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by reg825

Is Mitt Romney the new Steve Poizner of the Republican Party?

12:09 am in Uncategorized by reg825

For those outside of California that are not familiar with the “Steve Poisoner effect”, here’s a quick summary. Steve Poizner was a candidate for Governor of California that poisoned the Republican primaries in 2010 with vile anti-immigrant rhetoric. In the end he did not only lose the nomination of his party, but arguably he ended up costing Republicans the governorship in California because Latinos lashed out at the GOP at the ballot box. Are we witnessing the same dynamic play out in the national Republican primary field with Mitt Romney? Has Romney become the new Steve Poizner? Romney has gone the “Poisoner” rounte and has started to attack immigrants and Governor Perry on immigration reform legislation like in-state tuition for young students that have grown up here in the U.S. but happen to be undocumented.

For the record, while Perry has said that he supports in-state tuition for youth that have grown up in Texas but lack the proper documentation, he has actually said that he opposes the Dream Act. which is a topic charged with emotions among Latinos because we’re talking about Latino youth. After all, Latino voters still remember watcing these heartbreaking images of their community’s youth crying after conservatives in both parties blocked passage of the Dream Act:

Romney not only has an ad out attacking Perry trying to link him to former President Fox on immigration, but supporters of Romney’s position are now going racist full force “protesting” Perry. Via ThinkProgress:

Conservative activists protested Rick Perry’s support for allowing children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state university tuition outside a town hall in Derry, New Hampshire this evening. In order to underscore their point, one woman wore a poncho and sombrero while holding a sign that read “Thanks for the in-state tuition”.

As mentioned previously, Perry has NOT been a friend of immigrants as Romney would lead the general public to believe. Not only does Perry oppose the DREAM Act, but he has been reportedly courting the endorsement of infamous Sheriff Arpaio. Arizona Sheriff Arpaio has been caught in the past as “pal’ing around” with neo-nazis in the past and has more recently been quoted as saying of Perry “I kind of like the guy”. If both Romney and Perry make the assumption that spewing hate mongering rhetoric against immigrants during the Republican primaries will not come back to bite them in the general election against President Obama, they are both in for an “October surprise”. As the advocacy organization America’s Voice put it:

Among the leaders for the GOP nomination, there are no immigration moderates. None of them support the DREAM Act. None of them. The DREAM Act is a common sense proposal that would enable some of the Latino community’s best and brightest to attend college, serve in the military and earn citizenship. None of them support comprehensive immigration reform, a centrist solution to the nation’s immigration mess. And none of them have the guts to stand up the hardcore nativists in the party the way Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did [click here to view video of both Reagan & Bush Sr. discussing immigration].

If GOP strategists hope that Rick Perry and/or Marco Rubio will win the hearts of Latino voters with their support of in-state tuition, they are in for a rude awakening. When it comes to in-state tuition and the DREAM Act, you can’t split the baby — or the student, as the case may be.

by reg825

The psycho-emotional impacts of immigration on our children

4:53 pm in Uncategorized by reg825

10 Questions with the author of a new bilingual book, “Listen to the Children, Conversations with Immigrant Families” on how to care for the psycho-emotional state of the children of immigrants.

Culture shock, role reversals, traumas from being torn from their parents by ICE raids, internalized anger: these are among some of the pychological issues that many children of Latino immigrants are being affected by. Because oftentimes many of these immigrant families have had very little or no access at all to healthcare either here in the U.S. or at their countries of origin, these are issues that are hardly ever recognized, let alone addressed or treated by professionals. Not surprisingly, these topics are equally hardly ever being talked about in our Spanish language media, let alone in the English language media outlets. A new book, Listen to the Children, Conversations with Immigrant Families, seeks to address these important topics. Project Economic Refugee recently had the opportunity to interview the author of the book, Dr. Conde-Frazier to give a little more insight into what the book seeks to accomplish.

PER: Dr. Conde-Frazier, thank you for taking the time to answer Project Economic Refugee’s questions to help us better understand the psycho-emotional impacts that immigration has on the health of the children involved in the immigrant experience. Your new book is just fascinating to me because it is the first time that I have seen anything like this, drafted as a guide that gives such practical and useful advice to parents, caregivers, social workers, clergy, etc., on how to minimize the negative psycho-emotional impacts that immigration has on children. It is definitely an ignored topic that has received very little if any “mainstream” attention in the U.S.

You speak of how oftentimes a series of events transpire that create a sense of crisis for many of these immigrants and so they are left with the one choice they never wanted to make: to uproot their families to seek a better life somewhere else. It is NOT an easy decision, yet it is portrayed otherwise in our national discussion on immigration policy, especially when it comes to our TV news and radio talk show media coverage of this topic. Why do you think that is?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: First of all we need to ask: who is producing these programs? Who owns these media networks? There is much self interest involved in this. Free trade agreements benefit big business but not the average worker in any of the countries. This is how jobs are outsourced and the cost of local products cannot compete with imports. Having an informed public about these issues is not good for business. Instead, we choose a scapegoat; we objectify a group of persons and project upon them the blame and our frustrations. To do this we must portray them not as real persons that we can identify with but as those who are negative elements and influences in society that we need to eliminate. A loving parent making a heart wrenching decision to leave children and spouse as the better of two evils- watch them starve or leave them in order to ensure their survival- is not the image that will allow us to continue to project negativity upon them.

PER: The title of your book is “Listen to the Children, Conversations with Immigrant Families”. Why did you think it was important to, as you put it “listen to the children of immigrant families” in the first place?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: There have been as you mentioned before, too many confusing images and misinformation about the topic of immigration. It is a complex subject. We have become so immersed in its complexity and controversy that we have forgotten the most vulnerable and the innocent who pay the highest price, the children. In so doing we not only dehumanize them but ourselves in the process. Furthermore, their innocence begs us to discuss the topic within the parameters of human rights. It is a reality check of the condition of the conscience of our nation. It makes us go back to the values we say we represent to the world as a nation and ask if we are accountable to them ourselves. The stories of the children bring out a reality about the situation and of ourselves that helps bring us back to a place of integrity and creativity and commitment to dealing with the real complexities involved.

PER: The voices that you are able to personify in your book reveal a striking level of identification and intimacy with this particular subject; why were you able to connect so closely to this issue?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: While my parents came to this country as citizens because they were Puerto Ricans, nonetheless we were members of an immigrant groups that has been discriminated against and the journey has some similarities. The decision making process, the distance of family members until one can become established, the role of the child in leading the family in a new country are things I experienced first hand. However, the added layer of being a person who is alternately documented, who must enter under very precarious circumstances and then live in invisibility with the threat of deportation and constant injustice is something I learned about by walking with parishioners as pastor and then as a professor of pastors and lay persons who were deeply involved with immigrants or themselves experiencing these harsh realities. Over the course of thirty years I became very acquainted with them and I internalized them. It was very difficult to write these stories for they were very real.

PER: While your treatment of this topic has a very practical quality to it and is definitely nondenominational, it does start by classifying a spiritual dimension as basic for human health and in each chapter you open with a quote from the Bible. What was your intention in taking such an approach?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: As I mentioned in the book, the spiritual roots of a person are a source of strength and resiliency. However, in the western world we do not openly speak of this so that many of the resources out there right now for social workers, teachers and others who work with immigrant children leave the topic out all together. This does not represent the fullness of reality and it is a disservice to those who need to engage this dimension of life when working with persons. While it is my intent to respect the diversity of religious expressions represented by immigrants in our country, I also needed to model how one could use the resources of a religious tradition. To do this in a genuine fashion I decided to use the sources of my own religious tradition, Christianity. The Bible has also been at the root of many of our nation’s foundational documents. The values of the Judeo-Christian tradition have informed our legal and ethical codes. I thought it would be appropriate for the book to quote from this rich resource.

PER: The book mentions in passing that some U.S. born children of immigrant parents are not able to participate in government-funded childcare centers. Can you clarify why that is? Is it because there are laws that discriminate against these children or simply because their parents are too afraid of deportation and so they try to keep their entire families “invisible”?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: A parent is the most important person in a child’s life. The cohesiveness of a family is a great resource for a child’s development. Anything that could present a potential threat to cohesiveness by separating parent from child demands that one make a decision that only those who face such a threat can understand. The law may not discriminate against the child but if it discriminates against the parent then in essence it does discriminate against the child because the parent is the most important resource in that child’s life. We think so much as individuals that we fail to see the full picture of families and we end up tearing at the fabric of a family making it impossible to cover the child with the law or the resources we had originally hoped to provide. We need an integrated approach.

PER: You give immigrant parents much needed insight into the psycho emotional impact that migration has on their children but at times you also seem to address U.S. community-based organizations that offer support services to migrants, giving them advice on how these groups could be more proactive and responsive in their humanitarian work. Who did you initially have as an audience in mind for the book and why?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: I began by thinking about the children and then asked myself who and what were the most influential forces in their lives. I used Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological perspective of development to guide me. He includes the family and institutional forces that shape a person’s life. This gave me the big picture. We need a holistic approach. It does take a village to bring up a child. This then broadened my audience.

PER: When speaking to the common occurrence that occurs out of necessity of children having to interpret and translate English language conversations for their parents, you warn that sometimes these throw the child into very adult situations that they should not be dealing with at such young age. It was extremely illuminating to see how you point to the parent-child role reversals where the authority of the parent is undermined because the child becomes the adult at those moments and the children are sometimes robbed of their childhood. As a potential solution, you basically advise the parent to find alternates to getting help in translations but you stay away from explicitly telling the parents to NOT use their kids as interpreters. Does this speak to a larger institutional need to raise awareness in immigrant parents to warn them of the potential harmful effects of using children as interpreters?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: The awareness is not only for the parents but for all of us who play leadership roles in the institutions that families need to use- medical, education, etc. Those of us in leadership have the power to make real differences.

PER: If I may quote from your book for a moment, you had the following observation regarding the communication dynamic that evolves in the relationship between the immigrant parent and the child:

Children may still speak the ethnic language at home, but their skills in the first language typically begin to lag behind their skills in English. Often children begin to communicate by mixing the two languages, which means parents and children are no longer communicating the fullness of their thoughts and emotions. Children don’t have the vocabulary in their parents’ first language to do so, while the parents won’t understand the words and nuances of the children’s English.

What are your suggestions to alleviate some of this breakdown in communication that is so important to the health of the parent-child relationship?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: Each cultural group that comes to the U.S. has to deal with this. Groups with economic means are able to have their children take language and culture lessons. Religious groups have facilitated this or groups that emerge to promote cultural and linguistic maintenance. On other occasions, religious groups are able to do this by partnering with other faith communities of more means.

A different angle on this is that ideally, a country that is preparing for a global economy should provide bilingual education for all its children so as to prepare them for a job in the global market. The U.S. is one of the only top nations that educate citizens to contribute in the present world that are monolingual. The politics of bilingual education need to be re-informed. What was once looked upon as a handicap for a student (to enter school speaking a language other than English) has now become an asset for that student for the future in the global economy. We need to rethink this.

This is dealing with the linguistic part of it. However, communication is something that demands time and creativity. Helping parents to find the time to be with children (as they work more than one job to make ends meet) and to make shared time quality time is another way for persons to connect with their children to strengthen their ties. The conversations that I try to model between parents and children are only the beginning of this.

PER: One of the most heartbreaking scenes that you cover in the book is what happens in the children’s lives in the aftermath of an ICE raid. The psychological wounds alone that these raids inflict on these children should be cause for great concern because they basically separate them from their parents under very traumatic conditions. In that context, you speak of how churches are often the first responders to immigrant families to help them cope with such a traumatic event. Churches and in some cases school districts quickly respond and come to the aid of the children, and you speak of how service priorities need to be made in order to make the most of resources available to facilitate this aid. In fact, you advocate for the first responders to network more proactively with private social services prior to such emergencies occurring so that everyone involved is equipped to respond as quickly as possible to be able to mobilize others to help. In your opinion, what systemic challenges must be overcome in order to facilitate such networking and planning for more efficient emergency responses?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: The first barrier is the one where we tell ourselves that such a thing is unlikely to happen in the community we serve. Those of us with the privileges of citizenship do not live the realities of those without such a privilege and we miss how eminent this danger truly is. The other barriers have to do with policies that are made without these issues in mind so that they prevent us from responding as we need to. This is why we need to be proactive so that we can identify barriers, identify ways of creating policies that facilitate such work or we can find ways to work creatively within them. The last thing is that we do not always have active relationships with other agencies and networks. Those of us who work in community organizations know of each other but we do not necessarily have working relationships with one another especially when we compete for some of the same grant monies. So, we need to be intentional about creating the partnerships so that we can facilitate this type of partnership when needed.

PER: Wrapping things up, the book refers to how oftentimes being part of a spiritual community helps immigrants cope, allowing them to have hope in the midst of such trauma and overwhelming hardships that they have had to endure in their lives. Sometimes through a church’s volunteer activities out in the community at large, people are able to recognize that it takes a group of people working together to bring about change and that in itself serves as a vehicle for empowerment through collective activism. However, sometimes a parent is afraid to experience the link between self-empowerment and being active in a community of activists and so they choose to instead keep to themselves. What do you think keeps them from stepping out of the shadows and dare to, if you will, to not be “invisible” anymore? How can people overcome that?

Dr. Conde-Frazier: There is no instant answer to this. The fears that make it difficult for persons to trust are well grounded. Relationships are difficult enough to form but under these circumstances they are even more difficult. The stakes are very high. One stands to lose everything even with one wrong encounter. It takes great faith to believe that a person can act out of compassion rather than self interest or the hate that seems to be growing against immigrants in this country. There is also the chance that someone can hurt us out of ignorance even while trying to help us. It takes informed courage to take such a step. On occasion it is taken out of desperation. But let us ask ourselves a different question, what I am doing to prepare myself to be the person someone else can trust? My hope is that this book can be the beginning of answering that question.

PER: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with Project Economic Refugee, Dr. Conde-Frazier, your book Listen to the Children, Conversations with Immigrant Families was a pleasure to read.

Dr. Conde-Frazier: Thank you for opening yourselves to discussing this topic with me. You have shown your own courage and commitment to the values that maintain the humanity of all.

Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier is dean of Esperanza College at Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania and the author of the new release Listen to the Children: Conversations with Immigrant Families/Escuchemos a los niños: Conversaciones con familias inmigrantes (Judson Press). This bilingual resource invites the reader to eavesdrop on fictionalized conversations between immigrant parents, their children, and their caregivers, offering insight into their emotions, perceptions, and realities.

by reg825

GOP Schizophrenia on Constitution: Reading It Aloud & Destroying Its 14th Amendment

12:18 pm in Uncategorized by reg825

Will the Republicans' latest branding effort work?

While Republicans on the federal level as one of their first acts in taking over the House of Representatives read the Constitution and its Amendments aloud on the House Floor, on the state level they also prepare to launch an all-out assault on the Constitution by trying to blow up the 14th amendment so that U.S. citizenship is denied to children born on U.S. soil but that happen to have parents that are undocumented immigrants, nevermind that these children are as American as the next person. On Wednesday, January 5th in partnership with well-known white supremacists, right-wing state legislators launched this renewed campaign with a a press conference announcing plans to attack the 14th amendment on the state level. The blowback was immediate, as they were quickly met with protests and a coalition was formed as a response to protect all of our rights to citizenship. Taking away citizenship away from Americans would not only do nothing to solve the root (the oppresive poverty that creates “illegal immigrants” in the first place) of our “illegal immigration problem”, it would impact eveyone, not just the children of undocumented immigrants.

This effort, like with their pledge to overturn President Obama’s health insurance reform package, is dead on arrival, being that Republicans simply do not have the votes nor legal standing to advance any of such proposals and are really putting on this show of theatrics for symbolism sakes. As former Bush Adminstration official and former Texas solicitor General, James C. Ho pointed out in the Wall Street Journal:

A coalition of state legislators, motivated by concerns about illegal immigration, is expected to endorse state-level legislation today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to deny the privileges of U.S citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented persons.

This effort to rewrite U.S. citizenship law from state to state is unconstitutional–and curious. Opponents of illegal immigration cannot claim to champion the rule of law and then, in the same breath, propose policies that violate our Constitution.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, members of the 39th Congress proposed amending the Constitution to reverse the Supreme Court’s notorious 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling denying citizenship to slaves. The result is the first sentence of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”

The plain meaning of this language is clear. A foreign national living in the United States is “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” because he is legally required to obey U.S. law.

Not only is the effort undeniably unconstitutional, it is equally counterproductive because it will further enrage the continuously growing Latino vote and throw Republicans into the risk of a repeat of the shellacking that the Latino vote handed to the Tea Party’s efforts to take over the Senate in the last midterm elections. So why is the GOP sending these conflicting messages? On then one hand, the Republican Party is clearly attempting to brand itself as “the party of the constitution”, on the other, in a sense they are seemingly intent on destroying it. The GOP has a major messaging problem on this, no doubt about it; however, do not be fooled into thinking that their efforts will “result in nothing accomplished.” If there’s one thing that the Republicans have proven, is that they know who their audience is and will stop at nothing to turn out their base to win elections for them and to influece the media to parrot back their right-wing talking points as “fact”, consequences be damned.

For more updates on this, please visit Project Economic Refugee.

by reg825

Senate Fails to Invoke Cloture 55-41 for DREAM Act

3:55 pm in Uncategorized by reg825

In a day that should’ve been a day of progress and celebration with the passage of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a dark cloud taints it with the DREAM Act being denied to our youth. Today I hug all those DREAM’ers and I’m crying with you. The white priviledged got their Christmas wishes, but I guess brown people don’t deserve a Christmas huh?

Asides from the Republicans blocking the DREAM, here are how some key Senators voted:

Democrats who voted no: Nelson, Baucus, Tester, Pryor, Hagan

Abstained from voting: Bunning (R-KY), Gregg (R-NH), Hatch (R-UT), and Manchin (D-WV).

Republicans who voted yes and also deserve a thank you for their bravery: Bennett (UT), Lugar (IN), and Murkowski (Alaska)

Let’s not kid ourselves: the DREAM Act was always a long shot, but look how far we got in the face of criticism, apathy, selfishness, shortsightedness, and sometimes bigotry from both the left and the right. For the first time in its history, the DREAM passed in the House of Representatives and was a measly 5 votes away from actually overcoming a damn fillibuster!

The defeat still stings nevertheless and it breaks our hearts to see our youth hurt by this, so we got something to say to Obama: Mr. President, our DREAM was denied. What are you going to do about it? You do know you have the executive power to put a moratorium on draconian deportations that have actually gone through the roof under your watch right? I’m talking about those carried out under such flawed programs as the 287-g law that affect those that have not committed serious crimes; I’m also talking about halting deportations of DREAM’ers as well, of course. It’s the least that you could do in light of our political system’s failure to pass some form of immigration reform and in light of your failed strategy that relied on appeasing racist Republicans first with massive deportations of our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, cousins, and friends.

More updates have been developing since this post was published.  For more up-to-the-minute information, visit Project Economic Refugee here.

by reg825

CNN Erroneously Reports DREAM Act Dead When Very Much Alive

8:05 am in Uncategorized by reg825

From Project Economic Refugee:

In light of what happened today in the Senate, reports of the DREAM Act’s death have been, shall we say, greatly exaggerated. It seems that CNN jumped the gun by reporting this:

Senate cancels DREAM vote

(CNN) – Senate Democrats canceled a scheduled vote on the DREAM Act on Thursday, a move that means the measure is likely dead for this year.

The hotly debated measure that offers a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children narrowly won approval Wednesday from the U.S. House.

Only one problem with CNN’s prouncement that the measure was “likely dead for this year”: nothing could be furter from the truth. In fact, as argued previously after passage of the DREAM Act in the House of Representatives, other than actual passage of any version of the DREAM by the Senate, the next best outcome was to forget about the Senate version of the bill and instead just take up the same bill that the House passed to avoid a drawn-out process of reconciliation. Here’s the breakdown of what happened, via The Caucus Blog of the New York Times:

Senate Democrats on Thursday pulled a measure that would allow illegal immigrant students to earn legal status through education or military service after Republicans refused to allow a vote on a version of the legislation that had cleared the House on Wednesday.

Rather than try to break a Republican filibuster against the Senate’s so-called Dream Act, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, instead forced a vote to call off the attempt, presumably so he could try again later. Democrats prevailed on the motion to table the legislation, 59-40.

Shifting all focus to pass the House version of the DREAM Act instead of the Senate version actually represents a victory for DREAM activists because it paves the way for a faster, not slower process of approval-had the Senate actually approved its version of DREAM Act, it would have had to go through a process of reconciliation with the House version and then it would have had to be voted again by both chambers to gain final approval. By the Senate foregoing its version and instead just adopting the House version that has already been approved, it needs only to be approved as is and then off to the President’s desk for his signature it goes. The Senate’s vote on the House version of the DREAM Act is reportedly expected to take place next week.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

by reg825

Conservatives Invest in Spanish Outreach

8:38 am in Uncategorized by reg825

To access videos of the Heritage Foundation's history of spreading anti-immigrant rhetoric on Lou Dobbs' old CNN show, click on the picture above.

On the heels of Fox News launching a website catering to Latinos and perhaps as a response to the beating the Latino vote handed to the Tea Party in the 2010 midterm elections, the conservative think thank Heritage Foundation is now launching a site entirely in Spanish. Via PR Newswire:

“The new website,, will give Spanish-speaking Americans access to the top-flight research and informed, conservative commentary that has helped Heritage build a center-right majority in the nation as a whole,” said Heritage Vice President for Communications Mike Gonzalez.

“Surveys show that vast majorities of Hispanic Americans already embrace conservative attitudes, such as the desire for smaller government and less regulation,” Gonzalez noted. “They also cherish personal freedom and free enterprise — the promise of which drew them and their forebears to this country in the first place,” he added. “Heritage Libertad will provide the hard facts and conservative analysis too often ignored by the liberal-dominated media currently serving the Hispanic community.”

By “will provide the hard facts” they most likely mean “will provide data that is conservative biased” and by “the liberal-dominated media currently serving the Hispanic community” what they probably really mean is that they will seek to overtake “any media outlet that is currently not following right-wing marching orders to support a conservative agenda“. Make no mistake, you can count on the true aim of this think tank’s efforts in Spanish being not only to attract Latinos that may already lean conservative on certain issues but to go further and seek to replicate the powerful reach that conservatives already have on most English-language media outlets by aiming to move the Latino community’s overall attitudes in support of right-wing policies.

If you think for a moment that the Heritage Foundation will stick to the unbiased “hard facts”, then to prove yourself wrong you need only to look at their history to find out how that Foundation, in the tradition of most conservatives being two-faced when dealing with Latinos, spread hateful misinformation on shows like Lou Dobb’s. As reported by Think Progress as early as last year:

Lou Dobbs Show Promotes Myth That ‘Gaping Loophole’ Will Provide Health Care Coverage For ‘Illegals’

Last night, Lou Dobbs Show correspondent Lisa Sylvester reported that “people who break immigration laws” will be “rewarded” with free health care coverage due to “gaping loopholes” in the proposed health care bill. Sylvester interviewed right-wing immigration hardliners and health care opponents to make her case:

ROBERT RECTOR, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: What we’re doing is creating a new program for low-income people to give them free medical care and giving illegal immigrants free and total access to that system. It’s a huge transformation. It’s radically different than anything the country has done in the past.

Meanwhile, on the progressive side, Spanish language outreach is still lagging. If you currently go to the Center for American Progress’ website, the most recognized progressive think tank, you will find no Spanish language material whatsoever. As previously argued by Project Economic Refugee, it is NOT enough to expose or ‘fact-check’ the hypocrisy and two-faced nature of conservatives’ media efforts to recruit Latino support. In order to truly neutralize such manipulation of public opinion, communications tactics must be accompanied by a voice offering a progressive counter in the messaging wars of our public debate. There is no question that conservatives are making smart investments on Spanish/Latino outreach; will progressives match it or will they make the strategic mistake of seating by the sidelines and just watch conservatives win over Latinos?

by reg825

Let’s Make Sure That It Does Get Better For Our Teens

6:19 pm in Uncategorized by reg825

Sometimes fate has a way to rub it in your face that in the end, we all really are in this together. As previously featured, Project Economic Refugee has been tracking the uncanny commonalities between the experiences that the LGBTQ rights and the immigrants rights communities have faced on their path towards their respective fight for equality in our society. The latest manifestation of the crossing of paths among these two camps has now come in the form of a disturbing trend of tragedy, as we are learning that some undocumented teens, just like the LGBTQ teens, faced with despair in their lives, are committing suicide. The Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) is organizing an event in Chicago (flyer at right) to tell undocumented teens that they are NOT alone and that together we CAN overcome despair. In the lead up to the event, the IYJL is collecting stories of support to share about those that have thought about or have attempted suicide due to being undocumented and having doors shut on their faces. The following personal story is up on their website:

“I graduated in June of 2009, a day after my graduation I attempted suicide because I was tired, because I did not want to tell my mom we’d have to pay for my education out of our own pocket. And when schools gave me scholarships I didn’t want to put her through the pain of telling me that we still couldn’t afford it. That’s when a funeral started to look less expensive than 4-years of education at the school of my choice. I’ve decided to come out about this because every day that passes by without addressing this is another day another student is probably thinking the same and I don’t want that anymore.

“I know that for the past months we’ve worked under an unpredictable legislative schedule and it has come down to this: a vote in the House and Senate as early as next week. I know that this is something that some of us have experienced, or thought about, and I can only imagine how many other undocumented people there are just like us, who need hope and inspiration. And others need to realize that this is what fighting for DREAM is about, fighting for our lives.”

Reyna Wences,
Immigrant Youth Justice League

If you have other stories that you would like to share with them to feature on their campaign, please send an e-mail to

by reg825

Progressives To Start Building Communications Network?

9:01 pm in Uncategorized by reg825

To download Thinking Points, a progressive guide to messaging (PDF), click on the image above.

I recently had the chance to see Professor of Linguists George Lakoff talk at a forum on the tactics of health care reform. During that discussion, Professor Lakoff reiterated, as he has often done in the past, that progressives still lack the extensive network of communications in this country that they need in order to effectively get their message out to the American people and that that is one of the major reasons why we continue to see progressive legislation after progressive legislation drowning in Congress. Yet, contrary to popular belief, such void exists not because there are no resources to build such a network or because it is too much of an overwhelming undertaking, but rather because so far there hasn’t been the political will to build one. This is mainly because progressives have tended to buy into the mistaken notion that human beings are primarily rational beings and that if you explain to them ‘the facts’ in a logical manner, people will somehow come over to your side in droves if only given the chance to be heard. While no one is disputing that facts do need to be out there to counter minsinformation, in terms of first impressions when you communicate, the notion that “policy wonk” talk is all it takes to convince people is completely disconnected from reality, as most people tend to be primarily moved with their emotions, rather than with their “logic”.

The recent news that wealthy progressives will start to invest in developing a counterweight in the airwaves to the right-wing conservative messages that currently dominate our media in the U.S. sent ripples through the corporate media.  Chris Matthews of Hardball even invited Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who will be heading the coordination of such an effort at the new American Bridge organization, to talk to him about exactly what is being planned (click here to access the video of that segment).  According to the New York Times, some liberal operatives led by David Brock were moved to work on this due to the recent lopsided influence the Chamber of Commerce had in the last midterm elections (which was reportedly funneling undisclosed foreign money to fund ad campaigns favoring Republican candidates):

Mr. Brock said in an interview that he planned to formally file papers with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday to set up American Bridge as what is known as an independent-expenditure-only political action committee, meaning it will be able to take in contributions of unlimited size from individuals and corporations but must regularly disclose its donors.

Certain to set off debate, however, is that Mr. Brock appears to be positioning his new organization so that fund-raising consultants can raise money for Democratic-oriented media efforts not just through American Bridge but also via one of the nonprofit organizations Mr. Brock currently runs, Media Matters Action Network, which does not disclose its donors.

The action network, which tracks conservative politicians and advocacy organizations, is organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group and is set to take on an expanded role in the 2012 elections, including potentially running television ads, according to an internal draft concept paper about American Bridge’s and Media Matter Action Network’s plans obtained by The New York Times.

While starting with Media Matters might be a good beginning launching point, I’d be interested to see if Media Matters will actually direct the efforts to go beyond the old communications model of “fight them with the facts”, which in previous experience has proven to be simply not enough. So my question is this: does Media Matters really have what it takes to do more than just fact checking and go beyond that to do some framing messaging? Because the message framing itself is just as important as the network of communications that gets the message out onto the public, if Media Matters does not do the framing, I sincerely hope that other supportive tactics are launched as part of American Bridge’s new undertaking.

Another mistaken notion that I’ve been seeing get repeated in the media wires in light of the news of this new American Bridge undertaking is that “progressives used to have a version of such a network prior to the Obama campaign”, which in my opinion is a misconception of what an effective network of communications ought to actually look like. This misconception was repeated on a later segment that Chris Matthews did.  In order to have a truly effective network of communications, you should have three components: 1) an integrated marketing communications strategy to assure uniformity, 2) an effective framing of messages, and 3) the right scope of media outlets to carry out the message itself. So far, Progressives have always been outgunned (including during the 2008 Presidential campaign) by conservatives in terms of communications because the conservative think tanks and larger infrastructure of the right-wing media foot soldiers all invest heavily in large communications budgets. Frankly, it’s always been an eye-opening experience to hear first hand from George Lakoff himself talk about how he’s gotten to see the massive number of outreach right-wingers do in the media, literally being witness to the two-inch thick paper stacks of solicitations that conservative media spokespeople submit on any given day to any one particular media outlet for interviews or to offer comments on ongoing issues and seeing no progressive equivalent … and the marketing doesn’t stop there: for example, senior citizens are constantly getting bombarded by mailings after mailings like these of effectively framed messages to mobilize them against President Obama’s health insurance reform. If progressive funders are really serious about countering the massive advantage in communications that conservatives enjoy, I really hope they look into framing messaging tactics. The fate of many progressive reforms will depend on it.

by reg825

When Childhood Heroes Betray You: Lou Ferrigno

2:35 pm in Uncategorized by reg825

Lou Ferrigno used to be a role model to many and traveled from time to time to Mexico to promote bodybuilding events. For more images, click on the picture above for the direct link of the site that published this picture online.

By now you have probably seen the reports about several Hollywood actors joining Sheriff Arpaio’s posse of vigilantes hunting down immigrants that try to escape oppressive poverty. The list of actors including Steven Seagal and Peter Lupus were not as much of a shock to me as was the case with Lou Ferrigno. You see, if you grew up in Mexico and you or your brothers were into bodybuilding as a positive activity to better yourself, chances are that you had a poster of Lou Ferrigno on a wall somewhere in your house, looking up to him as an example of determination to follow. In light of this, I can’t even begin to describe how disturbing it is to see Ferrigno join neo-nazi sympathizer Sheriff Arpaio, in a press conference, of all things, to offer Arpaio his unconditional support (click here to access the video).

Regardless of what Ferrigno’s stance is on immigration issues, it is absolutely shameful that he is associating himself with such a bigoted individual like Sheriff Arpaio, a person that is known to ‘pal around’ with neo-nazis. Boy, talk about childhood memories being stomped on…

by reg825

Coming Out In Don’t Ask Don’t Tell & The DREAM Act

5:44 pm in Uncategorized by reg825

Gay Latinos emerge as key to promoting mutual support between immigrants rights and LGBTQ camps. Art by Hector Silva

In the midst of the national push to get Congress to vote on the DREAM Act (it has now been tentatively scheduled to be voted on November 29th in the House of Representatives and Senator Reid has said that he will bring it up for a Senate vote on as a stand-alone bill), Project Economic Refugee has been drawing parallels from the coincedental intersection in time between the DREAM Act and the other major piece of legislation that many progressive activists are trying to push: the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Most specifically, Project Economic Refugee has been arguing for mutual empathy for the purpose of promoting the idea that we have much work to do to instill a sense of compassion and respect for “the other” in both the Latino communities and in the gay community, with a special focus on the call to foster stronger support for a humane comprehensive immigration reform among the LGBTQ community.

As the vote for both Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the DREAM Act loom closer, it has been fascinating to see the underlying similarities between the experience of being gay and the experience of being an undocumented youth in America. Just this week, we had a couple of cases, in Fresno State and in Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican campus, that received major national attention because of college students being “outed” or “coming out” as undocumented (or as the media derisively called them, “illegal immigrants”) and subsequently finding themselves stigmatized by the larger society even though that by growing up their entire lives in this country and for all intents and purposes, these young students are as American as any other U.S. citizen.

Another source of similarities between the movement to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the DREAM Act is the drama that is unfolding in the courts, as judges try to address legalese questions related to policy in the face of inaction in Congress. Most everyone has heard of the litigation in the courts unfolding regarding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being declared unconstitutional. Thus, with the recent unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court ruling that undocumented individuals (which are bound to be mostly youth) were eligible for in-state tuiton rates in that state’s colleges and universities, one cannot help but draw even more parallels with the judicial drama Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is undergoing.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →