Wednesday, November 01, 2006

News Along La Frontera

The tour starts in El Paso
The Stanton Street bridge was closed to traffic this morning as Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos walked across it to meet with U.S. sympathizers.

An estimated 2,500 people crowded the bridge to hear Marcos speak on a number of social issues including the Oaxaca teacher strike, the Mexican presidential election and the killings of women in Juarez.

During his appearance, a U.S. Homeland Security helicopter circled overhead keeping a watch on the crowd. No incidents of violence were reported on either side of the international bridge during the event.

(emphasis mine)

We are not living in a police state. I repeat - we are not living in a police state. Sigh...

Moving north along I-10 to Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"Crossing," a documentary produced by KRWG-TV staff members and students, won a regional Emmy award for "Best Topical Documentary — 2005/2006." The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the award Oct. 7 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The documentary chronicles the rash of illegal border crossings between Columbus and southwestern New Mexico's bootheel that led to Gov. Bill Richardson's declaration of a state of emergency in 2005. The Minutemen, community activists who opposed the Minutemen, U.S. Border Patrol and coyotes (human smugglers) are featured.

I suspect that the majority of folks who don't live anywhere near the border would be surprised at the diverse perspectives found here in a bi-cultural region. No one is suggesting that we do nothing with respect to immigration reform - but there is a humane and just way to go about it and we're certainily not on that path at the moment.

Okay, moving on to the Old Pueblo.
Marisol Moya stood outside Pima Community College's East Campus Tuesday night, clutching a sign against Proposition 300.

A native of Mexico and an adult-education student, Moya, one of a handful of people protesting

Proposition 300, said she was concerned the measure would limit her opportunity for work and cultural integration.

"I disagree because if I don't have adult education, I don't have an opportunity right now," she said in English.
Voters in Arizona will be met with four ballot initiatives that came as a direct result of a GOP Temper Tantrum. The ridiculously right Az State Legislature was met with Gov. Napolitano's veto stamp after passing numerous hardline policies that were not just anti-immigrant - they were anti-Latino. Russell Pearce, Randy Graf and the rest of the Minutemen are the main cheerleaders for these initiatives. I'll write more about them in a separate post.

Continuing up the Interstate to Phoenix
An agent for baseball players smuggled Cuban players into the United States, eventually shipping them to California in hopes that they would be signed by major league teams, federal immigration officials said Tuesday. The agent, Gustavo "Gus" Dominguez, is charged with paying four aides to transport the athletes and other Cubans to the U.S. in two trips from the island nation. Dominguez, of California-based Total Sports International, has represented several Cuban baseball defectors, including Andy Morales, who was signed by the New York Yankees and later the Boston Red Sox after fleeing Cuba six years ago. Also charged in the 53-count federal indictment were Geoffrey Rodrigues, Robert Yosvany Hernandez, Ramon Batista and Guillermo Valdez.
Wow. This should be hitting the headlines soon. Don't hold your breath, though, there's a double-standard applied when it comes to Cuba since the people are obviously desperate to flee a tyrannical liberal dictator [snark]

Dovetailing on the tour leads us to Yuma.
Applying for technology to use an electronic fast-lane while crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border will be easier now that the process is available on the Internet starting today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.

The SENTRI program, or Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection, was implemented in 1995 and allows pre-screened candidates to go through special lanes at U.S. Ports of Entry that read a special radio frequency transmitting information to verify the identity of the driver.
We are not living in a police state. I repeat, we are not living in a police state. If you need further proof that economics is driving the immigration waves, think about what type of "pre-screened candidates" will be given the government's blessing.

Crossing the Rio Colorado and the sand dunes takes us to the region around El Centro, California.

Two U.S. Border Patrol supervisors who accepted bribes from an Imperial Valley immigrant smuggling organization were sentenced today to six-year federal prison terms.

Mario Alvarez, 44, will serve 75 months while Samuel McClaren, 43, will serve 78 months, federal officials said today.

Each was remanded to federal custody today to begin serving their sentences.

Upon completion of the prison term, each will be part of a three-year supervised release program.

In July each pleaded guilty to counts of bribery and of filing false tax returns.
The Border Patrol is a corrupt agency and is subjected to a paltry amount of oversight in an environment that is rife with bribery, racial profiling and saber-rattling.

Ending the tour at the waters of Pacific is San Diego

In the photograph, the dirt-crusted palm of a man holds seven tokens, each placed there as payment for a day spent picking tomatoes in Stockton.

“For every 30 pounds of tomatoes they drag up to the truck, they get a token,” explained the photographer, Rick Nahmias. “Each token is worth about 95 cents.”


In “The Migrant Project,” Nahmias captures a vast spectrum of human emotion, from the dignified expressions of female cantaloupe harvesters as they wait to board a bus in the pre-dawn darkness to the fragile wonder in a young boy's eyes as he peers out from a vineyard's fruit-bearing foliage.

However, some of Nahmias' most compelling work is devoid of people. Though absent from the lens frame, their presence beyond its borders is palpable and heart-wrenching. One print shows the grave of an unclaimed migrant's body found close to the border, while another focuses on mud-caked shoes piled beside a motel room door.

Art speaks the language of the soul. I'm not surprised that artists, musicians and photographers are telling the story of the people. The silence from the political class is deafening so perhaps these types of projects will finally hit home the message we immigrant supporters are trying to communicate - Dignity and Love.

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