Saturday, April 28, 2012

Will Our Ungodly Silence Cease? by Denny O'Mara

This poem was written by my El Paso neighbor (and Columban priest) who was arrested and jailed multiple times in Chile while protesting Pinochet's rule of death and terror. His reflection here was inspired by this week's Voice of the Voiceless event in El Paso sponsored by Annunciation House.

I thank him for allowing me to share his poem with you here.

When will we open up our mouths,
unlock our lips which we've kept closed?

God needs to free us to defend
those suffering, those crucified.
Each sees us hurry past their cross.
We fear to look; we fear to speak
lest others criticize, attack
us for defending victims' rights,
the rights of those who have no voice.

Will our ungodly silence cease?
Will we speak out? They're crucified
on battle fields and city streets;
in schools, homes, abortion rooms;
in camps with other refugees;
in places where those trafficked work:
in sweat-shops or as prostitutes.
There are immigrants who fear that they
will be sent back to where they're from,
to be hungry, homeless, unemployed,
be threatened with torture or death.

We would not ever want to be
on crosses where they have been nailed.
We'd want that others free us or
speak out, help us to be set free,
be our voice when we could not speak.

Today will my voice be set free?
Will I help free those crucified?
I need not be alone in this.
Today I vow to join my voice
with others of like mind and heart.

Today set free my voice, O God.
Today set free my voice.

I pray for voiceless, all oppressed.
They ask that we help them restore
"peace, justice, love, their dignity."
What we will do or fail to do
will speak more loudly than our words.
Make clear, God, what we need to do;
move us to do what we can do.
~Denny O'Mara, April 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Arizona's SB 1070: A mockery of the U.S. Constitution and international law, says human rights leader

On the eve of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing the challenge to Arizona law SB 1070, Justin Mazzola, lead researcher of the newly released Amnesty International report, In Hostile Terrain: Human rights violations in immigration enforcement in the US southwest, said: 

"Amnesty International believes that if the Supreme Court hands down a decision in favor of SB 1070, this places immigrant, Latino and Indigenous communities in Arizona at increased risk of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment. The federal government cannot even enforce this country's immigration laws with 100 percent  accuracy as individuals with claims for U.S. citizenship are detained for as long as a year and some American citizens have even been deported.  Giving states this authority would make a mockery of both the U.S. Constitution and the United States' obligations under international law.
If SB 1070 is ruled to be constitutional, similar laws will continue to be enacted in states all across the United States, exposing communities in every state to discriminatory treatment or other human rights violations." 
US Supreme Court
Image by Wikiwopbop at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons

Massive slowdown in California population; Future workforce to rely on children of immigrants, says new report

A massive slowdown in California’s population growth means the state likely won’t reach 50 million residents until the year 2046, a new USC analysis released Tuesday shows.

That’s a far slower rate of growth than the latest official projection released in 2007 by the state Department of Finance that shows the state reaching 50 million residents 14 years earlier, in the year 2032.

The declining rate of population growth is due in large part to plateauing immigration rates. The total percentage of Californians who are foreign born is expected to stay at 27 percent of the total population through 2030, a sharp contrast to the upward rise in immigration in the 1980s and 1990s.

The USC report contains California’s first population projection that includes results from the 2010 census. Its analysis also estimates that growth among California’s seniors, those 65 and older, will quadruple within the next 20 years, driven by the aging of the large “baby boomer” generation.

At the same time, growth among the main working age population ages 25 to 64 is expected to slow, and virtually all the projected growth, or 98 percent, is comprised of native-born children of immigrants, or second generation immigrants.

“In less than 20 years the Baby Boom generation will all be senior citizens, and these projections show their replacements in the workforce will be the children of immigrants." ~John Pitkin, a senior research associate in the Population Dynamics Research Group and lead author of the report

The population slowdown may bring reprieve to a fiscally strapped state under pressure to keep up with infrastructure needs, said report co-author Dowell Myers.

 “These projections suggest there is more time to plan a much better future for California,” commented Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography with the USC Price School of Public Policy.

Among the report’s other findings:
• California’s immigrant population is increasingly long-settled, with those who entered the United States 20 years earlier or more projected to rise to 62.2 percent of all foreign-born residents in 2030, compared to 45.7 percent in 2010.

• The ratio of seniors ages 65 and older to those of prime working age, 25 to 64, will soar to 36 seniors per 100 working age in 2030, compared to 21.6 per 100 in 2010.

• The growth in the population of children will virtually halt in the coming 20 years, with the share of the population made up by children projected to decline from 24.9 percent in 2010 to 20.7 percent in 2030.

• Native Californians form a rapidly growing majority of the state’s population. In 2010, over 90 percent of children under 10 were native Californians but major increases are expected for adults. In 2030, 57.2 percent of adults ages 35 to 44 will have been born in California, up from 38.5 percent in 2010.

Source: USC News

Monday, April 23, 2012

Immigration activists across nation rally against Arizona's anti-immigrant law under Supreme Court's review

On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. Pro-immigrant groups across the nation call the measure a thinly veiled attempt to isolate immigrants and people of color and to deny them basic rights.

The Supreme Court will decide whether states have the right to promote racism, hatred, and police harassment toward immigrants and people of color through laws like Arizona's.

Immigration rights groups who are members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement will hold ‘echo actions’ nationwide on why the Supreme Court must declare Arizona’s law unconstitutional.

A list of events that will occur nationwide is being compiled by Reform Immigration For America. It is reprinted here for your convenience.

Youth Rally Against SB1070Youth Rally Against SB 1070 and Vigil
Monday, April 23rd, beginning at 3:30pm
March to the AZ State Capitol, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix
RSVP on Facebook:
Community Town Hall on SB 1070
Tuesday, April 24th, 6-7:30pm
Carl Hayden High School, 3333 W. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix
Contact Addy Bareiss – addy @
March for Justice PhoenixMarch for Justice: United Against SB 1070
Wednesday, April 25th, 3-7pm
Civic Space Park, 424 North Central
Downtown Phoenix
RSVP on Facebook:
March for Justice: United Against SB 1070
Wednesday, April 25th, 4-6pm
Tucson State Building 400 W. Congress, Tuscon
Organized by Coalicion de Derechos Humanos
Denounce SB 1070 Rally
Tuesday, April 24th at 9:30am
Federal Courthouse, 3300 N. Los Angeles Street, Downtown LA
RSVP on Facebook:
March for Justice CTCONNECTICUT
Vigil Pro-Immigration Reform
Tuesday, April 24th, 7-9pm
Government Center, 888 Washington Blvd, Stamford
Organized by CT Students for a DREAM
Press Conference
Wednesday, April 25th at 1pm
Legislative Office Building, Room 1-D, 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford
Organized by National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Press Conference
Wednesday April 25th at 11am
201 N. Krome Avenue, 2nd Floor, Homestead
Organized by WeCount!
Vigil for Justice
Tuesday, April 24th, 11am-1pm
Prince Kuhio Federal Building, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu
Organized by FACE Hawai’i
Stop SB 1070Press Conference on SB 1070
Wednesday, April 25th at 10:30am
Corner of Bannock and 8th Street, Downtown Boise
Organized by Idaho CAN
Kansans Stand in Solidarity
Wednesday, April 25th at 4:30pm
Wells Fargo building, 300 S Main Street, Wichita
RSVP on Facebook:
Press Conference and Rally
Wednesday April 25th at 10am
Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St, Boston
Organized by Centro Presente and Just Communities Campaign
March for Justice TennesseeKnoxville United Against Racism
Wednesday, April 25th at 7:30pm
Krutch Park, 504 Market St SW, Downtown Knoxville
Organized by Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
Vigil for Family Unity
Tuesday, April 24th at 7pm
City Hall, 1500 Marilla Street, Dallas
Organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras
SB 1070 Forum at Portland State University
Tuesday, April 24th at 6pm
Portland State University
Organized by Oregon DREAMers
Jewish Community Event at the Supreme Court
Tuesday, April 24th, 6-10pm
US Supreme Court, 1 First Street, NE Washington, DC
March for Justice Washington DCRSVP on Facebook:
Rally at the US Supreme Court
Wednesday, April 25th beginning at 11am
US Supreme Court, 1 First Street, NE Washington, DC
RSVP on Facebook:
Press Conference
Wednesday April 25th at 11am
Voces de la Frontera office, 1027 S. 5th Street, Milwaukee
Organized by Voces de la Frontera

Friday, April 20, 2012

Remembering 10,000 homicides in Juarez

Annunciation House bears the names of 10,000 Juarez deaths
In recent years over ten thousand people have been murdered in El Paso's sister city, Juarez, Mexico unter the auspices of a "drug war." Across the nation of Mexico the numbers of homicides soar to over 50,000.

As one component of its annual Voice of the Voiceless event, this year Annunciation House, 1003 E. San Antonio Avenue, will serve as a screen onto which 10,000 names will be projected--the names of the dead.
Annunciation House hosts the first of the banners to cover the building. Reading: Voice of the Voiceless. No olvidemos 10,000. Giving name, face and voice to those killed in Juarez.
Numbers betray us. They communicate fact, but often omit emotion. They cannot convey the impact that comes from actually seeing the enormity of this human rights disaster.
Listing 10,000 names requires more than a ream of paper.
Every evening, Sunday, April 22 through Friday, April 27 from 8:00PM TO 12:00AM the projection of names of the deceased and accompanying images will cover the Annunciation House building.

The public is invited to bring flowers, momentos, and/or other symbols to place upon the altar in memory of the 10,000 who have been killed in Ciudad Juarez and the more than 50,000 who have died throughout Mexico. 

How can we call it a "drug war" when the victims are children, youth, mothers and innocent civilians?

Screen on rear of building for images bears a quote from Mexican poet/activist Javier Sicilia in two languages.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tom Russell's El Paso concert: An inside look courtesy of Ian Atkins

This is big: Tom Russell--arguably America's premiere singer-songwriter--will play his first concert in several years here in El Paso, his adopted hometown, on April 21. Advance word from Tom Russell's media assures fans that this concert:
will feature ALL the El Paso/Juarez songs including: "When Sinatra Played Juarez," "Goodnight Juarez," "El Paso," "Tom Thumb’s Blues" and others….this will be a border adventure with special guests: Ian Atkins and Thad Beckman.
Ian Atkins: on location at Tom's Folk Cafe in El Paso
Ian Atkins, El Pasoan restaurateur, owns Tom's Folk Café in the Kern Place neighborhood. So how is he on the concert bill with Tom Russell? What will he be doing? 

To find out, I stopped in for lunch at Tom's Folk Café and found Ian on his iPad, doing payroll. Nevertheless, he obliged me an impromptu interview--as soon as he finished.

Turns out that the multi-talented Atkins is not only a excellent restaurateur but is also himself a musician and composer.

"There will be an intermission in the concert between Tom's sets when I'll play my original songs," he modestly stated.

His style? It's similar to Russell's own, he told me: "blue collar, folk."

Ticket sales are "pretty good" for Saturday's 7 pm concert, April 21, he says. With 300 seats sold before Tuesday, Atkins thought it was "big for El Paso." Tickets to the event at the El Paso Scottish Rite are available online (with "will call" pick up) or at the door.

Russell's music highlights the US-Mexico border. Cuts from his latest album Mesabi don't shy away from difficult themes, tackling, for instance, the extreme violence in Juarez, Mexico of recent years in "Goodnight, Juarez," one of the upcoming concert's promised offerings.

Atkins originally met Russell through a mutual friend. But he had already been a fan of Russell's music.

An early pioneer of  mobile food vending in El Paso, when Atkins opened his stationary restaurant last summer, he took the theme for Tom's Folk Café at 204 Boston (near UTEP) from Tom Russell himself. The restaurant is full of Russell's original artwork and offers Russell's CDs for sale.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Young Juarez artists engage a violent city at Conectarte conference

The second annual Conectarte conference in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico will gather more than 100 young artists from across the city on April 20. These youthful artists consciously use art to understand and to change their world. This year's theme, Art in Dialog with the City, considers how artists use the city: as subject, backdrop, context and catalyst. The city itself appears in mediums as diverse as rap, murals, graphic design, film, dance, among others.

In recent years Juárez has become one of the most violent cities in the world, with a 2010 murder rate of 271.89 per 100 thousand inhabitants. More than 10,000 people have been murdered there since 2008. The violence and resulting insecurity have pushed thousands more to abandon the city, close businesses, and retreat from the city streets.

INBasion project mural in Mexico City by Juarez artist
This is the setting in which the young artists and activists involved in Concetarte are using art to change their world. For the second year in a row, the Conectarte conference creates a space in which young artists can present their artwork, engage in critical conversations, strengthen existing networks, form new alliances, define collective challenges and construct collective dreams.

A series of street murals in Ciudad Juarez
Conectarte 2012 Juárez: Arte en Diálogo con la Ciudad seeks additional funding to augment the professional guidance and organizational support of the Instituto de Arte, Diseño y Arquitectura de la Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez, the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso and Colegio de la Frontera Norte. Additional economic support provided by Instituto Chihuahuense de la Cultura.

Sponsorship of this art/peace event is available to the general public through Kickstarter. Supporters at various levels will receive rewards, generous gifts from the event participants.

The various art collectives since last year's successful Conectarte conference continued to make art, engage with their communities, organize and promote cultural events for people of all ages and to build informal networks between local and national artists. This second conference allows them to gather together again and evaluate the year, to build on relationships and proposals that were initiated in Conectarte 2011, and to plan a series of educational activities and critical conversations that will sustain their work in the year ahead.

Conectarte 2012: Arte en Diálogo con la Ciudad from kerry conectarte on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Week of activities highlight Annunciation House 2012 Voice of the Voiceless award in El Paso

(El Paso, TX) Annunciation House announced events surrounding the 2012 Voice of the Voiceless event that   will recognize Mexican poet and activist for peace Javier Sicilia. The presentation of the award will take place at a dinner on April 28.

A week of activities in commemoration will include several special events to celebrate the theme of this year's Voice of the Voiceless: "The Right to be Human." Highlights of the activities follow:

1) A Forum on Immigration takes place on Friday, April 27, from 6 pm until 9 pm, and Saturday, April 28 8am to 1pm at St. Patrick Cathedral Multipurpose Center, 1111 N. Stanton St. The public is invited. There is no cost to attend; seating is limited.

2) Annunciation House, 1003 E. San Antonio Avenue, will be the center of a VIGIL, PROJECTION & MEMORIAL ALTAR.
  • Sunday, April 22nd, 7:45PM: Press conference, projection on the building of 10,000 names of victims of recent past years of intense violence in Mexico, and vigil.
  • Every evening, Sunday, April 22nd through Friday, April 27th 8:00PM TO 12:00AM: Vigil initiates the projection of names and images to cover the Annunciation House building
  • Continuously, Sunday, April 22nd through Friday, April 27, Day and Night: Memorial Altar

The public is invited to bring flowers, momentos, and/or other symbols to place upon the altar in memory of the 10,000 who have been killed in Ciudad Juarez and the more than 50,000 who have died throughout Mexico.

The following announcement details of the dinner honoring Sicilia: