Category Archives: Immigration

Veterans Day: Honoring American Troops

Check out these videos of dogs welcoming back their owners that had been on deployment.  They are absolutely amazing; if you are a dog person, they are bound to make you a little teary-eyed:

You can view more videos of dogs welcoming back their “daddy” soldiers here.  It’s always amazed me how dogs really do remember their owners.  I remember that as a kid, my Dad would come to work to the United States for an entire year so he could send money back to Mexico so my family could survive and have a better life.  My Dad would come back to Mexico every December, and our dog would remember him and would just go absolutely crazy with happiness, very similar to how the dogs reacted on these videos above.  Watching these videos brought back memories to me and so I can definitely attest to the fact that dogs do remember their owners and do miss them just as much as human beings miss their loved ones.

Today is Veterans Day, so please remember our troops by either donating to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America or checking out the USO or VoteVets to find out what you can to do to promote issues and campaigns that benefit veterans. For Latinos, Veterans Day has become very much a personal experience, being that they now make up a very large percentage of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps (in addition, their numbers are also growing in the Navy and the Air Force).  The Latino presence in the military is nothing new, and yet the corporate in-English media continues to virtually ignore it.  Thanks to in-Spanish language outlets, Latinos are getting some recognition, though.  Vme is showing this week a great series of programs that highlights the presence of Latinos in the U.S. military; to view the segments online, click here.  I’d only wished more pieces like these were featured in English on other more prominent networks.  But hey, maybe things will eventually turn around.  CNN just got rid of its hate monger Lou Dobbs, so maybe it’s a sign that things are starting to change and will get better.

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Filed under Economic Refugees, Immigration, Military

Lou Dobbs leaves CNN

Media Matters for America has the transcript of his announcement here.  For reference, Dropdobbs.com also has a “history of hate” list here.

Congratulations to all who participated and supported the bastadobbs.com and the dropdobbs.com campaigns and put pressure on CNN to fire this guy for viciously attacking immigrants and Latinos in particular (and as of late for joining in the vile racist attacks against President Obama coming from the extreme right-wing) on a day-by-day basis, going as far as making up stuff out of thin air and having guests and using them as ‘authorities’ on the subject of immigration and that were well-known to have ties to racist white supremacists (and without even disclosing them as a true journalist would).

He can now go off freely to where his conservative racist and ultra-corporatist views belong: Fox News.

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Filed under Economic Refugees, Immigration, Media Literacy, Political

Happy Halloween!

Illegal Alien Halloween Costume

The costume might seem funny to some, but what they don't realize is that in the current social climate that we live in, the costume is just plain dehumanizing.

…or is it?  It was the question that many Latinos were wondering as they caught word of the offensive “illegal alien” Halloween costume that was being sold by many retailers across the U.S.  A successful campaign by immigrant rights activists was waged to sound the alarm on this, which led to national media coverage.  Subsequently, retailers like Target, Walgreens, eBay, and Amazon.com removed the costume from their inventories.  It was another example of the growing political clout that Latinos are beginning to exercise on a variety of issues, as I have previously argued here.  I woud like to echo the sentiments that were expressed so well by César J. Baldelomar over at the Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform blog: the language that we use can define our social realities in deeper ways that we might at first realize. 

On second thought, I would actually like to take it a step farther and call on something that I see being ignored by the corporate media and (sadly) by even many immigrant rights activists: that the ONLY permanent solution to our ‘illegal immigration’ woes is to combat the oppressing poverty that creates ‘illegal immigrants.’  No amount of border walls, deportations, or discrimination will ever stop ‘illegal’ immigration because those things never address the true source of the problem: the poverty that forces many to flee their homelands.  Professor of Linguistics George Lakoff said it best on The Framing of Immigration piece when he bascially analyzed how we do not have an ‘illegal immigration problem’ or an ‘illegal employer problem’ (to lable it as such would undermine the scope of what we’re actually dealing with here), but rather a full-blown HUMANITARIAN crisis:

Perhaps the problem might be better understood as a humanitarian crisis. Can the mass migration and displacement of people from their homelands at a rate of 800,000 people a year be understood as anything else? Unknown numbers of people have died trekking through the extreme conditions of the Arizona and New Mexico desert. Towns are being depopulated and ways of life lost in rural Mexico. Fathers feel forced to leave their families in their best attempt to provide for their kids. Everyday, boatloads of people arrive on our shores after miserable journeys at sea in deplorable conditions.

As a humanitarian crisis, the solution could involve The UN or the Organization of American States. But these bodies do not have roles in the immigration frame, so they have no place in an “immigration debate.” Framing this as just an “immigration problem” prevents us from penetrating deeper into the issue.

Language is a powerful thing because we shape our language based on our reality and our reality is shaped by language. It’s a circular thing and we can break the cycle of ignorance by introducing new powerful terminology that can shape our realities in a positive way.  As I used to say it before on my old Myspace page:

 …people talk about “illegal aliens,” which dehumanizes the issue and implies that immigrants that enter the country with no documents are criminal, other-worldly beings. Yet no one talks about the fact that they are simply Economic Refugees (refugiados por causa de la economia); human beings that have ventured to seek out a better life for themselves…

…To reduce the discussion to a soundbite of “those that break our immigration laws must be punished and must not be rewarded for the criminal behavior” frankly leads to nothing productive. If you want to talk about doing illegal and/or wrong things then maybe you should talk about how the United States has oftentimes contributed to the economic woes of many countries. If you want to talk about taking responsibility for your own actions, then maybe the United States should take responsibility for what it has done with the International Monetary Fund’s INTERVENTIONS(click here for details) in third world countries. If you want to talk about wrong doing maybe you ought to be talking about American maquiladora factories and their low wages/cheap labor practices. Maybe you ought to look into how some American business interests have gone into many countries, sucked them up dry, and bailed out; adding to their economic woes.

Sadly, I’m afraid that we’re missing the boat on this one.  Immigration reform would be a good first step towards improving our current social situation.  However, if the quest for immigration reform does not at the very least contain a serious conversation regarding the role that oppressing poverty has in all of this, then I am afraid that it will just be another band-aid ‘fix’.  Maybe it’s time now (as a first step) to call on our government to ditch the ‘illegal alien’ term and instead adopt ‘economic refugee.’  You can start by contacting the Deparment of Homeland Security at:

Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Comment Line: 202-282-8495

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Filed under Economic Refugees, Immigration

We can’t let them spit on Latinos-go to a townhall!

Blaming Latinos for the healthcare crisis or using them as scapegoats to oppose Obama’s plan to reform the system is just wrong and racist.  In fact, in a twist of irony, the bigots attacking Latinos don’t even realize that many Americans are now moving to Mexico in increased numbers, while others venture into Mexico because healthcare is much cheaper over there.  The difference in cost is in large part due to the existence of a government-run system in Mexico, making healthcare much more cost-efficient, compared to how criminally expensive it is here in the United States.  Anyway, I’ve sent the following action alert to the Project Economic Refugee community.  I urge others to do the same:

Justice. Not bullets.

Send them home with a bullet in the head”.  That’s what racist right-wing protesters at HealthCare Reform townhalls are shouting now, attacking immigrants. Watch:

This is NOT an isolated instance, but rather part of grotesque campaign to blame Latinos for the healthcare crisis.  The protesters’ hatred does not stop there.  In Hagerstown, Maryland – The Secret Service is investigating a man who authorities said held a sign reading “Death to Obama” outside a town hall meeting on health-care reform in western Maryland. The sign also read, “Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids.”

We can NOT and must NOT let these extremist displays of disrespect and hatred go unanswered. It is time to go to these townhalls and tell these bigots to stop scapegoating immigrants and instead go after the hitmen that are behind the efforts to rile up the hate: the greedy insurance companies’ top executives-people like Rick Scott, who are content with defrauding the American people.

So let’s go and let America know that we will NOT allow for the scapegoating of immigrants to continue any longer!  Click here for a list of organizing events where you can make a difference or here for a specific list of upcoming townhalls. 

IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to bring your signs demanding that protesters stop scapegoating immigrants while the greedy insurance companies’ CEO’s (like Rick Scott) are being given a pass!  As George Lakoff, professor of Linguistics (and the inspiration for Project Economic Refugee itself) has pointed out:

Insurance company plans have failed to care for our people. They profit from denying care. Americans care about one another. An American plan is both the moral and practical alternative to provide care for our people.  The insurance companies are doing their worst, spreading lies in an attempt to maintain their profits and keep Americans from getting the care they so desperately need. You, our citizens, must be the heroes. Stand up, and speak up, for an American plan.

Adelante!

-Reg

PS Would you like to be a more active part of Project Economic Refugee?  Be a part of the organizing team! Email me at economicrefugee@hotmail.com to ask for more details.

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Filed under Health, Immigration

“40 million illegals”?

That’s what protesters of healthcare reform are shouting.  Yup.  They’re shouting at the townhalls that the reform would cover “40 million Illegals.”  Besides the fact that their angry violent shouts are pretty disturbing onto themselves, their claims are just based on lies.  Read this article:

Right-Wingers Are Stirring Up Xenophobia to Swiftboat Health Reform
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted August 4, 2009.

I’ve blogged about this ongoing grotesque attempt to blame the healthcare crisis on Latinos:

Instead of scapegoating Latinos, support Public Option in Healthcare Reform:

Extremists love to bring up how “illegals” are overwhelming the Healthcare system yet they hardly ever talk about how the Healthcare system itself is a joke in this country.

Instead of blaming refugees, people should be talking about the things (like Universal Healthcare or the standwithdrdean campaign) that the U.S. government could implement to solve the healthcare crisis.

By the way, reports have come out before that have debunked the claims that “immigrants abuse the health care system”. Back in 2007, the Center for American Progress published such study.  To access it, visit this link.

It seems, nevertheless, that the right-wing knows no limits with their hatred of brown people.  They are on a self-destructive path and they can’t help themselves.  A new poll has come out that clearly shows that Latino support for the Republican Party has hit new time lows in light of the racist onslaught of attacks that Sonia Sotomayor had to endure to get confirmed.

Sadly, in the meantime the real culprits for our healthcare crisis are not being called out: the insurance companies.  Instead of scapegoating Latinos for the healthcare crisis, the American public would do itself a favor and go after the REAL bad guys:

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Filed under Economic Refugees, Health, Immigration, Political

Pres. Obama Speaks @ National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast

…about immigration reform:

I am very pleased that President Obama spoke at this National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast because it casts light onto a promising strategy that seems to be developing and that I have been advocating for quite a few years now: get faith/religious groups and their powerful message and organized constituency to be more actively involved in the fight to push for a more humane immigration policy and to combat the alarming hate speech & violence that is emanating from extremist right-wing news outlets like Fox News or radio talk personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. 

HOWEVER, I am a litle troubled about President Obama’s statement that “we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants” … yes, that should be theoretically true-but such wording just reinforces the same falsehoods: that the immigration “issue” is purely about “legality” when in reality it has to do first and foremost with POVERTY.  The President goes on to say that “we can’t tolerate people that come in violation of the law just like we can’t tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers to drive down wages.”  I get what he’s doing strategically to make sure he’s speaking not only to the Hispanic audience but to those that will view his speech online and do not necessarily understand that the “problem of illegal immigration” is a HUMANITARIAN crisis.  I get it.  However, I can’t help but feel an emotional reaction to it and I gotta say, his focus on the “legality” aspect without a mention of the “poverty” aspect does anger me a bit.  The President should know better than that.   

Nevertheless, I am also very pleased that Obama highlighted the service of Latinos and Latinas serving proudly in the U.S. Military-while that career choice is not for everyone, it is nevertheless, something that MUST be acknowledged and honored-specially because most of the in-English corporate media hardly mentions nor honors their service.  This falls in line with what typically happens: instead of recognizing the Latino contribution to making this country great, the mainstream media oftentimes just chooses to demonize Latinos and that is a slap in the face to us all.

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Filed under Economic Refugees, Framing, Immigration, Political, Religion, Spirituality

Hate Speech

…”the only reason [Luis] is dead is because he was Mexican,” law experts recently argued on CNN.  Recently, there was a disturbing verdict on a racially-charged case where an all-white jury found a group of teens as not guilty of a hate crime for beating up a Latino kid to death.  CNN reported on this:

Equally troubling, is the fact that there is little attention being paid to the effects of verbal violence from certain right-wing media outlets and personalities that, under the cover of being “anti-illegal immigration“, get away with vicious statements that are sometimes full of misinformation at best and morally criminal at worst.  During the recent swine flu media frenzy, for example, right-wing pudits seized on the opportunity to push their racist rhetoric.  As is often the case, sometimes the most dangerous kind of rhetoric is the kind that is subtle and pretends or claims not to be racist, precisely because it lurks in the shadows.  One perfect example of this is media-talking-head Lou Dobbs.  He is married to a Latina, by the way, and that tidbit has often been brought up as an argument to claim that Lou Dobbs coudln’t possibly be racist.  Yet at closer examination, this seems to defy logic.  First off, the fact that he is married to a Latina does not give him license to spread lie after lie (after all, Hernan Cortes had the Malinche as a lover, and that didn’t make Cortes any less of a pillager of Mexico’s land and of its people).  In addition, a little-known fact is that Lou Dobbs often quotes “reports” as “facts” from or has people on his show that are members of right-wing extremist groups that either have deep ties with or are themselves groups classified as hate groups.  By all accounts, one cannot help but ask this: “if Lou Dobbs pushes defamatory falsehoods day after day based on racist sources (he does not disclose this fact, by the way) then what is his motiviation for doing so?  Is it racism?”   

Beyond Lou Dobbs, there is the larger issue of the potential effects that the violence (whether verbal or visual) in the media has on stoking the fires that eventually lead to violent murders against particular groups of people.  While it is difficult to prove a direct relationship between violent hate speech or even subtle but vicious anti-Latino immigrant rhetoric  and actual violent hate crimes, one would have to be a fool to not see a correlation that is just too evident to dismiss it as a coincence.   People influence media and media influence people-it is a self-reinforcing cycle.  To claim that media should not be held accountable for the impact that it has on people is just as naive as saying that individuals do not impact and influence media itself.  Somewhere along the lines, there needs to be accountability-otherwise, grotesque acts of hate go unchecked. 

Sometimes, some action is taken against the hate rhetoric on the media: recently, a radio talk show host was suspended because of his plainly racist comments against Mexicans:

As the video above discusses, Jay Severin should be fired (by the way, you can contact the station that puts him on the air and ask them to fire him; click here).  Now, will Lou Dobbs ever take responsibility for his role in the rising violence against Latinos?  Think again, he actually slammed and criticized the civil rights organizations that have denounced or warned the media of the hate speech that is on the air.  Yet, the number of extremist groups continue to grow and the tide of hate acts continues to rise.  For a list of high-profile cases exemplifying the rising incidence of hate crimes against Latinos, click here.

Perhaps what is most tragic and maddening is that amid all the violent rhetoric on the media and the grotesque acts it accompanies, it comes as no surprise that an all-white jury recently decided to let the murderers of Luis Ramirez walk free.  There is something you can do about it, though.  Read this message (below) from the organization America’s Voice:   

Dear Friends,

Last year a group of teenagers brutally murdered Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

As Luis lay unconscious at their feet, the teens yelled to a young woman by his side: “Tell your effin Mexican friends to get the eff out of Shenandoah or you’re going to be laying next to him!”

Just last week an all-white jury found the teens “not guilty” of the serious charges of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation. The ruling was greeted with cheers in the courtroom, and gasps of disbelief from Luis’s grieving fiancee and children.

Today we’re asking you to join with us and our friends at the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) to demand justice for Luis, his children, and his fiancee.

Sign the petition to the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Demand that they prosecute Luis’s murder as a federal Hate Crime:

http://www.AmericasVoiceOnline.org/ProsecutetheHate

Afterward, the head of the jury said publicly “I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury were racist.” He said that some “had their minds made up maybe before the first day.”

Hate crimes against immigrants are on the rise across the country.

Law experts on CNN have argued that “the only reason [Luis] is dead is because he was Mexican.” It’s becoming clear that in that courtroom an undocumented Mexican immigrant was seen as less than a man.

Make sure justice is served for Luis Ramirez and the loved ones he left behind — sign the petition and forward it widely:

http://www.AmericasVoiceOnline.org/ProsecutetheHate

Together we can stand up to forces of extremism that threaten our country’s best values by playing upon our worst instincts.

Please send this email to 10 of your friends and loved ones now.

Thanks for everything you’re doing,

Adam Luna

America’s Voice

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Filed under Economic Refugees, Immigration, Media Literacy