Saturday, July 12, 2008

ICE Approach to Church Sanctuaries

Growing numbers of undocumented immigrants are seeking sanctuary in churches. As of now, they are not an ICE priority. Sophia Tareen reports for the Associated Press:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have arrested illegal immigrants by the hundreds in raids at factories, restaurants, malls, farms and meat packing plants, but they have handled cases involving churches delicately.

"Our agency takes enforcement actions when we deem it appropriate," said Julie Myers, assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE. "I am personally not aware of an instance when ICE has gone into a church. That being said, if there was a particular, extremely egregious, ax murderer or something else, that's not to say we would not enforce the law at that time." Click here for the full story.

bh

July 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Increase in Mexican Asylum Claims Based on Drug War

There has been much reported on drug crime in Mexico.  AP has an interesting story about the increase in asylum claims filed by Mexican nationals seeking refuge from violence.

KJ

July 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Senator Mel Martinez: McCain "Stood Tall" on Immigration Reform -- Did He and Does He Now?

160pxmel_martinez In conference call with reporters yesterday, Sen. Mel Martinez claimed that John Mccain_context McCain "stood tall" and championed comprehensive immigration reform during the Republican primary campaign. But the fact is, McCain walked away from comprehensive immigration reform during the GOP primary campaign and adopted an "enforcement first" approach favored by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. In fact, during a GOP debate in January, McCain even said that he would vote against the comprehensive immigration reform bill that he coauthored.

Martinez also claimed that Senator Obama "worked against" efforts for reform and supported an amendment that killed the immigration reform efforts, but Obama was repeatedly praised for his efforts, and numerous contemporaneous accounts found that it was in fact Republican members that killed the bill.

For a video of John McCain stating that he would not support his own comprehensive immigration reform bill, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAPjJvIxSZw

Ben Smith on Politico.com states writes that

"When Florida Senator Mel Martinez criticized Obama's work on an immigration bill today, he contradicted his own earlier praise for Obama. mmigration bill today, he contradicted his own earlier praise for Obama. On the McCain campaign conference call just now, Senator Mel Martinez expanded on John McCain's argument that Obama had sabotaged comprehensive immigration reform. "He was AWOL, he was working against us," Martinez said. However, in a June 28, 2007 letter to Obama, . . . ., Martinez wrote to thank Obama for his "support of the Immigration Reform Bill." "While it failed, your backing of this important legislation meant a lot to me personally," Martinez wrote. "I know that standing firm in the face of extreme pressure has not been easy, and again, I thank you." "The letter was written well after Obama had supported an amendment -- to sunset the bill's temporary worker program -- that McCain has described as a "poison pill," a phrase Martinez repeated today. "Let me tell you, here is the crux of the issue when it counted, when the chips were down, when Senator Kennedy, Senator McCain and I were desperate to round up votes, kept the coalition intact, Senator Obama was destroying it by offering an amendment that was a poison pill that would have killed it.," Martinez said today, contradicting his earlier letter."

KJ

July 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sam Quinones Wins Columbia Graduate School of Journalism's 70th Annual Maria Moors Cabot Prize for Outstanding Reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean

The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has announced the 2008 winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean.  Among the 2008 gold medalists is Sam Quinones, general assignment reporter for the LOS ANGELES TIMES and author of 51vhz6rzvbl__sl160_pilitbdparrowtop 51idqp8d8kl__sl160_aa115_ TRUE TALES FROM ANOTHER MEXICO: THE LYNCH MOB, THE POPSICLE KINGS, CHALINO, AND THE BRONX and ANTONIO'S GUN AND DELFINO'S DREAM: TRUE STORIES OF MEXICAN MIGRATION, both published by the University of New Mexico Press.  We recommend both books for serious students of the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

KJ

July 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LAPD Officers Recommended for Discipline for May 2007 MacArthur Park Actions

Nineteen Los Angeles police officers face discipline over the use of batons and other force on peaceful demonstrators and journalists at an immigration rights rally in May 2007. (For a story and video link, click here).  Internal affairs Cmdr. Richard Webb says his department found cause to recommend discipline against the officers for their actions during the May Day rally in MacArthur Park. He presented the findings to the city's Police Commission on Tuesday. Chief William Bratton will decide any punishments.  Here is the full story.

KJ

July 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stories of Hope and Despair at Postville

The New York Times included two stories today on Postville. 

The first documents the despair experienced by the victims of the Aggriprocessor raid in their families, as told through the eyes of an interpreter, Erik Camayd-Freixas. We posted a link to his longer essay, which prompted this story earlier on this blog.  The New York Times story focuses on the ethics Dr. Camayd-Freixas decision, an interpeter for 23 years, to speak out despit his professional pledge of confidentiality. For the New York Times story, click here.

The other story is about Rev. Paul Ouderkirk and St. Briget's Catholic Church and their kind support to the families of those affected by the raids. Accusationg against them of "harboring" by anti-immigrant callers has only made them more determined to help the affected community. For the full story, click here.

ra

July 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Number of Mexicans gaining citizenship soars in 2007

The Los Angeles Times reports that, according to recently released Departyment of Homeland Security data, the number of Mexican immigrants who naturalized and became citizens rose by nearly 50% in 2007. Officials cite a campaign by Spanish-language media and community groups, plus a desire to apply before a steep fee hike went into effect.   I would add that the political energy -- and some fears -- generated by the debate over immigration reform, contributed to the naturalization spike. 

To view the Department of Homeland Security statistical report, click here.

KJ

July 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Senator McCain Eligible to Be President? No, says Professor Chin

Mccain_context On February 14, ImmigrationProf blogged about John McCain's eligbility to be President of the United States.  Section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution provides that “ No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. ” (emphasis added).  The question we raised was whether Senator McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone a "natural born Citizen" as required by Article I.

Chin_jack Arizona law prof Jack Chin has written a article, discussed in today's N.Y. Times, concluding that Senator McCain is not ea "natural born Citizen" and is ineligible for the Presidency.  Here is an abstract of the Article:

"Senator McCain was born in 1936 in the Canal Zone to U.S. citizen parents. The Canal Zone was territory controlled by the United States, but it was not incorporated into the Union. As requested by Senator McCain's campaign, distinguished constitutional lawyers Laurence Tribe and Theodore Olson examined the law and issued a detailed opinion offering two reasons that Senator McCain was a natural born citizen. Neither is sound under current law. The Tribe-Olson Opinion suggests that the Canal Zone, then under exclusive U.S. jurisdiction, may have been covered by the Fourteenth Amendment's grant of citizenship to "all persons born . . . in the United States." However, in the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court held that "unincorporated territories" were not part of the United States for constitutional purposes. Accordingly, many decisions hold that persons born in unincorporated territories are not Fourteenth Amendment citizens. The Tribe-Olson Opinion also suggests that Senator McCain obtained citizenship by statute. However, the only statute in effect in 1936 did not cover the Canal Zone. Recognizing the gap, in 1937, Congress passed a citizenship law applicable only to the Canal Zone, granting Senator McCain citizenship, but eleven months too late for him to be a citizen at birth. Because Senator John McCain was not a citizen at birth, he is not a "natural born Citizen" and thus is not "eligible to the Office of President" under the Constitution.

This essay concludes by exploring how changes in constitutional law implied by the Tribe-Olson Opinion, such as limiting the Insular Cases and expanding judicial review of immigration and nationality laws passed by Congress, could make Senator McCain a citizen at birth and thus a natural born citizen."

KJ

   

July 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Border Stories

Border Stories is a websitethat documents a recently completed trip along all 2000 miles of the U.S.- Mexico border.  the travelers compiled a series of video shorts aimed at deepening understanding of the border region and its complex challenges. The result is an ongoing web-based video documentary called Border Stories. Each video (approximately 5 minutes each) focuses closely on one issue at a time, with the story told only through the use of one or two interview subjects. The videos create a mosaic with each of these stories.

KJ

July 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration a Non-Issue in Campaign 2008?

A Gallup survey suggests that immigration will not be as hot-button an issue as it was in some primary states. Gallup says 39 percent of Americans favor a reduction in immigration compared to 45 percent a year ago. Gallup says that during much of the post-9/11 period at least a plurality of Americans had previously favored cutbacks, with the high point being 58 percent after the terrorist attacks. Americans think immigration is a good thing for the country by a 64 percent to 30 percent margin, a slight increase from a year ago. Gallup noted that its polling in June found only 27 percent of Americans said immigration would be an "extremely important" factor in how they voted, which ranked it last among eight issues tested. Forty-one percent of whites said immigration should be kept at its present level, 15 percent said it should be increased and 42 percent said it should be decreased. Thirty-five percent of blacks said it should stay at current levels, 21 percent said it should be increased and 39 percent said it should be decreased. As for Hispanics, 40 percent favored keeping it at current levels while those who favored increases or decreases tied at 28 percent. Large majorities of whites and blacks said immigrants costs taxpayers too much while not paying their fair share of taxes. Hispanics believed the opposite, also by large margins.

KJ

July 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Posner Strikes Again!

It is fair to say -- as we have -- that Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit has been critical of the Board of Immigration Appeals.  Here is his latest on the Board's treatment of an asylum claim based on forced sterilization for violation of the one-child rule:  Posnerr "If the Board’s view is as represented by the government’s lawyer, and were sustained, the Board would have handed to the world’s persecutors a formula for preventing victims of persecution from obtaining asylum in the United States. All a persecuting government would have to do would be to impose a fine in excess of the victim’s ability to pay, with death as the back-up punishment if the victim was (as he would be) unable to pay the fine." Lin v. Mukasey, July 8, 2008.  Download lin2072078081.txt

KJ

July 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

G. Gordon Liddy: Obama wants your child to "speak fluent illegal alien"

From Media Matters:

Liddy On the July 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, while discussing a July 8 speech in which Sen. Barack Obama discussed the importance of learning a second language, G. Gordon Liddy claimed that Obama "wants you to be sure your child can speak fluent illegal alien." He added: "Sadly, with every legal and cultural step we take to make our life more immediately convenient for non-English-speaking illegal aliens, we merely feed the beast." Liddy later stated: " 'Round here, let's see, I speak some French, some German as well as English. Franklin [Liddy's producer] speaks fluent French, fluent Italian, as well as English. But none of us here, so far as I know, speak illegal alien."

KJ

July 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Modern Sundown Towns

We have previously reported about the efforts of Prince William County, Virginia to crack down on immigration.  It has become clear that Latino immigrants and citizens are leaving the county, to the dismay of some businesses and the cheers of some white residents.

Supporters of the local immigration measures have claimed that the laws will promote self-deportation and promote adherence to the federal immigration laws.  But the Latinos moving out of Prince William County seem to be moving to neighboring localities and states.  So much for enforcing the U.S. immigration laws!  But perhaps the real aim of these laws is ethnic cleansing a la Prince William County, VA and Hazleton, PA?  Head 'em up, move 'em out!

The end result, I bet, is a new-if-not improved "sundown town."  Sundown towns were communities in the United States that emerged after the Civil War in which non-whites — especially African Americans — were systematically excluded from town after the sun set. This allowed maids and workers to provide services during the day without them living in town.  De facto sundown towns existed at least into the 1970s. James W. Lowen's excellent book Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism 51gtxfqf74l (2005) offers a comprehensive history of sundown towns.

The new sundown town will have Latina/o immigrant workers by day but a white-dominated town at night.  Sad but, I fear, true -- at least if cities and counties are allowed to enact anti-immigrant laws.

UPDATE Anna Gorman in the July 13 L.A. Times offers another example of an effort to create a modern sundown town.  The story outlines how the city of Escondido, California, not that many miles from the U.S./Mexico border, has tried to rid itself of undocumented immigrants through immigration sweeps, driver's license checkpoints, city codes and other policies.

KJ

July 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

117 Migrant deaths along the border, so far

In a grim disclosure, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) recently released its count of the number of Mexican migrants who died struggling to reach El Norte in 2008 so far. Until June 9, the SRE documented the deaths of 117 migrants who perished while attempting to cross the Mexico-US border. For the full story, click here.

ra

July 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Bus Immigration Sweeps on the Rise

Border patrol agents upstate are increasingly arresting New York City undocumented immigrants aboard Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses, raising questions that the government sometimes resorts to racial profiling. For the full story, click here.

ra

July 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

On the Repeal of Death Penalty in California

Check out this op/ed by Allen I. Freehling, Bill Ong Hing and Douglas Ring about abolition of the death penalty.  The three were on the 22-member California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, which recently issues its final report on improving the administration of California's death penalty. "We are the only members who are not engaged in law enforcement, criminal prosecution or criminal defense work. The report concluded that if we are to achieve the goals of justice, fairness and accuracy in the administration of the death penalty, and reduce delays, we urgently need to increase funding at every level. While we agree with the commission's report, after weighing all the testimony and reviewing all the research presented, we wrote separately on behalf of eight commissioners (and endorsed by two others) recommending that the death penalty be repealed . . . ."

KJ

July 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Interpreter's Account of Postville

Erik Camayd-Freixas, Ph.D., who served as interpreter to the hundreds of persons arrested during the Postville raid, has written a very moving and informative first-hand account of how hundreds of workers ended up pleading guilty following their arrests at Aggriprocessor. His essay can be accessed at http://thesanctuary.soapblox.net/showDiary.do;jsessionid=F81F118F819C8672DBAFEB6AD9AAA844?diaryId=269. The New York Times will feature a story based on an interview with Dr. Camayd-Freixas later this week.

ra

July 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Human Impacts of the Immigration Laws Chapter 1001

For a very human story about "When An Immigrant Mom Gets Arrested" by Julianne Ong Hing and Seth Wessler in ColorLines, click here. Among the persons who discuss the case are Jayashri Shrikantiah, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Stanford, and Raha Jorjani of the UC Davis Immigrtaion Law Clinic.Srinkantiah_jayashri Jorjani

KJ

July 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Immigration Articles

Barnhart, Sara Catherine. Note. Second class delivery: the elimination of birthright citizenship as a repeal of "the pursuit of happiness". 42 Ga. L. Rev. 525-567 (2008).

Bracken, Michael P. Comment. The proper interplay of the voluntary departure and motion to reopen provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. 57 Cath. U. L. Rev. 511-541 (2008).

Huntington, Clare. The constitutional dimension of immigration federalism. 61 Vand. L. Rev. 787-853 (2008).  I HAD THE CHANCE TO READ THIS A FEW WEEKS AGO AND, ALTHOUGH I DO NOT AGREE WITH ALL OF THE ARGUMENT, THE ARTICLE IS PROVOCATIVE AND WELL WORTH READING.

Lustig, Stuart L., MD. Symptoms of trauma among political asylum applicants: don't be fooled. 31 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 725-734 (2008).

Musalo, Karen and Marcelle Rice. Center for Gender & Refugee Studies: the implementation of the one-year bar to asylum. 31 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 693-724 (2008).

KJ

July 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Barack Obama, McCain Addresses LULAC

Mccain_context Obamabarack Both Presidential candidates addressed the League of United Latin American Citizens on July 8 in Washington, DC.  Senator McCain reiterated the need to secure the border first before moving forward with immigrtaion reform.   Here is what Senator Obama had to say:

Thank you, Mayor. And thank you for what you do every day as one of America’s finest mayors. At heart, what Mayor Villaraigosa is doing today is the same thing he was doing as a fifteen year old when he volunteered to take part in a grape boycott led by Cesar Chavez – he’s fighting to make this country more equal and just. And he is a shining example of what we can achieve when we build a government that reflects the diversity of the United States of America. That’s something I want to talk about because I’m told that today’s theme is “diversity in government.” So I’ve been thinking about why that’s important and about what it means to have a government that represents all Americans. It’s not just about making sure that men and women of every race, religion, and background are represented at every level of government – though that’s a critical part of it. It’s not just about sending a message to our children that everyone can lead and everyone can serve – although that too is important. It’s about making sure that we have a government that knows that a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans. It’s about making sure our government knows that when there’s a Hispanic girl stuck in a crumbling school who graduates without learning to read or doesn’t graduate at all, that isn’t just a Hispanic-American problem, that’s an American problem. When Hispanics lose their jobs faster than almost anybody else, or work jobs that pay less, and come with fewer benefits than almost anybody else, that isn’t a Hispanic-American problem, that’s an American problem. When 12 million people live in hiding in this country and hundreds of thousands of people cross our borders illegally each year; when companies hire undocumented workers instead of legal citizens to avoid paying overtime or to avoid a union; and a nursing mother is torn away from her baby by an immigration raid, that is a problem that all of us – black, white, and brown – must solve as one nation. A government that works for all Americans – that’s the kind of government I’m talking about. And that’s the kind of government I’ve been fighting to build throughout my over 20 years in public service. It’s why I reached across the aisle in the Senate to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s why I brought Democrats and Republicans together in Illinois to put $100 million in tax cuts into the pockets of hardworking families, to expand health care to 150,000 children and parents, and to help end the outrage of Latinas making 57 cents for every dollar that many of their male coworkers make. It’s why I worked with LULAC and MALDEF as a civil rights lawyer to register Latino voters and ensure that Hispanics had an equal voice in City Hall. And it’s why I first moved to Chicago after college. As some of you know, I turned down more lucrative jobs and went to work for a group of churches so I could help turn around neighborhoods that were devastated when the local steel plants closed. I knew that change in those communities would not come easy. But I also knew that it wouldn’t come at all if we didn’t bring people together. So I reached out to community leaders – black, brown, and white – and built a coalition on issues from failing schools to illegal dumping to unimmunized children. Together, we gave job training to the jobless, helped prevent students from dropping out of school, and taught people to stand up to their government when it wasn’t standing up for them. It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life – because it showed me that what holds this country together is that fundamental belief that we all have a stake in each other; that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper; and in this country, we rise and fall together. It’s an idea that’s probably familiar to all of you because it’s summed up by LULAC’s founding creed – all for one and one for all. It’s what led a group of immigrants who were tired of being sent to separate schools, and arrested for crimes they didn’t commit and thrown in jail by juries they couldn’t serve on, to come together and form this League nearly eighty years ago. It’s what led you to take up the cause of a fallen soldier from South Texas who’d returned from fighting fascism in a casket, but was denied burial beside the men he fought with and bled with because of the color of his skin. You’ve helped ensure that no one who’s worn the proud uniform of the United States of America is denied the rights and respect they deserve. It’s what led a local LULAC council to forge a better future for children in Houston by launching a program that not only taught them English, and helped ensure they went on to graduate, but served as the basis for the Head Start program that’s helped lift so many children out of poverty. It’s what led you to make women equal partners in the battle for civil rights long before so many other organizations did the same. And it’s what’s driving you today in your communities to put opportunity, equality, and justice within reach for Latino families. All for one and one for all. It’s the idea that’s at the heart of LULAC. It’s the idea that’s at the heart of America. And it’s what this election is all about. It’s about the future we can build together. It’s about all the people who are paying a price because of our broken immigration system; all the communities that are taking immigration enforcement into their own hands; and all the neighborhoods that are seeing rising tensions as citizens are pit against new immigrants. They need us to put an end to the petty partisanship that passes for politics in Washington and enact comprehensive immigration reform once and for all. Now, I know Senator McCain used to buck his party on immigration by fighting for comprehensive reform, and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he abandoned his courageous stance, and said that he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote. Well, for eight long years, we’ve had a President who made all kinds of promises to Latinos on the campaign trail, but failed to live up to them in the White House, and we can’t afford that anymore. We need a President who isn’t going to walk away from something as important as comprehensive reform when it becomes politically unpopular. That’s the commitment I’m making to you. I marched with you in the streets of Chicago to meet our immigration challenge. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President – not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country. And not only because we have to crack down on employers who are abusing undocumented immigrants instead of hiring citizens. But because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. Yes, they broke the law. And they should have to pay a fine, and learn English, and go to the back of the line. That’s how we’ll put them on a pathway to citizenship. That’s how we’ll finally fix our broken immigration system and avoid creating a servant class in our midst. It’s time to reconcile our values and principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That’s what this election is all about. It’s about the couple I met in North Las Vegas who saved up for decades, only to be tricked into buying a home they couldn’t afford, and are now struggling to raise their four daughters; it’s about all the Latino families who are the first ones hurt by an economic downturn and the last ones helped by an economic upturn. They can’t afford another four years of the Bush economic policies that Senator McCain is offering – policies that give tax breaks to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans, while doing little for the struggling families who need help most. They need us to restore fairness to our economy by putting a tax cut into the pockets of workers and small business owners; by ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and giving them to companies that create good jobs here at home; by solving the housing crisis, and giving relief to struggling homeowners, and investing in infrastructure to create new jobs in the construction industry that’s been so hard hit. That’s what this election is about. It’s about the one in three Latinas who don’t have health care; and the small business owners who are doing everything they can to succeed but are struggling to stay afloat because of the rising cost of health care. They cannot afford another four years of the Bush health care policies that Senator McCain is offering – policies that won’t solve our health care crisis, but will make you pay taxes on your health care for the first time ever. They need us to stand up to the big drug and insurance companies, guarantee health insurance for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for anyone who wants it, and cut costs for business and their workers by picking up the tab for some of the most expensive illnesses and conditions. That’s what this election is about. It’s about the Latino students who are dropping out of school faster than nearly anybody else; the mother in L.A. who said she felt like the education system wasn’t designed for people like her; and the children from West Chicago to the South Bronx who go to overflowing classes in underfunded schools taught by teachers who aren’t getting the support they need. They cannot afford another four years of false promises and neglect. They need us to invest in early childhood education, stop leaving the money behind for No Child Left Behind, recruit an army of new teachers to your communities and make college affordable for anyone who wants to go – because that’s how we’ll give every American the skills to compete in our global economy. And that’s what this election is all about. It’s about giving all Americans a fair shot at the American dream. That’s what most Americans are looking for. It’s not a lot. Americans don’t need government to solve all their problems, and they don’t want it to. They just want to know that if they put in the work that’s required, they’ll be able to build a better life not just for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren. It’s the idea that in this country, the only limit to success is how big you’re willing to dream and how hard you’re willing to work. And as my friend Henry Cisneros said to me the other day, nobody embodies this spirit more than the Latino community. I was reminded of this a few years ago when I attended a naturalization workshop at St. Pius Church in Pilsen. As I was walking down the aisle, I saw people clutching small American flags, waiting for their turn to be called up so they could begin the long process to become U.S. citizens. And at one point, a young girl, seven or eight, came up to me with her parents, and asked for my autograph. She said her name was Cristina, and that she was studying government in school. I told her parents that they should be very proud of her. And as I listened to Cristina translate my words into Spanish for them, it struck me that for all the noise and anger that so often clouds the discussion about immigration in this country, America has nothing to fear from our newcomers. They have come here for the same reason that families have always come here, for the same reason that my own father came here from Kenya so many years ago – in the hope that here, in America, you can make it if you try. Ultimately, then, the danger to the American way of life is not that we will be overrun by those who do not look like us or do not yet speak our language. It will come if we fail to recognize the humanity of Cristina and her family – if we withhold from them the same opportunities we take for granted; or more broadly, if we stand idly by as our problems grow, as more and more Americans go without quality jobs, affordable health care, or the skills they need to get ahead in the 21st century. Because America can only prosper if all Americans prosper. It goes back to the idea that’s at the heart of LULAC – that it’s all for one and one for all. That’s the idea we need to reclaim in this country. And that’s the idea that we can reclaim in this election. But I can’t do this on my own. I need your help. This election could well be decided by Latino voters. Every four years some of the closest contests take place in Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico – states with large Latino communities. In 2004, 40,000 Latinos who were registered to vote in New Mexico didn’t turn out on Election Day, and Senator Kerry lost that state by less than 6,000 votes. 6,000 votes. That’s a small fraction of the number of Latinos who aren’t even registered to vote in New Mexico today. So while I know how powerful a community you are, I also know how powerful you could be on November 4th if you translate your numbers into votes. During the immigration marches back in 2006, we had a saying: “Today, we march. Tomorrow, we vote.” Well, that was the time to march. And now comes the time to vote. And I truly believe that if we can register more Latinos, young and old, rich and poor, and turn them out to vote in the fall – then not only will we change the political map, and not only will I win the presidency, but you will finally have a government that represents all Americans. And then you and I – together – will bring about the kind of change we’ve been marching for and fighting for, and lift up all your communities and every corner of the United States of America.

July 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)