Tuesday, May 31, 2011

VIDEO: Truth Universal's "Immigrant" Delivers a Hip Hop Voice for the Voiceless

If Hip Hop is an acquired taste in music, this track sure helps me acquire it.
As immigrants continue to have their human rights compromised in state after state, Hip Hop artist Truth Universal responds with "Immigrant," the lead single from his latest project Resistance Vol. 2: Polygraph.

Himself a Trinidad-born immigrant who was raised in New Orleans, Truth addresses the plight of the U.S. immigrant in the piece. He cites the commonality of the immigrant struggle, regardless of their land of origin, and challenges the contradictions of U.S. immigration enforcement policy.

Amidst the sonic backdrop crafted by DJ Black Panther, Mexican born MC, Bocafloja, assists Truth in his commentary on the subject, making it a bi-lingual production.

The video was shot on location in Mexico City and New Orleans, during the artists' tours .

--adapted from the YouTube notes of Akoben Ologun of Truth Universal Press

Monday, May 23, 2011

President Obama and an executive order to halt deportations of DREAMers

Okay, I'll accept that President Obama likely can't keep his promises of comprehensive immigration reform. But he can halt the deportations of young people eligible for the DREAM Act simply by issuing an executive order. That would go a long way toward showing he made his immigration promises in good faith. I will accept no less than that.
Today there are literally thousands of students facing deportation from the only home they have ever known because the DREAM Act, a measure that would provide worthy young people who were brought here as undocumented minors with a path to citizenship, still isn't law. President Obama has the power to help them, according to Presente.org--all he has to do is issue an executive order to halt their deportation until the DREAM Act is passed.
Issuing an executive order is simple, but it would have a powerful impact. It would protect thousands of hard working young people. It also would show voters that Obama is willing to do more than just talk about immigration reform--it would show that he is serious about action.
Throughout history, many presidents have stepped up to take similar executive actions on critical issues facing our country--especially when those facing oppression needed intervention and relief.
Presente.org drew up a list of six of the most powerful executive orders in history. They welcome anyone to share this list and to join the movement calling on President Obama to halt the deportation of the DREAMers.
6. Equal Employment Opportunity. At the height of the Civil Rights MovementPresident Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 which bars discrimination in federal employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.1
5. Affirmative Action. On March 6, 1961 President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which included a provision that government contractors "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." 2
4. Works Progress Administration. In 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, FDR used Executive Order number 7034 to create the Works Progress Administration, which put more than 8.5 million Americans back to work rebuilding the country one bridge, road, and mural at a time. 3
3. Desegregation of Schools. In 1954 the Supreme Court decided Brown vs. Board of Education. But it would take much more than a court order to end school segregation, as the nation saw in 1957 when Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus refused to comply. Dwight D. Eisenhower'S EO 10730 placed the Arkansas National Guard under Federal control and sent in U.S. army troops to ensure that nine black children could safely attend Little Rock High School. 4
2. The Emancipation Proclamation.  The Proclamation freed all slaves living in the Confederacy, though left out the border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia, which had yet to secede. 5
1. The end of DREAMer deportations. Yes, they know: This one hasn't happened yet. But they fervently believe that the President can follow in the footsteps of his predecessors. And that's the thing about history--it keeps getting rewritten with every new day!
1. "Executive Order 11246," US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, accessed 5/19/11, http://1.usa.gov/ijvTTO

2. "A Brief History of Affirmative Action," UC Irvine Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, accessed 5/19/11, http://bit.ly/kwZQUV

3. "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Executive Order 7034," The American Presidency Project, accessed 5/19/11, http://bit.ly/kEaF20M

4. "Executive Orders Disposition Tables: Dwight D. Eisenhower - 1957," National Archives & Records Administration, accessed 5/19/11, http://1.usa.gov/m1clJX

5. "The Emancipation Proclamation," National Archives & Records Administration, accessed 5/19/11, http://1.usa.gov/mqyFp7

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Slave transportation: Then and Now

The Eighteenth Century:
In order to achieve profit, the owners of the ships divided their hulls into holds with little headroom, so they could transport as many slaves as possible. Unhygienic conditions, dehydrationdysentery and scurvy led to a high mortality rate, on average 15%[4] and up to a third of captives. Only the most resilient survived the transport. Often the ships, also known as Guineamen,[5] transported hundreds of slaves, who were chained tightly to plank beds. For example, the slave shipHenrietta Marie carried about 200 slaves on the long Middle Passage. They were confined to cargo holds with each slave chained with little room to move.[6] ~Wikipedia "Slave Ship" Illustration: The Brookes ship plan
The Twenty-First Century:

The x-ray view of the inside of a truck in which 513 undocumented immigrants were discovered in Tuxtla Gutierrez, southern Mexico, on May 17, 2011. (Illustration: State Government of Chiapas via MSNBC.com)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Border remembers U.S. teen-goatherd slayed by Marines in S. Texas

Arizona border communities will gather today in Douglas, Nogales and San Luis to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the death of Esequiel Hernandez, a 17-year-old US citizen shot and killed by Marines on the border in Redford, TX while herding goats on his family's farm.  Since Esequiel’s death, several people, including seven men just in the last year, have either lost their lives or been critically injured as a result of border-militarizing policies.

The Arizona services will also commemorate three of these recent tragic murders at the hands of U.S. officials: 

  • Carlos LaMadrid, a 19-year-old US citizen who was shot and killed on the border in Douglas in March; 
  • Ramses Barron Torres, a 17-year-old Mexican citizen killed in Nogales in January, and 
  • Jose Gutierrez, a Los Angeles resident who was tased into a coma by border agents in San Luis in March.
“Border agents have acted as both judge and executioner in cases like Carlos’ and Ramses’ without any significant consequence,” says Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network. “We call on the federal border authorities to not only re-evaluate use of force practices and policies, but to launch thorough investigations into each injury or loss of life to ensure that justice is served.”

The incident which claimed the life of the innocent goatherder was the subject of a documentary movie which aired in 2008. The trailer below, presents a quick look at two points of view about the incident:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Interactive U.S. map: Population growth of people of color (1990-2040)

By 2042, "minorities" will comprise the majority of the United States population. People of color will outnumber the rest. The process is underway. Already this decade the majority of young people are people of color.

The map (above) by PolicyLink indicates that the entire face of the nation will reflect the change. As the map changes to reflect the decades between 1990-2040, the counties in darker orange represent those in which people of color are in the majority.

The map of the future: rise up and meet it with joy and gladness!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Immigration and illegal employers

The ongoing problem of illegal immigration inextricably implicates the employers who hire workers unauthorized for U.S. employment. My initial negative attitude toward employers I smeared as "illegal employers" has mellowed as I've volunteered in immigration circles.

The common assumption: Were people not so willing to hire unauthorized immigrants, they would not come. That judgment sneaks through, for instance, in a recent editorial in the New York Times:
The border is not impenetrable; few land boundaries are. But no number of boots on the ground, and no amount of fence-building, will choke off the flow of illegal immigrants entirely as long as employers demand their services in the United States. Of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, an estimated 7 million hold jobs, despite the spike in unemployment of the past few years. ~the New York Times, 5/14/2011

It is a simple premise: stop "illegal employers" and you stop "illegal immigration." But, while I'm not defending the unscrupulous capitalist, I've talked to enough people to see that simple solutions and snap judgments don't stand up to the complexity of the U.S. immigration problem.

First, it is not the employer's responsibility to be an immigration agent. If the employer makes a reasonable and honest effort to ascertain a laborer's authorization to work, they have done what they need to do. It's not their job to sniff out counterfeit documents or to take on the role of a mini-CBP agent. We cannot blame them if the system has not sent them authorized prospective employees.

Second, the seven million employed immigrants currently working in the U.S. without worker documentation are performing jobs that the U.S. middle class and the U.S. poor are unwilling and unable to do. They take the jobs that are dirty, difficult and dangerous. They are farmworkers, construction workers, maintenance workers. They work as housekeepers and as yard workers. They slaughter our animals and process our meat. They are nannies for wealthy children. They flip hamburgers in the fast food industry. They assume positions that neither we nor our children want--as careers.

A woman I know well enough to attest to her good heart told me that the small family-owned restaurant-- into which she and her husband pour their lives--could not function without workers who are not authorized. "There aren't employees for us, otherwise," she admitted frankly. "We really have to rely on them."

I realized that I was looking into the face of an "illegal employer." But she did not fit my image.

She was uneasy. She was concerned. She felt stuck in a bad situation. And she and her husband, who rely so completely on their kitchen workers, did what they could to help their workers function in the dysfunctional dilemma of living "illegally" in a foreign land.

She described the painful choices she saw workers face. Sometimes, for instance, workers must attend to family back home, knowing they may not be able to return again to the U.S. under its tightened security. Then, it is back to "square one" not only for them, but also for the restaurant. The owners must live with the employee's choices much as the employees must cope with their adopted country's broken immigration system.

The group I judgmentally termed "illegal employers" have many more options, but they are equally stuck in an antiquated immigration system that the nation will not fix.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

U.S. extends Temporary Protected Status to Hatians

Earthquake survivors Photo: Matthew Marek/IFRC
Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eighteen additional months for Haitians who currently reside in the United States under TPS status. She further announced that she would allow Haitians who arrived here during the year after the earthquake to apply for TPS. The announcement is not only a great help to all Haitians affected by last year’s devastating earthquake, it also demonstrates the humanitarian side of U.S. immigration.

In the chaotic days following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, DHS admitted many Hatian earthquake survivors to the U.S. temporarily to save them from devastation, disease, and starvation. DHS quickly designated TPS status for 48,000 Haitians residing in the U.S. at the time of the earthquake.

But the many others who came to the U.S. within days or weeks of the disaster were not eligible for TPS. They were also unable to return home to Haiti because of the devastation there. But now they will be able to apply to continue living here legally and also to get authorization to work.

"Today’s announcement addresses these problems and recognizes the extraordinary need for a compassionate and humane response to the devastation in Haiti," explained Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center.

The extension and re-designation are effective until January 22, 2013.

The Executive branch has a good deal of power to shape the way current immigration law is implemented. Napolitano could have declined to extend TPS or make more people eligible. But, thanks to her decision, the U.S. will be able to help thousands of people who might otherwise have faced deportation to Haiti and enormous suffering.

Unfortunately, DHS will continue to deport some Haitians back to Haiti. This measure, which began earlier this year, has already served a death sentence to some deportees. But today's immigration-related announcement serves the humanitarian spirit that represents the best of the U.S. and is a reason to celebrate.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Border protection agents seize contraband Mexican bologna in El Paso

CBP score near-record seizure of contraband bologna. Photo: KOAT-TV
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 385 pounds of Mexican bologna over the weekend just outside El Paso, according to the El Paso Times. This is the second-largest seizure of contraband lunch meat ever in the El Paso border, officials said Monday. The smuggler attempted to sneak the bologna across by hiding the rolls behind the seat of a pickup.
from the El Paso Times:
CBP officers found 35 large bologna rolls hidden behind the seat of a pickup Friday at the Santa Teresa border crossing. The driver, who is from Juárez, was fined $1,000 and released.
CBP officials said bringing bologna across the border is prohibited because it is made from pork and has the potential to introduce foreign animal diseases to the U.S. pork industry. 
Officials have said Mexican bologna, which has a different taste than U.S. bologna, can sell for as much as 10 times its retail price in Mexican-American communities up north.
Historically, the largest El Paso bologna case, weighing in at 756 pounds, was seized in 2003.
CBP officers working El Paso area ports of entry also made 15 marijuana seizures and one cocaine seizure from Thursday, May 12 to Sunday, May 15. They captured an approximate weight of 1,359.58 pounds of marijuana and 7.45 pounds of cocaine in the busts. 
A dog tipped agents to the largest marijuana seizure leading them to discover 214 tape wrapped bundles in the gas tank, rear seats, and non-factory compartments in the floor and roof of a 2002 Chrysler Cirrus driven by a 23-year-old female from Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico.
The bologna seizure was quite remarkable, however.
Santa Teresa Port Director Grace Gomez told KOAT-TV: "This seizure really stands out because when we seize bologna it is usually a small quantity or at most a roll or two."
I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Janet Napolitano on Immigration, DREAM Act, Borders

Napolitano on PBS NewsHour

Last evening, Janet Napolitano discussed Homeland Security--in the wake of the assassination of Osama Bin Ladin and of Barack Obama's speech in El Paso on immigration reform--as a guest on the PBS NewsHour

I've become increasingly concerned about drug-related violence in North America over the last few months. Similarly, U.S. security in the world is increasingly precarious because the only true security derives from being in right relationship: peace accompanies justice. Bin Ladin's death did not advance that cause. On the contrary, it was a setback.

Napolitano's remarks related to immigration are reproduced below.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Let me can ask you, Madam Secretary, about another subject that's under your purview.  And that's immigration. 

            President Obama made what he was calling -- what he called a major speech this week.  He went to Texas to talk about immigration.  But even a number of his political allies are saying that he didn't really propose anything new, that there's not a program out there to reform immigration.  

JANET NAPOLITANO:  I would disagree. 

            I think the president has done a number of things during the course of his presidency, but specifically over the last 60 days, to say, immigration remains a problem for our country.  It's a law enforcement issue.  We have to do enforcement in a smart and effective way. 

            We believe the steps we have taken demonstrate that we are doing that.  We have to have a secure border.  We believe the massive amounts of resources we have deployed there demonstrate that.  We also, however, need to look at the economic ramifications of immigration, and look at how we handle, for example, visas for agricultural workers, visas for high-tech workers. 

            We need to deal with the so-called DREAMers, the DREAM Act students.  That's going to require Congress. 

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But, as long as you have this fundamental disagreement with many Republicans over whether the border is secure -- the president was saying this week, the border is sufficiently secure, that the country should move on to reform immigration.  Republicans are saying, it's not secure enough. 

            How do you bridge that in order to move forward? 

JANET NAPOLITANO:  Well, I think we bridge it by saying, this is -- this is not a linear progression. 

            You have to do both, and you have to do both simultaneously, because not having immigration reform affects what is done at the border.  These things are interrelated, so that, for example, if we are to conclude, as a nation, that more individuals should have visas, they come through our ports, we know who they are, we know where they're going, how long they're allowed to stay, that diminishes the pressure to cross illegally and to cross between those ports of entry.  So, these things are all related to one another. 

JUDY WOODRUFF:  One of -- a Democratic congressman -- again, this is a friend of the president -- Luis Gutierrez said this week, he said, the president is wrong to wait for Congress to act.  He said, the president could do a number of specific things.  Among other things, he said, he should say the country is not going to support the wives of U.S. soldiers. 

JANET NAPOLITANO:  Well, again, we -- we deal with the wives of U.S. soldiers through the visa process. 

            Representative Gutierrez has a view that I think the president just doesn't agree with and I don't agree with.  And that is that the president, by executive fiat, can do what the Congress has not yet been able to address. 

            And the president believes that that is not the appropriate use of executive branch power solely, that this must be done by the Congress.  The president has laid out the principals of a bill.  He has met, not only with congressmen of both parties repeatedly; he's also met in the last few weeks with business leaders, with faith-based leaders, other groups around the country, all of whom have reached the same conclusion, which is that Congress needs to act. 

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Just finally, I saw there was an editorial in The Christian Science Monitor this week which said the president has been too overtly political about immigration.  It said, he's been seeking to appease Latinos, rather than uniting the country about an adequate method of enforcement. 

JANET NAPOLITANO:  I didn't read that particular piece. 

            I think the president is motivated by the need to solve a problem.  And this is a problem that's not going to go away.  I can say that.  I'm a former border state governor.  I myself supervised the prosecution of 6,000-plus immigration felonies.  I know this system very, very well. 

            I can tell you, all the enforcement in the world -- and I think the American people perhaps don't appreciate how much has been done -- will not substitute, however, for also combining it with effective immigration reform. 

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, we thank you for being with us. 


Friday, May 13, 2011

Georgia travel help, as state adopts "Arizona immigration law" HB 87

The International Center of Atlanta will post a web-based 2011 International Travel Advisory for Georgia, US to help Georgians and visitors to the state of Georgia in light of the state's adoption of new immigration-related laws. They plan to have the site live next week, offering detailed info about the implications the law will have for international visitors to Georgia.

The new requirements are due to a state law that Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal signed today known as HB 87, the ‘Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011'. The legislation creates new state crimes. People convicted of breaking the new laws-- including non-US citizens-- could be punished by up to 15 years in jail and fines up to $250,000. The new rules will go into effect on July 1.

The new law requires some significant new considerations--particularly for prudent non-US citizens traveling to and within Georgia. The upcoming website documentation will try to clearly, carefully, and factually present issues related to travel to and within the US state of Georgia. It will assist not only foreign nationals, but also
  • certain US nationals from states for which Georgia will not accept driver licenses as documentation for valid proof of legal presence, as well as
  • Georgia US citizens.
HB 87's new criminal statutes and rules relate to police stops to determine legal presence and detention, jailing, transportation, harboring, and inducing ‘illegal aliens' to visit Georgia. Other provisions of HB 87 will require additional proof of legal presence of even some non-Georgia US citizens and permanent residents. Although they may have valid documentation, such as a non-Georgia drivers license from other US states, Georgia will not accept those state issued documentation as valid proof of legal presence.

The 2011 International Travel Advisory for Georgia US will provide information about some new and significant risks of detention, jailing and fines. Not only international undocumented visitors, but also to visitors who cannot prove their legal presence on the spot to Georgia law enforcement police will face these penalties. The 2011 International Travel Advisory for Georgia US will provide prudent precautionary measures that any non-US citizen visitor can take to ensure a safe and undisturbed visit to the US state of Georgia.

International visitors and international residents should carefully familiarize themselves with these new laws, suggests the International Center of Atlanta.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Now Arizona wants to build its own border wall

Some Arizona lawmakers want to build more fence along the border with Mexico - whether the federal government thinks it's necessary or not.

In fact, now they've got a plan that could get a project started. It uses Internet donations and prison labor. If they can solicit enough money, all they need is cooperation from landowners before construction could begin.

Gov. Jan Brewer recently signed a bill that will launch a website to raise money for the project, according to Maricopa County's first-term Republican state Senator Steve Smith, the bill's sponsor.

Arizona, like many U.S. states is currently mired in a budget crisis. Yet it is using public donations to pay for its legal defense of the SB1070 illegal immigration law, a legislation effort of dubious constitutionality.

Part of the marketing pitch for donations could include providing certificates declaring that individual contributors "helped build the Arizona wall," Smith says.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Prayer for Osama bin Laden

A guest post by John Donaghy:

“Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end.
“Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.”
Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesperson

Those who live by the sword die by the sword.
Matthew 26: 52

Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 5: 44

Do not look for revenge… Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.
Romans 12: 19

Those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind.
Hosea 8:7

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.
Proverbs 24:17

Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.
Luke 23: 34

Hate not.

Desire not to conquer or control, but love.

Some think your death will end terror
but terror does not rise or die with one man,
as Nazism did not rise or die with Hitler.

Terror rises from powerlessness
   but responds to another kind of terror
      that makes people powerless,
        a terror of loving money and power,
          controlling, hoarding, killing.

Obama bin Laden,
    May Allah give you the graciousness to repent
         for the deaths of innocents and soldiers,
           for the loss that so many families feel
             from your policies of terror and hate.

And may God give the West the graciousness to repent
    of killing in the name of ending terror,
      of the massacre of innocents through drone bombs,
        of the killing by hunger of innocents by economic policies
          that reward those already enriched
            and leave the poor with less than crumbs.

Lord, have mercy on us all.
The text was reposted from Hermano Juancito with permission. I particularly appreciate John's sane voice today. Thanks, John! 
Bumper sticker image available for sale at CafePress: