HEY THERE! I was wondering when you were gonna shuffle out of your room. You were sleeping with the remote glued to your forehead. Here, have some coffee. Let’s scan the news and see what’s going on lately.
PHOENIX — A videotape that shows a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detective in a heated exchange with a cameraman has some people claiming the actions are a violation of civil rights.
The YouTube video shows a member of the sheriff’s office confronting a man shooting video of a crime sweep Saturday at Gran Mercado.
Yeah! People power! That’s great. One vato cruises the scene looking to protect his community, films some bullies at large, a few of us help spread the word, and next its in the major news.
It may be annoying and sort of empty a lot of times when CNN, for example, cranes its neck to the point of breaking to peer into the Twitter abyss all day. But in many senses the blurring of lines of media institutions between non-paid community-minded media makers and larger outfits is obviously very healthy for our society (as it is on any day that CNN almost breaks its neck.)
On a final note…isn’t it kind of silly when police try this one: “You can’t tape me because I’m protecting undercover officers!” Firstly, we know who needs protecting more times than not. Also, can we stop assuming we live in the past, where there aren’t cameras everywhere all the time? If not today, then tomorrow or the next, that line will just be laughable. Unless you live in East Oregon or something and are deep under cover in a errant Moose sting. Which probably happens more than reported.
Next, special segregated lectures being given to Teh Spix about bad grades and gang-banging:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has launched an investigation into whether the Hispanic students in Gainesville High School were singled out for assemblies about low standardized test scores.
A parent complained to the Austin-based group that during classes on Sept. 17, calls went out over the school public address system instructing ninth-grade Hispanic students to report to assemblies, according to an ACLU news release.
The students were told they were responsible for the school “underperforming” on the standardized Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test and the school’s rating of academically unacceptable, lowest on the state’s four-tier accountability scale, the release said.
The talks also covered gangs and teen sexual activity, said Gouri Bhat, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas.
I’m sorry to wait so long to give this to you!
The 2009 Wendy’s® High School Heisman® (WHSH) race has begun! Wendy’s is on the hunt to find the next class of High School Heisman recipients – exceptional students who bring excellence in:
1. academics 2. athletics 3. and community service
To date, more than 188,000 high school students have represented their schools and been touched by the Heisman glory where only 1% has been LATINO. All eligible seniors may submit an application online through Oct. 1, 2009. The first 41,100 applicants will receive a free Wendy’s gift card randomly valued from $5 to $50.
From the completed applications, one male and one female winner will be chosen from each high school. The names of all applicants and school winners will be posted on the Wendy’s High School Heisman Web site on Oct. 22, 2009. For more information, students can visit www.WendysHeisman.com, call (800) 205-6367 or contact their local high school principal, guidance counselor or athletic director.
Twelve National finalists will receive a gold medal, Heisman patch, $100 gift card, a $2,000 cash award for their high schools and an invitation to participate in the Heisman Weekend festivities in New York City from Dec. 11-13, 2009.
ESPN2 will feature all 12 national finalists during the Wendy’s High School Heisman awards ceremony on Dec. 13.
One male and one female will be named the 2010 Wendy’s High School Heisman national award winners during the awards ceremony in New York City.
Both winners will receive an additional $10,000 award for their respective high schools, a Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy, Heisman patch and a $500 Wendy’s gift card.
The Wendy’s High School Heisman, awarded in conjunction with the collegiate Heisman, is a joint program between Wendy’s and the Heisman Memorial Trust (host of the College Heisman Memorial Trophy since 1935.) Created in 1994, WHSH has set the standard for high school student-athletes and gained tremendous prestige in its own right. To date, more than 188,000 high school students have represented their schools and been touched by the Heisman glory.
La fecha límite es el 8 de Octubre .
Además del premio nacional Heisman hay MUCHAS otras oportunidades de ganar premios tanto para los estudiantes como las escuelas. Con tan solo participar pueden ganar:
Los primeros 41,000 solicitantes recibirán al azar una tarjeta de regalo de Wendy’s valorada de $5 hasta $50
Si a lo menos 5 estudiantes de cada escuela someten una solicitud completa la escuela calificara para la oportunidad de ganar $500
Ganadores de las escuelas recibirán una carta, un certificado, un parche de Heisman y una tarjeta de regalo de Wendy’s de $10.
Veinte estudiantes (10 masculinos y 10 femeninos) de cada estado serán reconocidos como finalistas a nivel de estado y recibirán una carta, una medalla de bronce, un parche de Heisman y una tarjeta de regalo de Wendy’s de $25.
Ganadores a nivel de estado – 102 (un estudiante masculino y un femenino de cada estado y del distrito de Colombia) – serán elegidos de entre todos los finalistas a nivel de estado y otorgados una carta, una medalla de plata, un parche Heisman y una tarjeta de regalo de Wendy’s de $50.
Finalistas a nivel nacional recibirán una medalla de oro, un parche Heisman, una tarjeta de regalo de Wendy’s de $100, un premio de $2000 en efectivo para sus escuelas secundarias y una invitación para participar en las festividades de fin de semana de Heisman in Nueva York del 11-13 de diciembre del 2009.
ESPN2 presentara a los 12 finalistas a nivel nacional durante la ceremonia de los premios Wendy’s High School el 13 de diciembre.
Un estudiante masculino y uno femenino serán nombrados ganadores a nivel nacional del premio Wendy’s High School Heisman durante la ceremonia de premios en la ciudad de Nueva York. Ambos ganadores recibirán $10,000 adicionales para sus respectivas escuelas, un trofeo de Wendy’s High School Heisman, un parche de Heisman y una tarjeta de regalo de Wendy’s de $500.
The UFW has just kicked off a major organizing campaign in the grapes at Giumarra–the nation’s largest table grape company.Giumarra harvests approximately 1 out of every 10 bunches of grapes picked in the US.
We are trying to get 25,000 people to sign on online campaign petition by Oct. 1.
Giumarra has a history of intimidating and bullying workers & violating their rights. In fact, back in 2006, a union election was thrown out by an administrative judge because of their unlawful interference. In addition, two farm workers have died of heat-related causes while laboring in Giumarra’s fields.
You’d think that Giumarra would have learned their lesson and quit putting workers at risk. Unfortunately not. Workers have come to us asking for help because Giumarra is back to its old tricks. Workers have asked us to help them in getting a union contract so they have protection against these abuses.
Giumarra is doing all they can to avoid hearing from the public on this campaign. They have blocked our ISP from delivering the e-mail to their domain. After our last campaign targeted their web page’s contact us form, they have blocked the form as well as taking down their facebook fan page & twitter page.
As a result we’re going with the old-fashioned method of turning in a petition as a press event. We kicked off an online petition on Labor day and are trying to get 25,000 signatures by the end of the month on our online petition that a delegation will hand in to the company.
Transforming Race: Crisis and Opportunity in the Age of Obama…
The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for its second biannual conference, entitled Transforming Race: Crisis and Opportunity in the Age of Obama, to be held March 11-13, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio.
We seek innovative proposals that address any of three thematic tracks: Racial Dynamics and Systems Thinking; Race Talk; and Race, Recession, and Recovery. We invite practitioners, community organizers, scholars, researchers, and others to submit proposals for papers, entire panels, workshops, performances, fishbowls, and more!
Please visit our web site, http://transforming-race.org, for conference details and updates. To encourage widespread participation, please feel free to share this e-mail and attachment with your networks. Should you have any questions, contact Rebecca Reno at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okay, people, that does it for now. Sorry if you sent me something and I waited longer than you would have liked to post it. It was not intentional, if so. The valet tells me to thank all of you for your generous tips.
And myself, I’m off to brew another pot! Have a good one.
YOUR NEWS WITH NEZUA for September 27, 2009. A satirical look at what is doing the damage when we talk about “Racism” in the US: those who raise the discussion in the first place…right? It’s just bad manners, so don’t do it!
As always, headlining at La Frontera Times Sunday – Tuesday, and if you prefer to view in a dark room, go here.
I WAS TALKING or reading, or “conversing” on Twitter this morning and someone (@theapants? @newdemographic?) some friends, that is, were talking about entitlement. The feeling of entitlement, the sense of entitlement. And they struck on something I’ve been thinking of a lot lately myself. How the attitudes and viewpoints of those who raised me—two white people, one of them my biological parent—were given to me. Of course. I mean, of course you take on your parents attitudes to some degree. We were talking specifically about how People of Color being raised my whites, people who are mixed being raised by whites, produces a particular phenomenon. Results in attitudes of certain entitlement, and further, that when feels entitled, one generally gets more of what one wants. Granted, someone who has an entitled attitude in any area can be terribly annoying, too. And the discussion can, should, and does include the many harms this can result in. But welcome to the US, which feels entitled to everything on the planet. And acts on that. We do, for the most part, too, echo the chamber within which we are born. In sound, function, and in form.
But we also take on our own path. And part of that is thinking about these things, and determining how much can be kept, how much discarded, how much is valid and how much is destructive.
I think it was @theapants who said to me “It’s hard to admit privilege, as a mixie POC!” and I replied something about how it’s hard for anyone. We shouldn’t expect much less from power; all power seeks to increase and intensify, never wane.
But the truth is, it is not “hard” for me to admit this at all. Why would it be? It is not some kind of crime to have a feeling of entitlement! It is not some moral failing to have power. It is how you use it of course. And for me, the shame or the “hard” part would be in never examining yourself. In any area, not just in terms of identity or power or role in a culture. And I’ve been examining myself all my life, and will always do so. It’s not hard. It’s part of who I am.
I was glad to hear the discussion, at a time when it is in my own mind so prominently. I’ve been thinking about the attitudes I took from those who raised me.
My mother was a blonde (her hair darkened as she became an adult), blue-eyed Jewish girl in New York City school. She was (is!) a very smart person, and the daughter of a well-off man.
Of course she abdicated that family role and flew in the face of all her father’s wishes by getting knocked up by a Mexican cat in college—a college she attended very young after graduating valedictorian. But this was the late 1960s, and hers was the generation to spit in the face of the Establishment. What better way, hey? And thus, me. (Though I do think this pregnancy was not planned!) And my young life which had everything to do with 70s counterculture and rebellious reaction, and nothing to do with my grandfather’s modest amount of money (faded quickly, he wasn’t that well-off, just average doing Okay, really), nothing to do with his Republican/Reaganite politics, nothing to do with his conservatism.
My mother would tell me about her school days. That stuck with me. She told the stories from the vantage point of a very smart woman who found that as long as she got As, nobody in the school (administration-wise/authority-wise) could touch her. And she graduated that way. And she passed that on to me. And it always made a lot of sense to me. As long as I can accomplish and bring my intelligence to bear, nobody can complain and I need not feel shame. She never said it that way, but that was what I learned, I think. Of course she didn’t teach me about culture or race or the power structures in place, or the history of Jews or New York City, or any of that. So I never figured in those things. And I never realized, either, that people might react differently to a mixed/POC male with the same attitude that New York City schools would give to a blonde, young, smart, pretty Jewish girl. But they will.
From my adoptive father (and I don’t like to call him my “stepfather” because I was legally adopted and all my papers changed forever and a “stepfather” only marries your mother, doesn’t siphon up your state-sanctioned identity), I gained a different kind of entitlement. His was the entitlement of a young, white (Irish Catholic) male who lost his family young (11) and survived the Bronx mostly on his own. Daniel Day O’Lewis in Gangs of New York (or in There Will Be Blood) reminds me of him so much. Not just his looks, but his philosophy and rage. He was an artist, but crazy, and he made his way through society with a fury that threatened to burn holes in anyone who opposed him. Gearheart would rush forward into any fight as if packing heat. But he never (rarely?) had a weapon on him. I grew up watching him—although it would have been easier if I had only been a spectator rather than part of the Them that he opposed—take his fight to all of Them. I discarded many bigoted/racist lessons that were unwittingly handed to me immediately upon observing them (such as his fiercely homophobic nature) as I found those loathsome and needed no context or instruction to do so. The very way he reacted cast his view in a suspect light. Or something.
But in all that, he taught me many positive things, too, despite being the aggressor in my family and eventually being banished from our lives by each one of us. Personally, I find it important to untangle what was useful from what was not…and unhealthy and unrealistic to try and imagine any person as one-dimensional embodiments of our own demons and fears. But it takes time….
Why do our school books and mainstream culture revere the pioneers and the US settlers in our historical lore? I would whisper to you that the reason is the same reason that violence like my adoptive father’s can blossom in our culture, often unimpeded. Power respects power. Power respects gain. Power respects ground taken. Power respects efficiency and victory. Power would rather stand in a pool of blood and shout to the sky than listen to empathetic handwringing and reasonable explanations of justice or loss. (Which is why today’s maniac GOP are the true descendants of the US settlers; not the Liberals. Which is why the Democrats never win. Just ask yourself…is not allowing Indian reservations and borderwalls to stand very much like blaming women for being beat in their own homes? Think about it.)
So those were the lessons he gave me. That’s what he had to give.
Power may respect power, but it also has an appetite that only grows greater when it dines on respect. And it must be tempered with knowledge, with heart, with suffering. Those things I found not only in my own home, but very much along the way, on the path out of my house at 15 and on the road to Here & Now.
My Mexican family was different. In the much less amount of time I had with them, they were much, much different. Humbler. No purer, perhaps…but not infused with these senses of power, with some gushing of ambition, with an everpresent voracious appetite for gain. (Or maybe I wasn’t around enough to sense it.) Yet even later when I spoke to my father, he was always so much more careful, quieter, apologetic, unsure. His feelings were kept in, kept back, smiled over. Was that method or way of being The Answer? Perhaps he made less pockmarks in the heart of the world…but he took them into himself. In all his backing up, I think he almost walked off a cliff. It took my father years and years to finally shatter and begin to bellow out with his internal emotion, which he had been denied. By himself? By the culture? By the space we allow people of color? Very likely. And it was a space I never learned to cede.
Obama shows the danger of people of color raised by whites with this power infused in his mind, with the privilege imbued in his climb. With the lens of conservative and mainstream US, he tells people of color to Try Harder and Work Harder. To Stop Being Lazy and Irresponsible. He talks to us like racism and oppression is not historically imbued in our world and even our US lens on the world; as if it is not systemic; as if he is white.
It’s okay to have a sense of power and use it. But it is not okay to not be aware where you got it, what it models, what it seeks to attain, and then who you are talking to. Just because an eagle is raised by owls does not make it wise.
I fall into an odd space, I know. I wrote this in my early writings here. Back at El Grito, when I was a bit more rough around the edges, newer to the awarenesses I’ve nurtured here, a bit less sure, and probably louder. But even then, I knew what it was that created the confrontational and unusual mix that informs my voice here. I wrote of how I was the white racists’ worse nightmare. With the vocabulary and ease of English and cocky belief in my right to express and claim it all that a white American has; but with the agenda and heart and memory of the Indian.
I, too, seek and delight in power. As all energy-consuming organisms will. Here is my solution: Not to be part of the silence smothered over people of color, shoved into their lungs and making us to die, buried under ground so often stolen. But to use any and all powers and privilege in the struggle to bring justice to bear for all.
Power is not truly inherited, and rarely “deserved.” Power is taken. And yet, power is not a goal; it is but a way.
[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, as well. (Linked at end of post.)]
By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger
As the immigration debate grows increasingly tense and intertwined with economic worries, cultural anxiety, and deep-seated racism and xenophobia, it is important to be clear about what’s at stake. This debate is about our humanity; about our most fundamental legal precepts concerning a human rights; about refusing to exploit the weak. Put simply: Human beings have rights that cannot be taken away by the stroke of a pen, rap of a gavel, or by angry pundits who demonize the disadvantaged.
RaceWire reports on a new campaign to push back against CNN’s Lou Dobbs, who continually presents immigrants as bearers of disease, inherently criminal, socially corrosive. His hate speech contributes to hate crimes by extension. Pundits like Dobbs have long been able to remain under the radar, but seem to be losing their ability to keep their personal agendas within the bounds of acceptable speech. Presente.org is launching a new campaign that works “with dozens of leading Latino organizations and … allies in cities across the country — from Los Angeles to Phoenix to Orlando.” Presente.org and their allies are banding together to “demand that CNN no longer allow Dobbs to spew hate thinly disguised as ‘news.’”
We must not lose our moral bearing during difficult times. Let us be reasonable, as Alvaro Huerta is. Writing for the Progressive, Huerta notes how quickly the media leaped upon Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst, and yet all avoided “The central question: Why shouldn’t undocumented people get health care?” If the undocumented pay taxes; if they have “historically contributed to making this nation the most powerful and affluent country in the world,” then they shouldn’t be denied access to care.
But lest we equate morality with productivity; this conversation is not just about how many assembly lines a person has worked. It is about who we are as a nation. Today’s immigrant stories of exclusion and fierce struggle for rights are quintessentially American stories. They challenge us to respond in alignment with our stated ideals and the spirit of morality that we assume informs the law.
Naima Coster at Wiretap reports on a one group of people who have risen to this challenge. A coalition of immigrant community leaders and clergy came together to get Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials off of Riker’s Island. Every year, approximately “3,000 immigrant New Yorkers face deportation” due to a “collaboration between ICE and the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC).” This partnership was uncovered by a 2008 Freedom of Information request, which revealed a complete lack of policy for regulating the actions of ICE agents, who were “not required to identify themselves, provide interpreter services or inform detainees of their constitutional rights to remain silent and have an attorney present.” The coalition was successful: Former DOC Commissioner Martin Horn has agreed to regulate all ICE operations at Riker’s Island.
As Coster notes, this victory is critical because it “challenges Obama’s plan to expand the Secure Communities program,” an initiative developed under the Bush administration that places federal agents in local jails. Of course nobody wants dangerous people running around; we can all agree on that. But if there is nothing protecting the vulnerable from exploitation, then the law means nothing at all.
Speaking of those needing protection, the trend of sweeping social challenges into prisons continues at an alarming rate, as reported by New America Media. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, H.R. 7311 may be well-intentioned and is ostensibly “designed to combat labor and sex trafficking,” but will it do more harm than good? Previously, the Border Patrol would reunite a minor with their family within hours upon detaining them. Under H.R. 7311, minors would be placed in detention and could stay there for months. While it is true that the private detention industry might cheer such a move, surely these children and their families will not.
Public News Service reports on immigration reform’s movement in Arizona. While Border Action Network director Jennifer Allen celebrates the suspension of “military-style workplace raids,” she is disappointed that the Obama administration “has put off promised comprehensive immigration reform, while at the same time expanding such harsh measures as having local police enforce federal immigration laws.” Allen points out that policies bringing federal forces into local communities “further marginalize immigrant communities, make public safety activity by local law enforcement more difficult, and in many ways discourage people’s hope that we’re in fact going to see new leadership on immigration reform.”
Finally, on a more positive note, we return to New America Media and hop a border or two with Juanes, a Colombian singer and activist. The second Paz sin Fronteras [Peace Without Borders] concert organized in Cuba was “an important step toward ending the island’s isolation created from both inside and out.” Juanes is scheduled to perform next year on the U.S.-Mexico border. Perhaps the power of music can again, at least momentarily, bridge a divide from which so much pain is born.
Nationwide Public Health Alert Issued Concerning Life-Threatening Risk Posed by Cocaine Laced with Veterinary Anti-Parasite Drug
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is alerting medical professionals, substance abuse treatment centers and other public health authorities about the risk that substantial levels of cocaine may be adulterated with levamisole – a veterinary anti-parasitic drug. There have been approximately 20 confirmed or probable cases of agranulocytosis (a serious, sometimes fatal blood disorder), including two deaths, associated with cocaine adulterated with levamisole. The number of reported cases is expected to increase as information about cocaine adulterated with levamisole is disseminated.
“SAMHSA and other public health authorities are working together to inform everyone of this serious potential public health risk and what measures are being taken to address it,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, D.D.S., MPH.
Levamisole is used in veterinary medicine and is currently approved for use in cattle, sheep and swine as an anti-parasitic agent. Although it was once used in human medicine in the past for treating autoimmune diseases and cancer, it is no longer an approved drug for human use.
Ingesting cocaine mixed with levamisole can seriously reduce a person’s white blood cells, suppressing immune function and the body’s ability to fight off even minor infections. People who snort, smoke, or inject crack or powder cocaine contaminated by levamisole can experience overwhelming, rapidly-developing, life threatening infections. Other serious side effects can also occur.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration and State testing laboratories, the percentage of cocaine specimens containing levamisole has increased steadily since 2002, with levamisole now found in over 70 percent of the illicit cocaine analyzed in July. In addition, a recent analysis in Seattle, Washington found that almost 80 percent of the individuals who test positive for cocaine also test positive for levamisole.
According to the SAMHSA alert substance abuse treatment providers, clinicians, outreach workers, and individuals who abuse cocaine need to be aware of the following:
A dangerous substance, levamisole, is showing up with increasing frequency in illicit cocaine powder and crack cocaine. Levamisole can severely reduce the number of white blood cells, a problem called agranulocytosis. THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS ILLNESS THAT NEEDS TO BE TREATED AT A HOSPITAL. If you use cocaine, watch out for:
* high fever, chills, or weakness
* swollen glands
* painful sores (mouth, anal)
* any infection that won’t go away or gets worse very fast, including sore throat or mouth sores -skin infections, abscesses -thrush (white coating of the mouth, tongue, or throat) -pneumonia (fever, cough, shortness of breath).”
SAMHSA is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and other federal and international organizations, as well as state agencies to monitor the levamisole issue. CDC will be publishing a case report analysis in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and will be working with state health departments to systematically collect information on cocaine-associated agranulocytosis cases. Information from this effort will be used to guide treatment and prevention initiatives to address this public health concern.
Individuals are encouraged to report suspected and confirmed cases of agranulocytosis that are associated with cocaine abuse to their respective state health departments. Cases can also be reported to local Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222), these centers may also provide assistance in clinical management and additional reporting.
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity and effectiveness of the nation’s substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment, and mental health services delivery system.
Contact Media Services: (240) 276-2130
Date: 9/21/2009 Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Telephone: 240-276-2130
In this week’s video: The truth behind Rush Limbaugh’s Inter-Cranial Conflict of Half-Racism! The Brand New Green Shiny Hatestorm Map! Rep. Gutierrez drops the news of forthcoming immigration legislation! Nezua endorses the Drop Dobbs Campaign! And all those swooshy, swoopy, spinny, swirly special effects you love so much.
Headlining at La Frontera Times weekly (and it’s my fault they didn’t have this yesterday, I’ll be jotting notes on production later at my personal blog. It might be interesting for some to hear about what goes into making a little piece like this one, if so drop on by later).
Twitter Notes from Immigration Reform Media Call, September 17, 2009 | Click to Enlarge
ONE REFRESHING EXCEPTION to the sort of dynamic I posted on in Proud and Selfish vs. Idealist and Hypocritical , where all moves from “Liberals” and Democrats present as reactionary and timid is a move made by Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) on the immigration front yesterday (Citizenship Day). While I can’t put myself 100% behind the proposed bill or comment on all angles until I know the specifics, I heartily applaud his action of getting the ball moving on this issue in which the dialogue is only degrading in its chaotic momentum and inattention except by voices from the Right.
From Make the Road New York
For Immediate Release:
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Contact: Javier H. Valdes, 917-679-2971
Make the Road Applauds Rep. Gutierrez for Taking the Lead on Immigration Reform Legislation
WASHINGTON — Today, Dora Chalarca, a leader of Make the Road New York spoke at the Citizenship Day celebration in Washington, DC in front of hundreds of immigrant leaders and representatives from Congress urging them to push for comprehensive immigration reform this year. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) announced that he would introduce comprehensive immigration reform this fall.
Rep. Gutierrez played a pivotal role in the Familias Unidas interfaith tour earlier this year that introduced families separated from loved ones by our broken immigration system to his colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and House Democratic Leadership, and helped build compassion and support for immigration reform.
Make the Road New York and its 7500 members are eager to support a bill that fixes our broken immigration and work with Rep. Gutierrez and Rep. Nydia Velazquez in taking bold action to break through the years-long stalemate on Capitol Hill.
We expect the Gutierrez to a introduce progressive immigration bill which will create:
• A pathway to citizenship that keeps families together;
•Elimination of the family immigration backlogs that keep people waiting years and decades for legal entry;
•A system to modernize the process by which visas are allocated so that they reflect actual economic needs;
• Protection of worker rights for immigrants and native-born workers;
• Restoration of basic due process rights and protection of basic rights and liberties;
• Enforcement that respects these rights and restores confidence in the immigration system; and Effective and innovative immigrant integration programs.
While a great deal of attention has been focused on health care reform, the urgent need for immigration reform has not diminished. If anything, the acrimony, deception and scapegoating of immigrants in the health care debate has underscored the need for a comprehensive solution to fix our broken immigration system. Immigrants, faith leaders, businesses, labor unions, progressive groups, and a broad coalition across the political spectrum support solutions to our current immigration mess.
We will have to see what these bullet points boil down to (and I’m pretty sure in this current age and system, unfortunate compromises to humane reform will undoubtedly take place—as Mala pointed out yesterday, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus made compromises even before the process began) but at least in the present moment, someone is stepping up and unwilling to simply watch the Joe Wilsons of the world dominate the conversation on immigration. And it’s about time. I am, of course, especially interested to see what is to be done with the horrific mess that DHS is leveling on the Latino/a community in the form of it’s “EnforcementAgenda.”
Saying immigration is a priority for this Administration or this Congress is not the same as seeing tangible action, and the longer we wait, the more every single piece of legislation we debate will be obstructed by our failure to pass comprehensive reform.
—Rep. Gutierrez, September 17, 2009
Perhaps Congressman Gutierrez feels a bit stung by the White House’s inaction. On the media call yesterday (the notes of which informed some of this post and the screenshot of some you can see above) Gutierrez sounded a bit…put out. That’s good. We need more of this. Disappointed in what his vote was turning into, given current White House inaction (and action of the unhelpful kind). We do nobody any favors except the corrupt entrenched political inertias that harm gente when we make excuses for “representation” that does not represent.
For now, I say let’s get behind at least this one bold move (that has the backing of many other voices behind him). We can always (and will always) push for the most humane and modern (meaning “enlightened” not “with 40% more sugar in the can”) immigration policy possible, even so. But where there is a spark, the flame needs wind to grow. So let’s go!
WHEN IT COMES TO THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE, or even the ways in which the GOP versus the Dems operate, I have long been frustrated. As you know. I’ve been frustrated by a couple things. One, the way the Dems primary shape of political engagement seems to be reaction. Or a sort of bowed-head, hand-wringing shame that weakens the legs of any idea they trot out. Any idea they DO trot out, when predictably smacked hard by the GOP, never seems to have much conviction in itself. Or perhaps it is those who present it who do not.
Not enough proactive action, not enough strength, and certainly not enough moral conviction. Mostly my thoughts on this involve the compromises the Dems have made.
The GOP’s philosophies allow for greed and for taking bucketloads of cash from lobbyists or corporations; their philosophies of Bootstrap and Bootneck seek to justify destroying the environment, hurting the poor, punishing people of color for reacting and suffering under punishments already systemically leveled at them. So even when the GOP engages in their selfish and amoral actions, they do not appear to be hypocritical. When they do act hypocritically it is in supporting what their radical base does, after condemning the same actions when undertaken by the Left. But that hypocrisy, of course, does not demoralize their base. Or not most of it. Because it is another smack at the Left, which their base is happy to support as long as the planks of the overall GOP platform is adhered to, and all the poor and people of color are targeted, while their own taxes are guarded.
On the other hand, the Democrats OSTENSIBLY are for the People. For the poor, for the whole, for the health of the land, etc. Their philosophies do NOT allow for raking in cash from corrupt sources or in making capitulations to corporate greed and so on. So when they take the cash they inevitably do from these sources; when they capitulate to entrenched forces that harm the people, they not only look as if their entire platform is a lie, they themselves cannot defend it. So they appear mushy, unconvinced, and they do not sway anyone. The answer is, of course, to move closer toward what they profess to be. The Democrats simply need to be more radical—meaning be more of what they pretend to be. If so, they could stand in truth and summon all the power that comes from doing so. As long as they sniff over to the Right, they lose. They can never excuse doing this to the people they seek to represent. Further, rather than using their own radical faction for fuel as the GOP does, the Dems marginalize their own “radical” elements which not only demoralizes us, but pushes that oft-touted “Overton Window” to the Right and again, positions the Democratic party as primping and posing to gain a seat at a table of politicians and pundits who despise them anyway.
Berkeley, CA—September 16, 2009… A Hispanic community in a small southern city that lived in fear of police after a spike in arrests now has evidence that it was unjustly targeted to enforce federal immigration laws. A new analysis of arrest data shows that police in Irving, Texas arrested Hispanics in far greater numbers for petty offenses as part of a federal Criminal Alien Program (CAP) to deport serious offenders. During the most aggressive period, when police had round-the-clock access to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the number of Hispanic arrests for minor crimes increased by nearly 150 percent.
The new report, “The CAP Effect: Racial Profiling in the ICE Criminal Alien Program,” was released today by the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity (Warren Institute) at UC Berkeley School of Law (Berkeley Law).
“It was clearly a fishing expedition. Police cast a wide net to arrest anyone who looked Hispanic for any minor violation,” said report co-author Aarti Kohli, immigration policy expert at Berkeley Law’s Warren Institute. “The Hispanic community suspected racial profiling as the root cause of the increase in arrests. Our report backs that up.”
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to spend more than $1 billion to expand efforts nationwide to deport criminal aliens through CAP and its related programs, including Secure Communities and Fugitive Operations.
“What we see in Irving is representative of the complaints we hear from communities nationwide,” said Janet Murguia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza. “Instead of removing dangerous criminals from communities, such practices seem to engender a disturbing pattern of arresting as many Hispanics as possible,” she said.
The CAP Effect identifies three phases of the local-federal CAP partnership. It analyzes police data of arrests, detention, and immigration referrals during a 23-month period (January 2006—November 2007) before and after Irving adopted the Criminal Alien Program.
During the first phase, from September 2006 to March 2007, immigration officials began to visit the Irving jail up to five times per week to review arrests and to make final custody and deportation decisions.
During the second phase, from April to September 2007, the criminal program shifted from periodic, in-person consultation with federal immigration enforcement officers to 24-7 availability via phone and video teleconference. Racial profiling was most aggressive at this time, according to the report. Irving police arrested Hispanics for misdemeanors in significantly higher numbers compared with Whites and African-Americans. In April 2007, 102 Hispanics were arrested for petty offenses, but in September 2007, 246 Hispanics were arrested—a nearly 150 percent increase.
The jump in Hispanic arrests was especially steep for minor traffic offenses, where police officers have a lot of discretion in determining whether someone should be arrested. The data show that Hispanic traffic arrests stood at 48 in April of 2007. In July, just three months later, police arrested 155 Hispanics for traffic offenses—a 223 percent increase.
The report reveals that the majority of Hispanics arrested after the implementation of the CAP program were lawfully present in the United States.
By November of 2007, Irving CAP was scaled back as complaints of racial profiling of Hispanics intensified. Local community groups complained that Irving police stopped and arrested Hispanic residents for Class-C misdemeanor offenses, such as public intoxication and minor traffic violations, and alleged that these charges served as a pretext, allowing officers to probe citizenship and immigration status. However, on January 20, 2008, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok admitted to a Dallas newspaper that ICE was still processing petty offenders for deportation and would continue to do so indefinitely.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas obtained the police data through a public records request that included Hispanic, White, and African-American arrest records. The data offers the first-ever opportunity to assess the impact of local police participation in immigration enforcement—historically the role of the federal government.
The goal of the Criminal Alien Program is to improve community safety by targeting serious criminals for deportation, according to ICE, but the police data show that only two percent of those detained by immigration authorities in a fourteen-month time period received felony charges. In sum, the data show that CAP is not only failing to target serious criminal offenders, but it’s also tacitly encouraging local police to arrest Hispanic residents for petty offenses.
“We are expanding federal immigration programs that without proper supervision lead to harassment and civil rights violations,” said Maria Blanco, executive director of Berkeley Law’s Warren Institute. “Given the administration’s continued expansion of federal and local law enforcement partnerships, we need to be even more vigilant in protecting citizens’ rights and preventing racial profiling.”
The report’s authors recommend a number of steps for Congress to take before implementing the Criminal Alien Program nationwide, which include:
• investigating the impact of local partnerships with immigration enforcement before allocating additional funds to expand the program;
• prohibiting criminal alien screenings for individuals arrested for petty offenses;
• mandating that local police who partner with federal immigration authorities record arrest data by race, ethnicity, and level of offense.
For more details about the study, contact Aarti Kohli, immigration policy director, Warren Institute, 510.642.0383 email@example.com.
WHEN DEALING WITH LAW, always remember that police train in intimidating people and they lie as a matter of their everyday behavior. They not only know that ignorance of the law does not entitle you to break it, but they feel that your ignorance of the law paves the way for them to personally fool you about what the law is and then use state power to punish you for falling into their trap. When I was first told of police as a young boy (in school), I briefly made an erroneous link in my mind between “justice” in the sense of hired law vs actual Justice. At that age, too, my own family countered that message with other ones which were far more accurate and finally at 17 I was disabused of the notion completely by an intense experience that shunted me into the system.
So as you can see, I have no bias. That said, a compa (Carlos Galindo) sent me this video of our friends over at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (whom I talk about in this video short on 287(g)) getting a bit uptight as they hassle Latino vendors at El Gran Mercado. And why wouldn’t they? In case it’s been lost in all the shuffle, it’s not only morally wrong to racially profile, it is against the law.
Note first how they speak quite authoritatively, telling Carlos what to do and what the law is. They lie. If he were to have believed them, it would have ended after the first question. But he knows his rights here (mostly, some he had to learn after or through the experience, which is always a great teacher!) and he refuses to give up his camera. Note the cop backs off.
Later it gets fun when the nasty bully strips away the veneer and makes it clear how he sees the world.
Here’s what Carlos wrote to me:
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office took my camera and deleted all the files even though I identified myself as a member of the media trying to record in a public place. They violated my first amendment rights. Dan Barr a Phoenix Constitutional rights attorney saw the video listed below and says my first amendment rights were violated. They also violated my 4th amendment right in failing to have probable cause for search and seizure, nor did they execute a sworn warrant to take my camera.
Also unbeknownst to the MCSO, a second camera was (not aimed at much but the ground) but was recording the aftermath. Note what sounds like small bursts of electricity from some device (Tazer gun?) as things unwind.
“Don’t argue with me about your civil rights.”
You know what is more powerful than racist and renegade law? All of us. With our cameras. And knowing our rights.
Keep on. Carlos, you are doing a service to the community. You are part of the Real Media—one that works in service of the People. What a refreshing change.
[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, as well. (Linked at end of post.)]
By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger
The immigration debate seems to be rushing forward on its own timetable—and without a structured frame to guide it, the effort is damaged from the start. As Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr., of Esperanza USA said during a call with media members yesterday, Democrats and Republicans are “running toward the harshest positions to show they can be the hardest on those who are the weakest.”
Worse yet, silence from the White House has left the stage empty for “Right wing and anti-immigrant groups to shape this conversation,” according to Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Now, “politics are driving policy” conversations, thanks to radical pundits, teabaggers, and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC).
On September 9, Wilson heckled President Obama during a joint session of congress. “It was the shout heard ’round the world (at least the country),” according to Versha Sharma of Talking Points Memo. What spurred this blatant display of hostility and disrespect? The President’s truthful statement that undocumented persons would not be covered as part of health care reform. Wilson has since apologized, albeit insincerely: He continues to appear before cameras to defend his outburst. Not only that, but Wilson has lied about his professional expertise: He was never an immigration lawyer, despite his claims to the contrary.
Oddly, the White House didn’t rebuke Wilson—it capitulated. The Washington Monthly reports that “The White House on Friday said it would bar illegal immigrants from purchasing health coverage through a proposed insurance marketplace,” a measure the author, Steve Benen, categorizes as “wildly unnecessary.” Obama won’t please the likes of Wilson even if he outlaws the Spanish language. Creating a roadblock to health care by “preventing people who are already here from buying their own insurance with their own money” will simply shift the debt to the public at large. The truth of the matter is that preventative and regular treatment is much less costly than emergency room visits, where all taxpayers will shoulder the cost. It’s a puzzling move that has already spurred strong reaction from groups like NCLR, America’s Voice and individuals like Cortés, who asserted in yesterday’s call that “Congress has lost its moral barometer.”
In a piece for New America Media, Marcelo Ballve calls Wilson’s outburst “quite appropriate,” in the sense that his words, intention and energy are harbingers of the coming debate about immigration reform. No matter the issue, no matter how civilly Democrats approach it, “Republicans, and not a few Democrats, will scapegoat illegal immigrants for many of the nation’s problems.” But is the White House prepared for a debate that is bound to be “even more rancorous than the bile-filled health care fight”? Given how rapidly the White House retreated from the spittle-spray of a red-faced liar, it’s an important question.
Continuing along their apparent strategy to meet political process with inanity, Republicans chose ex-Birther Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La) to respond to the President’s speech. Birthers are a fringe element of anti-Obama activists that claim the President was not born in the U.S. When questioned on his beliefs, Boustany initally replied that in terms of Obama’s citizenship, “I think there are questions, we’ll have to see,” but has since retracted his words. Once again, Republicans are feeding destructive and negative energies in a volatile political landscape, rather than working for change.
Channing Kennedy, writing for RaceWire, asks “Why is our conversation around immigration so often driven to extremes, both of language and of policy?” Highlighting another extreme use of language seemingly embedded in the immigration dialogue, the post features a video from Rinku Sen’s “Word” series, which touches on how the term Illegal, when used to referenced the undocumented, is a “gateway to racism and exploitation.” Sen has a question of her own: “What terrible, scary things have these people done to deserve having their entire being replaced by a single word?”
Sen touches on an important point: The conversation about immigation, a issue that is so far-reaching in our culture, has been ludicrously reduced to one-word epithets (Illegal) and playground diction (You lie!). This obscures the very complex and social issues that must be addressed if we are to consider ourselves a sane and modern society in the world. New America Media reports on the results of a study of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s detention process. The study, which was conducted by the Detention Watch Network, reveals what many feared: “We don’t know who’s detained or why, that they don’t have a release process, that they don’t track family ties or make legal immigrants available for alternatives to detention.” This is not acceptable.
Nor is it acceptable that humans who sacrificed their bodies and health to help dig Manhattan out of the toxic rubble in September 2001 are being ignored. In “Eight Years Later, Undocumented Ground Zero Laborers At Greater Risk,” New America Media reports on another tragic consequence of ignoring immigration reform. The undocumented laborers who worked at Ground Zero “are at greater risk of chronic health problems because they are excluded from federally funded programs to treat ground zero workers.” As Jose Loja, who cleaned pipes at the site says, “We’re all suffering from the same diseases.” And yet since our current take on the undocumented is that they deserve less than the rest of us, we don’t all suffer the same fate when struck by those diseases.
Until we address the needs of the immigrant community that lives in shadows that President Obama pledged to banish, people will continue to suffer. Until the White House steps up as boldly as Joe Wilson, who will guide the immigration discussion in a humane fashion? The national immigration dialogue, if delayed, will continue to degrade.
AN ARTICLE QUOTING CIS YANKED ME OFF MY TRACK, as I am mid-composition of another post, as well as juggling a few other things. But reading it sickened me just a bit, and writing an email to the editor didn’t satisfy my feelings of unease, well…disgust, I should say—for the machinations and slant of the piece, and so I resort to the mighty blog again.
Granted, I should be, or might be expected to be, immune by now to the horrible way in which immigrants and Mexicans alike are treated in most articles on…well, anything. But for one thing, no, I never seem to get wholly inured, and two, once in a while the article is just so artless (or nastily artful) that I have to speak on it.
It’s a Pro-ICE, Pro-Raid, Divide and Conquer (a popular genre, increasingly so lately given all the cultural shifting in the US) article that uses various methods in an attempt to slash at some of the strongest points that immigration advocates and human rights activists wield in the fight to bring fair treatment to so many humans and workers amongst us—that raids disrupt communities, harm local economies, and shatter worker unity/efficiency, among others. The article attempts to convince us that hordes of citizens seek these jobs, and to sell all these pionts, the author relies on ridiculously controversial data to grasp at the whip-ring.
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By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY
Firstly, you have to love that it’s written by a GOMEZ, which of course makes anything he says against Mexicans or Latinos VALID in the eyes of the mainstream thinker and that’s how the system uses brown people in its inertia and purposes, which is to continue a power imbalance and a system of exploitation. Blacks in the civil rights era had names for pawns like this. And what’s that you say? This isn’t about Mexicans? Just immigrants? Okay. Well, ride with me for a while, at least to the end of this article. Let’s see how it shapes up.
When federal agents descended on six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co. in December 2006, they rounded up nearly 1,300 suspected illegal immigrants that made up about 10% of the labor force at the plants.
But the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents did not cripple the company or the plants.
Gomez begins right away by trying to undercut a truth of these raids: they disrupt communities, economies, and thrash the social spirit with an aura of fear and state control. I mean, he can’t even wait to get there. He just leaps right in with a blunt assertion that ICE agents did not, in fact, “cripple the company.” As if the standing accusation—tho unnamed—was hanging over Gomez’ head even before he hit the keyboard. As if he hopes to reference an argument without having to actually engage any stats, facts, articles, or otherwise, actual material from that argument—just present his own.
But wait. The stats and info he uses to write this article are not his own. But we’ll get to CIS in a moment.
On top of this, the writer makes sure you understand that ferreting out these ALIENZ doesn’t gut the workforce, after all it’s only a measly 10%. Well…in this case, that is. The ones Gomez/CIS chooses to include. But is that figure indicative of all factories/plants, and all raids?
We know for one thing, that American Apparel just let go 25% of their massive workforce due to a Federal probe. That’s no small beans. Especially for a company like AA.
Additionally, while Mister Gomez breathes a literary sigh of relief that the company is not harmed, he seems to care nada for how the families and workers are affected. Which is sad. I assume Gomez hails from Latin America. How far your writing and role seem to have come from where your roots began, my friend—where worker and family solidarity are crucial and celebrated. Ouch.
In fact, they were back up and running at full staff within months by replacing those removed with a significant number of native-born Americans, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
Gomez quotes NCLR in a separate but related moment (health injuries on the job and pay) and I suppose that is fair, after all. Balanced. NCLR is named in the article as a Civil Rights group, so if you buy that, then it makes sense that CIS ought be posed as the opposite. It seems fair to classify CIS as an anti-civil-rights group.
And really, I oughtta stop right here. But I’ll keep on. But should we touch on this “Native-born” worker thing? Where to begin? Oh, right, with our collective brains in our ass and our forehead on the ground as we kneel to an invisible line that was drawn with blood and lies in the sand. Okay. I suppose it is the bounteous beneficence of the Border God that allows one to overlook any harm done to humans or families as long as ICE is making cash and the detention industry is ballooning. And speaking of military type outfits like ICE, perhaps it is of note (and perhaps not, I’ll leave that up to you) that Mister Gomez writes for USA Today…which is owned by Gannett. Gannett also happens to own the Army Times, Navy Times, Navy Times Marine Corps, Air Force Times, Federal Times, Defense Times, and Military Market. No lean toward legalized gang action there! Also perhaps of note, Gannett is quite the lil corporate borderhopper, with a portfolio including 16 newspapers in the UK.
That was the most extreme example of what has become an increasingly common result of the raids: “They were very beneficial to American workers,” according to Vanderbilt University professor Carol Swain.
Ah, sweet. So we DON’T have to feel bad about these raids! Whew. All those photos of crying mothers and scared children and stories of heartbreak and lives uprooted and shuffled into jails was getting a bit oogy. But these raids are GOOD for “American Workers.”
Don't let her sorrow bother you. She's not actually a Real American!
“Whenever there’s an immigration raid, you find white, black and legal immigrant labor lining up to do those jobs that Americans will supposedly not do,” said Swain, who teaches law and political science.
Mmmm. Yummy Conquer -N- Dividettes. They come in all flavors and have zero calories! (And zero nutrition.)
Exactly who is filling the jobs has varied, depending on the populations surrounding the plants:
• Out West, one of the Swift plants raided by ICE, had a workforce that was about 90% Hispanic — both legal and illegal — before the raids. The lost workers were replaced mostly with white Americans and U.S.-born Hispanics, according to the CIS.
• In the South, a House of Raeford Farms plant in North Carolina that was more than 80% Hispanic before a federal investigation is now about 70% African-American, according to a report by TheCharlotte Observer.
Sure you don’t want any more of these Yummy Candies that corrode the social cohesion of our People? Swear, you’ll love ’em. They’ll flush out the spics and bring in the War Between Races! Mmmmm!
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami, said it has taken the greatest recession in a generation for poor Americans to line up to work in fields and factories.
“We’ll take anything now,” Fair said. “We’re willing to be exploited for a while.”
Ugh. I don’t know where to begin with this comment. The idea, Mister T Willard, is not that exploitation of workers is so cool that now its legal people’s turn, or that the “exploitation” is just an unfavorable condition that any person would voluntarily accept in order to work, or even if so that it would be acceptable or RIGHT to exploit those who are in a position to need to “take anything,” you schlemiel. The idea is that even desperate people should not be exploited. But nice job, sending those messages.
After ICE agents descend
…like the witch’s flying monkeys
on poultry-processing plants, pork factories and meatpacking facilities across the USA, in some cases plant owners are forced to raise wages to get Americans to sign up, Swain said.
and what conclusion ought we draw from that factoid, Gomez? Gomez? Bueller? ANYONE? Hmm. Silence. Okay. Moving on.
New leverage for workers
As the face of factory workers changes, so do the issues that workers and employers must tackle.
Cashen said her union had to negotiate with plant managers in Nebraska and Colorado to allow employees to properly observe the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.
This month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that the Colorado plant was wrong to fire more than 100 Muslim workers who walked out during Ramadan last year in a dispute over prayer breaks.
“Ten years ago, we were negotiating to provide for Cinco de Mayo,” Cashen said, referring to the Mexican holiday. “If you walk in the doors of a plant, you’re going to see … the United Nations.”
Nice way to end. Rely on a little trusty anti-Mexican feeling to close out. Whew…no more Cinco de Mayo (very much a US holiday, actually!) Now it’s all “United Nations.” United once more. A mix of everyone, and thank god that this group is no longer dominated by one group—Mexicans.
Well, we let Gomez use his tainted Tanton stats. Let’s now open the door to reality and get a blast of fresh, though damp, air in here.
On July 13, The New York Times editorialized on “The Shame of Postville, Iowa” in a rare show of outrage against abusive police state tactics. It referred to “abusing and terrorizing undocumented workers,” described their shameful treatment, and deplored the the sending of “desperate breadwinners to prison” and driving their families into deeper poverty and despair. It cited Spanish-language court interpreter and Florida International University professor Erik Camayd-Freizas’ “Personal Account” titled: “Interpreting after the Largest ICE Raid in US History.”
Below is his account in which he said nothing could have prepared him for the prospect of helping government officials imprison hundreds of “innocent people.” He went public to expose it and began with the 10AM May 12 raid involving 900 agents at the Postville, Iowa plant. At the same time, 26 federally certified interpreters headed to neighboring Waterloo with no idea why they were sent. Camayd-Freizas was one of them.
He was taken to the National Cattle Congress (NCC) and arrived early for work. It’s a 60-acre “cattle fairground” that was transformed into a “concentration camp or detention center.” Echoing his own thoughts, another interpreter said: “When I saw what (this) was, my heart sank.” Then began “the saddest procession (he ever) witnessed,” suppressed from public view, because “cameras were not allowed past the perimeter of the compound,” and only a few journalists came to court the next day.
Camayd-Freizas explained: “Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the (plant) workers were brought in for arraignment, sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before marching out again to be bused to different country jails, only to make room for the next row of 10.”
They were mostly “illiterate Guatemalan (Spanish-speaking) peasants with Mayan last names….some in tears, others with faces of worry, fear, and embarrassment.” They stood out “in stark racial contrast (to) the rest of us as they started their slow penguin march across the makeshift court.” They all “waived their right to be indicted….hoping to be quickly deported since they had families to support back home.” Instead, they were “criminally charged with ‘aggravated identity theft’ and Social Security fraud – charges they did not understand” and neither did Camayd-Freizas.
He sought more information, and here’s what he learned. Of Agriprocessor’s 968 employees, about 75% were apparently undocumented. Nearly 700 warrants were issued but only about 400 were arrested, including 76 women. Some were released on humanitarian grounds – 56 mothers with unattended children, a few for medical reasons, and 12 juveniles temporarily with ankle monitors or directly turned over for deportation. Over 300 were held for prosecution. Five alone had prior criminal records, and 270, in fact, were charged.
The raid devastated Postville (population 2273). Businesses were empty, and concerns grew that it might shutter the town. Besides those arrested, many fled in fear. It affected American parents as well who complained that “their children were traumatized by the sudden disappearance of so many of their friends.” The school principal reported the same reaction in classrooms saying that “for children it was as if ten of their classmates suddenly died.” Counselors were enlisted because they had nightmares that their parents might be seized like the workers. Even the school superintendent reacted saying “This literally blew our town away,” and its future is unclear.
As for workers, here’s what happened. In some cases, husbands and wives were arrested leaving small children unattended for up to 72 hours. Some mothers were then released on humanitarian grounds with ankle GPS monitors, pending prosecution and deportation, while husbands were swiftly imprisoned. The situation was desperate. Mothers had no incomes and no means of support. Sometimes one parent was documented, the other wasn’t, and in many cases children were US citizens. In all cases, hundreds of families were torn apart, and the Postville economic impact was devastating.
There was more. Scattered news reports and blogs contained bigotry and racial epithets – “poorly disguised beneath an empty rhetoric of misguided patriotism (as well as) insults to anyone (showing) compassion…safely (hidden) behind cowardly nickname(s). One could feel the moral fabric of society coming apart” as a result.
The Divide and Conquer is of course an age-old genre, but black, brown, red, gold, peach: we all have to be on the lookout for this. It is stepping up a lot lately as the Becks and Wilsons and Limbaughs of the world begin to feel their world get slippy slidey sloppy, like the oily fearfarts that grease their well-padded chairs.
Regarding Gomez’s USA Today article, I quote: To report corrections and clarifications, contact Reader Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification.
Senior Patrol Agent Clay Linn, who transferred to the Rochester station from the southern border three months ago, said that even though the rate of arrests is slower up north, he’s impressed nonetheless.
“If I had a normal job, I would do this for free on the weekends,” he said. “That’s how good this job is.”
Rochester Border Patrol plucks more than 1,200 illegals from buses and trains. By TIM MARTINEZ (email@example.com) Published Wed, Apr. 30, 2008
As the Amtrak train slowly pulled into the Rochester station on a cold Friday morning, Border Patrol agents Ryan Howe and Adrian Cotsworth quickly walked across the empty platform in their olive green uniforms and boarded the train carrying about 200 passengers.
“Hello, how are you two doing today?” Cotsworth asked a young couple sitting in the blue seats. “Could you please state your citizenship?”
“American,” they both replied casually.
“Thank you,” he said politely and moved on.
Passengers filled the aisles, some boarding with luggage and others standing up to stretch their legs. The agents, pistols visible on their hips, continued to ask passengers about their citizenship.
As the commotion began to settle, the agents hopped off the train as it proceeded east to New York City.
The agents did not find anyone illegal, but it would not have been at all unusual if they had. The Border Patrol station in Rochester is the most active station along the 3,000-mile northern border. Agents say that in 24 hours they can check up to 15 buses and two trains for illegal immigrants.
Busiest station on the border Last year, the Rochester station detained 1,223 illegal immigrants, more than any of the 55 other stations along the Canadian border. The people these agents catch don’t fit into a singular mold. Cotsworth, the head agent in charge of the Rochester station, said that the immigrants detained come from more than 75 countries across five continents.
The Rochester station, one of the six stations that make up the Buffalo Sector, made more arrests in 2007 than some entire sectors of the northern border. For example, the Houlton Sector in Maine registered only 95 detentions in 2007, and the Spokane Sector in Washington detained 341 illegal immigrants.
From October 2007 to February 2008, the station made approximately 755 detentions, and the numbers for a year are expected to be higher than they were last year.
“There’s a lot of people traveling through Rochester,” Cotsworth said. “Our focus here is trains going to Chicago or New York. We’re in the middle of everything.”
The northern border, though it attracts less media and public attention than the Mexican border, is a hot channel of traffic for undocumented workers and families. Cotsworth said that about 10 percent of the annual detentions made by the Border Patrol—more than 1 million annually—come from the northern border.
Agents at the Border Patrol station are responsible for getting bus and train schedules and going to the stations to check travelers’ identification. Under the section of the United States Code on Aliens and Nationality, agents have the right to board and search any means of transportation for illegal immigrants within 25 miles of the border. The law also states that all foreigners are required to carry valid identification.
Looking for signs The majority of the station’s apprehensions occur on the buses and trains agents check daily. While on these checks, agents have learned techniques that weren’t taught in detail during their training, such as looking for signs beyond a passport or visa to tell whether someone might be an illegal immigrant. Experienced agents analyze body language and look for suspicious behavior.
“It’s not what they’re saying, it’s what they’re not saying,” Cotsworth said. “It’s sweat, it’s shaking, it’s stuttering, it’s bad breath. It’s things that people can’t control—and you learn to read it just by doing it so much.”
Opponents of the Border Patrol’s methods have accused the agents of racial profiling in the selection of the people they question. The Border Patrol has recently been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that agents racially profile Iraqi immigrants.
Francis Matthews-Giba, an immigration lawyer who volunteers with the Detention Task Force, an immigrant rights group, said that he is under the impression that the Border Patrol racially profiles in its searches.
“I travel Amtrak and the bus service and they’ve never asked me for anything,” he said, explaining that he is ethnically Irish and Ukrainian.
Cotsworth defended his agents’ search methods. “We question people with blond hair and blue eyes as much as anyone else,” he said, explaining that his office has arrested people from such diverse countries as the Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Sweden and Venezuela. “We question everybody.”
Checking the records When that questioning alerts the agents of a possible suspect, they contact the regional dispatch center at the Buffalo Sector Headquarters in Grand Island to check for records on the subject they’re interviewing.
Agents in the field require frequent assistance from the dispatch center. When agents from Rochester or any of the stations in the sector call for a background check, dispatch enters the individual’s name into various databases for clues the target may be an illegal immigrant. Dispatch maintains contact with the agents in the field from all stations to make sure they are safe and report in.
The center itself includes several computers and two large plasma-screen television sets that show a live feed of Rainbow Bridge in the city of Niagara Falls. Cameras positioned at hot spots along the border are equipped with infrared technology to catch people trying to cross at night.
“It’s nothing like ‘CSI’ on TV, but we can do a lot,” said Joel Serra, an agent who works in dispatch. “We’re all their technology. They call us here and that’s what we’re expected to do.”
Once dispatch finds any records and reports back to the agents, travelers who are not illegal are let go. Illegals are arrested and transported back to the station, where their fingerprints are entered into the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which checks for a criminal history.
From cuffs to the courts The Border Patrol issues the detainees a notice to appear in Immigration Court and reads them their rights. The Immigration Court eventually makes the final rulings on the cases. If the person is eligible, bond is set somewhere in a typical range from $5,000 to $10,000.
From the station, female detainees are transferred to a county jail and males are taken to the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia.
At that point, the case is turned over to another agency—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Detention Removal Operations—and the Border Patrol no longer deals with it. Whether an illegal gets deported, stays or enters the naturalization process is left up to the Immigration Court. People often mistake the Border Patrol for doing the deportation and work of other agencies, Cotsworth said.
“We get a bad rep for a lot of stuff, stuff we’re not even involved in, the raids on the factories and the farms,” he said. “We’ve been accused of staking out daycare centers. It’s just stuff that we don’t get involved in.”
The Rochester station has been the subject of a protest by an activist group that had meant to target ICE, another agency under the Department of Homeland Security that’s received media attention for raiding farms in the hunt for undocumented workers.
Although the Border Patrol is not a part of ICE, its agents must work closely with other Department of Homeland Security elements and law enforcement agencies.
“On a local level we partner with county sheriffs, all the town police departments, state police, I mean basically every law enforcement agency in this area we have a relationship with,” Cotsworth said. “Part of our national strategy is partnering with other law enforcement agencies.”
Responding to a changing world The busy Rochester station is a relatively new addition to the Border Patrol’s Buffalo Sector. The 4-year-old station opened to respond faster to calls about possible illegal immigrants in Monroe and Orleans counties. Previously, the Niagara Falls station, located 72 miles away, covered the area.
The opening also was prompted by a bigger focus on the northern border when the Department of Homeland Security was established after 9/11. The terrorist attacks prompted the new department to create U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which took control of the Border Patrol agency that had previously been a part of Immigration and Naturalization Services. This restructuring unified the Border Patrol’s administration and established 20 sectors across the country, each containing several stations.
The shift in control placed a greater emphasis on the northern border because agents were no longer focused on enforcing immigration law. The new goal of Border Patrol became preventing the entry of terrorists and terrorist weapons via legal ports of entry, authorized entrances along the border where all visitors pass through customs.
Senior Patrol Agent Clay Linn, who transferred to the Rochester station from the southern border three months ago, said that even though the rate of arrests is slower up north, he’s impressed nonetheless.
“If I had a normal job, I would do this for free on the weekends,” he said. “That’s how good this job is.”