I created this video series by request. La Frontera Times has been talking to me about creating short video wrap-ups of the news so they could feature it on their site each week. I’d say for now we’re in the testing phase, and as doing one of these takes me a full day, roughly, I can’t be sure I’ll have time each week. If they run it and like it, then I’ll do my best. If not, I’ll still try it out when possible, as I enjoy it. Let me know what you think, or even just share your thoughts on the topics, if you have any.
UN DIA ESPECIAL, a very special day! A day to commemorate la comunidad, people power, and El Chicano Movimiento—which surely has grown out of its 60s roots but lives on in this blog, in this bloguero, in my many compas, in all the hearts that beat and the brass that sounds and the streets that still fill with feet from Chi-town to Michoacán!
Thirty nine years ago—not long after my own birth—thirty thousand Chicanos and Chicanas took to the streets to protest the Vietnam war and how it was eating up our community. The police came down on us, as they still do, and in manyways.
Today we remember and celebrate the spirit that flows through and connects all of us, the history that teaches us why we came from where we have and what that means to us today, and the present moment, which sees our community growing larger and coming into its own more and more each day. No amount of time, tasers, billy clubs, bars, tear gas, or faked-out history books can stop us.
Thirty-five years later, I still vividly remember what happened to me personally and politically in Los Angeles, California on August 29, 1970. Thirty thousand Chicanos from throughout the U.S. marched in the streets to protest and call for an end to the war in Vietnam. A war, much like Iraq today, that was destroying our most precious heritage…our youth. On that day, a police riot ensued and Los Angeles Times Reporter Ruben Salazar, along with citizens Angel Diaz and Lynn Ward were killed. Numerous persons were wounded and hundreds were jailed by the L.A. Police and Sheriff’s Department, including national Chicano leader, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales.
By 1965, President Lyndon Johnson had declared Vietnam a police action. Dark and foreboding war clouds were present in every Chicano barrio throughout the Southwest. While many young white males received college deferments, white controlled draft boards systematically recruited poor people, blacks and especially Chicanos, in record numbers to fight the war in Vietnam. At the time, Chicanos comprised 6% of the nation’s population, but were 20% of the wars causalities. Many of my own friends served and died in Vietnam.
After five years of this war, reality finally hit the Chicano community. Young Chicanos were dying in obscene numbers and ‘body bags’ were being returned to the homes of grieving families throughout the U.S.
The Chicano Movement recoiled in anger and called for protests against the government’s policy of sending its young people to die in foreign wars. The movement’s political position had always been that the white, racist system had made Chicanos strangers in their own land by placing them last in jobs, education and rights, while placing them first to die in its wars.
I truth, I would love to include many pieces of art and links on this day to further draw out our unity, beauty of culture, variety of voice, and numbers, but lacking time this day, I am going to leave you with two more notes.
Two, I give you a poem from an new amigo who is, like my old man, a true old-school vato from the first wave of nuestro movimiento.
Cat’s name is Lorenzo Roberto Almada, here’s the story behind the poem in a few brief (his) words, and the poema itself:
…the story behind the poem is that I wrote it for a fellow activist names Roberto Alaniz who was killed for helping a group of Mexicans that were being illegally evicted from their homes by a greed driven slum lord.
Alma de Aztlan
Yo soy aquel que dijo —
— de mi alma,
como de historia.
Cuyos venas se han vaciados,
como el oro
de las minas —
o lo dulce de la vida,
sin valor interno.
Mi pesadilla …
la de los Aztecas —
en la sangre indigena …
que se me esta acabando —
Morira mi cultura?
Ya no puedo respirar
el humo de fabricas …
tan traicioneras a mi cultura
Yo soy la voz
y el espiritu de Aztlan —
en mi propria tierra —
y en los ojos
de mi enemigo —
Me puedes ver?
Yo soy la vida —
libre y alegre,
como Aguila en vuelo —
y ya casi tan extinto.
Me mataras con tu mirada —
Otros me llaman
porque canto mi dolor —
Me echan en la carcel,
porque se pelear/amar
y no conozco leyes,
Mi sangre grita
pa volver a conocer … la risa
de los ninos sin dureza —
pa volver acariciar
a mi mujer —
de mis hijos … y mi vida,
por mis experiencias …
porque yo naci
de la tierra —
y volvere a nacer —
cuando la sociedad se destruja,
y renazca —
el espiritu indigena …
sobreviviendo en mis recuerdos
de Aztlan —
Hermano de la luna …
hijo del Sol —
Yo soy Chicano!
In Special Appreciation to
The Unapologetic Mexican
Viva La Raza
Gracias, my friends! Let’s keep on. ¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!
WELCOME ONCE AGAIN to your Friday Vinyl Reminda! It’s a new category here at tu casa and mine, the Unapologetic Mexican. I am working out the exact format, but really, I like to kick off the last day of the typical work-week, our Viernes, with a minute and a half (or so) of sweet, sweet music as it can only be experienced on vinyl. This time I’ll leave off the lyrics so you can guess the song. Also feel free to drop down a note about the last time you heard, played, or danced to the song!
(My respect and apologies to those who cannot hear or see and use text-reading software to do your blog-reading…please join us in dancing around to the beating of delicious conga beats!)
[For those new to UMX, The Weekly Immigration Wire is a (paid) weekly article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites (see end of post)]
By Nezua, TMC Mediawire Blogger
Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death yesterday was a blow to the immigrant community, as New America Media reports. For over 40 years, Kennedy was a tireless fighter for immigrant rights and is remembered for many valuable accomplishments, not the least in making possible the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which did away with the national-origin quotas that had been in effect in the US since 1924. Additionally, Kennedy help bring a close to the exploitive Bracero program, which supplied the U.S. cheap and temporary labor during World War II in the form of Mexican farm laborers who did not have proper protections or rights. Senator Kennedy also helped author the AgJobs bill of 2003, which gave undocumented farmers residency so they could continue working in the U.S. His legacy in the progress of immigration legislation is not in doubt.
The Massachusetts Senator was a vigorous proponent of both Healthcare and Immigration Reform, which isn’t surprising when you consider how much these two issues overlap. In last week’s Wire, we touched on this confluence. Despite the White House’s attempt to compartmentalize the two issues, Immigration continues sit front and center in the Healthcare discussion, often through dishonest argument by reform opponents.
The problem is, if the White House withdraws as an authoritative and reasonable voice on immigration and immigrants, the conversation will be taken over by anti-immigrant fringe groups. Arturo Sandoval of the New Mexico Independent describes the town hall debate during which a protester suggested that a “bullet in the head” was a solution to the idea that the U.S. has millions of undocumented within her borders. The “facts don’t support this xenophobic response,” Sandoval writes. Furthermore, the needs of the U.S. economy “pull” workers into the country. The immigrant workforce is then scapegoated for responding to that need.
The Washington Independent makes it clear that xenophobic sentiment, also championed by members of the Republican party, is not a wise political move. Daphne Eviatar attended town hall meetings where fact-resistant crowds shouted at lawmakers for “seeking to provide healthcare to illegal immigrants.” Eviatar pins much blame on “the anger fomented by anti-healthcare reform groups” which has given way to “nativist death threats.”
But it’s hard to blame the uninformed for the entirety of their hostility. Our government’s “moral compass,” as E.L. Doctorow called it, points toward criminalizing the immigrant community and all Latino/as by extension. By all appearances, the Obama administration is pursuing an enforcement agenda, and has yet to publicly acknowledge why the immigrant community is vital to the country’s prosperity. Between abundant right-wing radio hate and state-sanctioned raids and detentions, how is a scared, half-informed person supposed to feel about today’s undocumented population?
Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz) proposes—with no trace of sarcasm or shame—that the undocumented be denied urgent hospitcal care in every city. Or, as TAPPED’s Adam Serwer puts it, Kyl Thinks Illegal Immigration is a Capitol Crime. Serwer points out that, as evidenced by Kyl’s own words, the Senator thinks “illegal immigration” “should be punishable by death.” The facts do not support the “pro-life” Senator’s accusations about immigrants, and Serwer writes that in any case, such treatment would be “immoral and inhumane.”
And yet people give voice to such vile and un-American notions every day. In doing so, they publicly provide reinforcement for measures like 287(g), which has been recently rearranged to appear more palatable, yet expanded in scope. Alternet describes another recent superficial makeover: The Department of Homeland Security Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded its self-imposed quotas, and now offers to self-monitor their internal operations. But “how many more detainee deaths under ICE’s custody remain unreported?” And why should ICE be trusted to oversee itself?
Looking ahead to the battle over Immigration reform, Patrick Young of RaceWire offers activists and advocates “Four Healthcare Debate Takeaways For The Immigration Reform Fight.” Young’s breakdown includes down to earth, pragmatic glimpses of a rough terrain. “The argument will not be about the issues,” he writes. Sizable portions of the public have adopted a sound-byte awareness operating too often independent of fact. The good news is, “this can be countered.”
In other immigration news, Truthdig remembers Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants executed in Massachusetts eighty-two years ago after a “dubious trial for murders someone else later confessed to.” The article highlights a Howard Zinn essay on the incident, who wrote that the case of Sacco and Vanzetti revealed “in its starkest terms, that the noble words inscribed above our courthouses, ‘Equal Justice Before the Law,’ have always been a lie.” Considered outsiders at the time, the law of the land saw fit to view the two immigrants as disposable.
In today’s immigration dialogue, Mexicans are most often thought of as the immigrant outsiders. And while Mexican migrants do comprise roughly 57% of the undocumented [pdf of 2004 Pew Hispanic poll findings], Irish, Polish, Guatemalan, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities (AAPI) are an important part of the undocumented population. AAPIs are now asking “How Much Longer Can We Wait for Immigration Reform?” “The debate has been raging on for several years, without any positive resolution,” writes Sara Sadhwani, the Director of the Immigrant Rights Project at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.
Finally, of no small note is a ruling by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last Thursday that in essence, did away with the possibility of unlimited detention of the undocumented. The three-judge panel ruled that detainees held in custody for longer than six months without appearing before a judge have the right to file a class action suit. This bestows a right to the undocumented that citizens might take for granted by now: the right to a trail undertaken in a “swift and timely fashion,” as New America Media reports.
In memory of Ted Kennedy, who did much to bring dignity and health to all people regardless of their race, class, or origins, let us fight on for the well being of all, and not rest until the dream lives.
TED KENNEDY has died, at 77. I’m no big fan of politicians in general, too often they do more harm than they do good, beginning with the theft of our trust and a boatload of fake promises that give way to a career of bolstering their own riches and the riches of their elitist pals. Ted Kennedy was not perfect, but to my mind, an uncommon politician. In this age of Democrats bowing and scraping before the much-feared Neocon phantasm of awaiting judgment, Kennedy was an unapologetic liberal and there was no mistaking it in his life and career. He fought, time and time again, for progressive issues that helped the common person and he has left behind anunmistakeablelegacy. Of special note here at UMX due to my family origins, Senator Kennedy was a great friend to migrant fieldworkers.
Salúd, Mister Kennedy. May you have peace.
Que Viva Ted Kennedy!
UNITED FARM WORKERS
18th Constitutional Convention
August 22-24, 2008
Whereas, Senator Edward M. Kennedy has championed the cause of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement after picking up the mantle from Senator Robert F. Kennedy following his assassination in 1968, and since then no national political leader has more effectively and selflessly supported the farm workers’ cause; and
Whereas, from helping convince Congress to end the infamous Bracero Program in 1964 to becoming the driving force behind the United Farm Workers’ historic AgJobs immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate today, Senator Ted Kennedy has never failed to respond to the farm workers’ call for help; and
Whereas, in 1967 Senator Ted Kennedy oversaw the first official hearing of a committee of the United States Senate to ever take place in Starr County, Texas during a UFW-led strike in Rio Grande City, Texas; and
Whereas, Senator Ted Kennedy has embraced farm worker boycotts, beginning his address before the 1972 National Democratic Convention by exclaiming, “Greetings fellow lettuce boycotters”; and
Whereas, year after year and time after time, Senator Ted Kennedy has spent much of his public career standing shoulder to shoulder with the farm workers during marches and rallies, political campaigns and legislative battles from the halls of the United States Senate to the dusty fields of California; and
Whereas, Senator Ted Kennedy has always joined the farm workers in speaking out for justice as well as against violence, causing Cesar Chavez to once describe him as “always available” and as “the favorite among Latinos all over the country”; and
Whereas, as UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta once said, Robert and Ted Kennedy “didn’t come to us and tell us what was good for us. All they said was, ‘What do you want? And how can I help?’ That’s why we love them”; and
Whereas, in 1973 Senator Ted Kennedy traveled to Fresno, California to address the delegates to the United Farm Workers’ First Constitutional Convention at the height of a bitter statewide grape strike; and
Whereas, Senator Ted Kennedy has helped lead the fights for all workers, including passage of the most recent federal increase in the minimum wage in 2007, as well as efforts to increase student financial aid, improve educational standards for working people and lead the fight to make it easier for workers to organize, and
Whereas, during Senator Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential campaign the UFW proudly endorsed his candidacy and dispatched top organizers, including Cesar Chavez and Arturo Rodriguez, to work on his behalf; and
Whereas, in 1985 and 1986 Senator Ted Kennedy worked with Dolores Huerta when she was leading UFW efforts to help pass an historic immigration reform law that allowed more than a million farm workers to win legal status, including many attending this UFW convention; and
Whereas, most recently, Senator Kennedy has been a leading author of the landmark AgJobs bill, negotiated by the UFW and the nation’s agricultural industry to allow undocumented farm workers in this country to earn the permanent legal right to stay by continuing to work in agriculture; now therefore
Be It Resolved that the United Farm Workers of America, sitting in convention in Fresno, California, expresses genuine thanks and gratitude to Senator Ted Kennedy for all he has done for farm workers and other people in our country who still suffer; and
Be It Further Resolved that the farm workers pray for Senator Ted Kennedy and ask God to permit his voice to continue to be heard on behalf of America’s poor and dispossessed.
IF YOU LET YOUR CHILD wander as they will, picking up sticks here or chasing after a ball, there, do you fear they will explode and vaporize before your loving eyes? What are the chances, in the US of A, that your dog, or your lover, or your friend, or that you—will brush up against unexploded ordinance today?
From 1964 until 1973, over half a million bombing missions were carried out over the country, and as a result, over two million tonnes (2.2 million tons) of bombs were dropped.1 Based on its experience over the last 10 years, UXO Lao estimates that up to 30 percent of all ordnance dropped failed to detonate on impact, leaving a lethal legacy that continues to kill, maim and impoverish over 30 years later.
The shirt above is for sale at my Cafepress store, you can see one version here. At best, I hope to sell some to spark dialogue and spread awareness. At the least, I hope only to bring awareness to a few people who did not have it before now, through this post.
These "DANGER! UNEXPLODED ORDINANCE!" signs are common in Laos.
The US dropped millions of bombs on these people. More than 2,000,000 tons of bombs. More than all the bombs dropped in WWII on Japan as well as Germany. And to this day, does nothing to own up to it or cleanup.
The UXO LAO is the project that attempts to return the land to a place where death planted decades ago doesn’t still wait for humans. To donate, see this page.
Some feel that the US legacy is stained now that revelations of torture are coming to light. Sadly, I think the only people who possess an image of a previously-untarnished US legacy are those who do not possess the facts or a sense of history. We can change this, but inertia, economic interests of the War Machine, and the ubiquitous sense of “American Exceptionalism” will be against us.
Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, hosted a White House meeting on immigration last week with over 100 people. The meeting’s outcome was positive for most attendees because the Obama administration reaffirmed its commitment to immigration reform.
The goal of the invitation to activists, business people and labor organizers among others was to address the furor which was ignited by the decision to delay the immigration vote in Congress until next year. The meeting didn’t change the White House’s plans, but it did control some of the damage caused by the president’s decision, especially among Latino voters who had supported Obama and remembered his campaign promise for immigration reform in his first year in office.
Other writeups on the event are less patient with the gestures and not so eager to cheer on the same old show:
This was the second meeting of its kind at the White House, but aside from repeating the old promises to pursue it, no new ground was broken on the road to fair and smart reform.
“Secretary Napolitano also made it clear that she received our message that she has to communicate more effectively in favor of reform,” said Frank Sharry, of America’s Voice, another national pro reform group.
Yet if you read Napolitano’s statement about the meeting, it’s hard to believe that she really got the message.
“Today’s meeting on comprehensive immigration reform was an important opportunity to hear from stakeholders and build on the significant time I’ve spent on the Hill meeting with members of Congress on this critical subject,” Napolitano said. “I look forward to working with President Obama, my colleagues in Congress and representatives from law enforcement, business, labor organizations, the interfaith community, advocacy groups and others as we work on this important issue.”
If there was a contest to pick the most noncommittal statement by a Washington official, this one would be a frontrunner.
One source in DC informs me that the strategy in moving forward with the various means of enforcement already being employed [slider] the 287(g) initiative, “Secure Communities” and e-Verify [/slider] (which are most decidedly not waiting until 2010) is to open up some political space so that reform can move forward, and that Napolitano’s stale meeting (with POTUS swinging by to spruce it up as if a surprise visit by Dr. Dre on an Eminem tour) is a positive first step. Presumably, advocacy groups are waiting to see if Napolitano’s public presentation of the issue improves, now that she understands the problem is her publicly framing the issue better (echoes of NeoCons thinking the answer to Iraq was marketing it to the US citizenry more effectively)
Other orgs apparently signing on to this wait-a-bit-longer-and-see approach are represented by statements in the above article by Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress, and Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum (NIF).
Our work builds upon progressive ideals put forth by such leaders as Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, and Martin Luther King. We draw from the great social movements of the 20th century—from labor rights and worker safety, to civil rights and women’s suffrage.
I wonder what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have to say about moving forward with not just the maintenance but the expansion of programs like 287g which are even now under investigation for their inherent tendency to enable and justify racial profiling?
Hm. I guess we can’t ask him. So we’ll never know.
“While the president continues with his commitment to immigration reform, we’re looking for public advocacy from Secretary Napolitano and a concrete proposal from Congress,” said Julien Ross, director of CIRC. “In the meantime, we’re asking for more accountability on enforcement measures, especially in detention centers and 287(g) programs.”
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), another national immigration advocacy group, solicited questions to ask Napolitano from supporters of immigration in every state. Within a day, they received more than 4,000 responses by way of new media like Twitter and Facebook.
“Most of the questions and concerns centered around timing, on wanting immigration reform done this year, not 2010,” said Marissa Graciosa, FIRM’s immigration coordinator.
But the White House is leaning on advocacy groups Chicago Style; it’s important to them that they maintain the APPEARANCE of keeping promises and the APPEARANCE of progress on the issue. They are not being subtle about their wish for a unified-bullshit-messaging machine.
And it is bullshit.
All these groups could be consolidating their power to speak as loudly and boldly as the haters do, pushing as visibly and just as unapologetically. But they do not. And most of the time they try to squash and marginalize those of us who refuse to capitulate on what we see as needed and truthful discussion and action.
As idealistic as I tend to be, of course I understand that there is a continuum; of course in a society such as we live in there will by necessity be some amount of concession in any effort to fight for and implement your ideals. And to be fair, if you search the net you can find statements by people like Frank Sharry (America’s Voice) both sighing that we need to wait for DHS to lift the curtain on the next scene, as well as statements that we need to see “concrete actions and not just meetings” going forward. Many of these “pro-immigrant” or “immigration advocacy” groups are like this; varied in message, vague in ideal, speaking out of both sides of their neck from moment to moment. Perhaps in the Grown-Up World this is thought of as Practical or Bargainy or simply Pollatix-As-Usual.
all while the Right is ramping up a very public and unashamed campaign such as FAIR’s upcoming DC/media blitz titled “Hold their Feet to the Fire,” [slider] August 24, 2009 | Radio Talk Hosts Prepare for Broadcast Blitz Live From Washington. D.C.
“National Electronic Town Hall” Questions Health Care Reform Benefits for Illegal Aliens, Supports Continued Immigration Enforcement
(Washington DC) The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) announces September 15th and 16th as the dates for its annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio rallyin Washington, D.C. In this largest gathering ever of talk radio, 47 hosts, led by Roger Hedgecock of Radio America Networks and Lou Dobbs of United Stations Radio Network, will broadcast live from Capitol Hill. They will discuss several key issues, including the cost and impact of continued illegal immigration on jobs, wages, education, the environment and national security, the loopholes within America’s Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 allowing illegal aliens access to tax-payer funded benefits, and the Obama Administration’s plans for amnesty.
Hold Their Feet to the Fire, talk hosts will interview members of Congress, immigration reform experts, high profile media personalities, and activists. The event also features a press conference on the West Lawn of the Capitol showcasing the attending talk hosts, and a We the People reception honoring those who have made significant contributions towards true immigration reform.
“While expanding benefits for illegal aliens, this administration is simultaneously dismantling immigration enforcement and systematically laying the groundwork for yet another massive amnesty bill,” said Bob Dane, Communications Director of FAIR and Event Manager of Hold Their Feet to the Fire 2009. “Powerful special interests are lobbying to stop immigration enforcement, pass mass amnesty legislation, and import more foreign guest workers with no regard to the plight of the American worker or our national security. Radio talk hosts representing millions of Americans will speak on their behalf, and their collective voice is a voice that roars.”
About FAIR and Hold Their Feet to the Fire
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country’s largest immigration reform group. [DESIGNATED AS A HATE GROUP with TIES TO WHITE SUPREMACISTS —Nezua] With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. Hold Their Feet to the Fire is an annual immigration media event and is a joint production of FAIR and participating radio and television stations.
Media wanting to cover this event should contact Dustin Carnevale at 202-328-7004.
[/slider] the “largest gathering ever of talk radio, 47 hosts, led by Roger Hedgecock of Radio America Networks and Lou Dobbs of United Stations Radio Network” broadcasting live from Capitol Hill and deftly blurring lines between legitimate politicians and white supremacist organizations and ideology—
then we have no real “Left,” and are way off balance and unabashedly degrading the very ideals that people like MLK Jr. died for.
I leave you with one of my personal favorite quotes, while we are here discussing Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
I spread it over and through my brushes, or across my cheekbones, or I crush it in my palms, drag it across the cement, spray it on a canvas, splash it over a wall. But my beef is not with color, certainly not with the color of skin.
While I began this blog in El Grito days talking much more about people and our skin colors, the arc has brought me to a place where I understand a few more things, a few necessarily nuanced things about race and behavior and conditioning and culture. And of course, one of those is that while the benefits and privileges of that social construct we call “Whiteness” are not available to all by nature of design, the attitudes and behaviors that we often associate with said “Whiteness” are available to a person of any tint or shade.
There is a reason that people our society deems “white” have incredible influence and very often insulation from parts of life in the US that others will not get. There is a reason they can not individually remove the privilege from themselves and the consequent entitlements…not until we remove those values from our culture and the consequences of those values from our policing, jailing, sentencing, mortgaging/loaning (etc etc) systems as well. And if you know how to make that happen within one person’s lifetime, let me know.
But even the best intentioned of “allies,” will inevitably say something or do something that reminds you of the power differential, or at the very least the one that exists in their own mind…and in activism, this behavior gets even more insidious and tricky, as we are dealing with such deep feelings and lives and messaging and groups and heirarchy. With power.
Yes, there is too, a matrix and a weave of power and privileges. Even in one person, one particular privilege or condition which allows or disallows a specific privilege can fluctuate from situation to situation. That won’t, of course, change the system. Which is why individualist arguments against racism are phantoms. This disease lives in minds, in institutions, in the manners and methods of our ‘justice’ system, in our choices of who not to bomb and who to shush first, who looks like they are just asking for it, who can be excised from our national community without considering it a “loss” and who deserves a full scale amber alert, should they vanish.
It is true that depending on who is next to me, the power differential shifts. I stay aware of this, as I am on no mission to simply repeat oppressions.
Nor am I out to surrender power or let it leak out of a thousand paper cuts. I still seek power, just as any living creature does. However, I use and am determined to keep using any power and privileges I do have or can gain to help others like me who may not be in the location or class status or area or appearance to gain the same.
So as I move forward, my desire is to speak honestly about these things. One of the reasons always motivating me is that my children need to learn. They need to learn what I did and mostly what I did not learn. Much I write is discussed in terms of how children are affected by culture and attitudes and messaging in our media. This is all very practical and experiential and personal to me. I spent years in the wilderness of self denial and self loathing, as is the experience of many non-whites growing up in a system designed to remind them time and time again, then, how they are the Other. And this is an inner experience; one laid upon you by a system of systems, one that takes root in the mind and heart and body despite what any one individual thinks of you or how they treat you individually.
Some people come along when offended by my blog or my writing and say things like “You are so privileged, USA citizen, Westerner, you shouldnt complain of oppression and identity” etc etc. Nevermind that this is only one of many messages meant to stop me from speaking out and up as I do. The patterns get achingly obvious after a while. Even if I took that complaint seriously, all I could say is, yeah. That was my idea, I guess. Ignoring being “Mexican” and changing my own name as a child, lying about it, telling myself none of that mattered. Brownness was something I thought I could ignore at will. Turns out that wasn’t such a good idea. Funny, that, eh? Self Eradication not so pleasant after all. But I’m sure these visitors to my blog trying to shut me up would be very happy with that choice. That is in fact, what they are selling.
I’ve come to this out of necessity and the pride and pain that comes from being a person of color in this nation. Which is why I love my compas who get that. We never need to negate each other with it. Or suffer under the illusions that we are post racial, or coming across as “loud” or “divisive” or any of the terms that this culture is very ready to throw onto people of color who cross certain lines set up for us.
Even as some of my own family members employ the trappings of Whiteness…unintentionally. Which is why I do not take certain things certain places. What does my Mexican father know about being biracial? flyracial? 😉 What does my white mother know about being brown? They say silly and stupid things from time to time, things that reveal their non understanding. Things that hurt. So I learn where to go for certain support.
To the point, and of most importance right here: when I talk about Whiteness, I talk about a certain set of behaviors. And as time goes on, I find this distinction more and more important to discuss. Because anyone can think “I’m not WHITE so I’m cool.” Or “I’m an ACTIVIST so I’m cool.” Or “I’m a ‘PROGRESSIVE’ so I’m cool.” ‘I’m on the “LEFT” so I’m all good!’
Maybe that works for some. Myself, I find it important to draw out the behaviors of Whiteness. And I find it necessary, also, to underline these (necessary and rightful) distinctions between melanin and behavior, as I have children who range in tones, most light-skinned. Regardless of how they identify, I want them to understand they are not condemned to a set of behaviors due to the tone of their skin.
But all lightskinned people ought take special note, as it is easier, then, to cling to these traits and ways of thinking—the Weapons of Witeness, after all, are designed to continue a power structure that preferences Whiteness. And my four decades on earth have shown me almost without err that people do not give up power available to them very easily, if ever at all.
Intention. Does it matter? You cannot say “YES” and you cannot say “NO” across the board. Like most intelligent discussions, nuance provides true understanding from situation to situation. But to avoid the madness and confusion that Whiteness would have us fall into, I’d say “intention” is a distraction, and instead, one should focus on impact or effect of actions.
After all, “White” folks often don’t mean to be negating, appropriating, threatening, or dismissive of people of color; nor to employ any of the traits that Whiteness carries with it like a ring of janglyclash diamond keys. But the experience and thought pattern of those who live under the platinum cloak of Whiteness; within the sphere of invisibility that is Whiteness; the eternally-central region that is Whiteness; the Norm, the Top, the Unspoken Perfect…they predictably adopt that sense of infallibility, dominance (in their values and image of self as related to Other), and even the invisibility of Whiteness itself—the last manifesting as blindness in many areas.
This is because the US/Western culture teaches us to be blind to the value of Whiteness, so that its egregious dominance continues unnoticed and unchanged. (This is the same with Maleness. Many others will add many other crucial parts of what is called “Kyriarchy” to this list. I work on a few things that affect me slowly and with great attention and heart. I add every angle of injustice I can to my list, as I am ready, and as I see fit. I am certain I will die before the entire picture is realized. But as I’ve said before, it is the angle, the lean, the motion that matters.) And that is why those of us who underline these skulky paradigms as we find them demonstrating themselves in every day life, law, and culture feel it is a worthy effort to make. As a friend said on Twitter today in reference to something else (yet it very much applies here as well as to many other imbalances today):
Self-regulation isn’t going to work. It’s become a disarmament scenario.
And so it is that I bring you, after a proper time period of research and observation, the second edition of the fabled and Nez-patented Wite Magik Attax.
As I see it: any person can find themselves clutching these weapons and devices and switches. But it is certain types, namely those who benefit from maintaining the oppressive system(s) in question, who very much refuse to let go, even so. The degree to which you wield these is the degree to which you slip behind a glaring platinum shield of WITENESS.
First, the requisite framework within which the Weapons of Witeness are employed:
WITE PSYCHOSISor THE SHELL GAME:[reality as objects to be arranged at will; life without meaning; symbol divorced from essence]
This is the setting in which you can understand the Weapons of Witeness. This is the only frame in which they will “make sense.” You will note all the following listed Weapons of Witeness rely on this prerequisite.
The reason these methods can be hard to see, let alone codify, is that they rely not on truth or a truthful and sane understanding of anything, but rather, very much on inducedinsanity. That is, these tactics operate by introducing a leveraging or arranging of reality not only destructive to reason, but to the very human condition. Of course that makes sense, as they are, indeed, weapons designed to corrode and baffle the mind so that free will can fall to the whim of the wielder of these weapons, just as Whiteness was invented to eradicate populations and to transform blood, soil, and sweat into gold.
The Weapons of Witeness are designed and employed to confuse and disempower the mind of the Other: to confuse the thought process, to shove you off balance, to make it impossible to use reason. This is, of course, to continue the oppression and exploitation that occurs all over the world when those deemed “white” conquer/corrupt/exploit those they deem worthy of devaluation and theft. Reason, after all, is inadequate for defending such actions, and so reason must be subverted and replaced by control tactics.
There are words from indigenous writings that compare the Indian’s relationship with reality versus the (Crazy) White Man’s and from wherever you quote it, or in what form, the message is essentially the same: Indigenous peoples view the world around them as having meaning and all things and creatures being connected to themselves and each other in some way. The Westerner/Whiteman/Madman sees life and all her creatures and moments as devoid of meaning, and rather, objects to be controlled and shifted around at will in order to arrive at a predetermined conclusion which will allow the person wielding said control to destroy, detach, exploit, and use anything in their path.
This is, after all, what happens when you remove Essence from its rightful Symbol; you have eradicated the tie that serves as a metaphor for our own sense of reason and sanity. The condition of being a spirit/energy that coexists with a human form/body is the metaphor for all Essence wed to Symbol. Language continues this metaphor, our sounds and words being but physical entities that represent an intangible but necessary meaning. When you divorce words from their meaning, you have non-sense. When you divorce a spirit from its body/shell, you have non-life as understood on this plane. Death. Whiteness is the death of truth and meaning; it is a hand that reaches into a relationship between Essence and Symbol and tears them away from each other to remake the world as a chaotic, nonsensical place ruled by naught but five cruel fingers.
You can see this madness, this divorce of Symbol and Essence, this Wite Psychosis, play out even today, in conversations or arguments between peoples. Again, any person can bestow or grow within themselves this madness. It is, after all, a very “Western” way of dealing. Empty of soul, and reframed in terms of power leverage.
You will find yourself engaged with Wite Psychosis when nothing you say or write in an email thread or listserve discussion matters, even if it is a truth; when your truth (meaning) is countered by Terrain Shifting (lies, by sidestepping, by ignoring, and only to be reshaped or twisted around so that the other person’s point “wins” again) you know you are dealing with Wite Psychosis.
Just leave. You can’t “get through” this. Engaging with nonsense yields naught but noise and madness. Eventually you will find yourself frothing with rage at the person’s audacity and unabashed duplicity and amoral abandoning of truth. Should you be a truthful person at heart, one who strives to understand the meaning of yourself and others and the world around you and connect to that meaning, these violations of reason and offenses against truth will enrage you. Rightfully so. But at the last, you will be left frothing and enraged, at which point the person wielding this weapon will point to you and claim you are unreasonable, angry, divisive, oversensitive, or crazy. And this, my friends, is how the West Was “Won.”
The method employed by Whiteness of “moving the goalposts” or abandoning what one just claimed was true from moment to moment, in an effort to destabilize the thinking or reality of a person of color. In this tactic, all that matters is having the last word, or sounding right, or looking right, or “winning” the argument. Power is the goal; Truth is not important. In this way, Terrain Shifting is a microcosmic in-motion manifestation of the very essence of Wite Psychosis.
The Scenery Stealer kicks back and checks you out. The Culture Vulture is only one type of Scenery Stealer. A Scenery Stealer (por ejemplo) watches you stand up for a friend and decides that this 1) Makes you look admirable on this stage of life (because what is being expressed is not real, but all about appearance and image in the mind of Whiteness), and 2) That it is not right that you suddenly look more admirable than he—the center, the normal, the highest value, the norm, the dominant.
You have upset The Order, and taken the frame.
This will result in 3) the Scenery Stealer using the observed and nifty new behavior of (in this example) loyalty or solidarity or bravery, and most likely to gain a one-up on you. Perhaps in the next moment they will “stand up” for a third friend but (and here’s the insidious twist) do so against you. In but one moment they have negated your demonstrable goodness (your essence/actions’ meaning), by mimicking the action (stealing the appearance) replaced you in the spotlight, and returned the order back to it’s “rightful” heirarchical default.
Watch their hands when they get near the ropes. The Scenery Stealer has a neverending hunger for more facetime and better lighting in the frame, and they will populate their stage with all the trappings they find on their way and elbow you into a supporting role at every turn.
I would present The Inventor of Remerica as a specific subdivision of The Scenery Stealer. The Inventor of Remerica is that specific component/form of Scenery Stealing where an idea, a plotline, a behavior, or a style is “remade” as “new,” essentially stealing the material and then erasing the actual source out of the picture. (We know what happened/is happening to Indians in the Americas once the New World was “Discovered.”)
The Wite Knight is not truly interested in helping you. It only appears that way. They are actually intoxicated with the bounce of their steed and the rhythmic rise and fall of their own gonads. The Wite Knight constantly craves a reason to get up on that horse and ride. It is where they can look down on all their marvelous works and the people they have rescued. The people are, in fact, their steed. It is you they ride. And just when you think they are there to help you be free, they dig a spur into your side.
Phrases like “you know I have always championed you” and “my dream of your being successful is finally coming true” and “I’m so happy that my efforts to get you A, B, or C are finally bearing fruit” are used. You note, they sound like a parent talking to a child. They do not, of course, empower you. That is by design! The statements of the Wite Knight must, by nature, appear complimentary while simultaneously disempowering you. This is the insidiousness of the Wite Knight who rides your back to the promised land. Without his steed, the Wite Knight would have to walk and of course be on the same level as you. And you’d not have to carry him anymore. And what kind of magic would even exist in his world at that point?
The Solar Systematizer arranges the universe in their mind and words to always center around themselves. Regardless of the situation, their absolute focus will come back to themselves. In a world of constantly shifting planes and orbiting dust, they remain the sun. In their minds, anything is possible—except their not being central to the layout of just about everything. Decenter them and wait for the big bang.
Remember, Whiteness values appearance over substance. Again, this is because Wite Psychosis demands the detachment of Essence from Symbol so all the imbalances and exploitations that have historically and that systematically benefit The White can continue, seemingly “justified.” The Sanitized Smile is the utterly and maniacally-civilized method of ignoring matters of real substance in order to continue an unruffled or bright appearance. Manners over Sincerity. Form over Function. What People Think over What’s Really Goin’ On.
Symbol important. Essence of no value. Meaning negated. Truth destroyed.
This statement pretends the appearance of awareness, while covering itself slipshod with ignorance. This Wite-Magik Attak begins with “Now, I’m not racist, but—” and we know what very well will follow. BOOM! You were looking down when you should have kept your eyes up. The Feint Disclaimer can also appear in more “benevolent” forms such as “Now, I’m aware of my privilege as a White Person, so—” before boldly wielding one of various Wite-Magik Attax. Teach your mind to recognize the Feint Disclaimer as a warning.
As always, I offer these to you free of charge. You may use and apply them to life and behaviors as you see fit. Or not. As always, they are not invented, but rather simply named and described. These are actions that will occur many, many, many times. As usual, I expect a few “types” of people will be able to use them for various means, because at heart, racism and white supremacist values are not about color. Racism is about power. Racism is about control. Racism is about domination and negation. Racism is about a parasitic absorption and cooption of energy and being. And this power dynamic can play out in any venue, using any names. Names are important. Symbol is important to Essence. We need our physical and mundane markers for the myriad manifestations of the immaterial. But divested of the relationship that connects the two, Symbol means nothing at all. No matter how much it parades about proclaiming itself the irrefutable proof of its own quotient.
Child protégé and Manson cheerleader Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme walked free last week, straight through the front doors of Fort Worth Federal Prison, into a brilliant Texas sun.
Fromme attempted in 1974 to assassinate then President Gerald R. Ford. She did three decades and four years for her bungled attempt. …
Now, cut to the pending case of Native American spiritual leader Leonard Peltier who has also served almost 35 years behind bars, for a crime that has never been proven. Peltier’s case was rocked by government misconduct, including the extensive falsification and suppression of evidence.
So it would seem to be a no brainer: If you’re going to release Fromme, still a self-proclaimed Manson supporter, it’s time to free this internationally revered indigenous leader who was clearly framed by the government and then ground through the racist prison system.
Indians are a necessary target of this government. Always have been. Even now, in the way Mexicans are treated. After all, what the hell is a “Mexican”? Unless you are talking about the increasing influx of US expats to Mexico who may or may not be tied to the continent’s history by blood—A Mexican is simply an Indian blend. Sometimes puro indigenous, sometimes blended with blacks, sometimes with euros. But what Mexico has always been is a land of many indigenous tribes. And despite the codes—”mexican,” “alien,” “illegal,” spic, “Undocumented”—the Indian remains under the crosshairs of this nation.
Flag of the American Indian Movement
That’s why so many find it totally natural to suggest our economy employ battalions of INDIANS to man our warehouses, fields, and factories—but only until the season is done! After that it is preferred they take the train back downtown. Just like in Irvington, NY, where the help rides in on the morning train—nannies, mows, washes, and cooks—and then at dusk goes back to the Bronx. Guest worker, indentured and socially validated servant/help/slave. Never human, never equal.
Nor are we here at UMX strangers to the awareness that the socially constructed state of Whiteness bestows rationality, authority, credibility, and humanity upon a person—as a rule. Even to felons, apparently. So welcome back to your society, Squeaky. And don’t be surprised that packing heat at Presidential appearances is now in vogue; after all, this is the nation’s first black president.
Finally, Leonard Peltier, your life would be wasted behind bars. But if this be your terrible fate, know that your suffering or at least your incarceration will only inspire those of us out here more; to remember the injustices that keep you there and to fight them until we, too, are either killed, caged, or fade away.
I mean…let’s stop playin’. This is silly. The racial core of this argument is that THEY WANT THEIR COUNTRY BACK because it’s not fair that someone who looks so DARK could give health care to OTHER DARK people! Because it will come from the taxes of….nottheir retired asses, that’s for sure! And aren’t we supposed to be locking those brown folks up? Not giving them help!!!! And CERTAINLY not electing them into OFFICE!!!! WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK!!!
You hear the naked truth of the racist resistance baring itself more and more, lately. Good. It’s appalling. Let the ugly reality stand in its appalling pool of primordial goo. Strip fakers and fronters of their code phrases. I mean look at this crowd!!! I’m betting THEY ARE ON GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE in large part! And they rally against it because….oh, let me stop. It’s too much! I’m seething again.
But do read Daisy’s post, which includes original reporting of this rally. And probably one of the most striking parts of this is that the area in question has basically segregated itself over the issue.
We attempted to chat, but we mostly just stood there speechless and shaking our heads at each other. “We don’t belong in there,” one said. I agreed with the sentiment. She told me another meeting was happening in Spartanburg, a PRO health care meeting.
Spartanburg. And then, another realization hit me:
Spartanburg is heavily black.
The upstate has re-segregated itself into Greenville (run by whites, although a large black population) and Spartanburg (run by blacks, although a large white population) Counties. Why were there so few blacks at this meeting? They need health care, too, okay? But if I was scared to go in, I assume they would be, too. In fact, no doubt: If I were black, I’d stay far away.
Tell me, is this DEMOCRACY in action, Congressman Inglis? Are you the representative of the white upstate or ALL the upstate?
One of the women pointed back at the entrance to Gateway, and told me authoritatively, “You know, this is all really about integration. That’s really what it is. Always has been.”
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico enacted a controversial law on Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging government-financed treatment for drug dependency free of charge.
It’s true that FeCal probably only went along with this to better dress up his REAL war on drugs, the one that has killed over 13,000 people since late December 2006, and even the MX police say the move simply formalizes what is longstanding habit. But the US ought to take a page from this book. Chasing people around and punishing them for how they affect their own consciousness when it happens to not pay off big pharma is astoundingly stupid, hypocritical (considering the plethora of legal cocktails in use every day in every state), and cruel, but its NOT EFFECTIVE and a waste of money and resources.
Then again—if you look at the US’ War on Drugs as another part of the waronnon–whites, it’s hugely successful!
MEXICO CITY -(Dow Jones)- Global soft drink behemoth Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and its local bottling partners will invest $5 billion inMexico during the next five years, the company’s chief executive, Muhtar Kent, said Thursday.
The investments – part of a long-term plan to develop Coca-Cola’s operations in Mexico – are in addition to $5 billion invested since 2004, Kent said at the inauguration of a factory outside of Mexico City.
In their press release, Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona and lead counsel on the case claims that, “Our clients suffered egregious constitutional violations and were terrified when held against their will for three hours by armed MCSO personnel. Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies had absolutely no reason to stop these two men and drag them off to a worksite raid. This is yet another example of MCSO sacrificing the rights and well being of workers in the name of immigration enforcement.”
Just the fact that Arpaio is still operating is a clear sign of the racist currents that empower the law in this nation. He is simply one of those old folks at the health care rallies, but in his case he has guns, handcuffs, a jail, deputies, and a lot of pink shorts. He’s no different, fearing an imaginary world slipping out of his gnarled hands and willing to do whatever it takes to stop it.
I grew up on the border and I can honestly say, it pains me to watch us squander billions on a border fence when we’ve yet to see a man-made structure that can stop the forces of nature. What we call “immigration” — in the case of Latinos — is actually a pattern of migration, a natural movement of homo sapiens dying of thirst and hunger, seeking water and nourishment in more fertile grounds.
Comprehensive immigration reform should thus be viewed as an essential measure to protect human rights on our soil and continent. This is a time to think big, not small. This is about more than laws and lines drawn on a map.
It is about the origins of our humanity, not our nationality. Real people are suffering as raids continue, border deaths and hate crimes escalate, and families are destroyed.
Exactly what I’m often writing about. It’s so funny how the US Govt tries to pretend it sees things in a limited way, selling wholesale bullshit to the People. USGOV knows perfectly well why people are migrating here. Our politicians are not so stupid that they don’t have a clear notion of these patterns and social fluctuations, especially when inspired by the US’ own rapacious appetite and reneged treaties. They—the pols—are not the stupid ones; that is the frothing masses opposing full and fair protection, inclusion, and compensation for the laborsof ALL humans, especially those from which we benefit.
They—the politicians—are simply the exploitative ones, hiding what they know to be truth, and acting in the benefit of the corporations.
On any given day, more than 32,000 people who are not American citizens are held in detention in a patchwork of county jails, privately run prisons and federal facilities while the government decides whether to deport them. In the year ending Sept. 30, 2008, more than 407,000 people spent time in custody, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In October 2008, Congress approved $2.4 billion for detention and removal operations as part of $5.9 billion allotted for immigration enforcement through next September — even more than the Bush administration had requested and double the spending four years ago.
Getting details about those who die in custody is a difficult undertaking left to family members, advocacy groups and lawyers.
As the immigration detention system has ballooned to meet demands for stricter enforcement of immigration laws, Congress has listened to complaints about the secrecy and confusion surrounding deaths in custody.
The House passed a bill in January 2008 that would have rewarded states that require jails to report all deaths, but it was stalled in the Senate. At present all legislation has failed and awaits reintroduction in the 2009 Congress.
My emphasis. Because…why on earth would you not pass a law requiring prisons and jails to keep accurate records of who is hurt or who dies? I can only think of one reason.
It’s silly and reductive to claim I am espousing some “Pro-Aztlán” (esp “vs.” Pro-American!) viewpoint. You only make yourself look ridiculous. First of all, I could easily make the case that Pro-Americanis contra-frontera, porque “America” is the entire continent, sans fence. And in that way of thinking (grammatically correct, if you’re into that kind of thing) both a “Pro-Aztlán” and a “Pro-American” view would, by necessity, be against this “border” idea.
I do not write about a mythical homeland circled by white Mexican birds or something. This blog is not dedicated to a Spicy Mexican Lion, either. It’s all much simpler than that, though no doubt still just as confrontational to those who would run from the blog due to “tone” or “ugly” graphics or whatever you tell yourself is getting under your skin.
What I talk about here is imperialism, racism, sexism, corrupt law, media messaging, reality over symbol, truth over appearance, people power as opposed to nationalistic propaganda and legislated oppression, and I try to celebrate peoples, cultures, and traditions that the dominant culture does its best to erase or nullify. I also don’t give a shit about my tone because I’m talking about horrors and injustices. And real life, realtime blindness which the much-louder megaphone of MSM messaging perpetuates. So deal with it or don’t. But don’t kid yourself about what’s going on.
And with that, I’m out. Peace, y’all! But not before Justice.
you’ve got one life to live, so live it positively
make sure that all you’re doing is based on reality
live your life each day as if it was your last
and live your life each day as if it was forever. . .
TODAY I BRING YOU A GUEST POST by immigration attorney and friend Dave Bennion. I found a page in my everyday reading and sent him an email asking for a response so that I could quote him for my own post on the topic. He hashed out an answer, read it over, expanded it and before long it was long enough to be its own post, which I said I’d be happy to publish here for the UMX readership, many of whom would be interested. Gracias, Dave.
Dave is an attorney at a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, PA, where he helps immigrants to the U.S. navigate the complex immigration legal system. Opinions expressed are solely his and not those of his employer. Dave also blogs on immigration issues for change.org.
Newsday highlighted yesterday New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of a crackdown on three NYC-area businesses charged with defrauding clients looking to resolve their immigration status.
The article is vague on this point, but I’m going to assume from the context and my experience that the three businesses are run by nonlawyer “notarios” who routinely abuse their positions of influence in immigrant communities to defraud newly arriving immigrants or those desperate enough to try anything to resolve their legal status.
Cuomo is right when he says the consequences of bad legal advice can rip families apart and destroy lives, but I wonder why it is that the authorities always seem to go after the “notarios” and other nonlawyers, when every low-income immigrant knows that immigration lawyers can be even worse than notarios. New York State has even set up a backchannel fund to compensate immigrants defrauded by attorneys in what looks to me like an effort to keep the “bad immigration attorney” stories out of the papers. Maybe I am missing something, maybe I don’t know the whole story, but that’s what it looked like to me on the ground during my two years of immigration practice at a Catholic nonprofit in Brooklyn.
There are some very competent, very dedicated immigration attorneys in New York and elsewhere who do good work for their clients. Many of these attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national immigration bar association. But lots of low-income immigrants are priced out of that market and have to settle for attorneys who exploit and manipulate them. When a client walks into an office and sees that law degree up on the wall, she says “I can trust this person.” That means unscrupulous lawyers can bilk unknowing immigrants out of far greater sums than can storefront notarios.
I know this happens all the time because after the unscrupulous lawyer is done draining a client’s entire family of their savings (tens of thousands of dollars in some cases), the clients show up in desperation at nonprofit and faith-based community offices like the one where I work. The bad lawyers know this is how it works, that the nonprofits serve as a safety valve so they can continue scamming immigrant communities. And the legal profession is almost entirely self-regulated, so law enforcement only seems to step in when there is a truly egregious case, to “make an example” and avoid dealing with the underlying problems. Scamming immigrants is a very profitable endeavor.
While the AILA and the American Bar Association have set up notario fraud response websites, a great first step, the issue of attorney fraud has gone largely unaddressed. The DOJ’s Executive Office of Immigration Reform has a process for attorney discipline (see this list of disciplined attorneys), but the number of bad actors is much greater than the number of practitioners on the list. Unfortunately, I believe AILA, city and state prosecutors, and regulators are jointly invested in the outcomes this damaged system produces, and I fail to see any real movement towards resolving the problem of immigration attorneys who repeatedly defraud their clients. Do we need to start naming names? Lack of accountability for immigration lawyers is a serious problem that must be addressed.
[For those new to UMX, The Weekly Immigration Wire is a (paid) weekly article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites (see end of post)]
By Nezua, TMC Mediawire Blogger
President Obama is citing the Healthcare debate as a reason for postponing immigration reform until 2010. But in the interim, the White House is laying the groundwork foran enforcement agenda by expanding programs such as 287(g), Secure Communities and e-Verify, amidst a growing matrix of detention centers. Anti-immigration factions are taking advantage of the lull in legislative action to push their own agenda.
The Progressive takes the unequivocal stand that “President Obama is wrong to postpone immigration reform.”Author Ed Morales makes it clear that while healthcare and economic issues are “understandably urgent,” the choice to delay reform “de-prioritizes” people who have paid their taxes but have not been given a path to citizenship.
The problem is, immigration reform and healthcare reform are inextricably connected. WireTap cites a central tenant of healthcare reform’s “artificially amplified ‘public’ opposition” to immigration, as reported by the Los Angeles Times: It’s “the notion that ‘Congress would give illegal immigrants health insurance at taxpayer expense.'”
Is the racially charged core of this “chameleon colored outrage” being purposefully left out of the general dialogue? The ugly facts are that a “third of all ‘Hispanics’ in the U.S., almost half of the undocumented, and a fifth of African Americans” lack health insurance today. And yet, only “one in eight whites” lack health care.
After all, “Not all immigrants are alike.” New America Media’s David Hayes-Bautista compares the experiences of two immigrants named Jean-Claude and Juan Carlos. Hayes-Bautista effectively illustrates the Good Immigrant/Bad Immigrant paradigm and asks “Why do some immigrants move quickly and swiftly up the educational and professional ladder, while others appear to remain stymied at the bottom?” Ultimately, “both segments of immigrants deserve to be included in the future healthcare system that their presence will help to fund.”
But some clearly don’t think with such a progressive bent, as the New Mexico Independent reports.Instead of trying to bring greater truth to the entire discussion, anti-immigrant factions are “using [healthcare reform] to whip up fear and anger toward immigrants,” unsurprisingly claiming that they are “a costly and burdensome drain on any taxpayer-supported U.S. health care system.”
At a Portsmouth, New Hampshire town hall where the crowd awaited the President’s arrival, one “white-bearded protestor” suggested murder as a solution for “illegals.” (Video via the Young Turks)
Judging from the agitated protestor’s words, he, like others, views immigration through a fearful zero sum scarcity model in which one person’s well-being equals another person’s loss.There are better ways to approach this issue. New America Media reports on a more enlightened approach being employed in New Mexico. The Las Cruces-based Colonias Development Council (CDC), along with other community groups, recently held a series of meetings that discussed “living and working conditions in underdeveloped border-area communities,”but filtered the conversation “through the lens of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations back in 1948.” Such a lens introduces not just political concerns,but concerns related to the “guarantees of healthcare, education, employment, and housing” as human rights.
Migrants, like those of the CDC, are exploring the truly progressive ideas that proclaim all humans deserving of certain rights. And when the White House takes immigration reform off the radar with one hand and clamps down punitively with the other, it sends a signal to companies like Yum! brands, which are implementing illegal policies. In These Times‘ Robin Peterson tells the story of a very unhappy KFC workforce where “No Match” letters have resulted in many lost jobs. No Match letters were introduced by the Bush administration. The idea is that your employer sends your Social Security number to a database, which returns a “match” that indicates valid citizenship.“No match” equals no citizenship, and usually, no job. However, a judge ruled shortly after the legislation’s introduction, that it was illegal to fire a person over an “unmatched” return.
“Time’s up,” writes Michelle Chen of RaceWire. While the President has made some “overtures” toward immigration reform, the White House has “generally adhered to the status quo set by the Bush administration.” Not all involved are feeling so patient: “Faced with the news that immigration reform may have to wait until 2010, some organizations say their patience has run out.” The Mexican American Political Association, for one, has called for direct action to make clear the urgent necessity for leadership on this issue:
We are taking the brunt of the attacks and suffering the immediate consequences of this misguided policy, therefore, our call is urgent to take to the streets on September 5th, the Labor Day weekend, and October 12th, not to ask but demand that President Obama stop the attacks on immigrants and that he fulfill his promise of immigration reform, that which we heard during the presidential campaign, but has recently been forgotten.
Increasingly, the White House appears to be backing away from its promises to important constituencies. The administration’s inaction plays out with very real results on the ground, including increased tension, anxiety, and violence against immigrant communities. As we are a nation of immigrants, the effects of ignoring this pressing issue are widespread and will only grow worse in time.
LIKE A FAVORITE CHESS GAME, the White House plays with its constituency, with it’s Latin@ constituency, with its pro-migrant constituency. It is true that Barack Obama ran for President in 2008 on a promise of making immigration a “top priority” in his first year. The White House has not done so. Not unless you count the enforcement-related moves below the radar—initiatives like 287(g), Secure Communities and e-Verify. These actions, though, do nothing so much as funnel nuestra gente into a growing matrix of detention centers that feeds the coffers of the Prison Industrial Complex. All the change we imagined was coming our way, so far, is but huge payoffs to huge entities who prey on the People, from bankers to CCA & GEO.
In terms of the Latino/Pro-Migrant vote, what mostly concerns the White House now is appearance and gamesmanship: how much need be said and done to keep the tide of BrownVotes™ from climbing over the fence of bipartisanship to populate the land of Other? How much and what must be said where to maintain the bright stain of unfulfilled Hopechange?
Once upon a time, Janet Napolitano had a vision and an understanding of borders and laws and what works and what does not that came out of her living in a bordertown and serving as Governor. She said things like:
The Senate made real progress toward reform; but Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives would have none of it. President Bush and I share a desire for real, comprehensive immigration reform. By contrast, members of the House would prefer to try to convince you that if you build a wall and live in denial the problem will go away.
It’s a child’s game of “pretend.”
No wall will ever be built; it costs too much money and would take perhaps a decade to complete. Most importantly, it will never work. As long as there are employers willing to break the law and hire illegal immigrants, people will find a way over, under or around any wall. In addition, militarizing the border with Mexico denies the fact Mexico is Arizona’s largest and most profitable trading partner.
—Immigration Roadshow, Janet Napolitano, Aug. 3, 2006
Lawmakers should not forget that immigration reform must be truly comprehensive. The country has waited too long to accept anything less.
– New York Times op-ed, Janet Napolitano, 6/1/07
It is fundamentally unfair and unrealistic to suggest that our system remain as it is and ignore the 12 million who ran the gantlet at the border and managed to find work in our country. It is not “amnesty” to require these individuals to earn the privilege of citizenship, as have the millions of immigrants who came before them.
–Republic op-ed, Janet Napolitano
Pretty inspiring, eh?
Of course, all that sentiment came shortly before Ms. Napolitano entered the infamous Vortex of Integrity that siphons away your brain matter and replaces it with White House Dollars. Now, what is the Napolitano person saying?
As Governer, it was “To look ‘tough,’ what little enforcement we have ends up being arbitrary and unfair.” (Washington Post op-ed, 6/10/07) but now, as DHS secretary, her views on enforcement are simply that ““I believe that 287(g) is a powerful tool that we will continue to use” (remarks in El Paso, TX). Oddly, the “arbitrary” and “unfair” parts seemed to have been vacuumed away in the integrity-suckhole of Political SuckCess (to quote Bobby Dylan’s coinage).
We are not going to sit by at the Department of Homeland Security and wait for change in the laws. We’re going to enforce the laws that are…
and so much weaponry and jail and crime talk at the border summit that it’s clear where the White House’s point person on Immigration Reform really plugs in to get charged up.
Napolitano did not discuss the progress of discussions with legislators on comprehensive immigration reform, other than to tell reporters that the conversation was underway and she was working to build support.
Okay…if “support” is translated as “larger numbers of incarcerated brown people,” then DHS is still on target.
I’ll say it my way:
You are sucking the blood of my people and stroking us with assuring whispers of solidarity. I don’t know if you actually think this is a valid strategy, or if it is just a titillating Child’s Game of Pretend. But we are not children, and not only are gente taking matters in their own hands at this point, but we need to.
Same as it ever was.
Perhaps next election we will once again vote with our feet. If we don’t show up at the polls, will you, then, bring the barbed wire to the street?