Friday, July 11, 2008

More Than Soundbites on Immigration Reform

Over the past few years and beyond, political leaders of all levels - local, county, state and federal - licked their chops as they calculated which issues to focus on in order to win an election and gain power. Ideology and party registration often has little to do with their decisions, because if they or any of their advisors get a whiff that a certain topic would be political danger from them, the item either gets conveniently ignored, spin-dried and sanitized, or in the case of supposed allies, entire communities get stabbed in the back.

Regarding an overhaul of the immigration system in the United States, it's been written many times here that it is not a latino/latina issue; yet it is an undeniable truth that our communities are feeling the brunt of hardliner policies. When you have pundits and legislators equating our diverse culture with a citizenship test, or interchanging the terms hispanic/latino/illegal/criminal/invader/terrorist/gang-banger/etc., you can bet that groups and leaders advocating for our equal place in society will be demanding an end to such institutionalized bigotry and fear-mongering.

With the 2008 Presidential Election in full swing, the Editorial Board of The Sanctuary developed and distributed a candidate questionnaire to the campaigns that would give us some substance on how a White House under their direction would overhaul the immigration system, handle border policies, and collaborate with other countries on trade and economics. It has been nearly three weeks since we made contact with the Barack Obama and John McCain camps, and we have yet to hear an answer to any of our queries. We've also reached out to third party candidates because the U.S. is a democracy and they will appear on many ballots, whether the two parties that have the most money like it or not.

To any campaign operatives reading here or at the various Sanctuarysphere sites that are sponsoring the questionnaire, know that we want more than just promises and soundbites from our next President on what they will do with respect to immigration reform. This questionnaire covers a wide range of topics related to it, and it would be to your advantage to educate your candidate and staff on the implications of many of these decisions and how they disproportionately affect latino/latina communities across the United States. I recommend a perusal of our blog archives if you need a crash course on what that has looked like in the past.

This is all the more pressing as both McCain and Obama take the time to speak to conventions such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, National Council de la Raza, and Unity '08 where immigration will most certainly come up in their speeches and conversations this month. These groups and initiatives represent a part of "hispanic" and other POC communities that has suddenly become so sought after for votes, and we represent another. Your campaigns may not be getting millions of dollars from our sites, but many of us do march in the streets and cast our ballots in elections regularly.

Immigration reform is one of those topics that should be a human rights issue, but often gets treated like the next coming of Osama bin Laden. It conveniently fattens the military- and prison-industrial complexes and further racializes United States society. There are many of us who would like to know how you will be dealing with it all come January 20, 2009, after yet another string of failures by the Bush regime.

Gracias.

Más Información:
  • SanctuarySphere Sites that developed the questionnaire and are promoting it:
  • A small sample of the questions:
    • 7. Do you support the "touchback" requirements of previous comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation that would require undocumented immigrants to return to their countries of origin in order to normalize their status?
    • 17. Do you support the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, the bill that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop procedures to ensure adequate medical care for all detainees held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?
    • 23. Would you support the incorporation of requirements that would tie
      both future economic aid and trade agreements to substantive benchmarks
      in sender nations that would alleviate some of the economic and
      humanitarian conditions that foster continued migration?
    • 36. How do you address the overwhelming amount of money the U.S. federal
      government spends on defense and military expenditures, at home and
      abroad, and would you see to it that less money is spent on
      militarization and more money is spent on social programs?

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