Latinos For Texas Blog

2007-Aug-2

On a Lighter Note: Latino Comedy Project’s ‘AlienNation’ opens

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:43 am

Hey Austinites:

The highly-acclaimed and apparently ‘murderously funny’ new revue by Austin’s own Latino Comedy Project opens at the brand-spanking-new Mexican American Cultural Center. The Austin Chronicle has nice things to say about it. I have only a simple thing to say: ‘If you love freedom, you must go.’

Here the PR blurb:

Border walls. Failed immigration reform. Lou Dobbs foaming at the mouth. Comedy! Austin’s cultural cut-ups of the Latino Comedy Project return for the award-winning comedy troupe’s new all-original show, “AlienNation”,  another hilarious full-length revue of sketch comedy, videos and music.
PERFORMANCES: 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, August 2 through Aug. 25, 2007, at the Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River Street, Austin.

TICKETS / SHOW INFO: $15 adults, $12 students and senior, available at the MACC box office on performance evenings, Teatro’s phone line, 512-389-0892.

Advance tickets are available online right now at:
http://www.lcp.org/tickets

Want to keep those pesky new arrivals from crashing your Caucasian caucus? Use the “Porta-Border,” a miniature version of the proposed border wall. (Or, for even greater ease-of-transport, try the “Porta-Border Nano.”) In, “Get on a Truck”, the LCP’s secret for producing such great comedy on the cheap is revealed: We send comedy scouts to day labor sites! Check out the LCP’s take on Apple’s Mac vs. PC ads (”Mex vs. B.C. [Born Citizen]”), Bratz Dolls, “300″ and amateurish local “adult education”commercials (”Vosotros Polytechnic”). Attend the “2007 Annual Police Brutality Video Awards”, and visit a racially themed college costume party where the tables are turned on the usual perpetrators. And meet new characters like the poorly translated crossover Latin pop singer Xiañez.
 
After two years of touring in glamorous locales including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tulsa, Oklahoma and sunny McAllen, Texas, the LCP has been working hard to bring its unique, take-no-prisoners take on the absurdities of pop culture and politics back to hometown audiences. “AlienNation” is a night of hilarious, high-energy comedy by a troupe celebrating its 10th year of bringing audience members to tears of laughter.
 
The performance also marks the very first at the newly constructed Mexican American Cultural Center. The center, almost 30 years in the making, is welcoming the Latino Comedy Project as its first performance group.
 
The LCP, called “hilarious” and “murderously funny” by the San Francisco Chronicle, has been featured at international Sketch Festivals in Vancouver, Chicago and Seattle, and has performed with Carlos Mencia, Fred Willard, Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco and “The Daily Show”’s Rob Cordry, among others. The LCP’s comedy videos have been featured at international film festivals and on nationally syndicated programs seen in over 50 million households from coast to coast.
 
The Latino Comedy Project writers and performers are: LCP Artistic Director Adrian Villegas, Sandy Avila, Guillermo De Leon, Omar L. Gallaga, Raul Garza, Karinna Perez, Mical Trejo, Danu Uribe and Nick Walker.
 
Come see “AlienNation”: Because in Spanglish, no one can understand you laugh.

http://www.lcp.org
 
http://www.myspace.com/latinocomedyproject

2007-Jul-20

The greater agent of change: George Bush’s Administration or terrorists?

So, several years ago i read a question (i think it was in a paul krugman article) which i have quoted many times: ‘How do you know when you are five years out from the French revolution? or 5 months? or 5 days?’ or something quite close to that. its interesting to ponder what people (from random workers to executives, from the un-engaged citizen to the high-powered politicos) were doing, noting, thinking while others worked their levers of power, and grabbed what they could get — old ways be damned.

Like the frog and the boiling water, its easy to let things slide a little, thinking, well of course i dont trust them but they arent really crazy, certainly they understand people wont tolerate much more of that, these lunatics in suits arent really doing what the other lunatics in tinfoil are ranting about.

Well, the Washington post has an article about George Bush’s administration finally declaring itself truly out of the reach of Congressional wishes, deciding, with help of disgrace-to-texas AG AG, that the ‘executive privilege’ is really ‘executive branch privilege’ and, better yet, can be applied to folks who no longer are part of the executive branch. They have placed themselves above the law, in every meaningful way, although i admit, they have, in an evil-genius way, created a legal ‘opinion’ for that, too.

Some choice quotes:

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

David B. Rifkin, who worked in the Justice Department and White House counsel’s office under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, praised the position and said it is consistent with the idea of a “unitary executive.” In practical terms, he said, “U.S. attorneys are emanations of a president’s will.” And in constitutional terms, he said, “the president has decided, by virtue of invoking executive privilege, that is the correct policy for the entire executive branch.”

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration’s stance “astonishing.”

“That’s a breathtakingly broad view of the president’s role in this system of separation of powers,” Rozell said. “What this statement is saying is the president’s claim of executive privilege trumps all.”

Is this a bold enough maneuver to shake loose the Republicans who voted again for this man and his minions? Already the Rs in congress have begun to understand, whether for political survival or perhaps for genuine reasons of principles, that George Bush’s Administration is a far greater threat to the continuation of American culture as we have come to know and love it, warts and all, than the foreign terrorists.

I wonder if citizens who chose this path realize they would generate TWO great threats to American democracy? Will this be enough to turn them, at the State level as well, to understanding that the Republican party, whatever it once might have claimed to stand for, is the vehicle for dismantling the constitution and our culture?

I will continue to hope that, as the miami sound machine sang, so presciently, so long ago: The hubris is gonna getcha, the hubris is gonna get ya…

2007-Jul-19

The voice of Austin…

Santos writes in to share that the edition of La Voz de Austen. is available online in pdf, and for several of Austin’s communities. The July issue covers the “many unanswered questions from the [death of] David Morales”, checks in on Johnston High’s future, and of course, “La Guerra en Irak” and more.

Check out the community info at http://www.lavoznewspapers.com.

2007-May-25

21 Year-Old “Bulldog” in San Antonio Goes to City Council Run-Off

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 8:23 am

I didn’t know who David Medina was when I first saw his sign in my grandparents’ yard.  Weeks later, to my surprise, I read in the SAEN that he was only 21.  And it wasn’t until today that I discovered the young candidate has made it to a run-off and people think he’s got a shot.  Can you guess why?  Good ol’ knock-and-drag - he’s blockwalking 5 hours a day.  LFT loves the pavement so much, I had to share his story.  And after I read he was a Burbank Bulldog (just like my mom and her siblings), well I almost want to start a caravan to SA and get a little exercise.  Check out the Ken Rodriguez column.

2006-Jun-27

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez: A heavy toll; Almost all of the planned pay-as-you-go roads are in East Austin

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 8:26 am

Austin American Statesman

COMMENTARY

Eddie Rodriguez, STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 51

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I was reminded recently why I voted against the Phase II toll road plan for Austin. At the June meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the board (on which I serve) viewed a slide that mapped the toll roads planned for Austin. Most of those in Travis County were east of Interstate 35, and every single mile of toll lane in the City of Austin was on the East side.

Texas requires us to develop a plan in order to receive state transportation money. Our critical need for new highways can’t be met by existing levels of state and federal funding. So, the state extended special borrowing authority to local area in our case, the three-county area of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which covers Travis, Williamson and Hays counties. Such loans transportation revenue bonds — must be used to develop a system of toll roads, and they must be repaid by quarters and dollar bills collected at toll booths.

As each metropolitan planning organization complies, by designating transportation corridors under a toll road plan, that area qualifies for the balance of state transportation money.

But designating those corridors creates immense opposition from affected neighborhoods and those with political clout have been most effective in resisting toll roads in their area.

Residents in the eastern part of the city have tended to have lower incomes and be less involved in the political process. That helps to explain why CAMPO’s Phase II has scheduled almost all of the mandatory toll roads in East Austin’s back yard.

For generations, those residents have disproportionately endured power plants, landfills, tank farms, wastewater treatment plants and excessive industrial zoning. Now, we see plans for East Austin to bear most of the burden of funding toll roads so the rest of the city can qualify for other state transportation money.

In the plan, only 37 toll lane miles lie west of I-35; a whopping 136 miles of toll lanes are planned east of I-35. With just a little math, you can see that the east side will fund about four times as many toll miles as the west side. The statistics within the city are even worse. Phase II directs the state to establish all toll lanes in East Austin.

In July 2004, the CAMPO board adopted eight resolutions detailing its intent for the implementation of toll roads. One resolution addressed fair and equitable treatment of all citizens in bearing the burden of the toll roads.

That intent was apparently abandoned. In fact, 46 miles of Texas Loop 360 had been planned as a future toll road in the first phase of this project. After a huge protest from residents in that area, CAMPO decided not to fund it leaving East Austin to pay the tab.

I have a problem with that.

When CAMPO votes on Phase II in the next month or two, we could be in serious jeopardy concerning our own resolution to see that this toll plan is fair. The lack of social equity in the plan is a concern that will weigh heavily on my voting decision.

We Austinites care deeply about our city and the people who live on both sides of the I-35 divide. I’m tired of the East versus West debate. I want to see both sides treated fairly and equally. But I have an obligation to my district, and to all like-minded Austinites, to raise this issue of disparity in this toll road plan.

2006-Jun-22

Kinky and Grandma Make Ballot

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 2:36 pm

Check it out at MySA.com.

2006-Jun-8

Hate on the Highways

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 10:05 am

Did you hear the one about the bust up of that terror plot in Canada? None of the alleged terrorists were undocumented.

Did you hear that there’s like 10,000 Border Patrol agents on the Mexico-U.S. border compared to the 1,000 on the Canandian border even though it’s twice as long?

Isn’t it ironic?

Now this:
Dallas Billboard
Dallas Billboard

KESQ from Palm Springs, CA reports:

Anti-illegal immigration billboards go up in California

IRWINDALE, Calif. Anti-illegal immigration activists are taking their message to the state’s highways with a series of billboard ads.

The first of the billboards paid for by the group Grassfire-dot-org went up yesterday near the Foothill and San Gabriel freeways in Irwindale.

Organizers say Some fifteen more billboards with the message “Stop The Invasion: Save Our Border” are planned for the state. The group already has its message on billboards in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida and West Virginia.

Grassfire-dot-org president Steve Elliott says the billboards will send a strong message to Congress as it discusses immigration reform.

But some immigration advocates say the billboards are racist and inflammatory and could further unify Latinos on immigrant rights.

___

Information from: San Gabriel Valley Tribune

2006-Jun-4

TAKS, Chris Bell, GOP, Immigration, Winning and Losing

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 2:44 pm

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell is campaigning against high-stakes testing and believes the $360 million spent on selected teacher bonuses should have been used for a larger, overall pay raise.

He is correct. Even with the additional $2,000, average teacher pay in Texas will continue to lag several thousand dollars behind the national average. Most Texas teachers are being “squeezed.”

Clay Robison chief of the Houston Chronicle’s Austin Bureau.

“Those folks running schools from Austin think they can use tests to make our kids smarter,” he rails before chuckling: “But a test won’t make you any smarter than a ruler will make you taller.”

Chris Bell on the TAKS test in a column by Carlos Guerra.

“For them to adopt such an egregious proposal makes their platform look more like a hate crime than a policy position.”

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer (D-San Antonio) in a press conference on the Texas GOP’s divisive immigration stance.

“It’s not very often that you have a Democrat candidate for governor trying to come in third. You have to relish that.”

Rep. Lamar Smith to the GOP executive committee. Smith is facing John Courage in November.

She also warned the party faithful that President Bush’s sagging poll numbers and general unease across a spectrum of issues could jeopardize the Republican majorities in Congress.

“We have never had so much to lose, and we’ve never had so far to fall,” said Hutchison, whose re-election is being challenged by Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer.

John Moritz - Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

2006-Jun-2

TSEU, Carole Keeton Strayhorn - The Past and Future

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 6:56 pm

This is old news, but I am just getting around to it…

On April 24, 2006, the Texas State Employees Union Executive Committee endorsed Carole Keeton Strayhorn for Governor. As many people know the endorsement did not sit well with many members, and had little effect on the AFL-CIO who endorsed Democrat Chris Bell.

The TSEU Executive Committee cited three reasons to favor Strayhorn.

1. Carole Keeton Strayhorn has made commitments on key TSEU issues. Among them: she has opposed the Convergys/AccessHR contract and the Accenture/IEE contract, and will work with us to defeat them, and she will oppose the privatization of state services. She also has committed to work to include university employees in any statewide pay raise while she is governor.

2. As Comptroller she has already shown her willingness to stand up for state employees by forcing HHSC and its contracted HR system to honor the procedures established in state law for state employee organization membership. AccessHR had stopped accepting TSEU membership forms until Comptroller Strayhorn got involved.

3. WE NEED A NEW GOVERNOR! Carole Keeton Strayhorn is our best chance to move Rick Perry out of the Governor’s Mansion. She is the only challenger who has a real statewide campaign and a campaign fund that will allow her to take on the Perry machine.

Strayhorn has stood up for state employees, but so far she has not been successful. AG Abbott disagreed when she sought to restrict the release of personal and identifying information after the DMN filed a request for the names, birth dates, and salaries of the state’s employees.

In response to TSEU’s endorsement Strayhorn said in a press release, “State employees are the unsung heros of the state. They stay on the job year after year with their pay stagnant, with cuts in their health and retirement plans, with skyrocketing workloads as their agencies are downsized and their assignments are upsized.”

However, her previous actions show that she’s pro-privatization the Grandma of privitization and has stepped on some state employees a time or two. She seems to have been most brazen during her run for and freshman year as Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander.

In September of 1998, the SAEN reported:

Rylander said she would target the comptroller’s audits to districts that need the most help, such as those that are low-performing academically and financially.

She said these audits should be a catalyst for school districts to provide its taxpayers the best cost savings.

To achieve cost-effectiveness and quality, she suggests districts use the “yellow pages test” for private services to save taxpayer dollars.

“Government should do no job if there is a business in the yellow pages that can do that job better and at a lower cost,” Rylander said.

And in October of the same year, the AP ran a story by Renae Merel:

Ms. Rylander wants to apply the “yellow-pages test” to every state function. “If you can look in the yellow pages and find someone to do it better for cheaper, then that’s the way you should go,” she said.

[Opponent Paul] Hobby says privatization can sometimes be misguided. “What she says is the politically easy answer. Privatization is an intelligent decision in some circumstances, but it’s not a default buzzword,” he said.

In January of 1999, Rylander laid of 60 people with the intention of making her office more efficient and Democrat-free (she denied that part). The Statesman reported:

Boone Taylor, an organizer for the Texas State Employees Union, said the union isn’t surprised by the additional cuts. He added, though, that people who have done a good job in the past should be allowed to stay if they want.

“Unfortunately, TSEU expects more layoffs,” Taylor said.

That same month The Dallas Observer pointed out that Rylander bypassed state hiring laws to bring on the wife of her Chief of Staff and long-time associate John Colyandro. Helena Colyandro was hired directly out of college as the funds marketing manager of the Texas Tomorrow Fund. No one else was interviewed for the position. The Colyandros both resigned months apart. The Weekly also critiques Rylander’s e-Texas initiative:

“It’s time for government to stop competing with the private sector,” she told her Heritage Foundation audience. “E-Texas will be a true public-private partnership using new strategic tools such as activity-based costing, outsourcing, managed competition, and benchmarking the best practices… E-Texas, a medley of 14 task forces of 10 to 15 people each, will recommend to the Legislature areas of government that can be outsourced to the private sector. In that way, Rylander is making good on her campaign promise to apply the Yellow Pages test across state government.

The e-Texas task force to focus on outsourcing is chaired by Bill Hammond, who says his committee will take a thoughtful approach in recommending which services should be shifted to the private sector. Hammond, an advocate of outsourcing, has been president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business and Chambers of Commerce since April 1998… Hammond says he expects his so-called competitive government task force to get help from Bill Eggers, a top Rylander aide. Eggers co-authored the 1995 book Revolution at the Roots, which offers glowing accounts of privatization efforts nationally. The book is a bible for outsourcing proponents. Hammond sounds like he prefers that representatives of state employee unions, who have been the most vocal critics of privatization, do not become members of his task force.

TSEU is right about one thing, we do need a new Governor; but Carole Keeton Strayhorn is neither the answer nor the best choice. People can change, but voters are not naïve. Who really thinks a politician will walk away from the trough regardless of her “independence” when she’s already sold out for that last bit of election cash?

TSEU members are right to call this endorsement what it is – unfortunate and short-sighted. In fact, outside of these three promises and her crowing over Perry’s perils, we don’t know what her plan is for all Texans – even the person that answered at her campaign headquarters wasn’t sure.

TSEU also pointed out that Strayhorn’s war chest is bigger than Chris Bell’s and that makes her more viable as a candidate. Texans can’t afford to role the dice because she might have more money. There are just some principals that you don’t walk away from and they are best represented by Texas Democrats all over the state. TSEU and some big Dem donors may have abandoned the party, but I think (hope) they’ll be surprised come November because there’s a Texas Democratic state takeover brewing.

2006-May-8

Texans Support Pre-K Education

Filed under: — kevin @ 4:08 pm

Via Quorum Report we see the following amazing poll findings:

UNITED WAYS SURVEY FINDS BROAD SUPPORT FOR PRE-K EDUCATION

Intent is to focus the issue while discussing school finance.

Nearly 69 percent of Texans think state lawmakers should provide pre-K programs and more than 75 percent of Texans would vote for a candidate who backed the creation of a statewide pre-K program, according to a survey of 1,200 registered voters released Monday by the United Ways of Texas.

The survey was conducted soon after the March primaries by Republican consultant Todd Smith, said Karen Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the United Ways of Texas. In all, 1,200 registered voters took part in the phone survey.

With lawmakers mired in talks on how to create a more stable funding source for the state’s public schools, Johnson said that she wanted to start a discussion on the importance of pre-K education.

Education is the key to success in life. Early childhood education, along with parental involvement, is the key to reducing gaps in performance among Anglo children and minority children. Texas will have a weaker future unless we get our act together and figure how to fund public education, let alone pre-K education. It’s what Texas voters want and it’s what the future of Texas depends on.

2006-Apr-28

Manos de Cristo offering Day of Prayer for Immigrants

Filed under: — kevin @ 2:47 pm

Here in Austin, the immigrant community is being terrorized by recent round-ups, deportations, and general harrassment. In response to this unfortunate situation, Manos de Cristo is opening our doors to all for special activities that will dovetail nicely with the May 1 demonstration and strike.

The schedule is as follows:
11:00 am - Presentation by Jacqueline Watson, Immigration Lawyer.
12:00 pm - Prayer for the Immigrant Community
12:30 pm - Time of fellowship. (Please bring your lunch. We will provide drinks and cookies.)
1:00 pm - Service project with representatives from the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
2:30 pm - Departure for the march for those that wish to participate.

Manos de Cristo is a Presbyterian ministry that provides basic services and education classes for a primarily Spanish-speaking, immigrant community. We are located at 4911 Harmon Ave and our phone is 512-477-7454.

2006-Apr-17

Look kids, there’s $8,000,000,000 under the couch!

Filed under: — kevin @ 3:51 pm

Fíjense, we have some spare change. What would you do if you were the special session?

I have little faith that Republicans are going to do right by Texas kids, but with these extra funds at least they will have no excuse come election time.

Cha-ching.

2006-Apr-7

Tell Rick Perry the priority is to Make Great Schools, and the method is ‘Fund Schools’ not ‘cut taxes’

Filed under: — site admin @ 1:53 pm

Last year, i went to Governor Good Hair Rick Perry’s website to, ya know, just check things out. I think what a person says of themselves is a much better indicator of the true priorities than what others say of that person. I use the story quite frequently that, at the time, the front page greeted visitors with a smiling photo of Rick’s Excellent Hair and a drop quote essentially saying “Finally, a School Finance Plan that lowers Taxes” or something close to that. My immediate response was and still is “Why do you think the goal of a school finance plan is to lower taxes rather than to create great schools which make great citizens, and oh yeah, great new college students, thoughtful business owners, and skilled employees?”

Even today at http://www.rickperry.org/education/ Rick’s staff writes:

Rick Perry believes that no child should face a future of diminished opportunity because they are trapped in a local public school that fails to provide a quality education. To give more children a chance…

Wait for it… what will it be??
Help out the schools that need help? Strengthen the public school system by strengthening public schools? Do whatever it takes to make Teaching worth it? (in a way other than as a public-service martyr.)

Nope. Perry’s plan “supports expanding successful Texas charter schools.” Which would be totally fine if he were a lobbyist for the PRIVATE SCHOOL INDUSTRY! but, someone needs to remind him, his job is to improve the PUBLIC SCHOOLS — FOR EVERYONE!

These people have a plan for sending that reminder:

Crashing the Texas Capitol Gates: Growing Electronic Petition Drive Demands More Funding For Our Schools

On April 6, supporters of neighborhood public schools announced that their electronic petition demanding billions more for Texas schools is attracting broad public support. “In just a few days, we have collected over 6,000 signatures and the numbers are growing rapidly every day. Our petition has hit a nerve with Texans: the public wants more money for our children’s teachers and schools and will not settle for a multi-billion tax swap,” according to Fred Lewis, one of the petition organizers. The petition is at www.fundtexasschools.org.

Petition supporters want the Legislature to raise funding for Texas teachers and schools to the national average. According to the latest study by the National Education Association, Texas spends $1479 less per student and $6799 less per teacher than the national average– even though Texas’ disproportionately disadvantaged student population is more costly to educate. “Texans want a first-rate education system that prepares all our children to be leaders in the global economy. We expect lawmakers to make sound investments for our state’s future, not play shell games for short-term political gains,” said Bee Moorhead of Texas Impact.

The groups participating in the electronic petition drive include the Baptist Christian Life Commission, Citizens Commission on Education Excellence, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Driving Democracy, Friends of Public Schools, National Council of Jewish Women-Texas State Public Affairs, People for the American Way, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Education Crisis Coalition, Texas Impact, and Texas LULAC.

2006-Apr-6

Senate approves immigration bill…?

Filed under: — kevin @ 3:46 pm

From the New York Times:

After days of painstaking negotiations, Senate leaders today hammered out a broad, bipartisan compromise that would put the vast majority of the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

The plan would also create a temporary worker program that would allow 325,000 foreigners to fill jobs in the United States each year. The Senate was expected to vote on the measure late today or early Friday and, if passed, it would mark the most sweeping immigration accord in two decades.

Under the agreement, illegal immigrants who have lived here for five years or more — about seven million people — would eventually be granted citizenship if they remained employed, paid fines and back taxes and learned English. Illegal immigrants who have lived here from two to five years — about three million people — would have to leave the country briefly and return as temporary workers. They would also be eligible for citizenship over time, but they would have to wait several years longer for it.

Those immigrants who have been here less than two years — about one million people — would be required to leave the country. They could apply for spots in the temporary worker program, but there would be no guarantee.

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle warned that there were many obstacles ahead: Any legislation that passes the Senate will have to be reconciled with a tough border security bill passed by the House in December and House Republicans have said they would not tolerate any legislation that amounted to an amnesty for lawbreakers.

This is not a complete victory for immigrants and their allies, but it’s a great compromise. We’ll see if the vote occurs and then continue to advocate for just and humane immigration legislation as the two vastly different bills are reconciled in committee.

2006-Apr-5

Jim Harrington’s Op-Ed in the Austin American-Statesman

Filed under: — kevin @ 10:14 am

Harrington: A punitive plan that won’t solve the problem

Jim Harrington, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The number and breadth of demonstrations across the country against Congress’ efforts to criminalize undocumented immigrants and those who assist them have stunned the nation. Equally astonishing was Cardinal Roger Mahony’s public pledge to order the priests and religious in the Los Angeles Archdiocese to passively resist and disobey House Resolution 4437 if it is passed.

The House bill would make it a federal crime to be in the United States illegally or for anyone to assist undocumented immigrants.

Making it a crime to enter this country illegally will not deter anyone. Efforts to seal off the border in areas such as El Paso and California have not stopped the flow of illegal immigrants — or even slowed it. These efforts have merely made it more expensive and dangerous and have created a network of traffickers branching out to cities across the United States.

Undocumented people must pay $800 or more to a coyote before making the dangerous and uncertain journey. But that risk is better than their hand-to-mouth subsistence in poverty-racked Mexico. Thousands endure extreme conditions to cross the desert. Most make it, but every year some 300 die trying. Tagging on a criminal conviction will hardly stop them. No one would go through this hell if they and their families could survive in Mexico.

And Mahony’s point is that, at some juncture, basic human rights require that unjust laws be broken. HR 4437 would make it a crime for doctors to attend to farm workers suffering from pesticide poisoning, or to treat a construction worker’s broken bones. It would make it a crime for local faith-based food pantries to feed hungry immigrant children, for priests and ministers to give $10 to a husband to buy medicine for his pregnant wife, for teachers to teach children how to spell and respect one another, and for local church congregations to give Christmas baskets to families.

If these Congressional Republicans had their way, they would deport the 12 million undocumented immigrants already here. If they were to succeed, the economic effect on both the United States and Mexico would be devastating. Crops would rot in U.S. fields. Hotels, restaurants and construction businesses would fold. Almost 5 percent of the U.S. economy depends on undocumented laborers.

Mexico’s already limping economy would crash. Undocumented immigrants send $1 billion back to that country every year — more money than Mexico receives from its oil industry. Every Mexican who migrates to the United States is one less individual for whom Mexico has to provide, and one more worker who will help support a number of relatives en la patria.

For years, Congress has grappled in vain with how to control this near-perfect model of a free market for human labor. The draw of employment in the United States has created a flow of jobless people — mostly Mexican — illegally entering the country in search of better lives.

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., suggests that prisoners could harvest our crops, apparently a kinder and gentler form of slavery. But the quality and abundance of the prisoners’ harvest would not match anything like that produced by hard-working immigrants, and Rohrabacher’s suggestion reflects the meanness and absurdity of House Republicans.

The United States’ dependence on cheap labor and Mexico’s faltering economy will doom this House bill. Our immigration problems will not be solved until we resolve the grave distortions between the U.S. and Mexican economies. Congress would make better use of its time, and our tax money, by dedicating itself to that task, rather than by creating repressive, punitive and ultimately unworkable criminal sanctions.

Harrington is director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, a nonprofit foundation that promotes civil rights and economic and racial justice throughout Texas.

2006-Apr-3

April 10 March

Filed under: — kevin @ 5:14 pm
National Day of Action
for Immigrant Justice
Rally and March in Austin

Monday, April 10th

At the Capitol at 4pm

Wear white for peace!
For more information call: 512-300-8011

Before the march the University Leadership Initiative invites the community who is able to attend to come to a student action for a just and dignified immigration reform. They will be meeting at UT campus, in front of the MLK statue, corner of San Jacinto and 23rd, behind the fountain. And afterwards they will join the march at 4pm at the capital!

Sponsored by: ACLU, AFL-CIO, AFSC-Austin, Casa Marianella, Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, Catholic Charities Office of Immigrant Concerns, CTIWoRC/Proyecto Defensa Laboral, CRISOL pro educacion y cultura, Equal Justice Center, Grassroots Leader-ship, League of Young Voters, Inmigrantes Latinos en Acción, International Socialist Organization, Latinos for Texas, LBJ School’s Pro-gressive Collective, Manos de Cristo, People For the American Way, Political Asylum Project of Ausin, PODER, Poultry Worker Jus-tice Project, Religion and Labor Network of Austin, Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, University Leadership Initiative

2006-Mar-30

Other Views on Human Migration

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 12:43 am

“Please ask yourself this: As we contemplate America’s moral fiber, do the real threats come from immigrants, or are some people merely blaming them for sins that are already here?”
David Brooks in an argument to social conservatives that a “balanced immigration bill is consistent with conservative values.”

“Guest worker programs are a bad idea and harm all workers. They cast workers into a perennial second-class status, and unfairly put their fates into their employers’ hands… Guest worker programs encourage employers to turn good jobs into temporary jobs at reduced wages and diminished working conditions and contribute to the growing class of workers laboring in poverty.”
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I think all of this has been a wake-up call for the Republican Party, that you can’t pander to the right by picking on immigrants — it’s not going to work anymore.”
California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) to Capitol Hill.

“We’re not naive that this is going to change people’s minds. Congressional leaders have to know that people are angry, people are frustrated, people have had it [with] being treated unfairly. And they’re being organized.”
Father Richard Estrada of La Placita church on “Gran Marcha 2006.”

“We need an immigration policy that provides a real path to citizenship for those workers already here, paying taxes and contributing to their communities and that helps meet the future need for workers in a fair way. We should recognize immigrant workers not as criminals but as full members of society — as permanent residents with full rights and full mobility that employers may not exploit. As a nation that prides itself on fair treatment and equality, we simply cannot settle for anything less.”
AFL-CIO Executive VP Linda Chavez-Thompson.

Contact your Senators and Representatives.

2006-Mar-29

GOP to Latinos: There will be a backlash.

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 11:48 pm

From Time:

“All these folks who are here illegally know they can protest brazenly,” [Rep. Tom Tancredo] said. “It’s really a mockery of our immigration system.” He added that the protests make him even more determined to pass a House bill that does not provide for a guest worker program and would build a 700-mile fence along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Texas Republican John Cornyn, who has supported a temporary worker program but one that requires illegal immigrants to leave the U.S. after working here for six years and apply for citizenship from their native country, said of the protests, “I don’t think they’re helpful,” arguing that they will only inflame the issue.

Mississippi Senator Trent Lott said that protests “make me mad,” particularly when he saw that many of the flags flown at the protest were not red, white and blue, but flags of Mexico and other Latin American countries. “I don’t like it and the American people don’t like it,” he said, adding, “When they act out like that, they lose me.”

“The views of most of the people marching in the streets of L.A. and other cities last weekend bear little or no resemblance to the majority of public opinion in this country when it comes to illegal immigration,” [GOP Pollster David] Winston wrote in a column for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.

Awakening the Giant

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 8:19 am

Great pics from LA Indymedia here. Check them out.

2006-Mar-28

The Immigration Debate

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 12:14 am

(AP)
From the AP:

On California’s Cesar Chavez Day, 36,000 students from 25 Los Angeles County school districts walked out, officials told a news conference at City Hall, where more than 1,000 protested for much of the day.

“Of course there should be amnesty (for illegal immigrants). We’ve been here for many years. We work hard. We contribute to the economy of the U.S.,” said Belmont High School student Fermin Vasquez, 18.

Six students were chosen to meet with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who then stepped outside and addressed the crowd.

“I want you to know that there are people right now all across the country that agree with you that we need immigration reform that rewards work, that gives people a pathway to citizenship, that allows families to stay together,” Villaraigosa told the crowd.

The “enforcement-only” HR 4437 sparked days of protest in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Washington. Stace has a story on the marches and walkouts in Houston. The Express-News reported an estimated 20,000 people participated in the 10th annual César Chávez march.

Meanwhile, Bush’s radio address sounded almost compassionate albeit futile. The Rs are split. And in the long run how many people are going to sign up for a sure ticket home? Undocumented workers are here for the proverbial American Dream, but Bush and his CEO friends see these individuals as dollar signs. Net gain in labor costs.

All this is probably more than we can say for what Tancredo thinks. He joined Spector on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He promised to vote against any kind of amnesty and laughed when questioned about the criminalization of humanitarian organizations while Spector recalled the stories of his family’s immigration.

Tonight the Senate passed their own version of the bill approving a guest worker program and adopting language to protect “religious groups, women’s shelters and other charity organizations from prosecution for providing medical aid, shelter, food and counseling.”

It also beefs up the Border Patrol:

Senators also voted to hire 12,000 Border Patrol agents over the next five years, more than doubling the size of the agency to 23,300 agents, and adding 2,500 new inspectors at border ports of entry. The bill would also create 10,000 new detention beds, including the use of military installations being shuttered under the base closure law.

Cornyn promises: This is the beginning of what is a long overdue and important debate. Political pundits promise nothing major before the mid-terms.

In related news, CNN reports that GAO investigators used forged documents to purchase “a “small quantity” of radioactive materials from a commercial source while posing as employees of a fictitious company and brought the materials into the United States through checkpoints on the northern and southern borders.” The GAO also thinks the State Department and Department of Homeland Security are doing a poor job watching resources. Does this hint that the entire system might need overhauling? Does it point out the total lack of dialogue concerning our nothern border and the scapegoating of a certain segment of the population?

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