Monday, November 29, 2010

Dream Act proponents sitting-in at Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office

supporter at Sen Hutchison's office on Twitpic
a supporter at Sen. Hutchinson's office
 (Twitpic posted by DREAM_Act
--Sit-in Still In Progress, 
No Arrests Made As Yet--
San Antonio- After initiating a state-wide hunger strike in support of the DREAM Act,  San Antonio DREAM Act supporters have escalated their actions and staged a sit-in at Senator Hutchison’s San Antonio office.  The students, which include DREAM-eligible youth and U.S. citizens, will not leave the office until Senator Hutchison commits to voting for the DREAM Act in the lame duck session.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” said My Le.  “I wish it didn’t have to come to this, but we don’t have any time to waste.”
“I wish I had celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and friends,” added Felipe Vargas. “But we’ll have our  Thanksgiving celebration when the DREAM Act passes.”
Lucina Martinez added, “We know that the Senator understands our plight, that she is sensible, and compassionate.  She voted for the DREAM Act in 2007, and her constituent responses were always favorable.  She’s only recently changed her tune.  We hope to remind her that our futures, that our lives depend on her support.” (emphasis mine, BG)
Below are the profiles of the four individuals sitting in at Senator Hutchison’s office:
Julio Lopez: His hometown is San Antonio. He is in his last year of undergraduate study at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is taking a double-major in Anthropology and Mexican American Studies and is an active member of  the Mexican American Studies Student Organization.

Lucina Martinez: Born in Mexico City but moved to Dallas, TX with her parents at age 6.  She is currently a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she is double majoring in Women’s Studies and Mexican American Studies. She’s a DREAM Act beneficiary and is on her 20th day of the Hunger Strike.

Felipe Vargas: Currently finishing doctorate in History, Philosophy and Education Policy from Indiana University Bloomington. He is on the 20th day of the hunger strike.

My Le: Hometown is Saigon, Vietnam. She moved to the United States at the age of 5. She is not a DREAM Act beneficiary but a committed ally. She is currently a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is double majoring in Art and Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies.
Not too long ago, Senator Hutchison was a supporter of the DREAM Act.  In 2007, the Senator made a compassionate floor speech in favor of the DREAM Act.  In June 2010, the Senator’s constituent responses in regards to the DREAM Act were positive, as shown by this excerpt from her June 2010 constituent response regarding the DREAM Act:
“Among our immigrant population, there are young people who were brought to this country as minors and have not yet attained legal status. These young people have attended and graduated from American high schools. They wish to attend or are attending American colleges and universities in order to enjoy prosperity. Their inability to garner employment following college graduation leaves them in an unfortunate position. I believe that we must find a way to help assimilate these college graduates into our country. In addition to the economic benefit of retaining college graduates in our country, there is a compassionate reason for us to try to work this out.”
For updates, visit the UTSA DREAM Act blog here:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

9 FAQs about the DREAM Act

Does the DREAM Act use taxpayer dollars for scholarships and grants to undocumented students?
No.  Undocumented youth adjusting to lawful permanent resident status are only eligible for federal student loans (which must be paid back) and federal work-study programs. They must work for any benefit they receive. They're not eligible for federal grants, such as Pell Grants.

Does the DREAM Act allow undocumented students to pay cheaper tuition than citizens?
No. The DREAM Act lets states offer in-state tuition to students registered under DREAM, but it does NOT guarantee cheaper tuition.  At most, the DREAM Act allows undocumented students to access the same benefits as their peers.
Does the DREAM Act give undocumented students and their families access to public benefits?
No.   [Typically, an immigrant must be here as a lawful permanent resident for five years before they can receive non-emergency federal assistance.]

Will the DREAM Act result in a mass amnesty?
No, the DREAM Act is not an amnesty. To legalize, individuals have to meet stringent eligibility criteria. They 
  • entered the United States before age 16; 
  • have been here for five years or more; 
  • not have committed any major crimes; 
  • graduate from high school or the equivalent; and 
  • complete at least two years of college or military service. 

Will the DREAM Act will spur more illegal immigration by rewarding undocumented youth?
No. The DREAM Act has clear cut-off dates, so it offers no incentives for more illegal immigration. [Economic conditions have far more impact on illegal immigration than specific pieces of legislation.]

I heard that the DREAM Act isn’t just for students, but will benefit people of all ages. Is that true?
Fact:  Because the U.S. has failed to address the question of illegal immigration for over a decade, an entire generation of young people’s skills and contributions is at risk. Consequently, the DREAM Act encourages immigrants 35 or younger to attend college or join the military, but they must still have entered the U.S. before they were 16 AND have been here for five years immediately preceding the date of enactment.

Some say the DREAM Act legalizes criminals and gang members and lets people who have already been ordered deported avoid the law. Is that true?
No. Immigrants convicted of serious crimes are ineligible for DREAM Act status. 

But does the DREAM Act let students cut in line in front of other lawful immigrants?
No.  DREAM Act students don't compete for visas with other applicants for legal permanent residence. The DREAM Act creates a separate program for students, requiring them to earn legal permanent residence by attending college or serving in the military for two years while in a temporary legal status.  DREAM won't affect the number of visas available or the time it takes to get a visa for those entering through traditional channels.

Will the DREAM Act diminish opportunities for U.S.-citizen students?
 According to the National Immigration Law Center:
Most undocumented students are likely to have zero impact on admission rates of native born students:  Since 2001, 10 states have made it easier for undocumented state residents to attend college by offering in-state tuition to those that qualify.  Many of the students that utilized this opportunity attended community colleges, which have open enrollment.  The small numbers of students who will attend 4-year universities aren't significant enough to affect the opportunities of others.
Institutions charged with education of our youth overwhelmingly support the bill. Well-established education organizations like the American Association of Community Colleges, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, National Educators Association, the College Board, as well as prominent university presidents/chancellors support the DREAM Act.
Source: Immigration Policy Center

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Journalists among 26 arrested at SOA Vigil 2010, Fort Benning, GA

Photo caption: First arrest scaling fence to protest tax dollar approved blackops & darkops training Fort Benning's SOA.  Photo credit and caption by Twitter user @atizine (used with permission).

Nonviolent civil disobedience action by activists was followed by indiscriminate arrests by local police, including the targeting of journalists. Among the 26 arrested were three journalists, including a TV news crew from RT America as well as unrelated bystanders.

Again this year thousands of activists gathered at the gates of the U.S. military base Fort Benning to call for the closure of the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

Following the SOA Watch rally, human rights activists brought their nonviolent witness to close the SOA into the street leading onto the military base. The activists briefly shut down the road with a large sign that said, "Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA." Their action continued a longstanding tradition of creative civil disobedience, calling attention to global atrocities committed by graduates of the School of the Americas. SOA Watch reports that twenty-six were booked and held in the Muscogee Jail, including 90-year old Jesuit priest Bill Brennan and ordained Catholic priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska. Most of the charges were for criminal trespassing and failure to disperse, acts that SOA claims they did not commit.

Two human rights activists, however, 78-year-old Louis John Vitale and 78-year-old Nancy Smith, crossed onto Fort Benning through the highway entrance in a deliberate act of civil disobedience. They have been charged with federal trespass and face up to six months in federal prison and a fine up to $5,000.
from the SOA Watch website: "When the rally participants tried to leave the vigil area, the police blocked off all exit points. After a few minutes, the police allowed people to leave on the sidewalk, only to follow them, indiscriminately arresting people who had neither committed any crimes nor engaged in civil disobedience. Among those arrested was the RT America TV crew, who was filming the police misconduct and bystanders. All arrestees are currently being held in the Muscogee County Jail for up to a $5,500 bond."
This video documents the arrest of one member of the press:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

LISTED: Senators who could defeat the DREAM Act

Although the DREAM Act has been backed by both Democrats and Republicans for nearly a decade, it has never become law - thanks, in part, to some members of Congress who would rather make political hay out of a piece of legislation that seeks to help students who, as outgoing Florida Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart said, "are being punished for decisions not made by them." ~ from America's Blog

These are the Senators we need to contact with urgency. I'm posting this list courtesy of Michelle Malkin--of all people--who is, of course, encouraging her entourage (sadly, a fan base much larger than mine!) to contact their reps. If you've got any pull with any of these Senators, now's the time to use it!

SEN. JIM WEBB OF VIRGINIA 202-224-4024; 703-573-7090. Staff says “he hasn’t made a public statement.”
SEN. KENT CONRAD OF NORTH DAKOTA 202-224-2043; 701-258-4648. Staff says “he hasn’t released a statement.” Conrad has voted againstthe DREAM Act in the past.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN OF NORTH DAKOTA 202 224-2551. He voted against the DREAM Act in the past. Staff says he “hasn’t taken a public position.”
SEN. MARK PRYOR OF ARKANSAS 202-224-2353; 501-324-6336. He voted no on the DREAM Act cloture vote in September. Staff says he is “likely” to vote no again, though he hasn’t made an official public statement yet.
SEN. JON TESTER OF MONTANA 202 224-2644. Staff says he has voted against the DREAM Act in the past and “he will probably vote against any bill that has amnesty in it.”
SEN. MAX BAUCUS OF MONTANA 202-224-2651. He has opposed the DREAM Act in the past and is a “likely no” again in this session.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL OF MISSOURI 202-224-6154. She opposed the DREAM Act in the past and staff says she has made no statement changing her position otherwise.
SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE 202-224-5344; 207-874-0883: Staff says she “hasn’t released a statement.”
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS 202-224-2523; 207-945-0417: Staff says she “hasn’t released a public statement.”
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI 202-224-6665; 907-271-3735: Staff says she’s “still reviewing the bill.”
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK 202-224-6521; 785-233-2503 Staff says he “hasn’t had a chance to look at it” and remains non-committal.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON 202-224-5922; 214-361-3500: Staff says she “hasn’t released a statement,” but will probably do so later today.UPDATE: HUTCHISON will vote AGAINST DREAM Act in its present form, says staff.
SEN. GEORGE LEMIEUX 202-224-3041; 904-398-8586: Recorded message informs callers that he’s “in a meeting.” He has yet to publicly state his position as open-borders extremists step up pressureUPDATE: LEMIEUX IS A NO.
~with thanks to Citizen Orange for pointing to Malkin's lists

If this bill does not pass NOW, it will be at least two years before there's another opportunity. It is time to turn on People Power.

Friday, November 19, 2010

iTunes: White Supremacy? ..we've got an app for that!

Imagine 2050 reports that NumbersUSA, an anti-immigrant organization that is part of a network with ties to white nationalists, announced this week that an iPad/iPhone app of the same name was launched on November 9, 2010. It's available now for free download on Apple's iTunes application store.

You can get a free podcast from this group who wants to see "LOWER IMMIGRATION LEVELS" (see logo, above). Here's how they describe themselves:
“NumbersUSA is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy organization that favors an environmentally sustainable and economically just America. It opposes efforts to use federal immigration policies to force mass U.S. population growth and to depress wages of vulnerable workers.”
But Imagine 2050 digs deeper to discover that:
NumbersUSA was founded by John Tanton, a white nationalist nicknamed The Puppeteer for creating the most powerful anti-immigrant movement in the U.S.
Its executive director contributes to Tanton's journal, edited by a man with ties to Council of Conservative Citizens [CofCC], a white supremacist organization. 

So, Apple fans, if this disturbs you at all, you can report this app online or call Apple’s public relations line at (408) 974-2042. I'm all for free speech, but a business like Apple need not provide a platform for bigotry.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Congress to revive the DREAM Act; Call & keep hope alive

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced yesterday that he'd introduce the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as a stand alone bill during the lame duck session of Congress.
First introduced in 2001, the DREAM Act would address the plight of young immigrants who have been raised in the U.S. and managed to succeed despite the challenges of being brought here without proper documentation. The proposal would offer a path to legal status to those who have graduated from high school, stayed out of trouble, and plan to attend college or serve in the U.S. military for at least two years.

Each year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, many at the top of their classes, but cannot go on to college, join the military, work, or otherwise pursue their dreams. They were brought to the United States at a young age, were largely raised in this county. These students are culturally American, growing up here and often having little attachment to their country of birth. The vast majority are bicultural and fluent in English.

Providing a legal status for young people who have a proven record of success in the United States would be a boon to the economy and the U.S. workforce.  University presidents and educational associations, as well as military recruiters, business and religious leaders advocate for passage of the bill. The DREAM Act is even part of the Department of Defense's 2010-2012 Strategic Plan to assist the military in its recruiting efforts.

Unfortunately, immigration status and the associated barriers to higher education contribute to a higher-than-average high-school dropout rate. The DREAM Act would eliminate these barriers for many students, and its high-school graduation requirement would provide a powerful incentive for students who might otherwise drop out to stay in school and go on to college.

I spoke with a family tonight and saw the anxiety of a mom whose eldest daughter, now a junior in high school, faces a bleak future. That young woman would like to be a teacher--and she'd be a really good one!-- but without the chance to apply for financial aid, there's little hope for her to continue her education. Already the despair affects her commitment to her studies: "What's the use? I'll have to get a job [READ: minimum wage] in another year. Why not just start working now to help the family's income?" 

What if she were your daughter? Encouraging your Congressional representatives to pass the DREAM Act is a worthwhile investment of your time. Here's one service that will make the call for you: America's Voice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Economy?? Personal wealth for members of Congress grew (by over 16%!)

Bad economy?? Members of Congress are enjoying their own financial stimulus.

Despite a stubbornly sour national economy congressional members’ personal wealth collectively increased by more than 16 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of federal financial disclosures released earlier this year.

And while some members’ financial portfolios lost value, no need to bemoan most lawmakers’ financial lot: Nearly half of them -- 261 -- are millionaires, a slight increase from the previous year, the Center’s study finds. That compares to about 1 percent of Americans who lay claim to the same lofty fiscal status.

Of these congressional millionaires, 55 have an average calculated wealth in 2009 of $10 million or more, with eight in the $100 million-plus range.

“Few federal lawmakers must grapple with the financial ills -- unemployment, loss of housing, wiped out savings -- that have befallen millions of Americans,” said Sheila Krumholz, the Center for Responsive Politics’ executive director. 

“Congressional representatives on balance rank among the wealthiest of wealthy Americans and boast financial portfolios that are all but unattainable for most of their constituents.”

The report details a number of aspects about congressional members' personal wealth, including who's the richest, who's the poorest and what investments lawmakers like most.

To read the Center's full report, click here

Monday, November 15, 2010

And today’s most prominent U.S. Latino leader is…?

By their own reckoning, Latinos living in the United States do not have a national leader. When asked in an open-ended question to name the person they consider "the most important Latino leader in the country today," nearly two-thirds (64%) of Hispanic respondents said they did not know. An additional 10% said "no one."

These findings emerge from a bilingual national survey of 1,375 Latino adults conducted prior to this month's mid-term elections by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Sonia Sotomayor, appointed last year to the U.S. Supreme Court, was the most frequently named individual with some 7% of respondents saying she is the most important Latino leader in the country. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) of Chicago is next at 5%, followed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at 3%, and Jorge Ramos, an anchor on Noticiero Univision, the national evening news program on the Spanish-language television network Univision, at 2%. No one else was named by more than 1% of respondents.

The survey also explored the subject of leadership in the Latino community in another way. Respondents were presented with the names of eight prominent Latinos and asked if they had heard of each. Those who said they had were then asked if they considered that person to be a leader.

Of the eight names presented, Sotomayor received the highest leadership score: 45% of respondents considered her a leader. Ramos is next at 38%, followed by Villaraigosa at 29% and Guitierrez at 23%. No one else on the list had a score above 20%.

The report, "National Latino Leader? The Job is Open," was authored by Paul Taylor, Director, Pew Hispanic Center, and Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center, and is available at the Pew Hispanic Center's website.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tomorrow: "Life And Death On The Border" premieres on Current TV

Current TV's “Vanguard” is airing a new three-week mini-season about issues surrounding the Mexican border, particularly on U.S. immigration and illegal drugs, entitled "War on the Border."

The premiere episode, "Life And Death On The Border" airs tomorrow, Monday, November 15 at 9/8c on Current TV. In it Vanguard correspondent Christof Putzel travels to the U.S./Mexico border to investigate unauthorized immigration from a first-hand perspective.

He meets with "coyotes," the hired smugglers who cross migrants without authorization in to the U.S. for a fee. In the process Putzel reportedly learns the methods immigrants use to evade border patrol and the dangers they face on the journey. Arrest and deportation are inherent risks, but the lack of water and scorching temperatures of the desert crossing are far more deadly, as regular readers of this blog are aware.

Those migrants who do make it safely across the border face tightening immigration laws and an increasingly hostile public. Putzel ultimately crosses the border with a migrant and coyote.

The trailer above is a preview of the first night. For more info, here's a link to the show's internet site:

Adam Yamaguchi and Putzel reportedly have some incredible stories to share the next three weeks. I'm curious to catch the tone of this show. Will it exploit the border situation? [Entitling the series "War on the Border" raises the prospect of sensationalization from my perspective.]

But I'm on the road currently, headed to the border myself. I don't watch much television at all even under normal conditions, so I'm not an authority on this and can't take questions. I'm not even sure I'll be able to see the show myself. If you see this program or others in the series, let me know what you thought of it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BREAKING: Medical marijuana now legal in Arizona; AZ is 15th state to allow

Upon the completion of the counting of absentee ballots, Proposition 203 allowing medical marijuana in Arizona appears to have passed by a slim margin of just over 4,400 votes.

from Politics and World News:

The law allows up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, and there can be only one dispensary per 10 pharmacies. If you live 25 miles or more from a dispensary, you can grow your own personal use marijuana, but only if you have a prescription.

Oregon's Ballot measure 74 did not pass, but the reason was that there were concerns that the failure to limit the number of dispensaries allowed in the state would encourage illicit sales.

Proponents of cannabis legalization, however, were disappointed when Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana across California, failed by a relatively narrow margin in November elections.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A November protest to the George W. Bush Presidential Center [LIEbrary]

"Accountability is the hallmark of a mature democracy: no one is above the law!" ~
THE PEOPLE'S RESPONSE to the George W. Bush Library & Policy Institute

An alternative peaceful protest will take place in Dallas, Texas in November 14-17, scheduled to coincide with the groundbreaking for the new George W. Bush Presidential Center.

The center will include both a presidential library and a policy center.

Protesters want to remind past, present and future U.S. governmental administrations that the truth cannot be buried or changed simply by building and stocking a new library. Equally important, they do not want the same ideologues who crafted the Bush policies of the last decade to write a script for our future at a policy center:
"Will this think-tank develop the same kinds of policies that brought us pre-emptive war, economic crisis, environmental disaster, unprecedented presidential power, and diminished civil and human rights?" 

The four days of programming will include interfaith services, speakers, a forum, and a teach-in. The speakers will include Col. Ann Wright, Dr. Robert Jensen, Ray McGovern, Rev. Dr. William McElvaney, Hadi Jawad, Representative Lon Burnam, Kathy Kelly, David Swanson, Diane Wilson, Marjorie Cohn, and Medea Benjamin, Charles Grand, and Coleen Rowley. The full schedule of activities is HERE.

If you're unable to attend, you may like to submit your suggestion of a book you'd like to see included in the liebrary library. Facebook members are posting ideas on the page: What book do you want in the George W. Bush Presidential Library? 
Some are posting photos of themselves holding the book they'd like to see. [Facebook account members must "like" the page to view submissions.] Some submissions include: The March of Folly, Curious George, and Confessions of an Economic Hitman.
TO REGISTER to attend or just to get more information: