Posts Tagged ‘DREAMers’

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.

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.

Netroots Nation Day 3 – When We Do Our Minimum, We Lose.

“We know we’re supposed to be fired up and we know we’re supposed to be ready to go.  But we’re pissed off.”     — Van Jones

This last day at Netroots Nation was one of great pondering and reflection.  The first few days were incredibly inspiring and awesome and the entire time I was there, I really couldn’t believe I was there.  I mean, in all honesty, I felt like a kid in a candy store and the candy was all this political conversation and blogging chat (nerd alert)  It was an amazing time.  However, Saturday morning I woke up, staring at my ceiling in the hotel room, feeling a bit melancholy because this was going to be the end of a beautiful weekend.

Picture courtesy of

I got up and rushed to my first meeting of the day at 8a.  I was meeting up with folks from America’s Voice and other Democracy for America scholars who had been selected to be part of a group of immigrant activists.  As someone that blogs a lot about immigration, I was incredibly honored to be there, especially because Congressman Luis Gutierrez was scheduled to meet us for breakfast.  Unfortunately, when I arrived (I was early by the way) I was told the Congressman was not going to make it because of some issues with travel.  However, I was asked to stay and join the others and mingle for a bit and eat some breakfast.  In the meantime, I had the great pleasure of meeting some incredible folks within the immigrant rights movement and learned quite a bit about what was going on up until that point (Remember:  It would be a week later before President Obama made his immigration announcement.)

One thing was certain during this weekend.  Immigrant rights activists, much like other activists across the board, were not entirely happy with President Obama and it was obvious.  Awhile later during the immigration panel, Gaby Pacheco, the DREAM activist and spokesperson for DREAMers made it clear, “Her relationship with President Obama was like that of an abusive relationship.”  President Obama keeps promising the world, yet never delivers.

I’ll be honest, up until that very moment, I did not understand why DREAMers were so upset at the President.  I mean, I understood why…1 million deportations, not keeping a promise of DREAM or comprehensive immigration reform within the first year of his presidency, etc…etc.    But it was at this point that I truly came to the realization that I would never understand. I am not undocumented.

I left this panel and participated in a panel of my own.  Honestly, it was kind of random.  The last thing I expected when winning a scholarship for Netroots Nation was actually being asked to participate in a panel of my own, but I did.  On Friday during Elizabeth Warren’s keynote speech, I live tweeted the whole thing and it was during this time that I got an email from Andrew Villaneuve, Founder and Executive Director of Northwest Progressive Institute, asking me to participate in the panel, “Revitalizing State and Local Blogging.”  Honestly, I’m not that experienced in blogging, in fact…I was actually quite surprised that I was asked considering my experience, but it turned out to be a very good time.  The panelists were amazing, in fact…I left learning so much more and ready to implement much of what I learned, to my own blog.

After this session…I rushed to grab my seat to the keynote and fortunately for me I could always count on Bryant

Chuck Rocha from Solidarity Solutions and I after the Keynote

Berganza, a local journalist for, “Street Sights” a local paper in Providence that sheds light on homelessness in Rhode Island, and who always made it to the keynotes with just enough time to get a great table and great seating and always had a place for me.  (Thank you Bryant!)

Ok…so first up was Chuck Rocha.  This guy was a trip! He not only declares himself to be the “Mexican Redneck,” he also just recently started up his own consulting firm in Washington, DC called, “Solidarity Strategies.”  He was high energy and high volume, but he was real.  It’s something many of us were happy to hear after all that we’ve been through as progressives these last few years.

One really great thing about Mr. Rocha’s presence is that we finally had the chance to hear a Latino speak during the keynote.  Considering that we’re [Latinos] in so many levels of government and activism, it was great to have someone like Chuck on board, even if for just a few minutes.  (I’d say for next year…Netroots should really work on getting more Latino’s and I’m willing to volunteer as a guest Latina.  Just sayin’)

The last two speakers were really important to me.  I was looking forward to both gentleman and was excited to hear what they had to say.  However, I was completely surprised at the level of engagement there was, even if it was just complete silence amongst us all.

President and CEO of the NAACP

Ben Jealous, the NAACP President and CEO, was present on the last evening of Netroots Nation and provided the second to last keynote.  The major theme from his speech was simple.  While we’ve attempted to equalize the playing field for all groups in this nation in the last few decades, there is still work to be done.  But more importantly, we face incredible threats to many of our everyday freedoms, particularly those living in our communities of color.

Take New York City for instance.  Last few years you hear about the “amazing” things Mayor Bloomberg has done for the city, but very few of his supporters realize the enormous burden faced by people of color, specifically black and Latino men in “stop and frisk” operations throughout New York City.

Below is some video of Ben Jealous’ interview on Melissa Perry Harris show last Sunday, an interview that occurred just hours before a silent march took place in protest to Mayor Bloomberg and his stop and frisk initiative.

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What you see in the interview with Melissa Harris Perry, was just as powerful on the final night of Netroots Nation.  It wasn’t just Ben Jealous’ powerful and passionate voice, either.  The stats for “stop and frisk” are astonishing.  According to the numbers Ben Jealous provides, police officers stopped nearly 700,000 people last year, 87 percent of them black or Latino. Of those stopped, more than half were also frisked.  One thing that I really took away from this message was the fact that other cities like Los Angeles, for example, have also seen a drop in crime much like New York City.  The difference, however, is that there is no “stop and frisk” operation taking place in LA or any other major city where a drop in crime has been significant.  So how does Mayor Bloomberg explain that?

By the time Van Jones joined us, it was time to finally get real about what this nation faces in the coming elections.  Most of the time I spent at Netroots Nation, I was overwhelmed with the feelings many like-minded progressives had and were not afraid to vocalize their utter disappointment in President Obama these last 3 1/2 years.

I’m going to be honest. I’m not one of those people. Although there are things I’m disappointed in, overall I’ve been pretty confident in the President and the ability to do what he can do under the circumstances that we face. The one thing that I took from Van Jones and I can honestly say others around me did as well, is that it’s not just the President, but it’s Congress and the Supreme Court we need to worry about. If we do not win in November, progressives are toast. Toast.

I won’t say more about Van Jones, other than ask you to watch the video. If you aren’t worried about November, you should be.

“If last time it was a hope election, this year it’s a fear election.”

Our democracy is at great risk, folks!

Overall, Netroots Nation was fabulous. I am so honored to have attended on behalf of Democracy for America’s scholarship program. I met some really amazing people doing the same kind of work I am doing, all over this country and that is encouraging. To be frank, I did not have to in the presence of all those I mention above, because the general population who attended were that inspiring and I look forward to working with many of them in the coming months and years.  If there is one thing I took from this year’s Netroots Nation it’s that although we have a lot more to do, there are many out there ready to take charge and really change the world.

Netroots Nation 2013 is in San Jose next year.  I will be there.

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.