Daisy, Ernesto, Gregorio, & Justine

These four university students were arrested last week for an act of civil disobedience: chaining themselves to the doors of the capitol. The four friends are all students at ASU: they’re studying social work, journalism, political science, and trans-border Chicana/Latina studies. They talk to Maria about reaching a point where they felt it was time to act in response to SB-1070, and how they’re looking out for one another as they manage life in Arizona.

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See video of the arrests last week at the capitol. (Courtesy of the Cronkite News Service at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.)

The music at the end of the segment is Amaze Me by the Brooklyn-based trio Girlyman.

Rene and Claudia

We first met Rene on the lawn of the state capitol. He was dressed in desert fatigues: harkening back, perhaps, to his years of U.S. military service during the first Gulf War.

The military was a pathway to citizenship for Rene; it has been for hundreds of thousands of immigrants over the years.

Rene and Claudia were married in 1995. Claudia is undocumented. And the couple has repeatedly tried to normalize her immigration status in the years since their marriage.

Claudia didn’t want to come to the capitol to speak with us. She was afraid to do so. For this couple and their children, fear has become a common part of their lives in Arizona.

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Cuban Americans Act for Change

A group of young Cuban-Americans, some born here in the United States and some born in Cuba, gathered at Cornell University recently for the third annual conference of Raices de Esperanza (Roots of Hope), a group dedicated to empowering young Cubans. Participants span the spectrum in their views about highly charged issues such as the embargo and travel to Cuba. Lygia Navarro speaks with these college students and young professionals about how their involvement with Raices de Esperanza has challenged and changed their thinking about Cuba and U.S.-Cuba relations.

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Arizona’s SB-1070: Signed Into Law

As we reported last week, the Arizona State legislature has approved, and now the Governor has signed, the nation’s most stringent law aimed as curbing undocumented immigrants from living and working in Arizona.

Governor Jan Brewer’s signed the measure into law Friday afternoon, saying she acted in response to “the crisis the federal government has refused to fix.” She also issued an executive order directing that police agencies receive training in what does or does not constitute reasonable suspicion that someone is in the country without documents. “People across the country are watching Arizona,” the Governor said.

Thomas Saenz is the general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF). He’s convinced the law will not stand the scrutiny of higher courts.


The week in Arizona has seen numerous protests — both in favor of the measure, and those that were encouraging a veto. Here’s video from one protest in Phoenix, which ended in the arrest of demonstrators who chained themselves to the State Capitol.

(Video courtesy of the Cronkite News Service, a service of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU in Phoenix. Used with permission.)

Oscar Troncoso: Leaving Anthony for Kandahar

“It was a shock to my system,” says Navy reservist Oscar Troncoso, of the news that he was being called up for active duty in Afghanistan. The 46-year-old high school principal from the small border town of Anthony, Texas, speaks with Maria about the life he is leaving behind and his thoughts and feelings about his impending deployment as a broadcast journalist for the military.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

As one of 30,000 additional troops ordered to Afghanistan by President Obama, Troncoso will arrive amid growing Afghan outrage over the killing of civilians by NATO forces and an overwhelming desire for peace talks rather than more warfare. See these related news stories in the sidebar.

Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law

What role should local police agencies play in the enforcement of federal immigration law? The controversial “Section 287(g)” of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to delegate federal immigration enforcement authority to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Critics of Section 287(g) say the program lacks oversight and has become an avenue for human rights abuses across the United States. Now, a report from DHS’s own Office of Inspector General agrees.

Maria talks with Clarissa Martinez who directs Immigration and National Campaigns for the National Council of La Raza about the report and its implications for ICE and for local police authorities.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Read the report: The Performance of 287(g) Agreements [.pdf]

Watch an episode of NOW on PBS focusing on local enforcement of Federal Immigration Law, including Maria’s interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. [link will open PBS website / video requires Flash.]

NOW on PBS videolink

Operation Condor

On September 21, 1976, a car bomb exploded in Washington, D.C., killing Orlando Letelier, former Chilean ambassador to the United States under President Salvador Allende, and a young American political activist, Ronni Karpen Moffitt. According to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Chile and Cuba Documentation Projects at the National Security Archive, both were victims of Operation Condor, “a Latin American rendition, kidnapping, and assassination program” initiated at a meeting of Latin American military dictators in Santiago, Chile in November 1975.

In this extended interview, Maria talks with Kornbluh about the Archive’s release of a recently declassified cable from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Kornbluh says provides “the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger’s role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots.”

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

The National Security Archive is an independent research institute and library located at The George Washington University that serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States.

The images below provide links to two key documents: the first, an August 1976 action cable signed by Kissinger that reflects a decision by the Latin American bureau in the State Department to try to stop the Condor plans known to be underway, and the second, the newly declassified Kissinger memo of September 1976 that reversed that decision days before Letelier’s assassination. You can read more about the trial and conviction of Manuel Contreras here and here.

National Public Radio reported on the events surrounding the assassination in 1976.

This audio is courtesy of the NPR Broadcast Library:

  • Newscast: 9/21/76
  • All Things Considered: 9/21/76
  • Funeral Coverage: 9/26/76
  • [audio:http://latinousa.org/audio/889-letelierATC760926.mp3]