Emergency Strategy Call with Congressman Gutierrez

I just received this E-mail from Gabe Gonzalez at Immigration For America:

This week, we’ve seen all too clearly what we’re up against. A law sitting on the governor’s desk in Arizona would make police stop anyone they “suspect of being undocumented.” More than that, it gives citizens the right to sue the police if they’re not stopping enough people.

If the governor signs this law, in Arizona you could be detained, legally, just for looking as though you could be an immigrant – in other words, for no reason at all. It’s racial profiling, and it encapsulates the hatred we’re fighting.

This is an “All hands on deck” moment for our movement! Arizona has shown that we cannot wait to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and that’s why we’re holding an emergency strategy call with one of our strongest allies, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, on Thursday, April 22, at 7:15 pm (Spanish language) and at 8:00 pm Eastern (English language), to brief you on the plan going forward into the marches in May.

Congressman Gutierrez will speak about the struggles we’ve faced, and what we can all do to make sure comprehensive immigration reform becomes the law. Congressman Gutierrez knows that we can’t wait any longer to fix our broken system, and he’ll tell us about the ways we’ll win this battle by standing together. I hope you can join him for this critical moment in time.

I have participated in one of these calls before and if this issue is important to you, I encourage you to sign up to participate in this one. It is really easy: Just go to the link below, sign up, and then on the day and time of the conference call, they will call you. You don’t have to do anything. Your phone will ring, you answer it, and then you will automatically be connected so just listen in. That’s all there is to it, so don’t feel at all intimidated.

CLICK HERE to sign up for a call with Congressman Gutierrez on Thursday at 7:15pm or 8:00pm Eastern

Arizona soon to violate civil rights

What’s going on in Arizona is not the type of immigration reform this country needs.  The soon-to-be Arizona law, which passed the state House last week and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), states that police can arrest anyone on “reasonable suspicion” that they are an illegal immigrant.

This is flat out racial profiling and it’s wrong. So, what if my family decided to go to the Grand Canyon this summer, (which we sure as hell won’t. I’m not stepping foot in Arizona as long as these sorts of laws are being enforced), and let’s say my husband was just walking around like any other tourist. Just based on his skin color, accent and lack of “proof” to the contrary, they could arrest him because they suspect he’s an illegal immigrant? (He’s a U.S. Citizen by the way.) … How can that be allowed to happen anywhere in the United States? If a legal resident or U.S. Citizen is in fact arrested or detained due to this new law, I hope they sue their pantalones off.

Part of me hopes that immigrants, (both documented and undocumented as they both must now survive in a constant state of paranoia), living in Arizona will simply leave the state and move elsewhere. Maybe Arizona thinks that is what they want, but they will soon realize they have shot themselves in the foot as various industries begin to collapse.

A similar law was passed a few years ago in Prince William County, Virginia. A timely documentary called “9500 Liberty” is on limited release right now.  Some time soon it is supposed to premiere on cable television and will also be released on DVD. (In the meantime, watch the trailer below.)

The boxes tell us nothing

I found this article and accompanying video incredibly moving. Better words could not have been chosen.

Chang-Rae Lee, writer and author of The Native Son, shares his thoughts on the Census:

(CNN) – We know the point of the 2010 Census is to count us, one by one, to tally every last resident, but the massive project of course has more prying, if limited, interests.

If the aqua- and black-tinted census form were a person, he would be like a slightly nosy seat mate on a plane, fitted out with an unfortunate ’80s flair, someone oddly arbitrary in his inquiries while being intimately probing.

Beyond the primary accounting, we’re asked additional questions about the people we live with and our relationship to them; whether we hold a mortgage or rent; how old we are; our gender; whether we inhabit a second residence or even, alas, a prison; and then, inevitably, how we categorize ourselves racially.

The boxes I can check to mark myself have certainly multiplied over the decades, allowing not just a single Asian category but broken out most progressively, it would seem, to other boxes for Vietnamese, Laotian, even Guamanian or Chamorran — and then the one for me, Korean.

The automatic response is to check this box, for that’s what I am, at least in my bloodlines: My parents are from Korea, which was where I was born. My family immigrated when I was 3, and our predecessors inhabited the Korean Peninsula for as long as can be recalled.

But as I consider the box, I have to pause. Perhaps it’s because I’m a novelist, someone who spends his days telling stories in part by stripping away the surface realities, unraveling presumed identities, in the hopes of characterizing what it is and means to be alive.

And thus my hesitance to mark the box. For despite a thorough pride in my Korean heritage and my wish to be no other, the complexities of what might seem a circumscribed identity (surely not a tenth as vast as “white” or “black”) still feel too numerous to be so neatly contained.

For my Korean-ness, especially in the context of America, is like no one else’s: It is not at all like my first cousin’s, who immigrated in his 20s and had to learn the language as an adult; not like my friend’s, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in a bustling enclave of Korean businesses and churches; not like the Korean adoptee’s, who was raised in rural Oregon or Minnesota, being maybe the only Asian person in the county.

Our shared heritage shows in our faces, but given the differing nature of our experiences and the character of our respective communities, each of us has profoundly varying conceptions of our sense of belonging, cultural ties, even future possibility — in short, of who we are.

If I had made up the census form, the Korean box would necessarily have dozens, maybe hundreds or even thousands of sub-boxes nested inside, boxes for whether we dream in the native language, for how often we Skype with folks in Seoul, whether we wear shoes or go barefoot in the house, if we prefer our kimchee fresher or riper or perhaps not at all.

Each form would have to be an epic novel of boxes, its combinations approaching the infinite, a document so vast and particular and dense that the boxes themselves would at some point begin to blur, perhaps disappear, the marks coalescing into something so singular that they would eventually take on a life itself, which is always shifting, dynamic, at last uncountable.

-Souce: CNN.com (click for additional video interview)

What do we want? Immigration Reform! When do we want it? NOW!

Mr. López and I, (and your favorite third wheel, my Suegra), went to the immigration march in Washington D.C. yesterday. (Photo of me at left.  Hee hee.)

We dropped the kids off with my parents first, and I’m glad we did. I had enough difficulty looking out for myself,  and I didn’t need the kids saying, “I’m hot. I’m hungry. How long is this going to be?”… I had Suegra saying, “Puchica, esta caliente… Tengo hambre… ¿Cuánto tiempo más?”

Riding the METRO was insane. They were having delays since one of the tracks was not in use for maintenance or something. Also, we were packed in there like sardines, but I’m pleased to say, everyone was in good spirits for the most part, and we all remembered to wear our deodorant.

I did get stared at quite a bit, which was a bit unnerving. I don’t know where the other white people were, but most of the time, I was the only one in the general vicinity. People photographing the event kept taking pictures of me and my husband, as if we were some sort of shining example of racial harmony, (They should see how we fight at home!) – which was uncomfortable at best.

I’m proud that we went to support the cause and it was exciting. The actual event itself though, in all honesty, could have been organized a little better. (I say this without taking away from all the hard work people put into this, because, as is obvious from the turnout, it was a success. I just say this in the spirit of making things even better next time.)

My main “complaint” would be that they had way too many guests make use of the microphone, many of whom were not gifted public speakers. This caused the event to go on too long and I could tell much of the crowd was becoming restless, (we stayed from 2 pm to 5 pm, and they were still going when we left.) … Remember, this is 200,000+ people, (the largest number to assemble on the National Mall since President Obama’s inauguration), standing in the hot sun, many with young children, (or annoying suegras.)

Next time they would do best to condense the program and make sure everyone is on the same page. The message seemed to get somewhat lost some of the time. One speaker kept saying “health care reform” instead of “immigration reform.” She looked baffled as to why the crowd was not responding, and no one corrected her. A couple others  I felt almost crossed the line as far as disrespecting the President. (People, he’s on our side with this issue!) … And a few times speakers mentioned César Chávez as a source of inspiration. I’m shocked that so many Latino leaders have obviously not done their homework. César Chávez may have been a champion for the working class, but he was no amigo to the undocumented immigrants. His focus was his union, and anything that undermined those efforts, such as undocumented workers who would come in and work for less pay when he had his workers striking, was not something he tolerated. Chávez even went as far as to organize a group much like today’s “Minute men” to patrol the border, and he would also report undocumented immigrants to immigration.

History lessons aside, I’m excited about the momentum this has created. (And if you were in the crowd, you know that despite what was going on up on stage, the energy of the people was something tangible. The power is with the pueblo, as it should be!)

I hope you will please consider taking un momentico to sign your name and send a free fax in support of the Schumer-Graham bill for comprehensive immigration reform. Reforming immigration isn’t just necessary for bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so their families don’t live day-to-day in fear of being torn apart, but giving them a path to legalization means they can contribute to their communities, and our economy more fully, which benefits us all. Other issues that will be discussed as part of the bill are border security and modernizing our currently outdated immigration system so we don’t find ourselves sorting out this kind of mess again. A bipartisan bill is possible and this should be a concern of every person living in the United States, no matter your race, status, or political party affiliation.

Click here to be taken to the Reform Immigration for America site to send a free fax to elected leaders

Do you support immigration reform?

A few weeks ago I, along with tens of thousands of others across the nation, participated (as a listener), on a conference call with Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and other prominent Latino legislatures. The topic at hand was immigration reform.

It was pointed out that on the campaign trail, President Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform within his first year in office. Hermanos, we are weeks away from Christmas, it’s not going to happen on time, (does anything in government?), but we need to help make it happen as soon as possible. There is no time to waste as people are deported, families separated, lives broken.

Rep. Gutierrez promised that in the coming weeks, a campaign for immigration reform would be launched and he stressed how important our support would be. Now he has introduced a bill to Congress called the “CIR ASAP Act”. Please join me in contacting Congress and telling them you support this bill. It will take you only a minute. Just head over to Reform Immigration for America, fill out your name and address, and click “send”.

¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!

Rick Sanchez on Anglicizing

anglo A couple weeks ago, while discussing the hotel manager who tried to force his Latino employees to change their names, (to make them easier to pronounce for non-Spanish speaking customers), CNN’s Rick Sanchez weighed in – and what he said shocked many. Dissenting from his fellow Latino colleagues, Sanchez defended the New Mexico hotel owner, Larry Whitten.

In part, Sanchez said:

“My real name is Ricardo Leon Sanchez de Reinaldo. I don’t use it because I want to be respectful of this wonderful country that allowed us as Hispanics to come here, and I think it’s easier if someone’s able to understand me by Anglicizing my name.”

I usually like Rick Sanchez but I thought this statement was incredibly ignorant. Perhaps Rick, as a recent Cuban immigrant, is thankful that he was “allowed…to come” to “this wonderful country”, but what he failed to realize is that not all Latinos are Cuban. Not all Latinos feel the need to pay respect for being “allowed” in because the fact of the matter is, their people were here FIRST – Before the Anglos. The Mexican people in New Mexico and in much of the Southwest are living on their own ancestral land.

If a person chooses to change their name, as Rick Sanchez did, because they feel it gives them a competitive edge, will help them become more successful, or for any reason at all, that is their prerogative, but no one ever, for any reason whatsoever should be forced to change their name.

We live in a country full of diverse people and diverse names and that is something that makes us special. In the list of “Most Common 1,000 Surnames in the United States”, we have:

#18. GARCIA
#19. MARTINEZ
#22. RODRIGUEZ
#29. HERNANDEZ
#32. LOPEZ
#38. GONZALEZ
#42. PEREZ
#52. SANCHEZ
#61. RIVERA
#67. TORRES
#70. RAMIREZ
#89. FLORES
#94. GONZALES
#99. DIAZ

These are just in the top 100. If you go further you continue to get an impressive mix of Latino and Anglo names. Eventually we get:

#229. NGUYEN (Vietnamese)
#281. O’BRIEN (Irish)
#363. COHEN (Jewish)
#459. WONG (Chinese)
#461. PARK (Korean)
#591. PATEL (Indian)
#683. LEBLANC (French)
#687. CHANG (Chinese)
#753. RUSSO (Italian)

My point, this is a nation of immigrants, get used to it. It won’t kill a white person to learn how to say Martín [Mar-teen] instead of Martin.

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names” ~ Chinese Proverb