Wednesday, November 09, 2011

My Computer's New Wallpaper


Now he can spend more time palling around with his National Alliance friends.

In an apparent rebuke to his hard-line politics, Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce was recalled by voters Tuesday. Senator Pearce was the author of the state's tough anti-illegal immigration law that has spawned copycat laws in several states from Utah to Alabama.

Senator Pearce's crusade against illegal immigration made him a national icon but ultimately factored into his historic recall.

His defeat, at the hands of political novice Jerry Lewis, puts a different face on Arizona and signals that voters are ready to take state politics in a new direction, says Bruce Merrill, a political scientist and professor emeritus at Arizona State University in Tempe.

“Most Arizonans are pretty moderate, and I think they just got tired of all of the venom and all of the bitterness,” he says. “It really became more – to some degree – that Russell Pearce was somewhat of an embarrassment.”


Monday, July 11, 2011

AZ Senator Points Loaded Gun at Journalist

Jared Loughner would be proud:

A state lawmaker known for championing the rights of gun-owners pointed a loaded firearm at the chest of a reporter during a recent interview at the Capitol.

Republican Sen. Lori Klein was showing off her raspberry-pink handgun when she aimed it at a journalist who was interviewing her in the lounge just outside the Senate chambers.
According to the story that was published Sunday in the Arizona Republic, Klein's .380 Ruger was loaded and did not have a safety to keep the gun from going off.

But Klein told the reporter, Richard Ruelas, that he didn't need to worry because, "I just didn't have my hand on the trigger."

Arizona Guardian

Imagine if it was the other way around?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vargas Story Built on Foundation of DREAMs

Earlier this week, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas announced to the world that he is an undocumented immigrant.

The full article is worth a read as it tells his story in a way that captures the complexity of the brokenness of the immigration system. It's honest in describing his struggle to understand why identity is so tied to citizenship by mainstream thinking (it shouldn't be) as well as the help he's received from mentors to maintain his secret. Vargas then channels all of it to pushing the political debate to a more sane and just conversation.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.

Last year I read about four students who walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the Dream Act, a nearly decade-old immigration bill that would provide a path to legal permanent residency for young people who have been educated in this country. At the risk of deportation — the Obama administration has deported almost 800,000 people in the last two years — they are speaking out. Their courage has inspired me.

The students mentioned were the walkers involved with the Trail of Dreams project: Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa and Juan Rodriguez. They, along with countless other DREAMers across the country, have spent the past few years dragging the political establishment kicking and screaming toward justice for migrant youth through passage of the D.R.E.A.M. Act, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.

Watching and supporting the DREAMers in action has been a personal education for me as a migrant/human rights advocate because it has taught me the humbling lesson of privilege that I possess as a U.S.-born citizen.

When I started blogging in early 2005, there was little information (at least at the sites that I visited), with respect to the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border region and the racial profiling of Latinos. I felt an obligation to share my experience as a mestizo who always conveniently got extra attention from law enforcement; plus it also allowed me to celebrate my indigenous culture that was & is under assault by a 21st Century Conquistador Mentality.

Last summer, the DREAMactivists began organizing a series of civil disobedience acts to raise the political stakes on lawmakers who deserved the heat. Senator McCain, who has betrayed his former colleague and friend Senator Kennedy with lunacy, had his office taken over with a sit-in. I attended the vigil outside of the Pima County Jail on the night of the students' arrest but was able to drive four minutes back to my comfortable home and life after it was over.

The DREAMers don't have that luxury; nor can they afford to wait for the political establishment to grudgingly toss them crumbs of justice.

National migrant advocacy groups and allied lawmakers have resisted the leadership that the students have provided. Rep. Luis Gutierrez called their tactics a waste of time as recently as last November, yet he is seen as their biggest advocate in the House. On the Senate side, Majority Leader Harry Reid was pressured at Netroots Nation in 2010 by the scariest sight to any lawmaker afraid of a mustard seed-worth of political courage: students in cap and gowns.

In the words of Matias Ramos, one of the silent protestors:

Yahaira, Lizbeth, Prerna and I understand the political gridlock that causes not only the DREAM Act, but most legislative proposals to be stuck in the current Congress. We have seen the obstructionism to all parts of the agenda, and felt the heightened rhetoric against immigrants seep into the national conversation. But regardless of all these things, we wanted our silent presence to let Reid know that we expect more from him at a time when the story of undocumented immigrants is so often distorted.
The DREAM Act failed to pass in the lame duck session of Congress last winter despite the efforts of Senator Reid to push it through. The President called it his "biggest disappointment" of the session; but for the DREAMers and their now most prominent face, Jose Antonio Vargas, a question remains:

Why the delay in relief while deportations increase?

Until that's answered and resolved, migrant communities and their allies are right to call out lawmakers, regardless of party affiliation. This about their lives & livelihood and it's time for the Beltway to listen to their stories and ponder what it means to be American.

Friday Basset Hound Blogging

Apologies for sleeping on the job the past few months

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Georgia Peaches Rotting on the Vine

From the department of Be Careful What You Wish For:
After enactment of House Bill 87, a law designed to drive illegal immigrants out of Georgia, state officials appear shocked to discover that HB 87 is, well, driving a lot of illegal immigrants out of Georgia.

It might almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

The resulting manpower shortage has forced state farmers to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields. It has also put state officials into something of a panic at the damage they’ve done to Georgia’s largest industry.

Atlanta Journal Constitution
To point out the obvious, racism has played a heavy role in the crackdown as the demographics of the South shift to a more mestizo hue. Just ask U.S. citizen Marie Justeen Mancha.

Eric Griego Scores PCCC Endorsement

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee issued its first endorsement of the election cycle to New Mexico State Senator Eric Griego, who is running for the District 1 spot in the Land of Enchantment. The seat is being vacated by fellow Democrat Martin Heinrich as he makes a run for an open Senate seat in 2012.

PCCC's mission "works to elect bold progressive candidates to federal office and to help those candidates and their campaigns save money, work smarter, and win more often. We also advocate for bold leadership on the most important and pressing causes."

The endorsement of Eric Griego falls in line with that mission and philosophy. In his campaign announcement, Griego calls out the broken and failed policies of the conservative movement that has crashed the country into our current deficit ditch. He is filling a void in the political debate that openly advocates for government to have a role in the life & livelihood of the people. Grover Norquist's bathtub won't be drowning anyone's dreams if Griego is elected.

Via the New Mexico Independent
“The conservative Republicans running the U.S. Congress have declared war on working families,” Griego said in a statement announcing his decision. “They want to privatize and ration Medicare for seniors, gut Medicaid for the most vulnerable children and families, and change the promise of retirement with dignity for Americans who have worked their whole lives. We need a Congressman to be their voice and champion on Capitol Hill.”
Griego is a politician who comes from the non-profit world of grassroots social advocacy. He is the Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which proves that he gets it that trickle-down economics is an utter failure. We need to put more people on the Hill that can generate a bottom-up demand for economic stability and justice for the working poor and middle class.

PCCC reports that it raised $3 million in the 2010 election cycle and has set a goal of $3-$5 million for 2012. As of the writing of this post, they have raised $8K of the $10K preliminary goal for Griego's candidacy. You can help pitch in at this link.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Arizona's Continued Downward Spiral

When the AZGOP dropped SB1070 onto the heads of migrant and Latino communities, there were immediate calls for a boycott. Rep. Raúl Grijalva bravely joined the movement, putting his political future at risk but ultimately won his reelection in November 2010. Unfortunately, that election also saw a huge wave of conservatism sweep a veto-proof GOP supermajority into both the state House & Senate chambers. The agenda is now driven by the author of SB1070 himself, Russell Pearce (R-National Alliance), who was installed as Senate President in January.

When Pearce took the reins, he declared that Arizona would have the country's first Tea Party Senate.

A blog from Pearce picked up by the Sonoran Alliance website is signed “Russell Pearce…Tea Party Senate President-Elect.” He said in the blog, “I consider this to be the Tea Party Senate and we intend to take back America one state at a time.” -

That threat - and it is a threat - is becoming reality. Yesterday, the state's Senate Appropriations Committee became the first in the nation to advance a repeal of birthright citizenship for a full vote.

After a rocky start, the birthright legislation finally received committee approval on Feb. 22, overcoming the initial hurdle before the full Senate can debate and vote on the measure that is stirring so much raw emotion and is solidifying Arizona’s reputation as ground zero in the struggle to confront illegal immigration.

By an 8-to-5 vote that hewed nearly along party lines, the Senate Appropriations Committee gave the green light to a two-bill proposal whose ultimate aim is to get the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the issue of American citizenship, though critics question whether the judiciary would actually answer this exact issue and not dismiss the legislation on some other grounds. - AZ Capitol Times

Yesterday's hearing was packed with a passionate audience on both sides. Interestingly enough, the Chamber spoke out against the bill because they fear an even worse backlash than the one from SB1070, proving that the boycott is working. There's an opportunity to drive a wedge between them if an economic populist message starts entering the conversation as to why voters should reject the AZGOP's extremist agenda.

"Russell Pearce's vision for Arizona is killing jobs, etc etc" ...because it's clear that the moral argument falls on deaf ears in this state. Of course, it's vital that it continues to be made strongly, and it will.

There's really no end in sight to what these Tea Party bigots have planned for the state. From banning race-based abortions to saving the republic from the threat of healthcare for the poor, it's no wonder that Baja Arizona is starting to organize a secession of its own.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2011 Corazón de Justicia Award Recipients

This Friday evening, progressive grassroots groups will gather at Apollo Middle School to honor leaders in several categories for their work across southern Arizona. The annual Corazón de Justicia Awards gathering is sponsored by the Coalición de Derechos Humanos (Coalition for Human Rights). Here are the 2011 Recipients:

African-American Issues
Billie Laurie
Selected by: NAACP

Raices Taller
Selected by: Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Community Empowerment
Jason Aragon
Selected by: Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Nancy Zierenberg
Selected by: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

Mary Ellen Kennon
Selected by: Southside Presbyterian Church

Human Rights
Ethnic Studies 11
Selected by: Coalción de Derechos Humanos

Immigrant Rights
Steve Johnston
Selected by: Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Indigenous Issues
Ernest Moristo
Selected by: Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras

Vikki Marshall
Selected by: AFSCME Local 449

Noel de Tierra
Selected by: Wingspan

Women's Issues
Alison Hughes
Tucson Women's Commission

Elisa Meza
Selected by: Social Justice Education Project

The evening will include dinner and a keynote address by David Bacon, who is an associate editor at Pacific News Service, and writes for TruthOut, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Progressive, and the San Francisco Chronicle. If you're interested in attending, please check out the Derechos Humanos website for RSVP info. There's a tax-deductible donation of $35 to attend.

I attended last year and was energized by the networking and words shared by the recipients and speaker. Connecting on-the-ground work to blogging has helped me over the years to stay motivated & optimistic (especially with all the madness in AZ, right?). While it's not community organizing on the political/partisan level, I thought I'd share in case anyone in Baja Arizona is interested in attending.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Justice for Brisenia

In 2009, nine year old Brisenia Flores begged for her life before being murdered in cold blood under orders from a founding member of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp. Today, justice has been served:

A Pima County jury convicted Shawna Forde today of two counts of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009 deaths of Arivaca residents Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.

The jury also convicted Forde of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Flores' wife, Gina Gonzalez, as well as related aggravated assault and robbery counts.

Gonzlez started crying as soon as the first guilty verdict, the killing of her daughter, was read just before noon in a packed courtroom at Pima County Superior Court.

The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days. Jurors will now be asked if the death penalty ought to be considered.

An expanded version of this post is available in Orange & Green

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Schedule of Services in Tucson

Tonight at 7pm Bishop Kicanas will be leading a "Mass for the Healing of Our Community, Remembrance of Those Who Have Died, and for the Consolation of All Victims and Their Families" at St. Odilia's on the northside.

Wednesday, January 12th at Noon on the Mall at the University of Arizona - several University Ministries will host a multi-faith memorial/healing service for the University Community. All are invited to pray and offer support.

The President, First Lady, DHS Secretary, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy & other dignitaries will be leading a memorial service "Together We Thrive: Tucson & America" at McKale Center on Wednesday, January 12th. Doors open at 4pm.

Via Explorer News:
During the rest of this week, there are multiple events that are occurring throughout Pima County. All the local agencies are working in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and U. S. Marshals to ensure that the events are secure for the families and members of the community to come together to mourn the loss of those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

The following is a timeline of the events:

• January 11: Mass at 7 p.m. at St. Odillia

• January 12: Rosary for Christina Green from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Odillia

• January 13: Funeral for Christina Green at 1 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

• January 13: Rosary for John M. Roll from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Thomas

• January 14: Funeral for John M. Roll at 10 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

• January 14: Burial for John M. Roll to follow the funeral at Holy Hope Cemetery (Private)

Members of the public who attend the events should be aware that parking is limited at all locations. People are encouraged to carpool or make arrangements to limit the number of cars at each location.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tragedy in Tucson

Once again, my beloved Tucson is in national headlines for violence.

In the aftermath of yesterday's tragedy, my thoughts wandered to the 2002 UA Nursing College shooting that shook up this community; as well as last year's incidents at both Grijalva & Giffords' offices.

The environment in Arizona has been dangerously violent for a lot longer than the past 24 hours. You could feel it in the air as the health care debate unfolded in 2009 and then, especially for me & other AZ Latinos, during the SB1070 & HB2281 onslaught.

The rhetoric and the physical violence cannot be separated. When the fire is turned up so high, eventually something's like the pressure exerted on a fault line.

Well, an earthquake definitely rattled Southern Arizona.

My prayers continue for all the victims of this assassination plot and the families & friends deeply affected by this loss.