Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What to Expect from Sotomayor's Nomination Process

President Obama has announced his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as the candidate to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court that will open after the retirement of Justice David Souter. Sotomayor, a self-described ""Newyorkrican", grew up in the Bronx and worked her ass off to get to Yale Law School where she graduated summa cum laude and served as editor of the Yale Law Review.

I could go into how excited I am to see a Latina be considered for the SCOTUS, the first in this country's history and only the third woman (because I am beaming), but the buzz-kill has been rather abrupt from the seeing this accomplished and competent judge attacked for those very things that I consider a source of pride.

It should be a source of pride to everyone.

Conservatives like to talk about bootstraps and how important it is to refrain from whining about ones situation. Well...Sonia Sotomayor couldn't be a finer example of putting the nose to the grindstone despite all the societial odds stacked against you and making it.

But as we'll see in the coming days, she is an "intellectual lightweight" despite having a long and stellar career on the bench. She will be attacked as a person of color who has the audacity to uphold affirmative action laws not because they're the law, but because she's looking out for her people. The media's whiteness will show in all its unholy glory.

An example of this mindset can be found during today's broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition. Ed Whalen, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wasted no time on getting that talking point out into the mix right at the onset. There will be no holds barred with this nomination process.

The conservative movement's success at derailing Sotomayor's placement on the Supreme Court is hinged on causing white backlash against her identity and making her out to be a token latina/affirmative action candidate instead of the qualified, capable judge that she has proven to be over the years.

As a blunt blogger friend of mine likes to say, "Bet on it."

Glenn Beck Should Drink More Water

Why? Because with all of the diarrhea coming out of his mouth, he's in danger of dehydration.
Glenn Beck Twitter twit: "Does the nominee still have Diabetes? Could the Messiah heal her, or does she just not want to ask?"

via Media Matters

[UPDATED] I'm just gonna let M.M. do the work today ;-)
"Hey, Hispanic chick lady! You're emphatic empathetic! you're in!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green


I've been blogging since January 1999. I was starting my second semester as a freshman in college and picked up a part-time job to help pay for life expenses. Between class, work, and the general pangs of Growing Up™, the writing became an important outlet so my head wouldn't explode.

A curious thing occurred, though, when I began to explore and assert my inner-Xicano - Una Identidad Sin Fronteras. Like scales falling from my eyes, I realized how much centrifugal force was applied by assimilation to eradicate any instance of dissonance with Normal (read: white).

From language to learning styles to the way words are spoken to the clothes that are worn to interpersonal relationships both familial and professional, the subtle baseline note that came through like a tuning fork that my ear was finally trained to detect was: "You're doing it wrong"

It is something that all people of color experience at some point in their lives. If they haven't yet, they will.

Like any mezcla of humanity, there's the eternal push-and-pull of influence. Por ejemplo, I guarantee that for every Republican that supports full rights for gays and lesbians, there is a close friend, sibling, or someone that's positively affected their life who identify as homosexual. Empathy.

It's a step forward, but the situation is not the same on either side of the flag that's tied in the middle of the tug-of-war rope. The historically dominant side seeks to eradicate the perceived weak by two methods: denouncement and/or disappearing.

Perceived because the weakness is like a mirage in the Sonoran desert.

Over the past few years, my experience of being a citizen of the United States with Mexican ancestry has been enlightening, to say the least. Anti-migrant hysteria from conservatives and nativists who've declared war on my cultura and identity alongside demands for mass deportations and family destruction have been a source of radicalization that's ignited the habanero in my bloodstream.

The haters have a smart strategy, though.

By making immigration a "Latino issue", they've succeeded for years in ghettoizing (denouncement) and marginalizing (disappearing) voices like mine and others who can actually speak to how failed immigration policies affect those whom are targeted by enforcement-only campaigns. Institutional and often outright racism has guaranteed that the vast majority of faces of those raided at their work sites or homes, detained and deported, are brown, even though the U.S. has undocumented workers from every part of the world with varying degrees of melanin.

The irony is that pointing this out somehow makes me the racist. Still don't know how that all works out, but I digress...

The Lou Dobbs and Pat "Operation Wetback" Buchanans of the world thrive because of their ability to hold back coalitions. They represent a power structure that would crumble into dust and drift away like expelled flatulence if enough human beings chose to "Build Bridges and Break Down Walls" as our tag line states at The Sanctuary instead of destroy.

Which brings me to the point of this series - Luis Ramirez.

to be continued...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

6th Annual Migrant Trail Announced

Crossposted from The Sanctuary

The Migrant Trail:
We Walk for Life
May 25-31, 2009

Our Vision:

The precarious reality of our borderlands calls us to walk. We walk together on a journey of peace to remember people, friends and family who have died, others who have crossed, and people who continue to come. We walk to bear witness to the tragedy of death and of the inhumanity in our midst. Lastly, we walk as a community, in defiance of the borders that attempt to divide us, committed to working together for the human dignity of all peoples.

In 1994, the U.S. government under the direction of President Bill Clinton, instituted Operation Gatekeeper that provided funds and personnel to militarize the border between Baja California and California. The campaign was specifically designed to divert the wave of humanity inland:

The purpose of the new plan was to stem the tide of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States and to shift the remaining traffic eastward, where the Border Patrol believed it enjoyed a strategic advantage over would-be crossers. This new approach to patrolling the border was named "Operation Gatekeeper." Since the plan's launch in 1994 at Imperial Beach, the same operational concepts have been implemented at the remaining stations in the San Diego Sector, beginning with Chula Vista - the station immediately east of Imperial Beach - and continuing in an easterly progression station by station to the San Diego Sector's eastern border.

USDOJ.gov (emphasis mine)


Triple-digit heat. Non-existent sources of water. Desolation. Death.

"Strategic advantage" indeed.

The above graph comes from a 2007 policy brief and study, authored by Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, M. Melissa McCormick, Daniel Martinez, and Inez Magdalena Duarte, through the University of Arizona's Binational Migration Institute. It shows the explosion of death wrought in the Tucson Sector - part of that "eastward" mentioned by the Department of Justice - in the aftermath of Operation Gatekeeper.

Those of us who call la frontera home have not remained silent in the face of this humanitarian crisis. Grassroots organizations have mobilized to build coalitions of neighborhoods, church congregations, elected officials, student groups, and others to raise awareness of the disastrous end many of these economic refugees suffer in the desert.

From May 25-31st the 6th Annual Migrant Trail will bear witness to the humanitarian crisis that marches unimpeded, even under a new President. This 75-mile trek spans the distance between the communities of Sasabe, Sonora, México and Tucson, Arizona. Details on how to support this endeavor below the fold.

Monday, May 25th, 2:00pm:
Sásabe, Sonora:
Join us for the sending forth ceremony and the 4.8 mile walk to our first campsite on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, May 31, 11:30am:
Tucson, Arizona:
Join us for the welcoming celebration as participants complete the 75-mile journey, bearing witness to the gauntlet of death that has claimed more than 5,000 men, women and children on the U.S.-México border.

For more information, please contact: migrant_trail@yahoo.com or call 520.770.1373

The Migrant Trail is sponsored by the following groups: Migrant Trail Walk Committee, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, BorderLinks, Mennonite Central Committee US, Catholic Relief Services - Mexico Program, No More Deaths - Phoenix and Tucson, 8th Day Center for Justice, Coloradans for Immigrants Rights, Frontera de Cristo, Humane Borders, American Friends Service Committee, JPIC Office of the St. Barbara Province Franciscans, Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, Casa Maria, and Church of the Good Shepherd.

"The Migrant Trail is an important spiritual witness to the challenging reality of our borderlands today," says Brother David Buer, a Franciscan brother serving in Tucson. "It is a moral imperative that we embrace our desperate migrant brothers and sisters with more humane policies and action."


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Murder of Luis Ramirez

I, and the rest of the Sanctuary Editors, have issued the following statement in response to the murder of Luis Ramirez and subsequent acquittal of his attackers:
The Luis Ramirez Murder: A Logical Step in the Process of Establishing a Subhuman Class
by The Editors

The police arrived shortly after the attack but rather than jump into hot pursuit of the white criminals, they chose instead to search Latino eyewitnesses for weapons, claiming that following the guilty parties simply wasn't their "priority." Ramirez's attackers weren't arrested for another two weeks, even though eyewitnesses at the scene knew who they were without a doubt.

The second stomach-churner is the jury's decision to exonerate Ramirez's killers from the charges of third-degree murder, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and ethnic intimidation, leaving to stand only the reduced charge of simple assault. This, despite the testimony of Eileen Burke, a retired police officer at the scene. Burke testified that at the end, the murderers yelled to Ramirez' girlfriend "You effin bitch, tell your effin Mexican friends get the eff out of Shenandoah or you're gonna be laying effin next to him." This, despite two of the accused men themselves admitting to yelling "go home you Mexican [expletive]" at the scene of the crime.

Yet somehow, in the face of these facts, the all-white jury ruled there was no evidence of "ethnic intimidation." According to a CNN report, town residents were quick to explain and downplay the actions of this violent group of "star students and football players" as "just an alcohol-fueled confrontation among kids." They furthered their argument by reciting "a litany of attacks allegedly perpetrated by Latinos against Anglos." Perhaps they could have saved time and breath by saying The spics had it coming.

continue reading at The Sanctuary

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

DOJ Drops Charges Against 1st Lt. Watada

Best news I've read in ages!!!ONe1!!!ELeVEn!!111
The Department of Justice has dropped its case against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a war resister who refused Iraq deployment in June 2006 and denounced President George W. Bush’s decision to invade as illegal and immoral.

In Feb. 2007, military judge Lieutenant Colonel John Head halted Watada’s case following possible inconsistencies concerning a “stipulation of fact” agreed before the hearing. The decision led to a mistrial, ending Watada’s court martial. The Army appealed, but a judge said Watada could not be tried again on the same charges, as it would violate his right to be free of double jeopardy.

The Justice Department is dropping its appeal of that judge’s decision.

“Because there are no longer any criminal charges pending against Lt. Watada, and because (his) military service has been extended far beyond his normal release date, he anticipates that he will soon be released from active duty,” Watada’s attorney, James Lobsenz, said in a media advisory published Wednesday. “He plans to return to civilian life and to attend law school.”

Raw Story

Birth Certificates Destroyed by DHS Personnel?

Exclusive and Breaking News from the States Without Nations blog:
Here are descriptions of two previously unpublished accounts of U.S.-born Mexican-American teenagers who had their birth certificates ripped up by Customs and Border Patrol Agents. I have information on other similar cases, but only time to write up the details of these two, along with summaries and links to two other recent cases published elsewhere.

Just to be clear, a national identity card doesn't solve these problems: in many cases of U.S. citizens deported ICE or Customs and Border Patrol doesn't even check the digital files that have evidence matching the identity cards presented by the individual with the information in their databases-- as was the case at several points for Mark Lyttle. If no one bothers to check that a passport (or national identity card) matches the information in a law enforcement database-- as should happen when a U.S. citizen objects to having his proper identity disregarded by an agent or an immigration judge -- then having a national card does nothing and is no improvement over our current system.

Mexican-Americans with Birth Certificates Border Patrol Destroys or Ignores
1. Mario, 17, was born in a Colorado hospital in the late 1980s and I've seen his birth certificate and hospital records.

Mario's mother is a U.S. citizen and his father Mexican. When Mario was a toddler his father and mother separated and Mario's father brought him to Mexico. His father's plan was to raise Mario, and then he would return to the United States. When Mario was 17 he decided it was time to "go back to the United States and claim his destiny," according to an individual familiar with this case. Mario had uncles in Tucson who visited Mario frequently in Mexico. He was especially interested in finding his mother. A birth certificate is a valid form of identification for entering the United States, and Mario thought he was all set. (Mario couldn't obtain a U.S. passport from Mexico because if you're 17 or under, that requires the presence of both legal parents.)

In early 2007, when Mario tried to return through Nogales, Arizona the Customs and Border Patrol agent, the attorney said, "tore it up on the spot. They told him, 'It's not real. Go away, kid, this is fraud.' There goes your Colorado birth certificate. Go away, have a nice day." Mario was upset and insisted he was a U.S. citizen. "They told him that if he says he's Mexican he can leave, but if he keeps saying he's a citizen he'll be detained at the Nogales border patrol station and arrested." He signed and returned to Mexico.

Read the full post here
I am working to independently verify the information presented by Jacqueline. These are very serious allegations, and if proven, should be fully investigated by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. If anyone has more information, please email me at the link to the left or drop the info in the comments to aid with compilation of data.

These types of civic violations are not uncommon. Pedro Guzman, a U.S. Citizen whose mental disability complicated his interactions with border personnel in 2007, was deported to Mexico and left to wander in the streets for weeks as his family searched frantically for him. Stretching back even further, Operation Wetback was the culprit for scores of Mexican Americans having their civil rights violated through racial profiling and mass deportations alongside those without papers.

So, no, this is nothing new - but it is unacceptable. Time to dig in to these incidents deeper to see how completely broken the U.S. immigration system has become through centuries of rotting racism and delusions of superiority.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Southern AZ Politicos Respond to Dupnik

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who recently joined the Joe Arpaio Caucus of Nativist Idiocy, is being called upon by local southern Arizona elected officials to apologize for his unacceptable endorsement of school-based citizenship checks.

Here is the letter in full:
Sheriff Dupnik -- Due to your long history of involvement and commitment to the entire community, we were surprised by your comments in the print media. Children attending schools, regardless of their immigration status, are not the cause of our problems, nor should we publicly target them. We have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. It is our responsibility to ensure that our children are always safe and secure. All children are vulnerable and we must protect them like they were our own.

It is wrong to force teachers and school administrators to become immigration officers. We remind you to uphold the law that was established by the Supreme Court ruling, Plyer v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982). This case established that children, though not citizens of the United States, are considered a “person” and therefore, protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

An additional cause of grave concern were your unsubstantiated charges that 40% of students in the Sunnyside School District are “illegal” and linking the Southside as the primary source of all crime in Pima County. These false charges are inflammatory and prejudicial. Your comments only further divide our community and debase a large part of the population.

The Pima County electorate trusted you to protect and serve our community, not to humiliate and instill fear. Every child is entitled to an education regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation and status.

We urge you to apologize for your ill-advised comments and join us in a rational and honest discussion about solving our problems together.


Raúl M. Grijalva
, U.S. Congressman, Arizona Congressional District 7
Richard Elias, Chairman, Pima County Board of Supervisors
Regina Romero
, Vice-Mayor, City of Tucson
Adelita Grijalva, Tucson Unified School District Governing Board
Eva Dong, Sunnyside School District Governing Board
Daniel Patterson
, State Representative-LD29, Arizona State Legislature
Matt Heinz, M.D., State Representative-LD29, Arizona State Legislature
Linda Lopez, Senate Minority Whip-LD29, Arizona State Legislature
Jorge Luis Garcia, Senate Minority Leader-LD27, Arizona State Legislature
Olivia Cajero Bedford, State Representative-LD27, Arizona State Legislature
Phil Lopes, State Representative-LD27, Arizona State Legislature
I applaud them all for calling out the sheriff. He is an elected official, and hopefully will be held accountable in the end by voters during the next election.