Latino USA

Archive for October, 2012

TRUE BELIEVER – DANIEL MORALES

Daniel Morales was a tireless volunteer with the Obama campaign four years ago. Disillusioned now with party politics, Morales is still politically active, but his focus is on causes that are close to his own heart rather than on a single candidate. Reported by Martina Guzman of the Feet in Two Worlds project.


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Martina Guzmán is a Community Reporter and Producer for WDET, Detroit’s public radio station. Before coming to WDET, Martina worked as a screenwriter for various public service initiatives and as an independent marketing and PR consultant for television, live music events, film festivals, magazines, and political candidates. In 2009 she directed the feature documentary, The Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato which aired on PBS. She has been recognized as Best Individual Reporter by the Associated Press of Michigan. In 2011 her series, The Detroit-Berlin Connection, was awarded best series by the Michigan Broadcasters Association and first place for Best Investigative /Enterprise Reporting from the Associated Press of Michigan. In 2012 Martina was selected by New American Media as a MetLife Foundation Journalist in Aging Fellow. Martina has been a guest lecturer at Brown, Columbia and Duke University as well as the University of Notre Dame, The University of Michigan and the University of Texas-Austin. She is a graduate of Journalism School at Columbia University in New York City.

TRUE BELIEVER – BERTICA CABRERA-MORRIS

Bertica Cabrera-Morris is co-chair of Mitt Romney’s Florida campaign, and she’s out to convince Florida Latinos that Romney’s family values and his focus on business are in line with theirs. Host Maria Hinojosa brings us this profile.


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ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL

In Arizona, the presidential race drives Latino voters and activists less than local issues, such as the state’s immigration law and the Maricopa Country sheriff’s race. Reported by Valeria Fernandez of the Feet in Two Worlds project.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Jocelyn Gonzales.

Valeria Fernández, a native of Uruguay, has been reporting on Arizona’s immigrant community and the many angles and faces of the immigration debate for the ten years she has been in the U.S. As a senior reporter for La Voz Newspaper, Fernández produced in depth features about the plight of unaccompanied minors mistakenly charged as adults for crossing the U.S. border. The National Association of Hispanic Publications named Fernández “Latina Journalist of the Year” in 2004. She also won a national award for her series on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s immigration sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods in 2009. Fernández is a versatile journalist that currently freelances for CNN Español, CNN International, Radio Bilingue, Inter Press Service, La Opinión, New America Media, and the Arizona Republic. Freelancing for the Phoenix New Times, she recently broke stories on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office practice of shackling pregnant women during labor.

IMMIGRATION VS. THE ECONOMY: WHAT WILL UNLOCK LATINO VOTES?

We present excerpts from a conversation with pollsters, reporters and policy experts on how the issues of immigration and the economy are driving the decisions of Latino voters. This event at The New School in New York City was part of the project Ballot Voices in collaboration with Feet in Two Worlds.

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Fernand Amandi, managing partner at Bendixen & Amandi International, brings over a decade’s worth of experience in research and strategic management with an emphasis in corporate, political and public affairs consulting for clients including the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, Univision, New America Media, the White House, the John & James L. Knight Foundation, the California Endowment, US Senator John Kerry and US Senator Robert Menendez.

Mr. Amandi has conceived, produced, and edited a number of successful television commercials for B&A International’s media practice. Mr. Amandi’s communications projects and analysis have been featured in The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and the Miami Herald.

He is a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education.

Jordan Fabian is the political editor for ABC News/Univision. Prior to joining Univision in 2011, he worked as a staff writer at The Hill newspaper in Washington, DC where he covered Congress and the 2012 presidential campaign. Jordan has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News digital broadcasts, and C-SPAN, and has contributed to a number of nationally-syndicated radio programs. He also freelanced for Hispanic Business magazine and Letras Libres. Jordan hails from Olney, Maryland and is a lifelong resident of the Washington area. He graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor of arts in history.

Chung-Wha Hong is Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella advocacy organization made up of approximately 200 groups throughout the state that work with immigrant and refugee communities. As the coordinating body for organizations that serve one of the largest and most diverse newcomer populations in the United States, the NYIC has become a leading advocate for immigrant communities on the local, state, and national levels. The NYIC’s membership includes grassroots community organizations, not-for-profit health and human services organizations, religious and academic institutions, labor unions, and legal, social, and economic justice organizations. With its pan-immigrant, multi-sector base, the NYIC provides both a forum for immigrant groups to share their concerns and a vehicle for collective action to address these concerns. The NYIC has registered over 300,000 new American voters to date, and is currently coordinating “Immigrants Vote!” – a multi-ethnic voter mobilization campaign in New York State.

Mark Hugo Lopez is the associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center where he studies the attitudes and opinions of Latinos, the political engagement of Latinos and Latino youth. Lopez also coordinates the Center’s national surveys. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 1996.

NOTICIANDO: KILLING THE AMERICAN DREAM

Host Maria Hinojosa talks with writer, Pilar Marrero about her new book, “Killing the American Dream: How Anti-Immigration Extremists are Destroying the Nation.”  Marrero believes that in the past two decades the national debate on immigration has moved far to the right from a moderate position from both major parties.


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Pilar Marrero is a journalist who for 25 years has extensively covered the areas of city government, immigration and state and national politics. She works for La Opinión as a senior reporter and it’s a regular commentator for radio and television in both spanish and english media. She´s the author of “El Despertar del Sueño Americano” published by Penguing Books and now on sale. The english version of the book, Killing the American Dream, comes out October 2 published by Pallgrave McMillan. Marrero lives in Los Angeles. www.pilarmarrero.com

INSIDE WILLACY

Mental health coordinator Twana Cooks-Allen showed up to work at an immigration detention facility intending to treat troubled detainees. But she soon discovered the real threats were not the people locked up there. What happened inside the Willacy detention center in South Texas was so disturbing it sparked 13 special criminal investigations by the Department of Homeland Security. Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa went inside the center, and deep into this case, in a segment produced by Catherine Rentz, in partnership with the PBS show FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Workshop.


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Catherine Rentz is a reporter and documentary filmmaker in residence at the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University in Washington D.C. She’s produced several documentaries for PBS FRONTLINE about the airline industry, environmental resources, retirement finances, U.S. intelligence apparatus and immigration.

QUE BONITA BANDERA

The crown of the Statue of Liberty will again be accessible to the public this month after a year of renovation. But in October 25, 1977, it was the stage for a surprising, even poetic protest that has been forgotten by many. A look back at the day Lady Liberty was taken hostage.


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Miguel “Mickey” Melendez is an activist for Latino and Puerto Rican rights and a founding member of the Young Lords. He has taught in the Black and Hispanic studies department at CUNY, Baruch and John Jay colleges. He has a MPA from Baruch College and a Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) from CUNY, Queens College Law. He is the recipient of the Charles Revson Fellowship at Columbia University. And he is the author of We Took the Streets: Fighting for Latino Rights with the Young Lords (St. Martin’s Press, 2003, Rutgers University Press 2006). Currently he can be heard on Pacifica Radio’s Con Sabor Latino on Sundays at 2 p.m. on WBAI 99.5. FM. He is also Assistant to the President of Local 372, NYC, DC37, AFSCME. Photo courtesy of Will Salomon Orellano.

NOTICIANDO: HARVEST OF EMPIRE

Why do immigrants come to the United States? Most people’s first thoughts involve economic reasons for a better life. But there is more to it than that. Harvest of Empire, a book by Juan Gonzalez that has been turned into a documentary, addresses the military, political and economic interventions that have spurred immigrants to look to life in the U.S. We speak to co-producer Wendy Thompson Marquez for an overview of the documentary.


Click here to download this week’s show.

Here is the full documentary, Harvest of Empire.

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Ms. Wendy Thompson-Marquez, is the President and CEO of the Onyx Media Group and EVS communications, Inc. Prior to joining EVS and the Onyx Media Group, she was the Vice President of ZGS Broadcast Holdings, a minority-owned communications company where she supervised the daily operations and advertising sales of eleven Telemundo network affiliates.
In 2004, she was honored by the National Conference for Community and Justice with the Media and Community Service Award. She has been featured in numerous newspaper and trade publications, including the Washington Business Journal, and has made several appearances on television and radio stations throughout the country. In addition, she is actively involved with a number of academic institutions in the Washington, D.C. area that have invited her to speak at student and faculty conferences, including Montgomery College, where she was the 2002 commencement speaker.

She is currently a board member of Latino Public broadcasting, the Washington Performing Arts Society and the Community Foundation in D.C. she is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery (2000), and Leadership Washington (2001).

Fi2W Commentary: Immigration Not Debated But Still Important

The debate last week between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, like the first presidential debate, did not tackle immigration. A few folks, seeing the digits on their computer clocks near the 90 minute mark, tweeted out loud, “Will immigration, LGBTs, and women be mentioned at all?” Martha Raddatz, the moderator, did ask about abortion at the end, but clearly immigration was not a top domestic issue for her. I suspect it isn’t for the debaters either.

Interestingly, two reports reveal that immigration is not a top issue for immigrant communities either.

The Pew Hispanic Center released a report Thursday that rates education, jobs and the economy, and health care as the top three issues for registered Latino voters. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said the issue of education is extremely important to them, followed by 54 percent who cited jobs and the economy, and 50 percent who cited health care.

Earlier this month, initial findings from the 2012 National Asian American Survey was rolled out showing that the economy is also the most important issue for Asian Americans, followed by unemployment, health care, and education. Fifty-two percent of survey-takers said the economy was the most important problem facing the country today. Close to 20 percent pointed to unemployment, five percent cited health care, and four percent cited education.

Nonetheless, politicians and political parties should not take these numbers as an indication that immigration is not important to communities of color. After all, the majority of foreign-born individuals living in the U.S. – 40 million or 12.9 percent of our population – are from Latin America and Asia. About 1 in 4 children belong to families with at least one immigrant parent.

The Pew Hispanic Center study found that immigration is extremely important personally to a third of Latino registered voters.

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a coalition of 31 grassroots Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) organizations, recently released its policy platform which stresses the importance of immigration to Asian communities.

We are talking about family members, friends, and neighbors after all, loved ones who would benefit from a reformed immigration system. The party that shows genuine concern for immigrants and their families by pushing for rational reform will reap support and votes beyond this election cycle.

Pew’s findings confirm what we all know: the Democratic Party has a lock on Latinos. It appears that in the past year alone, there was a sharp rise in the share of Latinos who identify the Democratic Party as the one that has more concern for Latinos. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed say this, up from 45 percent in 2011. This is no surprise considering the virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric spewed during the Republican presidential primaries.

As for Asians, there is still the need to stress that they are a voting bloc that cannot be ignored. Although AAPIs overall do tend to lean Democratic, the 2012 National Asian American Survey shows that the party does not enjoy the loyalty of most and certainly not all Asians. There is enough room for the GOP to come in and win more Asians to their side.

Immigration may be ignored during the remaining debates and will most likely be invisible in the flurry of last minute campaign messages, but it is an issue that will not go away.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund. Image courtesy of flickr

Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.

Fi2W Podcast: For Latino Voters it’s Immigration & the Economy, Not Necessarily in that Order

Fi2W’s John Rudolph sat down with Chung-Wha Hong of the New York Immigration Coalition and Mark Hugo Lopez of the Pew Hispanic Center to preview the discussion we’ll be hearing next Thursday, October 18 at the “Unlocking the Latino Vote” town hall
at The New School.

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The Latino vote could determine who becomes the next president. According to Lopez, Latinos helped Obama in key states in 2008 and Harry Reid in Nevada in 2010. Most Latinos don’t live in this year’s battleground states—at least half of all Latino voters live in California or Texas—but in contested states like Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, demographic shifts since ‘08 have pushed up the share of Latino eligible voters. This could have a major impact, Lopez says.

The Latino vote is closely tied to the issue of immigration but the economy, education and healthcare are all issues Latinos respond to strongly.

One of the reasons immigration ranks so high says Hong is that it remains unresolved. In 2008, Obama promised to pass reform within his first year in office. Instead he oversaw a record number of deportations. Jobs and healthcare, she says, are important but “immigration remains a litmus test for whether a candidate cares about Latinos.”

“If a candidate comes out opposing the DREAM Act, it’s not just a policy position,” she says.  DREAMers represent the pride and joy of Latino and immigrant communities and if someone comes out against the DREAM Act, like Romney did, it has major repercussions. For this reason, Hong doesn’t expect Romney to get the 40 percent support among Latinos that George W. Bush got.

According to Lopez, the economic downturn has had major ramifications for Latino communities: Right now more Latino children live in poverty than any other group – a first for Latinos. More wealth was lost in the recession by Latinos than any other group. And while there has been improvement in Latino unemployment, it is still two points above the national average of 7.8 percent.

But Lopez says, despite being hard hit by the downturn there remains strong support for the president across every Latino demographic group, except the traditionally more conservative groups like Cuban Americans and protestant Latinos.

According to Hong, support for Democrats among immigrants is not a given. However, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has proven very popular. Close to 100,000 young people have applied, meaning a large bloc of people will soon be getting work permits and protection from deportation.

Click the image to RSVP for the townhall discussion.

According to Hong, a vast majority of immigrant citizens know someone who’s undocumented and consequently know someone who’s eligible to get a work permit through DACA. Similarly, says Hong, the movement in many states to disenfranchise minority voters through shorter voting hours and stricter ID laws could backfire. When people feel attacked, as they did in Nevada in 2010 and in Arizona now, she says, it is a powerful motivating factor to show up and vote.

According to Lopez’s research, a majority of Latinos say they would support Obama over Mitt Romney in a head to head contest. Democrats are still seen as the better party for Hispanics than Republicans and polls have shown stable support for Obama among Latinos over the last ten months. But how many Hispanics will vote? Hard to predict, but because of demographic changes, Lopez thinks it’s likely we will see more Latino voters than we did in 2008.

Hong thinks health care tends to be overlooked when discussing issues Latinos care about. Obama’s health care reform, when implemented, will see an 18 percent increase in the number of Latinos covered. Many Latinos work in places where employers don’t offer healthcare and, Hong believes, Romney’s pledge to repeal Obamacare will lose him support. But how Romney talks about immigration reform, as he’s promised to do in the upcoming debate could greatly affect how Latinos vote in November.

The Oct. 18 town hall is cosponsored by Latino USAAmericas Society/Council of the Americas, and the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs and Global Studies programs.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

Aaron Leaf is a freelance writer and editor who has reported on human rights issues from Zambia, Liberia, Canada and Peru. He is a graduate of Ryerson University and the former editor of Ricepaper, a journal of Asian Canadian arts and culture.

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