Saturday, July 31, 2010

Salvador Reza: Arrested or Abducted by Arizona police?

"I do not dignify this as an arrest. This was an abduction. It is an act of state sanctioned persecution and discriminatory profiling.

Just as AZ SB1070 is not a law, the taking into custody of Salvador Reza today represents the policies of persecution that are the inevitable result of the complicity of the Obama administration via the 287g agreements with local law enforcement such as Maricopa county Sheriff J. Arpaio.

This was an abduction not only of Salvador Reza, but of the protections of human rights for all in the state of Arizona."
- TUPAC ENRIQUE ACOSTA, Tonatierra--Statement to the Press

On Friday, July 30, human rights leader Salvador Reza observed activists risking arrest in Phoenix in protest of SB 1070. The video shows the arrest of the six. It continues, however, to show that police then crossed the street to also apprehend Reza.

Reza was freed a few hours ago. His apprehension does not make me feel safer. I feel increasingly unsafe in this nation.

That is a byproduct of standing in solidarity with those whose ethnicity is anything other than white.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jobless citizens not yet flocking to replace immigrant farm workers

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Arturo Rodriguez
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Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert helped kick off of the national "Take Our Jobs" campaign earlier this month by inviting United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez onto "The Colbert Report." The "Take Our Jobs" movement purports to recruit U.S. citizens and legal residents to fill jobs that frequently go to tens of thousands of undocumented farm workers.

Organizers invited Michigan lawmakers to pick blueberries today as part of the campaign. But only two Michigan politicians accepted: State Rep. Robert Dean, and House candidate Frederick Fleischman.

Those critical of undocumented immigrants frequently cite their concern that immigrants "take jobs away from Americans." The "Take Our Jobs" campaign encourages Americans--particularly unemployed citizens--to apply for farm worker jobs, using a convenient internet form on

Despite the gloomy U.S. job market with an unemployment rate of 9.5% and 14.6 million people without jobs, there have been few takers for the fieldworker positions. Perhaps this is because the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies agricultural work as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the nation.

Immigration Reform

Campaign organizers are approaching legislators in hopes of getting much needed immigration reform passed. The drive spotlights the issue of immigrant laborers, the backbone of the country's agricultural economy.

The farm worker population of the United States is overwhelmingly immigrant, with about 85 percent of workers born outside of the United States. Today, the vast majority of farm workers are unauthorized, according to government statistics.

Due to the illegal immigration status of these workers, domestic agriculture could be crippled without comprehensive immigration reform, leading to more jobs moving off shore.

The UFW has negotiated the AgJobs bill with the agricultural industry that would give undocumented farm workers presently here the right to earn legal status by continuing to work in agriculture. Senators Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.) and Richard Lugar (R-In.) are the principal co-authors in the Senate and U.S. Reps. Adam Putnam (R-Fa.) and Howard Berman (D-Ca.) are chief sponsors in the House.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

11 Nations condemn Arizona law SB 1070

Eleven countries present at the closing of the Assembly of Parliamentary Presidents held in Geneva signed a declaration condemning Arizona’s Law SB1070, which they consider to have a “racist, xenophobic spirit and one contrary to immigration of any type.”

The declaration was introduced by Felipe Solis Acero, Vice-President of Mexico’s Parliament, and was signed by delegates from Mexico, Uruguay, Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Turkey, Senegal, Micronesia and Chile.

Besides lamenting the “spirit against immigration in general and the irregular in particular” the declaration acknowledges the efforts of Barack Obama, for “his personal commitment to promote an integral migratory reform.”

Translation courtesy of National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers [Foreign news report]

Image credit: Jsun Gfunk, on

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Witnessing for peace: An inner city garden

Davenport, IA.

The historic Gold Coast neighborhood included a visit to the Central Community Circle garden Saturday in the special garden tour event they sponsored. In contrast to the gentrifying Gold Coast glory located just a few streets east, the CCC inner city neighborhood has struggled hard to restore a sense of order to the crime-ridden streets it experienced just a decade ago.

It takes continual vigilance to maintain the peace that now characterizes the CCC neighborhood, says Marilyn Schierbrock, CHM, the neighborhood advocate. And, initially, it required many strategies to achieve it.

One of those strategies was gardening.

The garden revived in 2000 when neighbors teamed up with volunteers to address the drive-by shootings of drug dealing gangs who overtook an area of declining economic status in the city, just west of the downtown, mere blocks from the edifices housing city and county officials. Landscaping and beautification could make the neighborhood more pleasant in appearance...augmenting real estate value, they reasoned.

The community garden created a public space for CCC neighbors, friends and families to gather. They committed themselves to raise healthy, organic food. Flowers graced the space with their loveliness. The power of community working together toward health and dignity was transformative.

"The hallmarks of the Central Community Circle Neighborhood are 'presence, openness, and cooperation,'" asserts Sister Marilyn, who has served as a convener and facilitator in the area since 1999.

And the garden?

"The garden continues to serve as a living testimony to the power we can claim when we work together toward peace. It stands amidst homes that still hold the bullet holes from those drive-by shooting days."

Saturday's visitors were impressed with what they saw growing: food, flowers, and peace.


Photo montage captions (click photo to enlarge):

Center: The program for The Gold Coast and Hamburg Historic District Association garden tour, Gold Coast Blooms.

Top row, left to right

1) Participating gardeners share their surplus produce at the neighborhood food pantry, also managed by Sister Marilyn.

2) Sister Marilyn's perennial flowers bloom in her "Peace Plot."

3) The sign clearly demarcates Central Community Circle's garden that participates in The Garden Growers cooperative, a city program that operates from the ISU County Extension office.

4) Garden produce--here tomatoes--are grown organically in this garden. The soil is tilled annually and tested regularly.

Bottom row, left to right

1) Tassled decorative purple popcorn stalks serve as a centerpiece to the lower garden. The CCC Garden includes several plots, two of which are raised bed frames.

2-3) Two of the groups that participated in Saturday's tour. Organizers estimated they hosted 125 visitors at the CCC garden.

4) Corporal Andrew Harris of the Davenport's N.E.T.S. Unit (left) and Sister Marilyn work together to help neighbors better engage the local law enforcement's assistance in addressing local crime incidence, focusing on prevention.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

World Population Day: Mexican Census Numbers, Troubles

In commemoration of World Population Day, July 11, Mexico’s National Institute of Geography, Statistics and Informatics (INEGI) reported that the country counted 107.5 million inhabitants in 2009. Growing in number of people by about eight times since 1900, Mexico is the third most-populated country in the Americas, falling behind Brazil and the United States.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the INEGI reported a huge drop in the emigration of Mexicans from 2006 to 2009, when economic crisis slammed the world. According to the
federal government agency, the number of people leaving Mexico fell from 546,000 people in 2006 to 146,000 in 2009. The vast majority of Mexicans emigrate to the United States, though Canada, Spain and other nations account for additional destinations.

The INEGI will have new population numbers and other statistics after Mexico’s 10-year census is completed this year. However, serious questions exist about the expected accuracy of this round of census-taking.

In a recent meeting of INEGI officials in
Mexico City, big problems were reported in conducting the census, especially in the violence-torn and crime-ridden northern states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas.

According to a story in the daily
La Jornada, only about 35 percent of surveyed residents in the three states disclosed complete information to interviewers. Widespread fears grip the public that personal data will be sold to third parties, the newspaper reported. To counter the negative reactions, the INEGI plans to send interviewers out to homes again.

The ongoing narco war and a generalized atmosphere of insecurity are other huge challenges confronting
census takers. With as many as 40,000 zones considered risky, the INEGI has been forced to adopt different strategies for completing the 2010 census.

For instance, in the Juarez Valley bordering the US, where narco-violence has reportedly displaced thousands of people this year alone, the INEGI decided to send workers in pairs or teams to carry out their tasks. [B.E. note: This area is directly SE of El Paso, just across the Rio Grande River.]

Locked down by their residents to keep out criminals, enclosed neighborhoods and apartment buildings present other difficulties. “More and more neighborhoods are closed and access is not so easy,” said Maria Tomasa Badillo Almaraz, the INEGI’s Chihuahua state director.

Although Mexico experienced tremendous spurts in
population growth during the 20th century, the rate of population increase slowed dramatically in recent years. According to the INEGI, the rate dropped from an average 3.4 percent per year during the 1960s to 0.86 percent between 2005 and 2009.

Sources: Proceso/Apro, July 9, 2010. La Jornada, July 7, 2010. Article by Carolina Gomez Mena. May 23, 2010. El Agora (Chihuahua) May 15, 2010.

Reprinted with permission from~
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

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World Population Day image from United Nations:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alarming Border Death Count Continues Unabated, Ignored

--Arizona Recovered Remains Reach 153--

The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2009 has reached 153, according to the Tucson-based CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos. They compiled the data from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties in an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of brutal U.S. border and immigration policies.

While the U.S. politics is engaged in a one-sided discussion around "security" and "enforcement," border communities continue to witness tragedy and death on the Mexico border. Political leaders largely ignore the situation.

Ever since the first 14 deaths along the Arizona border in 1995, Derechos Humanos has clamored for justice. Fifteen years and more than 2,000 deaths later, there's still no end in sight to the unnecessary carnage.

The count to date includes 98 males, 19 females, and 36 of unknown gender. The identities of about 107 of the recovered bodies remain unknown, almost 70% of the total recovered thus far this fiscal year. That represents a 22.4% increase from last year.

'Unknown gender' indicates that not enough of a body was recovered to determine gender. Without costly DNA testing it's impossible to know even that most basic information about the deceased. That make identification and return of the body to the family almost impossible.

The dramatic increase in these unknown gender cases are a troubling indicator of a growing trend. Heightened border security pushes potential border crossers into increasingly isolated areas. Rescue and detection are less likely and death more certain in remote, dangerous areas.

No one knows how many more remains lie near the yet undiscovered.

The continued increase in the recovery of skeletal remains indicates that more and more individuals are being funneled into more isolated and desolate terrain of the Arizona-Sonora border. This "Funnel Effect," documented by the Binational Migration Institute, demonstrates that sealing traditional crossing points pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The full extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring border states are not available.

It's time for meaningful and honest dialogue on migration and our responsibilities in the matter. This dialogue must not avoid the most critical question: Will the deaths continue?

While these deaths and the policies that fuel them are unconscionable, equally troubling are the calluses that have grown on the hearts of those that continue to ignore the human toll.

We are all human beings, brothers and sisters who must share the earth. The death and abuse of the least of us will eventually hurt us all.

The complete list of recovered remains is available on the CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos website: They provided the information which is reprinted with their full permission.

Image credit: Phil Nesmith Copyright 1966.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

(sigh) Another distorted portrayal of unauthorized immigrants

July 6, 2010. Today, Fox News [aka Faux News] is reporting on data provided to them by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The "data" presents a highly misleading fiscal snapshot of the costs allegedly imposed on U.S. taxpayers by unauthorized immigrants. However, in its rush to portray unauthorized immigrants as nothing more than a drain on the public treasury, FAIR completely discounts the economic contributions of unauthorized workers and consumers. Moreover, FAIR inflates their cost estimate by indiscriminately lumping together native-born, U.S.-citizen children with their unauthorized parents.
FAIR's report suffers from three fatal flaws:

  1. The report notes that the single biggest "expense" it attributes to unauthorized immigrants is the education of their children, yet most of these children are native-born, U.S. citizens who will grow up to be tax-paying adults. It is disingenuous to count the cost of investing in the education of these children, so that they will earn higher incomes and pay more in taxes when they are adults, as if it were nothing more than a cost incurred by their parents
  2. The report fails to account for the purchasing power of unauthorized consumers, which supports U.S. businesses and U.S. jobs.
  3. The report ignores the value added to the U.S. economy by unauthorized workers, particularly in the service sector.

In contrast to FAIR's report, the Perryman Group estimated that:
if all unauthorized workers and consumers were somehow removed from the U.S. economy, the United States would lose $552 billion in total economic activity ("expenditures"), $245 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 2.8 million jobs.

FAIR's data is meant only to reinforce their vision of "attrition through enforcement." It is not rooted in an effort to move the immigration debate forward. Long-time readers of this blog will recall the day that FAIR discovered Border Explorer and jumped on my back, indicting themselves with their vicious personal attacks. They are not to be trusted.

The public and the President have made it clear that deporting 11-12 million immigrants isn't reasonable or feasible. Therefore, passing comprehensive immigration reform - which would yield a cumulative $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years - is the only sound economic decision the United States can make.

I regret that this blog is unlikely to reach FAIR, but upon second thought, one must doubt that facts can have any influence upon prejudice.

Primary source: Immigration Policy Center