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.