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Archive for May, 2010

Reaction in Arizona

Alfredo Gutierrez

Activist – veteran – organizer.

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Gary Thrasher

Rancher – veterinarian – activist.

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National Reaction to National Guards

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called the deployment of National Guard troops “a very significant and important shift in the president’s immigration and border-security policy.” Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had asked for 1000 National Guard troops to be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border alone, said through a spokesman: “We remain hopeful that the federal government will step up and secure our international border by providing the resources we’ve requested.”

Frank Sharry, the Executive Director of America’s Voice, said that “President Obama went into the lion’s den today and challenged (Senate) Republicans to work with him on comprehensive immigration reform. So far, so good. But he left the lion’s den having given into the key GOP demand of ‘border security first’ without getting anything in return. Talk about one step forward and two steps back.”

We called two Latina activists for their take on the news. Lydia Camarillo is Vice President of the Southwest Voter Registration Project. Clarissa Martinez directs Immigration and National Campaigns for the National Council of La Raza.

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Read more national reaction to the deployment.

President Deploys National Guard

This week, the Obama Administration announced that the National Guard will be sending 1200 troops to the four states that form the U.S. border with Mexico. It is not the first time National Guard troops have been sent to the border, but it may be the most controversial deployment.

It comes at a time of heightened rhetoric and emotion over the issues of immigration enforcement and reform. And Arizona — the site of this weekend’s large demonstration for Comprehensive Immigration Reform — has become the focus and flashpoint for that heightened rhetoric and political machination.

One activist told us: Arizona is a caldron of emotion.

The White House says the National Guard deployment is to assist the Border Patrol in drug interdiction and to combat narcotic and gun trafficking, not the apprehension of migrants. But people on the ground in Arizona say the move is being read as an indication that Latinos are an “invading horde” needing to be stopped at the border with military force.

Cecilia Muñoz is a longtime civil rights activist — the former Vice President at the National Council of La Raza. Now she directs Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House and is one of the highest-ranking Latinos in the Administration. We wanted to ask her the question we are hearing lots of people ask: What is Obama Thinking?


The Coalition of Immokalee Workers

At today’s piece rate, Florida farmworkers have to pick more than two-and-a-half tons of tomatoes to earn the equivalent of Florida’s minimum wage for a 10-hour workday. And, because of exclusions from key labor reform measures, farmworkers do not have the right to overtime pay, nor the right to organize and collectively bargain with their employers.

Today on NPR’s Latino USA, we track the current efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida. They have successfully won wage increases from a number of fast food restaurant chains, now they’re turning to a super market chain and its customers — trying to win a public relations battle by raising awareness of the connection between your salad and their lives. And along the way, they’re talking about modern day slavery in the state of Florida. Andrew Stelzer has our report.

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Read more about the Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum.

Yanaguana Springs Ceremony

Artist and writer Luis Guerra recently attended a Yanaguana Springs Ceremony in San Antonio — an enchanting place with “mysterious, ancient, giant oaks” and water that gushes from the subterranean aquifer. He felt the Earth was saying something. He hopes we’re all listening.

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Dame Pa Matala

Dame Pa Matala is the sound of the streets in Caracas. The band espouses both peace, and a revolution of ideas and sounds. With traditional rhythms and instruments, like the Venezuelan cuatro, Dame Pa Matala, speaks to the youth of today by blending those roots with hip hop and reggae. Reporter Reese Erlich catches up with the band.

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Additional audio track: En favor de la paz

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Arizona Crackdown

This week, Arizona’s legislature passed the toughest state law aimed at undocumented immigration. Senate Bill 1070, if enacted, would:

  • Require that police officers make reasonable attempts ‘when practicable’ to determine the immigration status of a person if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally,
  • Require employers to keep E-verify records of employees’ eligibility, and
  • Allow law-enforcement officials to arrest a person without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes him or her removable from the U.S.

    Some are calling the strategy: “make life tough” — reflecting the view that undocumented immigrants will either leave Arizona or not pass through in the first place if this law is on the books and enforced..

    Critics of the new legislation say it’s unconstitutional and criticize the “get tough” policies of Arizona as unworkable. Mark Brodie is a reporter for public radio station KJZZ in Phoenix and has been covering the story.

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  • Arizona Update

    This week in Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer singed into law a measure which aims to ban ethnic studies in Arizona schools, a move that proponents say will end divisive classes in schools and one that critics say is yet another AZ law targeting Latinos.

    HB 2281 bans classes designed for students of a particular ethnic group, or ones that advocate ethnic solidarity. It also bans classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.

    In 2008, when the measure was first introduced, Maria spoke with Professor Rodolfo Acuña, author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Here’s that interview again:

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    Very Be Careful

    Very Be Careful (VBC) is a Los Angeles band that plays Colombian vallenato music, a traditional cumbia sound that centers around the accordion, backed with percussion and bass. The group was started in 1998 in Los Angeles by accordionist Ricardo”Ricky G” Guzman and his bass playing brother Arturo “Brickems” Guzman. They were soon joined by Richard “Mil Caras” Panta on Caja Vallenata, Craig “Peabody” Martín on Guacharaca and Dante “The Rip” Ruiz on Cowbell.

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

    Family Reunification

    Family reunification accounts for nearly two-thirds of lawful permanent migration to the United States: it’s the largest avenue by which people receive admission to the country.

    Yet, family separation remains a part of daily living for countless immigrants. And current legislative efforts at Comprehensive Immigration Reform is focusing on family unity as a key component of any new immigration policy.

    Reporter Sean Powers examines the issues facing lawmakers… and families.

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    Slideshow: Marta Barrera & Carlos

    9500 Liberty

    Maria talks with filmmaker Eric Byler about the documentary “9500 LIBERTY,” which he made with Annabel Park. It chronicles the public discussion, passage, and eventual repeal of an anti-immigrant measure in Prince William County, Virginia.

    Byler describes the role of FAIR — the Federation for American Immigration Reform — in the anti-immigrant legislative efforts popping up around the country, including Arizona. FAIR, founded by John Tanton and directed by Dan Stein, is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “Teflon Nativist Hate Group.”

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

    The innovative film began with an interactive YouTube channel online. You can still watch many of the scenes which would eventually become the final documentary.

    State legislators across the country have announced plans to introduce bills similar to Arizona’s SB-1070. Already, in just the first quarter of 2010, legislatures in 45 states have considered bills and resolutions dealing with immigration. The National Conference of State Legislatures is tracking the movement.

    Newspaper Takes Politicians to Task

    Last weekend, The Arizona Republic, the largest daily in Arizona and a newspaper known for a conservative editorial stance, lambasted public figures for their failure of leadership on the issues of Immigration.

    The banner headline on the front page of Sunday’s (2 May 2010) paper read—in what might be viewed as a case of typography-as-commentary—in black & white, and gray: STOP FAILING ARIZONA; START FIXING IMMIGRATION.

    We need leaders. The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border. Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear. The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration. This represents years of failure. Years of politicians taking the easy way and allowing the debate to descend into chaos.

    The Arizona Republic has been calling for comprehensive immigration reform continuously since 2002. For a brief time, our congressional delegation led the nation on this front. But no more.

    Now, it seems our elected officials prefer to serve political expediency instead.”

    —The Arizona Republic

    The paper then went on to catalog the leadership failures of ten prominent Arizona politicians: Jan Brewer, Janet Napolitano, John McCain, Jon Kyl, J.D. Hayworth, Phil Gordon, Russell Pearce, Raúl Grijalva, Joe Arpaio, and Andrew Thomas. (You can read the editorial here.)

    Linda Valdez serves on the editorial board of the paper; she describes the decision to run the full-page editorial on the front page of last Sunday’s edition.

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

    Recuerdos de mi Barrio: Chávez Ravine

    Home is at the heart of any conversation about immigration. Where we call home says something about where we were born, but just as much about where we are loved, and nurtured, and connect with the people who care about us.

    The hillsides around Dodger stadium in Los Angeles were once thriving neighborhoods of Mexican-Americans. In the late 1940s, the City of Los Angeles eyed the area for development. Public housing was planned there.

    But by the 50s, things changed and the city claimed the property through eminent domain and sold it to the Dodgers.

    Some people left on their own. Some were forced out. And the place changed drastically.

    Our colleagues at StoryCorps: Historias were in LA recently, and recorded stories about the old neighborhood of Chávez Ravine. Carol Jacques’ family moved out in the early 1950s. Alfred Zepeda and Albert Elias have been friends for more than 70 years; they grew up in Chávez Ravine.

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

    You can connect with StoryCorp: Historias and tell your story.

    Chávez Ravine has been the subject of a number of documentary efforts. The historical photos you see here are the work of photographer Don Normark.

    The PBS series Independent Lens featured a history of the neighborhood in a film titled “Chávez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story.” The website for the film has more of Don Normark’s haunting photos.

    Dejenme que les cuente una cosa personal…

    Maria reflects on Cinco de Mayo, her daughter’s birthday, and a memory from her early days of reporting.

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    Organizing Arizona

    Maria calls Mary Rose Wilcox (D-5) for a check-in on local organizing efforts in opposition to Arizona’s SB-1070. Wilcox serves on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the first Hispanic to serve on the Board, and is a long-time political activist in Phoenix. She’s also a restauranteur and her “El Portal” is a place to see and be seen for politicos in Phoenix.

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


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