Thursday, September 13, 2012

President Obama's 2008 Immigration Promises

It's been nearly four years to the day that The Sanctuary released its responses to the 36 item questionnaire that was sent out to numerous campaigns at the federal, state and local level in 2008.

Only one candidate ever responded to us:  Barack Obama
The questions were developed through many conversations and emails among the editorial board of this site at the time; activists who I continue to admire for standing up for the basic principles of human rights and decency, cultivating a better future.

As now-President Obama stated in his renomination speech a couple of weeks ago in Charlotte:  "The times have changed and so have I".  This rings true for this site and the promigrant blogosphere of the 2008 era, but the constant thread woven through years of online activism on behalf of all peoples regardless of legal status is this:  politics is not a game.

For some, sure.  And they receive deserved mocking.  But to the families and young people that we advocate for and proudly follow when led, this fight is at its core a matter of life and death.  That's why its important to know where the candidates stand on issues important to promigrant communities.

Mitt Romney has already made his stance clear.  He favors self-deportation.

President Barack Obama?  His answers from 2008 are available in full at The Sanctuary.

The questions I posted there are: How would you rate his first-term immigration record based on his promises made in 2008?  And what must we do to hold him and his Administration accountable should they be granted a second term?

Arizona DREAMers Get In-State Tuition Green Light

Great news that will be sure to cause temper tantrums among the fools in charge of the Grand Canyon State:
Young undocumented immigrants who receive work permits through President Barack Obama's deferred-action program will be eligible to pay lower in-state tuition, Maricopa Community Colleges officials said Wednesday.

The decision goes against the wishes of Gov. Jan Brewer but could benefit potentially thousands of young undocumented immigrants in the Valley who under state law are now barred from paying in-state tuition.

Young undocumented immigrants who receive work permits through the program will be able to use those documents to prove they are lawfully residing in the state, the main requirement to receive in-state tuition, said Tom Gariepy, a spokesman for the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Arizona Republic

A final determination is still pending from the Board of Regents that oversees the three major public universities whether or not the deferred action documents will be usable for residency requirements.  According to the article, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona list federal documents as acceptable but there is a gray area regarding Northern Arizona University.

Either way, it looks like new avenues of educational opportunity are opening up to migrant youth.

Even in Arizona.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moving the Fulcrum

President Obama announced a change to immigration policy last week that is intended to ease the deportation fears of up to one million migrant youth living in the United States.  In his speech he said:
In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places.

So we prioritized border security, putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history. Today, there are fewer illegal crossings than at any time in the past 40 years.

OBAMA: We focused and used discretion about whom to prosecute, focusing on criminals who endanger our communities rather than students who are earning their education. And today deportation of criminals is up 80 percent.

Washington Post
This is a step in the right direction, but after 3 1/2 years of increased raids and, yes, deportations of "students who are earning their education", it's no surprise that this news is met with skepticism.  Optimistic skepticism, but still skepticism.  Why?  For every single instance of deportation, those of us with family members, friends and colleagues caught in the broken immigration system's net have a tragic story attached to it.  Here's an example:
Henry Roche, a 26 year old resident of New Orleans faces the devastating reality of being removed from his family and deported to Guatemala in less than one week. Despite having lived in New Orleans for the past 6 years, ICE sees Henry and his family simply as a deportation case. They believe that separating his family and sending Henry back to Guatemala, the country where Henry and his family had faced acts of violence, extortion and a real concern for their safety, is justified as a moral action to be taken.

After being followed and threatened again by local criminals in Guatemala and experiencing the failed action of the local police to address the reports that he and his family had filed, Henry decided to take his dreams of becoming a dentist and join his family in the US. Henry’s family came to New Orleans to seek refuge and reunite with their relatives who have resided in New Orleans for over 36 years serving our country in the US military. A graduate of accounting from Guatemala, Henry came to the US to join his family and develop a better and safer life for himself.

It will be interesting to see the shift in the U.S. public's attitudes toward immigration reform now that the President has started making moves to ease restrictions instead of engaging in mass-expulsions.  Those of us who have been around the block for awhile know that the traditional media has done an improved job of storytelling and elevating the human face to the situation, it's refreshing to see the political world recall their ganas and follow suit. 

The only way the DREAM Act or any other type of immigration reform will be made possible is to change the politics of the debate.  The migrant rights community knows, however, that there is a bipartisan drought in courage.  We remember that 5 Democrats voted against DREAM, while 3 Republicans voted for it.  Math is math, and with the rampant cloture abuse in the Senate, the number that matters is 60 regardless of which side of the aisle gets us there.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Latino Vote - Latino Voice 2012 Survey

It's that time of the decade again when EEUU elects a President. As grassroots/netroots organizing kicks in to high gear, it's finally becoming evident to the PowersThatBe that latin@ voters are only going to grow our percentage of the electorate, so it's probably a good idea to figure out what's important to us.

While the trends will vary depending on region and ancestral homeland, these fact-finding missions can only bring about better communication between voters and elected congresscritters: a good thing. Here's one initiative that I'm supporting this cycle, brought to my attention by longtime blogmiga, Kety Esquivel, who's presenting at the Hispanicize 2012 conference right now in Miami, FL.
The Votifi platform is about connecting people based on the issues that matter to them. Our community is confronted with a number of issues and as we flex our collective muscles in the American political process I share the views of Votifi Founder Lou Aronson that as the people grow more connected to each other the elected officials will come to them.
Here is the link to Votifi's Latino Vote - Latino Voice 2012 Survey.

If you're of mocha/indigenous tendencies, please fill it out.


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.