Recently in Racism Category

UPDATE 2: Chris Newman, the Legal Director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, sends out this statement which I couldn't agree more with:

We are pleased the Department of Justice report compelled the Department of Homeland Security to take steps today that should have been taken years ago. As the DOJ report implies, DHS was an accomplice in the rights violations caused by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. DHS enabled Sheriff Arpaio to conduct his reign of terror, and expansion of the Maricopa Sheriff's approach led to SB 1070 and to the potential Arizonification of the country.

Today, the Department of Justice again acted to clean up the mess caused by failed DHS policies that enlist local police into the business of enforcing unjust immigration laws. It is time for DHS to stop contributing to the civil rights crisis described in the DOJ report and end the programs that made Arpaio's crimes possible.
Chris Newman - National Day Laborer Organizing Network (15 December 2011)
UPDATE: DHS has cut off Arpaio's access to the 287(g) program and to the Secure Communities program, according to Talking Points Memo.

This is huge. It's the first acknowledgement on behalf of the Obama administration that these programs are harmful. Why the Obama administration would role out harmful programs like S-COMM nationwide, that the administration now acknowledges can be abused by nativists like Arpaio, still makes absolutely no sense.

ORIGINAL POST: Almost three full years into the Obama administration's reign, the U.S. Department of Justice has finally issued a report on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) which is head by one of the worst nativists in the country, Joe Arpaio. The quote that jumped out at me from all the reports coming in was this, buried in Marc Lacey's New York Times article:

The report said that Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped in the sprawling county, which includes Phoenix and its environs, than non-Latino drivers. The expert who conducted the study called it the most egregious racial profiling he has ever seen in this country, said Mr. Perez, the prosecutor.
Marc Lacey - New York Times (15 December 2011)

It looks like the report has some teeth, too. As I understand it, Arpaio has until Jan. 4 to respond, and if he refuses to cooperate fully with federal officials to stop this racism then the DOJ will file a civil lawsuit to force compliance, and Arpaio could lose millions in federal funding.
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.


I'm a little late to this, but t's good to see Morgan Freeman supporting Carlos Santana's courageous stand against Georgia's nativism in this CNN Interview (sombrero tip to ColorLines):

"What would you do with Carlos Santana? Send him back? He's a national treasure. What would you do with him? The legislature here in Georgia, the legislature there in Arizona, that is absolutely un-American--completely. That's the kind of discrimination that we now have to--it's gonna be our next civil rights struggle--is immigration. We are a magnet for people, we want to continue to be that. If you're not that, then you're not who you say you are. What does it mean to be an American anymore?"
Morgan Freeman - CNN (24 May 2011)

Freeman hits on something which I've always found so ridiculous about nativism. I grew up in a country, Guatemala, that people want emigrate from. It's a privilege to live in a country that people want to immigrate to. Nativists seeking to destroy that privilege hurt not only migrants, but all of us.

my-turn-visa-SC50-wide-horizontal.jpg[Image: Choo Youn Kong / AFP-Getty Images]

Sometimes I wonder what people who get riled up about immigration would do if they actually knew how the laws worked, instead of relying on the lies that have been spun into conventional wisdom.

Utah State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom wants Utah to pass a SB1070-style law that would drive undocumented immigrants further into the shadows. He told the LA Times one of the reasons he has become Utah's leading anti-immigrant politician is that it is so hard for immigrants to come through legal channels.

Sandstrom became fluent in Spanish and sponsored one family that wanted to immigrate to the United States. He was shocked at the hurdles they had to surmount. They had to sign a form pledging to refuse all U.S. government benefits for five years. Sandstrom thought of the people here illegally who accessed those benefits. It didn't sit right with him.

There are a couple of inaccuracies repeated in this short paragraph. First, the passage suggests that all it takes to immigrate to the U.S. is a financial sponsor like Sandstrom and a pledge not to access benefits. This is incorrect. It's true that each applicant for permanent residence must locate a U.S. citizen or permanent resident financial sponsor to sign an "affidavit of support," a requirement derived from the long-standing prohibition on accepting immigrants who will become a "public charge." But to apply for permanent residence in the first place, applicants must have an employer or close family member in the U.S. able and willing to file the underlying petition for them.

Most people who want to emigrate to the U.S. can't because they lack such a petitioner. A financial sponsor alone gets you nowhere. Yet most Americans believe that the U.S. takes all who wish to come, as long as they wait in the famous "line." This line is a fantasy. It only exists for the small number of people who have close family members in the U.S. or an employer willing to wade through the red tape and expense of an employment petition. And some of those fortunate enough to be able to wait in the line must wait 10, 15, even 20 years for a visa.

But the other myth that Sandstrom repeats to this reporter is perhaps even more pernicious, the myth that undocumented immigrants are on the dole, stealing money from taxpayers.

Gutierrez AZ.jpg

Representatives Luis Gutierrez and Raul Grijalva understand that the Arizona GOP is the easy target for anger about Arizona's new anti-immigrant law, SB1070, but not the most productive one. That would be President Obama, who remains mostly absent from the debate about immigration reform while his ICE foot soldiers carry out the deportation of each and every undocumented immigrant racially profiled by Arizona law enforcement.

While SB1070 has put immigration policy back in the national spotlight for the first time since 2007 and drawn the condemnation of President Obama, his Secure Communities initiative allows and encourages racial profiling to continue under the radar throughout the United States. Secure Communities facilitates information-sharing between ICE and local law enforcement in adopting jurisdictions whenever an arrest takes place, regardless of the nature of the crime or whether it ultimately results in a conviction. While all eyes are on Arizona, local police in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Bensalem, and all across the state of Pennsylvania are carrying out their campaign of quiet terror against the immigrant community. They continue to make race-based police stops, knowing that an arrest on any pretext can lead to deportation. Some don't even bother to make arrests, illegally stopping drivers based on appearance and calling ICE directly. These types of abuses are happening throughout the country.

Nevertheless, SB1070 would make things much worse, giving Arizona law enforcement express permission to make race-based police stops, and giving nativist citizens the right to sue law enforcement agencies if they weren't engaging in enough racial profiling. If President Obama truly opposes SB1070 and wishes to uphold Constitutional principles, there is a simple solution. He could instruct ICE, under established principles of prosecutorial discretion, to withhold prosecution of any individual turned over by Arizona law enforcement after SB1070 takes effect. This would effectively gut the law, removing deportation as the expected consequence of an arrest by local law enforcement.

That is why Rep. Grijalva made this comment on Tuesday:

You know, immigration is a federal law, and if we are asking the President for him not to cooperate in the implementation of this law through Homeland Security, through Border Patrol, through detention, and a non-cooperative stance by the United States government and the federal agencies, would render much of this legislation moot and ineffective.

And why Rep. Gutierrez said this:

"When the president," explained Gutierrez, "said to us it is because we have not enacted comprehensive immigration reform that we give an excuse to people in Arizona to pass 1070. Let me just say, every time the federal government said that you can carry out [a 287(g)] extension, you gave Arizona an excuse to do 1070."

287(g) is a program enabling local law enforcement to carry out immigration enforcement under the training and supervision of ICE, and Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County is the prime example of abuse of the program that has gone largely unchecked by the Obama administration.

Close observers of immigration policy like Luis Gutierrez and Raul Grijalva know that President Obama, when asked to choose between upholding civil liberties and ramping up enforcement, has chosen the latter every time. So before the immigrant rights community gives the president another free pass because he said some unkind words about SB1070, we should take another look at the actions behind the rhetoric and understand that without ICE waiting in the wings to deport every undocumented person who is racially profiled in Arizona, SB1070 would be all bark and no bite.

[Image: Rep. Gutierrez in Arizona, Phoenix NewTimes]

Via Yglesias, right wingers spew racial epithets and tell Rep. Joseph Cao to "go back to Saigon" for voting yes on the Democratic health care bill.

It's almost as though this strain of conservatism doesn't want to see any nonwhites in the GOP, or anyone who thinks racism has no place in political discourse. 

We're two months away from a new decade (the "teens") and people are still saying this crap?  And believing it? 

I hope that these people are not the reason Schumer and Obama keep delaying introduction of immigration legislation, or the reason Janet Napolitano keeps locking up Dream Act-eligible students and splitting up families.  Because no one should be taking these racists seriously.

Remember Marcelo Lucero

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Nearly one year ago, on November 8, 2008, Long Island resident Marcelo Lucero was beaten and stabbed to death by a group of local teens who had decided to go "beaner hopping." They had already assaulted other Latinos earlier that day. The group appears to me to have viewed racial attacks as a way to stave off boredom, regularly going after those they viewed as the most vulnerable and despised in their community: Latino immigrants.

Long Island Wins is sponsoring a campaign to remember Marcelo. Remembering Marcelo's life and his death is important to me because there have been too many racial attacks in Philadelphia as well. Some incidents date back years, like the attack against Julio Maldonado and Denis Calderon in 1996, where law enforcement sided with the persecutors instead of the victims. Immigrants are still being attacked today in our community, and for the same reasons that Marcelo was killed: they are viewed as enemies or threats by many in the community and also seen as easy targets. Local law enforcement here facilitates those kinds of crimes by targeting immigrants themselves, usually for minor traffic violations, and turning them over to ICE, ensuring that immigrant victims of crimes will be less willing to call the police for protection. This problem is not limited to Philly--Luis Ramirez was killed in Pottsville, PA, just months before Marcelo's death.

Long Island Wins and Marcelo's family have very effectively pushed back against the hate in their community, and I hope that other communities around the country can follow their example.

And as Ted Hesson of Long Island Wins pointed out, Congress could do a lot to solve the problem of hate crimes by passing immigration reform to bring people out of the shadows and into the scope of the protections that others in the community enjoy. Right now, too many people are invisible to all but those who wish them harm.

Seth Williams.jpg

Cross-posted at Young Philly Politics.

Julio Maldonado was deported to Peru on Thursday, October 22, 2009, after arriving in the U.S. 38 years ago at the age of 3.

He and his cousin, Denis Calderon, had been victims of an attack based on their ethnicity in 1996. Julio was wrongfully convicted of aggravated assault, incarcerated for a total of 8 years, and then deported.

His family's pleas for justice were ignored by local, state, and federal decisionmakers--except for the convicting judge, Judge Gregory Smith, who actually vacated his own verdict after an evidentiary rehearing. That decision was appealed by the District Attorney's office and overturned. A jury of Julio's peers also found him not guilty of the murder of one of his attackers. So how then was Julio locked up for so long and deported, when the convicting judge (in the aggravated assault trial) and the jury (in the murder trial) both decided he was not culpable?

When it came to wrongfully convicting, imprisoning, and deporting Julio, prosecutors and the Department of Homeland Security zealously worked to prevent a just result. When it came to acknowledging that a mistake had been made and families would be torn apart, everyone's hands were tied, from prosecutor Seth Williams to Governor Rendell (mayor of Philadelphia in 1996, now with the power to pardon an egregious error that occurred on his watch) to Thomas Decker, director of Immigration Customs and Enforcement in Philadelphia, to Janet Napolitano, head of DHS.

The case has broader significance, as Seth Williams will likely be Philadelphia's new District Attorney. He will have to decide, along with the mayor and police commissioner, whether to continue along Philadelphia's current track of close cooperation with ICE to target immigrant communities. Currently, Philly PD is routinely arresting Latin@ immigrants for minor traffic stops and turning them directly over to ICE, or actually joining ICE on home raids. This is in direct contravention of Mayor Nutter's expressed desire to make Philly an immigrant-friendly city. It is hard to be friendly when the immigrant community is terrified of the police, which is working hand in glove with the local ICE contingent to deport every last one of them.

Seth Williams didn't lift a finger to undo the damage he had done to Julio Maldonado and his family, despite repeated promises to the family. At least, we have no evidence he took any favorable action.

Will Philadelphia's elected officials side with the immigrant community, or with Lou Dobbs and others who want to see immigrants chased out of the U.S.? Right now, they are saying one thing and doing another.

[Image: Democratic candidate for District Attorney of Philadelphia, Seth Williams.]

I picked this video up from Atrios, but it's a good intro for a pitch to sign this petition asking your Congressional reps to support ACORN and the low-income communities ACORN serves instead of cowering before Glenn Beck.

Someone please tell Congressional Democrats that it is unbecoming to prostrate oneself before a supreme weenie like Beck.

Clearly, ACORN needs to do some internal housekeeping, including training and screening its employees better. Workers at community-based organizations should give clients advice on how to comply with the law, not circumvent it. But Beck's promotion of O'Keefe's video is a transparent political hit piece. If the GOP gets any nonwhite votes at all in the next twenty years, it will be despite the best efforts of Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh.

Julio Maldonado and mother.jpg
(Sign the petition demanding justice for Julio and Denis here.)

Julio Maldonado and his cousin Denis Calderon were victims of a bias attack in South Northeast Philadelphia in 1996. Denis's family was the first Latino family to live in the neighborhood. Tragically, one of the attackers, Christian Saladino, fell into a coma and later died. Police assumed that he had been struck in the head by Julio, acting in self-defense as a result of a fight. However, later medical evidence showed conclusively that Christian had not sustained any outer injury that could have led to his physical reaction. He did, however, suffer from a rare preexisting blood clotting condition. It is clear from the medical evidence that it was physically impossible for Julio to have put Christian Saladino into a coma.

But due to the one-sided investigation by police and the biased prosecution by Seth Williams, now the nominee for District Attorney of Philadelphia, Julio and Denis were convicted of assault. After Christian Saladino passed away, Williams brought murder charges. Once the medical evidence came to light in the murder trial, the jury acquitted Julio and Denis of murder. Then the original trial judge who convicted Julio and Denis of assault, Judge Gregory Smith, vacated his own verdict and called for a retrial.

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