorable for more vibrant discussions, more brainstorming, and more openness to new strategies.

I hope there is more space in this movement now for undocumented leadership, for leaders whose incentives, information, and experiences are more closely aligned with undocumented communities than current leadership. Leaders who would personally benefit from legalization will almost always fight harder than leaders who wouldn't.

I'll be writing more about this soon, but for now one of the few in-depth attempts to debrief I've seen so far in the new year is this one from Daniel Altschuler. Another is my co-blogger Kyle's recent post on priorities for 2011. Check them out, share your thoughts in comments here or at these posts. Write your own reaction and post the link in comments or email it to me or Kyle, or let us know about pieces you liked that we might have missed. Let's start talking.

As the GOP implodes in a fit of nativism (today's CNN headline says it all: "Immigration Foes Target Baby Citizens"), the binational human rights organization Breakthrough has introduced its "I Am This Land" video contest.

Here are the rules:

1. Make a video about diversity
2. Use the phrase I AM THIS LAND & tell friends to vote
3. Win $2500, Activision games, 1-Day internship at SPIN Magazine, and more by uploading your video

Undocumented and Unafraid

Guest poster Mark, a DREAM Act-eligible activist ("DREAMer"), responds below to progressive activist Sally Kohn's recent criticism of a Truthout article written last month by four California-based DREAMers.

When identifying myself as an undocumented student (self-labeled as a DREAMer/ once-in-a-while DREAM Activist), I've never let any derogatory terms thrown at me get under my skin. As DREAMers, we've pretty much heard it all from all sides. According to the extreme xenophobic right, undocumented students who've worked hard to fund their own higher education, without so much the help of any federal aid, are still nothing but freeloading illegal alien [undocumented] scum of the earth. Meanwhile, here I am still struggling to pay off my AmEx from charging my college tuition. (Btw, shout out to AmEx CEO for supporting the DREAM Act)

Then of course, we also have our frenemies, those who claim to have our best interests in mind and have consistently told us to trust them. All the while they whisper behind our backs and call us selfish students, elitist at the core, with our falsely perceived "DREAM Act first / CIR-be-damned" attitude. In addition to that, there was the recent remark made by Sally Kohn in a fresh article labeling DREAMers as "petulant children." Being called a "petulant child" is the last thing that I'll allow to get under my beautiful brown and proud skin.

Of course the irony of it all is where we learned the strategy to display our so-called "petulant" attitudes [...more on that later].

What I'm actually upset about is the defeatist attitude that Sally personally admitted within her own article. Forget the name-calling; I can easily brush that off the same as some uneducated xenophobic minuteman calling me a foreign invader. [Hmm...okay, after re-reading that last remark, I'll make an admission of my own, maybe I personally am elitist at times, but only towards true enemies] But as I was saying, reading about how Sally had already waved her white flag before the battle even began this year, is what got my full attention:

The "DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama" is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

It's been one month since the DREAM Now Series started, and it's been far more successful than I had ever imagined.  DREAM Now Letters have been cross-posted and mentioned by a wide selection of bloggers.  Those blog posts, in turn, have been viewed, shared and retweeted tens of thousands of times.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Progressive category.

Pro-Migrant Sanctuarysphere is the previous category.

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