I agree. We deserve a better, thoughtful and more honest conversation among the candidates in our country. -Dra. Valenzuela
December 30, 2007
Editorial | In Office
Immigration and the Candidates
Even by the low standards of presidential campaigns, the issue of immigration has been badly served in the 2008 race. Candidates — and by this we mean the Republicans, mostly — have been striking poses and offering prescriptions that sound tough but will solve nothing. They have distorted or disowned their pasts and attacked one another ferociously, but over appearances, not ideas — over who can claim to be the authentic scourge of illegal immigrants, and who is the Lou-Dobbs-Come-Lately.
Voters deserve much better than what these candidates have given them. The Democrats have done better, though they have not always responded with the courage and specifics this difficult issue demands. Before voters pick a candidate and a president, they should insist on serious answers to questions like these:
What should be the role of immigrant labor in our economy? How does the country maximize its benefits and lessen its ill effects? Once the border is fortified, what happens to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here? Should they be expelled or allowed to assimilate? How? What about the companies that hire them?
And what about the future flow of workers? Should the current system of legal immigration, with its chronic backlogs and morbid inefficiencies, be tweaked or trashed? What is the proper role of state and local governments in enforcing immigration laws? And will a national identity card for immigrants bring on Big Brother for everyone?
The first thing to know about the Republicans’ immigration debate is that it is not much of a debate. The candidates speak essentially with one voice, calling for a bristling border and stiffer penalties against companies that hire the undocumented. Some call for new instruments of law and order, like tamper-proof ID cards.
There is wide support for stricter enforcement. Not many people favor the underground economy. No one is calling for more immigrants to sneak over the border or to overstay their visas, or for less oversight and looser hiring rules in the workplace. Pretty much every candidate in both parties wants the government to bolster the border — even Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, who calls the fence ridiculous. (He wants more military boots on the ground.)
The problem is that the country cannot build a fence or send troops and expect its problems to go away. Huge numbers of illegal immigrants never go anywhere near the border: about 40 percent enter legally and overstay their visas. Nor can the government purge workplaces of illegal workers without doing vast damage to the economy. At some point it must address the 12 million undocumented, who cannot be deported en masse.
Most of the Republicans have no answer for what to do with those 12 million, except to argue for “attrition through enforcement,” the hard-liners’ strategy of making immigrants’ lives miserable and waiting for them to leave. Some of the Republicans have called on the government to identify and track all who overstay their visas, without specifying how to do that or pay for it.
Instead of answering these questions, the Republican candidates have spent their time blasting one another as coddlers of illegal immigrants and supporters of “amnesty.” This has proved tricky, however, for the candidates who in previous lives had to deal with immigration in the real world, where immigrant energy and low-end labor — both legal and illegal — tend to bolster economies and make life easier for everyone.
Only two years ago, while governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney spoke favorably of a Senate bill that offered illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Now he says he hates amnesty, condemns Rudolph Giuliani for having been mayor of a “sanctuary city” and has accepted endorsements from hard-liners like Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., who hounds immigrant day laborers as aggressively as he chases headlines.
Mr. Romney still has had a hard time explaining his own connections to illegal immigration. He was caught — twice — having a landscaping company with undocumented workers tend to his lavish property. When pressed on that he got testy. “Let’s say I go to a restaurant,” he said to reporters. “Should I make sure that all the waiters there are all legal? How would I do that?”
It is a good question — especially since some 12 percent of the workers in the food service industry are believed to be undocumented — and one we would like Mr. Romney and his fellow candidates to answer seriously.
Mr. Romney is not the only one struggling to reconcile his past policies with his present ambitions. Mr. Giuliani once welcomed undocumented immigrants and sued the federal government to preserve an executive order that shielded them from deportation. Now he links immigration and terrorism in the same breath, and talks of cracking the whip through databases and enforcement schemes with names like BorderStat.
For a while it looked as if Mike Huckabee would be a sensibly contrarian Republican. As governor of Arkansas he supported financial aid for illegal-immigrant students, and when Mr. Romney rebuked him for it in a debate, he scolded right back, “Our country is better than that, to punish children for what their parents did.” Then this month he did a stunning backflip, unveiling his “Secure America Plan,” which would require the expulsion of all illegal immigrants within 120 days. And last week, after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, he used the turmoil in Pakistan as an argument for building a border fence, and said the United States needed to watch whether “there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”
The single voice of reason in the Republican camp is Senator John McCain. He was an original sponsor of a comprehensive immigration bill that married enforcement with a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for those who earn it. For this he saw his presidential hopes nearly blown to bits. He is hanging on, though. He was AWOL for a time when the Senate bill was killed last summer, but has since regained his voice. He speaks of immigrants as “God’s children” and stoutly defends the path to citizenship for the undocumented. Given what he has gone through, his stance is close to heroic.
•The Democratic candidates start in a better place, since they and their party are largely on record as firmly supporting the pillars of comprehensive reform. There are no demagogues in their ranks.
But there are timid fumblers, like Senator Hillary Clinton, who first supported then rejected a plan by Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York to let illegal immigrants earn driver’s licenses. She was right at first to defend Mr. Spitzer’s logic, but wrong to then back away from the firestorm that he ignited. She did not inspire confidence as someone who will have the courage to do what is necessary and right even if it is controversial.
Mrs. Clinton, like Mr. Richardson, Senators John Edwards and Barack Obama, and the rest of the Democratic field, did vigorously support the one piece of legislation that might have led the country out of its immigration morass. That was the ambitious Senate bill that died under a Republican-led assault in June.
The bill was flawed, but it contained the seeds of true reform. It chose assimilation over expulsion for the 12 million. It leveled with Americans by acknowledging that a border fence would never end lawlessness by itself. It grasped a fundamental moral truth that the Republicans — again, with the notable exception of Mr. McCain — have rejected. The truth is this: Americans cannot expect immigrants to serve them — to make their beds and meals, feed their babies and ailing parents, and pick their crops — while living in fear and hopelessness.
•One of the strong arguments for passing immigration reform last summer was that it was a last chance. If Congress did not seize it, the presidential race would blot out hopes of reform for two years or more.
Congress did not seize it, and all the problems are still there. The issue has left the country divided, fretful and ambivalent, and voters are yearning for honesty and thoughtfulness. The Republicans are not giving it to them. The Democrats should fill the vacuum. They have said the right things. Amid all the Republican shouting, it would help if they would speak louder.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I agree. We deserve a better, thoughtful and more honest conversation among the candidates in our country. -Dra. Valenzuela
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 9:50 AM
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Here is another interesting piece titled Building a North American Community Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales [pdf]. Though I've not read it, Robert Pastor is a signatory so this is definitly on my reading list. Dra. Valezuela
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 10:40 PM
Good analysis of the racist underpinnings of core leadership and organizations in the anti-immigrant hysteria the U.S. is experiencing. -Dra. Valenzuela
Where Anti-Immigrant Zealots Like Lou Dobbs Get Their 'Facts'
By Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Report
Posted on December 17, 2007, Printed on December 17, 2007
The forces seeking to sharply reduce the number of immigrants coming to America won a stunning victory last June, when nativist anger at an "amnesty" for the undocumented scuttled a major bipartisan immigration reform package backed by President Bush. Many members of Congress were completely unprepared for the flood of angry E-mails, phone calls and faxes they received -- an inundation so massive that the phone system collapsed under the weight of more than 400,000 faxes.
They should not have been surprised. The furious nativist tide was largely driven by an array of immigration restriction organizations that has been built up over the course of more than 20 years into fixtures in the nation's capital.
The vast majority of these groups were founded or funded by John Tanton, a major architect of the contemporary nativist movement who, 20 years ago, was already warning of a destructive "Latin onslaught" heading to the United States. Most of these organizations used their vast resources in the days leading up to a vote on the bill to stir up a nativist backlash that ultimately resulted in its death.
At the center of the Tanton web is the nonprofit Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the most important organization fueling the backlash against immigration. Founded by Tanton in 1979, FAIR has long been marked by anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes. It has mixed this bigotry with a fondness for eugenics, the idea of breeding better humans discredited by its Nazi associations. It has accepted $1.2 million from an infamous, racist eugenics foundation. It has employed officials in key positions who are also members of white supremacist groups. Recently, it has promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico's secret designs on the American Southwest and an alternative theory alleging secret plans to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada. Just last February, FAIR President Dan Stein sought "advice" from the leaders of a racist Belgian political party.
FAIR officials declined repeated requests for comment.
None of this -- or any other material evidencing the bigotry and racism that courses through the group -- seems to have affected FAIR's media standing. In just the first 10 months of 2007, the group was quoted in mainstream media outlets nearly 500 times with virtually no mention of its more unsavory aspects. Stein was featured on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" at least 12 times in the same period, along with countless appearances on other television news shows. And, perhaps most remarkably of all, FAIR has been taken seriously by Congress, which has called upon its officials to testify on immigration more than 30 times since 2000.
"The sad fact is that attempts to reform our immigration system are being sabotaged by organizations fueled by hate," said Henry Fernandez, a senior fellow and expert on immigration at the Center for American Progress, a "progressive" think tank. "Many anti-immigrant leaders have backgrounds that should disqualify them from even participating in mainstream debate, yet the American press quotes them without ever noting their bizarre and often racist beliefs."
The Founder: Early Hints
For decades, John Tanton has operated a nativist empire out of his U.S. Inc. foundation's headquarters in Petoskey, Mich. Even as he simultaneously runs his own hate group -- The Social Contract Press, listed for many years by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its anti-Latino and white supremacist writings -- Tanton has remained the house intellectual for FAIR. In fact, U.S. Inc. bankrolls much of FAIR's lobbying activity and, at least until 2005, Tanton ran its Research and Publications Committee, the group that fashions and then disseminates FAIR's position papers. In its 2004 annual report, FAIR highlighted its own main ideologue, singing Tanton's praises for "visionary qualities that have not waned one bit."
But what, exactly, is Tanton's vision?
As long ago as 1988, when a series of internal 1986 documents known as the WITAN memos were leaked to the press, Tanton's bigoted attitudes have been known. In the memos, written to colleagues on the staff of FAIR, Tanton warned of a coming "Latin onslaught" and worried that high Latino birth rates would lead "the present majority to hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile." Tanton repeatedly demeaned Latinos in the memos, asking whether they would "bring with them the tradition of the mordida [bribe], the lack of involvement in public affairs" and also questioning Latinos' "educability."
Echoing his 19th-century nativist forebears who feared Catholic immigrants from Italy and Ireland, Tanton has often attacked Catholics in terms not so different from those used by the Klan and the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s. In the WITAN memos, for instance, he worried that Latino immigrants would endanger the separation of church and state and undermine support for public schooling. Never one to miss a threatening and fertile Catholic, Tanton even reminded his colleagues, "Keep in mind that many of the Vietnamese coming in are also Catholic."
The leaked memos caused an uproar. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Walter Cronkite quit the board of a group Tanton headed, U.S. English, after the memos became public in 1988. U.S. English Executive Director Linda Chavez -- a former Reagan Administration official and, later, a conservative commentator -- also left, calling Tanton's views "anti-Hispanic, anti-Catholic and not excusable."
In 1994, Tanton's Social Contract Press republished an openly racist French book, The Camp of the Saints, with Tanton writing that he was "honored" to republish the race war novel. What Tanton called a "prescient" book describes the takeover of France by "swarthy hordes" of Indians, "grotesque little beggars from the streets of Calcutta," who arrive in a desperate refugee flotilla. It attacks white liberals who, rather than turn the Indians away, "empty out all our hospital beds so that cholera-ridden and leprous wretches could sprawl between white sheets ... and cram our nurseries full of monster children." It explains how, after the Indians take over France, white women are sent to a "whorehouse for Hindus." In an afterword special to Tanton's edition of the novel, author Jean Raspail wrote about his fears that "the proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, to extinction."
Tanton's view of the book he published? "We are indebted to Jean Raspail for his insights into the human condition, and for being 20 years ahead of this time. History will judge him more kindly than have some of his contemporaries."
Tanton has repeatedly suggested that racial conflict will be the outcome of immigration, saying in the WITAN memos that "an explosion" could be the result of whites' declining "power and control over their lives." More than a decade later, in 1998, he made a similar point in an interview with a reporter, suggesting that whites would inevitably develop a racial consciousness because "most people don't want to disappear into the dustbin of history." Tanton added that once whites did become racially conscious, the result would be "the war of each against all."
In 1997, Tanton spelled out his views on the inevitability of immigration overwhelming American whites. "In the bacteriology lab, we have culture plates," he explained. "You put a bug in there and it starts growing and gets bigger and bigger. And it grows until it finally fills the whole plate. And it crashes and dies."
The Founder's Friends
It's no surprise that Tanton employs people with similar views. His long-time deputy, for example, is Wayne Lutton, who works out of Tanton's Petoskey offices and edits the journal, The Social Contract, published by Tanton's press. Lutton is not just linked to white supremacist ideas, many of which he publishes in his journal -- he has actually held leadership positions in four white nationalist hate groups: the Council of Conservative Citizens, the National Policy Institute, and The Occidental Quarterly and American Renaissance, both racist publications. Lutton has written for the Journal of Historical Review, which specializes in Holocaust denial. Early on, Lutton and Tanton collaborated on The Immigration Invasion, a nativist screed that has been seized by Canadian border officials as hateful contraband.
Under Lutton's editorial leadership, Tanton's journal has published dozens of articles from prominent white supremacists. One special issue was even devoted to the theme of "Europhobia: The Hostility Toward European-Descended Americans" and featured a lead article from John Vinson, head of the Tanton-backed hate group, the American Immigration Control Foundation. Vinson argued that multiculturalism was replacing "successful Euro-American culture" with "dysfunctional Third World cultures." Tanton elaborated in his own remarks, decrying the "unwarranted hatred and fear" of whites that he blamed on "multiculturalists" and immigrants.
Presumably, these articles and more are well known to Stein, the president of FAIR -- until 2003, he was an editorial adviser to The Social Contract. And Stein had lots of company. FAIR board members Sharon Barnes and Diana Hull also have been on the journal's board of editorial advisers. FAIR's current media director, Ira Mehlman, was an adviser in 2001 and 2002, and his essay, "Grand Delusions: Open Borders Will Destroy Society," was published in the journal's pages. Today, FAIR still advertises The Social Contract on its website, saying the journal "offers in-depth studies on immigration, population, language, assimilation, environment, national unity and balance of individual rights and civil responsibilities."
So where does FAIR stand on the matter of Tanton's views? The group has never criticized or sought distance from its founder. In 2004, in fact, Stein insisted that Tanton "never asserted the inferiority or superiority of any racial, ethnic or religious group. Never." The same year, FAIR hosted a gala event honoring Tanton for his 25 years of service. To this day, Tanton remains on FAIR's board.
The Eugenics Connection
Probably the best-known evidence of FAIR's extremism is its acceptance of funds from a notorious, New York City-based hate group, the Pioneer Fund. In the mid-1980s, when FAIR's budgets were still in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the group reached out to Pioneer Fund, which was established in 1937 to promote the racial stock of the original colonists, finance studies of race and intelligence, and foster policies of "racial betterment." (Pioneer has concentrated on studies meant to show that blacks are less intelligent than whites, but it has also backed nativist groups like ProjectUSA, run by former FAIR board member Craig Nelsen.)
The Pioneer Fund liked what it saw and, between 1985 and 1994, disbursed about $1.2 million to FAIR. In 1997, when the Phoenix New Times confronted Tanton about the matter, he "claimed ignorance about the Pioneer Fund's connection to numerous researchers seemingly intent on proving the inferiority of blacks, as well as its unsavory ties to Nazism." But he sounded a different tune in 2001, when he insisted that he was "comfortable being in the company of other Pioneer Fund grantees." Today, Tanton's defense is that he is no different than the "open borders crowd" that accepts money from the liberal Ford Foundation, which was founded by Henry Ford, the anti-Semitic auto manufacturer. What he ignores is that the Ford Foundation, unlike the Pioneer Fund, is not promoting racist ideas.
Some have called for FAIR to return the Pioneer money, but that has not happened. In fact, when asked about it in 1993, Stein told a reporter, "My job is to get every dime of Pioneer's money." One reason for Stein's lack of hesitation may be that FAIR has long been interested in the pseudo-science of eugenics.
One of FAIR's long-time leaders, and a personal hero to Tanton, is the late Garrett Hardin, a committed eugenicist and for years a professor of human ecology at the University of California. Hardin, who died in 2003, was himself a Pioneer Fund grantee, using the fund's money to expand his 1968 essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons." In it, Hardin wrote, "Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all."
Race War and the Duty to Die
That was the least of it. In a 1992 interview with Omni magazine, Hardin said he supported infanticide -- "A fetus is of so little value, there's no point worrying about it" -- as "effective population control." He argued the Third World is filled with "the next generation of breeders" who need to be stopped. He discouraged aid to starving Africans because that would only "encourage population growth."
Hardin wasn't alone. A current FAIR board member, three-time Democratic governor of Colorado Richard Lamm, sounded a similar theme in 1984, while still governor, saying "terminally ill people have a duty to die and get out of the way."
Like Tanton, Lamm seems to fear a coming race war. In his futuristic 1985 novel, Megatraumas: America at the Year 2000, Lamm sketches it out like this: "[O]ur lack of control of our borders allowed 2 million legal and illegal immigrants to settle in the United States every year. That caused unemployment to rise to 15.2 percent by 1990 and 19.1 percent this year. ... [T]he rash of firebombings throughout the Southwest, and the three-month siege of downtown San Diego in 1998 were all led by second-generation Hispanics, the children of immigrants."
As late as 2004, Lamm was sounding similar racial fears, telling a reporter that "new cultures" in the U.S. "are diluting what we are and who we are."
For his part, Stein was asked about Hardin's belief that only "intelligent people" should breed for an editorial by Tucker Carlson in the 1997 Wall Street Journal. "Yeah, so what?" Stein replied. "What is your problem with that?"
After Hardin's death, John Tanton created in honor of his mentor a group called The Garrett Hardin Society, devoted to "the preservation of [Hardin's] writings and ideas." On the society's board are Tanton, Wayne Lutton and U.S. Inc.'s recently appointed chief executive, John Rohe, the author of an adoring 2002 biography of Tanton and his wife that reads like the life of a saint.
In late 2006, FAIR hired as its western field representative, a key organizing position, a man named Joseph Turner. Turner was likely attractive to FAIR because he wrote what turned out to be a sort of model anti-illegal immigrant ordinance for the city of San Bernardino, Calif. Based on Turner's work, FAIR wrote a version of the law that is now promoted to many other cities. (The law almost certainly violates the Constitution, but that has not stopped many municipalities' interest.)
But there was more to Turner than FAIR let on. In 2005, Turner had created, and then led, a nativist group called Save Our State. The group was remarkable for its failure to disassociate itself from the neo-Nazi skinheads who often joined its rallies -- something that virtually all other nativist groups, worried about bad publicity, worked hard to do. Save Our State's electronic bulletin board, too, was remarkable for the racist vitriol that frequently appeared there.
It was in that forum that Turner made one of his more controversial remarks, amounting to a defense of white separatism. "I can make the argument that just because one believes in white separatism that that does not make them a racist," Turner wrote in 2005. "I can make the argument that someone who proclaims to be a white nationalist isn't necessarily a white supremacist. I don't think that standing up for your 'kind' or 'your race' makes you a bad person." The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed Save Our State as a hate group since it appeared in 2005.
Turner's predecessor in the FAIR organizing post, Rick Oltman, was cut from the same cloth. Oltman has been described as a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) in the publications of that hate group, which is directly descended from the segregationist White Citizens Councils and has described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity." He has spoken at at least one of the CCC's conferences and has taken part in one of its rallies. And he wasn't alone.
According to the CCC newsletter, FAIR's longtime associate director, Dave Ray, was scheduled to speak at another CCC event. And, in September 2002, FAIR Eastern Regional Coordinator Jim Stadenraus participated in an anti-immigration conference on Long Island, N.Y., with Jared Taylor. Taylor is both a CCC member and the founder of the racist eugenicist publication, American Renaissance.
FAIR has also produced programming featuring hate group leaders linked to the CCC. According to the anti-racist Center for New Community, FAIR's now defunct television production, "Borderline," featured interviews with Taylor and Sam Francis, who edited the CCC's newsletter until his death in 2005.
Donald Collins, a member of both FAIR's board of directors and its board of advisers, has his own ties to white supremacy. Collins posts frequently to a hate website called Vdare.com, which is named after Virginia Dare (said to be the first white child born in the New World) and publishes the work of white supremacists and anti-Semites. Collins also has been published in The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, a periodical run by longtime academic racist Roger Pearson. (Pearson founded the Eugenics Society in 1963 and worked with at least one former SS officer in England. He is also the recipient of several Pioneer Fund grants.)
Several of Collins' articles have attacked Catholics and their church for their pro-immigrant stances. In one, he accused Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony of selling out his country "in exchange for more temporal power and glory." Collins has also accused Catholic bishops of "infiltrating and manipulating the American political process" in order to undermine the separation of church and state.
Collins is not FAIR's only link to the Vdare.com hate site. Joe Guizzardi, a member of FAIR's board of advisers, is the editor of Vdare.com. He writes there frequently about how Latin American immigrants come to the United States in order to "reconquer" it -- a conspiracy theory pushed by numerous hate groups.
By and large, FAIR has escaped negative publicity, generally being depicted as a mainstream critic of American immigration policy. But there are exceptions.
In 2000, FAIR ran ads opposing the reelection of Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), a Lebanese American who defeated Tanton in the primaries, because he had supported issuing more visas for immigrants with high-tech skills. The ads featured side-by-side photos of Abraham and Osama bin Laden and this question: "Why is Senator Abraham trying to make it easier for terrorists like Osama bin Laden to export their war of terror to any city street in America?" The ads also accused the senator of pushing a bill that would "take American jobs. Our jobs."
The ads produced an immediate controversy, and a staunch conservative, Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), quit FAIR in protest. Under attack, Stein insisted the ads weren't racist and later claimed that he'd thought Abraham was Jewish.
That same year, FAIR helped fund ads in Iowa that were rejected as "borderline racist" by the general manager of WHO-TV in Des Moines. When the same ads appeared in Nebraska, Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, lost his temper. "The trash that this crowd puts out is just beyond terrible," Hagel said.
Four years later in Texas, the Coalition for the Future of the American Worker -- a FAIR front group designed to look like it represents labor interests -- ran ads heavy on images of dark-skinned men loitering on corners and running from police cars. One of the ad's prime targets, Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), condemned the ads as racist. His Republican challenger, Pete Sessions, found them so repugnant that he joined Frost in calling for them to be yanked off the air in their district.
In 2004, FAIR made an extremely unusual criticism of a fellow nativist, a woman named Virginia Abernethy who had just joined the national advisory board of Protect Arizona Now (PAN). PAN, aided by some $600,000 from FAIR, had worked to collect signatures for a referendum (which ultimately passed) to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote or signing up for public benefits. But as Election Day neared, newspapers trumpeted the revelation that PAN's new adviser was a self-declared "white separatist" who had long been active in the CCC.
FAIR reacted instantly with a pious press release denouncing "Abernethy's repulsive views." The release left many scratching their heads -- FAIR, after all, had CCC members on its payroll, and any number of other ties to the group. Its own officials had in several cases endorsed similar separatist views. And Tanton, FAIR's founder and chief ideologue, was intimately familiar with Abernethy's work. After all, he had published her writings frequently in The Social Contract and his editor, Wayne Lutton, had shared the podium with Abernethy at forums of the CCC.
Following the defeat of the bipartisan immigration package this summer, FAIR flew into action one more time. This time, it went after the DREAM Act, a widely supported, bipartisan bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant students accepted to college. FAIR was the key advocate for its defeat and, sure enough, the DREAM Act finally died this October.
Is this the future for FAIR? Will journalists, politicians and the general public continue to take the organization and its nativist propaganda seriously?
Dan Stein thinks so.
As he put it at FAIR's 25th anniversary celebration in 2004, just when the American nativist movement had begun to sense its own strength: "[T]oday," he said, "as the country moves finally into a serious and realistic debate, the founders have created a mature and knowledgeable organization prepared to lead."
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 9:27 PM
This is a really clear presentation of the present "immigrant/immigration scare" that the U.S. is presently undergoing. What is also still uncalculated is the responses by the immigrants themselves. We witnessed the massive 2006 marches. Social unrest could be in store as well with the boiling of this social cauldron. I agree with Schrag that the federal government simply needs to arrive at immigration reform but to do so with a binational approach. -Angela
Immigration Hardliners Try to Unhinge America
By Peter Schrag, The Nation
Posted on December 29, 2007, Printed on December 29, 2007
In the past year, we've become a nation of a thousand immigration laws and policies -- a confusing mosaic of fear, anger and nativism, of generosity, reason and self-defeating silliness. Although some of those laws were enacted before the Senate failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform in June, that failure greatly expanded the vacuum that local efforts sought to fill. It has also nourished the demagoguery that helps drive them, made immigration a prime domestic issue in the 2008 presidential campaign and intensified the fears those laws in turn produce.
If your name is Hernandez and you speak little English, can you risk reporting a crime to the local cops without being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement? If you have a contagious disease or you're a drug addict, how willing will you be to seek treatment, and how safe are other residents because of that fear? And what about those driver's licenses? What happens when a car driven by an American citizen collides with one driven by an undocumented -- and uninsured -- immigrant? As the anti-immigrant zealots fan a generalized hysteria, these unresolved questions, which provoke legitimate fears, get little airtime. And there are many more: what are the chances of being stopped on the highway by sheriff's deputies empowered to arrest illegal immigrants, or of legal residents being rousted at midnight by warrantless raids?
There are also important questions of social policy crying out for redress. What sort of future is facing an 18-year-old high school graduate who was brought here by her parents as a young child and knows no other country but can't go to college, get a driver's license or a legal job? Conversely, how large a price should local schools have to pay to teach English to the children of illegal immigrants? A nation struggling with such issues is in dire need of leadership from its central government.
In the first eleven months of 2007, forty-six state legislatures passed nearly 250 immigration laws -- some 1,560 were introduced, nearly triple the number for the same period in 2006. Cities and counties have enacted hundreds more, ranging all over the philosophical and political map.
Begin with the action the city council of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, took in 2006 to prohibit landlords from renting to undocumented aliens. Hazleton's ordinance, which preceded the Senate vote, became a model for similar measures in the Southern California city of Escondido and in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch. All three quickly faced constitutional challenges -- the Escondido council reversed itself in the face of mounting legal costs; the Hazleton and Farmers Branch laws were blocked by federal courts. But the anxieties and rage that drove those acts weren't dampened by a couple of judges.
It's a long list. Last February Lake Havasu, Arizona, like a number of other cities, made an agreement with the feds under which local cops will be trained by federal agents to interrogate and detain all illegal immigrants for deportation. In June Green Bay, Wisconsin, voted to yank the licenses of businesses that hire undocumented immigrants. In October the supervisors in Prince William County, Virginia, voted to crack down on illegal immigrants by increasing police enforcement, creating a Criminal Alien Unit and denying virtually all services, including substance abuse counseling. In addition to a long list of sanctions, the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 makes it a felony to "conceal, harbor or shelter from detection any alien."
Similar state laws have been enacted in Arizona and Tennessee. Alabama has created a Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission to figure out some comprehensive approach to undocumented immigrants (a group that was immediately attacked as being stacked with pro-business and pro-immigrant voices). In October Missouri Governor Matt Blunt issued a press release lavishly praising the arrest and delivery to immigration authorities of a vanload of illegal immigrants who were stopped on the pretext of following another vehicle too closely. He promised (in Churchillian cadences) to "make every effort, implement every tool and take every step to ensure the laws against illegal immigration are enforced." Virginia has prohibited the sale of automatic weapons to illegal aliens, and Rhode Island approved legislation that will issue ID cards to all residents over 21 -- excepting only undocumented immigrants -- allowing them to drink alcohol.
In other places, the response has been more positive. Last summer, the city council of New Haven, Connecticut, enacted a measure to issue what it calls Elm City Resident Cards -- ID cards that also serve as small-balance debit cards -- to all local residents, legal and illegal. In November San Francisco adopted a virtually identical program. Also last summer, the Illinois legislature prohibited employers from participating in the mandatory federal employee verification system until the feds get their data systems in order; the Department of Homeland Security promptly filed suit to overturn the law. (A few weeks later, US District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, citing the high likelihood of error and jeopardy to legal workers, upheld a challenge filed by the ACLU and a coalition of labor and business groups to implementation of the employee "no-match" verification system.) The DHS has since asked for more time to revise the system.
Some fifty jurisdictions, among them San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have declared themselves sanctuary cities or cities of refuge and/or ordered their employees not to cooperate with the feds in enforcing federal immigration laws. Some, like Stamford, Connecticut, have created "no-hassle zones" for day laborers seeking jobs, nearly all of them undocumented. Detroit has an anti-profiling ordinance that prevents cops and other city employees from questioning people on the basis of a whole range of characteristics, including immigration status. Oakland, California, requires all municipal departments to have bilingual employees to deal with its diversity of non-English-speaking residents.
Some jurisdictions have changed their minds. Phoenix, which had been a quasi-sanctuary city, seems to be on the verge of reversing itself. Riverside, New Jersey, conversely, repealed its anti-illegal-immigrant ordinance after the resulting exodus (mostly of Brazilians) hit restaurants, beauty parlors and other local businesses -- some were forced to close -- and left a growing number of boarded-up downtown storefronts. In Oregon the legislature passed a law prohibiting businesses from gouging customers during emergencies, including "a crisis influx of migrants unmanageable by a county." But the state also requires notaries to translate documents for those who don't speak English, even as Kansas and a number of local jurisdictions this year made English their official language. In Pahrump, Nevada, it's illegal to fly a foreign flag unless the American flag is flying alongside it.
Yet anyone looking for simple red state-blue state patterns is likely to be frustrated. Eight states -- Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Idaho and Nevada, among them some of the most conservative in the country -- have called for the repeal or deferral of the federal Real ID Act of 2005, which, beginning next May, will start to impose a set of stringent verification requirements for issuing driver's licenses and other state identification documents. Some have pledged not to comply. The issue here is not liberal principle but cost and the expected aggravation of motorists (which would obviously be directed at state bureaucrats and politicians, not at Congress) once the rubber meets the road at the state DMV.
And then there's Littleton, Colorado, an upscale Denver suburb with a growing Latino population, where the foundation-supported Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative (LI3), housed in a city library, offers counseling on healthcare and countless other matters, citizenship tutoring and English-language training to all comers, regardless of documentation. Littleton sits in the heart of the district represented by Tom Tancredo, the Republican (and presidential candidate) who's probably the most rabid foe of illegal immigration in Congress. Alejandra Harguth, who directs the program, says she's rarely gotten any criticism from the community, and none from Tancredo.
Meanwhile, in the uproar that's probably gotten the most recent attention, awkwardly amplified by Hillary Clinton's clumsy handling of the issue in the Democrats' October 30 debate, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, citing public safety considerations, moved to grant driver's licenses to illegal residents. But he was quickly forced -- in part by pressure from Washington, in part by upstate backlash -- first to modify the policy and then to abandon it altogether. Of all the issues concerning illegal immigrants, giving them driver's licenses (as de facto national ID cards) is far and away the one that generates the fiercest resistance. Even strong backers of legalization concede that this isn't the issue they want to fight about.
If there is any geography here, it's the geography of the immigrant dispersion itself. As more immigrants, Latino immigrants particularly, either move from or bypass the traditional immigrant states -- California, Florida, Texas, New Mexico -- and move into the Midwest and Southeast, where residents have rarely seen brown faces or heard Spanish spoken on the streets and in the malls, the backlash spreads with them. In many places, the new immigrants, stretched to pay for housing, live three or four to a room -- often a total of ten or twelve people or more, with junk cars crowding driveways -- in houses or condos designed for families of four. And of course, there are the new kids in the schools, many speaking little English and requiring additional services, crowding classrooms that were all-white a few years before. Illegal immigration, the Escondido city council determined, "diminishes our overall quality of life." Illegal immigration in such contexts, of course, always means Latinos. But there are also towns in California's Central Valley and in the Midwest that would die without those immigrants.
California, where 27 percent of residents are foreign-born, and which endured an intense anti-immigrant backlash in the early 1990s, appears to have become accustomed to its brown and Asian faces and to the countless accents and languages of its residents -- and of course has assimilated their cuisine, music and art. (Recent Census data indicate that 70 percent of California's "Mexicans" are US citizens.) Its population is now majority-minority; in another generation it will have an absolute Hispanic majority. Many parts of Iowa, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Virginia, Georgia and Missouri are just starting on that route.
More than anything else, the crazy quilt of contradictory local responses seems to reflect the nation's own ambivalence about immigration. California denies driver's licenses to undocumented residents but grants them in-state college tuition if they attended California high schools. Three years ago Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lauded the Minutemen, the self-appointed enforcers of a tight border, for doing "a terrific job," and he's vetoed bills passed by the Democratic legislature that would have made undocumented residents eligible for driver's licenses. But in October he signed a bill that prohibits cities from requiring landlords to check whether tenants are here legally.
The polls confirm the ambivalence: 69 percent of adults believe the illegal resident population should be reduced and (by 76 percent) should not be allowed to get driver's licenses. But 43 percent also say that when illegal aliens who've committed no crime encounter local cops, they shouldn't be arrested. By a margin of 58 to 35 they support "a program giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements." By 66 to 33 they say they're not bothered when they encounter Spanish speakers. Some 45 percent (in an earlier poll) say immigration is a good thing; 19 percent, a bad thing; some 33 percent have no opinion.
But as with issues like gun control, the intensity of an opposition -- in this case fueled by economic insecurity and fanned by radio and TV talkers -- tends to overwhelm the pressure from the broader but generally passive pro-legalization plurality. Illegal immigration is the hot-button issue not only for the national talkers and bloggers, from Ann Coulter to Lou Dobbs to Rush Limbaugh, but for local and regional talk-radio hosts as well -- Roger Hedgecock in San Diego, Armstrong Williams in New York, Terry Anderson in Los Angeles, Melanie Morgan in San Francisco, Martha Zoller in Gainesville, Georgia, Dom Giardano in Philadelphia and a score of others. Last April, having organized themselves into a quasi lobby called Let's Hold Their Feet to the Fire, thirty-four of them brought their microphones and some of their listeners to Washington, broadcasting to their home audiences, urging anti-immigration e-mails and faxes and working Congressional offices to head off comprehensive immigration reform. Anything that might lead to legalization was "amnesty." In its own survey, the nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism gives Limbaugh et al. a big share of the credit for killing the immigration bill.
That bill, vulnerable on the right and left on any number of points, was an easy target for oversimplification. But the talkers also played a central role in stopping the appealing DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill -- its sponsors included Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republicans Richard Lugar of Indiana and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska -- that would have provided a path to legalization for some 365,000 undocumented students who were brought here by their parents as young children, attended and graduated from high school and intended to go to college or serve in the military. No one could claim that they were lawbreakers. Many never knew their native countries and don't speak the language, and few have any interest in going back. At a time when the imminent retirement of millions of baby boomers is predicted to leave major shortages of skilled workers and when the nation has already invested billions in their education, deporting them seemed as self-defeating as it was cruel. But none of that reduced the intense pressure on a Senate minority -- nearly all Republicans -- to kill the bill with a threatened filibuster.
It is probably also the talkers and their angry listeners who, as much as anyone, have gotten much of the GOP, including its leading presidential candidates, to replay the anti-immigrant wedge strategy that former California Governor Pete Wilson deployed in his 1994 re-election campaign, when he supported an initiative to deny most services, including schooling, to undocumented immigrants. But other Republicans are tearing their hair. "Some in the party seem pleased," said former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson. "They should be terrified."
What Gerson and other savvy Republicans know is that in California, Wilson's party paid a fearful price. Feeling vulnerable as aliens, a million California Latinos became citizens and, in the vast majority of cases, registered as Democrats in the years after 1994. Republicans have won little in California since. Something similar seems likely to happen nationally. At the same time, it is an unfortunate reality that, as Harvard economist Alberto Alesina and others have argued, the greater the ethnic diversity in a jurisdiction -- and the larger the number of undocumented immigrants -- the more reluctant are voters, who are still overwhelmingly non-Hispanic whites, to tax themselves for public services that they see going to "others."
Nonetheless, given the nation's high rate of demographic change and the rapidly growing proportion of Latino voters that will come with it, the GOP strategy is a bet on the past (and, perhaps, the present), not the future. Karl Rove and George Bush understood the stakes and, in pushing for reform that included a path to legalization and thus drew Hispanic voters, tried to put their chips on the other square. But after the immigration bill failed, the White House switched sides, cranking up its roundups and coming out against the DREAM Act. Meanwhile, the GOP presidential candidates seem certain that within the horizon of this election -- or at least the primaries -- illegal immigration, touching on all manner of economic and cultural anxieties, may be the best issue they have. And Democrats like Hillary Clinton are running for cover.
There are some 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country, many in mixed families that include citizens -- including US-born children -- and other legal residents. The history of the past two decades indicates, according to most research, that rather than holding down the undocumented population, tougher border enforcement -- more Border Patrol agents, more walls, more electronic sensors -- has dramatically increased it. As enforcement made it ever more dangerous and expensive to cross the Mexican border, many workers who once shuttled back and forth chose to remain in the United States and send for their families.
In the long run, argues Robert Pastor, director of the Center for North American Studies at American University, the most promising strategy depends on major investments in the Mexican economy and infrastructure (which would probably require basic political and economic reforms) and the creation of better opportunities there. In addition, the larger picture will be dramatically affected by two significant demographic trends: first, the sharply declining Mexican birthrate -- down from 6.8 babies per woman in 1970 to 2.4 today -- and the predicted concomitant decline in Mexico's surplus labor force; second, the millions of skilled US boomers retiring in the next decade. If voters begin to understand that sustaining and growing the US economy and securing the retirements of those boomers will depend in large part on the labor and skills of immigrants -- and that there is no one else -- the issue may fade as quickly as it arose. What's certain is that the faster the illegal immigrants who are already here can emerge from the shadows, the faster they can be trained to do those jobs. In another generation Americans may wish for more immigrant workers, not fewer.
At that point the nation may look back on this period as another of those eras, like the Red Scare of the 1920s or the McCarthy years of the '50s, when the nation became unhinged; politicians panicked; and scattershot federal, state and local assaults led to unfocused, and often cruel, harassment. It may be seen in retrospect as a desperate rearguard attempt to freeze Anglo-white places and power in a mythic past. But today's policy vacuum also stems from our collective uncertainty. A new society with new kinds of people and new voters is rapidly growing under and around us -- just as it grew under our great-grandparents a century ago. Many of us still have no idea how to deal with it. At a time when other economic and social certainties are evaporating, and when income gaps are growing obscenely, demagogues have room to play. If there's a recession, the backlash against not only illegal immigrants but all immigrants could get worse before it gets better. The hope is that the nation will somehow choose leaders committed to cooling those tensions, not fueling them.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/71879/
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Evo Morales, Brazilian President, has taken a special interest in this case involving the nationhood of the Oglala Lakota Souix people. -Angela
The Lakota have formally withdrawn their treaties and seceded from the United States.
See the coverage at Common Dreams.
The Lakota have formally withdrawn their treaties and seceded from the United States.
DECEMBER 20, 2007
Freedom! Lakota Sioux Indians Declare Sovereign Nation Status
Threaten Land Liens, Contested Real Estate Over Five State Area in U.S.West Dakota Territory Reverts back to Lakota Control According to U.S., International Law
WASHINGTON, DC - December 20 - Lakota Sioux Indian representatives declared sovereign nation status today in Washington D.C. following Monday's withdrawal from all previously signed treaties with the United States Government. The withdrawal, hand delivered to Daniel Turner, Deputy Director of Public Liaison at the State Department, immediately and irrevocably ends all agreements between the Lakota Sioux Nation of Indians and the United States Government outlined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties at Fort Laramie Wyoming.
"This is an historic day for our Lakota people," declared Russell Means, Itacan of Lakota. "United States colonial rule is at its end!"
"Today is a historic day and our forefathers speak through us. Our Forefathers made the treaties in good faith with the sacred Canupa and with the knowledge of the Great Spirit," shared Garry Rowland from Wounded Knee. "They never honored the treaties, that's the reason we are here today."
The four member Lakota delegation traveled to Washington D.C. culminating years of internal discussion among treaty representatives of the various Lakota communities. Delegation members included well known activist and actor Russell Means, Women of All Red Nations (WARN) founder Phyllis Young, Oglala Lakota Strong Heart Society leader Duane Martin Sr., and Garry Rowland, Leader Chief Big Foot Riders. Means, Rowland, Martin Sr. were all members of the 1973 Wounded Knee takeover.
"In order to stop the continuous taking of our resources - people, land, water and children- we have no choice but to claim our own destiny," said Phyllis Young, a former Indigenous representative to the United Nations and representative from Standing Rock.
Property ownership in the five state area of Lakota now takes center stage. Parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana have been illegally homesteaded for years despite knowledge of Lakota as predecessor sovereign [historic owner]. Lakota representatives say if the United States does not enter into immediate diplomatic negotiations, liens will be filed on real estate transactions in the five state region, clouding title over literally thousands of square miles of land and property.
Young added, "The actions of Lakota are not intended to embarrass the United States but to simply save the lives of our people".
Following Monday's withdrawal at the State Department, the four Lakota Itacan representatives have been meeting with foreign embassy officials in order to hasten their official return to the Family of Nations.
Lakota's efforts are gaining traction as Bolivia, home to Indigenous President Evo Morales, shared they are "very, very interested in the Lakota case" while Venezuela received the Lakota delegation with "respect and solidarity."
"Our meetings have been fruitful and we hope to work with these countries for better relations," explained Garry Rowland. "As a nation, we have equal status within the national community."
Education, energy and justice now take top priority in emerging Lakota. "Cultural immersion education is crucial as a next step to protect our language, culture and sovereignty," said Means. "Energy independence using solar, wind, geothermal, and sugar beets enables Lakota to protect our freedom and provide electricity and heating to our people."
The Lakota reservations are among the most impoverished areas in North America, a shameful legacy of broken treaties and apartheid policies. Lakota has the highest death rate in the United States and Lakota men have the lowest life expectancy of any nation on earth, excluding AIDS, at approximately 44 years. Lakota infant mortality rate is five times the United States average and teen suicide rates 150% more than national average. 97% of Lakota people live below the poverty line and unemployment hovers near 85%.
"After 150 years of colonial enforcement, when you back people into a corner there is only one alternative," emphasized Duane Martin Sr. "The only alternative is to bring freedom into its existence by taking it back to the love of freedom, to our lifeway."
We are the freedom loving Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have traveled to Washington DC to withdraw from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law. For more information, please visit our new website at www.lakotafreedom.com.
Christian Hansen for The New York Times
Union officials and community leaders attended a rally on Thursday across the street from the Fresh Direct plant in Queens. Two unions are vying to represent workers there.
December 22, 2007
Groceries on the Computer, and Immigrants in the Cold
By NINA BERNSTEIN
For New Yorkers who crave onion-rosemary marmalade with their crostini, loathe the narrow aisles of the nearest supermarket or simply have no time to shop, Fresh Direct has been like a high-tech fantasy come true. With the touch of a computer mouse, it conjures up fresh, sophisticated groceries at the customer’s doorstep.
The company has grown in five years from a dot-com dream to a $200 million business, and its Web site features “celebrity shopping lists” from quintessentially New York figures like Spike Lee, Edward I. Koch and Cynthia Nixon, a star of “Sex and the City.”
But now an eruption of low-tech troubles is drawing a spotlight to what lies behind the computer screen. Last week, the company abruptly lost more than 100 of the roughly 900 employees at its huge plant in Long Island City, Queens, including many of its most experienced workers, when they learned that federal officials planned to check their immigration status.
It is battling not one, but two unions that want to represent the workers, with the election to be held this weekend. City labor leaders and several elected officials rallied at City Hall on Friday to accuse the company and immigration authorities of trying to block the union drive.
And when Fresh Direct held a job fair this week, though hundreds of applicants lined up in the cold, many lost interest as soon as they learned about the low starting pay and low-temperature workplace: $7.85 an hour to pick and pack groceries at night, in 38-degree chill, often for more than eight hours at a stretch. “They said, ‘Dress as warm as you can,’” reported one disenchanted applicant, Joy Brewster, 22, as she emerged from a group job interview with a toss of her head. “I don’t think so. I’d be stiff as a board.”
Another applicant, Eibar Amaya, 47, an immigrant from Colombia who is now a United States citizen, gave his verdict in succinct, if imperfect English: “Pay too little, no good.”
He now makes $12 an hour cleaning office bathrooms at night, he added in Spanish, and considering his legal status and valid driver’s license, he expected something better.
Such comments underscore what may not be evident to the online shopper: that Fresh Direct’s great successes — Internet efficiency, competitive prices, an array of locally grown produce and a loyal, well-heeled customer base — were built on a low-wage, transient work force that was anchored by illegal immigrants. And for all that, by its own account, the privately held company has yet to turn a profit for its investors.
“It’s definitely a very competitive business,” said Michael Garry, technology and logistics editor for Supermarket News, which covers the industry. “They’re just one of many employers that are taking advantage of these people. But that certainly is going to clash with their P.R. image.”
Jim Moore, the company’s senior vice president for business affairs, defended its record as an employer as well as its financial health. Fresh Direct has participated in a government Social Security verification system since 2004, he said, and had no idea that some employees’ documents were false.
Those who have left for fear of deportation now number about 100, he maintained, not 300, as organizers with Local 348S of the United Food and Commercial Workers insist.
He estimated the plant’s normal turnover at 45 to 50 percent each year, which he called “not particularly high.” And he said the job fair had produced more applicants than the company could possibly hire.
But among two dozen applicants who spoke with a reporter, only those with very limited options seemed undaunted by the job description — plying frigid miles of conveyor belts carrying tubs of products from far-flung departments to a central packing area.
One applicant hoping to be called back was Abdul Hakim, 33, who said he recently served four years in prison. Another, Nathaniel Griffins, 60, said he was living in a nearby veterans’ shelter and spent his mornings handing out free newspapers for $8.50 an hour. Like many other American-born and legal residents applying for work, they expressed sympathy for the illegal immigrants.
“Legal or not,” Mr. Griffins said, “people got to find a way to feed their families.”
Mr. Moore, the company vice president, acknowledged that many of the immigrant employees who fled, including butchers, kitchen workers and packers, had been with the company for three or four years and were among its most longstanding employees. Some had opposed unionization.
“They are very loyal folks who have been instrumental in helping us build the company,” he said. “It’s been incredibly hard for them and very, very sad for us.”
To union organizers, however, his expression of regret rang false.
Both the food workers’ local and Teamsters Local 805, the unions vying to represent plant workers, called the timing of the immigration audit highly suspect, and contended that under the immigration agency’s own guidelines, it should have been delayed until after the vote on a union.
Both accused the company of using the audit as its latest tactic in an aggressive campaign against the union drive, suggesting that management had called in the immigration authorities, in an effort to intimidate or drive away union supporters.
Mr. Moore denied that accusation, and turned it around by saying that some unions unable to win over workers had been known to try to improve their odds by summoning immigration officials.
But there was no lack of other theories for why Fresh Direct might have appeared on the radar of immigration officials: a call by a disgruntled native-born employee; retaliation by an angry competitor; or Fresh Direct’s high profile in the nation’s media capital, which might make it an appetizing target for the Bush administration, intent on publicizing more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws.
The accusations and confusion partly reflect the relative rarity of immigration enforcement in New York’s food industry.
Illegal immigrant employees abound in New York City’s 11,662 registered food stores — not to mention on the farms increasingly tapped as local suppliers of the tenderest arugula and tangiest goat cheese.
“On any given day, if immigration chose to, they could sweep into stores in any one of these five boroughs and literally take thousands and thousands of workers out,” said Pat Purcell, the director of special projects for the Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which has 23,000 members in the New York area, including the employees at Fairway markets, which emphasize freshness and selection to please the most finicky shoppers.
Full-time employees at Fairway, a family-run company with a long union history, earn at least $14.75 an hour, with generous benefits and time-and-a-half for overtime, Mr. Purcell said.
But in contrast, dozens of upscale or specialty food stores are more obvious offenders than Fresh Direct, he added, because they pay their lowest-rung employees, often Mexicans, in cash, below minimum wage, without asking for any documents.
Older supermarkets in the city, too, have had their share of scandals. Several years ago, Gristedes and Food Emporium agreed to $3 million settlements after the state attorney general accused them and their delivery companies of paying some deliverymen, many of them Africans, just over a dollar an hour.
As for Fresh Direct’s future, forecasts are contradictory. Nationally, only 1 percent of groceries are bought online, and such transactions are expected to nearly double by 2011, to $10.5 billion. But Fresh Direct keeps losing money, said Lawrence Sarf, the president of F & D Reports, a retail consulting company in Great Neck, N.Y.
“It has beautiful products, state-of-the-art equipment, and the best executives to raise money,” Mr. Sarf said. “But it doesn’t work.”
In its campaign against the Teamsters this summer, the company stated in a flier, “We have yet to have a profitable year.”
Mr. Moore now puts it differently. “We’ve taken the profits,” he said, “and we’ve plowed them into growing the company. Our investors are very bullish on what we’re doing.”
Most customers seem bullish, too, despite expressions of remorse about the fate of illegal immigrant employees.
“We’re all so liberal, but we’re really taking advantage of all these people,” said Betsy Jacobs, who described herself as a busy mother in her 40s who depends on Fresh Direct. “As a New Yorker, I really want to be helping these people, not hurting them.”
Former Mayor Edward I. Koch, the company’s first commercial spokesman, took a tougher tone. “The law should be enforced,” he said. “If there are no jobs, the illegal aliens will go home.”
“I am not for keeping prices down by underpaying the people who do the work,” he added. “Unions should be the norm.”
Actually, Mr. Koch confessed, he shops at Fairway and Citarella for his everyday needs, and uses Fresh Direct for large holiday orders. “Their produce is superb,” he said. “But I think they have to pay going rates for labor.”
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 5:28 PM
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Congress really needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform. -Dra. Valenzuela
Holiday visit to Mexico becomes one-way trip
Sanctions law, crackdowns spur many illegal migrants to leave
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 18, 2007 12:00 AM
NOGALES, Sonora - It's a common scene this time of year: streams of overloaded cars, pickups and vans with U.S. license plates crossing into Mexico for the holidays.
Most are filled with Hispanic families from Arizona and other states on their way to visit relatives south of the border for a few weeks before heading back to the U.S. But this year, the holiday travelers are being joined by scores of families such as Jorge and Liliana Franco, who are driving to Mexico not to visit but to stay - permanently.
Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, immigration crackdowns, Arizona's new employer-sanctions law and a sluggish economy have combined to create a climate that undocumented families such as the Francos no longer find hospitable.
The number returning to Mexico is difficult to calculate, but there is no question that many families are leaving, according to Mexican government officials, local community leaders and immigrants themselves.
"The situation in Arizona has become very tough," Jorge said minutes after driving into a Mexican immigration and customs checkpoint south of the border on Mexico 15.
Dozens of immigrants are leaving the U.S. daily, and even more are expected to leave once the sanctions law takes effect in January, provided the law survives a last-minute legal challenge, said Rosendo Hernandez, president of the advocacy group Immigrants Without Borders.
"If people can't find work, they won't be able to pay their bills, so they will leave," Hernandez said.
In what are considered bellwethers of permanent moves back to Mexico, the Mexican consulate in Phoenix has seen a dramatic increase in applications for Mexican birth certificates, passports and other documents that immigrants living in Arizona will need to return home.
In November alone, the consulate processed 240 applications for Mexican birth certificates, three times as many as the same month last year, said Carlos Flores Vizcarra, Mexican consul general of Phoenix.
The consulate also has processed more than 16,500 applications for Mexican passports this year, nearly twice as many as last year. Vizcarra attributed some of the demand for passports to stricter travel regulations among the U.S., Mexico and Canada slated to take effect in January. But he said many undocumented immigrants are applying for passports in case they lose their jobs due to the sanctions law or a slowdown in the economy and therefore want to go back and live in Mexico.
"People are fearful. They are getting ready as much as they can (to leave)," he said.
Mexican officials and border authorities expect southbound traffic to rise significantly this week as Christmas approaches.
The exodus of undocumented immigrants has drawn cheers from foes of illegal immigration.
"That is the whole purpose of the (sanctions) law," said state Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, "to not only stop people from coming, but to have these who are here illegally go back to whence they came. They shouldn't be here."
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates there are 500,000 undocumented immigrants in Arizona, and they make up about 9 percent of the state's population. Undocumented immigrants make up 10 to 12 percent of the workforce, according to Pew and the Center for Immigration Studies.
The economy could be devastated if all were to leave, advocates say. But Kavanagh, one of the most outspoken backers of the sanctions law, doubts the law will have much impact on Arizona's economy. He hopes any economic problems caused by undocumented immigrants leaving Arizona will pressure Congress to create a guest-worker program to allow more foreign-born workers to enter legally to help fill labor gaps.
But unlike illegal immigrants, guest workers will enter in "an orderly and legal fashion with screening," he said.
Leaving for good
On Mexico 15 on the outskirts of Nogales, Sonora, the Francos were getting ready for the final leg of their journey from Arizona to Ciudad Obregon, their hometown six hours south of the border.
Jorge, 34, was driving an extended-cab Ford F-150 pickup that was so overloaded with the family's belongings that the vehicle no longer looked safe for highway travel. The bed of the pickup sagged under the weight of a full-size refrigerator, an air-conditioning unit, a television and a microwave oven, while the Francos' three young children grew restless inside the cab.
Franco's wife, Liliana, 25, drove a second vehicle. Her Dodge minivan was packed just as full, with clothing, toys and household items. Several suitcases that didn't fit inside had been lashed to the roof.
Living in Wickenburg
The couple said they had been living in Wickenburg for the past five years. They and their two children had originally entered the United States legally with tourist visas and then stayed beyond the expiration dates. The couple had no legal status to work in the U.S., but both were able to get jobs using fake documents, Jorge at a small landscaping company, Liliana at a Burger King. Two years ago, their third child, Michael, was born in Arizona, making him a U.S. citizen.
The couple said life for them in Arizona began to unravel earlier this year when Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The collapse caused the Francos to give up hope that Congress would pass a legalization program anytime soon. Then, Gov. Janet Napolitano signed Arizona's employer-sanctions law.
The law threatens to suspend or revoke business licenses from employers caught knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. It also requires employers to use a federal computer program to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires.
The law doesn't officially take effect until Jan. 1, and several business groups are suing to have the law tossed out, claiming it is unconstitutional. Nevertheless, thousands of illegal immigrants have been let go as worried employers conduct reviews of I-9s, the federal forms employers are required to use to verify the employment eligibility of their workers.
In November, employers checked the Francos' employment records and discovered they had used false documents to get their jobs, the couple said. Both were let go.
The Francos tried getting other jobs but were turned down every place they applied.
"Everyone wants a good Social Security number now," Liliana said.
The couple said a crackdown on illegal immigration by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio also prompted them to move back to Mexico. Sheriff's deputies trained to enforce immigration laws have been arresting undocumented immigrants in the Wickenburg area, and the couple feared their family would be split apart if one of them got deported.
Earlier this month, they sold their trailer home in Wickenburg and began packing their bags. They also took their oldest child, Yulissa, 7, a second-grader at Hassayampa Elementary School, out of school.
What did they plan to do for work in Mexico?
Jorge shook his head. He didn't know. Then, after clearing immigration and customs, the couple climbed back inside the pickup and the minivan and drove slowly back onto the highway, headed south.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 602-444-8312.
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 6:41 AM
Monday, December 17, 2007
How Conservatives Manipulate People Into Voting Against Their Best Interests
By Digby , Common Sense
Posted on December 7, 2007, Printed on December 17, 2007
American right-wing populism is an interesting phenomenon that's coming to the fore once again in its usual nativist and racist form, but also as smooth misrepresentation of "tax reform"; clever, misleading public relations messaging about fair trade; and some fairly outlandish paranoia about conspiracies to erase the borders. Various permutations of these fairly common right-wing themes abound among conservative politicians and thinkers alike. But conservative populism is an oxymoron.
As Phil Agre wrote in this much discussed article about the definition of conservatism, "Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy ... [it] is incompatible with democracy, prosperity and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world."
Modern conservatism's most successful strategy was to merge public relations and politics into a seamless operation in which it could use modern marketing methods to convince people to vote against their own interests. In that sense, right-wing populism is just another marketing campaign for the aristocrats. And it's working:
South Carolina has embraced foreign investment, with companies from BMW to Michelin transforming a state once dominated by the textile industry. Another aspect of the global economy hasn't gone down as well: immigration.
While an influx of money from overseas has made free trade palatable even as thousands of mill jobs have vanished, voters are growing increasingly hostile to undocumented foreign workers, polls and analysts say. As a result, illegal immigration is a top economic issue in the state's Jan. 19 Republican primary, a key test for the candidates since it's the first in the South.
"Trade is all right as long as everybody goes by the same rules," said David Robinson, 65, who recently retired from a job at a Michelin tire factory in Spartanburg and whose son works in a Hitachi Ltd. plant nearby. Illegal immigration, on the other hand, "is a big problem, and that's one you can get a handle on," he said.
South Carolina only has about a 3 percent Latino population, both illegal and legal. It isn't actually a problem at all, much less a big one. The sad truth us that no matter how much "foreign investment" comes into their state, South Carolina manufacturing workers are still on a race to the bottom and they know it. But the conservatives have successfully misdirected them away from the real culprits by stoking latent (and not so latent) racism as an explanation for their insecurity. In a time of rising income inequality, a housing and credit crisis, and the ever more obvious fact of conservative corruption of epic proportions, the Republican Party has worked their rank and file into a frenzy over very poor people who work for next to nothing in hot, dirty fields, blood-soaked poultry plants and steaming restaurant kitchen sinks. It's quite an accomplishment.
But there's more to this than simple manipulation of the racist id. As Agre points out:
The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals often theorize that conservatives use "social issues" as a way to mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality. Economic inequality and regressive taxation, while certainly welcomed by the aristocracy, are best understood as a means to their actual goal, which is simply to be aristocrats. More generally, it is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. Of course this notion sounds bizarre to modern ears, but it is perfectly overt in the writings of leading conservative theorists such as Burke. Democracy, for them, is not about the mechanisms of voting and office holding. In fact conservatives hold a wide variety of opinions about such secondary formal matters. For conservatives, rather, democracy is a psychological condition. People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.
One of the ways that this modern aristocracy gets people to internalize that the aristocrats are better people is by stoking a fear that the "American Dream" is being threatened by hordes of undeserving interlopers. Who's looking out for the common man? Why, it's the conservatives, your liege lords, who want to close the borders and keep those people out!
That fellow in South Carolina thinks that trade is working for him now that foreign investment is coming to a state with low taxes and no unions to manufacture cars and other things for export. The weak dollar surely makes such things very attractive for those manufacturers at the moment, but it's not clear that this trade has been "fair" at all. South Carolina lost over 250,000 jobs since the '90s, not even close to the jobs it's gained from these plants. But conservatives truly believe that "their betters" have their best interests at heart, so they've come to believe these people are actually heroes of a sort:
Tiremaker Michelin & Cie. of France, which has invested $2.1 billion in the state since 1975 and employs almost 8,000 workers, said in August it would spend an additional $350 million over four years, generating additional jobs.
BMW North America, a unit of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG of Munich, the world's largest luxury car maker, said last month it would boost annual production of its X5 sport-utility vehicle and other cars in Spartanburg by 100,000 units by 2012. Germany's BASF AG and Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp. also have major facilities in the state.
"People around here are beginning to connect the dots that this area is increasingly tied to trade and exports," said Greenville's Mayor White, an immigration lawyer, adding that there's been little job displacement due to undocumented workers.
According to this chart from the Department of Labor, however, manufacturing isn't adding jobs to the economy at all. In fact, it's been losing them for years. The losses have been slightly less catastrophic in the last couple of years, but they are losses nonetheless. (The biggest job provider in the state is actually government, which is somewhat ironic considering what a rock-ribbed conservative state it is.) http://stats.bls.gov/eag/eag.sc.htm
So these people, like most working Americans, are genuinely threatened, over a long period of time, by economic forces that are making a lot of people rich -- but not them. They are, however, inexplicably quite content with that state of affairs, but are upset by an extremely small population of foreigners who are doing dirty work for low wages. How does this happen?
Conservatism has opposed rational thought for thousands of years. What most people know nowadays as conservatism is basically a public relations campaign aimed at persuading them to lay down their capacity for rational thought ...
Conservatism has used a wide variety of methods to destroy reason throughout history. Fortunately, many of these methods, such as the suppression of popular literacy, are incompatible with a modern economy. Once the common people started becoming educated, more sophisticated methods of domination were required. Thus the invention of public relations, which is a kind of rationalized irrationality. The great innovation of conservatism in recent decades has been the systematic reinvention of politics using the technology of public relations.
The main idea of public relations is the distinction between "messages" and "facts." Messages are the things you want people to believe. A message should be vague enough that it is difficult to refute by rational means. (People in politics refer to messages as "strategies" and people who devise strategies as "strategists." The Democrats have strategists too, and it is not at all clear that they should, but they scarcely compare with the vast public relations machinery of the right.) It is useful to think of each message as a kind of pipeline: a steady stream of facts is selected (or twisted, or fabricated) to fit the message. Contrary facts are of course ignored. The goal is what the professionals call "message repetition." This provides activists with something to do: Come up with new facts to fit the conservative authorities' chosen messages.
It is no accident that illegal immigration has emerged as a theme at a time of epic corruption among the conservative aristocrats in business and government. Someone must be blamed for the fallout, and it isn't going to be them. This may seem counterintuitive, considering that business also likes cheap labor, but that's just commerce, and commerce is only a tool of the true conservative mission -- preserving the aristocracy.
Aristocracy is, by definition, un-American. The question is how many Americans will be "messaged" into believing they are doing the patriotic thing by behaving like subjects and hunting down the foreign invader on behalf of their betters.
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 8:54 PM
Sunday, December 16, 2007
This statement is hardly true: "'Many residents are very upset that people are coming into the country illegally and then demanding rights, demanding that people speak their language, and at the same time, impacting their community,' says Prince William's top elected official, Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors." More than anything, immigrants want to learn English. People all over the planet want to learn English. Having said that, a good bilingual program is the best way to assimilate the youth within the public school system. Years of research evidence support this even if it sounds counter-intuitive.
Intetersting story, by the way. We need many more Tacoma Park, Marylands, in the world.
US immigration: Tale of two cities
By Jane O'Brien
BBC News, Washington
One of the political events of 2007 that has had, and will continue to have, a major impact in the US was something that did not happen.
A sweeping reform bill failed to pass Congress this summer, leaving communities frustrated over how to deal with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.
That has led many to take matters into their own hands, enacting tough new laws to tackle illegal immigration.
Some of the toughest measures have been introduced in Virginia's Prince William County.
There, a new resolution allows local police to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest if they suspect them of being in the country illegally.
That person can then be detained and handed over to federal immigration officials for possible deportation.
"Prince William County and the problems that we're having with illegal immigration are a microcosm of the country as a whole." -- Corey Stewart, Board of County Supervisors
"Many residents are very upset that people are coming into the country illegally and then demanding rights, demanding that people speak their language, and at the same time, impacting their community," says Prince William's top elected official, Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors.
"We have two hospitals in the county, both of which have emergency rooms that are filled with lines of what we believe are mostly illegal immigrants there to receive routine medical care.
"And the reason they go to the emergency medical rooms is they know that under federal law, the hospitals must treat them if the person says it's an emergency, even though it's not.
"I think Prince William County and the problems that we're having with illegal immigration are a microcosm of the country as a whole."
Local newspaper reporter Keith Walker says the issue has dominated the front pages of the Potomac News for several months, with most residents supporting the county measures.
"These are the sort of letters we've been getting here," he says, opening the paper.
"Since when did it become so hard to understand right from wrong?," he reads. "When did people forget that illegal meant unlawful? The pro-illegal groups like to draw no distinction between a legal immigrant and illegal immigrant, but there is a world of difference.
"Legal immigrants respect our country enough to follow its laws. Illegals think they are above reproach and should be rewarded."
But at the Potomac Mills Mall, not everybody doing their holiday shopping is happy.
"I think it's horrible actually," says one young mother. "I think it's a bill that is not being just to the immigrants and they do a lot of work for us, be it construction jobs to working in McDonalds - things that Americans won't do. So I'm very much against it."
Another resident who emigrated legally from the Czech Republic agrees.
"It's awful, really awful," he says. "Maybe illegal immigration is a problem - but you have to be practical.
"Once the people are here, have lived many years here, have families, you cannot just kick them out."
Alternative - Open policy
Other regions have taken the opposite approach to illegal immigration, believing that integration is a better way forward.
"I believe that having an open policy towards immigrants helps preserve public order because it encourages a relationship of trust." -- Kathy Porter, Takoma Park mayor
In Takoma Park, Maryland, the local government has declared the city an "immigration sanctuary".
"People who are not US citizens, whether they are in this country with documentation or not, have full access to all city services," says City Mayor Kathy Porter.
"It also means that our police department does not co-operate with the federal immigration and customs enforcement department in enforcing federal immigration laws."
Ms Porter believes that the federal immigration policy is the responsibility of the federal government alone.
"As a local official, my responsibility is to provide services to my residents," she adds.
"And I believe that having an open policy towards immigrants helps preserve public order because it encourages a relationship of trust between the police department and our immigrant communities."
Advocacy groups say the growing patchwork of state and local legislation is not the solution to America's immigration issue.
Mary Waslin, of the Immigration Policy Centre, says it should be the responsibility of Congress - and that some of the harsher local laws are causing deep division across the country.
"You cannot tell somebody's immigration status simply by looking at them, by their appearance," she says.
"So where these proposals have come up we've seen a great deal of discrimination and racial profiling.
"People assume that certain people are immigrants or assume that they are undocumented immigrants based on their appearance.
"And so what we've seen is that the entire Latino community, for instance, is feeling increasingly under attack, regardless of their immigration status."
Many regions are facing legal challenges to their local immigration laws.
And with Congress unlikely to tackle the crisis for at least another year or more, immigration has become a hot topic among White House contenders.
Finding a new way forward will be one of the most pressing tasks facing the new president.
Published: 2007/12/15 13:39:13 GMT
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 9:00 AM
Friday, December 14, 2007
Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:59am EST
(Reuters) - Three weeks before Iowa kicks off the state-by-state battle to choose the Republican and Democratic candidates for the November 2008 presidential election, politicians are walking a fine line between appeasing anti-immigration sentiment without turning off Hispanic voters.
Here are some facts on immigration in the United States.
* There were an estimated 34.2 million immigrants in the United States in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of these, 18.3 million came from Latin America, 8.7 million from Asia and 4.7 million from Europe.
* An estimated 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States, roughly one in every 20 workers, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center based on government figures.
* Some 1.1 million people were arrested crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in 2006, most of them from Mexico and Central America.
* In 2006, President George W. Bush proposed an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, offering a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants, together with a guest worker program, and tougher border and workplace enforcement.
* The legislation was opposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives who backed a tougher security program but were against any effort to grant citizenship rights to illegal immigrants.
(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/category/events/trail08/)
(Writing by Tim Gaynor and Paul Grant)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
7 de diciembre de 2007
La defensa de migrantes en EU ha sido “eficaz y constante”, asegura la SRE
Este año han muerto 477 connacionales y serán deportados más de un millón
La defensa de migrantes en EU ha sido “eficaz y constante”, asegura la SRE
Exhorto de Calderón a evitar el lenguaje “antimexicano” en las campañas de ese país
José Antonio Román / La Jornada
La titular de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE), Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, aseguró que la política de atención y defensa de migrantes “ha sido muy eficaz y constante”, pese a que este año serán deportados casi un millón de mexicanos y 477 connacionales han muerto en su intento por cruzar hacia Estados Unidos, siete de ellos por acciones violentas de la Patrulla Fronteriza y de otras corporaciones policiacas.
La funcionaria informó que este viernes el presidente Felipe Calderón se reunirá con los embajadores y cónsules de México en Estados Unidos y Canadá, a quienes dará instrucciones precisas sobre el trabajo que deberán realizar en defensa de los migrantes. Hasta el 30 de noviembre pasado, agregó, se ha brindado atención a 96 mil 699 mexicanos con problemas legales en el extranjero (95 por ciento en el vecino país).
La canciller señaló que el gobierno mexicano, por conducto de sus representaciones consulares, pretende poner freno al lenguaje “antimexicano” que domina en la precampaña presidencial en Estados Unidos. Recordó que el presidente Calderón ha hecho un exhorto “firme, pero respetuoso” a los aspirantes estadunidenses para que “se abstengan de utilizar el tema migratorio en sus campañas políticas”.
En conferencia, la canciller dijo: “quisiera tener confianza” en que la Iniciativa Mérida será aprobada por el Congreso estadunidense en los próximos meses, y aclaró que el esfuerzo de México en el combate al narcotráfico no depende de los recursos que recibiría de Washington (mil 400 millones de dólares en tres años).
La titular de la SRE se refirió también a la candidatura de México para ocupar un asiento no permanente en el Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas (2009-2010); la lucha contra el narcotráfico y el crimen organizado; la posible visita de Calderón a Estados Unidos en 2008; la imagen internacional de México a partir de los hechos de violencia, y la extradición de Mario Villanueva. Además, hizo un balance del primer año de gobierno del presidente Calderón.
“No aceptaremos condicionamientos”
Aceptó que los hechos violentos resultan “llamativos” a escala internacional, pero sostuvo que también hay un “amplísimo” reconocimiento al esfuerzo y “valentía” con que ha actuado el gobierno federal en el combate al crimen organizado.
Prueba de ello, dijo, es el acuerdo con Washington para impulsar la llamada Iniciativa Mérida. Señaló que el Congreso estadunidense tendrá la última palabra en este asunto y subrayó que México no aceptará condicionamientos, además de que existe un firme compromiso para transparentar el uso de los recursos que aportaría el país vecino.
Por otra parte, Espinosa Cantellano rechazó que haya fracasado la defensa de los migrantes, sometidos actualmente en Estados Unidos a una política de detenciones y deportaciones masivas, que seguramente incrementarán el número de expulsados y de muertes en la frontera.
Destacó que en 2007 se abrieron varios consulados en Estados Unidos (actualmente suman 47) y sostuvo que “la política de atención y defensa de los derechos de los connacionales ha sido realmente muy eficaz, ha sido una política constante”.
Sobre la extradición de Mario Villanueva a Estados Unidos, aceptó que la decisión de una jueza de otorgarle un amparo al ex mandatario local ha dejado, por el momento, al gobierno prácticamente sin posibilidades de enviarlo a ese país.
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 8:07 PM
Hate Groups Hijack Immigration Debate
by Mark Potok, New America Media,
Posted: Dec 13, 2007
Mark Potok is the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which investigates hate groups, and the editor of the "SPLC's Intelligence Report".
When it comes to debating immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has a knack for finding a place at the table to pitch its position.
In the past six years, FAIR officials have testified at least 30 times before Congress, and they have been quoted by the mainstream media more than 500 times so far in 2007. Earlier this year, the group played a key role in defeating bipartisan immigration reform legislation in Congress. In short, FAIR is taken seriously as a legitimate commentator.
It shouldn't be.
Despite its frequent turns in the media spotlight, FAIR has a 20-year track record of bigotry and extremism that has led the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to classify the organization as a hate group. The latest issue of the SPLC's quarterly Intelligence Report
* FAIR was founded in 1979 by John Tanton, who has compared immigrants to "bacteria" and warned that high birthrates will allow Latinos to "take over" America. Still a member of FAIR's board, Tanton also operates The Social Contract Press, listed as a hate group for many years by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its white supremacist writings.
* FAIR has accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a racist foundation devoted to eugenics and to proving a connection between race and IQ. While others have returned the fund's money after learning of their background, FAIR President Dan Stein had no qualms about it, telling a reporter in 1993, "My job is to get every dime of Pioneer's money."
* Key staff members at FAIR have ties to white supremacist groups. For example, Joseph Turner, who was hired by FAIR in late 2006 as its western field representative, led a nativist hate group called Save Our State. Turner also defended white separatism on Save Our State's electronic bulletin board.
* FAIR has successfully spread racist conspiracy theories, including the bogus claim that Mexico has set its sights on "reconquering" the Southwest and the notion of a secret plot to merge the United States, Canada and Mexico.
While much of this information has been available for years, it has not affected FAIR's standing in the media. However, FAIR left little doubt about the way it does business this past February when a top official met with the leaders of Vlaams Belang, a Belgian political party that under its previous name, Vlaams Blok, was officially banned by the Belgian Supreme Court as a racist and xenophobic group. The meeting was held to seek the Europeans' "advice" on immigration.
This meeting led the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate group activity, to take another look at FAIR. Upon completing the investigation, it was obvious that FAIR qualified as a hate group. Early next year, when the SPLC's annual hate group list is published, FAIR will be on the list.
The listing of FAIR as a hate group is significant because FAIR is the hub of the American nativist movement. Its position on immigration is rooted more in its anti-Latino and anti-Catholic beliefs than in policy concerns.
Remarkably, FAIR has infiltrated the mainstream and shaped the immigration debate in this country. This group, more than any other, has contributed to the rancid turn the national immigration discussion has taken. With FAIR fanning the flames of xenophobic intolerance, hate groups and hate crimes directed at Latinos continue to rise in America.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a 40 percent increase in the number of hate groups since 2000, an increase that SPLC analysts attribute to the anti-immigrant fervor that is sweeping the country. The FBI recently released statistics showing a 35 percent rise in hate crimes against Latinos since 2003.
This country deserves an open and honest immigration debate. However, the debate has proven to be a fertile ground for hate groups looking to spread their racist beliefs under the guise of immigration reform. That is why it is crucial for the American public to understand the background and motives of the groups shaping this debate, such as FAIR. The nation's immigration debate is simply too important to be poisoned by a bigoted group manipulating it for its own xenophobic reasons.
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 7:24 PM