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Posts Tagged ‘CIR’

Pathway To Citizenship for 11 Million: Dead On Arrival Or Inevitable?

I’m been following the immigrant rights movement since 2000 or so.  However, my interest in the movement peaked in 2006 while I was in Los Angeles and it has been of great interest to me ever since.  As an activist and an organizer, I am 100% committed to a pathway to  citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States.  It is absolutely the right thing to do.  But as the Senate’s Gang of Eight release the first draft of the immigration bill on Tuesday, as a blogger and social media person who spends a lot of time following those within the movement, I can’t help but wonder what the responses will be from them once the bill is released. Massive disappointment?  Or a great place to start?

Although I’m optimistic, as a blogger and social media person observing the movement from the outside, I am also worried.  A year ago I could see a very tense and divided movement.  On the one hand you had activists coming out for building on the foundation of working with Congress to pass something meaningful, continuing the work from previous years and attempting to show a solid bi-partisan commitment to reform.  But on the other hand, you had activists who were not happy with the results of 2006 and beyond and they split, moving forward with a more radical and non-traditional form of protest against the political status quo.  Civil disobedience (which many of us would agree is what led to President Obama signing off on deferred action for DREAMers) is what many feel was necessary to hold the Obama Administration and Democrats and Republican’s alike, accountable, but it was also an attempt to go about the issue of immigrant rights to a completely different level.  Why focus on the political and pushing policy when we know Congress doesn’t function?  Why should we wait on the government to do anything?

Steps were taken to move in a different direction by the latter group and many of us, especially me, felt compelled to give these young DREAMers props for what they were doing.  No longer were they interested in doing things the “traditional” way, but instead spent days protesting in President Obama’s campaign offices across the country or risked their lives by purposely getting arrested and put into deportation proceedings to show the world how brutal detention facilities are across the country.

Now, while all of these examples show incredible bravery and have helped to shift the momentum for youth pushing for a pathway to citizenship for all, I can’t help but wonder how these two different methods from two sectors within the movement (with similar goals) will affect the conversation in the coming weeks.  A year ago I wasn’t worried.  A year ago I felt that things were moving in a separate but productive and effective process and that at some point after the election, these two ideologies would manage to come to fruition.  But in recent weeks, my observation is that this is not the case.  These two philosophies are coming head to head with one another and challenging chances for real reform.  We’re facing a devastating shift in momentum which could lead to much less than what we are bargaining for.

This is the United State of America and we know very well that our Congress cannot agree on anything and hasn’t during the last four years.  However, since the election in November things looked different in terms of immigration.  We had both sides of the political spectrum seeing the impact of Latino turnout and we were confident that policy makers understood our commitment to seeing reform through, capitalizing on what we stand strongly for.  But with the school shooting in Connecticut, the ongoing debate of gun control, in conjunction with the sequester and this division among the movement which I have been observing, makes me feel extremely worried about the prospects of immigration reform this year…

or at least being satisfied with a good foundation.

Soon after the the Gang of Eight introduces its bill on Tuesday and after all the amendments have been added to the bill and after all the debating and politicizing of the issue is made by both sides, will we again be disappointed like we were in the past or have the differences of methods among the immigrant rights movement laid the groundwork for something much more promising than even I have ever expected?

We’ll find out on Tuesday.

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Senator Martin Heinrich Makes Case For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Will Rest of New Mexico Delegation Follow?

March 18, 2013 2 comments

Today I participated on a call with United States Senator, Martin Heinrich from New Mexico, along with various organizations from across the state, many of which are involved on issues related to social justice, human and immigration rights.

The Senator’s office invited many community leaders to participate on this call because it was around a hot topic that could finally mean something in the coming weeks and months: comprehensive immigration reform.

Following the plight of immigrants in my own family and as an activist for the last ten or so years, this call was important in a lot of ways.  First, it tells me we might see some results this year.  Second, it says that as a border state, New Mexico is at the forefront of the conversation on border security and that our opinion on the issue should matter.  Finally, despite the horrendous record of our own Governor (must I remind you), our congressional delegation (minus the guy who’s last name rhymes with fierce but is not) have an opportunity to be leaders in ongoing discussions around the issue.  By contacting those of us on the ground to participate in a dialogue, my hope is that we can help the Senator frame his policy on this very important matter.

I had an opportunity to pose a question to Senator Heinrich prior to the call and the question was repeated almost verbatim throughout today’s conversation and that question was, “what is the Senator’s stance on deportations and the separation of families?”

His answer was simple.

“Illegal crossings [on the border] are down 90%. We must recognize what works and we must have real consideration for our communities”

An activist from Santa Fe made it clear, “the border is already secure,” Senator Heinrich may have confirmed it with this very simple statement.

But why does the Obama administration, Democratic Senator’s like Charles Schumer and those on the right continue to insist that we have to incorporate an overhaul in border security in order to make comprehensive immigration reform happen?

At the local level, we have seen horrible injustices to families who have been separated because of a horrible immigration system.  Actually, “system” is giving the federal government too much credit.  Instead, what families are experiencing, and have been for many years, is a bottle neck of uncertainty. Laws at the local and state level continue to deprive individuals of basic human rights, being subjected to intolerance and racial profiling at the hands of law enforcement who have no idea how to handle culture-sensitive issues or any immigration issue for that matter. More importantly and you would think this was common sense, but law enforcement should not be dealing with these issues.

Calls (and visits) with congressional leadership should continue and while Senator Heinrich was very happy to continue this dialogue from now on, it is important the we continue to push the same debate with the rest of the New Mexico delegation.  It is obvious that if the President is talking “border security” and continues to deport millions of people by separating millions of families, those of us working on the ground in New Mexico should be facilitating this debate and encouraging our leaders to do the same.

But we’ve been here before.  The question though is what will we do to make sure that promises made are no longer broken?  We must no longer rely solely on the a broken system of checks and balances.  We must demand that these promises be fulfilled by organizing our communities.

The Senator ended the call with, “este es el año.”

We must make it so.

The Rubio Dispatch – 2011 Year In Review and Beyond

January 1, 2012 1 comment

As 2011 ends and we head into 2012, I can’t help but stop and wonder about what challenges and opportunities lay ahead in the coming year. Not just for the nation itself, but for the world.

As a nation, we’re facing extraordinary social and economic issues that have plagued this country for years and 2011 showed us that perhaps those challenges will spill over into the coming year. I’m certain that things may get worse before they get better, but it is very telling that 2011 has shown us that throughout the world, millions of people, under the direst of circumstances, have shown a kind of resilience that I didn’t think we had in us as a people.

I saw this almost immediately in early 2011 with the rise of the Arab Spring. Many unfamiliar with the region learned of places like Tunisia, which was the first of many to relinquish their right from generational-long tyranny. As things moved along into Egypt and Libya, it was apparent that things were not going to slow down. In the United States, we were met with incredible protests in places like Wisconsin and Ohio. Labor was facing extinction and suddenly, the working class was in full force, protesting the harsh legislation being pushed by anti-union state officials. By the summer, the rest of the world was seeing massive protests, with the rise of Occupy Wall Street here in the United States and anti-austerity protests in Greece and other cities across Europe. You would have to have been living under a rock to not see the impact these revolutions and massive protests were having across the world. Regardless of what your opinion is on the Middle East uprising or Occupy Wall Street for that matter, something is happening…something I never thought would.

A year ago, I was disillusioned. Personally and professionally, I was beginning a tumultuous journey in my own life all the while feeling an incredible disappointment in society in general, knowing that too many had grown complacent with the status quo and felt no reason to assemble or stand up for what was right. So I was surprised at how 2011 began and in a way I did not expect at all. Tunisia and Wisconsin, two completely different worlds, were both faced with a battle to bring “people” and “ideas” to the forefront. We were no longer going to sit back and watch the top take what was rightfully ours. The general population was ready for a fight. As my year became increasingly challenging, I was also beginning to feel inspired. The tides were shifting.

As we move forward into 2012, questions remain. Will the economy get better? How will the middle and working class fit into the equation? We’ve learned overtime that austerity does not work, particularly in an era in which the gap between rich and poor are so great. What is the alternative? What will become of human rights and immigration reform? Will we ever get a chance to debate the DREAM Act?

This is the question we will be asking in 2012 as the United States and other countries around the world hold elections. Every other election year, we say that it is a “defining moment.” We believe each and every time that this election is the one that will make or break our chances of overcoming the challenges that lay ahead. Will the 2012 election here in American be the defining moment in our own lives or will we treat it the way we have done every other election in the history of this country?

The coming election is an important one, plain and simple. There is just too much at stake. This last year, we have seen attempts to strip away the rights of so many in our communities.

UNION BUSTING

Unions have faced incredible challenges in the Midwest and in other parts of the country in the last year. Entities that have only helped to enrich our working and middle classes overtime, helping to salvage deteriorating working conditions and advocating for balanced work hours and pay, are now confronted with the possibility of having their right for collective bargaining stripped, adding an incredible burden on the backs of hard working individuals all across the country. Fortunately, November 8 put an end to the threat in Ohio, where Governor Kasichs union busting bill was overwhelmingly defeated by the citizens of Ohio. Furthermore, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is facing an inevitable recall in 2012 after his own push against the union’s in his own state, took a turn for the worst against him and his supporters. American’s in these two states have in fact, taken the lead to defend the working-class across the nation.

OPERATION EAGLE EYE

Voter suppression is clearly a hot topic today, but it is going to be a continuing battle in 2012. As we move forward with supporting our candidates, Republican-led legislatures in states across the country are pursuing legislation targeting and could deter people of color and the elderly from voting in masses. A right that millions would die for in other parts of the world is now being threatened here at home. An Op-ed piece by Heather Digby Parton from Al-Jazeera gives a very clear outline of the historical significance voter suppression has made in this country at the hands of Republican operatives. Various reports throughout 2011 have illustrated an intensifying debate and political maneuvering that could undermine any real and true democracy in the coming elections in 2012. What are we going to do to stop this suppression and keep a basic American right, in tact?

AMERICAN JOBS ARE NOT IN MY UTERUS

Early 2011 showed us that the Conservatives, a group committed to “small government,” pursued a woman’s uterus with a vengeance (and not in a sexy way). Early on in 2011, the Republican-led Congress, who campaigned on “where are the jobs?” in 2010, focused on a woman’s right to choose in its first few bills introduced in Congress. This same issue spilled over to the states nation-wide, particularly in states like Mississippi, where an amendment was introduced that read, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization.” Personhood amendments could be interpreted to make several forms of birth control illegal, challenging not only Roe v. Wade but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which placed contraception under the protection of a constitutional right to privacy. Women and men of all ages came out in droves, challenging lawmakers and defeating the measure on November 8. A huge win for pro-choice advocates at the grassroots level, who not only defied expectations, but showed that once again, a woman’s right to choose will not be taken. The fight continues as the right continues to pursue and challenge individual rights as they attempt to covet a long historical ideology of “small government.”

WE’RE OUT. WE’RE PROUD. GET USED TO IT.

The LGBT community, which has endured a very long civil right’s history, has encountered many challenges in 2011, yet experienced very successful benchmarks in the last 18 months. With the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and states like New York legalizing gay marriage, gay activists continue to face strong opposition from groups on the right and evangelical Christians committed to stripping away these individual rights. In some cases, there have been attempts from these groups, here at home, to support “kill the gays” legislation in other parts of the world, a demonstration that this isn’t the end for anti-gay legislation and that perhaps the issue will only see greater backlash from the right. How do we continue to keep American’s engaged in this issue of gay rights and maintain momentum against those interested in destroying the lives of millions of American’s who only want the best for themselves and their families, regardless of sexual orientation?

THE I-WORD

Finally, there are our undocumented brethren across this country, who are currently facing the gravest of threats to their own liberty. At the end of 2010, Congress had an opportunity to debate the DREAM Act, an undeniably bi-partisan and forward-thinking piece of legislation, but the debate never made it to the floor of the United States Senate and the bill was dead on arrival. Instead, Republican’s (once supporters of the bill), with the help of Blue Dog Democrats, filibustered any attempt to bring it to the floor and the DREAM Act died. While the bill itself died last December, the dream for 12 million undocumented individuals in this country have not. Since then, young and undocumented individuals all across the country have been coming out and publicly disclosing their immigration status, regardless of the extreme consequences they face as the Obama administration announced in 2011 the nearly 400,000 deportations Immigration and Customs Enforcement made. No longer will young undocumented immigrants remain silent. There is too much at risk to continue to live in the shadows of a broken immigration system. In 2011, we were introduced to Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who came out as an undocumented immigrant and has led a nationwide conversation to Define American. A pursuit to change the American immigration debate and declare that we are human, not illegal.

2011 was not the best year, but it wasn’t the worst either. The world survived undeniable suffering, but there were hints of a pursuit to survive throughout the world, despite the ultimate chaos and turmoil that exists. 2012 is a mythical year, who many see as an end to all that we have come to know. However, I believe that it is the start of a new era which will provide us with an opportunity to engage our communities and demonstrate a greater good for all. At least that’s my hope. We shall see…