We Need Latino Greens

Latinos and African Americans have a greater stake in a Green agenda because we are disproportionately affected by air and water-borne contaminants.

As this article points out, many of our children can't even go out for fresh air because the our neighborhoods are basins for deadly toxins.

Consider these frightening statistics from Collen Long's NY teens ready to gauge air pollution (AP -5.31.07):

More than 90 percent of Hispanics and 86 percent of blacks in the U.S. live in urban settings, which are typically at higher risk for air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hispanics are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanics to live in places that fall short of EPA standards for airborne particle matter.
What's truly sad is that the major political parties and leaders have allowed this contamination to happen for so long. They sometimes give lip service to the issue but allow the pollution to continue. Imagine the damage that's caused when a person from infancy has breathed, bathed in and consumed the mixture of toxins that get pumped into their neighborhoods. Then we wonder why some children have difficulty learning, or why there's such a high incidence of asthma and other environmentally determined illnesses.

It's the polluted environment, stupid!

It's a form of discrimination--environmental discrimination. And it's dead wrong!

Click here to read about the Toxic Avengers, a group of Latino students that exposed the deadly impact of an incinerator on the health of a whole community in Brooklyn.

BTW: Why is it that the people warring against immigrant workers are also that same people that believe environmentalists are misguided?



"The Borinqueneers" of The 65th Infantry Regiment: American Heroes

In August 1950 the Korean War was less than two months old, and Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment was on its way to the combat zone. The regiment landed at the port city of Pusan on the Korean Peninsula's southern tip, where U.S. forces had been holding a perimeter against the Communist North Korean invaders.

Sent into action immediately, the Puerto Ricans took part in the U.S. breakout and drive to the north. Following the brilliantly planned and executed surprise landings at Inchon, U.S. and other United Nations forces drove deep into the mountains of North Korea.

At that point a huge Chinese Army entered the war. The U.S. Eighth Army was overrun, and the 1st Marine Division, with attached U.S. and British Army Units, was completely encircled.

In one of the greatest fighting retreats in history, the outnumbered Marines battled their way south to the coast.

The first friendly troops they saw on the frozen ridgetops were the Puerto Ricans of the 65th Infantry Regiment, sent to hold the perimeter around the vital port of Hungnam.

The Puerto Ricans supervised the evacuation of Hungnam, finally sailing themselves on Christmas Eve, 1950.

The 65th landed in Pusan as they had five months before, and again fought their way northward.

Late January 1951 found them south of the Korean capital of Seoul, under orders to take two hills being held by the Chinese 149th Division.

The assault began on on January 31st, and took three days. On the morning of the third day the top of the hills were within reach, and two battalions of the 65th fixed bayonets and charged straight at the enemy positions.

The Chinese fled.

During its service in Korea, the men of the 65th Infantry won four Distinguished Service Crosses and 125 Silver Stars. The "The Borinqueneers" were also awarded the Presidential and Meritorious Unit Commendations, two Korean Presidential Unit Citations and the Greek Gold Medal for Bravery.

The 65th Infantry Regiment's gallant service in a difficult war is exemplified by its regimental motto, "Honor and Fidelity," and the regiment itself exemplifies the National Guard's leading role in our nation's military history.

Click here for Hispanic Americans & the U.S. Army - Artwork.

Salute Latinos for defending America

Salute Latinos for defending America (by Jose Rivera, Democrat & Chronicle - 5.28.07)

Rochester, New York - Among those we need to remember this Memorial Day are the brave men of Puerto Rico's 65th Infanteria/Infantry Regiment who, like many others, sacrificed much to defend the American way of life.

The 65th or "Los Borinqueneers" (derived from "Boriken," the Taino Indian name for Puerto Rico) was a segregated Army unit composed of Puerto Ricans. The 65th began as an all-volunteer unit in 1899, soon after the Spanish-American War, when the U.S. government cultivated Puerto Rico as a strategic buffer in defense of U.S. interests in the region.

Then, in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act that made Puerto Rico a U.S. territory and granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship as well as the opportunity to serve in the U.S. military. He also signed the Compulsory Military Service Act, which ushered in the drafting of 20,000 Puerto Ricans into World War I. Puerto Ricans also served during World War II. However, it was during the Korean War that the 65th made its mark and saw extensive combat as part of the 3rd Army Division.

Some of the local members of the 65th Infantry or "Los Borinqueneers" include: Pedro Rodriquez (deceased), World War II and Korean War; Jose "Cheo" Cruz-Sein, (deceased), Korean War; Juan Rodríguez Flores (deceased), Korean War; Jose U. Olivieri Rivera, Korea War; Roberto Burgos Sr., World War II and Korean War. If you have any information on other local members of the 65th Infantry, e-mail Jose Rivera at shoshin@Rochester.rr.com.
As a segregated unit, the 65th was not without challenges. My dad, Jose Olivieri Rivera, who served with the 65th during the Korean War, recently told me, the "65th Puerto Ricans themselves were segregated according to color and height, and when stateside were told to use facilities designated for 'whites' and 'Negroes' accordingly."

Nonetheless, serving in the armed forces has been an honorable tradition among many Puerto Rican families. So, I do not understand why Ken Burns' documentary series The War originally did not include interviews or information regarding the 500,000 Latinos who served during WWII.

It is time for us to recognize the significant contributions that we have all made in the defense of this country and to rewrite our textbooks and re-edit our films so that all of our young people can gain a better appreciation of the sacrifices we have all made as Americans.

In the soon-to-be-released The Borinqueneers, a documentary on the 65th Infantry, filmmaker Noemi Figueroa Soulet does provide us with a poignant account of the military history of the Puerto Rican soldier.

Through the use of rare film footage and interviews with 65th Infantry members and their American commanders, we gain a keen insight into the personalities that drove many decisions made in the field during the Korean War.

Rivera lives in Rochester.


Mayor Bloomberg Assails Bill in Congress on Immigration

Is New York City's Michael Bloomberg (and prospective independent candidate for president) the only major political figure in America speaking clearly and making sense on the issue of immigration?

Here's what he said on the issue after yesterday's Memorial Day parade in Laurelton, Queens as reported Anthony Ramirez for the NYTimes:

Shame on Congress, who can’t get together [on the immigration issue].

The guest-worker program is a joke. Nobody’s going to go home for a year and come back. Nobody could ever enforce that. Nobody in their right mind would ever try to do it.

It would destroy the economy if you deported them. They are here, yes, against the law, but they’re here with the complicity of the U.S. government.

Having something that gives them permanent status and some road to citizenship is a big step forward. You don’t want that road to be so impossible that they can’t do it.

On the other hand, you don’t want to also make that road something that doesn’t include learning to speak English, learning the culture of this country, the laws of this country and the history of this country.

The elites' war

The elites' war (by Paul Campos, RockyMountainNews - 5.29.07)

Last week I had lunch with a former student of mine. Her boyfriend, a Marine, is about to be deployed to Iraq. She spoke candidly of how he's using his own money to buy higher quality body armor than that provided him by the military, and how she doubts their relationship will survive his deployment, even if he does.

She's not a particularly demonstrative person, but it was easy to detect the rage, frustration and anxiety in her voice as she described the logistics of what's involved in getting shipped off to fight George W. Bush's war against Islamoterrofascism, or whatever it's being called this week.

It can't be repeated often enough that the only reason we're still in Iraq is because the American elites have almost no personal investment in this war.


BTW: A Coloradoan of Latino heritage, Campos is a law professor, author and newspaper columnist.

GOP Risks Losing Latino Voters

Political pundit Dick Morris writes here that Republicans should support immigration reform. Why?

Because, he says:
The hopes of the entire Latino community are pinned to immigration reform and, if the GOP is seen as blocking it, the consequences for the indefinite future will be horrific. The Republican Party will lose Hispanics as surely as they lost blacks when Barry Goldwater ran in 1964 against the civil rights bill (even though a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats backed the bill in each house).

Morris is, of course, correct: What happens with immigration reform will go along way in deciding which is the political home of the country's growing Latino community. But I'm also beginning to think that regardless of the final fate of the current President Bush-backed reform plan, that a good number of the 44% of Latinos that voted for GWB in 2004 will not be voting for the GOP again.

Democrats aren't much better on immigration, the war and so many other issues of importance to Latinos. As Morris indicates, the Democrats want to protect their union buddies from Latino immigrant labor. Translation: Democrats give lip-service to the Latino cause, but push come to shove, they side with their own powerful interests. And the truth is that many Democrats--local politicians as well as rank and file party members--are decidedly anti-immigrant worker, too.

What's needed is for Latinos to vote based on our interests and not simply on party affiliation. Republican, Democrat, Green or Independent, we should make it our business to collect information on each candidate, examine their records and positions, and then vote only for those that support our issues.


Paul Krugman's Advice to Progressives on Immigration Reform

In Immigrants and Politics, Paul Krugman (NYTImes - 5.27.07) observes that one of the things making antiworker, unequalizing policies politically possible is the fact that millions of the worst-paid workers in this country can’t vote.

Krugman says that the only way to avoid having undocumented immigrants be a permanent disenfranchised class is to bring them into the body politic.

More (by subscription)

America the Generous: A Lost Story of Citizenship

America the Generous: A Lost Story of Citizenship (by Lawrence Downes, NYTimes - 5.27.07)

When people bicker over immigration, it’s often not long before the topic turns to My Family Came Here Legally. People whose roots go to Ellis Island or deeper like to say that. It fills their family trees with hard-working people who were poor but played by the rules, who got with the American program. It draws a bright line between upstanding Americans and those shadowy illegal workers hiding one big secret and who knows how many others.

It’s that line — that moral chasm between Us and Them, and between an idealized history and the muddled present — that informs the worst parts of the Senate immigration bill. It’s not only the provisions that create an incredibly grudging path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — charging them $5,000 apiece and requiring them to jump through pointless and punishing hoops that include a “touchback” trip home to Mexico, say, or Manila. It’s also the belief that immigrants with little to offer us but their toil and sweat should be brought in only as guest laborers, with no hope of becoming citizens, and that the paths to entry for immigrants’ relatives must be narrowed.

Congress has taken the week off from the debate, with members going home to districts that have already been inflamed by the loud and loony right, which has decided that the bill is that filthy thing “amnesty” and that the nation’s character would be defiled if it ever forgave illegal immigrants for coming here to do our worst jobs, or let too many more people in to put down roots. You could call that view unkind and uncharitable. You could also call it unwise, given economic realities.

I would add un-American.


With Tuition Waiver, Maine Invests in Its ‘First People’

With Tuition Waiver, Maine Invests in Its ‘First People’ (by Katie Zezima, NYTimes -5.28.07)

ORONO, Me. — By the time she was 32, Karen Carrion was living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., working for a concert promoter and looking for a change. She had never attended college and considered it out of the question because of the cost.

That changed when Ms. Carrion’s mother, a Maine native and a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation, urged her to apply to the University of Maine and its North American Indian Waiver and Scholarship Program.

“I probably wouldn’t have gone to college at all if not for this,” Ms. Carrion, a sophomore majoring in women’s studies, said between classes at the university’s flagship campus in Orono, about eight miles north of Bangor.

The scholarship pays for tuition, fees, room and board for any undergraduate or graduate student who can prove membership in a state or federally recognized tribe or can prove direct descent from a member.


Amnesty isn't a dirty word

Amnesty isn't a dirty word (by Gregory Rodriguez, LATimes - 5.28.07)

AMNESTY HAS become the political act that dare not speak its name. Nativists go wild when they hear the term. Mainstream immigrant advocates talk around it. Immigration-restriction fanatics have so poisoned and blurred the word's meaning that they see it lurking in any legislation that proposes anything less than jail time or mass deportations for illegal immigrants.

But is the idea of amnesty really as outlandish and un-American as radio talk-show hosts and Republican politicians make it sound? Is it really antithetical to our sacred notion of rule of law? Well, yes and no.



Half of Jersey's Latinos Can't Afford Prescriptions

N.J. Hispanics struggle to pay for prescriptions, survey says (by Angela Stewart, Star-Ledger - 5.26.07)

Half of New Jersey Hispanics pay the full retail price of their prescription drugs out-of-pocket because they lack insurance coverage, leading many to skip doses and even cut their pills in half, a survey released yesterday found.


Latino Fear and Loathing

In Latino Fear and Loathing, Linda Chavez strips the political correctness veneer off the anti-immigrant side to expose plain and simple racism. Chavez should be commended for this powerful bit of truth-telling.

Perhaps more interesting is that many of the people Chavez says are xenophobes or racist have been political allies of hers from the conservative movement. She really does know something about where these people are coming from. But it does cause me to wonder what's the proper political home for a Latina with more conservative views? It's one thing to have conservative views--many Latinos do, but it's quite another to keep the company of people who really hate your kind--even if they make an exception for you.

Latino Fear and Loathing (by Linda Chavez - 5.25.07)

Some people just don't like Mexicans — or anyone else from south of the border. They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans.

No amount of hard, empirical evidence to the contrary, and no amount of reasoned argument or appeals to decency and fairness, will convince this small group of Americans — fewer than 10 percent of the general population, at most — otherwise. Unfortunately, among this group is a fair number of Republican members of Congress, almost all influential conservative talk radio hosts, some cable news anchors — most prominently, Lou Dobbs — and a handful of public policy "experts" at organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, in addition to fringe groups like the Minuteman Project.

Stripped bare, this is what the current debate on immigration reform is all about. Fear of "the other" — of those who look or sound different, who come from poor countries with unfamiliar customs — has been at the heart of every immigration debate this country has ever had, from the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the floor of the U.S. Senate this week.



PR: Careening towards an abyss as dark and deep as the Puerto Rico Trench

Puerto Rico's economic disaster has again been confirmed with this week's announcement that the island's general obligation debt was downgraded to near junk status. The island will now pay significantly more when it refinances $1.5 billion in bonds next week and for a long time to come without immediate reforms.

Stagnant employment growth, a 10.1% official unemployment rate and a projected decline in economic production this year have limited Puerto Rico's efforts to boost revenue after implementing a new 5.5% sales tax. The island government's debt load, already high by S&P's standards at $5,789 per person, will probably increase.

What measures is Puerto Rico taking to dig itself out of this deep hole? It appears not much. If anything, it looks like the plan will ensure a greater fiscal mess into the distant future.

Below is the Puerto Rico government's plan of inaction. Consider what would happen if you tried any of this with your finances.

- While its massive spending (including municipalities and authorities) is estimated at about $28 billion this year, the government's fiscal plan calls for finding savings of only $605 million, or a measely 2 percent in spending.

- It seeks to raise revenues from a series of undisclosed temporary taxes.

- It plans to delay payments to suppliers

- It will put off repayment of a loan by the Government Development Bank.


Now consider the fiscal condition of some of Puerto Rico's mainland competitors. Miami has a AA- bond rating. Phoenix has an awesome AAA rating. Sprawling Los Angeles has a AA rating. And New York City's is AA-. All are of investment grade.

It's so unfortunate that Puerto Rico's political leaders are asleep at the wheel as the island's economy hurls towards an abyss as deep and dark as the Puerto Rico Trench.


Letting Fear Rule: Nativism Is a Recipe for Long-Term GOP (and Dem) Losses

The following are excerpts from Fear Rule: Nativism Is a Recipe for Long-Term GOP Losses (by Michael Gerson, WashingtonPost - 5.25.07), a terrific article which makes the point that nativism as a political strategy is a loser for a majority party.

It's irrational or sick. But who said racism and anti-Latino bigotry was rational? As I've written before, the GOP needs a doctor real fast.


In 1882, Congress passed and President Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act. Today we don't name laws as bluntly as we used to. But anti-immigrant sentiments are very much alive, this time expressed in opposition to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

At one level, any immigration debate concerns a raw political calculation: Who ends up with more voters?

A nativist party will cease to be a national party.

Republican momentum among Hispanic voters has been strong in the past decade -- until Rep. Tom Tancredo and his allies began their conflict with the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

Conceding Latinos to the Democrats in perpetuity is a stunning failure of political confidence.

But the real passion in this debate is not political, it is cultural --a fear that American identity is being diluted by Latino migration. Tancredo is the lowbrow expression of this fear.

Not all Hispanics view immigration favorably, but 100 percent resent being targets of suspicion.

"The elephant in the room," says Rodriguez, "is the Latinoization of America.

For Rodriguez and others, religion adds an element beyond politics and culture to the immigration debate. The Christian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality. That all of us, ultimately, are strangers in this world and brothers to the bone; and all in need of amnesty.

This belief does not dictate certain policies in a piece of legislation, but it does forbid rage and national chauvinism. And this is worth a reminder as well.

Americans Support Immigration Reform

Surveys on immigration reform have consistently shown American support for regularizing the status of today's undocumented workers and their families.

While anti-immigrants and their allies in talk radio, cable television and rightwing policy groups crank up the volume in a coordinated and multifaceted campaign to deep-six any meaningful reforms, the recent NYTimes poll indicates that 2/3rds of Americans are taking the highroad in supporting constructive and humane solutions.

Immigration Bill Provisions Gain Wide Support in Poll (by Julia Preston, Marjorie Connelly, NYtimes - May 25, 2007
Video: National Immigration Poll Results, NYTimes 5.25.07 (2 mins. 45 secs)
Photo: NYTimes


FIU Study: Immigrants Enrich Florida

According to a report released this week by Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, and published in The Miami Herald, foreign born residents make up nearly a quarter of Florida’s workforce, and “also receive less public assistance and government healthcare benefits than their native-born neighbors…”

Produced by FIU’s Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, the report sheds new light on the impact of the immigrant population on the state, according to Emily Eisenhauer, one of its authors. The report uses data obtained from the US Census Bureau, and includes figures on both legal and illegal immigrants. The USCB estimates that Florida’s illegal population is somewhere between 850,000 and 1,000,000. The state’s total population currently is approximately 18,100,000.

Contrary to popular myths about immigrants, the study found that “ Immigrants contribute significantly to state and federal coffers but receive fewer government benefits than native-born individuals. Immigrants, legal and illegal, receive on average $1,619 per capita in public assistance like Social Security, food stamps and welfare, while non-immigrants average $2,217 annually.
Myth-Busting Florida Report Sheds New Light On Latino Immigration
by Clavos, Blogcritics Magazine - 5.23.07



U.S. Minorities Top 100 Million

U.S. Minorities Top 100 Million (UPI - 5.17.07)

The "minority" population of the United States has topped the 100 million mark, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday.

A bureau release stated that about a third of the U.S population is a member of a minority group. The total U.S. minority population of 100.7 million is larger than the total population of all but 11 countries.

Some 20.7 million minorities live in California and 12.2 million reside in Texas, the Census Bureau said.

Hispanics make up the largest minority group, totaling some 44.3 million U.S. residents on July 1, 2006. There are some 40.2 million blacks and 14.9 million Asians in the United States. The Census Bureau said the population of American Indians and Alaska Natives totaled 4.5 million while the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander count was 1 million.

The U.S. population of non-Hispanic whites who indicated no other race totaled 198.7 million in 2006.

Four states -- California (57 percent minority), Hawaii (75 percent), New Mexico (57 percent) and Texas (52 percent) -- and the District of Columbia (68 percent) are "majority-minority."

Settle fate of undocumented workers first

In Fate of illegal immigrants here should be first (5.22.07), columnist Ruben Navarette, Jr. makes the case that immigration reform should first settle the fate of the nation's undocumented immigrants before deciding on any new waves of "guest workers".

The debate was supposed to be over the question of what to do with workers already here. Yet the real point of contention turned out to be a White House proposal to import an additional 400,000 temporary "guest workers" per year using so-called Y visas, which would be renewable every few years. Conservatives want to make sure that temporary doesn't become permanent and that workers go home when the time on their visa is up. Liberals are afraid workers would be exploited and then tossed aside with no protection, much less a shot at putting down roots and pursuing the American Dream.

That's a discussion worth having, but as the full Senate argues over the compromise in the weeks to come, it should keep in mind that there's a much larger issue to be resolved first: the fate of the illegal immigrants already here.

Click here for the column.

Salvatore Labaro Defends Low Wage U.S. Workers

Salvatore Labaro said...
Dear Mr. Ruben Navarette:

I read your article on CNN with some dismay. In your article you admonish the low skilled to "grow up. Stop complaining. And go get some skills." If it were so easy for them, wouldn't they?

You demonstrated an acute insensitivity to the struggle of the modern underclass and would benefit from reading "when work disappears" by William Julius Wilson. This book succinctly summarizes the structural limitations involved in acquiring new skills and locating work that utilizes them.

Obviously, frustration on the part of the native-born, low-skilled, and non-hispanic is clearly misdirected (at other low-wage and low-skill people, immigrants). However, natives (white, black, and Latino) are right to believe that the domestic-wages for their low-skilled jobs are being depressed by illegal immigrants. Furthermore, a little research into the sociological and economic literatures would quickly illustrate this quantitatively researched point (Edna Bonacich, 1972).

Additionally, a number of qualitative studies have consistently indicated that employer discrimination acts to favor Hispanics over native-blacks (Mary C. Waters, 1999), white-Latinos over dark-Latinos (Herring, Cedric and Horton, 2004), and the foreign-born over the native-born. Its not simply a matter of poor attitudes on the part of the native-born low-wage workers. There are socio-structural realities (capitalism) that act to exploit inherent differences in the expectations of natives and the foreign-born.

The foreign-born do not have the American-experience as their reference point. Often, the foreign-born are looking to move the US, looking to make some quick money, are looking to send a part of the money they make "back home," and hope eventually to "return home." On the other hand, natives have a completely different cultural and identity reference point: Natives are much more likely to see themselves as permanently invested in their present and future work-routines. They want safe working conditions (which cuts into the profit of the owners of the means of production). They want health-care. They want reasonable hours. They want the quality of life that has induced the immigrating to leave their own countries and come here.

On one point you are entirely correct: Low-wage-earning natives don't easily tolerate very poor working conditions, sweatshops, employer exploitations and the incredibly long hours that the foreign born have been self selected (through migration) to endure. When groups of people from around the world choose to come to the US, they constitute a self-selected set of individuals: those that have made the choice to suffer the difficulties associated with migration. As such they are usually self-selected to be highly motivated (more than their compatriots that they've left behind). Migrants are self-selected to be willing to make sacrifices that employers here graciously exploit.

Low-wage domestic workers find the increased competition difficult. Add in racism, classism, and the general exportation of low-wage work overseas, and the situation is more complicated then "Growing up, ending complaints, and adding more skills."
You might also try to be a little more compassionate to low-wage workers, even though you are removed from their experience by having two degrees from Harvard. It is good that you feel ethnic ties to the immigrants, but try not let the plight of hispanic-origin latinos' plight blind you to the tyranny of class. The immigrants you feel so strongly about are likely to become, within one generation, the low-wage domestic native-workers you are admonishing to "Grow up. Stop complaining. And go get some skills."

Salvatore Labaro

P.S. Just because you've written about immigration for "fifteen years" does not mean you have thought seriously about it, particularly in any way that is decoupled from cultural ideologies. You are dichotomously pitting low-wage natives against immigrants. Why not concentrate on the economic landscape that pit them against each other, instead?.

Driving While Latino: Racial Profiling in Suffolk County

In a continuing assault on Latinos, police in Suffolk County are now targeting and arresting Latino drivers. The official reason is that they're cracking down on unlicensed drivers, but that's a fig leaf. The real targets are Latino workers.

While County Executive Steve Levy (D) claims that the policy is being implemented uniformely across the county's 7 police precincts, Chau Lam, a Newsday reporter, found otherwise. Lam's report, More Hispanic drivers nabbed, shows that almost 70% of all arrests made between April 11-May 2 were made in Brentwood and Central Islip--the two communities with the largest numbers of Latino residents.

Additionally, fully 77% of those arrested across the County were Latino--although Latinos represent about 10% of the population and a negligible percent of the county's DUI cases.

Brian Trodden, an attorney who represents other undocumented immigrants, including Russians, Poles and Chinese had this to say: "We don't see anyone else taken into custody. I don't know how else you explain it. It's definitely racial profiling."


'08's Early Primaries to Lift Latino Vote

As recently as 2004 presidential sweepstakes, candidates competed in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina ifor their party's nomination. This line-up depressed the Latino vote while giving the country these weak match-ups: Bush-Kerry in '04, Bush-Gore in 2000, and Clinton-Dole in 1996.

But things have changed dramatically for 2008.

Next year's primary schedule is frontloaded and features early primaries in California, New York and Florida--states with heavy concentrations of Latino voters. To win presidential candidates will have to--for the first time--appeal directly and vigorously to the Latino voters of the early states.

It's about time.

Immigration anxiety is cultural

Navarrette: Immigration anxiety is cultural (by Ruben Navarette Jr., CNN - 5.21.07)

On Thursday, senators announced a rather remarkable bipartisan compromise on immigration reform...The same day, the Census Bureau reported what many Americans already know: The United States is becoming a Hispanic nation.

The stories are connected. Anti-illegal immigration crusaders claim their worries are entirely practical -- tied to border security or the cost of entitlements or the fact that illegal immigrants supposedly depress wages for the low skilled.

As someone who has written about immigration for more than 15 years, and heard from hundreds of thousands of readers along the way, I can tell you that most of the anxiety over illegal immigration is cultural.

People worry about changing demographics, the encroachment of Spanish, the fear that the country is becoming Hispanic-ized, etc. One sociologist called it "cultural displacement" -- the fear that your children will grow up in a world different than the one you grew up in, with fewer advantages, where they will have to work harder for what they accomplish.


Economy, crime push Puerto Ricans to Florida

Economy, crime push Puerto Ricans to Florida (by Vanessa Bauzá, So. Florida Sun-Sentinel - 5.13.07)

Nelson Santiago grew up in the Bronx but returned to Puerto Rico every summer to see relatives. Eager to reconnect with his roots, he moved to the island six years ago. But his enthusiasm didn't last.

Frustrated with the island's stagnant economy and high crime rate, Santiago moved to Miramar in February, joining other Puerto Ricans who have made Florida their top destination.

"It just made sense to start a family outside of Puerto Rico," said Santiago, 32, a marketing executive who is engaged to be married in August. "Because of the government losing money, because of the crime rate being absolutely horrendous ... I feel as if I was forced out of Puerto Rico."

Santiago is not alone. The island's economic recession and weak prospects for recovery are fueling migration to Florida, experts say.


Is putting up walls the American Way?

Let’s Build A Wall. It’s The American Way (by Peter Tannen, LIPress - 5.10.07)

"Good fences make good neighbors," Robert Frost wrote. And our fearful leaders in Washington have taken his advice to heart.

They’re planning a 2,000-mile wall between the United States and Mexico to stop immigrants from sneaking across the border. That’ll solve the problem of 12 million or so illegal immigrants already living here, don’t you think?

Their very latest wall-building adventure, however, was planned for Baghdad, to keep Sunnis and Shi’ites apart. But it turns out that the very people the wall was meant to help despised the whole idea, and halted its construction. (For the first time, we got the Sunnis and Shi’ites to agree on something!)

Walls are back in style all over the world—when a government doesn’t know what else to do, it seems, it builds a wall.

The Israelis, for example, are building a wall that snakes around Palestinian towns in the West Bank for more than 350 miles. And if you believe that will ease tensions in the Middle East, I have a bridge to sell you.

Building a wall, of course, is usually the sign of a failed policy.

And our current administration wasn’t paying attention in class when the despised Berlin Wall was eventually torn down by the German people.

However, giving the administration the benefit of the doubt, perhaps building walls is really the only solution to intractable social and political problems—in which case, we ought to seriously consider building walls right here at home:

Walls between Red States and Blue States. Sitting down and talking together will, in my opinion, do absolutely no good. It hasn’t worked in Congress for decades. And visiting states where people violently disagree with your every view can only raise your blood pressure and cause heart palpitations. Besides, why do I have to tolerate people who are completely wrong about almost everything?

Walls between Darwinian evolutionists and creationists. Once a person has decided that the Bible is the one and only final authority on everything in life, including science, is there really anything left to discuss? Walls are the only answer.

Walls between McMansions and public housing. This is already happening (we call them "gated communities"), but since many of the so-called "security guards" at the gates are so lax, a substantial wall would keep the wealthy more appropriately isolated from the poor and the lazy.

A wall between Florida and everyplace else. So many loony things happen in the "Gator Nation" (from nonworking voting systems to out-of-control Spring Breaks to the madness of the Terry Schiavo affair) that the entire peninsula should immediately be walled off for the country’s mental health.

But, when you really think about it, will walls in Texas and Israel and Baghdad make people happier and encourage them to try to resolve their problems together? Or will the walls be the worst possible thing we can do?

Sure, Robert Frost wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors." But, in the same poem, he also wrote, "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.

Peter Tannen is the recipient of a 2005 National Press Club Award for humor writing.

Best Cities for Relocating Families

Best Cities for Relocating Families (2007) focuses on the ease with which a family can move to a new city and settle into a new life. The study was conducted by Worldwide ERC and Bert Sperling's BestPlaces.

Here are the top 10 in large, medium and small city markets:

Large Cities
1. Forth Worth, Texas
2. Nashville, Tennessee
3. Kansas, Missouri
4. Indianapolis, Indiana
5. Austin, Texas
6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
7. Minneapolis, Minnesota
8. Cambridge, Massachusetts
9. St. Louis, Missouri
10. Cincinnati, Ohio

Medium Cities
1. Knoxville, Tennessee
2. Wichita, Kansas
3. Raleigh, North Carolina
4. Salt Lake, Utah
5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
6. Richmond, Virginia
7. El Paso, Texas
8. Little Rock, Arkansas
9. McAllen, Texas
10. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Small Cities
1. Provo, Utah
2. Ogden, Utah
3. Durham, North Carolina
4. Corpus Christi, Texas
5. Colorado Springs, Colorado
6. Madison, Wisconsin
7. Shreveport, Louisiana
8. Des Moines, Iowa
9. Spokane, Washington
10. Rockingham County, Hew Hampshire

Slowly Steering the Immigration Ship

There's so much noise regarding immigration reform these days that it's hard to discern if we're getting any closer to an agreement. In Slowly Steering the Immigration Ship (RealClearPolitics - 5.21.07), Michael Barone thinks so.

Here is how he sees it:
The Kennedy-Kyl immigration compromise, now under attack from many conservative and some liberals, attempts to steer the immigration ship in the direction of regularization, enforcement that actually works and toward skill-based rather than family-based immigration. At least if they get the details right.

Gov. Bill Richardson: Latino for U.S. President

Richardson joins presidential race (by Nedra Pickler, AP -- 5.21.07)

LOS ANGELES - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson vowed to repair the "ravages" of the Bush administration Monday as he formally announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in prepared remarks.

Richardson said his track record makes him the right person to lead the country through a pivotal time. (snip)

Richardson was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, thanks to some careful planning by his father. William Blaine Richardson Jr., an American banker living in Mexico City, sent his Mexican wife there to give birth to ensure there would be no questions about his child's citizenship.


Click here for a Bill Richardson slideshow.


Life Along 'La Linea'

Life Along 'La Linea' is a portrait of the complexities of life along the U.S.-Mexico border, which is at the forefront of a growing debate over U.S. immigration and border security reform proposals.

Click here for the 4-part audio/photo essay by Manuel Roig-Franzia and Lindsay G. McCullough for the Washington Post.

Segments include:

- Overview: The Border
- California: A Bustling Exchange
- Arizona: A Flashpoint for Controversy
- Texas: A Grim Reality

Summary of the Immigration Reform Proposal

The Proposal

- Illegal immigrants could obtain "Z visas" that would allow them to stay in the country.

- Heads of households would have to return to their home countries and reapply for proper visas.

- They would have to pay $1,500 fees and $5,000 fines to get on the path to permanent residency.

- Skills, education levels and job experience would weigh more heavily than family ties.

- A temporary worker program would be launched allowing people to enter the country for two years.

- The Border Patrol force would be doubled to 18,000 officers.

- The fence along the Mexican border would be greatly expanded.

What's next?
- The Senate opens debate on the proposal Monday. Expect many amendments.

- The Senate hopes to pass a bill by Memorial Day, a deadline that appears to be optimistic.

- After the Senate passes a bill, the House will draw up its own immigration reform bill, likely in July.

- The bills would have to be blended before one could be signed into law by President Bush.

No Immigrant In His Right Mind Is Gonna Go

No immigrant in his right mind is gonna go: Mayor lauds parts of Senate plan, then blasts it as a 'feel-good' fraud (by Tina Moore, NYDailyNews - 5.19.07)

[NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauded proposed immigration reform yesterday that he said would tighten borders and abandon the "crazy concept" of deporting 12 million people who are here illegally.

But he also joined an array of politicians and advocates acknowledging the proposal's blemishes - including rules that illegal immigrants already here return to their home countries to reapply for entry, and a guest worker program that would require them to leave after two years.

"Nobody in their right mind is going to leave," Bloomberg said. "It's a fraud. It's a feel-good kind of law that says, 'Ah, we passed this,' but it is not practical."



Latino Transformation of American Christianity

Latinos are transforming the nation's religious landscape, especially the Catholic Church, not only because of their growing numbers but also because they are practicing a distinctive form of Christianity.

Religious expressions associated with the pentecostal and charismatic movements are a key attribute of worship for Latinos in all the major religious traditions -- far more so than among non-Latinos. Moreover, the growth of the Latino population is leading to the emergence of Latino-oriented churches across the country.

About a third of all Catholics in the U.S. are now Latinos, and the study projects that the Latino share will continue climbing for decades. This demographic reality, combined with the distinctive characteristics of Latino Catholicism, ensures that Latinos will bring about important changes in the nation's largest religious institution.

Most significantly given their numbers, more than half of Latino Catholics identify themselves as charismatics, compared with only an eighth of non-Latino Catholics. While remaining committed to the church and its traditional teachings, many of these Latino Catholics have witnessed or experienced occurrences typical of spirit-filled or renewalist movements, including divine healing and direct revelations from God. Even many Latino Catholics who do not identify themselves as renewalists appear deeply influenced by spirit-filled forms of Christianity.

Similarly, the renewalist movement is a powerful presence among Latino Protestants. More than half of Latinos in this category identify with spirit-filled religion, compared with about a fifth of non-Latino Protestants.


Click here for Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion, a report (in pdf format) by the Pew Hispanic Center.


An ‘Obama Effect?’

In Will There Be an ‘Obama Effect?’ (NYTimes - 5.16.07), Janet Elder makes the point that in high-profile contests where one of the major party candidates is black, pre-election telephone polls have often been wrong, overstating the strength of the black candidate.

The gap between polls and actual voting behavior has come to be known as the “Bradley effect” or the “Wilder effect” or the “Dinkins effect.”

She wonders if this polling-voting incongruity will also become known as the Obama effect?

Elder then follows her question with this unbelievable statement: It is hard to know, since no one is at all certain what has caused the problem.

My bet is that any one of the country's 35,000,000 African Americans can tell you precisely why.

I'm guessing Elder is simplying being politically correct here in deciding not to mention the obvious: Racism.

Click here for the full article.

Latino Long Island

Today's Newsday includes this interesting editorial on the growing Latino presence on Long Island: Changing face of LI: Hagedorn study of Hispanic population should be required reading.

Below are excerpts:

Of the 330,000, more than 178,000 are U.S. citizens by birth. And of the 151,000 foreign born, many are legally authorized to live and work here, including those who fled the bloody wars in Central America in the 1980s and 1990s.

Their economic impact is significant: The report estimates that the consumer spending of Hispanic residents pumps almost $5.7 billion a year into the economy. And it documents a robust growth of the Hispanic-owned business sector. In the period from 1997 to 2002, the number of those businesses grew from 12,090 to 16,262, and sales rose from $1.6 billion to just under $2 billion.

This is a younger population, growing much faster than the region as a whole. So, for decades to come, Latinos are likely to be an increasingly major force here on Long Island - economically, culturally and politically.

This report should be must reading for our public officials at all levels of government.


Tamar Jacoby: Good and Bad News on Immigration Reform

In Meeting Our Immigration Needs Tamar Jacoby reports that there's good and not-so-good news on the immigration reform legislative front.

The good news: The fight over legalization, or "amnesty," is all but over. Even conservative Republicans intensely skeptical about a foreign influx are coming to understand that we as a nation can't solve the problem of illegal immigration without doing something about the 12 million illegal immigrants already here, and together they and Democrats are crafting a measure that would allow many of those workers to earn citizenship over time.

The not-so-good news: There is very little agreement among lawmakers about the much larger, more important issue of how to structure the immigration system going forward.
Click here for the full article.

False Fears

The country needs to look no further than its own history to see that the principal fear aroused by the incomers -- namely, "they are taking our jobs" -- is false.

Clive Crook
Wealth of Nations: The Baffling Politics Of Immigration
National Journal, May 11, 2007

Immigrants contribute to LI's economy

Ray Keating, the conservative voice columnist for Newsday, writes positively about the economic contributions of the island's Latino immigrants.

What's interesting is that Keating has written nice things about Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's fiscal management. But Levy's the guy that's costing island businesses and residents tons of money by chasing away necessary immigrant labor. For example, businesses in the Hamptons are hurting because they can't get the labor they need.

Can you really be a great fiscal manager of government as well as the local chief immigrant harrasser?


To sum up, the authors estimated that the Latino population in Nassau and Suffolk had a total economic impact of $5.7 billion in 2004, including helping to create more than 52,000 jobs. The economic pie grew.

Latinos directly or indirectly generated $925 million in revenue for local governments in 2004, while costing Long Island localities $723 million. That comes out to a net positive contribution to local government of $614 per Latino resident.

What does this all mean? Locally, it's time for some groups to stop kicking around immigrants, and instead start recognizing the role they play in keeping Long Island's economy afloat. Common-sense economics and basic human decency dictate welcoming immigrants and aiding their assimilation.


Our Wall

U.S.-Mexico Border: Our Wall (by Charles Bowden, May 2007 Issue, National Geographic; photographs by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel)

A BORDER WALL SEEMS TO VIOLATE a deep sense of identity most Americans cherish. We see ourselves as a nation of immigrants with our own goddess, the Statue of Liberty, a symbol so potent that dissident Chinese students fabricated a version of it in 1989 in Tiananmen Square as the visual representation of their yearning for freedom.

Perhaps the closest thing to the wall going up on the U.S.-Mexico border is the separation wall being built by Israel in the West Bank. Like the new American wall, it is designed to control the movement of people, but it faces the problem of all walls—rockets can go over it, tunnels can go under it. It offends people, it comforts people, it fails to deliver security. And it keeps expanding.

But then, as in many conversations on the border, the rhetoric calms down. Duley, along with many other Naco residents, believes the real solution has to be economic, that jobs must be created in Mexico. There is an iron law on this border: The closer one gets to the line, the more rational the talk becomes because everyone has personal ties to people on the other side. Everyone realizes the wall is a police solution to an economic problem. The Mexicans will go over it, under it, or try to tear holes in it. Or, as is often the case, enter legally with temporary visiting papers and then melt into American communities. Of the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States, few would have come if there wasn't a job waiting for them.
Click here for the complete article.


Mapping the Anti-Immigrant Right in the United States

Is there a link between anti-immigrant groups and hate groups in the United States?


Solana Larsen exposes many of these connections in her compelling article on the topic, The Anti-Immigration Movement: From Shovels to Suits, in NACLANews. Included is a chart mapping the connections between hate groups and conservative organizations and individuals.


First They Came for the Latinos

Heard rumors of civilians rounded up, locked up, and searched for papers, lately? Don't worry. That only happens in another America.

The Moment of Truth: First They Came for the Latinos (by Jeff Dorchen, PopMatters - May 10, 2007)

Much better just to cordon off an area where everyone’s Latino. Take the Little Village Discount Mall, for example. You can’t be accused of harassing only the Latinos in the mall, you’d be harassing everyone – it just so happens that everyone’s Latino. And even better: if you do it during business hours, you can be pretty sure that almost no one you harass will be some easily-ruffled art patron, paralegal, or clerk of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. No, almost everyone is low-income, and unconnected with anyone more powerful than the manager of a grocery store. All right, if you’re really unlucky you might harass the relative of an alderman. But the alderman of Little Village is going to be Latino, too.

See, all you really want to do is make sure anyone who’s going to complain is Latino. That way, anyone from the rest of the population watching TV who sees people complaining about Gestapo tactics will see only people who look like brown immigrants. And they’ll say to themselves, “There go all those brown immigrants who come to take our jobs, complaining about America again. If they don’t like it, why don’t they go back where they came from? You know, to that other, not as good America.”

Click here for the full article.

Photo: Mural in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. Source: Indiana.edu via PopMatters


A New Sanctuary Movement for Immigrants

Religious leaders from different faiths promised yesterday to help families they said are facing deportation because of unjust immigration laws.

The gathering at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Paul the Apostle on the West Side of Manhattan was one of several across the United States billed as the beginning of a new sanctuary movement for immigrants.


Dr. Steve Striffler and the Essential Latinos

He worked beside them in the fields and on the factory chicken lines. He celebrated with them, dancing to the unfamiliar music of Mexico’s central highlands.

And now Dr. Steve Striffler wants Arkansas to realize how these seemingly inessential Latinos control its future.

Striffler worked in the poultry processing industry in Arkansas and North Carolina, and his current book, “Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food,” takes a look at the U.S. poultry industry, Latin American immigration into the South and the impact of industrial agriculture on American society.



Boomers' retirement tied to Latino immigrants

The quality of life for some 80 million graying baby boomers in the U.S. may depend in large part on the fortunes of another high-profile demographic group: millions of mostly Latino immigrants and their children.


52% of America's Border Agents are Latino

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Mario Martinez says at least 6,700 of the country's 12,800 Border Patrol agents identify themselves as Latino. Perhaps not surprisingly, the nation's highest-ranking Border Patrol agent, David Aguilar, is Latino.


NY State Democrats Denounce Steve Levy's Anti-Immigrant Policies

A group of 30 New York State Assembly members are denouncing Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy for inciting anti-immigrant sentiment. The group blasts Levy for selectively going after Latino immigrants in the enforcement of housing codes but leaving white summer home renters alone--a group which is widely known for packing as many as 40 people into a small rental cottages in the Hamptons and Fire Island.

Resolution sponsors include Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat of Manhattan and Assemblyman Phil Ramos of Brentwood in Suffolk County.

Suffolk County Democratic Party leaders are trying to stop the resolution from being debated in the state's lower house.

Meanwhile, the hugely popular Levy is cruising towards an easy re-election in the fall. He's guaranteed Democratic party backing, he's been endorsed of the county's Independence and Conservative parties and the GOP is considering doing the same.



The Caribbean Has The Highest Crime Rate in the World

According to a new report by the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Crime, Violence and Development : Trends, costs and Policy Options in the Caribbean, murder rates in the Caribbean are higher than in any other region of the world, and assault rates—including rape--are significantly above the world average.

While the report focuses on the crime problems of the sovereign nations of the Caribbean, it’s clear from these U.S. data that Puerto Rico is no exception. The murder rate in that U.S. possession was 20 murders per 100,000 people for 2006--and this year that rate has skyrocketed with 46 murders in just the first 15 days of the year.

The report concludes that one of the results of the extreme levels of crime is the stunting of social and economic development.


The Kingdom’s Old Man

The Kingdom’s Old Man ©

Old man, your eyes twinkle
As you turn slowly towards the twilight.
Your deep sigh hangs in the temple of the
Mind as does the darkness of the bay.

Old man with deeply furrowed face,
you walk softly through my days; loudly
Through my nights. Your voice echoes in my
Words; your silence is imprinted in my gaze.

Old man, you were captured in your youth;
conscripted as a servant for the kingdom’s
Exclusive use. With blinders and a yoke, you
Elevated its gold-gilded shrines.

You slaved in choking seas of cane,
Dark grimy factories, and sterilized passage-
Ways--as a member of the peon race; but your
Eyes turned to the sun whenever you had a chance.

Old man, you dared a humble dream of living
With the earth, living life, enjoying the
Breeze; but it held you ‘til your spirit was
Dragged in mud and life was nearly done.

Old man, you’re back to your beginning—gained
Little, lost much. But you’re back to your
Conuco—reclaiming life, sowing the earth,
Preparing your spirit to be freed.

Old man, your eyes twinkle
As you turn slowly towards the twilight.
Your deep sigh hangs in the temple of the
Mind as does the darkness of the bay.

American Taíno

Premier of Poet in the Bronx (by Rei Vázquez)

Monday, May 7th at 7pm

Join us for a reading of
Poet in the Bronx
25 Avenue B btw 2nd and 3rd

Playwright: Reinaldo Vázquez
Director: Katie Courtien
Dramaturg: Rhett Martines

Featuring: Rosa Fernandez Mack Exilus Jose Rivera Ugo Anyanwu Miguel Angel SierraKatie Courtien
Paper Beats Rock is curated by: Matthew Korahais, Daniel Manley, Andrea Stover, and Valerie Work

Drink $pecials


Video: Race, Politics and Immigration

Below is a video by Andre Banks of The Colorlines Blog on American racism and the treatment of today's immigrants of color. Some of the rhetoric may be offensive to some, but the essential point that racism is at play in the historical and contemporary treatment of immigrants of color is undeniable.


Lazy, Job-Stealing Immigrants?

In Lazy, Job-Stealing Immigrants? (Washington Post - 4.30.07) Sebastian Mallaby debunks many of the myths promoted by American nativists, including:

People accuse immigrants of gang violence, drunken driving and a general contempt for the law. False!

People say immigrants are feckless and lazy. False!

People say that immigrants steal jobs from native-born Americans. False!

People say that immigrants burden social services while not paying taxes. False!

People say that immigrants cause wage losses even if they don't cause job losses. False!

People say that the country will do better putting up barriers and ejecting undocumented workers. False!

Learn the truth.