Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Dream Act’

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.

Advertisements

Supreme Court of the United States of America Did What??

June 26, 2012 2 comments

So…I’ve had a few hours to figure out this whole Supreme Court, SB1070 ruling and it’s pretty clear.  We might be ok.

Now, it’s not the perfect decision.  The one provision that scared the crap out of me is still a

Courtesy of ACLU Nationwide

haunting threat to our communities of color.  However…it could be a lot worse, I suppose.  I mean, it’s the Supreme Court of the United States! They’ve not been gentle to us in the last few years, so I’m extremely surprised that we got at least 3 out of 4 on this one.

According to the ruling:

“The Supreme Court struck down three central sections of Arizona’s law, which had been regarded by opponents as the most harsh. In allowing the “show-me-your-papers” provision to stand, the court accepted, for the time being at least,
Arizona’s word that police officers would not engage in racial profiling as they put it into practice.” 

For more (clearer and easier language) information pertaining to this ruling, please check out Amy Howe’s, “SB1070: In Plain English.”

So, although Governor Jan Brewer declared a victory yesterday, those who were victorious are the countless organizers on the ground in many parts of the nation where anti-immigrant/anti-Latino laws have sprung up in the last few years and are prepared to face the overwhelming possibilities of legalized “racial profiling” this country has not seen since the times of Jim Crow.

There was a silver lining, however, with today’s announcement, in terms of law enforcement taking positive steps to making sure our communities are safe.  Unlike Sheriff Arpaio, who is no stranger to breaking laws within his own state of Arizona (and is committed to make no changes on his end with this Supreme Court decision) others were not quick to defend the upheld policy themselves.

Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia attempted Monday to reassure residents that police will not discriminate based on race, saying that he will not tolerate profiling and that the agency will continue to concentrate resources on violent criminals and property crimes.

Furthermore, in a move by the Obama Administration, one in which Governor Brewer called, “political,” Homeland Security revoked 287 (g) agreements in Arizona, creating even more friction between the “states-rights” Governor and the Obama Administration.

In terms of the immigration debate, it’s no surprise that President Obama’s announcement on June 15 and the Supreme Court decision will only become a wedge issue between the President’s re-election efforts and flip flopping Mitt Romney’s prospects.  For a Republican Presidential candidate attempting to regain some confidence amongst the immigrant community, his delayed responses to the June 15 announcement and again yesterday provides very little hope for any mass support especially after Mr. Romney’s long awaited comment of, “And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws

This comment did very little to settle any uneasiness I’ve had with the candidate in regards to this issue.  Not sure how much better it is now for immigrant right’s and legal advocates across the country.

So…who won?

Every where you looked, both sides declared themselves a winner.  All over Fox News, Governor Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio, the main proponents of this bill, both declared victory for states rights in this country.  However, after much further review of reports, it seems that the real winner was the Obama Administration who challenged SB1070 and opponents of the bill who have worked hard the last two years to organize communities around this racially charged law.

Adam Serwer, a reporter for Mother Joneswrites about how the media got yesterday’s ruling all wrong.  Reflecting on a post written by Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, stated the following:

“Although some early news reports said that the court upheld this “show me your papers” provision, that wasn’t quite right. The court determined that it didn’t have enough information about how the law worked in practice, especially considering the law explicitly commands the police not to engage in racial profiling. So the justices sent the dispute over this provision back to the lower courts for further fact finding. Nevertheless, the court specifically noted that if this law led to racial profiling, as I suspect it will be concluded, the law would be invalidated.”

The good news is, the Supreme Court may have, in effect, found the entire law itself unconstitutional.  The bad news is, many people in our communities will have to be subjected to racial profiling for the courts to determine that the upheld provision was in fact, unconstitutional.

The proof is in the numbers.

Until then, we continue to rely on our communities and our leaders, to do the right thing in hopes that laws like SB1070, never see the light of day.

My Recent Post at United We Dream – DREAMers and the 2012 Elections

It’s no surprise that before Friday’s announcement by President Obama, enthusiasm for this year’s election was relatively low, so low Latino’s, for example, were ready to sit this one out. Republican’s like Senator Marco Rubio, who has not taken seriously the importance of comprehensive immigration reform, recently commented on this notion that immigration is not a number one priority for Latino’s.

Polls conducted since Friday’s announcement will tell you differently.

Read more here at United We Dream.

Immigration Developments: What This Means For The Dreamers?

June 15, 2012 2 comments

The last few days, I’ve been working on getting back on track with regular posts since spending a few days in Rhode Island for Netroots Nation. The last few weeks, I have been reflecting on a post I wasn’t sure I was qualified enough to write about and so I’d been holding off on it. Interestingly enough, today’s developments may have provided a great opportunity to expand on what I was thinking about writing.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I write a bit about immigration, the DREAM Act and the use of

Department of Homeland Security, Executive Order

the term “illegal” in immigration debate. The issue of immigration reform is very important to me because of my own personal history of having family and friends attempting to survive and enduring a very broken immigration system. Friends and relatives who have lived in America their whole lives, maintain a life of living in fear and the possibility of deportation, all because they have no papers.

The last 3 1/2 years, President Obama created a worrisome environment for many, with over 1 million deportations in 2011. Once a positive relationship between the immigrants rights community and Barack Obama, has since been tarnished in recent years, according to some within the movement. Who could blame them?

As a progressive who cares deeply about immigration reform and a progressive who is deeply committed to the future of this nation and committed to seeing the President and others elected in November, I worry.

It’s no surprise that in terms of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, the President has been a huge disappointment to Latino’s, particularly the DREAMers who have been on this chaotic and unsteady ride for over 10 years.

But today, with a stroke of a pen…President Obama has finally begun to do the right thing in terms of comprehensive reform.

Speaking to reporters today (not just the hecklar) the President’s Executive Order lays out a plan which states the following:

1) Person must be no more than 30 years old, 2) Person must have arrived in the country before they turned 16, 3) Person must have lived in the United States for five years, 4) Person must have no criminal record and, 5) Person must have earned a high school diploma, be in school or have served in the military.

The President was clear. “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship, not a permanent fix.”

By reading the executive order, it details a lot of the same requirements laid out in the Dream Act legislation, which was written over ten years ago and most recently was voted down by the Senate during the 2010 lame duck session. Just recently, a so-called “version” had a short revival by Senator Marco Rubio, who presented something much more watered down and in essence creating a second-class citizenry.

Today’s announcement does little to suppress any notion that this will a big fight in this election. However, could it also be the necessary step to re-energize the Democratic base as well as Latino’s to come out in masses come November? With the re-election of President Obama, could we really be seeing the DREAM Act take fruition?

No idea.

Just by looking at my Twitter feed I could tell that this issue is going to polarize an already polarized constituency. You’ve got the diehard DREAMERs on the left, defending their rights as American’s without papers with a fringe still not confident in what the President had to say today. Then there is the other side. The racists, xenophobes on the right who will make this issue a wedge issue this election year and create havoc on an already scary situation for undocumented immigrants.

The important thing is that the President took the step we needed to get the conversation going.

Today’s emotions and celebrations should not be the end to this debate, but the beginning.

Arizona’s SB 1070: What If My Family Were The Supreme Court?

April 25, 2012 6 comments

“I’m not a social worker, I’m a cop.”

These words came out of the most infamous sheriff we know of today, Joe Arpaio. But it might as well have come out of the mouth of one of my cousin’s over the weekend. A state trooper, he finds the idea of illegal immigration a scary situation for our country and, “a matter of national security.” As serious as this may sound, he also was unable to provide any specific reasons other than, “these people are breaking the law.” Sidenote: Both of his parents were born in Mexico.

I have been an immigrant rights activist for over ten years now and defending the immigrant community has never gotten easier. In fact, it has gotten that much tougher. On the eve of SB1070’s oral arguments in the highest court in the land, the judicial fight has only just begun. Yet, the divisive issue of immigration reform (or lack thereof), amongst our Latino community specifically, is alive and well and perhaps a long and winding road.

It’s funny. I usually joke about my Mexican family and how they are the root of my blog material, but it can’t be further from the truth. With so much diversity amongst my people, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Although I’m psyched for the material, the debates are always awful and never easy to write about.

Never.

In the case of Arizona’s SB1070, my family’s debate and/or conversations about immigration sound a lot like individuals who call in to a radio show. Let’s take for example, On Point with Tom Ashbrook, who yesterday morning, discussed in great detail, SB1070 and the Supreme Courts decision to begin to hear oral arguments tomorrow. As I listened in, I couldn’t help but compare the callers calling in to the conversations I had over the weekend with my own family. Some callers provided great insight on the issue, but then there were the other callers who were incredibly disingenuous, providing no real concrete information other than their biased feelings towards the issue of illegal immigration. Like a few in my family.

So I ask myself. If I’m an immigrant activist, who has been defending the rights of undocumented immigrants for years, how is it that I plan to make a difference in the overall immigration debate of this nation when I can’t even influence those within my own immediate family?

I don’t know.

I am confused and nervous tonight because the Supreme Court, like the anti-immigrant members in my own family, may get this whole SB1070 wrong. Come June, the Justices may rule for Arizona and uphold the disastrous law we’ve come to know.

What if?

So far in the last two years, activists and supporters have tried their best to alleviate the burden on undocumented immigrants, appealing the law and its legalities, getting the courts to successfully rule the laws unconstitutional. In other cases, law enforcement have felt that they’re too overextended so have chosen not to pursue enforcement of the law. However, by Supreme Court ruling for Arizona, the floodgates would open up big time, making things much worse under very unimaginable circumstances. If we thought things were bad now, they will only get worse.

Politically, Democrats and immigrant rights activists have begun to strategize, looking at different scenario’s if and when the Supreme Court rules in favor of SB1070. If the ruling comes in June, that’s five months prior to the presidential election, which means the Democrats in Congress can send an anti-SB1070 bill up for a vote, Republican’s will be forced to take a side and the Democrats will come out as the one to choose, right? Sounds all nice and dandy, doesn’t it? The problem with this however, is that the Latino vote will once again be used for political gain. How do we know we won’t be used and taken for a ride once again, to only be disappointed in the end? (Again.)

Hmmm…

But let’s be frank, the Democrats aren’t the only one’s guilty of this spectacular nonsense. Just a few months ago, Mitt Romney criticized Rick Perry during a GOP debate for supporting and implementing the DREAM Act in Texas. Days later, Romney boasted that if the DREAM Act were to ever pass at the national level, he would repeal it as president. Now, as the general election campaign against President Obama begins to unfold, Romney, as well as other Republican’s, appear to have changed their minds about the DREAM Act (again), convincing the token Latino, Senator Marco Rubio (no relation, thank gawd) from Florida, to write his own version of the DREAM Act and parade around the country with it as a perfect alternative to those of us who have been fighting for the real thing for over ten years!!

Neither side have been very effective in supporting and helping immigrant rights activists like myself. We’ve been courted and dumped time and time again. Can the Justices on the United States Supreme Court be objective enough as possible to throw out something as horrendous as SB1070, forcing both political parties to finally come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform?

The infighting within our politics is one thing, but when the infighting takes place amongst my people, taking each other on to satisfy political leaders at the top, at the expense of our own is an insult to our parents and grandparents before us, who came to this country when the border was just a line in the dirt. It is an insult to the millions of undocumented immigrants all across this country today, working long hours and being exploited by money hungry employers getting rich off the sweat of their brow. It is an insult to the countless human beings who have died in the sweltering deserts of the US/Mexican border, attempting to arrive and reach that American Dream, to provide for their family here and back home. It is an insult to the millions of families who are separated each and every day from his/her children and deported to their home country without knowing if and when they will ever speak to their families again.

SB1070 is as divisive as anything I’ve ever known in my own life time, yet reflect the awful history this country once endured many years ago. With just hours left before oral arguments begin in Washington, DC, those of us on the front lines will listen and wait for the momentous occasion in which our Supreme Court will either choose to move forward and rule in favor of a future of equality and unity for all, or rule in favor of stepping back into history, to defend the darkest times in our country’s past.

We can’t afford to go back.

Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic

March 14, 2012 1 comment

As many (or some) of you know, I write quite a bit on immigration and how it pertains to the political and national narrative in this country.  Recently, I published a piece on the media’s use of the term “illegal” and how it affects the national debate.  Overtime, I’ve also attempted to make the case for the DREAM Act and why it is so important, not only to the young undocumented people who will benefit, but for the nation as a whole.  In retrospect, it’s been a good run.  Stories have been shared, stats have been presented, all in an effort to give a compelling yet not too biased account of what I think about the issue.

However, none of it has prepared me for this week.  A week that can shift the dialogue within the immigration debate in 2012, especially during this election year.

This week, thousands of youth across the country will be coming out as “undocumented” during Coming Out Week of Action.  For months, activists have been preparing for this major campaign, providing an atmosphere and a safe platform for youth all across the country.  It’s an opportunity to “come out” as undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.

Recently, I had the incredible honor of meeting a few of these individuals in Washington, DC and while the campaign seems scary and risky, it’s necessary.  For over ten years now, immigrant activists have been heavily involved in the debate, attempting to fully engage the public and Congress on finding humane solutions to a broken immigration system.  While there have been some instances where it looked like we’d see some success, something incredibly disappointing occurs (like Congressional gridlock) and the road to some kind of reform collapses.

Undocumented immigrants coming out this week know that time is running out for them and millions of others.  Congress and the President of the United States have not and may not prioritize the issue again this year, moving along with a very little sense of urgency.  With no solution at the federal level, states are taking every effort to victimize undocumented immigrants, who are enduring a maddening game of tug of war, gone utterly wrong.  Just when you think the right thing is going to be done and reform looks promising, the other side yanks hope away, leaving activists with mud on their faces.

The harshest opponents to immigration reform are becoming much more critical these

Picture by Emma Hernandez Courtesy of Walk Against Fear Facebook Page

days and are taking those who were once sympathetic, with them.  All across the country, state houses have seen an increasing number of anti-immigration legislation introduced and in some places, have gone so far as to signing them into law.  States like Arizona, Mississippi and Alabama have shown that no immigrant is welcomed…but more importantly, persons of color are seen as outsiders in their own communities.

Alabama’s infamous and the nation’s strictest anti-immigrant law, passed last summer in the state legislature.  The Alabama law not only gave law enforcement the right to “verify a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops and/or arrests, if “a reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the country illegally” but it has also created a temperament of fear all across the state and throughout the deep South.  

On Sunday, a group of young immigrant activists, many of whom are undocumented, set forth on a 200+ walk from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.  The Walk Against Fear, which brings awareness to civil rights violations immigrants suffer today due to anti-immigrant laws, is a march that is attempting to also capture the same resilience Civil Rights leaders had when they too made the journey. James Meredith, a Civil Rights activist and the first African American admitted into the University of Mississippi during segregation, was part of that march 50 years ago.  In the next few weeks, these activists will be confronted with the same objections Mr. Meredith faced during his time and risking their lives to end racism.  Gaining civil rights for all is not easy, the Civil Rights movement proved that.  Activists like Ingrid Cruz and Patricio Gonzalez, understand this as they walk towards Jackson today.  They too can no longer wait.

People around the country argue that perhaps when we discuss the issue of immigration reform, we should not focus too much on the human side of things and instead debate the issue objectively.  (I’ve never understood this concept, but whatever.)

Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste reportaje - 389 Miles "Living the Border"

However, if we want to look at this thing “objectively” then it is necessary to take an hour of your time today and watch the film, 389 Miles: Living the Border by my friend LuisCarlos Davis. In this brilliant film, LuisCarlos depicts life along the Arizona/Sonora border, exposing the true stories of those living on both sides of the border, learning about the actors who risk their lives every day, facing human predators and dangerous terrain, to only succumb to defenders of a broken system.

You cannot help but carefully listen to both sides of the story and not be sympathetic.  As an incredibly passionate supporter of the plight of the immigrant community,  I was once again taken aback by the resiliency many have when crossing into the unknown.  All the while I could not help but also feel utter outrage towards our society and our unwillingness to look beyond color and focus on the true nature of what brings people here.  LuisCarlos film captures the angst on both sides, showing that even after years of debating this issue, people still do not have the answers.

This week provides us all with an opportunity to learn and fully understand why immigrants come here and why they fight to stay.  Those individuals coming out of the shadows all across the country, activists Ingrid Cruz and Patricio Gonzales marching on to Jackson to fight racism, and LuisCarlos who took the risk of making and sharing his film to the world, are people who can no longer wait for government to find the solution.

Let us remember that as this young generation of activists move forward to share their own personal stories, they carry with them the stories of 12 million human beings still too scared to share theirs.

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…