Thursday, June 25, 2009

D.C. Metro Crashes Hate Into A Family

The recent collision of two metro cars in Washington, D.C. was center-stage in the news recently. There were several fatalities, many more casualties, and the investigation is ongoing as to the cause of the wreck.

That wasn't the only thing the train collided into, however; add the familia Fernandez to the mix. The hate has flowed heavily in their direction after the matriarch of their family died in the accident:

HYATTSVILLE, Md. - As people's hearts continue to go out to the family of victims killed in Monday's tragic Metro crash, some grieving family members say they're being harassed.

Forty-year-old Ana Fernandez, an immigrant from El Salvador, was on her way to her cleaning job when she was killed in Monday's Metro collision. On Wednesday, her family and friends gathered outside their home where her daughter said they need help but are upset with prank phone calls they have received.

"And I'm serious if you're going to call and leave messages like that, don't call at all," Evelyn Fernandez, the victim's daughter

The immigration system is one thing that needs to be overhauled, the other is the country's corazón. There's too much hate, and too much ignoring of it by our political leaders.

Crossposted from The Sanctuary

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Immigration Vigils on Wed 6/24 in AZ

From nuestros amigos at Border Action Network

What: Vigils in four Arizona towns to call on Arizona Senator John McCain and other participants of the White House Immigration Reform meeting to push for immigration reform this year.

When: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 from 6:00-7:30pm


Tucson -Senator McCain's office at 407 W. Congress St.

Douglas -Corner of 5th St and Pan American Highway (Co-sponsored by Humanitarian Border Solutions, Episcopal Border Ministries and Frontera de Cristo)

Sierra Vista -St. Andrew Apostle Church, 800 Taylor Dr.

Nogales - La Casa del Viejo at 665 Morley Ave.

Who: Border Action Network and its Human Rights Committees throughout southern Arizona.

Why: On Thursday, June 25 at 2:00pm EST, key members of Congress will join the President at the White House for a meeting that is expected to create a roadmap for legislative action on comprehensive immigration reform in 2009. The evening before this important meeting, members of Border Action Network in Tucson, Douglas, Nogales and Sierra Vista, Arizona are gathering to hold a "Now is the Time" vigil for Arizona Senator McCain and other meeting participants.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vaya Con Dios, Tim

Sad news, indeed. Latino blogger/journalist Tim Chavez has passed away.

Tim Chavez, former columnist for the Tennessean, died last night at 6:15 p.m after a long bout with leukemia. He wrote about finding out that his illness returned in a blog posting on May 10th:

I never believed my leukemia would be over. The only lesson God wanted me to learn was to appreciate the moments of extra living he gave me, along with the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the 24/7 dedication of my heroic wife. She fought everyone from insurance companies to doctors for me. But I forgot too much of her heroics, which is to my great shame.

With my leukemia back, the moments become more precious. What book would one write at this stage of such a story? What should the world know? What feelings should rise to the surface to make the reader remember the moral?

Utilizing media contacts and his blog Political Salsa, Tim was responsible for getting the story of Juana de la Paz' torture out into the public eye. You'll recall that she was shackled during the birth of her child and then prevented from breastfeeding by ICE agents. His empassioned corazón was howling for justice at the time, which was my first interaction with his work. Tim, you'll be missed.

Vaya con Dios, hermano

Friday, June 12, 2009

SEIU Joins Effort to Fight AZ Anti-Migrant Bills

The budget nightmare unfolding in Arizona is taking the back seat to several pieces of nasty legislation that could only come from Russell Pearce's National Alliance-influenced brain. Senate Bill 1280 would make it a crime to even be in the presence of an undocumented worker while SB1175 strips local governments of the ability to keep immigration enforcement where it belongs - a federal issue.

Border Action Network has been all over this lately with action alerts to put political pressure on Arizona State Legislators. Those efforts have received a shot of adrenaline with SEIU joining the fight against these overreaching and, yes, anti-latino bills:
Tell your State Senator to vote no on anti-immigrant legislation and focus on Arizona's real challenges

For Arizona and America to be a land of opportunity for everyone who lives here, our policies must recognize that we’re all in it together, with common human rights and responsibilities.

Right now, anti-immigrant extremists are trying to distract us from addressing Arizona’s real challenges like the budget shortfall, education, health care and employment and scape goat immigrants.

Tell your State Senator that anti-immigrant legislation has go to go!

If one group can be exploited, underpaid and prevented from becoming part of our society, none of us will enjoy the opportunity and rights that Arizona and America stands for.

Tell your Arizona State Senator to vote NO on Anti-Immigrant Bills SB 1162

The climate in Arizona has become increasingly hostile to those of us who have brown skin. I don't have any charts or graphs to back it up, it's something that I live everyday. And I've had enough of it. Anti-migrant legislation becomes anti-latino when officials like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who give winks and nods to white supremacist groups, get their hands on it.

Unless we come together and tell the state legislature that they have gone too far, the situation will continue to unravel and grow in toxicity. We have a budget to fix. A true crisis; but instead of doing their job, people like Russell Pearce are perverting their power with shenanigans to gut education, target latinos and make sure that they can do it anywhere while wielding a gun.

Enough! Please join the pushback and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

Crossposted at The Sanctuary and AZNetroots

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Look at Migrant Detention Under President Obama

Crossposted from The Sanctuary

The American Prospect lays out some numbers that show how little has changed with respect to migrant detention under the leadership of a new President, specifically through the usage of the Secure Communities initiative.
Secure Communities relies on police in jails like the one where Martinez was processed to enter fingerprints into a joint Department of Homeland Security and FBI database monitored by ICE. Federal officials then decide whether to take "appropriate action" and issue a detainer on an immigrant before he or she is released. The program began in Texas in late 2008, is now in place in 48 counties in seven states, and is set to reach full implementation nationwide by 2012. It receives a 30 percent funding boost in Obama's proposed 2010 budget and has support from key Democrats such as Rep. David Price of North Carolina, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and pushed for much of the new funding. "One thing liberals and conservatives and everyone in between can agree on is that truly dangerous people should be at the top of the list for deportation," Price says.

The American Prospect

Programs like this sound good on paper, but those of us who happen to be brown know that we are in for unequal application of these types of laws. The country needs to stop pretending that immigration enforcement is about whether or not a person has their papers. People of color will always be targeted unfairly and beyond that, this is a central part of a long effort to eradicate migrant cultures.

Obama's budget also maintains funding for the 287(g) program, though at a decreased level. Civil-rights advocates note the bulk of counties that signed up to participate in the program are in Southern states with rapidly growing Latino populations. "The program gets mediated by a history of racism and nativist hostility," says Deborah Weissman, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who co-authored a study on the politics of local immigration enforcement. The study recounts how Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson told the Raleigh News & Observer that he applied to participate in the 287(g) program because Mexican "values are a lot different -- their morals -- than what we have here." He linked the county's growing Latino population with a rise in crime rates. Never mind that Latinos make up 10 percent of the population in Alamance County and account for about 12 percent of its criminal cases. About 70 percent of immigrants detained in Alamance County through 287(g) were guilty only of traffic offenses. (emphasis mine)

I would argue, of course, that "Mexican values" are indigenous to the United States, but when you're dealing with a law enforcement officer who comes right out and states boldly that they are targeting people for being Other, why bother? The bigotry shines more strongly than the glean off the gold badge on his uniform.

With incarceration rates for Latinos and African Americans off the charts, media and political forked tongues that reinforce a false message that we are more criminally prone, and the gravy train of funding to the privatized prison industry continuing unabated, President Obama's promise of change has yet to arrive with respect to migrant detention and deportations.

The abuses will continue unless we force D.C. to act. This week there is a huge gathering of immigration organizations in the nation's capitol, will this diseased part of the immigration system go unchallenged?

Let's hope not.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

City of Flagstaff Gets the ICE Problem

The City of Flagstaff has decided not to rent space for ICE to conduct its operations in Northern Arizona. The justification given is a good sign that city officials understand how abusive DHS personnel have been toward the migrant worker community.
"Co-locating this office in the LEAF building would impact some of our day-to-day public safety operations. If victims and witnesses of crimes are not coming to the LEAF building because they know ICE offices in the building, this is a problem. If they are not reporting the crimes to the Flagstaff Police Department because they think we are one-and-the-same due to a co-located office, this impacts our public safety," Burke wrote.

Both Police Chief Brent Cooper and Burke said last week during a presentation by ICE officials at city council meeting that immigration status is not relevant when reporting a crime.

Arizona Daily Sun
It's clear from the article that human rights advocates were successful in putting pressure on the city. Immigration is a federal issue, yet over the past several years D.C. politicos have sat on meaningful reform, causing local and state agencies to be creative in targeting migrant workers. Abuse runs rampant, families are separated because of trigger-happy Deport-Them-All officials, so it's a good feeling to see families and migrant advocates win a battle.

Thanks, Flagstaff.