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Posts Tagged ‘DNC’

Fi2W Commentary: The Choice is Clear for Immigrants

American voters are faced with a stark choice, not only about who will lead the nation in the next four years, but about what our shared future will be like. At the deepest and most profound, it is a decision about what America stands for. About what we stand for.

The conventions in Tampa and Charlotte – the crowds, the platforms, and the speeches – provided the contrast. Immigrants, their families and their communities now have to decide with whom they will cast their lot. Which party and ticket will assure them of their proper place as Americans and help them secure their American dream?

I’d like to think that the answer is obvious, and the numbers show that a majority of immigrants do know who has their interests in mind. But there are some who for whatever reason refuse to see the truth.

A woman immigrated to the United States in the 1970s, worked hard, and sacrificed in order to help her family back in the Philippines and those who came with her. She has accomplished a lot: rising up the ranks in the company where she has worked for decades, and supporting her family here and abroad.

In so many ways she has accomplished her American dream. But as a middle-class woman of color, she has also been held back. She has been denied promotions in spite of her credentials and hard work. Countless times has she complained of less qualified men surpassing her for jobs she can do with her eyes closed. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this was because of her gender. I wonder how much of it had to do with her ethnicity and accent.

She was supposed to retire a couple of years ago but the Great Recession happened. Her investments and the value of her home went under. She has little choice but to keep waking up at the crack of dawn, getting on a commuter train, and putting in her eight hours. She is tired but she does what needs to be done.

And she blames Barack Obama. She faults the man who signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act and who fought hard to keep our country from falling into a financial abyss. The man who wants to safeguard Social Security and Medicare for older Americans like her.

She listens to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. She is a hardcore Republican. She believes that Democrats promote dependency on government and that so many abuse system. She refuses to see and admit who is really responsible for her setbacks.

I doubt she watched the Democratic convention. I wish she had. She would have seen so many other Americans of color like her. Not as tokens but as valued members whose voices are heard. She would have learned of policies that safeguard and promote her and her family’s well-being. She would recognize her own family’s story in the struggles and successes of Michelle’s and Barack’s families. She would have heard the man she despises tell her that he thinks of her and her family when making hard decisions. She would have been assured that no one gets a free ride but that together we can create a better future. She would have heard the President’s passionate argument that “no American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity they have earned.”

Like many other immigrant Americans, she will go to the polls on November 6 and cast her vote. How I wish she realizes who really sees her, hears her, and embraces her as an immigrant and as a woman. It should be crystal clear to her who has her and her family’s future in his heart and mind. Sadly, it isn’t.

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.

Undocumented Immigrants Plan Protests at the Democratic National Convention

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - Maricruz Ramirez never thought she would cross the country telling the world that she is undocumented, but when she was invited to join the UndocuBus with 30 others, she didn’t blink.

“I wanted to do this for my children,” she said. “I want a better future for them”.

Ramirez arrived in Charlotte a few days before the National Democratic Convention (DNC) where her group, the self-identified “undocumented delegation,” will engage in protests calling for immigration reform.

Their journey was intended to highlight the situation faced by undocumented immigrants across the country as they get behind the wheel to drive and risk being pulled over by the police, asked for documents and turned over to U.S. immigration agents.

The group has denounced the Obama administration for the record number of deportations in recent years, often targeting undocumented workers without criminal records.

They are especially critical of the administration’s push for agreements known as 287(g), used to deputize local police to perform the duties of immigration agents during patrols, and of Secure Communities, a related program that allows local police to check a person’s immigration status on a federal database.

“We want these programs to stop,” said Miguel Guerra, another one of the riders who began the trip in Phoenix, Arizona. Guerra, the father of three children was arrested in an act of civil disobedience in Phoenix before the journey began, but was later released.

The UndocuBus left Arizona on July 29th to mark the 2-year-anniversary of the state’s SB 1070. In it’s June 25th ruling the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three parts of SB 1070, allowing one portion to stand.  That section makes it mandatory for police in Arizona to inquire about a person’s immigration status when the police have reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally. SB 1070 has inspired similar laws in other states including Georgia and Alabama, where the bus made stops en route to Charlotte.

It’s been a “liberating” experience for Ramirez, after a journey that took her through 10 different states and 16 cities where she heard stories and saw the tears of other women enduring her same struggle.

“We’ve helped many others to stand up and not be afraid,” said Ramirez.

She believes the first step to bringing about change for undocumented immigrants is for immigrants to step out of the shadows and tell their stories.

“We don’t come here to live for free. We contribute. We pay taxes,” she said.

Upon arriving in Charlotte on Saturday the UndocuBus delegation went to Central Siloe Church where they heard the story of Isaide Serrano. The young mother awaits an immigration judge’s decision on whether she’ll be allowed to stay in the country.

Serrano is now seven months pregnant and has five other children who were born in the U.S. She was pulled over by a police officer while driving back from the grocery store two years ago, for having her high beams on. When the officer realized that she didn’t have a valid driver’s license he took her into custody.

That encounter led her to a county jail that had a 287(g) program in place where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put a hold on her and began deportation proceedings.

“I’m pleading not to be separated from my children,” said Serrano. “They have all their lives here”.

José Malgandi, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador also rode in the bus. He doesn’t trust what Republicans or Democrats would do to address the issue of immigration.

At Republican National Convention the party released its platform that calls for the creation of,  ”humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily, while enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas.”  The GOP platform also expresses support for states that pass their own immigration laws like Arizona.

Malgandi said Republicans have used undocumented immigrants as a scapegoat, while the Obama administration hasn’t kept the promise of approving some form of immigration reform, focusing instead on deportations.

“We are going to demand to him (Obama) to not put immigration in an irrelevant place on the agenda,” he said.

For immigrants like Ramirez, the administration’s recent deferred action policy that would benefit children like hers who were brought into the country illegally, is not enough.

“What Obama offered is not a solution,” she said.  She added she hopes that if re-elected, the president will support legislation like the DREAM Act, that would allow undocumented children that were raised in the United States to legalize their status.

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

Valeria Fernández is an independent journalist in Phoenix, Arizona. She worked for La Voz newspaper for the last six years covering the immigration beat and she is a guest contributor on Race Wire. Valeria was born and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay, and moved to the United States in 1999.

Charlotteando

The site for this year’s Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, is home to biotech, Nascar’s Hall of Fame and a growing diverse community of Latinos and other immigrants. Check out this tour of the Nuevo South by Leda Hartman.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Mural Locator (creative commons).

Leda Hartman is a nationally award-winning reporter and editor. Her radio stories have aired on programs including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and The World. Her articles have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Congressional Quarterly and the New York Times. Leda was the assignment editor at the World Vision Report radio program, and is a story editor at Latitudes, a nationally broadcast public radio series about global affairs from WAMU-FM.

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