Friday, January 4, 2013

Gutierrez Will Join House Immigration Committee

This is terrific news!

From the office of Congressman Luis Gutierrez:

Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the House Financial Services Committee (FSC) to serve on the Judiciary Committee as immigration reform takes center stage.  The Democratic Caucus announced the changes today after a Caucus meeting.  Rep. Gutierrez, first elected in 1992 and serving in his eleventh term, is the third ranking Democrat on FSC.  He will be at least the 13th ranking Democrat on Judiciary.  Nonetheless, Rep. Gutierrez requested the change and Democratic Leaders and his House Democratic colleagues approved the switch.  Rep. Gutierrez has previously served on the Judiciary Committee (2007-2010).  Rep. Gutierrez, a national leader on the immigration issue and the co-sponsor of historic bipartisan legislation in the past with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. (now Senator) Jeff Flake (R-AZ), serves as the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Read more...


January 4, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Defense of Immigration-Enforcement Discretion: The Legal and Policy Flaws in Kris Kobach’s Latest Crusade by David A. Martin

In Crane v. Napolitano, plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction to preclude the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from proceeding.  The Yale Law Journal Online has posted an essay by Professor David A. Martin wrote analyzing and critiquing the statutory arguments by the ICE officer plaintiffs and their lead lawyer Kris Kobach: A Defense of Immigration-Enforcement Discretion: The Legal and Policy Flaws in Kris Kobach’s Latest Crusade.


January 4, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

International Protection for a Newly Surfacing Refugee Community: Asylum Claims Based on Sexual Orientation

In International Protection for a Newly Surfacing Refugee Community , Kelsey Lundgren notes that many countries, and in particular the United States, have begun granting asylum claims filed on the basis of sexual orientation in the past few decades. Despite the efforts by US and other governments to reinforce protection for LGBT refugees, this community remains only a partially recognized group.


January 4, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

No Dreams: The Case of Ruben Navarette by Rodolfo F. Acuña


No Dreams:  The Case of Ruben Navarette by Rodolfo F. Acuña

I usually ignore people who take cheap shots in order to make themselves look intelligent. However, Ruben Navarrete’s column titled, “If I offended demanding DREAMers, I'm not sorry” crossed the line. My gut reaction was who gives a dump? But I guess I do.

Navarette begins his column in his usual self-congratulatory way: “Even for someone who has written more than 2,000 columns over the last 20 years, sometimes the words come out wrong.”

I have known Ruben for those two decades, and my impression is that he is always trying to impress you. The first words that came out of his mouth when we first met were that he had graduated from Harvard as if that somehow qualified him as an expert.

At 25 Ruben wrote an autobiography A Darker A Shade of Crimson. It was about telling us he was from Harvard.

The Amazon promo says that Navarette spent “his turbulent years as a Mexican-American undergraduate at one of the nation's most prestigious universities.” According the piece, the autobiography was Navarrette’s “declaration of independence, spurning the labels `people of color' (offensive) and ‘Hispanic’ (too general), preferring ‘minority’ and ‘Latino.’” (Four years before that he had been a Chicano).

In A Darker Shade of Crimson, Ruben brags how he confronted bigotry. Ruben pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. Ruben was a self-made boy, got straight A's, a valedictorian, and his efforts alone got him into Harvard. Affirmative action and the sacrifices of others had nothing to do with it.

I could not believe that this was the same chubby kid that I met a couple of years before who tried to impress me with how Chicano he was – high fives and all. Ruben was Mr. Aztlán.

The tone of Navarette’s article offended my sense of history, and no one should mess with Chicana/o history.

I know that I am getting old. And my memory is not what it used to be.

However, I remember witnessing firsthand students, educators and organizations pressuring Ivy League universities to admit highly qualified minorities. Even Michelle Obama, an excellent student, was reputed to have taken part in a sit-in at Harvard in 1988. However, Ruben thinks he is exceptional, and the sacrifices of others had nothing to do with his admission. He was a boy genius from Sanger, California.

Perhaps at one time Ruben could be forgiven for his historical myopia. He was once a young man who wanted to make it. He had a dream of being someone. Of being called Mr. Harvard. But last month he completely blew any credibility he once had.

Navarette preached, “I know just what a lot of those so-called DREAMers deserve to get for Christmas: a scolding. There are good and bad actors in every movement and the bad ones -- if not kept in check -- can drag the good ones down with them.”

He continues, “Having declared their intention to better themselves, some in the DREAMer movement now insist that they're entitled to better treatment than run-of-the-mill illegal immigrants. You know, like the hardworking and humble folks who cut your lawn, clean your house or care for your kids. In fact, the DREAMers seem to suggest they're due a reward for good behavior.”

Then he gets nasty, “Gee, kids, can we get you anything else? Maybe free massages the next time you stage a sit-in? These kids want it all” …While they probably don't realize it, their public tantrums are turning people against them and hurting the chances for a broader immigration reform package.”

Some might call this a cheap shot.

This man who says he has written “more than 2,000 columns over the last 20 years,” offers no solution while playing to the xenophobes. Indeed, other than he went to Harvard, what has he accomplished?

Most recent research shows that people deprived of entering the dream phase of sleep “exhibit symptoms of irritability and anxiety.” Their brains stop growing. This is what has apparently happened to Ruben.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” Speech. Like all visionaries Dr. King wanted a more perfect society. The reverend spoke of the gap between the American dream and the American lived reality and how white supremacists violated the dream. The reaction of his fellow Dreamers was “Now.”

The response to Dr. King was not all positive. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expanded their COINTELPRO operation against the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and targeted King specifically as a public enemy of the United States. Some accused Dr. King of provoking enmity between the races.

Dr. King was scolded in the press. Called a troublemaker, and certainly his civility was questioned. In the end, history has judged him as it will the Dreamers.

As I have often pointed out when I arrived at San Fernando Valley State College, there were barely fifty students of Mexican origin at the college. Students opened it up by demanding and often being discourteous. They were the children of “the hardworking and humble folks who cut your lawn, clean your house or care for your kids.” They dreamt of a better life, of escaping low paying jobs much the same as Navarette escaped Sanger.

Like Dr. King the Dreamers have led a nonviolent struggle and practiced civil disobedience to bring attention to the injustices in our society. For the information of Ruben Navarette, civil disobedience is an American tradition dating back to the Boston Tea Party and the abolitionist movement. Today’s Dreamers follow in the footsteps of other American Dreamers, which is probably hard for Navarette, suffering from intellectual insomnia, to fathom.

Aside from the equitable argument that the Dreamers are entitled to a path to citizenship because they came to the United States through no fault of their own – most were minors when brought here by their parents—there are more compelling reasons. In spite of living in poor neighborhoods and often attending decaying schools, they have displayed considerable initiative and perseverance in pursuing their education and being good citizens in their community.

I argue that they came to the United States not through their own fault but because the United States has not been the best of neighbors.

Mexico has a population of 115 million people. Most of Mexican immigrants migrated to the United States because of economic reasons. The North American Free Trade Agreement has been a disaster to the small subsistence farmer driving millions off their farms. Relatively little technical aid has been given to Mexico to help build its infrastructure whereas the United States is pumping in hundreds of millions of dollars to induce the Mexican government to purse a failed War on Drugs that has devastated the country.

The Nation Magazine reported “Beyond the undiplomatic opinions … the WikiLeaks cables revealed the astonishing degree to which the United States exercised its power and influence at the highest levels of the Mexican government. In some cases it appears that an essential part of the decision-making process on matters of internal security is actually designed not in Mexico City but in Washington. For Mexicans, the cables have reinforced once again that famous adage ‘Pobre Mexico: tan lejos de Dios, y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos.’ Poor Mexico: so far from God and so close to the United States.”

In the case of the Dreamers from Central America, the U.S. wrecked the economy of those countries and spent billions tearing them up. Lately, the U.S. has been exporting made in the U.S. gang members to El Salvador.

One might say the migration of the Dreamers was in most cases induced.

This debate could go on forever. But for Navarette’s information, the actions of the Dreamers that Navarette objects to are the ones that got him into Harvard. The Dreamers never would have gotten this far if they had relied on the Ruben Navarettes. Most of them have worked hard, gotten good grades and not gotten swallowed up in the apathy that often paralyzes the poor. They dare to dream, and refuse to take less by just existing. Perhaps Ruben should re-read A Darker Shade of Crimson and remember how it was to dream.


January 4, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Immigration Staff Attorney Opening: Fresno

The Fresno office of California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF) is hiring an immigration staff attorney.  This is a full-time position and includes benefits. Contact Kristina McKibben for more information:


January 2, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Slavery's Global Comeback

J.J. Gould has a sobering -- and detailed -- story in The Atlantic about the "comeback" of slavery worldwide.  The bottom line is that, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, "There are now twice as many people enslaved in the world as there were in the 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade."  Human trafficking is thus bigger than ever.


January 2, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Final Rule to Support Family Unity During Waiver Process

Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the final rule for the family unity waiver, a new process that will allow U.S. citizens’ spouses and children who are eligible for a green card to file their applications for family unity from within the U.S. The process will be effective on March 4.

Currently, immigrants who are eligible for legalization because they have a U.S. citizen spouse or parent must return to their home countries to be interviewed for their visa. An immigrant who has been in the country for more than six months without legal status is banned from returning for either three or ten years once he or she departs.


January 2, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

MATAMOROS BANKS by Bruce Spingsteen


For two days the river keeps you down

Then you rise to the light without a sound

Past the playgrounds and empty switching yards

The turtles eat the skin from your eyes, so they lay open to the stars

Your clothes give way to the current and river stone

'Till every trace of who you ever were is gone

And the things of the earth they make their claim

That the things of heaven may do the same

Goodye, my darling, for your love I give God thanks

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Over rivers of stone and ancient ocean beds I walk on twine and tire tread

My pockets full of dust, my mouth filled with cool stone

The pale moon opens the earth to its bones

I long, my darling, for your kiss, for your sweet love I give God thanks

The touch of your loving fingertips

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Your sweet memory comes on the evenin' wind

I sleep and dream of holding you in my arms again

The lights of Brownsville, across the river shine A shout rings out and into the silty red river I dive

I long, my darling, for your kiss, for your sweet love I give God thanks

A touch of your loving fingertips

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros

Meet me on the Matamoros banks

From the Devils & Dust CD/album (2005). 

The song should remind us of the many deaths along the U.S./Mexico border by people seeking nothing more than a better life.


January 1, 2013 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Deport Piers Morgan?

Piers morgan
Photo Courtesy of IMDb

The tragedy in December in Newtown, Connecticut has many people, including President Obama ad members of Congress, talking about the passage of gun control legislation.  It apparently is riskier to advocate gun control if you are an immigrant, even a law-abiding one.

CNN's Piers Morgan has been an outspoken advocate of gun control.  Huffington Post reported that  Morgan's views resulted in a petition submitted to the White House website seeking to deport him from the United States. The petition received over 12,000 signatures. The text reads:

"British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens."

Fortunately, the U.S. immigration laws today do not include the kind of political grounds for deportation that the petition would require.  In any event, don't Morgan and other immigrants have a First Amendment right to free speech?


January 1, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tragic Hate Killing of Indian Immigrant in NYC: Death By Brown Skin

Wajahat Ali wrote a essay for Salon entitled "Death By Brown Skin." On Saturday night, an innocent Indian man, Sunando Sen, was pushed onto an oncoming train in New York City by a woman who wanted to hurt "Muslims and Hindus" in retaliation for September 11.  As Ali writes,

"Sunando Sen, a 46-year-old Indian immigrant, recently opened a small copying and printing business in New York City’s Upper West Side with his hard-earned savings. Described by friends as `very educated' and `so quiet, so gentle, so nice,' Sen’s American dream ended in tragedy last Thursday when Erika Menendez fatally pushed him in front of an oncoming subway train.

"Menendez admitted the hate crime, explaining she `pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.'”


January 1, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

IT'S THE ONLY JOB I KNOW HOW TO DO: The Life of an Immigrant Farm Worker

Read this David Bacon interview of Lorena Hernandez, a young farm worker and single mother from Oaxaca, Mexico. Today she lives in Madera, Calif., with her daughter and aunt.

The interview begins "To go pick blueberries I have to get up at four in the morning. First I make my lunch to take with me, and then I get dressed for work. For lunch I eat whatever there is in the house, mostly bean tacos. Then the ritero, the person who gives me a ride to work, picks me up at 20 minutes to five. I work as long as my body can take it, usually until 2:30 in the afternoon. Then the ritero gives me a ride home, and I get there by 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. By then I'm really tired."

Lorena sums it all up in stark, and sad, terms:  "So here I am, working in the fields because it's the only job there is for someone like me."

Happy New Year!

Bacon 2013 2

Bacon 2013 3


January 1, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Tamale Lady Stays in U.S., Mitt Romney Sent Packing


I remain committed to ending 2012 on a positive note. 

Last summer, immigrant Juana Reyes-Hernandez, known as the "tamale lady" was picked up for selling tamales outside a Walmart in Sacramento and was facing removal from the United StatesAs the year ends, the good news is that the press surrounding the case favored Juana, who had lived in the United States for many years without incident and was selling tamales to pay her rent and support her two U.S. citizen children.  The immigration court closed her removal case.  Juana remains in the United States with her children, taking private orders for her tamales and does not sell them in front of local business.


December 31, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)