Immigration Truths

Immigration Truths (by Vito de la Cruz, Hispanic News - 8.29.07)

Phoenix - A pointedly appropriate saying comes to mind as the nation heatedly debates immigration reform: the truth won’t kill you but it sure is inconvenient. People opposed to immigration reform don’t like hearing the truth about immigrants and consequently try to drown out rational debate with venomous polemics. But, the truth lives in every street corner labor pool, hiring line, construction site, farm, and meatpacking plant. America is addicted to immigrant labor.

We can’t ignore it. Our love for our reasonably-priced standard of living won’t let us. The truth is America’s economy thrives because America mainlines immigrant labor.

This addiction started almost from the beginning. English, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, even Russian colonizers entered and claimed separate parts of Native America. Through force or trickery, they took what didn’t belong to them and settled this country, Canada, and Latin America. Yet, from the earliest time, we felt entitled to import immigrant labor, first indentured servants and later slaves. Our country even ripped itself asunder over the issue of the forced migration and subjugation of African slaves.

Ironically, even before the Civil War, America was hewed to its current addiction. Imported Irish and Chinese workers fueled industry, especially the railroads, foundries, and stockyards of a growing America.

Every generation witnessed a wave of immigration feeding the addict’s pipe dream. And, vocal minorities in each generation self-righteously clamored to "send them all back where they came from."


'We are All Elvira and Saulito Coalition' forms and Calls for Consumer Boycott

We are All Elvira and Saulito Coalition has been formed in Los Angeles and the group is calling for a September 12th consumer boycott in favor of immigration reform.

The new organization is the result of a merger between two Los Angeles-based groups: the March 25 Coalition, organizers of the May 1 boycotts the past two years; and the We Are America Coalition, which focuses on citizenship, lobbying and voter registration drives.

The groups united after the Aug. 19 arrest and deportation of Elvira Arellano.

Immigrants become target for all of society's ills

Immigrants become target for all of society's ills (By Kirsten A. Powers, USAToday - 8.29.07)

What Ronald Reagan once referred to as the "illegal-alien fuss" has fulminated into a frenzy of demonizing where behind every social ill lurks a brown-skinned illegal immigrant.

Reagan famously provided amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants in 1986, appreciating America's historical role as a beacon of hope — a "shining city upon a hill" — to people around the world. Contrast that with the always-simmering anti-illegal immigrant fury among many who call Reagan their godfather.

After the news of the murders in Newark, where three college students were gunned down execution-style, nearly a week passed with nary a peep from the "law and order" crowd. Then it was divulged that Jose Carranza, one of the alleged attackers, was an illegal alien.

But the nativists, energized by their success in derailing immigration reform legislation, will pounce on any anecdote that helps them vilify illegal immigrants.
The posse piled on. Incredibly, former House speaker Newt Gingrich declared that "the war here at home" against illegal immigrants is "even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., presidential candidate and anti-immigration demagogue, dropped into Newark to exploit the murders to further his nativist cause.

Many argue that Carranza — who had been arrested twice in the past year, including once on aggravated sexual assault of a child — should have been deported to Peru, where presumably he could have preyed on kids there instead.

A systemic failure

The failure here is with our criminal justice system, and that is where the outrage should be directed. If our system had been working, Carranza would have been in prison at the time of the attack. Considering the magnitude of the charge of child rape, his bail should have been prohibitively high. The judge declined that option, setting bail hundreds of thousands of dollars lower than the indictment allowed.

Furthermore, had Carranza been deported, he very well could have returned to the USA. A year-long Rocky Mountain News investigation published last year found that one in five Colorado inmates who had been deported returned to the USA to commit the same crimes for which they were imprisoned.

But the nativists, energized by their success in derailing immigration reform legislation, will pounce on any anecdote that helps them vilify illegal immigrants. Through local ordinances, they have worked to deny illegal immigrants basic rights, though a U.S. District Court found a Pennsylvania city's efforts to engage in immigration enforcement unconstitutional.


The illegal-immigrant scapegoaters seem unaware that Americans are more than able to commit horrible crimes all on their own. In the high-profile murder of a Connecticut family last month, two of the alleged attackers, both U.S. citizens, were on parole. In the widely covered assault in March of a 101-year-old woman in New York, the attacker also was a parole violator. Rather than demonizing illegal immigrants, we should ask why violent offenders are allowed back on the streets to commit more crimes.

The nativists' anecdotal warfare is an old tactic that does not match up with reality.

During the 1990s, despite a steady stream of illegal immigrants, the U.S. crime rate plunged. Mr. Law and Order, Rudy Giuliani, praised illegal immigrants when he was mayor of New York and defended his sanctuary policies. It would be hard to argue that Giuliani would have defended illegal immigrants if they posed any criminal threat to the city he governed. According to a 2006 FBI report, New York — lambasted by nativists for harboring illegal immigrants — remains the safest large city.

Today's nativists claim that their only beef with illegal immigrants is that they are "illegal." This claim rings hollow when one considers how similarly the legal Irish and Italian immigrants were treated upon their arrival generations ago.

There is also an amazingly simple way to deal with the fact that they are illegal: Pass comprehensive immigration reform and provide them a path to citizenship.

Kirsten A. Powers is a Fox News analyst who served in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1998.


America: Armed and Dangerous

According to recent estimates, the earth's population is 6.6 billion--of which 300 million are Americans. A ratio of 22:1.

However, for every three guns in the world an American is the owner of one of them--be it a pistol, rifle or machine gun.

That's a 3:1 ratio, or 270 million American owned guns--and this doesn't even include the gun arsenals of local, state and federal police agencies or those held by the U.S. military.

I suspect that most American children and many adults to do not own guns--although I've not come across actual numbers..

However, a Field & Stream article, The Future of Hunting, refers to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service total count of 13 million hunters in the entire country.

Assuming those hunters use firearms--an assumption which may be incorrect, and that each hunter owns four weapons, the total U.S. hunters' arsenal is 52 million weapons.

Q: Who owns the other 220 million guns?

And how about the cost in dollars? (Certainly, the cost in lives is an even bigger concern.)

Assuming $400 per weapon (which I understand is at the low end for a new handgun and upwards of a couple of thousand dollars for a fancier weapon), and excluding the ongoing expenses of ammunition, maintenance, insurance, target shooting, licences, etc., Americans cough up some $108 billion for their arsenal. These are Iraq War type numbers.

Q: Are Americans such a war-like people that we couldn't find better uses for all of that money? And doesn't this obsession with buying guns, shooting guns, collecting and displaying guns send a clear and distinct message to impressionable boys and young men that gun violence is a normal part of American life?

See U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people.

Boycott In Prince William County

Finally, Latinos are beginning to stand up to the bully racists and fighting back.

The latest example of this growing militancy in the face of officially sanctioned bigotry is what's is happening in Prince William County just outside of the nation's capitol.

Latinos and immigrant rights activists there have called for a week-long boycott of all businesses in Prince William County, Virginia in response to what they see as a wave of anti-Latino immigrant hostilities.

The official ring leader of the anti-immigrant faction and self-appointed harrasser of immigrants is Republican Jeff Frederick.

Click here for a news video account of the boycott.

It's an economic boycott. Boycotters are shopping only in establishments that post green "pro-immigrant" signs or in places outside of the county. The one thing that America and Americans understand above all else is that money talks. And now activists in Prince William are aiming to leverage the purchasing power of some 70,000+ Latinos and their supporters for social justice.

Communities across the nation are watching the Prince William action for lessons that can inform other actions in locailities as well as campaigns at a larger scale.

As rightwing radio has been used to mobilize against Latinos, I suspect that Spanish language radio is being used to help in mobilizing the boycotters. It's the one area in which Latinos are not totally overmatched.

The one thing I wonder about is whether there is an effort to nationalize the boycott--either now or later. That is, are Latinos and other pro-immigrant Americans across the nation being asked to support the action by also boycotting services and products with direct connection to Prince William County racists?

I'm sure that many Americans would gladly join the cause.

Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" Speech -- August 28, 1963


Hall of Shame: Neal Boortz (aka Mighty Whitey) - The Radio Screecher Bill Clinton Tagged as 'Preacher of Hate'

“Give them a little bag of nuclear waste as your lovely parting gift. …Send them all back across the border to Mexico. Tell them it’s a tortilla warmer. …And you’ll be able to find them at night too because they’ll glow.” The Neal Boortz Show Cox Radio – June 18, 2007

Hall of Shame: Bill O'Reilly - Self-Proclaimed Traditionalist Bloviator

“… America is run primarily by White Christian men, and there is a segment of our population that hates that, despises that power structure so they… want to flood the country with foreign nationals, unlimited, to change the complexion – pardon the pun – of America." The Bill O’Reilly Radio Factor – May 29, 2007


Klansman James Ford Seale gets 3 life terms for '64 killings

Seale gets 3 life terms for '64 killings (by Emily Wagster Pettus, AP - 8.24.07)

JACKSON, Miss. - James Ford Seale, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was sentenced Friday to three life terms in prison for his role in the 1964 abduction and murder of two black teenagers in southwest Mississippi.

Seale, 72, was convicted in June on federal charges of kidnapping and conspiracy in the deaths of Charles Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, two 19-year-olds who disappeared from Franklin County on May 2, 1964.

The young men's bodies were found two months later in the Mississippi River.


Photo #1: A 1964 photo of James Ford Seale who went on to become a Mississippi Sheriff's Deputy. Mississippi Highway Dept.

Photo #2: James Ford Seale at the Jackson, Mississippi federal courthouse, June 15, 2007, after being found guilty of murdering two young African American men, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee. AP


Hall of Shame: Ann Coulter - A Proud Bigot

A self-described "Christian Conservative Bigot", Ann Coulter's acidic tongue has earned her the moniker Annthrax. In 1 DOWN, 11,999,999 TO GO, Coulter offers this observation: "[Elvira] Arellano is part of the advance wave of left-wing, Third World colonization of America. If they have their way, there will be two Latin Americas."


A Nativist War at Home

Immigration debate gets angrier: Groups loudly press for state, local crackdowns.
(by Dave Montgomery - SacramentoBee - 8.19.07)

1) Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and stealth Republican presidential candidate recently declared "a war here at home" against illegal immigration, which he says is as important as the US-Iraq War.

2) "Even though immigration is always unsettling and somewhat controversial, we haven't had this kind of intensity and widespread, deep-seated anger for almost 100 years," said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow with the Migration Policy Institute and former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

3) The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said the number of "nativist extremist" organizations advocating against illegal immigration has grown from virtually zero just over five years ago to 144, including groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan supremacists.

4) Eighty-three percent of immigrants from Mexico and 79 percent of immigrants from Central America believe there is growing discrimination against Latin American immigrants in the United States, according to a poll conducted by Miami-based Bendixen & Associates.

5) As prospects for congressional action appeared increasingly in doubt this year, all 50 states and more than 75 towns and cities considered -- and in many cases enacted -- immigration restrictions, even though initial court rulings have declared such actions unconstitutional intrusions on federal responsibilities.

RightWing Media Killed Immigration Reform

The Politico has an interesting article on a Project for Excellence in Journalism study confirming that rightwing radio/cable helped defeat immigration reform.

The report found that unlike mainstream media and liberal radio which devoted very little time to the immigration debate, rightwing talkers spent the spring and summer trashing immigration reform proposals.

Lou Dobbs was the leader of the anti-immigration reform pack that included Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Weiner Savage.

What the study doesn't mention is that rightwing radio/cable fomented anti-Latino racism as a way to kill immigration reform. Or that the rightwing wanted the immigration dust-up in order to distract people away from the $500 billion travesty that is the US-Iraq War.

Read Talk radio helped sink immigration reform (The Politico - 8.20.07).


Hall of Shame: Michael Weiner (i.e., Michael the Savage)

Michael Weiner (aka, Michael Savage)is a rightwing radio screecher with a habit of calling for the deaths of people with whom he disagrees. For example, he's called for killing 100 million muslims. And he believes that having American Latino college students die from starvation would help fix the immigration problem.


GOP Candidates Alienate Latino Voters

GOP Candidates Alienate Latino Voters (by Paul Waldman, The American Prospect - 8.15.07)

Republicans, who just a few short years ago were trying to court Latino voters, are going to come to regret the anti-immigration one-upmanship they've exhibited in the primary campaign.
"One thing that has become clear in this race is that whatever the GOP base wants to hear, Mitt Romney will give it in portions so big they won't be able to clean their plates Hate abortion? Mitt's right there with you, with the fervor of the converted. Think America's terrorism problem is because we aren't being tough enough? Say hello to Mr. Double Guantanamo. And if it's immigrant-bashing you want, Romney will give Tom Tancredo a run for his money as the most anti-immigrant of the candidates.

There is no doubt that Romney and the rest of the Republican field will find an audience for anti-immigration rhetoric in the primaries. But by indulging this particular corner of the Republican id, they could be doing monumental, long-term damage to their party."


Hall of Shame: Freepers

Freepers are what members of Free Republic--a rightwing chat site--call themselves. Anti-Latino hatred is a common feature among the anonymously posted commentary. For example, Candor7's response to Homeland Czar Chertoff's prediction that the immigration crackdown will impact certain industries is typical:

Americans, including me, would rather do their own landscaping, mow their own lawns, do their own laundry, pick vegetables and fruit and pay higher prices for real wages, end indentured illegal alien servitude, and keep America from turning into a bilingual nation with the Hispanics not caring a bit about the patriotism and nation hosting them, nor wanting to learn the English language and assimilate culturally.


Running Latinos Out of Town in Carpentersville, Illinois

Our Town: All Immigration Politics Is Local (by Alex Kotlowitz, NYTimes Magazine - 8.5.07)

Even though 40% of Carpentersville, Illinois' 37,000 residents are Latino, it has not stopped local politicians from running on anti-Latino platforms and winning.

Gaining power by pitting Whites against Latinos, village trustees have enacted a series of employment and housing codes aimed at beating back the rising Latino population.

Residents of Latino heritage--many which are long-time residents--are shocked and dismayed by the anti-Latino animus of the new village trustees and their supporters.

Unfortunately, the racists appear to have won a short-term victory: American Latinos are leaving town.

Sign the ¡Ya basta! Petition.

Also see PORTRAIT OF A SMALL TOWN'S WAR ON IMMIGRANTS by immigration attorney and blogger Greg Siskind.


Racism Killed Immigration Reform (by Jon Garrido)

The following are excerpts from Latino Businessman and Activist Jon Garrido's Racism Killed Immigration Reform (Hispanic News - 7.31.07):

A federal judge dealt a decisive blow against a dangerous trend of freelance immigration policies by local governments. Judge James M. Munley of the central Pennsylvania district, struck down ordinances in the town of Hazleton that sought to harshly punish undocumented migrants for trying to live and work there, and employers and landlords for providing them with homes and jobs.

In the year 2097, 50% of the entire United States population will be Hispanic...5% will be white...''

The browning of America is inevitable. No one can stop it.
The ruling was a well-earned embarrassment for Mayor Louis J. Barletta and his proclaimed goal of making Hazleton ''one of the toughest places in the United States” for migrants. In doing so, Judge Munley laid down basic truths.

Basic truths that every American should remember

First, immigration is a federal responsibility. State and local governments have no right to usurp or upend a vast, ''carefully drawn federal statutory scheme” that governs who enters the country and the conditions under which immigrants stay, study, work and naturalize. Congress may be botching the job, but has not delegated it.
Herein lies the crux of the problem, racism was the major contributing factor that killed immigration reform

An Hispanic friend, Sen. Barack Obama said the recent Senate immigration debate ''was both ugly and racist in a way we haven't see since the struggle for civil rights.''

Even Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in the well of the U.S. Senate said, ''There’s no shortage of plain old racism in this issue.''
Every brown face in America is suspect

If you think conservative Republican talk radio, cable television and other Americans focus only on migrants, you must be living in a cave for every brown face in America is suspect.

Hispanics cast 5.6 million votes in the 2006 midterms elections which represented only 13 percent of the total Hispanic population compared to the 27 percent of all blacks who cast votes and 39 percent of all whites who voted — a disappointing turnout attributed to a population too young to vote or ineligible because of citizenship status.

Working on getting out the vote will help but this is not enough. We need to go on the offense. We need to launch a local campaign to identify, name and shame those who systematically bash Hispanics. Then we need to launch a nationwide campaign.
The only consolation

The only consolation is a population projection from the Unites States Census Bureau: In the year 2097, 50% of the entire United States population will be Hispanic, 30% will be black, 13% will be Asian, 5% will be white, and 2% will be ''other.'' The browning of America is inevitable. No one can stop it.


Latinos Face 'Time for Confrontation'

MIAMI -- The Senate's failure to pass immigration reform sent Latinos the message: fend for yourselves, said Janet Murguía, head of National Council of La Raza, at its recent 2007 conference in Miami. A vocal minority of shock jock radio hosts fueled a mob that overcame Congress, Murguía said.

"We thought we were having a debate on immigration policy," she said. "But it was really a debate about who decides what it means to be an American." While Latinos have been trying hard to be civil and fair, she said, "some of our opponents have taken a different tack," using hatred and bigotry.

In politics, she said, there is a time for coorperation and a time for confrontation -- and Latinos have been cooperating long enough.

Democracy, Murguía said, challenges Latinos now to "ask the tough questions" such as, "What does it mean to be an American?" or "Will you stand up and reaffirm the best of America?"

Integration and further participation in American civic, social and economic life is the only way for Latinos to level the playing field, she said. Voting and mobilizing more voters through the recently announced Ya Es Hora (Now is the Time) campaign, Murguía added, represent the best option for their community to triumph over bigotry.

Click here for the full text (pdf) of Janet Murguía's speech at the 2007 NCLR conference.