Saturday, September 29, 2007

Elvira Arellano, a Latina Civil Rights Leader, is Our Rosa Parks

Here is the article that I mentioned in class that refers to Elvira Arellano as Latinos' Rosa Parks. -Angela

Elvira Arellano, a Latina Civil Rights Leader, is Our Rosa Parks

Sept 12, National Day of Action

A Commentary for KPFK-Radio Pacifica

By Javier Rodriguez Sept. 19, 2007

On September 12, 2007, in a reported 100 cities in the country, the immigrant rights movement staged a successful National Day of Action. It was initially convened by deported leader Elvira Arellano before leaving the protection of her sanctuary church in Chicago, again during her brief stay in LA and finally from the border city of Tijuana, after her 8 hour record breaking deportation. Her call was ambitious, it included NO WORK, NO BUYING, NO SCHOOL, NO SELLING, but our Rosa Parks layed all out. She traded the Christian bars of sanctuary and the unity of her family for her freedom and the ultimate tool of the empire against undocumented immigrants, the fascist boot of deportation. Like Rosa Parks, she defied an unjust and inhuman law. She wanted to motivate and spark the new civil rights movement in the US. The one that last year made history by defeating the Sensenbrenner Bill and has brought back May 1, International Workers Day to the US, its birthplace. The one also
fighting for the empowerment of 13 million plus immigrants, including the estimated 3.3 million children born in the US to 600,000 women under orders of deportation. These are the new slaves of modern America. They are part of 250 million immigrants displaced from their countries by transnational globalization spread out throughout the planet. They are part of the multifaceted neo liberalist strategy designed by an incipient transnational capitalist class, which in conjunction with local governments and ruling classes, brutally and savagely exploit their homelands creating then the rampant misery which forces them to leave their nations and separate their families.

Her arrest was no different than the thousand of others made by ICE, the immigration and Customs Enforcement, against immigrants. Under the veil of seeking criminals, they enter our communities early in the mornings and terrorize families, including children, marking them for life and then take away the collateral damage, workers. This is the campaign of terror unleashed by the Bush administration in response to the mega marches of March 25 and the May 1 Great American Boycott. Like Rosa parks and her working group planned to defy sitting in back of the bus, Elvira Arellano and her Chicago group also planned to defy arrest and deportation. And she sparked the movement. She arrived with her son Saul to Los Angeles on August 18, the same day five thousand people marched again for immigrant rights. Within 3 hours of her arrest on the following day, we responded and announced to the world she had been arrested and her human rights violated. Three hours later we held a vigil
and an agreement was reached to convene all forces and the following day, the Unity Coalition "Todos Somos Elvira y Saulito" was born. Three and half days after, on August 25, 10,000 people marched in LA demanding her return to the US and pledged to continue the fight for a humane immigration reform.

On Sept 12, press conferences, protests, vigils and forums were held throughout the country and a national delegation arrived in Washington. Unbelievably, we marched in the halls of congress, militantly close to two hundred teen agers and activists chanted inside the offices of Speaker NancyPelosi, "Born in the USA, don't take my mommy and daddy away". Additionally, the Los Angeles delegation conveyed an unequivocal message to Cong Luis Gutierrez and the democrats: we want an inclusive legalization program similar to the 1986 IRCA Immigration with a one year wait for permanent residency, not fourteen years.

The historical struggle continues, Elvira and Saulito are are now in Michoacan. Saul is in School. As I did up until the age of twelve, he will learn schooled Spanish and of course the history of his mother's homeland, Mexico, my country, my history.

Javier Rodriguez, a journalist, is a media and a political strategist in Los Angeles.
This edited commentary was aired on Evening News-on September 19, 2007. Look for it on the net.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Postage stamp to honor Salazar

The honoring of the late Rubén Salazar is indeed a sign of both good will and increasing political strength of the Latino community. One gets a glimpse in this piece of the heightened tensions and violence that befell the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement protesters (Chicanos and Chicanas) and also how it merged with the anti-Viet Nam War movement. It is also worth noting that Salazar was a naturalized immigrant.

Dra. Valenzuela

Annie Wells / LAT
Olga Briseño, right, director of the University of Arizona’s Media, Democracy & Policy Initiative, reviews letters with Consuelo Aguilar, the former student who assisted her with research that helped persuade the Postal Service to issue a stamp to honor Ruben Salazar.

The Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2007

Postage stamp to honor Salazar
The journalist, who was killed during a riot in L.A., is honored for 'giving voice to those who didn't have one.'

Ruben Salazar died Aug. 29, 1970, in East Los Angeles. He was 42.

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 25, 2007
In honor of trailblazing newsman Ruben Salazar's relentless efforts to chronicle the complexity of race relations in Los Angeles, the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 will issue a commemorative stamp of the former Los Angeles Times reporter and columnist.

"He was a groundbreaker for Latinos in this country, but his work spoke to all Americans," Postmaster Gen. John E. Potter said Monday. "By giving voice to those who didn't have one, Ruben Salazar worked to improve life for everybody. His reporting of the Latino experience in this country set a standard that's rarely met even today."

It was the way Salazar died that made him a martyr to many in the Mexican American community. His head was shattered by a heavy, torpedo-shaped tear gas projectile fired by a sheriff's deputy during a riot Salazar was covering in East Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 1970.

Salazar was 42.

"Ruben Salazar put an indelible stamp on the profession of journalism in Los Angeles," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "From the battlefields of Vietnam to the streets of East L.A., he reported the news with a rare combination of toughness and humanity. It's great to finally see his legacy honored on a national level with the issuance of this postage stamp."

Tens of millions of the first-class 41-cent stamps will be issued some time next year, Postal Service officials said. It will be among five stamps honoring U.S. journalists to be officially unveiled in Washington on Oct. 5.

"Ruben Salazar was a courageous and pioneering journalist, and we were honored to have him as a colleague at The Times," said Los Angeles Times Publisher David Hiller. "This commemorative stamp is a fine tribute to his legacy that lives on in the communities he served so resolutely."

Parks, schools, libraries and highways have been named after Salazar, and books, murals, plays and films have been inspired by his life.

Media and corporate foundations each year donate millions of dollars to honor Salazar through scholarships and awards.

Some Mexican Americans called him la voz de la Raza, the voice of the people, and his often blunt columns spoke to the desires and frustrations of a community. The year he died, he wrote:

"Chicanos feel cheated. They want to effect change. . .

"That is why Mexican American activists flaunt the barrio word Chicano -- as an act of defiance and a badge of honor. Mexican Americans, though large in numbers, are so politically impotent that in Los Angeles, where the country's largest single concentration of Spanish-speaking live, they have no one of their own on the City Council."

When told that Salazar was to be honored with a stamp, Ray Reyes, principal of Ruben Salazar High School, a continuation campus of 260 students in Pico Rivera, said, "Awesome! I always wear my Ruben Salazar staff shirt on Fridays, and it's amazing how many people know who he was -- and I'm talking about students who weren't even born when he was writing his columns."

Postal Service officials said it was supporters like Olga Briseño, director of the University of Arizona's Media, Democracy & Policy Initiative, who made the idea of a commemorative stamp a reality.

Over the past two years, Briseño and a small army of Latino studies students, elected officials, organizations and entertainers, including members of the band Los Lobos, collected 10 pounds worth of petitions and resolutions, which were dispatched to the Postal Service.

"We never gave up," Briseño said. "We anticipated every possible way they could turn us down, then filled in those gaps."

Salazar was 8 months old when his parents moved from Juarez to El Paso, where he became a naturalized citizen. He attended the University of Texas at El Paso and earned a journalism degree.

He got his start in 1955 at the El Paso Herald-Post. In 1963, four years after he stepped into the Los Angeles Times newsroom, Salazar won awards for a hard-fisted series examining problems and issues that still plague the Latino community today: substandard education, disproportionate high school dropout rates, immigration and the search for identity in U.S. society.

As a Times correspondent in the 1960s, Salazar covered the Dominican Republic, the Vietnam War and Mexico.

In 1969 he returned to Los Angeles to report on the Mexican American community.

In January 1970, he left The Times to become news director for the Spanish-language television station KMEX. He was labeled a left-leaning Latino agitator by police, but that was an unlikely description of the man who had married a white woman, lived in an Orange County home with a swimming pool and called himself "middle class Establishment."

On a sweltering, smog-shrouded Saturday afternoon, about 20,000 marchers who had gathered in East Los Angeles to protest the Vietnam War clashed with sheriff's deputies. When the smoke cleared, millions of dollars worth of property had been damaged, 60 people were injured and three people were dead, including Salazar.

His death jolted those who admired him. Among them was Frank Sotomayor, a reporter with Army Stars and Stripes, who had arranged to meet Salazar for a job interview.

"On the day I was discharged from the Army, I opened the San Francisco Examiner and saw a story on the bottom of the front page saying Salazar had been killed," recalled Sotomayor, associate director of USC Annenberg's Institute for Justice and Journalism.

"As Mexican Americans," Sotomayor said, "we felt he spoke for us -- that he reflected what was in our heads and in our hearts, even if we didn't necessarily agree with every one of his opinions. I think this stamp will give him the wider recognition he deserves as a pioneer of journalism."

Inspired by Salazar's legacy, Sotomayor and the dozen Latino journalists working in Los Angeles at the time formed a professional organization, the California Chicano News Media Assn., to encourage other ethnic minorities to pursue careers in journalism. Over the years, the group, which has since changed it name to CCNMA Latino Journalists of California, has awarded nearly $700,000 in scholarships to 680 students and sponsored 29 journalism opportunity conferences.

Briseño, the Arizona journalism professor, had worked closely on the stamp project with the Salazar family, which gave the Postal Service permission to use Salazar's image.

In an interview, Lisa Salazar Johnson, 46, one of Salazar's three children, said, "When the Postal Service sent me a copy of the color image they planned to use, I cried. To see the '41 cents' on a real live U.S. stamp with Dad's picture on it made me utterly proud of his accomplishments.

"However, I think he would have laughed at this honor as ridiculous," she said. "Then he would have been deeply humbled by it."

Journalist Ruben Salazar, right, meets with Robert Kennedy in 1968. His postage stamp will be issued next year.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Whether Latinos/Immigrants Contribute to Poverty in the U.S.

Things to ponder forwarded by friend and colleague at the University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Roberto Calderón. -Dra. Valenzuela

Nota: The attached copy of two op-ed columns that appeared during the past few days in the pages of The Washington Post discuss in very specific yet distinctly opposing terms the question of whether the US Latino population, and especially its immigrant community, is contributing or not to the growth of poverty and lack of health insurance coverage in the United States. Both arguments, pro and con, are based on the reading of data that runs through 2006 presented in a recent government report released on August 28, 2007. For this report see, Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica Smith, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-233, U.S. Government Printing Office, August 2007), 78pp. The U.S. Census Bureau is an administrative unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce. To read or print a copy of this report go to the report's URL

The conservative view in this debate, the "Yes" in response to our question was presented by Robert J. Samuelson, "Importing Poverty," The Washington Post, Wednesday, September 5, 2007, A21. His first paragraph states: "The government last week released its annual statistical report on poverty and household income. As usual, we -- meaning the public, the media and politicians -- missed a big part of the story. It is this: The stubborn persistence of poverty, at least as measured by the government, is increasingly a problem associated with immigration. As more poor Hispanics enter the country, poverty goes up. This is not complicated, but it is widely ignored."

The liberal and more progressive view was issued by Robert Greenstein, "Misreading the Poverty Data," The Washington Post, Tuesday, September 18, 2007, A19. Greenstein is the executive director for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. His opening paragraph stated: "In his Sept. 5 op-ed, " Importing Poverty," Robert J. Samuelson assailed the Census Bureau, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the media for missing what he views as the core of the poverty story. When discussing the figures that the Census Bureau released Aug. 28, we all failed, he said, to explain that poverty "is increasingly a problem associated with immigration," driven by the large numbers of poor Hispanics entering the country....But a careful look at the data does not support Samuelson's narrow view of how immigrants in general, and Hispanic immigrants in particular, affect poverty trends."

Following then is the complete text of these two views on the matter before us as they appeared in the editorial pages of The Washington Post. Also, access the attached PDF which contains a copy of the report.

So in response to the question of whether Latino immigrants in the U.S. contribute to an increase in poverty, you too can study the data presented in the report and arrive at your set of conclusions. We think you'll find the points in the debate interesting and pertinent to the everyday things that we do, and certainly applicable to better understanding some parts of the the currently raging arguments back and forth over Mexican and Latino immigrants and their respective contributions to society in this country. With 45 million Latinos in the U.S. and counting (representing 15 percent of the nation's population) our communities are driving the national data. Who and what we are matters. This much is clear. Our economic and medical well-being to say the least is in the best interest of the nation. Share the reading with others, saber es poder.

Importing Poverty in The Washington Post

By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A21

The government last week released its annual statistical report on poverty and household income. As usual, we -- meaning the public, the media and politicians -- missed a big part of the story. It is this: The stubborn persistence of poverty, at least as measured by the government, is increasingly a problem associated with immigration. As more poor Hispanics enter the country, poverty goes up. This is not complicated, but it is widely ignored.

The standard story is that poverty is stuck; superficially, the statistics support that. The poverty rate measures the share of Americans below the official poverty line, which in 2006 was $20,614 for a four-person household. Last year, the poverty rate was 12.3 percent, down slightly from 12.6 percent in 2005 but higher than the recent low, 11.3 percent in 2000. It was also higher than the 11.8 percent average for the 1970s. So the conventional wisdom seems amply corroborated.

It isn't. Look again at the numbers. In 2006, there were 36.5 million people in poverty. That's the figure that translates into the 12.3 percent poverty rate. In 1990, the population was smaller, and there were 33.6 million people in poverty, a rate of 13.5 percent. The increase from 1990 to 2006 was 2.9 million people (36.5 million minus 33.6 million). Hispanics accounted for all of the gain.

Consider: From 1990 to 2006, the number of poor Hispanics increased 3.2 million, from 6 million to 9.2 million. Meanwhile, the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty fell from 16.6 million (poverty rate: 8.8 percent) in 1990 to 16 million (8.2 percent) in 2006. Among blacks, there was a decline from 9.8 million in 1990 (poverty rate: 31.9 percent) to 9 million (24.3 percent) in 2006. White and black poverty has risen somewhat since 2000 but is down over longer periods.

Only an act of willful denial can separate immigration and poverty. The increase among Hispanics must be concentrated among immigrants, legal and illegal, as well as their American-born children. Yet, this story goes largely untold. Government officials didn't say much about immigration when briefing on the poverty and income reports. The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group for the poor, both held briefings. Immigration was a common no-show.

Why is it important to get this story straight?

One reason is truthfulness. It's usually held that we've made little, if any, progress against poverty. That's simply untrue. Among non-Hispanic whites, the poverty rate may be approaching some irreducible minimum: people whose personal habits, poor skills, family relations or bad luck condemn them to a marginal existence. Among blacks, the poverty rate remains abysmally high, but it has dropped sharply since the 1980s. Moreover, taking into account federal benefits (food stamps, the earned-income tax credit) that aren't counted as cash income would further reduce reported poverty.

We shouldn't think that our massive efforts to mitigate poverty have had no effect. Immigration hides our grudging progress.

A second reason is that immigration affects government policy. By default, our present policy is to import poor people. This imposes strains on local schools, public services and health care. From 2000 to 2006, 41 percent of the increase in people without health insurance occurred among Hispanics. Paradoxically, many Hispanics are advancing quite rapidly. But assimilation -- which should be our goal -- will be frustrated if we keep adding to the pool of poor. Newcomers will compete with earlier arrivals. In my view, though some economists disagree, competition from low-skilled Hispanics also hurts low-skilled blacks.

We need an immigration policy that makes sense. My oft-stated belief is that legal immigration should favor the high-skilled over the low-skilled. They will assimilate quickest and aid the economy the most. As for present illegal immigrants, we should give most of them legal status, both as a matter of practicality and fairness. Many have been here for years and have American children. At the same time, we should clamp down on new illegal immigration through tougher border controls and employer sanctions.

Whatever one's views, any sensible debate requires accurate information. There's the rub. Among many analysts, journalists and politicians, it's politically or psychologically discomforting to discuss these issues candidly. Robert Greenstein, head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says his group focuses on short-term trends, where immigration's role isn't so apparent. Conveniently, that avoids antagonizing some of the center's supporters.

Journalists are also leery of making the connection. Fifty-four reporters signed up for the center's briefing last week. With one exception (me), none asked about immigration's effect on poverty or incomes. But the evidence is hiding in plain sight, and the facts won't vanish just because we ignore them.


Misreading the Poverty Data from the

By Robert Greenstein
Tuesday, September 18, 2007; A19

In his Sept. 5 op-ed, " Importing Poverty," Robert J. Samuelson assailed the Census Bureau, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the media for missing what he views as the core of the poverty story. When discussing the figures that the Census Bureau released Aug. 28, we all failed, he said, to explain that poverty "is increasingly a problem associated with immigration," driven by the large numbers of poor Hispanics entering the country.

But a careful look at the data does not support Samuelson's narrow view of how immigrants in general, and Hispanic immigrants in particular, affect poverty trends.

The poverty rate in 2006 was 12.3 percent. If immigration had not increased, and immigrants and their family members comprised the same share of the population in 2006 as in 1993 (the first year for which these Census Bureau data are available), the poverty rate would be nearly the same, about 12 percent.

There is debate on whether immigration lowers the wages of natives -- and the research on that subject is mixed -- but even if it does, the added effect on the poverty rate would be small. Immigrants do experience more poverty than native-born citizens, but they are not driving the nation's poverty rate.

In addition, the overall drop in the poverty rate and the rise in national median income in 2006, compared with 2005, were driven by improvement among Hispanics. Hispanic poverty fell, and the median income of Hispanic households rose. Non-Hispanic whites and African Americans, by contrast, experienced no such improvement.

Indeed, since 2001, Hispanics have made considerably more progress against poverty than the other groups. Their poverty rate is lower than it was in 2000, before the last recession -- it stands at its lowest level on record -- while poverty rates for non-Hispanic whites and blacks remain well above their pre-recession levels.

Samuelson focused on longer-term trends and, in particular, on changes in the number of poor Hispanics since 1990, using Hispanics as a proxy for immigrants. But in doing so, he told only one side of the story.

In the 1990s, the number of poor Hispanics did increase substantially even as the number of non-Hispanic poor declined. So Hispanics accounted for the entire increase in the poverty population in that decade. But that's not true since 2000. The Pew Hispanic Center has found that newly arrived Hispanic immigrant workers were better educated and much less likely to be low-wage earners in 2005 than in 1995.

Moreover, even while the number of poor Hispanics rose markedly in the 1990s, the Hispanic poverty rate -- that is, the percentage of Hispanics in poverty -- fell, and it fell more than the poverty rate for the rest of the country. Since then, the Hispanic poverty rate has continued falling (except for temporary increases related to recessions), even as large numbers of new immigrants continue to enter the United States.

How could this be? How could the number of poor Hispanics rise but the percentage of Hispanics who are poor fall sharply? Because the Hispanic population is growing so quickly. Samuelson complained that there were 3.2 million more poor Hispanics in 2006 than in 1990. He did not mention that the number of non-poor Hispanics -- including doctors, teachers, small-business owners, waiters and members of the armed forces -- grew by 20 million over the same period. (And contrary to Samuelson's implication that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ignores poverty increases among Hispanics to avoid upsetting its supporters, we reported frequently in the 1990s on the rising numbers of poor Hispanics and the role of immigration in contributing to that increase.)

Nor was poverty the only issue on which Samuelson's focus was too narrow. He noted, correctly, that Hispanics accounted for 41 percent of the increase, since 2000, in the number of Americans who lack health insurance. That sounds alarming, until you realize that Hispanic population growth accounted for 51 percent of total U.S. population growth over this period.

In fact, Hispanics also accounted for 60 percent of the increase in the number of people with insurance. And the percentage of Hispanics who are uninsured grew more slowly than the percentage of non-Hispanics who lack insurance.

Poverty, race, ethnicity and immigration are complicated and controversial issues, and they arouse strong passions. That's all the more reason that we should be careful how we use data to tell a story. We should not oversimplify a complicated story, as the normally careful Samuelson has done here.

The writer is executive director of theCenter on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Spitzer Grants Illegal Immigrants Easier Access to Driver’s Licenses

Wonderful news! Yes, it makes common sense: "The governor called it a “common sense change” that will improve traffic safety and lower insurance costs for all New Yorkers by ensuring that more immigrants have valid licenses and auto insurance. Giving more immigrants verifiable identification will also enhance law enforcement by bringing people out of the shadows, he asserted.

Dra. Valenzuela

September 22, 2007
Spitzer Grants Illegal Immigrants Easier Access to Driver’s Licenses

New York State, home to more than 500,000 illegal immigrants, will issue driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status under a policy change announced yesterday by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The change rolls back rules adopted four years ago under the Pataki administration that made it difficult, if not impossible, for tens of thousands of immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses because they could not prove legal status. Under the new rules, the Department of Motor Vehicles will accept a current foreign passport as proof of identity without also requiring a valid yearlong visa or other evidence of legal immigration.

The policy, which does not require legislative approval, will be phased in starting in December and will be tied to new antifraud measures, the governor said. Those measures will include the authentication of foreign passports and the use of photo comparison technology to ensure that no driver has more than one license.

The governor called it a “common sense change” that will improve traffic safety and lower insurance costs for all New Yorkers by ensuring that more immigrants have valid licenses and auto insurance. Giving more immigrants verifiable identification will also enhance law enforcement by bringing people out of the shadows, he asserted.

“The D.M.V. is not the I.N.S.,” Mr. Spitzer said, referring to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, now part of Homeland Security, by its old initials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The move goes against the national trend. Many states, prodded by demands to crack down on identity fraud, have added requirements that effectively prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses.

All but eight states now require drivers to prove legal status to obtain driver’s licenses, and those eight — Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington — have come under pressure to add such a requirement.

To keep New York from becoming a magnet for people unable to obtain driver’s licenses elsewhere, the Spitzer administration will propose legislation to add a residency requirement similar to one already in effect in 27 states, David J. Swarts, the motor vehicles commissioner, said.

Mr. Swarts and other officials pointed to a study showing that unlicensed drivers were almost five times more likely to be in fatal crashes than people with valid driver’s licenses. The State Department of Insurance estimates that the new rules will save New York drivers $120 million each year by reducing premium costs associated with uninsured motorists by 34 percent.

The change fulfilled a promise Mr. Spitzer made repeatedly last year in his campaign, and it was hailed by immigrant organizations and labor unions that had pushed hard for it. Those groups said that the regulations imposed by the Pataki administration had hurt about 250,000 immigrants who needed licenses to drive to work, to hospitals or to schools.

“Immigrant communities throughout the nation can take heart that today’s victory may begin to turn the tide toward sensible and humane reforms at the federal level,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella group for more than 150 immigrant self-help and advocacy organizations.

But the new policy drew immediate fire from groups that had welcomed the Pataki administration rules as a needed crackdown on license fraud and as the kind of national security measure demanded by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Peter Gadiel, the president of 9/11 Families for a Secure America, whose son died in the World Trade Center, released a scathing statement even before the official announcement yesterday.

“Governor Spitzer will demonstrate abject stupidity and breathtaking disregard for the victims of 9/11 if he hands these powerful ID’s to people who sneak across our borders,” he wrote. “Terrorists here illegally used licenses to kill my son and thousands of others in the World Trade Center; if they do it again using New York licenses issued by this governor, the blood of the victims will be on Mr. Spitzer’s hands.”

When that statement was read aloud by a reporter to Mr. Spitzer, he seemed taken aback, then called the words inflammatory and “way beyond” the bounds of appropriate discourse. He added that people who ignore the reality of illegal immigrants only encourage the use of false Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses.

Michael A. L. Balboni, Mr. Spitzer’s deputy secretary for public safety, said the New York driver’s license was one of the most secure documents in the nation and that the new licensing regime would make it even better.

Social Security cards and birth certificates, which include no photos or other biometric data, have also been prone to fraud, he said.

New York will join 18 other states in trying technology that will check a driver’s photo overnight against all other photos in the state’s driver database, to prevent people from holding multiple licenses, officials said. The technology will be tested in a pilot project upstate.

The new policy will start with about 152,000 New Yorkers who have, or once had, licenses but were unable to renew them under the Pataki rules, Mr. Swarts said. This group will be notified by letter next week about how to begin a relicensing process. It will start at the end of the year, and for some will involve a new road test.

A second phase, to begin in April, will open the application process to all, with as many as 500,000 people newly eligible for licenses. This will involve a more rigorous screening, Mr. Swarts said, including a four- to six-week process of authenticating foreign passports and other foreign identity documents.

Across the street from the Midtown office building where Mr. Spitzer delivered the news, a throng of jubilant immigrants from community organizations waved signs and shouted their approval.

One member of the group, who would identify himself only as Cesar, an immigrant from Peru, said he had been afraid of driving without authorization and had had to depend on friends to drive him to work. “Now, thank God, I won’t have this difficulty in my life,” he said.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hispanic Voters Flex Political Muscle

The statistics he provides below really are astounding. Demographic change is happening really quickly. The trick is for people not to be afraid of it, but rather to see it as an opportunity like a number of politicos now see it. This, of course, makes the politics over immigration that much more murky, making it difficult to pass any kind of legislation out of fear of alienating folks (for instance, those who are pro-amnesty and anti-guestworker program-- like churches and immigrant rights groups and those who are pro guestworker programs).


Hispanic Voters Flex Political Muscle


September 15, 2007; Page A7

The first Spanish-language debate among Democratic presidential
candidates last weekend on the Univision network underscored the growing
political clout of Hispanics.

But only one Republican, Sen. John McCain, agreed to participate in a
similar forum for Republicans originally scheduled for Sunday, prompting
the network to postpone the debate indefinitely. Most Republican
candidates have taken a strong stand against immigration-overhaul
efforts and risked facing a hostile audience.

"We can't survive as a party without getting more of the Hispanic

--Matthew Dowd, Republican Strategist

* Vote: Which issue should get more attention in the presidential

* Review & Outlook: Hispanics and the GOP

The decision not to attend the debate could be seen by the Hispanic
community as a snub and underscores the feeling that Republicans are
turning away from Hispanics. That sentiment threatens to unravel the
gains made by President Bush, who has aggressively courted Hispanic
votes since his days as Texas governor, increasing his share among
Hispanic voters to about 44% in the 2004 election from 35% in 2000. Both
parties are already courting Hispanics. Democratic hopeful Barack Obama
and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have launched Spanish-language
radio ads in Nevada and Florida, respectively.

Here's a closer look:

How has Hispanic influence grown? Hispanics are the fastest-growing
minority group in America, at 14% of the population. But they now
represent 9% of the electorate because of lower citizenship and
participation rates. About one-third of the 44 million Hispanics in
America are too young to vote, while one-quarter aren't citizens. But
the immigration debate, which sparked massive rallies last year across
the country, is widely expected to boost Hispanic political
participation. Hispanics accounted for 8% of the electorate in 2006's
elections, up from 6% in 2002. Univision has promoted a national
campaign to get U.S. citizenship for one million legal permanent
residents and register them to vote. Citizenship applications were up
59% in the first five months of the year.

Which party has an edge? While about 85% of African-American voters
consistently weighed in for Democratic candidates during the past few
decades, Democratic support among Hispanics has slipped in recent years,
from 73% for Bill Clinton in 1996 to 53% for John Kerry in 2004.

President Bush and political adviser Karl Rove attracted Hispanic voters
to the Republican slate by emphasizing the importance of family and
culture and by calling for immigration overhauls. While Bob Dole won
about 21% of the Hispanic vote in 1996, Mr. Bush received double that
rate of support in 2004. Joe Garcia, the director of the Hispanic
Strategy Center at NDN, a Democratic political organization, describes
the GOP's gains as "one of the single greatest accomplishments in modern

President Bush and Mr. Rove had hoped that by building on those gains,
the Republican Party could become competitive in traditional Democratic
strongholds like California. But that strategy suffered a huge setback
earlier this year when House Republicans attacked the idea of an
immigration overhaul and pushed for tougher border enforcement instead.
Many Hispanics felt that the tenor of the debate stoked anti-Hispanic

Protestors march for immigration overhauls in Washington in 2006 as
part of nationwide rallies.

How could the Hispanic vote reshape the electoral map? Winning the
Hispanic vote could be important for either party because of the growing
numbers of Hispanics in such swing states as Florida, Nevada, Colorado,
Arizona and New Mexico, which all voted for President Bush in 2004.

Demographic growth appears to favor Democrats. Even if the Republicans
maintain President Bush's support among Hispanics in the 2008 election,
Democrats would win a 500,000 net increase in votes based solely on
population trends, according to a study by Democratic strategist Ken
Strasma and the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University. By
2020, four states that voted for President Bush in 2004 -- Nevada, New
Mexico, Iowa and Ohio -- would fall into Democratic hands. That would
have been more than enough to deliver the White House to the Democrats
in the last presidential election.

What effect could immigration have?

Republican opposition to immigration overhauls could further mobilize
Hispanic voters and drive them from the Republican Party, some analysts
warn. They see a parallel to California in 1994. That year, Republicans
passed Proposition 187, which denied illegal immigrants public services
but was later ruled unconstitutional in federal court. The measure
alienated Hispanic citizens and Republican candidates have fared poorly
in the state ever since. Three-quarters of Democrats favor more
restrictions on immigration, and three recently elected Democratic
senators, in Virginia, Missouri and Montana, voted against immigration
overhauls earlier this year.
* * *


* Foreign-born Hispanics accounted for 48% of Hispanic voters in
2004, up from 18% in 1988.

* The average age of viewers in last Sunday's Univision debate was
36. The average for English-language debates this year was 61.

* Largely because of Spanish-language Univision viewership, the 2006
World Cup Finals had more U.S. viewers than the 2006 NBA finals.

* George W. Bush spent $3.3 million on Spanish-language TV ads in
2004. John Kerry spent $1.3 million.

* A June Pew Research Center poll found 59% of Americans want to give
illegal immigrants a chance to be citizens.

* President Bush ran a 2004 Spanish-language television ad that
featured a song with the refrain, "I'm with Bush because he knows my

* To increase participation in next year's state caucus, the Nevada
Democratic Party has sponsored a soccer team, "Los Democratas."

Write to Nick Timiraos at

Saturday, September 15, 2007

At the U.S. Border, the Desert Takes a Rising Toll

I wish more people knew just how much of a humanitarian crisis this (deaths of immigrant) along the border have become. I quote: "The number of migrants dying while trying to cross here in Pima County is on pace to set a record, according to the county medical examiner." -Dra. Valenzuela

September 15, 2007
At the U.S. Border, the Desert Takes a Rising Toll


SASABE, Ariz. — “I can’t breathe,” Felicitas Martínez Barradas gasped to her cousin as they stumbled across the border in 100-degree heat. “The sun is killing me.”

They had been walking for a day and a half through the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona, the purgatory that countless illegal immigrants pass through on their way from Mexico to the United States.

Ms. Martínez was 29 and not fit. A smuggler handed her a can of carbonated energy drink and caffeine pills. But she only got sicker and passed out, said her cousin, Julio Díaz.

There, near a mesquite tree a little over 10 miles from the border, Ms. Martínez died, her eyes open to the starry sky, her arms across her chest and Mr. Díaz, 17, at her side.

Gone was her dream of making enough money in the United States for a house for her four young children in Mexico.

“She was very set in her ways,” said a sister in Mexico, Ely, who had tried to persuade Ms. Martínez not to leave. “Once she decided to do something, there was no stopping her.”

The Border Patrol has reported a large drop in the number of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border with Mexico this year, the consequence, the agency says, of additional agents and the presence of National Guard troops. Yet the number of migrants dying while trying to cross here in Pima County is on pace to set a record, according to the county medical examiner.

Pima County, which includes the Tucson area, is one of the busiest areas for illegal crossings along the 2,000-mile border. The medical examiner’s office handled 177 deaths of border crossers in the first eight months of this year, compared with 139 over the same period last year and 157 in 2005, the year the most such deaths were registered.

The death of Ms. Martínez in July illustrates a primary reason that immigration scholars, the Border Patrol and government officials in the United States and Mexico believe people continue dying at such high rates: As they increasingly avoid heavily patrolled urban areas, they cross with little or no knowledge of the desert, whose heat, insects, wildlife and rugged terrain make it some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet.

Like Ms. Martínez, who had worked cleaning houses in Mexico, many crossers arrive from central and southern Mexico, which is cooler and wetter than Arizona and where people are less familiar with the desert and its perils.

Before entering the Sonoran Desert, she had completed a three-day trip to the Mexican side of the border, part of the marathon trek from her lush, verdant subtropical village of Tepetlán, a four-hour drive northeast from Mexico City in Veracruz state.

Her cousin, Mr. Díaz, said they stayed in a room at the border with 15 other crossers and were each given two cans of tuna, a bag of tortilla chips, and six liters of water — a gallon and a half — by a smuggler before setting off for the desert.

The growing death toll here in recent years follows a Border Patrol clampdown in California and Texas. The goal was to drive migrant traffic away from cities like San Diego and El Paso and into the remote desert on the assumption it would act as a deterrent. But while there is no way of knowing its overall effect, the strategy is serving at least in part as a funnel for untold numbers of migrants.

The Government Accountability Office, in a report last year that analyzed Border Patrol statistics, said the annual number of reported deaths of border crossers doubled to 472 between 1995 and 2005, with the majority of those deaths in the desert near Tucson. The report suggested the agency has undercounted deaths because of inconsistent classification.

Border Patrol officials say that as the agency continues to add agents, as recently authorized by Congress, they will be better able to patrol the toughest areas of the Sonoran Desert. It said commanders recently met to finalize better methods to count migrant deaths.

“We are well aware of the perils of crossing the desert,” said Lloyd Easterling, an agency spokesman. “That’s why we are trying to get people to places to deter people from crossing to begin with.”

At the Mexican consulate in Tucson, a map is adorned with yellow and blue pieces of tape, for females and males, marking where migrants have died. Ms. Martínez is yellow No. 114.

Jerónimo García Ceballos, a consular official, maintains the map and devotes much of his work to identifying the dead and arranging for their bodies to be returned to Mexico.

Mr. García’s office is adorned with posters with slogans like “Don’t leave your life in the desert; your family asks you not to,” an example of the public service announcements that both Mexico and the United States Border Patrol have used along known migrant trails.

Ms. Martinez had telephoned home as she hopscotched across Mexico with Mr. Díaz. They rode in a smuggler’s sport utility vehicle to Xalapa, took a bus to Mexico City and then another, three-day bus trip to Altar, a ragged town that is a major staging area for migrants 50 miles south of the border.

“I would tell her it’s not too late to come back, I would work to pay off the smuggler,” said Ms. Martínez’s father, Vicente Martínez Ortega, recalling his telephone conversations with her along the way.

From Altar, they were driven toward the border in a van, Mr. Díaz said, and once they got close, they began walking. They headed along a known smuggling route toward Route 86 in Arizona, where migrants are often picked up and eventually carried to points across the United States.

Mr. Díaz said they were assured it would be a day or so of walking but Border Patrol agents say from the border to Route 86 is more like a three- or four-day walk.

Ms. Martínez’s last call home came a couple of days before she died. “She said, ‘Daddy, I’ve reached the border,’ ” Mr. Martínez said.

Tepetlán, a village of 1,800 people on a high plateau in the southeastern flanks of the Sierra Madre Oriental, has shrunk in population in recent years as scores of its citizens head “al otro lado,” to the other side, as the United States is called.

Family and friends there said Ms. Martínez had chosen to believe, like many others who try to cross, that nothing ill would come to her.

Her younger brother had successfully made a similar journey eight months before and found work at a factory in Georgia, but said he had told his sister of the exhausting, broiling march in the desert and warned her not to do it.

“I told her work here is hard and sometimes there isn’t any,” her brother Vicente, 24, said in a telephone interview from Georgia, where his job helps support his parents, wife and two young children in Tepetlán. “But she thought everything would come out all right.”

Her father had crossed several years ago in San Diego, scrambling away from Border Patrol agents tracking him and his group with helicopters and floodlights. He found field work in California and Nebraska and sold ice cream pops in Chicago before tiring of the climate and intermittent work and returning home to harvest coffee in Tepetlán.

Mr. Díaz, too, had made the trek just a year before, but said he was caught by the Border Patrol and immediately deported.

The Martínez family lives modestly in a two-room house in Tepetlán. It sits on an unpaved road where rural scenes naturally unfold: men riding burros, boys playing with a captured armadillo, and fish and fruit vendors hawking wares from battered pickup trucks.

Ms. Martínez had worked cleaning houses in Veracruz and at the airport there for a year but she found it hard to make enough money to care for her children, ages 6 to 13.

Her personal life, too, had been turbulent for years. Family members describe her as somewhat rebellious and headstrong.

She had dropped out of high school at 14, was married and pregnant by 15 and had left the father of her four children last year, after several fights.

She had remarried and was looking for ways to make big money for a new house.

Ms. Martínez had heard that Mr. Díaz was planning to make another try, through a smuggler who was a distant relative, and borrowed money from a lender in town. The cost would be $3,000, half paid up front, half after a successful crossing.

But it was not. Around 11 a.m. on July 6, Border Patrol Agent Kelly Kirby got a call about a young migrant reporting his cousin possibly dead in the desert. Every time a call about a migrant in distress comes in, Agent Kirby says he hopes for the best but knows to expect the worst.

Mr. Díaz said Ms. Martínez died just before sunset the night before. He cried and was scared, he said, and built a fire, hoping to be spotted.

He set off in the morning to find help, eventually flagging down a passing Border Patrol agent.

Agent Kirby responded and with Mr. Díaz’s help quickly found Ms. Martínez.

She was wearing jeans and a blouse. Foam around her mouth was evidence of a seizure. Though she had only walked about a day and a half, her physical condition and the insufficient water and food she had consumed made her susceptible to a desert death.

“She did about as much as she could to not make it,” Agent Kirby said.

When Ms. Martínez’s body was returned to Tepetlán, the coffin was brought into the house for a wake. Her father opened the lid and looked at his daughter’s face.

“I had to look, to see her,” Mr. Martínez said.

Mr. Martínez, with the help of a friend who is a mason, is completing work on a tomb, which includes a sculpture of the town church where Ms. Martínez’s mother took her for a blessing before she left for the United States.

Watching the work on the tomb from a distance one afternoon in late August, Mr. Díaz spoke of his life since his cousin’s death and the possibility of another attempt to cross.

“Not right now,” he said, “but who knows, later on?”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Hispanic Americans By the Numbers

This info from the U.S. Census Bureau provides very interesting information on Hispanics in the U.S. -Dra. Valenzuela

Hispanic Americans By the Numbers
From the U.S. Census Bureau


44.3 million -- The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as
of July 1, 2006, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest
ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 15% of the nation's total

About 1 -- . . . of every two people added to the nation’s population
between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006, was Hispanic. There were 1.4 million
Hispanics added to the population over the period.

3.4% -- Percentage increase in the Hispanic population between July 1,
2005, and July 1, 2006, making Hispanics the fastest-growing minority group.

102.6 million -- The projected Hispanic population of the United States
as of July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute
24% of the nation’s total population by that date.

22.4 million -- The nation’s Hispanic population during the 1990
Census, just slightly over half the current total.

3rd -- Ranking of the size of the U.S. Hispanic population worldwide, as
of 2005. Only Mexico (106.2 million) and Colombia (43 million) had larger
Hispanic populations than did the United States (42.7 million). (Spain had a
population of 40.3 million.)

64% -- The percentage of Hispanic-origin people in households who are of
Mexican background. Another 9% are of Puerto Rican background, with 3.5%
Cuban, 3% Salvadoran, and 2.7% Dominican. The remainder are of some other
Central American, South American, or other Hispanic or Latino origin. Roughly half
of the nation’s Dominicans live in New York City and about half of the
nation’s Cubans in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

27.4 years -- Median age of the Hispanic population in 2006. This
compares with 36.4 years for the population as a whole.

107 -- Number of Hispanic males in 2006 per every 100 Hispanic females.
This was in sharp contrast to the overall population, which had 97 males per
every 100 females.


48% -- The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lives in
California or Texas. California is home to 13.1 million Hispanics, and Texas
is home to 8.4 million.

15 -- The number of states with at least a half million Hispanic
residents. They are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia,
Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,
Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

44% -- The percentage of New Mexico’s population that is Hispanic, the
highest of any state. Hispanics also make up more than a quarter of the
population in California and Texas, at 36% each, and Arizona (29%).

4.7 million -- The Hispanic population of Los Angeles County,
California, the largest of any county in the nation.

305,000 -- The increase in Texas’ Hispanic population between July 1,
2005, and July 1, 2006, which led all states. California (283,000), Florida
(161,000) and Arizona (102,000) also recorded large increases.

22 -- Number of states in which Hispanics are the largest minority group.
These states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida,
Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington
And Wyoming.


1.6 million -- The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002.

Triple -- The rate of growth of Hispanic-owned businesses between 1997
and 2002 (31%) compared with the national average (10%) for all businesses.

$222 billion -- Revenue generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002,
up 19% from 1997.

45% -- . . . of all Hispanic-owned firms were owned by Mexicans,
Mexican-Americans and Chicanos.

29,168 -- Number of Hispanic-owned firms with receipts of $1 million or

43% of Hispanic-owned firms operated in construction; administrative and
support, and waste management and remediation services; and other services,
such as personal services, and repair and maintenance. Retail and wholesale trade
accounted for 36% of Hispanic-owned business revenue. States with the
fastest rates of growth for Hispanic-owned firms between 1997 and 2002
included: New York (57%), Georgia and Rhode Island (56% each), and Nevada and South
Carolina (48% each). Counties with the highest number of Hispanic-owned firms
were Los Angeles County (188,422); Miami-Dade County (163,187); and Harris
County, Texas (61,934).


9.9 million -- The number of Hispanic family households in the United
States in 2006. Of these households, 62% included children younger than 18.

67% -- The percentage of Hispanic families consisting of a married

44% -- The percentage of Hispanic family households consisting of a
married couple with children younger than 18.

66% -- Percentage of Hispanic children living with two married parents.

23% -- Percentage of total population younger than 5 that was Hispanic as
of July 1, 2006.


32.2 million -- The number of U.S. household residents 5 and older who
speak Spanish at home. Spanish speakers constitute nearly one in eight U.S.
household residents. Among all those who speak Spanish at home, more than
one-half say they speak English very well.

29% -- Percentage of Texas residents who speak Spanish at home, which
leads all states. This compares with the national average of 12%.

78% -- Percentage of Hispanics 5 and older who speak a language other
than English at home. Of that number, about half speak English very well.


$35,967 -- The median income of Hispanic households in 2005,
statistically unchanged from the previous year.

21.8% -- The poverty rate among Hispanics in 2005, statistically
unchanged from 2004.

32.7% -- The percentage of Hispanics who lacked health insurance in 2005,
statistically unchanged from 2004.


59% -- The percentage of Hispanics 25 and older who had at least a high
school education in 2006.

12% -- The percentage of the Hispanic population 25 and older with a
Bachelor’s degree or higher in 2006.

3.1 million -- The number of Hispanics 18 and older who had at least a
Bachelor’s degree in 2006, up from 1.4 million a decade earlier.

839,000 ..-- Number of Hispanics 25 and older with advanced degrees in 2006
(e.g., masters’ professional, doctorate).

11% -- Percentage of all college students in October 2005 who were
Hispanic. Among elementary and high school students combined, the
Corresponding proportion was 19%.

Educational attainment levels are higher among certain Hispanic groups than
among others. For example, among Cubans 25 and older, 73% were at least high
school graduates, and 24% had a bachelor's degree or higher.


68% -- Percentage of Hispanics 16 and older who are in the civilian labor

17% -- The percentage of Hispanics 16 or older who work in management,
professional and related occupations. Approximately 24% of Hispanics 16 or
older work in service occupations; 22% in sales and office occupations; 2% in
farming, fishing and forestry occupations; 16% in construction, extraction,
maintenance and repair occupations; and 19% in production, transportation and
material moving occupations.

77,700 -- Number of Hispanic chief executives. In addition, 49,200
physicians and surgeons; 53,700 postsecondary teachers; 29,000 lawyers; and
3,300 news analysts, reporters and correspondents are Hispanic.


7.6 million -- The number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the
2004 presidential election. The percentage of Hispanic citizens
voting, about 47% did not change statistically from four years earlier.


1.1 million -- The number of Hispanic veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Méndez v. Westminster School District

Students, this case--Méndez v. Westminster-- is very important in Mexican American history because it dealt with the issue of segregation in U.S. schools against Mexican Americans. It also served as an important case in the landmark Brown v. Board decision that took place close to a decade later that ended legal school segregation for African Americans. Méndez v. Westminster further demonstrates how presumably "objective" student testing discriminated against Mexican Americans.

The Fourteenth Amendment

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction of the equal protection of the laws.”

We'll come back to the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment for Mexicans and Mexican Americans in or next set of readings but the important term in this paragraph is persons because it suggests that all people--as opposed to all citizens--have equal protection under the law.

It is significant that the U.S. Postal Service is releasing a stamp to commemorate this important case in the struggle for Mexican Americans' civil rights.

-Dra. Valenzuela

Méndez v. Westminster School District (1947) is one of the early Hispanic Fourteenth Amendment school segregation issue cases - pre HNBA - where the Mexican parents of public school children were joined by several organizations in the appellate case as amicus curiae, including the JACL, AJG, ACLU, NLG and the NAACP.

Méndez v. Westminster - 1947 - USPS Commemorative Stamp to Be Released Friday, Sept. 14, 2007

On Friday, Sept. 14, 2007, the United States Postal Service will release a commemorative stamp to mark the 60th anniversary of Méndez v. Westminster, 64 F.Supp. 544 (C.D. Cal. 1946), aff'd, 161 F.2d 774 (9th Cir. 1947), a groundbreaking legal case-the seven-year precursor to the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education-in which a group of civic-minded Mexican-American Hispanic parents successfully sued to end segregation in California schools (see case at

In its ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in an en banc decision, held that the segregation of Mexican and Mexican American students into separate "Mexican schools" was unconstitutional. The illustration by Rafael Lopez, a native of Mexico City, integrates the look of Mexican naturalists with the idea of looking forward to the light. Visit your local post office or order online at

On March 2, 1945, five Mexican-American fathers (Gonzalo Méndez, Thomas Estrada, William Guzman, Frank Palomino, and Lorenzo Ramirez) challenged the practice of school segregation in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. They claimed that their children, along with 5,000 other children of "Mexican and Latin descent", were victims of unconstitutional discrimination by being forced to attend separate "Mexican" schools in the Westminster, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and El Modena school districts of Orange County. Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of Méndez and his co-plaintiffs on February 18, 1946, stating in part, "The record before us shows a paradoxical situation concerning the segregation attitude of the school authorities in the Westminster School District. There are two elementary schools in this undivided area. Instruction is given pupils in each school from kindergarten to the eighth grade, inclusive.

Westminster School has 642 pupils, of which 628 are so-called English-speaking children, and 14 so-called Spanish-speaking pupils. Before considering the specific factual situation in the Santa Ana City Schools it should be noted that the omnibus segregation of children of Mexican ancestry from the rest of the student body in the elementary grades in the schools involved in this case because of language handicaps is not warranted by the record before us. The tests applied to the beginners are shown to have been generally hasty, superficial and not reliable. In some instances separate classification was determined largely by the Latinized or Mexican name of the child. Such methods of evaluating language knowledge are illusory and are not conducive to the inculcation and enjoyment of civil rights which are of primary importance in the public school system of education in the United States. Such separate allocations, however, can be lawfully made only after credible examination by the appropriate school authority of each child whose capacity to learn is under consideration and the determination of such segregation must be based wholly upon indiscriminate foreign language impediments in the individual child, regardless of his ethnic traits or ancestry. The natural operation and effect of the Board's official action manifests a clear purpose to arbitrarily discriminate against the pupils of Mexican ancestry and to deny to them the equal protection of the laws We conclude by holding that the allegations of the complaint (petition) have been established sufficiently to justify injunctive relief against all defendants, restraining further discriminatory practices against the pupils of Mexican descent in the public schools of defendant school districts.

However, the district appealed - David C. Marcus, Los Angeles, Cal. (William Strong, of Los Angeles, Cal., of counsel), for appellees. Several organizations joined the appellate case as amicus curiae, including the JACL, AJC, NLG, ACLU and the NAACP. The Nat. Ass'n Advancement of Colored People was represented by Thurgood Marshall and Robert L. Carter, both of New York City, and Loren Miller, of Los Angeles, Cal., for, amicus curiae.
A. L. Wirin and Saburo Kido, both of Los Angeles, Cal., for Japanese-American Citizens League. Will Maslow and Pauli Murray, both of New York City, Anne H. Pollock, of Los Angeles, Cal. (Alexander H. Pekelis, of New York City, Spe. Advisor), for American Jewish Congress, amicus curiae. Julien Cornell, Arthur Garfield Hays and Osmond K. Fraenkel, all of New York City, A. L. Wirin and Fred Okrand, both of Los Angeles, Cal., for American Civil Liberties Union, amicus curiae. Charles F. Christopher, of Los Angeles, Cal., for Nat. Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter, amicus curiae.

More than a year later, on April 14, 1947, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the district court's ruling. See this link for more information.

Immigration Raids Echo History of African Americans

Exploring linkages between these histories is important. -Angela

Immigration Raids Echo History of African Americans
New America Media, Commentary

Jean Damu, Posted: Sep 13, 2007

Editor's Note: Raids on undocumented workers today are nothing new for African Americans, who saw raids on their own population more than 150 years ago.

In August local law enforcement and immigration officials in a small Pennsylvania town began receiving reports that undocumented immigrants were being offered sanctuary at a nearby residence. Furthermore, the reports went on to say, during the daytime hours, the immigrants were blending into portions of the local population and working in one of the city's factories.

After several weeks of investigation, the authorities determined that, in fact, the reports of the undocumented immigrants' activities were true.

In response to this perceived emergency, an interagency task force of immigration and local police personnel was organized. It was decided that an early morning raid would be the quickest and safest way to take the immigrants into custody and to prepare them for deportation.

The raid was carried out in September. After a brief struggle, the undocumented were overpowered, handcuffed and taken to jail, where they were told to prepare themselves for hearings to determine their eligibility for deportation.

The above incident is not unusual. It has played out countless times, in countless cities across the nation, as the United States struggles to come to grips with a moral question that is rooted in economics - the issue of undocumented workers.

The unusual aspect of the story, however, is that it did not take place in 2007 or 2006. It took place in the town of Christiana, Pa. And it took place in 1850.

In 1850, it was not the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that conducted the early morning raid, but rather an office of the U.S. Marshal and Deputy Marshal. And in 1850, the undocumented that were being rounded up were not Latinos or Asians but rather fugitive enslaved Africans who had crossed into Pennsylvania from Delaware in an attempt to escape slavery.

The fugitives were given sanctuary by members of the Black Self-Help Society, an armed organization that was formed many decades before the African Blood Brotherhood and the Black Panther Party. The group foreshadowed by only a few years the entry by massive numbers of blacks into the Union armies to fight the formerly officially endorsed "slavocracy."

The right-wing political powers of the 21st century that re-configured the Immigration and Naturalization Service into ICE - the agency that is currently conducting raids against "illegal immigrants" as a response to the so-called "war on terrorism" - are direct descendants of those who created the U.S. Marshals and Deputy Marshals to enforce the fugitive slave legislations of the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the case of the Federal Marshals, the enforcement of immigration laws was fueled by politicians' pandering to the political forces that would deliver free labor to the agrarian south and keep the United States a white man's country. This objective was eloquently articulated in America's first immigration legislation adopted in 1789 as part of the establishment of the federal government and the year the U.S. Marshal's office was brought into being.

Though the conditions of life are vastly more complicated today than when the first immigration laws were enacted, one can easily come to the conclusion that one of ICE's unstated missions is to help maintain white supremacy. If this is not true, then why does no one discuss the issue of undocumented white workers who enter the country from Europe and Canada?

It is tempting to argue that the immigration movement is completely analogous to the abolitionist movement. That would be a mistake. After all, who would want to claim that deporting someone to Mexico is the same as returning them to slavery? But the similarities are powerful enough to convince many African Americans that it is in their best interest to support those who struggle against black people's historic enemies.

It took decades of abolitionist work and unprecedented armed struggle to wrest the practice of slavery from the breast of America. Similar decades of educational work and political organizing were required to convince the majority of Americans that legalized discrimination in the form of the Jim Crow laws was also wrong. That struggle continues to this day.

Today there is much misunderstanding and confusion over immigration: some say the issue is too complicated, that there are too many global economic forces at work for the lay person to fully grasp. This is no different from earlier times when much confusion and misunderstanding existed in regards to slavery. In both cases, racism and unbridled white supremacy joined hands to generate the confusion.

Though the issue of immigration has been around since the birth of this nation, the current immigration movement is still in its early stages. If it is to achieve the perceived successes of the civil rights movement, it must do a better job of uniting with that sector of the U.S. population that so clearly participated in and benefited to a significant degree from the civil rights movement: Black America. On the other hand, African Americans should be sensitive to the current conditions in which many immigrants find themselves. These conditions, after all, are not unfamiliar to us.

Jean Damu is a member of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Democrats' Spanish-language debate draws in Hispanic viewers in US

This is interesting. The Democratic party is appearing much more open to the undocumented than the Republican Party. I quote: "But the candidates promised to push for a comprehensive immigration law that includes a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. during their first year in office." Wonder how much of this is simply rhetoric or whether they will really walk the talk. -Angela

Democrats' Spanish-language debate draws in Hispanic viewers in US

The Associated Press
Monday, September 10, 2007

The Democratic presidential candidates who attended Univision's landmark Spanish-language presidential forum delivered more symbolism than substance ’Äî but that symbolism will likely weigh heavily in next year's election as viewership of the forum showed.

The debate Sunday night was watched by 4.6 million people , according to ratings from Nielsen Media Research, with most of the viewers coming from the 44 million Hispanics in the United States.

That compared to an average of 4.3 million viewers for earlier presidential debates held this year on ABC, CNN, FOX News Channel and MSNBC ’Äî and Univision was facing competition from the National Football League's opening weekend.

Alex Correa, a University of Miami senior, said the debate was "an amazing experience as a student and as a Hispanic." A Republican, he said he would not rule out voting for a Democrat who puts more focus on Latin American policy and has a clear vision for solving the situation in Iraq.

Correa and other Hispanics said Monday that it would take more than one debate to help them choose among the candidates, but the fact that the candidates showed up at all and were willing to answer questions targeted toward Hispanics went a long way.

Beyond the ratings, the Univision forum provided an opportunity for the Democrats to cement their party as the pro-immigrant party.

All seven of the candidates who attended, including Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, acknowledged the perception of many Hispanics and others that the debate over illegal immigration has veered into anti-Hispanic rhetoric--something that is often questioned in the more conservative English-language media. And they promised to combat it.

"Does this help the Democratic Party look more friendly to Hispanics? Definitely so," said University of Miami political science professor George Gonzalez.

Still, he noted that the candidates were short on specifics. And on some questions they seemed unprepared for their audience. Clinton, Obama and Dodd fell back on lines about their support for border security when asked why they voted in favor of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and not along the U.S.-Canadian border. Richardson sidestepped a question about whether Spanish should be a second national language. John Edwards failed to answer the question about whether illegal immigrants were necessary to the U.S. economy.

But the candidates promised to push for a comprehensive immigration law that includes a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. during their first year in office, again separating themselves from the Republican candidates who have generally favored border security measures first, and then, down the road a plan to deal with the illegal immigrants still in the country.

"It's a continuing of a theme that the Democrats are different on legalization and a path to citizenship," said Louis Desipio, a University of California, Irvine political science professor who specializes in the U.S. Hispanic community.

At the close of Sunday's debate, Univision co-anchors and moderators Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas offered a renewed on-air plea to Republicans to participate in a similar forum.

"We have absolute journalistic independence, and our invitation stands to candidates of the Republican Party," Ramos said.

If the Republican candidates refuse the offer, they will help complete the unraveling of the gains made by President George W. Bush and Karl Rove in the past two elections to tap into the Hispanic community, Gonzalez and DeSipio predicted. Bush won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, a Republican presidential record, by tapping into many Hispanics' conservative values and pushing for immigration reform.

And that could cost them the election in key swing states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, where the Hispanic populations are fast-growing.

Correa said he understands Republicans have to appeal to their core base but agreed most Hispanics will take the Republican candidates' decision not to participate in a Univision primary debate as a snub, even if the eventual nominee agrees to appear in one before the general election.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Deporting Parents of Dead Soldiers is 'Excessive' and 'Harsh' Punishment

Deporting Parents of Dead Soldiers is 'Excessive' and 'Harsh' Punishment
New America Media, Commentary, Domenico Maceri, Posted: Sep 04, 2007

Editor’s Note: The father of U.S. Private Armando Soriano, 20, who died in Iraq is facing deportation. Many parents of U.S. soldiers who are fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are facing the same fate. Domenico Maceri, Ph.D, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif. His articles have appeared in many newspapers and some have won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.

Three years after U.S. Army Private Armando Soriano, 20, died fighting in Haditha, Iraq, his father is facing deportation. Soriano is now buried in Houston, Tex., his hometown, where his parents, undocumented workers from Mexico, are currently living.

Before his death Soriano had promised his parents he’d help them get green cards. He only succeeded partially before losing his life. Although his mother was able to obtain a green card, his father did not qualify and is on the verge of being deported.

Enrique Soriano, Armando’s father, is not the only person to have lost a son or daughter in the Iraq war and face deportation. There are more than 3 million people born in the U.S. with parents who came into the country illegally. Those born in the U.S. are automatically citizens and have all the rights and duties enjoyed by Americans. That includes military service with the possibility of losing one’s life.

Losing a son or a daughter is always tragic. To try to compensate the families the U.S. government makes efforts to help. In the case of individuals with family members needing immigration help, officials assist them to obtain green cards. That’s what happened with Soriano’s mother. But in spite of governmental flexibility, certain rules prevent some people from qualifying.

Enrique Soriano had been formally deported in 1999 when he returned to Mexico for a brief visit. That makes him ineligible for any immigration benefits. Enrique Soriano is not alone.

Although exact figures are difficult to come by, many parents with sons and daughters who died in Iraq have been deported.

Official statistics show that more than 68,000 foreign-born military individuals are serving the U.S. How many of these individuals have relatives who do not have a legal right to be in the United States is not known. Figures from the National Center for Immigration Law show that one in 10 U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq have been immigrants.
Many parents with sons and daughters who died in Iraq have been deported.

One estimate claims that five percent of those serving in the American military are illegal immigrants who joined with false papers. The military does not recruit illegal immigrants. Yet, given the shortages of volunteers, meeting quotas may put pressure to close some eyes. Illegal immigrants may feel that joining the military will help them and their families obtain legal papers in addition to other benefits.

Inevitably, some die in the process. The first soldier to die for the United States in the Iraq war was in fact Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.

Enrique Soriano’s case is also complicated by the fact that the rest of his family has a legal right to be in the U.S. His wife has a green card, three of their four kids are U.S. citizens, and another born in Mexico has applied for a green card. If Enrique is deported, the family will have to make the hard choice of going back or separating.

“I think it would be a travesty for these parents to be deported after their son died in Iraq fighting for his country,” stated Congressman Gene Green, D-Houston. The congressman introduced a bill in the House, which would help Enrique Soriano obtain a green card. Nothing has happened yet.

Earlier this year President George Bush commuted the sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff. In so doing, the President spared Libby 2 1/2 years in prison for his conviction for lying to federal investigators. The President cited Libby's "exceptional public service" and prior lack of a criminal record as explanation for his action. He concluded that Libby’s sentence was "excessive" and the punishment "harsh."

In light of the sacrifice made by Armando Soriano, one wonders whether deporting his father is a far more “excessive” and “harsh” punishment?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Promover derechos de migrantes, compromiso de esta administración

Promover derechos de migrantes, compromiso de esta administración
En Tapachula se creó el primer albergue para el niño indocumentado.

En estos nueve meses de administración de Felipe Calderón se dio atención a más de 62 mil casos de asistencia consular en Estados Unidos; se abrió un nuevo consulado, llegando a 48 en este país, y fueron atendidos los casos de 55 mexicanos sentenciados a muerte en la Unión Americana.

El documento señala que fueron repatriados 321 mil mexicanos de Estados Unidos y en el marco del Programa de Repatriación Voluntaria ingresaron al país –sólo en julio y agosto– 4 mil 650 connacionales, entre los que se encuentran 20 mil 799 menores de edad.

Dentro de estas cifras, se indica que el flujo migratorio fue de 26.5 millones de personas e ingresaron al país 14.1 millones de individuos de los que el 84 por ciento son extranjeros. Asimismo se redujo el plazo de emisión de visas a 10 días y se autorizó una visa unificada a turistas y personas de negocios por cinco años.

Como parte del compromiso con los trabajadores migrantes se menciona el Programa de Trabajadores Agrícolas entre México y Canadá en el que han participado hasta ahora más de 11 mil trabajadores en 10 provincias de este país.

El Informe presidencial propone una política exterior responsable y activa que proteja y promueva los derechos de los mexicanos en el exterior mediante una nueva cultura que facilite los flujos de personas y coadyuve en las salvaguarda de la seguridad y soberanía nacionales, postulados del Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2007-2012.

En relación con la frontera sur se erigió el primer albergue de tránsito en Tapachula, Chiapas, para menores migrantes y se estableció un convenio de repatriación a Centroamérica vía terrestre. México cuenta con dos nuevas estaciones migratorias y se ha solicitado que los municipios no utilicen las cárceles para este fin.

Fue regularizada, también, la estancia de 790 extranjeros y se dio carta de naturalización a 10 mil guatemaltecos ex refugiados.

México • Jesús Sánchez

Texan is jailed as illegal immigrant

Posted on a LULAC Listserv

Posted on Thu, Aug. 30, 2007

Texan is jailed as illegal immigrant

Star-Telegram staff writer

A native Texan spent the night in the Arlington Jail, missed her children's first day of school and feared being deported after authorities mistook her for an illegal immigrant.

Alicia Rodriguez, an accountant and mother of three, has the same name and date of birth as a woman deported to Mexico three times.

"I was told I was waiting for an [immigration] officer or Border Patrol officer to interview me and then move me to another location. It was very scary," the Mansfield woman said.

Arlington and federal immigration officials say they made a mistake and apologized.

"This is very unusual," Arlington police spokeswoman Christy Gilfour said "We're not aware of this having happened before. We do realize that this is unfortunate, and we do regret that we made an error."

Gilfour said police overlooked fingerprints that would have shown Rodriguez was not the illegal immigrant.

Rodriguez said she does not plan to sue, but apologies do not make up for what she was put through.

"I think it's ridiculous. I think it was obvious that I wasn't an illegal immigrant," she said.

Rodriguez's case demonstrates the need for a balanced approach between enforcement and immigration reform, said Marisol Perez, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "We want to uphold the laws of the country, but we want to balance that with individual rights," she said.

Earlier this year, authorities wrongly deported U.S. citizen Pedro Guzman, a developmentally disabled man from California. It took his family three months to find him.

Law enforcement experts say similar situations may happen again as the government creates more databases of names to fight illegal immigration, terrorism and other crimes.

"Part of the dynamic is when you identify the right person, they also say they didn't do it," said Jack McDevitt, associate criminal justice dean at Northeastern University in Boston. "So police are used to running into people who say, 'This isn't me, I didn't do it.'"

Identified as illegal

Arlington police pulled Rodriguez over and arrested her Sunday night after running her license-plate number.

She had warrants from Dalworthington Gardens for having no insurance during a stop in that city and failure to appear in court for the insurance charge.

Rodriguez said the charges are valid, and she was willing to pay a fine and bail to get out of jail.

But when she got to the jail, the Arlington police computer told officers that they had a woman who was in the country illegally.

Gilfour said Rodriguez's name and date of birth matched. The height was off by an inch. The weight was off by 25 pounds, but the information was last updated in 1999.

Police arranged for Rodriguez to have a telephone interview with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Rodriguez said the ICE officer was "very hostile" to her, refusing to believe her when she said she was born in Dallas.

Rodriguez said the person on the other end of line sternly told her that she was speaking to a federal agent and had to answer truthfully or risk committing perjury.

"At the time, I thought someone with my name had committed some horrible crime," Rodriguez said.

ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said the illegal immigrant Alicia Rodriguez had at least three claims of false citizenship on her record. That record may have led officials to doubt the Alicia Rodriguez they had in custody when she said she was born in Dallas.

In jail overnight

Rodriguez's sister, Deborah Evans, came to the Arlington Jail with cash to pay any fines or bail only to learn that her sister was being held as an illegal immigrant.

"I said, 'What do you mean? She's my sister. We were born here in Texas, in Dallas,'" Evans said. "I was shocked they were telling me this."

Rodriguez spent the night in jail sleeping on a mat on the floor with a cellmate. Another sister stayed with her three children, and her ex-husband took them to school the next day.

On Monday, she was transferred to Dalworthington Gardens Jail, where she had a panic attack when authorities told her immigration officials would come pick her up -- eventually.

"They told me it could take up to two days to move me to the next location which to me just meant it was going to be endless," Rodriguez said. She said police gave her oxygen to calm her hyperventilating.

Evans went to the Dalworthington Gardens Jail, showed officials her sister's birth certificate and tried again to convince officials that her sister was a U.S. citizen.

"I was frightened that she was going to be deported right then" to Mexico, Evans said. "We don't speak Spanish. What was she going to do, and how was I going to get there?"

After trying unsuccessfully to get her sister released, Evans said she left for an appointment.

Dalworthington Gardens Sgt. David Henderson said an officer there discovered Rodriguez had a driver's license and Social Security number. Dalworthington Gardens officials eventually started working for her release, Rodriguez said.


She walked about 3 miles to get her impounded car before her sister could pick her up. Rodriguez said the whole experience was a nightmare.

"I feel like it's a political byproduct of the whole illegal immigration thing," she said, "not that illegal immigrants shouldn't be dealt with, but I'm a citizen."

Son Joins Deportee in Mexico

by Marco Ugarte / AP

Immigration activist Elvira Arellano with her U.S.-born son Saul, 8, upon his arrival to Mexico at the International Airport in Mexico City.

From the Associated Press
September 1, 2007

MEXICO CITY -- The 8-year-old son of deported immigrant activist Elvira Arellano was reunited with her Friday at Mexico City's airport.

Arellano said she wants her son, Saul, a U.S. citizen, to go to school in her home state of Michoacan so he can learn Spanish.

Saul, whose first trip to Mexico was in November to ask the Mexican Congress to lobby Washington to stop his mother's deportation, received a Mexican passport from his mother as proof of his newly obtained dual citizenship.

They plan to renew the boy's U.S. passport, something he could not do in the United States in the absence of his mother.

Arellano, 32, who was in the U.S. illegally for several years, took sanctuary at Chicago's Adalberto United Methodist Church in defiance of a deportation order. She lived there with her son for a year.

She left the church in August to attend rallies in Los Angeles and was arrested and deported within hours to Tijuana.

Saul, who traveled from Chicago with Adalberto United's pastor, the Rev. Walter Coleman, had little to say to reporters. His mother said the boy told her that "he wants to keep fighting so I can go back with him to the United States."

Arellano said she wanted her son by her side as she fights for the legalization of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and for the rights of illegal Central American immigrants in Mexico.

"In this battle he was the one who kept me on my feet," Arellano said. "If I want to keep fighting from here, I need him with me."

Come Together and Create!
Peter S. Lopez ~aka:Peta
Sacramento, California, Aztlan