Friday, November 30, 2007

No hablar inglés afecta a latinos

Si hablar el inglés fuera la solución principal, los Afro-Americanos--que solamente hablan el inglés (la mayoría)—deberían de haber logrado mucho mas en los E.E.U.U. La situación tanto de los Latinos como la de los Afro-Americanos tiene que ver con el hecho de asistir históricamente a escuelas segregadas e inferiores en donde hay falta de respeto a la cultura e idioma de ambos grupos. Entonces nunca se han integrado estos grupos de una manera equitativa, sino como dijo el gran educador, Paolo Freire, las minorías reciben una educación no para integrarlos a la sociedad, sino para domesticarlos a un estatus de segunda clase. Lo que necesitan las minorías es aceso al "discurso de poder," un discurso que reciben las élites de nuestros países. Necesitatmos un nuevo entendimiento y una nueva consciencia del como funciona el poder para lograr esto. Y verdaderamente no importa mucho que muestran estas encuestas si no tenemos un análisis mas produndo.

-Dra. Valenzuela


El desconocimiento del inglés es la razón más citada por los hispanos para ser discriminados en Estados Unidos. (Archivo/La Opinión)
No hablar inglés afecta a latinos

Estudio indica que es la razón más citada en el tema de la discriminación en Estados Unidos

Maribel Hastings
Corresponsal de La Opinión

30 de noviembre de 2007

Artículos relacionados

Salarios de inmigrantes en EU permanecen bajos, revela estudio

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Un 23% de los inmigrantes hispanos dice que habla bien el inglés, pero la cifra sube a 88% entre sus hijos nacidos en Estados Unidos y a 94% en generaciones posteriores, según un reporte del Centro Pew Hispanic.

Sin embargo, el informe señaló, en concreto, que el desconocimiento del inglés es la razón más citada por los hispanos para ser discriminados en Estados Unidos: en 2007 el 46% de los latinos citó el lenguaje como la mayor razón para la discriminación, superando a su situación migratoria, educación, ingresos o el color de su piel.

El estudio concluyó que los inmigrantes hispanos dominan el español, sus hijos nacidos en Estados Unidos hablan con facilidad los dos idiomas —inglés y español— y en la tercera generación el inglés es dominante, declaró en teleconferencia D’Vera Cohn, una de las autoras del reporte.

Según aumenta la fluidez en el inglés a través de las generaciones, ese será el idioma que más empleen en casa y en el trabajo.

Por ejemplo, el 52% de los inmigrantes hispanos reportó que sólo habla español en el hogar, comparado con sólo el 11% de sus hijos adultos nacidos en EU; y sólo 6% de los hijos de hispanos nacidos en este país.

La mayor parte de los hispanos inmigrantes, 67%, dijo que habla algo de inglés en el trabajo; y 28% indicó que sólo habla español en su trabajo.

El uso del inglés en el trabajo aumenta con las generaciones, según la investigación. Mientras que 29% de la primera generación dijo que habla principalmente inglés o sólo inglés en su trabajo, en la segunda generación la cifra sube a dos terceras partes, y 58% de las generaciones posteriores dijo que habla sólo inglés en el trabajo.

Entre los subgrupos, los puertorriqueños y los sudamericanos reportaron dominar mejor el inglés. Pero un 71% de los mexicanos dijeron que hablan poco o nada de inglés.

El reporte indica que la ciudadanía es una señal de asimilación a la sociedad y más aún lo es votar.

Según el reporte, el 52% de los hispanos naturalizados respondió hablar inglés muy bien o bastante bien, pero 46% de los hispanos naturalizados contestó que habla muy poco o nada de inglés.

El 73% de los hispanos no ciudadanos reportó que habla muy poco o nada de inglés.

Asimismo, entre los latinos extranjeros registrados para votar, el 57% dijo que habla inglés muy bien.

El tema de la asimilación y el progreso que se logra a través del conocimiento del idioma ha sido constante en el debate migratorio y está presente en la contienda presidencial.

El estudio del Centro Pew Hispanic señala que el dominio del inglés está vinculado con la educación y con el tiempo de residencia en Estados Unidos, y cuándo arribaron al país.

El 62% de los inmigrantes hispanos con grados universitarios reportó que habla inglés muy bien, comparado con 34% de quienes sólo completaron la secundaria; y sólo 11% de quienes no completaron la secundaria.

Asimismo, los hispanos inmigrantes hablan inglés muy bien si llegaron a Estados Unidos cuando eran niños o si llevan muchos años viviendo en este país.

El 44% de los latinos adultos (extranjeros y nacidos en EU) dijo que es bilingüe y la cifra aumenta a 68% entre los hijos nacidos en EU de inmigrantes hispanos.

Para el reporte se llevaron a cabo seis sondeos entre 2002 y 2006 con la participación de 14 mil hispanos adultos extranjeros y nacidos en EU, independientemente de su situación migratoria.

Los puertorriqueños nacidos en la isla, aunque son ciudadanos estadounidenses, se consideraron como nacidos en el extranjero.

El reporte puede leerse en su totalidad en el portal www.pewhispanic.org.

http://www.laopinion.com/primerapagina/?rkey=00000000000002752020

The black-Latino blame game

Earl Ofari Hutchinson also has a related book out. The title alone suggests that this is important reading given our challenges with diversity, if not out right hostility between Blacks and Latinos throughout the nation--wherever there is competition or perceived competition for affirmative action opportunities and lower levels of employment. lt's titled, "The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation Between African Americans and Hispanics." -Dra. Valenzuela

Los Angeles Times

The black-Latino blame game
Finger-pointing between the two minorities is not going to help either group.

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
November 25, 2007

One Friday earlier this month, a small but vocal group of black activists turned up at City Hall to blast Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and members of the City Council for failing to work hard enough to prevent violence by Latino gang members against blacks in South Los Angeles.

"You have one race of people exterminating another race of people," said one African American woman.

On the same day, elsewhere in the city, Latino parents stormed out of a meeting of a Los Angeles Unified School District advisory council. The council had been fighting for months about whether to hold its meetings in Spanish or English -- a dispute that got so abusive that district officials felt the need to bring in dispute-resolution experts and mental health counselors. On this particular Friday, the Latino parents walked out after a group of black parents voted to censure the panel's Latino chairman.

These two events are certainly not isolated incidents, but they are the most recent examples of the long-running tensions between blacks and Latinos in Los Angeles. Just a few weeks earlier, federal prosecutors had filed a highly publicized case against more than 60 members of Florencia 13, a Latino street gang that prosecutors say engaged in a violent campaign to drive African American gang rivals out the South L.A. neighborhood of Florence-Firestone, resulting in more than 20 killings over three years. In the late 1980s, according to a report in The Times, the neighborhood was about 80% African American, but today it is 90% Latino.

Animosity between Latinos and blacks is the worst-kept secret in race relations in America. For years, Latino leaders have pointed the finger of blame at blacks when Latinos are robbed, beaten and even murdered. Blacks, in turn, have blamed Latinos for taking jobs, for colonizing neighborhoods, for gang violence. These days, the tension between the races is noticeable not only in prison life and in gang warfare (where it's been a staple of life for decades) but in politics, in schools, in housing, in the immigration debate. Conflicts today are just as likely -- in some cases, more likely -- to be between blacks and Latinos as between blacks and whites. In fact, even though hate-crime laws were originally created to combat crimes by whites against minority groups, the majority of L.A. County's hate crimes against blacks in 2006 were suspected to have been committed by Latinos, and vice versa, according to the county Commission on Human Relations.

Across the country -- in Plainfield, N.J.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Annapolis, Md., and Indianapolis, Ind., among other places -- the clash between black and brown has drawn attention, and lots of it, because it involves two groups that some think should be natural allies. At least that's what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez thought four decades ago. They had a mutual admiration society and passionately believed that blacks and Latinos were equally oppressed minorities and should march in lock step. "Our separate struggles are really one -- a struggle for freedom, for dignity and for humanity," King wrote to Chavez in 1965. But that rhapsodic notion of black and brown harmony is now the faintest of faint memories. Three years ago, when the Census Bureau proclaimed Latinos the largest minority in the U.S., many blacks loudly grumbled that they would be shoved even further to the margin among minorities. The grumbles have risen to a near-shrill pitch among many blacks during the immigration debates of recent years. Although most civil rights leaders and black Democrats publicly embraced the immigrant rights struggle, many blacks privately expressed dread about being bypassed in the battle against poverty and discrimination, and some were actively hostile to the goals of immigrant groups. At a 2005 meeting in L.A., for instance, black radio host Terry Anderson summed up a not-uncommon position in the African American community when he blamed illegal immigrants for stealing jobs from blacks and crowding schools. "We've been invaded," he said. "There's no other word for it."

One of the first warnings that many blacks felt threatened by soaring Latino numbers was the battle over Proposition 187 in California in 1994. California voters approved the measure, which denied public services to illegal immigrants, by a huge margin. Shockingly, blacks also backed the measure; one L.A. Times poll several months after the proposition passed showed blacks supporting its "immediate implementation," 58% to 36%. Apparently, blacks were mortally afraid that Latinos would bump them from low-skill jobs and further marginalize them by increasing joblessness and fueling the crime and drug crises in black neighborhoods. And it's probably true that at the low end of the scale some young, poor, unskilled blacks have been shut out of jobs at hotels and restaurants and in manufacturing. There's also fierce competition for the dwindling number of affirmative action spots in colleges.

The prime reason for chronic black unemployment, however, is lingering racial discrimination and the lack of job skills, training and education.

Over the years, racial fear has spilled into politics; blacks worry that the national chase for Latino votes will erode the political gains and power they have won through decades of struggle. That was evident in the ambivalence and even flat-out hostility of many blacks toward Villaraigosa in his first bid for mayor. Heard repeatedly on the streets was that a Villaraigosa win would mean the ouster of blacks from City Hall.

Fear also has spilled into the schools. The battle between black and Latino members over whether the L.A. Unified parents advisory panel meetings should be conducted in English or Spanish actually masked larger issues. Many blacks feel they are getting the short end of the stick educationally in a school district in which Latinos make up more than 70% of the students.

Of course, there's nothing unique about L.A.'s situation. Latinos and blacks make up the majority of students in many big-city school districts -- and these public schools are among the poorest and most segregated. In their desperation to get a quality education for their kids, Latinos and blacks in many districts across the country accuse each other of gobbling up scarce resources, dragging down test scores and fueling the rise in crime and gang problems at the schools.

The only real solution is to press school officials for more funding, better teachers and high-quality learning materials, but when the money is not there, the problem quickly is reduced to ethnic squabbling over scarce dollars. And students take up the battle, as in the case of the months-long skirmishes between black and Latino kids at Jefferson High School in 2005 -- where the student body had gone from 31% Latino to 92% Latino in 25 years.

Partly, these are problems of empathy. Many Latinos fail to understand the complexity and severity of the black experience. They frequently bash blacks for their poverty and goad them to pull themselves up as other immigrants have done. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox took heat from black leaders in 2005 when he claimed that Mexican immigrants would do work in the United States that "not even blacks" want to do. Some Latinos repeat the same vicious anti-black epithets as racist whites -- like the Latino kid at Jefferson High who helped start a race riot when he yelled "Go back to Africa!" at his fellow students.

Ethnic insensitivity, however, cuts both ways. Many blacks have little understanding of the impoverishment and social turmoil that has driven so many Latinos to seek jobs and refuge in the United States. Once here, they face the massive problems of adjusting to a strange culture, new customs and a different language, and that includes discrimination too.

Despite the problems, the picture is not one of total gloom and doom. Blacks and Latinos have worked together in some communities to combat police abuse, crime and violence, as well as for school improvements and increased neighborhood services. Still, the painful truth is that blacks and Latinos have found that the struggle for power and recognition is long and difficult. On some issues, they can be allies, on others, they will go it alone. Changing demographics and the rise of Latinos to the top minority spot in America won't make the problems of either group disappear. Nor will blaming each other for those problems solve them.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is "The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation Between African Americans and Hispanics," published by Middle Passage Press.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Framing of Immigration

Students, George Lakoff is considered a guru in U.S. political circles. His analyses always provide good food for thought. -Dra. Valenzuela

The Framing of Immigration
By George Lakoff, Sam Ferguson

Framing is at the center of the recent immigration debate. Simply framing it as about "immigration" has shaped its politics, defining what count as "problems" and constraining the debate to a narrow set of issues. The language is telling. The linguistic framing is remarkable: frames for illegal immigrant, illegal alien, illegals, undocumented workers, undocumented immigrants, guest workers, temporary workers, amnesty, and border security. These linguistic expressions are anything but neutral. Each framing defines the problem in its own way, and hence constrains the solutions needed to address that problem. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, we will analyze the framing used in the public debate. Second, we suggest some alternative framing to highlight important concerns left out of the current debate. Our point is to show that the relevant issues go far beyond what is being discussed, and that acceptance of the current framing impoverishes the discussion.

[*]
On May 15th, in an address from the Oval Office, President Bush presented his proposal for "comprehensive immigration reform."
The term "immigration reform" evokes an issue-defining conceptual frame - The Immigration Problem Frame - a frame that imposes a structure on the current situation, defines a set of "problems" with that situation, and circumscribes the possibility for "solutions."
"Reform," when used in politics, indicates there is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed - take "medicare reform," "lobbying reform," "social security reform." The noun that's attached to reform - "immigration" - points to where the problem lies. Whatever noun is attached to "reform" becomes the locus of the problem and constrains what counts as a solution.
To illustrate, take "lobbying reform." In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, "lobbying reform" was all the talk in the media and on Capitol Hill. The problem defined by this frame has to do with lobbyists. As a "lobbyist" problem, the solutions focused on Congressional rules regarding lobbyists. The debate centered around compensated meals, compensated trips, access by former Congressmen (who inevitably become lobbyists) to the floor of the Senate and House of representatives, lobbying disclosure, lobbyists' access to Congressional staff and the period of time between leaving the Congress and becoming a registered lobbyists.
Indeed, if the reform needed is "lobbying reform," these are reasonable solutions. But, the term "Congressional ethics reform" would have framed a problem of a much different nature, a problem with Congressmen. And it would allow very different reforms to count as solutions. After all, lobbyists are powerless if there's nobody to accept a free meal, fly on a private plane, play a round of golf in the Bahamas and, most importantly, accept the political contributions lobbyists raise on their behalf from special-interests with billions of dollars in business before the federal Government. A solution could, for example, have been Full Public Financing of Elections and free airtime for political candidates as part of the licensing of the public's airwaves to private corporations. The "lobbying reform" framing of the issue precluded such considerations from discussion, because they don't count as solutions to the "lobbying" problem. Issue-defining frames are powerful.
"Immigration reform" also evokes an issue-defining frame. Bush, in his speech, pointed out the problems that this frame defines. First, the Government has "not been in complete control of its borders." Second, millions are able to "sneak across our border" seeking to make money. Finally, once here, illegal immigrants sometimes forge documents to get work, skirting labor laws, and deceiving employers who attempt to follow the law. They may take jobs away from legal immigrants and ordinary Americans, bear children who will be American citizens even in they are not, and use local services like schools and hospitals, which may cost a local government a great deal. This is his definition of the problem in the Immigration Reform frame.
This definition of the problem focuses entirely on the immigrants and the administrative agencies charged with overseeing immigration law. The reason is that these are the only roles present in the Immigration Problem Frame.
Bush's "comprehensive solution" entirely concerns the immigrants, citizenship laws, and the border patrol. And, from the narrow problem identified by framing it as an "immigration problem," Bush's solution is comprehensive. He has at least addressed everything that counts as a problem in the immigration frame.
But the real problem with the current situation runs broader and deeper. Consider the issue of Foreign Policy Reform, which focuses on two sub-issues:
How has US foreign policy placed, or kept, in power oppressive governments which people are forced to flee?'
What role have international trade agreements had in creating or exacerbating people's urge to flee their homelands? If capital is going to freely cross borders, should people and labor be able to do so as well, going where globalization takes the jobs?
Such a framing of the problem would lead to a solution involving the Secretary of State, conversations with Mexico and other Central American countries, and a close examination of the promises of NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank to raise standards of living around the globe. It would inject into the globalization debate a concern for the migration and displacement of people, not simply globalization's promise for profits. This is not addressed when the issue is defined as the "immigration problem." Bush's "comprehensive solution" does not address any of these concerns. The immigration problem, in this light, is actually a globalization problem.
Perhaps the problem might be better understood as a humanitarian crisis. Can the mass migration and displacement of people from their homelands at a rate of 800,000 people a year be understood as anything else? Unknown numbers of people have died trekking through the extreme conditions of the Arizona and New Mexico desert. Towns are being depopulated and ways of life lost in rural Mexico. Fathers feel forced to leave their families in their best attempt to provide for their kids. Everyday, boatloads of people arrive on our shores after miserable journeys at sea in deplorable conditions.
As a humanitarian crisis, the solution could involve The UN or the Organization of American States. But these bodies do not have roles in the immigration frame, so they have no place in an "immigration debate." Framing this as just an "immigration problem" prevents us from penetrating deeper into the issue.
The current situation can also be seen as a civil rights problem. The millions of people living here who crossed illegally are for most intents and purposes Americans. They work here. They pay taxes here. Their kids are in school here. They plan to raise their families here. For the most part, they are assimilated into the American system, but are forced to live underground and in the shadows because of their legal status. They are denied ordinary civil rights. The "immigration problem" framing overlooks their basic human dignity.
Perhaps most pointedly, the "immigration problem" frame blocks an understanding of this issue as a cheap labor issue. The undocumented immigrants allow employers to pay low wages, which in turn provide the cheap consumer goods we find at WalMart and McDonalds. They are part of a move towards the cheap lifestyle, where employers and consumers find any way they can to save a dollar, regardless of the human cost. Most of us partake in this cheap lifestyle, and as a consequence, we are all complicit in the current problematic situation. Business, Consumers and Government have turned a blind eye to the problem for so long because our entire economy is structured around subsistence wages. Americans won't do the work immigrants do not because they don't want to, but because they won't do it for such low pay. Since Bush was elected, corporate profits have doubled but there has been no increase in wages. This is really a wage problem. The workers who are being more productive are not getting paid for their increased productivity.
A solution to the "immigration problem" will not address these concerns because they are absent from the "immigration frame."
Framing matters. The notion of this as "an immigration problem" needing "immigration reform" is not neutral.
Surface Framing
We now turn from conceptual framing of the current situation to the words used and surface frames those words evoke.
The Illegal Frame
The Illegal Frame is perhaps the most commonly used frame within the immigration debate. Journalists frequently refer to "illegal immigrants" as if it were a neutral term. But the illegal frame is highly structured. It frames the problem as one about the illegal act of crossing the border without papers. As a consequence, it fundamentally frames the problem as a legal one.
Think for a moment of a criminal. Chances are you thought about a robber, a murderer or a rapist. These are prototypical criminals, people who do harm to a person or their property. And prototypical criminals are assumed to be bad people.
"Illegal," used as an adjective in "illegal immigrants" and "illegal aliens," or simply as a noun in "illegals" defines the immigrants as criminals, as if they were inherently bad people. In conservative doctrine, those who break laws must be punished - or all law and order will break down. Failure to punish is immoral.
"Illegal alien" not only stresses criminality, but stresses otherness. As we are a nation of immigrants, we can at least empathize with immigrants, illegal or not. "Aliens," in popular culture suggests nonhuman beings invading from outer space - completely foreign, not one of us, intent on taking over our land and our way of life by gradually insinuating themselves among us. Along these lines, the word "invasion" is used by the Minutemen and right-wing bloggers to discuss the wave of people crossing the border. Right-wing language experts intent on keep them out suggest using the world "aliens" whenever possible.
These are NOT neutral terms. Imagine calling businessmen who once cheated on their taxes "illegal businessmen." Imagine calling people who have driven over the speed limit "illegal drivers." Is Tom Delay an "illegal Republican?"
By defining them as criminal, it overlooks the immense contributions these immigrants subsequently make by working hard for low wages. This is work that should more than make up for crossing the border. Indeed, we should be expressing our gratitude.
Immigrants who cross outside of legal channels, though, are committing offenses of a much different nature than the prototypical criminal. Their intent is not to cause harm or to steal. More accurately, they are committing victimless technical offenses, which we normally consider "violations." By invoking the illegal frame, the severity of their offense is inflated.
The illegal frame - particularly "illegal alien" - dehumanizes. It blocks the questions of: why are people coming to the US, often times at great personal risk? What service do they provide when they are here? Why do they feel it necessary to avoid legal channels? It boils the entire debate down to questions of legality.
And it also ignores the illegal acts of employers. The problem is not being called the Illegal Employer Problem, and employers are not called "illegals."
The Security Frame
The logical response to the "wave" of "illegal immigration" becomes "border security." The Government has a responsibility to provide security for its citizens from criminals and invaders. President Bush has asked to place the National Guard on the border to provide security. Indeed, he referred to "security" six times in his immigration speech.
Additionally, Congress recently appropriated money from the so-called "war on terror" for border security with Mexico. This should outrage the American public. How could Congress conflate the war on terror with illegal immigration? Terrorists come to destroy the American dream, immigrants - both documented and undocumented - come to live the American dream. But the conceptual move from illegal immigrant (criminal, evil), to border security to a front of the war on terror, an ever expanding war against evil in all places and all times wherever it is, is not far.
It is this understanding of the issue that also prompted the House to pass the punitive HR 4437, which includes a provision to make assisting illegal immigrants while they are here a felony. It is seen as aiding and abetting a criminal.
But how could this be a "security" issue? Security implies that there is a threat, and a threatened, and that the threatened needs protection. These immigrants are not a physical threat, they are a vital part of our economy and help America function. They don't want to shoot us or kill us or blow us up. They only want to weed our gardens, clean our houses, and cook our meals in search of the American Dream. They must be recognized as Americans making a vital impact and contribution. And when they are, we will cease to tolerate the substandard conditions in which they are forced to work and live. No American - indeed, no person - should be treated so brashly.
Amnesty
"Amnesty" also fits the Illegal Frame. Amnesty is a pardoning of an illegal action - a show of either benevolence or mercy by a supreme power. It implies that the fault lies with the immigrants, and it is a righteous act for the US Government to pardon them. This again blocks the reality that Government looks the other way, and Business has gone much further - it has been a full partner in creating the current situation. If amnesty is to be granted, it seems that amnesty should be given to the businesses who knowingly or unknowingly hired the immigrants and to the Government for turning a blind eye. But amnesty to these parties is not considered, because it's an "immigration problem." Business has no role in this frame, and Government can't be given amnesty for not enforcing its own laws.
The Undocumented Worker Frame
By comparison, the term "undocumented worker" activates a conceptual frame that seems less accusatory and more compassionate than the "illegal" frame. But a closer look reveals fundamental problems with this framing.
First, the negative "undocumented" suggests that they should be documented - that there is something wrong with them if they are not. Second, "worker" suggests that their function in America is only to work, not to be educated, have families, form communities, have lives - and vote! This term was suggested by supporters of the immigrants as less noxious than illegal aliens, and it is, but it has serious limitations. It accepts the framing of immigrants as being here only to work.
Temporary Workers
"Undocumented workers" opened the door to Bush's new proposal for "temporary workers," who come to America for a short time, work for low wages, do not vote, have few rights and services, and then go home so that a new wave of workers without rights, or the possibility of citizenship and voting, can come in.
This is thoroughly undemocratic and serves the financial and electoral interests of conservatives.
This term replaced "guest worker," which was ridiculed. Imagine inviting some to dinner as a guest and then asking him to pick the vegetables, cook the dinner, and wash the dishes!
Frames Not Taken
Most of the framing initiative has been taken by conservatives. Progressives have so far abstained.
Progressives could well frame the situation as the Cheap Labor Issue or the Cheap Lifestyle Issue. Most corporations use the common economic metaphor of labor as a resource. There are two kinds of employees - the Assets (creative people and managers) and Resources (who are relatively unskilled, fungible, interchangeable). The American economy is structured to drive down the cost of resources - that is, the wages of low-skilled, replaceable workers.
Immigration increases the supply of such workers and helps to drive down wages. Cheap labor increases "productivity" and profits for employers, and it permits a cheap lifestyle for consumers who get low prices because of cheap labor. But these are not seen as "problems." They are benefits. And people take these benefits for granted. They are not grateful to the immigrants who make them possible. Gratitude. The word is hardly ever spoken in the discourse over immigration.
Now consider the frame defined by the term "economic refugee." A refugee is a person who has fled their homeland, due to political or social strife, and seeks asylum in another country. An economic refugee would extend this category (metaphorically, not legally, though it might be shifted legally in the future) to include people fleeing their homeland as a result of economic insecurity.
Refugees are worthy of compassion. We should accept them into our nation. All people are entitled to a stable political community where they have reasonable life prospects to lead a fulfilling life - this is the essence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To frame the debate this way is to advance a progressive understanding. While immigrants are here, they should be integrated into society either temporarily, if conditions improve in their home country, or permanently, if they can integrate and become productive members of our nation. It will focus solutions on US foreign policy to be about people, not profits. The only way the migration of people from the South to the North will stop is when conditions are improved there. As long as there is a pull to the North and a push from the South, people will find their way over, no matter how big, how long or how guarded a border fence is. (As an aside, who will build that fence if all the undocumented immigrants leave?) Increased security will force people to find ever more dangerous crossings, as has already happened, without slowing the flow of immigrants. More people will die unnecessarily.
Even if we could "protect" ourselves by sealing the border and preventing businesses from hiring undocumented immigrants by imposing hefty fines or prison sentences for violations, progressives should not be satisfied. This still leaves those yearning to flee their own countries in search of a better life in deplorable situations. The problem is not dealt with by making the United States a gated community.
While these refugees are here, they must be treated with dignity and respect. Indeed, if they cannot return home, we have a responsibility to welcome them into ours. And we must treat them as Americans, not as second-class citizens, as they are currently. If they are here, they work hard and contribute to society, they are worthy of a path to citizenship and the basic rights we are entitled to (a minimum wage, education, healthcare, a social safety net).
Currently, the undocumented immigrants living amongst us are un-enfranchised workers. They perform all the work, pay all the duties, and receive many fewer of the benefits - especially voting rights. They must be given an opportunity to come out of the shadows and lead normal lives as Americans.
The answer to this problem isn't an "open-border." The United States cannot take on the world's problems on its own. Other affluent countries need to extend a humanitarian arm to peoples fleeing oppressive economic circumstances as well. How many immigrants the United States should be willing to accept will ultimately be up to Congress.
In presenting these alternative frames, we want to inject humanitarian concerns based in compassion and empathy into the debate. The problem is dealing adequately with a humanitarian crisis that extends well beyond the southern border. The focus must shift from the immigrants themselves and domestic policy to a broader view of why so many people flee, and how we can help alleviate conditions in Mexico and Central America to prevent the flow in the first place. Only by reframing of the debate can we incorporate more global considerations. Immigration crises only arise from global disparity.
Why It's Not a Single Issue
The wealth of frames in this debate has made it confusing. The frames within the debate have been divisive. But the absence of frames to counter the idea of the "immigration problem" has also been divisive. Since each frame presents a different component of the problem, it's worth noting who stresses which frames, and which problems that frame define.
Conservatives
The conservative views:
Law and Order: The "illegal immigrants" are criminals, felons, and must be punished - rounded up and sent home. There should be no amnesty. Otherwise all law will break down.
The Nativists: The immigrants are diluting our culture, our language, and our values.
The Profiteers: We need cheap labor to keep our profits up and our cheap lifestyle in place.
The Bean Counters: We can't afford to have illegal immigrants using our tax dollars on health, education, and other services.
The Security Hounds: We need more border guards and a hi-tech wall to guarantee our security.
Progressives
Progressivism Begins at Home: The immigrants are taking the jobs of American works and we have to protect our workers.
African-American Protectionists: Hispanic immigrants are threatening African-American jobs.
Provide a path to citizenship: The immigrants have earned citizenship with their hard work, their devotion to American values, and their contribution to our society.
Foreign Policy Reformers: We need to pay attention to the causes that drive others from their homelands.
Wage supports: Institute a serious earned income tax credit for Americans doing otherwise low-paying jobs, so that more Americans will want to do them and fewer immigrants will be drawn here.
Illegal Employers: The way to protect American workers and slow immigration of unskilled workers is to prosecute employers of unskilled workers.
We can see why this is such a complex problem and why there are so splits within both the conservative and progressive ranks.
Summing Up
The "immigration issue" is anything but. It is a complex melange of social, economic, cultural and security concerns - with conservatives and progressives split in different ways with different positions.
Framing the recent problem as an "immigration problem" pre-empts many of these considerations from entering the debate. As a consequence, any reform that "solves" the immigration problem is bound to be a patchwork solution addressing bits and pieces of much larger concerns. Bush's comprehensive reform is comprehensive, but only for the narrow set of problems defined in the "immigration debate." It does not address many of the questions with which progressives should be primarily concerned, issues of basic experiential well-being and political rights.
Ultimately, the way the current immigration debate is going - focusing narrowly on domestic policy, executive agencies and the immigrants - we will be faced with the same problems 10 years from now. The same long lines of immigrants waiting for legal status will persist. Temporary workers will not return home after their visas have expired, and millions of undocumented people will live amongst us. Only by broadening the understanding of the situation will the problem, or, rather, the multiple problems, be addressed and adequately solved. The immigration problem does not sit in isolation from other problems, but is symptomatic of broader social and economic concerns. The framing of the "immigration problem" must not pre-empt us from debating and beginning to address these broader concerns.

The Rockridge Institute (We [RI] invite the free distribution of this piece. (c) 2006)
http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/research/rockridge/immigration

Elvira Arellano & Chicago Woman Continue Bi-National, Pro-immigrant Hunger Strike



Elvira Arellano & Chicago Woman Continue Bi-National, Pro-immigrant Hunger Strike
November 27, 2007

Two Mexican immigrant women are now in the 14th day of a bi-national hunger strike. Flor Crisostomo, an undocumented resident of Chicago, and Elvira Arellano, the Mexican mother who, before being captured and deported earlier this year, came to symbolize the immigrant struggle in the U.S., have targeted politicos on both sides of the border with their calls to resolve the immigration crisis.

Crisostomo, who was put in deportation proceedings after being captured in the massive raid on IFCO systems last year, is currently staging her strike in front of the Chicago offices of Rahm Emmanuel, the anti-immigrant fundrasing and campaign chief of the Democrats. A press statement released by Crisostomo and her supporters calls on Emmanuel to “confront his responsibilities as a member of the Congressional Democratic Leadership and work to resolve the current immigration crisis in this session of Congress.”

Denouncing Emmanuel, who represents one of the most immigrant of all Congressional districts she said, “You have the responsibility to resolve this crisis. You cannot leave millions of people and millions of children at the mercy of a broken law.”

For her part, Arellano, decided to stage her strike in front of the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. She also targeted Mexican politicians so that they play a more aggressive role in defending the rights of Mexican migrants in the U.S “I believe” said Arellano, “that the Mexican government should suspend all negotiations with the United States over trade and national security until the United States fixes its broken law and treats our people with dignity. “

Garantiza Diosdado maestros en primaria


Y mientras en Balcones de la Joya los padres de familia exigen maestros para varios grupos.

Garantiza Diosdado maestros en primaria
Por: Ángel Flores/Alfredo G. Ledesma/Gaby Bárcenas, Jueves, 29 de Noviembre de 2007
El secretario de Educación afirma que el caso de La Joya está resuelto; lo desmienten
LEÓN/GUANAJUATO

La Secretaría de Educación de Guanajuato (SEG) cubre las plazas de profesores faltantes con personal de otras áreas no capacitado para la docencia en primaria; al menos ese fue el caso de la escuela "Fray Bartolomé de las Casas", en León, hasta donde la dependencia envió dos maestros, uno de ellos con la renuncia bajo el brazo, porque es sicólogo, no maestro.

Avalan ‘cuotas voluntarias’
Ángel Flores / GUANAJUATO

Hilarino Díaz Serna, presidente de la Asociación Estatal de Padres de Familia (AEPAF) reconoció que en el tema del mantenimiento a la insfraestructura educativa, el gobierno no puede solo, por lo que se dijo de acuerdo en que dicho sector participe con la aportación de cuotas "voluntarias".

También coincidió con la petición del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) para que se destinen recursos a dicho rubro.

Indicó que luego de la publicación de una serie de anuncios televisivos y en medios electrónicos por parte del Senado de la República en torno a la supuesta prohibición de la aportación de las cuotas "voluntarias" que los padres de familia entregan cada inicio del ciclo escolar, esto "tuvo una repercusión negativa en la Asociación de Padres de Familia , ya que es importante la participación de los padres debido a que no hay un presupuesto asignado para infraestructura".

Sobre todo, explicó, "hay interés de que los planteles estén en las mejores condiciones para que los hijos estén bien en sus clases", por lo que insistió en la necesidad de que se continúen aportando las cuotas ya que esos recursos sirven para dar mantenimiento a las escuelas y planteles educativos.

Hilarino Díaz Serna reconoció que está de acuerdo con las peticiones de los líderes del SNTE en las secciones 13 y 45, Jesús Zúñiga Romero y Luis Manuel Hernández León en cuanto a la necesidad de asignar recursos del presupuesto al mantenimiento de los planteles y la infraestructura.

LAS ACCIONES

Con relación a esas exigencias por parte del SNTE y de los padres, el secretario de Educación, Alberto Diosdado fue claro, "este año no tendremos la capacidad de solventar dichas necesidades"

Indicó que todo depende de los recursos que el Congreso del Estado asigne a la SEG para el próximo año, aunque explicó que para el actual ciclo escolar no será posible atender dichas necesidades ya que apenas "estamos haciendo la solicitud de poder tener estos recursos para le próximo ciclo escolar". En este sentido, el funcionario se negó a hablar abiertamente sobre el presupuesto que podría ser actualizado a la dependencia ya que aseguró que ese tema le confiere únicamente al secretario de Finanzas y Administración, Gustavo Adolfo González Estrada.

Y aclaró que las prioridades de la SEG son el empleo de los recursos serán destinados al mantenimiento y construcción de infraestructura, la cuestión salarial y la capacitación de los maestros.

Esta maniobra de la delegación III de la SEG molestó a los padres de familia y a los maestros de los niños de esa escuela, ubicada en Balcones de la Joya, quienes amenazaron con realizar hoy una manifestación en las instalaciones de dicha delegación.
Mientras estas personas daban a conocer lo ocurrido y los planes que tienen para hoy, el secretario de Educación, Alberto Diosdado Diosdado, aseguraba en la capital del estado que todo estaba en orden en la Fray Bartolomé.

Incluso reveló que las jubilaciones de maestros que se han presentado en cascada a consecuencia de la nueva ley del ISSSTE, la cual los sujetaría a un nuevo régimen de retiro, han generado que en algunas escuelas de nivel básico se tenga un déficit de 10 maestros de lo que, dijo, ya se encarga la Subsecretaría de Desarrollo de Personal.

CASO "FRAY BARTOLOMÉ"

Luego de que este martes padres de familia y maestros decidieran cerrar la escuela primaria al argumentar falta de personal docente pese a que desde el principio del ciclo escolar pidieron que fueran enviados dos maestros para segundo y cuarto grado que hacen falta en la institución, el Secretario de Educación aseguró, "ya sólo faltan algunas cuestiones de tipo administrativo (…) sólo faltan algunas cuestiones de tipo administrativo".

Pero la realidad es distinta; la directora de la escuela, María Elena Quintero Araiza, dice que le siguen faltando dos maestros.

En el turno vespertino faltan dos maestros, que un día antes las autoridades habían acordado llevar ayer a las 13:30, pero llegaron a las 13:45 horas, cuando la paciencia de los padres de familia estaba a punto de agotarse.

Al terminar el turno vespertino las madres cerraron la escuela y no permitieron la entrada de maestros y alumnos hasta que llegó la jefa de planeación de la Delegación de la SEG, Magdalena Gutiérrez, acompañada de los dos maestros, quien escuchó las atropelladas demandas de las mamás.

Con la llegada la los maestros, la escuela vespertina "José María Belauzarán", volvió a abrir sus puertas y los alumnos pudieron ingresar a sus respectivos salones.

Sin embargo, las madres de familia confiaron a la funcionaria Magdalena Gutiérrez que si hoy por la mañana no llegan los dos maestros que les faltan en el turno matutino, tomarán a los niños y se trasladarían a las instalaciones de la delegación de la SEG en esta ciudad y se manifestarían ahí.

Las manifestantes encabezadas por Juana María Hernández Rocha, dijeron que no aceptarán explicaciones de parte de las autoridades porque tienen mucho tiempo escuchándolas y que sólo aceptarán el envió de los dos maestros para que inicien de inmediato sus labores, porque esas vacantes de maestros, están pendientes desde que inició el ciclo escolar a finales de agosto.

Se plantaron en las afueras de la institución con pancartas y gritos en demanda de los maestros que han estado pidiendo desde hace tres meses y que ya para finalizar el mes de noviembre no les han enviado.

MAESTRO QUE NO ES MAESTRO

En Peñón de Alfaro
Mientras, la problemática por la que atraviesan al menos 75 pequeños estudiantes del Jardín de niños, "Rosaura Zapata", ubicado en la comunidad de Peñón de Alfaro, al no contar con la infraestructura para poder tomar clases de manera digna, el delegado de la SEG región III, Francisco Javier Ramírez, detalló que para la próxima semana estarán habilitados dos salones móviles.

Aunque el Jardín de Niños ya está contemplado para los trabajos de infraestructura en el paquete de 2008, por lo que refirió que será posible que para junio de ese año, estos 75 pequeños ya podrían contar con un espacio educativo digno.

Ramírez Zavala detalló que este espacio educativo no había sido atendido por la Secretaría de Educación debido a que la escuela estaba acreditada bajo el Consejo Nacional de Fomento Educativo (Conafe).

Esta dependencia federal, atiende la prestación de servicios educativos en comunidades marginadas donde la población escolar es muy baja, por lo que entran a este tipo de programas de apoyo educativo para zonas marginadas las comunidades con baja población, "pero cuando la matricula va en aumento, ya la comunidad tiene la posibilidad que se le pueda otorgar el servicio educativo de manera regular", señaló el delegado de la SEG.

Ramírez Zavala dijo desconocer desde cuando está asignado la matricula del Jardín de Niños, pero se mostró preocupado y ocupado porque a más tardar la próxima semana estos pequeños cuenten con "al menos condiciones mínimas favorables para recibir la educación preescolar".

Así, el recurso más inmediato para dar atención a los pequeños estudiantes de la comunidad de Peñón de Alfaro es habilitarlos de dos aulas móviles en donde el delegado se comprometió a dotarlos de los mismos en un periodo de ocho días.


CONDICIONES
En esta comunidad algunas carencias han sido solventadas por los padres de familia.
Entrevistada en sus oficinas, la directora del plantel matutino, "Fray Bartolomé de las Casas", María Elena Quintero Araiza, señaló que dos de los tres maestros que faltan en este turno llegaron ayer a la institución pero uno de ellos llegó con la carta de renuncia en las manos, porque dijo que no es maestro, sino sicólogo y no tiene capacidad para asumir funciones pedagógicas.
"Ayer vino la secretaria, de hecho cuando llegaron traían dos maestros y el día de hoy uno de ellos no se presentó porque dice que su área es la psicología, entonces él prefirió renunciar al puesto que tenía en la Delegación; él estaba trabajando como encargado de unos proyectos que tienen ahí, pero no es maestro".

"El día de hoy (ayer) se presentó en la mañana, pero ya traía la renuncia que le presentó ayer al delegado y el delegado le aceptó su renuncia; nos hacían falta tres maestros de sexto ‘B’, de quinto ‘B’ y de segundo ‘A’; cubrieron nada más dos, quinto ‘B’ y segundo ‘A’, pero el de segundo ‘A’ no se presentó; al sexto ‘B’ lo está atendiendo el auxiliar de la dirección y sigue sin maestros segundo ‘A’".

La directora señaló que antes de que los padres de familia hicieran su petición por la falta de maestros, ella hizo la solicitud desde antes de que iniciara el presente ciclo escolar, pero la respuesta ha sido que en una semana o dos llegarían, pero está a punto de concluir noviembre y no ha pasado nada.

"Desde el primer día de clases nuestras plantillas de maestros se llenan desde antes de inicio de ciclo, pero desde antes de inicio de ciclo, yo ya sabía que me faltaban tres maestros y desde ese momento he estado haciendo la petición a secretaría y ahí lo saben".

"Solamente se nos ha dicho que en una semana, que en 15 días, que en tal día llegan los maestros, pero hasta la fecha no ha asido así, eso sí, desde el primer día de clases se nos mandaron los estudiantes normalistas para que nos apoyaran, pero ellos se retiraron de la escuela hace dos semanas, porque Secretaría les dijo que solamente era por tres meses, entonces ellos se retiran y yo me quedo sin esa ayuda que tenía", comentó.

Finalmente, comentó que espera que ahora sí lleguen los dos maestros que les faltan para que al concluir el ciclo escolar, a mitad de diciembre, todo esté solucionado.

¡YA SE CUBRIÓ EL FALTANTE!

El delegado de la Secretaría de Educación de Guanajuato (SEG), Francisco Javier Ramírez Zavala, sostiene que ya se cubrió el faltante de dos maestros de la escuela "Fray Bartolomé de las Casas", lo que pasa es que "se está mal informando a los padres de familia, en el sentido de hacer informaciones incorrectas (sic)".

CONDICIONES
En esta comunidad algunas carencias han sido solventadas por los padres de familia.


Avalan ‘cuotas voluntarias’
Ángel Flores / GUANAJUATO

Hilarino Díaz Serna, presidente de la Asociación Estatal de Padres de Familia (AEPAF) reconoció que en el tema del mantenimiento a la insfraestructura educativa, el gobierno no puede solo, por lo que se dijo de acuerdo en que dicho sector participe con la aportación de cuotas "voluntarias".

También coincidió con la petición del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) para que se destinen recursos a dicho rubro.

Indicó que luego de la publicación de una serie de anuncios televisivos y en medios electrónicos por parte del Senado de la República en torno a la supuesta prohibición de la aportación de las cuotas "voluntarias" que los padres de familia entregan cada inicio del ciclo escolar, esto "tuvo una repercusión negativa en la Asociación de Padres de Familia , ya que es importante la participación de los padres debido a que no hay un presupuesto asignado para infraestructura".

Sobre todo, explicó, "hay interés de que los planteles estén en las mejores condiciones para que los hijos estén bien en sus clases", por lo que insistió en la necesidad de que se continúen aportando las cuotas ya que esos recursos sirven para dar mantenimiento a las escuelas y planteles educativos.

Hilarino Díaz Serna reconoció que está de acuerdo con las peticiones de los líderes del SNTE en las secciones 13 y 45, Jesús Zúñiga Romero y Luis Manuel Hernández León en cuanto a la necesidad de asignar recursos del presupuesto al mantenimiento de los planteles y la infraestructura.

LAS ACCIONES

Con relación a esas exigencias por parte del SNTE y de los padres, el secretario de Educación, Alberto Diosdado fue claro, "este año no tendremos la capacidad de solventar dichas necesidades"

Indicó que todo depende de los recursos que el Congreso del Estado asigne a la SEG para el próximo año, aunque explicó que para el actual ciclo escolar no será posible atender dichas necesidades ya que apenas "estamos haciendo la solicitud de poder tener estos recursos para le próximo ciclo escolar". En este sentido, el funcionario se negó a hablar abiertamente sobre el presupuesto que podría ser actualizado a la dependencia ya que aseguró que ese tema le confiere únicamente al secretario de Finanzas y Administración, Gustavo Adolfo González Estrada.

Y aclaró que las prioridades de la SEG son el empleo de los recursos serán destinados al mantenimiento y construcción de infraestructura, la cuestión salarial y la capacitación de los maestros.

En Peñón de Alfaro
Mientras, la problemática por la que atraviesan al menos 75 pequeños estudiantes del Jardín de niños, "Rosaura Zapata", ubicado en la comunidad de Peñón de Alfaro, al no contar con la infraestructura para poder tomar clases de manera digna, el delegado de la SEG región III, Francisco Javier Ramírez, detalló que para la próxima semana estarán habilitados dos salones móviles.

Aunque el Jardín de Niños ya está contemplado para los trabajos de infraestructura en el paquete de 2008, por lo que refirió que será posible que para junio de ese año, estos 75 pequeños ya podrían contar con un espacio educativo digno.

Ramírez Zavala detalló que este espacio educativo no había sido atendido por la Secretaría de Educación debido a que la escuela estaba acreditada bajo el Consejo Nacional de Fomento Educativo (Conafe).

Esta dependencia federal, atiende la prestación de servicios educativos en comunidades marginadas donde la población escolar es muy baja, por lo que entran a este tipo de programas de apoyo educativo para zonas marginadas las comunidades con baja población, "pero cuando la matricula va en aumento, ya la comunidad tiene la posibilidad que se le pueda otorgar el servicio educativo de manera regular", señaló el delegado de la SEG.

Ramírez Zavala dijo desconocer desde cuando está asignado la matricula del Jardín de Niños, pero se mostró preocupado y ocupado porque a más tardar la próxima semana estos pequeños cuenten con "al menos condiciones mínimas favorables para recibir la educación preescolar".

Así, el recurso más inmediato para dar atención a los pequeños estudiantes de la comunidad de Peñón de Alfaro es habilitarlos de dos aulas móviles en donde el delegado se comprometió a dotarlos de los mismos en un periodo de ocho días.

Immigration at Record Level, Analysis Finds

This research appears helpful, but according to Professor Wayne Cornelius at the University of California San Diego who has studied immigration for decades, it provides an incomplete picture, including contributions made by immigrants and their under-utilization of the health care system. -Dra. Valenzuela

November 29, 2007
Immigration at Record Level, Analysis Finds / New York Times

By JULIA PRESTON

Immigration over the past seven years was the highest for any seven-year period in American history, bringing 10.3 million new immigrants, more than half of them without legal status, according to an analysis of census data released today by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington.

One in eight people living in the United States is an immigrant, the survey found, for a total of 37.9 million people — the highest level since the 1920s.

The survey was conducted by Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the center, which advocates reduced immigration.

Mr. Camarota has been active in the national immigration debate. Independent demographers disputed some of the survey’s conclusions, but not Mr. Camarota’s methods of data analysis.

A large proportion of recent immigrants, both legal and illegal, are low-skilled workers and about one-third of those have not completed high school, giving them significantly less education than Americans born in the United States, according to the study, which is based on census data as recent as March of this year.

The survey focuses on public costs associated with the new generation of immigrant workers. It does not, however, analyze contributions they make by paying taxes and taking undesirable, low-income jobs — an omission criticized by some immigration scholars.

Still, the survey provides a panorama of the effects of immigration since 2000.

About 30 percent of all immigrants and their children lack health insurance, Mr. Camarota reports, compared with 13 percent of native-born Americans. One of every three uninsured people in the country is an immigrant or a young American-born child with at least one immigrant parent, he found. Immigrant families account for almost three-quarters of the increase in the uninsured in the past 15 years, he concludes.

Immigrants are employed at higher rates than Americans, according to the survey. But because of their low educational levels, many work in low-paying, entry-level jobs that do not provide health insurance or other benefits.

“Immigrants have had an enormous impact on the lack of health insurance,” Mr. Camarota said. “If we are going to have a debate about health insurance, we should recognize that most of the growth in the uninsured comes from recently arrived immigrants and their American-born kids.”

Mr. Camarota was criticized by some immigration scholars for failing to examine the progress immigrant families make the longer they remain and work in the United States.

“This is a one-eyed portrait,” said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California who has studied immigrants’ use of public services. “It is a profile of immigrants’ dependency without any profile of their contributions.”

Mr. Myers said his research shows that within a decade, new immigrants in California moved up quickly to steadier jobs with more benefits, and the rates of uninsured immigrants dropped sharply.

Mr. Camarota’s analysis suggests why illegal immigration has become the source of contention in many states. The majority of immigrants arriving in recent years are from Mexico and Central America, and more than half of them are illegal.

The states that have received the largest numbers of the new immigrants are also states where immigration has been hotly debated. After five states that have been high on the immigration list for decades — California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas — those receiving the most new immigrants included Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The analysis confirms earlier estimates of about 11.3 million illegal immigrants in this country.

About 31 percent of immigrants over 25 years old, both legal and illegal, have not completed high school, according to Mr. Camarota, compared with 8.4 percent of American citizens. Among adult Hispanic immigrants, nearly 51 percent do not have high school diplomas, he reported.

Mr. Camarota found that about one-third of immigrant families receive some kind of public assistance. The services were mainly food stamps and Medicaid associated with care for their American children, he found. The majority of children in immigrant families, whether the parents are legal or illegal, were born in the United States and so are American citizens.

“The welfare system is designed to help low-income workers with children,” Mr. Camarota said. “The study shows that it is very difficult not to have these public costs if you have low-skilled immigrants in large numbers.”

Mr. Camarota did not present evidence of large scale use of public benefits by illegal immigrants themselves.

Wayne Cornelius, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied Mexican immigration for decades, called Mr. Camarota’s conclusions about immigrants’ use of public services “misleading.”

The census data, Mr. Cornelius said, does not allow concise estimates of use of public services by illegal immigrants.

Mr. Cornelius said his field research in San Diego County had shown that illegal immigrants under-used the health care system, given their health needs.

“They are less likely to have health insurance, but they are also less likely to seek medical attention,” Mr. Cornelius said.

He added that research in California has shown that illegal immigrants from Latin America are far less likely than American Hispanics to use emergency room services or seek public primary care.

Mr. Cornelius also faulted Mr. Camarota for focusing only on first-generation immigrants. The study “obscures the very significant progress that immigrants’ children and their grandchildren typically make,” Mr. Cornelius argued.

Mr. Camarota reported that both legal and illegal immigration have continued to grow. A study in 2005 by another demographer, Jeffrey S. Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, found that the rate of growth of immigration peaked in 2000 and declined somewhat in the next five years.


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Leon, GTO: Padres toman escuela en La Joya: Exigen maestros

NECESIDAD
En la escuela de Peñón de Alfaro se estudia entre heladas y carencias.


Padres toman escuela en La Joya; exigen maestros
Por: Alfredo G. Ledesma, Miércoles, 28 de Noviembre de 2007
Aseguran que los alumnos de sexto y quinto dan las clases a menores

NECESIDAD
En la escuela de Peñón de Alfaro se estudia entre heladas y carencias.
LEÓN

Cansados de la falta de maestros, padres de familia de la escuela Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, en la colonia Balcones de la Joya, tomaron las instalaciones de la institución en protesta porque no hay maestros y son ellos o alumnos de los grados quinto y sexto los que imparten clases.

Los padres, quienes pidieron no ser identificados, señalaron que tienen todo lo que va del ciclo escolar solicitando dos maestros que hacen falta en la institución, para segundo y cuarto grado, pero siempre han recibido largas de las autoridades de Educación.

Señalaron a los representantes de los medios de información que debido a la falta de tutores, ellos mismos hacen las funciones de maestros para que los alumnos no pierdan clases.

Indicaron que en ocasiones son los propios alumnos de quinto y sexto, quienes atienden al grupo de segundo, ''mientras les asignan un maestro'', pero esto tienen escuchándolo desde que inició el ciclo escolar a finales del mes de agosto.
Dijeron que la primera respuestas que tuvieron de las autoridades de Educación fue que en el mes de septiembre llegarían los maestros, luego que en octubre y está a punto de terminar noviembre y todavía no han llegado.

Por ello ayer acordaron tomar las instalaciones de la escuela primaria y están decididos a continuar así hasta que la SEG envíe los maestros que hacen falta.

Los alumnos, sobre todo los de quinto y sexto grado, también manifestaron su inconformidad, porque dicen que pierden clases y que van a la escuela para aprender y que si no hay maestros, eso es responsabilidad de las autoridades de Educación.

Los padres manifestantes, recibieron la promesa de que ayer mismo serían enviados dos profesores para cubrir los huecos que existen, por lo que se retiraron, pero aseguraron que si hoy persiste la misma situación, volverán a tomar las instalaciones hasta que lleguen los tutores.


LA PROTESTA
Los padres de alumnos de la primaria de Balcones de la Joya aseguran que hasta ellos han impartido clases.



Cuando el frío se cuela...
Martín Diego / LEÓN

En la comunidad Peñón de Alfaro apenas se puede soportar el frío; hay veces en que los pocos parajes lucen breves cristales del congelado rocío que se dispersa con los primeros rayos del sol.

A las faldas del peñón llegan puntuales a las nueve de la mañana 75 niños a un galerón de lámina que llaman con todo orgullo Jardín de Niños Federal Rosaura Zapata. En el lugar hace frío, no hay un muro que contenga la ventisca de la Sierra de León, ni siquiera hay una puerta. Cuando llueve, el techo se convierte en una gotera interminable que ha terminado con las pocas herramientas de la escuela.

María Teresa Olmedo da el beso de despedida a Agustín quien tiene cinco años, ella comenta que por varias generaciones -algunos de sus hijos que estudiaron en esa escuela ya están en la secundaria- han pedido el apoyo de las autoridades, pero no llega.

"Siempre nos dicen que para el próximo año" pero ya llevan 10 de esperar, pero eso no agobia a María quien a sus cuatro años de edad, siente el frío, pero se le olvida cuando llega a su escuela donde "juego, aprendo y estoy con las maestras".

Janet Esparza Amaro, la directora del plantel, cada año espera que las condiciones cambien "ahora nos han prometido que estamos considerados dentro del presupuesto del próximo año, lo que significa que para el ciclo 2008-2009 nos podrían hacer algunas mejoras". Mientras tanto los menores llevan su silla y su material, pese a que no tienen ni pizarrón.

La presidenta de la Mesa Directiva de Padres de Familia, María de la Luz Tavares reprocha el abandono y las condiciones en las que estudian los menores, no cree que haya mexicanos de primera y segunda clase por lo que acudirán a las autoridades para pedir mejoras a la escuela federal que se sostiene apenas por los pocos recursos de los padres.

Recuerda que hace un año, los padres de familia se propusieron mejorar las condiciones de la escuela, compraron ladrillos y algunas varillas, cemento también, y comenzaron a edificar un salón digno pero el gobierno leonés frenó la obra por falta de permiso.

Indicaron que en ocasiones son los propios alumnos de quinto y sexto, quienes atienden al grupo de segundo, ''mientras les asignan un maestro'', pero esto tienen escuchándolo desde que inició el ciclo escolar a finales del mes de agosto.
Dijeron que la primera respuestas que tuvieron de las autoridades de Educación fue que en el mes de septiembre llegarían los maestros, luego que en octubre y está a punto de terminar noviembre y todavía no han llegado.

Por ello ayer acordaron tomar las instalaciones de la escuela primaria y están decididos a continuar así hasta que la SEG envíe los maestros que hacen falta.

Los alumnos, sobre todo los de quinto y sexto grado, también manifestaron su inconformidad, porque dicen que pierden clases y que van a la escuela para aprender y que si no hay maestros, eso es responsabilidad de las autoridades de Educación.

Los padres manifestantes, recibieron la promesa de que ayer mismo serían enviados dos profesores para cubrir los huecos que existen, por lo que se retiraron, pero aseguraron que si hoy persiste la misma situación, volverán a tomar las instalaciones hasta que lleguen los tutores.

Envían docentes
El delegado de la Secretaría de Educación de Guanajuato, Francisco Javier Ramírez Zavala, aseguró que ayer mismo, en breve entrevista, que ya fueron enviados dos maestros para cubrir las necesidades en Balcones de la Joya I y que estarán únicamente hasta el término del ciclo escolar, por lo que no será la solución al problema.

''Por lo pronto se enviaron dos recursos, dos docentes, que se quedan ahorita en lo que corresponde hasta el término del ciclo escolar''.

Sin embargo, reconoció que el problema será solucionado posteriormente, cuando las autoridades de Educación hagan la designación formal de los mentores para que se llene el hueco definitivamente en el plantel de La Joya.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Anti-Latino humor has entered the mainstream.

Racism against Latino and Latinas is alive and well. I'm glad to see Dr. Otto Santana challenging his students at UCLA on these seemingly benign, humorous depictions. It's hard to see the racism with any single instance, but in its totality, it is surely over-whelming. Like Dr. Santana says in so many words below, "We're not laughing at them. They're laughing at us."

By the way, this discussion brings to mind Dr. Jane Hill’s analysis of language and racism in her influential published piece titled, “Mock Spanish: A site for the indexical reproduction of racism in American English." It masterfully demonstrates how relations of power between Latinos and non-Latinos get reinscribed through the mocking of the Spanish language which is in turn systematic to the point of it not even being noticeable at times. I’ve used it in my classes and students find it very helpful and interesting. Some students disagree with some of the examples she uses that these constitute racism. Her slides, located at this website, are also useful and provocative:

-Dra. Valenzuela


No laughing matter
Anti-Latino humor has entered the mainstream.
Roberto Lovato, The Progressive Magazine
November 28, 2007

 
Late night funny man Conan O'Brien recently tickled his studio audience as he touched on immigration, a hot button topic heard with growing frequency on late night talk shows: "A man in Mexico weighing 1,200 pounds has lost almost half that weight and might enter the Guinness Book of World Records for most weight lost. The Mexican man lost the weight when the family inside him moved to America." Then at the Emmys on September 16, O'Brien, who won an award, provided a clip of his writing team depicted as Latino day-laborers.
 
During a "New Rules" segment of his show broadcast in late August, liberal late nighter Bill Maher went to the well of immigrant humor: "New Rule: No more produce-scented shampoo: avocado, cucumber, watermelon. Gee, your hair smells like a migrant worker."
 
Jay Leno, who has gone out of his way to tell people, "I'm not a conservative," has also joined in. During a show in mid-September, he joked, "Well, police across the country now say they're arresting more and more illegals who are prostitutes. But proponents say, 'No, no. They're just doing guys American hookers will not do.'"
 
And during a recent sketch making light of Latino criticisms of Ken Burns for his exclusion of the more than 500,000 Latino veterans in the filmmaker's epic War documentary, Jimmy Kimmel deployed images of sombrero-wearing Speedy Gonzalez-a cartoon long considered racist by Chicano activists-yelling "Arriba. Arriba." Kimmel's shtick includes placing parking lot attendant Guillermo in compromising positions as when the heavily accented Latino immigrant participates in spelling bee contests with young champions. In another humiliating sketch, Kimmel begs him,
"Please do not resort to violence."

While the immigration debate in Congress ended months ago, the immigrant jokes haven't. This is not so much because the late night hosts are at the tail end of a political trend, but because they are, in fact, at the front end of a major cultural trend: the mainstreaming of anti-immigrant sentiment.
 
Immigrant rights activists have concentrated much energy on challenging rightwing radio as well as blatantly racist, formerly fringe video games like "Border Patrol" in which players shoot immigrants for points. But little attention is paid to the more mainstream fare: Top-selling video games in which white good guys kill immigrant bad guys and black and Latino zombies; popular television shows like NBC's The Office, in which immigrant characters are ridiculed for their accents, nationality, and other traits; movies like the supernatural thriller Constantine or last year's comic hit Nacho Libre, in which immigrant characters embody evil and stupidity.
 
The proliferation of anti-immigrant messages in pop culture moved UCLA linguist Otto Santa Ana to study what he calls an "explosion" of anti-immigrant representations in pop culture.
 
"There've always been racist, anti-Latino stereotypes in the media, but things are getting quite bad now," says Santa Ana, who started documenting anti-immigrant language and imagery he found in California newspapers in 1993, the year that launched the political battles around that state's Proposition 187, which sought to deny education and social services to the undocumented and their children.
 
Since then, says Santa Ana, anti-immigrant themes have become more intense.

In his efforts to document these trends, Santa Ana, author of Brown Tide Rising: Metaphors of Latinos in Contemporary American Public Discourse, and several of his students have gathered more than 100 YouTube clips that he says represent only a small portion of a growing number of "extraordinarily racist, anti-immigrant jokes and other content in sitcoms, film, standup comedy, and other mediums." Santa Ana's collection includes a wide spectrum of mainstream programming and movies.
 
"Some of the clips will make you laugh," he says. "But once you see the stream of those clips, you stop laughing. You see ten, twenty, thirty, forty, and then you recognize that they're actually laughing at you."
 
In an episode on Fox's popular Family Guy animated comedy, for example, a couple of bandanad, knife-wielding, Chicano-accented gangster cockroaches in a dirty motel threaten intruders by saying, "Hey, you're on our turf, man," and, "Hey, man, I gonna cut you up so bad, you gonna wish I no cut you up so bad." One of the white characters responds, "I blame the schools."
 
In a different episode, after Peter Griffin, the family guy, complains about another character, "He's a bigger mooch than the Mexican Super-friends," the scene moves to a tall, crowded building called the "Mexican Hall of Justice" that is packed with people. A white landlord walks up to Mexican Superman and says, "Hey, Mexican Superman, when you signed the lease, you said there were only going to be five of you here."
 
Or take the Academy Award-winning hit Happy Feet. Santa Ana explains how the protagonist, Mumble, a blue-eyed emperor penguin, leads a group of bungling, Spanish-accented, smaller, weaker penguins known in the film as the Amigos. Mumble is exiled from his land and scapegoated by elders for allegedly causing a fish famine. Mumble then vows to find the "aliens" that, he says, are the true cause of the famine. Along the way, Mumble, says Santa Ana, has to "teach" what is right and wrong to the Amigos. "It's striking to see these penguins speaking in Mexican accents, walking funny, and being subservient," he says.
 
Santa Ana worries about the effects on his students, most of whom said at the beginning of the class that they enjoyed and even bought the Happy Feet DVD. He also worries about the effect of the $384 million blockbuster on children worldwide, many of whom will also play the Happy Feet game that is part of the gigantic and expansive world of video, a more interactive world that may portend the future of funny and not-so-funny depictions of immigrants.
 
Depictions of Latino immigrants do not all fall into the negative category, however. The Emmy award-winning Ugly Betty sitcom treats immigrant and immigration in a funny yet respectful manner. It's no accident that the show is produced by immigrant Salma Hayek. A new video game, "ICED! I Can End Deportation," developed by the New York-based nonprofit
 Breakthrough, turns players into undocumented immigrants as they flee from cruel border patrol agents. The same Spanish-language radio jocks who played definitive roles in last year's immigrant mobilizations are continuing citizenship and voter registration campaigns. Comedians such as George Lopez draw attention to racial issues in much the same way African American comedians have done for decades. Columnists such as Gustavo Arellano, who writes the popular "Ask a Mexican," similarly use judo-like methods to deflect and draw attention to an anti-immigrant streak that grows.
 
For his part, Santa Ana, who lives in Los Angeles, takes the long view: "In twenty or thirty years we will be absolutely astonished that people could consume these racist depictions."



Roberto Lovato is a contributing associate editor with New America Media. He is also a frequent contributor to The Nation. His email is robvato@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Illegal immigrants not US health care burden -study

Illegal immigrants not US health care burden
Mon Nov 26, 2007

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illegal Latino immigrants do not cause a drag on the U.S. health care system as some critics have contended and in fact get less care than Latinos in the country legally, researchers said on Monday.

Such immigrants tend not to have a regular doctor or other health-care provider yet do not visit emergency rooms -- often a last resort in such cases -- with any more frequency than Latinos born in the United States, according to the report from the University of California's School of Public Health.

The finding from Alexander Ortega and colleagues at the school was based on a 2003 telephone survey of thousands of California residents, including 1,317 undocumented Mexicans, 2,851 citizens with Mexican immigrant parents, 271 undocumented Latinos from countries other than Mexico and 852 non-Mexican Latinos born in the United States.

About 8.4 million of the 10.3 million illegal aliens in the United States are Latino, of which 5.9 million are from Mexico, the report said.

"One recurrent theme in the debate over immigration has been the use of public services, including health care," Ortega's team wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Proponents of restrictive policies have argued that immigrants overuse services, placing an unreasonable burden on the public. Despite a scarcity of well-designed research ... use of resources continues to be a part of the public debate," they said.

The researchers said illegal Mexican immigrants had 1.6 fewer visits to doctors over the course of a year than people born in the country to Mexican immigrants. Other undocumented Latinos had 2.1 fewer physician visits than their U.S.-born counterparts, they said.

"Low rates of use of health-care services by Mexican immigrants and similar trends among other Latinos do not support public concern about immigrants' overuse of the health care system," the researchers wrote.

"Undocumented individuals demonstrate less use of health care than U.S.-born citizens and have more negative experiences with the health care that they have received," they said.

(Reporting by Michael Conlon; Editing by Maggie Fox and Bill Trott)

WHAT A VOTE FOR FREE TRADE MEANS

This is an interesting piece on what free trade really means for the U.S. and what it portends to mean for Peru. Take for instance information from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. They estimated that NAFTA had eliminated 879,000 U.S. jobs 5 years ago while not resulting in corresponding job increases in Mexico. In fact, the opposite occurred. NAFTA eliminated 1 million jobs and created a new generation of billiionaires in Mexico. Why? How? Privatization is the answer—a measure that Mexico took to attract investment in Mexico by major corporations. Global competition by corporations in pursuit of ever cheaper labor meant massive layoffs in Mexico.

A succinct quote that connects to the larger issue of immigration: "The real, dirty secret of trade agreements is displacement. During the years NAFTA has been in effect, more than 6 million people from Mexico have come to live in the United States. They didn’t abandon their homes, families, farms and jobs willingly. They had no other option for survival."

Should this proposal pass—and it looks like it will, greater poverty and social unrest in Perú is likely.

-Dra. Valenzuela


WHAT A VOTE FOR FREE TRADE MEANS
By David Bacon
San Francisco Chronicle, 11/20/07


In the 2006 elections, aspiring Democrats attacked the Bush administration's free trade policies, and more than 20 new members of Congress were elected, giving the Democratic Party its new majority in the House of Representatives. Yet two weeks ago Democratic Party leaders urged those same members of Congress to vote for a new free trade agreement with Peru.

Most rebelled, but enough Democrats voted for the Bush administration proposal, along with every Republican, to push it through the House. The Senate is expected to take up the agreement any day now.

Why would Democrats support the administration's trade policy, when campaigning against it helped them win in the last election? Try money.

Fourteen years ago, the promoters of the North American Free Trade Agreement promised that free trade would produce jobs. We hear the same claim today for the agreement with Peru, as well as the other agreements Bush has negotiated with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

NAFTA certainly produced some winners. Large corporations moved high paying jobs south of the U.S.-Mexico border in order to cut their labor costs and increased their profits. Mexico created a new generation of billionaires. But rising profits did not produce jobs.

By November of 2002, the U.S. Department of Labor had certified 507,000 workers for extended unemployment benefits because their employers had moved their jobs south of the border. The Department of Labor stopped counting NAFTA job losses, but the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., estimated that NAFTA had eliminated 879,000 jobs. That was five years ago.

But U.S. job loss didn't produce job increases in Mexico - it eliminated them there too. In NAFTA's first year, more than a million jobs disappeared in the economic crisis NAFTA caused.

To attract investment in Mexico, the treaty required privatization of factories, railroads and other large enterprises, leading to more layoffs of Mexican workers.

On the border, Ford, General Electric and other corporations built factories and moved production from the United States to take advantage of low wages. But more than 400,000 maquiladora workers lost their jobs in 2000-2001 when U.S. consumers cut back spending in the last recession, and companies found even lower wages in other countries, such as El Salvador or China.

Before NAFTA, U.S. auto plants in Mexico had to buy parts from Mexican factories, which employed thousands of local workers. But NAFTA let the auto giants bring in cheaper parts from their own subsidiaries, so Mexican auto parts workers lost their jobs, too.

The profits of U.S. grain companies, already subsidized under the U.S. farm bill, rose higher when NAFTA allowed them to dump cheap corn on the Mexican market, while at the same time it forced Mexico to cut its agricultural subsidies. As a result, small farmers in Oaxaca and Chiapas couldn’t sell corn anymore at a price that would pay the cost of growing it.

When corn farmers couldn't farm, or auto parts and maquiladora workers were laid off, where did they go? They became migrants.

The real, dirty secret of trade agreements is displacement. During the years NAFTA has been in effect, more than 6 million people from Mexico have come to live in the United States. They didn’t abandon their homes, families, farms and jobs willingly. They had no other option for survival.

Farmers and workers throughout Central America, who saw what NAFTA did to Mexicans, have protested, marched, and even fought in the streets of El Salvador, Guatemala, and most recently Costa Rica, to stop ratification of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Now that rebellion is spreading to Peru.

No major union or organization of poor farmers wants the trade agreement that the Bush administration negotiated. No wonder. They don't want to say goodbye to their families, and start looking for work in Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York.

To get the Peru treaty through Congress, its supporters claim it will protect labor rights. Peruvian unions don't believe this promise any more than they believe it will bring them jobs.

Today a huge mining corporation, Grupo Mexico, has provoked a strike by demanding that miners work 12 hours a day instead of eight in Peru's largest copper mine. The Peruvian government supports the company, because it believes longer hours and lower wages will attract more foreign investment. Since NAFTA passed, the same company has forced strikes and cut thousands of jobs at its Mexican mines to cut labor costs, and the government there has also cooperated.

NAFTA's toothless labor rights protections never stopped union busting and job elimination in Mexico. They won't in Peru either.

Those freshmen members of Congress have a better grasp on global reality than their party leaders, who are enthralled by the siren song of big contributions from corporate free traders. But those newly elected Democrats will have a hard time going back to their districts and explaining to constituents why their party allowed the treaty to pass.
Party strategists think Democrats can accept big contributions to support the Bush free trade program. They calculate that unions, workers, displaced immigrants and those hurt by the treaties have nowhere else to go in 2008. They're wrong. They could stay home - the Democrats certainly won't be giving them much reason to get out and vote.

For more articles and images on immigration and trade, see http://dbacon.igc.org/Imgrants/imgrants.htm

Friday, November 23, 2007

TRADING ON MIGRANT LABOR

This piece by David Bacon provides a good analysis of free trade and its impact on migration. -Dra. Valenzuela


TRADING ON MIGRANT LABOR
Why the United States won't be able to enact true immigration reforms until we re-examine our trade policies
By David Bacon

The American Prospect, web edition
Article: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=trading_on_migrant_labor
Photo Essay: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles/faces_of_immigration1
June 11, 2007


The comprehensive immigration bill may have stalled in the Senate last week, but the debate over immigration policy will undoubtedly continue -- especially over the status of the millions of undocumented workers presently in the United States, as well as those who will come in the next few years.

In fact, that continued flow of workers is inevitable, since Congress is also considering new trade legislation that is guaranteed to increase the number of undocumented workers in the United States. Our nation's trade and immigration policies have never been as closely connected as they are today. Four new agreements are currently being considered, while President Bush is pushing for "fast track" authority to negotiate even more of them. All will exacerbate our current immigration issues by displacing thousands of workers and farmers, most of whom will join the cross-border flow of migrant labor that already tops 200 million people worldwide.

Over the last two years, all of the immigration proposals considered by Congress have sought more openly than ever to channel that labor, making it available to the world's largest corporations at a price they want to pay. Welcome to the new world order.

U.S. employers have always wanted the country's immigration policy to supply workers when needed, and get rid of them when the need ended. At its logical extreme, this policy produced brutal results. In the 1930s, tens of thousands of Mexicans were deported in neighborhood sweeps around the country, when unemployment rose and threatened social unrest. Less than a decade later, the U.S. government negotiated the return of those same people as braceros, or temporary contract workers.

Growers (and, for two years, railroad companies) didn't want to raise wages to draw workers out of cities to work in the fields or on the tracks. Instead, braceros were recruited in Mexico, housed in barracks, and shipped from job to job. They were paid the minimum, often cheated of that, and deported if they went on strike. Braceros were isolated and pitted against the communities around them.

Repealing the bracero law in 1964 was one of the greatest accomplishments of the civil rights era. A year later Cesar Chavez, Ernesto Galarza, Bert Corona, and other Chicano leaders convinced Congress to pass a new law that gave preference to families. Instead of bringing in contract labor, the law sought to root immigrants in local communities. It encouraged equality, by giving people permanent residence visas that couldn't be taken away if people lost their jobs or couldn't work. Many in Congress now want to undo that policy, and have proposed a "point system" for future migrants that would end most family-based immigration, only permitting people to come if they can provide labor that corporations want.

A lot has changed since the 1960s, however. Today Congress is also using trade policy to create a regulated flow of vulnerable labor -- a possibility civil rights activists never even imagined. Once the Cold War ended, the economies of countries that send migrants to the United States, such as Mexico, Guatemala and the Philippines, were opened to foreign investors. Economic reforms designed on Wall Street and at the University of Chicago, imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, then required developing countries to create a favorable climate for large corporations.

Today trade agreements, like the North American and Central American Free Trade Agreements (NAFTA and CAFTA) enforce those rules. They include ending subsidies on agricultural products. NAFTA forced corn grown by Mexican farmers without subsidies to compete in Mexico's own market with corn from huge U.S. producers, subsidized by the farm bill. U.S. agricultural exports more than doubled during the NAFTA years, from $4.6 to $9.8 billion annually -- $2.5 billion last year in corn alone, the main crop of Mexican family farmers.

Industrial workers fared no better. After NAFTA, Ford and Chrysler's Mexican assembly plants no longer had to buy parts from Mexican factories. Instead they bought them from their own subsidiaries, and thousands of Mexicans lost their jobs. Mexican mines were privatized, their unions busted, and workers fired when they protested.

Corn farmers, autoworkers, and miners all had to go on the road to support their families, joining millions of others. For many workers, that road ended in a low-wage job in Los Angeles or Chicago. For others, it ended in even more poorly-paid work in a maquiladora -- a foreign-owned plant on the border, making products for U.S. consumers.

In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act established a commission to study the causes of this flow of displaced people. It concluded in 1990 that people are displaced by poverty. The commission recommended that Mexico open its economy to foreign investment and negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.S. Foreign investment. These actions, it predicted, would produce jobs, raise income, and slow migration. NAFTA negotiations started within a month.

At the same time, the IRCA criminalized the labor of undocumented immigrants. Old-timers like Corona and a new generation of activists tried to stop the law's passage. They predicted employers would use it as a pretext to firing workers without papers who organized unions or protested bad wages and conditions. They were right. Over the next two decades, thousands were terminated. Despite courageous, and often successful, efforts to organize, the price of immigrant labor fell.

Meanwhile, rosy predictions of NAFTA's boosters were proving false. Between just 2000 and 2005, Mexico lost 900,000 jobs in the countryside, and 700,000 in the cities. After the treaty was implemented, six million Mexicans came to live in the United States. Another million went to work in the maquiladoras. Mexican wages, adjusted for inflation, dropped.

Free trade's proponents didn't demand a change in course. In fact, they insisted on more of the same. CAFTA brought free trade to Central America; new agreements were signed with Chile and Jordan, and negotiated with Colombia, Peru, Panama and South Korea.

These agreements don't stop the flow of migrants. In fact, they produce it. Immigration laws then regulate it. Employers need access to displaced people, and endlessly predict vast future labor shortages. But they don't want to leave it to chance, much less to workers themselves, to decide where labor is needed or what it should be paid. Attempts to manage this flow of labor have shaped all the major immigration proposals of the last two years -- the Kennedy/McCain and Hegel/Martinez bills, last year's Senate compromise, the Gutierrez/Flake STRIVE Act, and now the recently-defeated Senate bill. Details vary, but the basic structure stays the same.

The bills set up contract labor programs, allowing employers to recruit migrants, who must remain employed or leave the country. The proposals then seek to reduce spontaneous migration. They beef up enforcement on the border, which already causes hundreds of deaths every year, and require mass firings as they seek to drive those with no papers out of the workplace.

The carrot dangled before immigrants is legalization. But unlike IRCA, which in 1986 gave them green cards, today's proposals would make the undocumented spend more than a decade as contract workers. The latest proposal would have virtually ended family-based migration, replacing it with an employment-based scheme rewarding those with skills companies find valuable.

For some Washington lobbyists and Congress members, this went too far. They called for saving the old family preferences, letting the other changes slide through. It's far too late for that, though. Family and community ties have no function in an immigration system that regulates the flow of displaced people created by free trade, putting them at the disposal of corporate employers.

Congress still has a choice. It can vote for these corporate trade agreements. It can keep returning to immigration proposals that treat immigrants only as a reserve of cheap labor. Or it can propose an alternative. Give the undocumented residence visas. End the backlog and make green cards more accessible. Stop the raids, and focus enforcement on workers' rights and labor standards. Set up jobs programs in low-employment communities to reduce job and wage competition. Scrap NAFTA and protect Mexican producers, instead of promoting the dumping of U.S. corn on the Mexican market. Cancel Mexico's debt. Give cheap loans to farmers. Stop pressuring Mexico to weaken unions and cut wages to attract U.S. investors.

People who do come to the United States should be equal members of the communities they live in, not contract laborers in constant fear of firing and deportation. Says Juan Manuel Sandoval, who heads the Mexican Network Opposing Free Trade, "Migration should be a choice, not something forced on families by economic desperation."
The only way this will happen is if Congressional Democrats acknowledge that our trade policies are deeply intertwined with our immigration crisis, and stand up for people rather than corporations.

For more articles and images on immigration, see http://dbacon.igc.org/Imgrants/imgrants.htm

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US, Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)
http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=4575

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)
http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9989.html
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David Bacon, Photographs and Stories
http://dbacon.igc.org

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http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/americas/mexico/4699.html