News Clips March 5, 2009

Obama risks alienating Latinos with lack of immigration reform

I have known Barack Obama since 1986, when we were both community organizers. I am still organizing on the streets of Chicago, and what I see in the Latino community makes me fear that the president is oblivious to the pain wrought by our broken immigration system. It could have a profound effect on the 2010 and 2012 elections.

It didn’t have to be this way. For a brief moment last year it appeared that Obama might realign the modern political map, cementing the Latino vote into the Democratic coalition by speaking plainly to the American people on the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration Reform: Change Takes Courage and Faith

The window is closing on comprehensive immigration reform. At least that’s what the politicians in Washington are saying. They’re afraid of more demagoguery. They’re afraid of upcoming elections. They’re afraid of the politics of fear. But I am more and more troubled by how little they seem concerned about the worsening plight of many of America’s most vulnerable families — about how families are being broken up by the U.S. government, forcibly separating children from their parents. And for the media, immigration reform is just another looming political conflict to report, more of the gamesmanship of Washington to cover.

As always, the real stories of real people get lost in the win/lose politics of the nation’s capital. Yes, the nation is going through some tremendous challenges right now. And we all know that Congress is hesitant to tackle tough issues before mid-term elections. But while politicians can write off one more piece of legislation on a packed agenda, they won’t be able to write off, or ignore, a movement rooted in our faith communities. If our political leaders won’t make room for the “strangers” among us, we will — because Jesus commands us to do so.

Activists rally forces for immigration reform

Immigration reform advocates see time running out

Cynics might call it an exercise in futility, at least this year.

But count Michael Flores among the true believers: those convinced that with a lot of hard work, comprehensive immigration reform legislation could finally move forward in 2010, despite previous failures and the fact that Washington’s attention is focused squarely on other issues.

“This is the time,” said Flores, Southern Nevada director of Reform Immigration For America . “We’re organized and we’re not going to take no for an answer.”

Immigration reform not one-sided

Irish Americans say debate over reform as important to them

Irish immigrants would like lawmakers and the public to know that the debate over immigration reform is not about one single group.

Speaking in Denver yesterday, Irish American Ciaran Staunton, president of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said people often forget that of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in America, at least 50,000 of them are from Ireland.

The debate over comprehensive immigration reform is often centered around the Hispanic community Ń because of America’s close proximity to Mexico Ń but Staunton points out that for thousands of Irish people, the debate is just as important.

“The Irish community has as big an interest in immigration reform as any other community,” Staunton told the Denver Daily News before speaking at The Celtic Tavern in Denver. “There is no legal way for an Irish American in Denver to bring his cousin to America to work and to participate in the American dream.”

Latinos Support Drive to Rid Military of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The Obama administration, with growing support from top military brass and members of Congress, including half of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is moving to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law — a 1993 compromise by President Clinton that lifted the longstanding outright ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military.

Since 1994 there have been 13,500 discharges under that law.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have echoed the call to action by saying the military is ready for change.

Latino comedy troupe out to bust stereotype

Macedonio Arteaga always knows how to tell if he’ll be disappointed in the way Latinos are represented in a TV show or movie.

He looks for the lowrider.

Chances are if the show has a lowrider, an expensive car beyond the reach of most everyone, including Latinos, then the show probably has a Latino character who is a gardener.

“It’s this horrible, horrible stereotype,” Arteaga said in a phone interview. “It’s really unbelievable if you really think about it.”

Hispanic surname an election liability?

Victor Carrillo, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, blames his loss to an unknown challenger in Tuesday’s GOP primary on voter bias against his last name. “Given the choice between ‘Porter’ and ‘Carrillo,’ unfortunately, the Hispanic surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover, although I did all in my power to overcome this built-in bias,” he says.

The victor, David Porter, says he worked hard for this victory and writes off Carrillo’s comments as “sour grapes.”

That was my initial reaction until I also looked at the extremely narrow victory in the Democratic primary of Hector Uribe in the Texas land commissioner’s race. Here was a guy who had strong backing from the Democratic Party. He had spent 12 years as a state senator and House member. He was well-versed in the workings of the Legislature. The most impressive experience the other Democratic candidate, Bill Burton, offered was a short tenure as a justice of the peace in Henderson County.


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