Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cell Phones and Your Life - Part V

Published: August 28, 2009
New York Times

LOGAN, Utah — In most states, if somebody is texting behind the wheel and causes a crash that injures or kills someone, the penalty can be as light as a fine.

Utah is much tougher....

Studies show that talking on a cellphone while driving is as risky as driving with a .08 blood alcohol level — generally the standard for drunken driving — and that the risk of driving while texting is at least twice that dangerous. Research also shows that many people are aware that the behavior is risky, but they assume others are the to complete NYT article

click here for link to video on driving while talking or texting on a cell phone

Friday, August 28, 2009

Giving Yourself Away on the Web

Everybody is on Facebook these days. I was asked so many times I finally joined. Yet, I don't have time to check it often. Usually I only log in when someone leaves me a message.

Now that I came back from Buenos Aires, I changed most of my passwords. I am not sure this does much good, but at least I feel I am doing something. Having a Mac also helps me feel somewhat more secure.

The sad thing is that the web is a giant history book that is tracking everything we do. I have nothing to hide, but it still feels creepy to think that a detailed record of my life is traveling all over cyberspace.

New York Times
Editorial Notebook
Published: August 27, 2009

Internet users used to comfort themselves by thinking that to become victims of the pirates of the Web, they had to frequent the online porn circuit or respond to an e-mail from the widowed wife of the former central bank governor of Nigeria. The idea was that one had to do something naughty to get caught in the wrongdoers’ net, or at least go for a late-night stroll in the rough end of town.

But the conceit has become untenable. Two years ago, engineers at Google reported that about 10 percent of millions of Web pages they analyzed engaged in “drive-by downloads” of malware. Google today has about 330,000 Web sites listed as malicious, up from about 150,000 a year to complete NYT editorial

Afghan Refugees Undocumented in France

link to image

War refugees are spreading all over Europe. What else can be expected? As often happens, the host countries don't want to welcome the new people. Even though the U.S. has devastated Iraq and much of Afghanistan, the number we admit as legal immigrants is miniscule.


Afghan Youths Seek a New Life in Europe

by Caroline Brothers
New York Times
August 27, 3009

...Thousands of lone Afghan boys are making their way across Europe, a trend that has accelerated in the past two years as conditions for Afghan refugees become more difficult in countries like Iran and Pakistan. Although some are as young as 12, most are teenagers seeking an education and a future that is not possible in their own country, which is still struggling with poverty and violence eight years after the end of Taliban rule.

...In Italy, 24 Afghan teenagers were discovered sleeping in a sewer in Rome this spring, and last year two adolescents died in Italian ports — one under a semitrailer in Venice and another inside a shipping container in Ancona. In Greece, which says it is overwhelmed by asylum seekers from many countries, there is no foster system for foreign minors; only 300 can be accommodated in the whole country, officials say....complete NYT article

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ending 287G

From National Immigration Legal Center:

CONTACT: Adela de la Torre

(213) 674-7822

WASHINGTON - 521 local and national organizations signed a letter delivered to President Obama on Aug. 25 demanding the administration terminate the 287(g) program, which grants state and local law enforcement agencies federal immigration enforcement authority. The program, a legacy of the Bush administration, has caused serious civil and human rights abuses, including racial profiling, and endangers public safety.

"The Obama administration has responded to documented violations within the 287(g) program by expanding it and creating an illusory complaint process," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "Ostracizing potential victims of and witnesses to crime and providing them with a disincentive to trust the authorities will make all our communities less safe."

Local organizations that signed the letter will host vigils, marches, and other activities across the country to voice their discontent with the administration's decision to expand the 287(g) program despite evidence that it makes immigrant communities and the general public more vulnerable and less safe. Since its inception, the 287(g) program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law enforcement, community groups, and press reports. They say that the program has caused Latinos and other minority groups to be stopped or arrested because of their appearance or accent, which has resulted in the wrongful detention of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The program has failed to meet the federal government's own objectives or priorities in immigration enforcement, and has interfered with local law enforcement's ability to implement sound community policing practices designed to ensure public safety.

"The 287(g) program encourages civil rights abuses and makes it more difficult for police to do their primary job of fighting crime, endangering public safety for everyone," said Carlos Garcia, a Phoenix community organizer with the Macehualli day labor center. "I hope President Obama, as a former community organizer, will recognize that, in defense of their civil rights, immigrant communities have organized around the country in opposition to this failed experiment of the Bush administration."

For more information about local activities to protest the 287(g) program, please contact
Sarahi Uribe at 202-285-9673.

Letter to White House:

A Friend of the DREAMers Goes to the White House

Dr. Thelma Melendez, Superintendent of Schools of the Pomona School District in California has been named Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education

Dr. Melendez is married to my friend and colleague, Dr. Otto Santa Ana. Dr. Santa Ana is a professor at UCLA in Chicano Studies. They are currently moving to Washington, D.C. Dr. Melendez has worked with DREAMers at Pomona and has been a strong advocate of the DREAM Act.

Dr. Thelma Melendez is currently serving as the Superintendent of Schools in the Pomona Unified School District in Pomona, CA. Her work on improving teaching and learning, and accelerating student performance, also includes work with the Stupski Educational Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation. She has written numerous articles for national education publications, and is an accomplished speaker on the role of school administrators, the achievement gap, women in education, and the issues of race and class. She earned a Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, at UCLA, a Doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Southern California, participated in several graduate programs in school administration and leadership, and was a Broad Urban Superintendents Academy fellow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Immigration Policy Issue - Stopping 287G - Press Conference

Take Action!!!!

Houston, Texas: On Thursday August 27, 2009 we will be holding a press conference and delivery of letters against the 287 (g) The activity will commence with a press conference and a deliverance of letters at the Mickey Leeland Federal building located at 1919 Smith Houston, TX 77002. We will meet there at 10:30a.m. After that we will make local congressional visits dropping off a letter signed by more than 500 organizations nationwide alogn with a local letter... Please come to support this work! for more info please contact me... Cesar Espinosa

Read Letter Bellow:

Dear colleague,


This week 521 organizations from around the country -- civil rights, criminal justice, community and immigrant rights organizations -- joined together to send a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to terminate the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) widely criticized 287(g) program, which relinquishes the authority to enforce civil federal immigration law to local law enforcement and corrections officials. Advocates, expecting a major overhaul – or termination – of this controversial program, were shocked to learn that DHS was expanding it to 11 new jurisdictions. While DHS claims to have standardized the agreements, close scrutiny has shown that these changes do nothing to prevent civil and human rights abuses, and in fact only further exacerbate the program's pervasive problems.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, AZ has been the most public example of the egregious human rights abuses that have resulted from the program. However, despite an ongoing civil rights investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office by the Department of Justice, DHS has not terminated its 287(g) agreement. Similarly, other law enforcement agencies around the country have aggressively targeted immigrants by using pretextual traffic stops or other racial profiling tactics.

We are asking for you to add your voice to this demand. Click here to send President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security, and members of Congress an email in support of the demand to terminate the 287(g) program and to restore fundamental fairness for all in our immigration enforcement policy.
You can see a full list of the organizations which have signed the letter.

The 287(g) program, which has contributed to the pervasive racial profiling our communities face day after day, must come to end.
Now is the time to join together to highlight for the President the urgent need to safeguard against civil rights and human rights abuses occurring under the 287(g) program. When Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested in his own home last month, President Obama in response publicly recognized the “long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately". We must seize this critical moment to demand longstanding American values liberty, fairness and justice for all people.

Please distribute this link widely.

In solidarity,
All of Us or None
Center for Constitutional Rights
Detention Watch Network
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Grassroots Leadership
Homies Unidos
Immigration Law Clinic, UC Davis School of Law
Justice Strategies
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
National Day Laborer Organizing Network
National Immigration Law Center
Partnership for Safety and Justice
Southern Center for Human Rights
Youth Justice Coalition

Cesar Espinosa

America Para Todos
Executive Director
6601 Hillcroft #125
Houston, TX 77081
Phone: (713)271-9703
Fax: (713)271-9704

PO Box 2765
Cypress, TX 77410-2765
Phone: (281)225-4037
Fax: (281)225-4037

Cell and texts: (713)459-8923

Thank You Senator Ted Kennedy

He wasn't a perfect guy, but he was one of the few who carried a conscience in the U.S. Senate. A friend who worked in the White House told me once that he was most brilliant of all the Kennedys. As a country we should be honored that he served us so well.


Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy Dies at 77 After Cancer Battle

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 26, 2009; 7:29 AM

Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most powerful and influential senators in American history and one of three brothers whose political triumphs and personal tragedies captivated the nation for decades, died late Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 77. He had been battling brain cancer.

His family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday. "We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all." to complete WP story

link to photo

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We Have a DREAM Summit - September 12, 2009

Recruiting Volunteers

The Houston community is in dire need of DREAM Act information. Several organizations and individuals created the Houston DREAM Act Coalition whose purpose is to advocate for the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alian Minors (DREAM) Act is a bipartisan legislation that addresses the situation faced by young people who were brought to the United States years ago as undocumented immigrant children and who have since grown up here, stayed in school, and kept out of trouble.
We believe that our community deserves an event that will help our students and their parents better understand the purpose, benefit and requirements of the DREAM Act.

Our summit "We Have a DREAM" scheduled for September 12th, 8am - 12pm at the University of Houston Downtown is recruiting volunteers.
The "We Have a DREAM Summit" will include four different workshops:
  • “Journey to a DREAM”
  • “Ready, Set, Action!”
  • “DREAM Act & The Law”
  • “DREAM Act Economic Impact”
We will also have Congressional Representatives that will help us better understand Congress and how we can take action and help the DREAM Act pass.
We are in need of volunteers to help us make sure this event runs smoothly, if you can volunteer please click here to register online. For more information about volunteer duties/roles please visit our link at the Texas DREAM Act Alliance
Should you have any questions I can be reached at 832-455-4074 or . Please forward to your contacts.

Thank you in advance,

Donajih Robles
Coalition of Higher Education for Immigrant Student :
DREAM Act Texas Blog
HISD-Dropout Prevention Specialist - "Graduation:Expectation"

Monday, August 24, 2009

An Unconstitutional Threat to Taggers in LA

LA City attorney is talking about an "end-of-days scenario" for suspected taggers in south LA. She is also intending on arresting them even if they are not caught tagging...

It sounds like an unconstitutional threat is coming from the LA City Attorney.


PROMISE AND PERIL IN SOUTH L.A. -L.A. Times, August 24, 2009, by Scott Gold

'Tagging' or just hanging out -- busted either way?

L.A.'s city attorney wants to give police the ability to arrest graffiti 'taggers' simply for hanging out together, without having to catch them in the act. The proposal raises constitutional issues.

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich wants to give police the ability to arrest "taggers" simply for hanging out together, without having to catch them in the act -- raising thorny constitutional issues as he lays the groundwork for a campaign to tackle the city's vexing graffiti problem.

In an interview, Trutanich said his staff has begun amassing street-level intelligence and reviewing legal strategies that would pave the way for a series of injunctions targeting graffiti and "tagging" crews. The measures would be lawsuits of sorts, brought on behalf of the public, treating much of the graffiti that mars buildings and overpasses as a criminal enterprise and arguing that it has become such a nuisance that it requires an extraordinary police response.

Los Angeles is the national leader in the use of civil injunctions to combat criminal gang behavior -- the model for Trutanich's proposal. The city has 43 injunctions targeting 71 gangs, including one rolled out earlier this year over a 13.7-square-mile area of South L.A., the largest in California. The tagging injunctions would focus on neighborhoods where graffiti is a particularly acute problem, such as the Harbor Gateway area, the San Fernando Valley and, especially, South L.A.

"I'm going to put together an end-of-days scenario for these guys," Trutanich said. "If you want to tag, be prepared to go to jail. And I don't have to catch you tagging. I can just catch you . . . with your homeboys."...
link to complete LAT article

image: graffiti in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
photo by MT Hernandez

Secrets in the Colony

For 24 hours this weekend, I went with my family to a place called Colonia del Sacramento. It is in Uruguay, on the Atlantic coast, a one hour boat ride from Buenos Aires. The trip was lots of fun. The place is beautiful and peaceful, the hotel was nice, and we laughed a lot while we drove around the town in a golf cart.

If you don't look too hard, its a wonderful place. So serene, clean, safe. You would never know the real story if you didn't ask someone. The history books only tell us that the region changed hands numerous times, that it was founded in the 1600s by the Portuguese. There is little mention of Colonia being a slave colony. We asked a number of people working at the shops and museums and they all agreed, yes, it was a slave colony.

The first clue that something isn't right comes up in the tourist stores. Most have small figurines of black people dancing happily. Some have painted portraits of black women from the colonial time period. One store had small statues of naked black women with exaggerated lips.

In the brochures about the town, there is frequent mention of a street named Calle de los Suspiros - suspiro meaning "heavy sigh" --- sometimes associated with ultimo suspiro - the last breath before a person dies. We found the street. It leads to a nearby rocky beach.

People agreed to tell us the story of the street, but didn't want to say more. There are three versions. First is that it was the street where slaves had to walk while going to their execution. Second, it was an area of prostitution. Third, it was where regular criminals had to walk to be executed.

The fact that Colonia was a slave colony and that slaves were executed are the only memories still acknowledged these days. These remnants make sense. It is a beautiful tourist location in the 21st century. Best to keep its past a secret. Contain the history of slavery into a colony and only talk about slaves when they were to be executed. Their presence is only silenty acknowledged as their figurines are bought and sold at the local tourist stores.

The horror of slavery is that human beings were sold as commodities, and executed as their owners saw fit. Colonia may be trying to keep it a secret, but the information still stands in front of the tourist as she enters the expensive shops or walks down the picturesque streets.

Colonia isn't the only place holding these types of secrets. My daughter reminded me that most any city on the Atlantic coast contained a slave market. Closer to us, Houston, Galveston, and New Orleans all had slave markets, with New Orleans being the largest and most important on the Gulf Coast.

photos by M.T. Hernandez

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Speaking of Obama and Immigration Reform

From the Immigration Policy Center
August 21, 2009

For Immediate Release

President Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Immigration Reform

August 20, 2009

Washington, D.C. - Today, President Obama once more reaffirmed his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, pledging that "we can get this done." The President and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Napolitano met with immigrant advocates, faith leaders, labor, business, and law enforcement officials to listen to concerns and discuss the next steps forward. Mary Giovagnoli, Director the Immigration Policy Center, attended the White House meeting and issued this statement:

"Today's White House meeting demonstrated a genuine commitment to engage in a dialogue that will lead to a smart and workable legislative package. Secretary Napolitano strongly supported the need to bring all undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, streamline naturalization procedures, improve immigration processes that allow immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S., and create smart immigration enforcement mechanisms. Both the President and Secretary Napolitano acknowledged the importance of immigration to our country as well as the need to create a sustainable legal immigration system for the 21st century. We must all remain committed to following through on the dialogue that began today."

Life in Beautiful Buenos Aires

There are a few streets that look like Paris. But go a little further and the buildings suddenly change to 1950s ugly.

Besides the airfare being so high, visiting here isn't so bad. You can rent a nice apartment very inexpensively. You can eat out and see the sights without going broke.

Only thing is. You have to be careful that you don't loose your cell phone, your camera, or your purse. There is a crime epidemic going on. If you are driving a car and stop at a light, be sure to have your doors locked. If not, young boys at the intersection open your door and will take your cell phone it is on the seat. Don't send a text message at the bus stop. Someone could easily run by and snatch your phone while you are holding it.

People are desperate.... Middle class people say its the immigration. Argentina has an open immigration policy regarding other South American countries. The kids at the stop lights don't necessarily look like immigrants. They are generally from the huge population of unemployed or underemployed that live next to bridges or in parks. People are so poor, and prices are so high. It must be pretty bad in Peru, and similar places for people to want to come here to work.

To be truthful, Buenos Aires isn't so beautiful anymore.

photo by A.C. Villagomez

Death and Secrets: Immigration Policy under Obama Hasn't Changed Much

Felix Franklin Rodriguez

The death of Felix Franklin Rodriguez was in the news back in 2007. That same year, Senator Richard Durbin tried to pass the DREAM Act.

When Obama was elected, I was relieved. I thought, oh yes, the DREAM Act will pass, immigration will get straightened out. People won't die in detention camps anymore. I'll never be harassed at the airport again.

None of this has happened. The DREAMers are still languishing. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers are still being detained.

The airports haven't changed much. I flew to Buenos Aires a few days ago. They have a new security device that looks like an MRI that stands up. My daughter and I were told to stand in the middle while it photographed us. I've seen articles about this thing. The workers can see your naked body very very well. At first I thought that everyone was being expected to be X-Rayed. But then I saw a few middled aged white guys coming through the other "free" lane...

When I came out of the machine the worker asked me to stretch out my arms.... of course she didn't find anything sinister.

Maybe I was delusional thinking the Obama Administration could really do something. But I conveniently forgot that its the Congress that makes the rules, and puts pressure on the agencies to change... Having the person at the top be a nice guy isn't enough. Its our whole society that has to re-invent itself.

August 21, 2009

Immigrant’s Death Shows Hard Path to Detention Reform

In the fall of 2006, a man’s death brought a team of government investigators to the large privately run immigration jail in Eloy, Ariz., in the desert between Phoenix and Tucson. Medical care was so poor, the team later warned federal immigration officials, that “detainee welfare is in jeopardy.”

Another death there soon spurred another inquiry, and another scathing report was issued about the care provided by the private company, the Corrections Corporation of America.

But the government scrutiny did not add up to much for Felix Franklin Rodriguez-Torres, 36, an Ecuadorean construction worker who wound up in Eloy that fall as an unauthorized immigrant after being jailed for petit larceny in New York City. By mid-December, a fellow detainee told the man’s relatives, Mr. Rodriguez lay pleading for medical help on the floor of his cell, unable to move.

He died weeks later of testicular cancer, a typically fast-growing but treatable disease, which had gone undiagnosed and untreated during his two months at Eloy, which holds more than 1,500 detainees. And despite a high-level discussion of his case among federal immigration officials while he was dying — captured in e-mail messages between Washington and Arizona — his death on Jan. 18, 2007, was not even listed on the roster of detention fatalities that the agency produced under pressure last year and updated in to complete article

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Immigrants & Taxes vs U.S. Bank Accounts at UBS Switzerland

Next time you become angry with the (falsified) belief that immigrants don't pay taxes, think a little about the 52,000 U.S. bank accounts in Switzerland. The owners of these accounts don't have to report their earnings... you can imagine how much money we are talking about... Its billions of dollars.


Swiss Bank UBS to Divulge at Least 4,450 Account Names
By David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:22 PM

The Swiss government will turn over names of suspected tax-dodgers who have held 4,450 secret accounts at banking giant UBS, accounts that at one point held as much as $18 billion, U.S. officials said Wednesday morning.

The settlement follows a long-running effort by the U.S. government to penetrate Swiss bank secrecy and catch tax evaders. The United States had been seeking a federal court order demanding that UBS identify the American holders of 52,000 accounts. The Swiss government vowed to prevent such a disclosure, leading to weeks of negotiations and Wednesday's to complete article

Friday, August 14, 2009

Class Struggle by Jay Mathews - Washington Post
Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 08/14/2009

Community College Secrets Exposed

I read many college guides. I write about them too. I even wrote one myself. But I have never encountered a college guide like the one that arrived in the mail last week.
It had the usual colorful front cover with a gushy blurb above the title. The back cover had typical one-line previews of the hot new information inside. The difference was that this guide was written for the 11 million students ignored by all the other guides I have read, and the one I wrote. This book was about community colleges, and written for the nearly half of all American undergraduates who attend them.

“The Community College Guide: The Essential Reference From Application to Graduation” is a 279-page, sharply-written, detailed examination of everything, good and bad, that can happen to you in the 1,200 public two-year colleges in the United States. Authors Debra Gonsher and Joshua Halberstam are professors at Bronx Community College, but seem to know what is going on at similar institutions all over the country.
It has chapters on every imaginable topic, from what to call your college teacher to how to manage your time writing an essay question to how to make sure you have a cap and gown on graduation day. There is an appendix full of Web site addresses backing up the information in each chapter.

I skipped around, trying to see how the book handled the more ticklish community colleges issues. Here is how Gonsher and Halberstam handled these sore points that a student might raise:
How can I avoid those remedial courses that earn no college credit?
In my July 19 column,
“The Community College Placement Mess,” I cited research on the California community colleges showing a bewildering variety of tests for deciding which first-year students must take remediation and which don’t. Gonsher and Halberstam don’t get into that, probably because it is a situation that, at the moment, neither they nor their students can do anything about. Instead, they advise students that flunk a community college placement exam to accept without resentment the bad news and start the remedial class as soon as possible.

“Too many students, inadvisably, postpone remedial classes when permitted to do so,” they say. “This is especially the case with remedial math, as students not majoring in math or science would rather focus on their reading and writing classes and delay dealing with their math requirement. Don’t fall into this trap! Putting off your remedial courses until the last semesters might hold back your graduation if you don’t pass the classes. Get your remedial classes out of the way in your first semesters so that you’ll have more choices later on and save time and money in the bargain.”

What if my professor is a disaster?

I consider it a good sign that two professors are willing to address this topic. They say: “Don’t be surprised if you run into a few clunkers. When you’re stuck with a poor teacher, your school life becomes more difficult. Difficult, but not impossible. This only means you have to step up a bit. If the instructor doesn’t explain the material well, you will have to ask more questions, study harder, and get help from classmates or a tutor. Usually, if you put in that extra effort, you’ll still get that A.”

If the problem is more serious than that, they say, take it up first with the teacher. I think this is a trifle naive. I would likely seek out a student advisor before I took that step, to make sure I had all the background I needed about this errant instructor. But they are right. You have to approach the person with whom you have the problem, and see it the issue might have been a misunderstanding. If that doesn’t work, the authors agree that you have to go the department head, and make sure you have documents or witnesses as back up.

How do I handle that first big paper?

This is a scary moment for both two- and four-year college freshmen. Most high schools fail to assign a long research paper, so that first college assignment can inspire panic. Gonsher and Halberstam, who teach communication arts and sciences, are very good on this issue. One of their best short segments is titled “Begin Writing Before You’re Ready to Write.” They say “Professional writers often say they don’t really know a subject until they write about it. Writing crystallizes our thoughts and gives them shape and direction. Don’t fall into the trap of spending the entire semester researching for your paper and then staying up the night before it’s due writing it. By beginning the writing process early, you’ll give your paper structure, and your reading and research will be more focused as a result.”

Will the four -year college I want block my transfer?

The authors are very upbeat on this. “Four-year colleges want you!” they say. “These institutions are eager to increase enrollment, and they are especially eager to attract good students.” In a column last year, “Community College Transfer Mess,” I noted that Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Nancy C. Rodriguez exposed some less welcoming policies in the community colleges she investigated. But the authors have the right attitude. You can get around such obstacles if you identify them early.

“Too many students wait until their third term or later before calculating how many transferable credits they have, only to find out they’ve taken nontransferable classes and need to make up those credits,” they say. They concede one of the points made in Rodriguez’s articles: “It’s an unfortunate fact that four-year schools and two-year schools do not work together nearly as well as they should for the benefit of students. Therefore, the sooner you know what is needed, the better you’ll be able to tailor your curriculum choices for the school you wish to attend.”

For anyone interested in getting the best out of our community colleges, thus both saving money and time, the sooner they get this book the better. link to WP blog post

DREAMers are Real People - and some are getting deported

Herta Llusho is a real person. She is being deported on August 19.
My name is Herta Llusho, I am 19 years old, and I'm writing this because I'm about to be deported. I was born in Albania and was brought to the United States when I was 11 years old. With the help and support of my family, I have struggled through more than seven years of legal proceedings to find a way to stay in this country legally. Despite our best efforts, on August 19, I will be removed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from the only place I know as my home. I will be sent back to a country that has become a foreign place to me. I don't even speak Albanian well anymore. My only hope of staying here is for as many people as possible to ask DHS to delay my deportation until the DREAM Act is passed.

My parents brought me to the United States because they believed in the promises this country had to offer. To them it was the land of opportunities, values, and ideals. They were faithful believers of the American Dream, meaning that through hard work, education, and good character their children could accomplish anything they wanted. In fact, they believed in it so strongly that they sacrificed their own lives, as well as their relationship to make it happen. My dad stayed in Albania with the hope of relocating to the US, while my mom left everything behind in pursuit of a better life for her children. To this day, even after many years of struggle and sacrifice, they still believe that it is all worth it, and so do I. I have been truly blessed in the many opportunities I have received. The United States has made me the person I am today. I would like nothing more than to contribute to the country that has given me so much.

When my parents first brought me to the United States, I attended Pierce Middle School, just outside of Detroit, MI. I couldn't speak English, at first, but within a year I was able to learn it due to the extremely supportive and patient teachers and friends I made. Some of the friends I made in middle school are still some of my closest friends today. After I finished middle school, I attended Grosse Pointe South High School. Throughout my high school years, I was a 4.05 GPA student and was committed to a lot of extracurricular activities such as the Looking Glass which was a magazine publication of short stories and poems, the Spanish club, and National Honor Society. I ran cross country, track and played a little bit of soccer. Also through my church and other organizations, I volunteered at homeless shelters, summer day camps, and tutoring programs. Last year, I was accepted into the school of electrical engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), where I was still able to maintain my GPA. I chose to become an electrical engineer because I really enjoy math and science and I have a lot of family members that are engineers.

I might not be able to continue my studies at UDM though because I have been ordered to leave the U.S. I have been to many immigration lawyers, all of whom tell me that I have run out of options. My brother scoured the Internet to look for something, anything, to help me stay in the U.S. My brother came across a story on announcing that Taha's deportation was just averted. DHS just gave Taha and his mother a stay of deportation until Taha graduates from college. I would like nothing better than for DHS to do the same for my family. That is why my brother contacted for help, and that is why you are reading my story, today.

I know I am not the only one that is struggling with this broken immigration system. Going from lawyer to lawyer has taught me how inhuman this bureaucracy has become. If you don't fit within a certain box it's as if you don't matter. I know there are thousands of others like me, or in worse situations than I am in.

Still, I continue to believe in the promises of this country, even if those promises don't come easy. We have to continually struggle to renew those promises so that they apply to everyone. That promise should apply to a young man, like Taha, who against all odds is brought over from Bangladesh and is able to graduate and get accepted into college, as much as they should apply to a young woman like me.

That is why I am asking you take the following actions. Help me delay my deportation until I finish college or until the DREAM Act is passed. Help renew the promise of the American Dream for me, so that together we can work renew the promise of the American Dream for everyone.

click here to get info on how to help


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Help Stop DREAM Student Deportation

Stop Deportation of Dream Student Herta Llusho
Message from DREAMActivist .com

On July 1st DHS deferred Walter Lara's deportation,
on July 24th DHS deferred Taha's deportation. Sadly, the ICE director in Javier Garcia's (Texas DREAMee) case denied Javier's request for more time in the US and he was deported last Thursday. Now, on August 19th (in SIX DAYS), Herta is set to be deported to Albania. Herta has lived in Michigan for most of her teen years, this is the country that she calls home and has done everything in to make sure she succeeds, lets do our part to make sure her dream (and ours) becomes a reality!

Please take action, share this with others and encourage them to take action!!!

1. Join the facebook group for immediate updates:
2. Sign petition which will be hand-delivered to targets:
3. Use SEIU Click to Call Action Tool to call DHS:
4. Call Senator Carl Levin at (202) 224-6221. Urge him to a) introduce private bill for Herta, and b) write letter to DHS asking them to stop Herta's deportation.
5. Call Senator Stabenow at (202) 224-4822. Urge her to a) introduce private bill for Herta, and b) write letter to DHS asking them to stop Herta's deportation.
6. Call Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick at (202) 225-2261. Urge her to a) introduce private bill for Herta, and b) write letter to DHS asking them to stop Herta's deportation.

Call in Script:

I am calling on behalf of Herta Llusho (A#96-139-441), an undocumented student who is facing deportation back to Albania on August 19th. Herta has lived in Detroit since she was 11, she went to Pierce Middle School and Grosse Pointe South High School. Herta excelled in high school, graduating with a 4.05GPA and she has continued to excel after high school. She has been very active in our community volunteering at homeless shelters, summer day camps, and tutoring programs, in addition to a lot of other things with her church.

The reason I am calling is to ask that you do something to stop Herta from being deported in less than 7 days. Please introduce a private bill for her in addition to contacting DHS and asking that they defer her deportation. Herta is an asset to our state and to our country and we should be fighting to keep immigrants like her here, not deporting them to countries they know little about.


For UH Students needing a Core Humanities Course

Latino Literature with Dr. Zimmerman is still open. It will be held in English...

Click here to see the flier.

For Negrito and Capulina

link to photo

Your Dog

This may seem like a silly post for dreamacttexas, but the reality is that its not... Most DREAMers and most people have a dog - and if you are like so many people that are not wealthy and pet obsessed, your dog needs help.

So many things have happened around my neighborhood lately (regarding dogs) that I find it imperative to write about it... and hopefully someone will listen.

A couple of days ago I was walking our big dog Guapa and we came upon a middle aged couple with a little poodle or something similar. The woman had a lease in her hand, but the dog was not tied. We were all walking on the sidewalk of a very busy street, that has lots of cars (and buses) going by really fast. Guapa got a little excited, but she stayed put because we use what is called a "Halty" -- that makes it easier to manage her (no it doesn't stick nails in her neck or run a pin in her mouth) - I told the couple to please keep their dog on the lease because it was dangerous, esp. when other dogs are around. Even if the dog is well trained, walking down a busy street without a lease is suicide for a dog - there have actually been studies done on this.

All the dog needs is to see a cat, or get scared by a big dog and it could run into the street and its all over. The woman ignored me and kept walking without putting the lease on the dog.


Negrito was a really cool Doberman mix. He lived across the street from us. During hurricane Rita, his family left him behind and he was wandering around the neighborhood. I took him to another house next door that had a fenced yard where he waited safely until his family came back. Other people were scared of him but he liked me. I really enjoyed seeing him looking over the fence and smiling at me. He would stand on something where just his head would show. After a couple of years, Negrito just died one day. It had to be heart worm. In Houston, any dog that is not on heart worm medication has been given a death sentence.

heart worm in a dog's heart

The same thing happened to Capulina. She lived next door to us. She was a cutie. Not sure what kind of dog she was, but she was always around and would greet us. We have a chain link fence, so we could see her all the time (these type of fences help you get to know your neighbors). One day, her family asked me to come over and showed her to me. She had died the night before. I knew she had been coughing a lot the last few days. She also died of heart worm.

Yes, I know heart worm meds are expensive. About $5 per month. But do you want your dog to last a couple of years and die a horrible death? That is what happens if you live in Houston and you don't have your dog on heart worm meds. Think about the money when you order cable, to add minutes to your cell phone, or go out to eat. Think about it when you decide to take in a dog... one may be ok, but remember, the more dogs you have the more heart worm medicine you have to buy. You can shop around for prices on heart worm meds. Sometimes you can get them cheaper on-line, but you still have to get a prescription from a Vet. For prices click here.

And MOST important. Get your dogs fixed (neutered or spayed). In Houston you have SNAP that offers this service very cheaply (half the price of regular vets - or even less). If you have a GOLD card in Houston you can get your pets fixed for free.

And please make sure your Pit Bulls (or Pit Bull mixes) don't have more children. A few days ago we found a lost puppy, a Lab/Pit Bull mix - only about 3-4 months old - he had been roaming the neighborhood for days - so we took him to the SPCA. They told us that they do not adopt out Pit Bull mixes. That if we left him they would not let him be adopted and after 4 days he would be put to sleep (euthanized, killed).

We are trying to find this little dog a home now, through Facebook, and also contacted a Pit Bull Rescue, but no luck so far. The people keeping him for us this week couldn't keep him anymore. We took him to a shelter today. The staff think he will be adopted, but you are never sure. If you live in the Houston area and you might want to adopt him, please call the shelter (Citizens for Animal Protection at 281 497 0591). If he isn't adopted soon, he will be euthanized.

So please, take care of your dogs. That means more than just giving them food and water. And please, get them fixed (neutered or spayed), have them on a lease when you go walking, provide them with heart worm medicine, and don't keep them tied up. That prevents them from being socialized and they end up being very mean and angry dogs.

The darker the color the more likely your dog can get heart worm. Vets in Houston say that if your dog is not protected there is a 100% chance he/she will get heart worm disease.

Where are the scholarships?

Check out this web site for list of scholarships:

Latino College Dollars - sponsored by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute

and remember, deadlines are important. You have to plan far in advance to apply for any scholarship...

In Spanish

Aug. 11, 2009, 10:09PM

HOUSTON — En un tiempo en que la crisis económica podría cortarles las alas a muchos jóvenes, un número creciente de ellos está acudiendo a las becas para obtener educación superior.

El incremento en el número de solicitantes, la disminución de fondos para becas en varias fundaciones y el aumento en el costo de las universidades no lo hacen fácil. Conseguirlo requiere de gran tesón.

En los planes de Patricia Jiménez, méxico-estadounidense de 17 años, nunca entró la idea de no ir a la universidad: luchó con todo para alcanzar su sueño.

Justo cuando Jiménez estaba por terminar la preparatoria en Milby High School, su papá, quien es pastelero, perdió su empleo. Patricia tuvo entonces que combinar los estudios con un trabajo de medio tiempo como mesera para ayudar a su madre y su hermana mayor en los gastos de la casa.

“Fue pesado. Iba a la escuela y a las 4 p.m. era capitana del equipo de natación. Comía y de 6 p.m. a 1 a.m. trabajaba. En la madrugada me ponía a escribir los ensayos. Uno de mis maestros de la escuela me ayudó mucho, pues desde el onceavo grado nos informaba sobre las solicitudes (para obtener becas)”, cuenta Jiménez, quien obtuvo el sexto mejor promedio de Milby con 3.672 GPA (Grade Point Average), un promedio de las notas recibidas en una escala de 4.

Principales obstáculos

Gracias a las más de 30 solicitudes de becas que envió contará con 100,000 dólares, divididos en cuatro años, para cursar la carrera de Veterinaria en el campus de College Station de Texas A&M. Cuenta con algunas becas de 10,000 dólares que usará para pagar las clases y muchas otras de 1,000 y 500 dólares para libros y comida.

“La única manera con la que yo podía ir a la universidad eran las becas, porque mis padres no tienen los fondos para pagar 20,000 dólares al año”, indica Jiménez, que será la primera en su familia en tener educación superior.

Pero la tarea para Jiménez no fue fácil ante una creciente competencia: colleges (universidades de dos años), universidades y fundaciones señalan que ha aumentado el número de estudiantes hispanos que están solicitando becas.

En otoño de 2009, San Jacinto College Foundation, una fundación sin fines de lucro que opera en forma separada del college del mismo nombre, registró un incremento del 87 por ciento en el número de estudiantes hispanos que solicitaron una beca para estudiar en San Jacinto College frente a otoño de 2008. El aumento general, de todos los estudiantes que pidieron una beca en ese período, fue de 35 por ciento, según la Fundación.

Según representantes del Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, organización que ofrece a estudiantes texanos más de 500 becas anualmente, cada una de 15,000 dólares, las solicitudes en el área de Houston en 2009 crecieron 25 por ciento, a 2,520, frente a 2008. En lo que toca a los hispanos, el aumento fue de 31 por ciento en el mismo período, con un total de 748 solicitudes en 2009.

Las fundaciones también se han visto golpeadas por la economía y algunas han visto un recorte de los fondos con los que contaban.

“Algunos de nuestros donantes han cortado sus fondos de ayuda hasta a la mitad”, dice Kristan Kirsh, directora de Comunicación Nacional de la Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, la mayor organización de becas para hispanos en el país. Sólo en 2008, otorgó 26.8 millones de dólares.

Según su informe financiero de ese año, la asociación recibió 13,632 solicitudes, 240 por ciento más que en 2007. De los estudiantes elegibles, algo más de 8,000, sólo una cuarta parte recibió una beca. El resto no la obtuvo por falta de fondos.

Este año será peor. “En el ciclo 2009-2010 calculamos que sólo un quinto de los elegibles recibirá beca”, dice Kirsh. “Las grandes corporaciones entienden que invertir en la educación de la población hispana es muy importante, pues somos la primera minoría del país y el que no lleguen a la universidad puede ser un problema grande. Sin embargo, la actual situación económica también los está afectando”.

Esto, en el contexto de un incremento importante en los costos de los precios de las universidades.

Por ejemplo, los costos para un estudiante que se matricule en los campus de la Universidad de Houston subirán en promedio casi un 4 por ciento este año escolar. Otras, como Rice University, privada, anunciaron aumentos de casi un 5 por ciento, según sus páginas web.

Al igual que Jiménez, Sebastián González, un colombiano de 22 años, pidió más de una decena de becas. Ahora estudia en el campus centro del Houston Community College pero quiere cursar Matemáticas en la Universidad de Berkeley, Columbia o UT Austin, mucho más caras. A finales de agosto sabrá con cuánto dinero contará.

Menos y más repartido

Él también sería el primero en su familia en tener un diploma universitario. En 2008, su padre fue despedido del trabajo y Sebastián trabaja a tiempo parcial en una compañía de fisioterapia a domicilio.

“Es difícil encontrar becas grandes que te permitan dedicarte sólo a estudiar. Hay muchas de 150 o 500 dólares. Mi consejo es que apliquen a todas las que puedan y sigan tratando hasta anotar el gol”, dice González, quien cursó las materias troncales en HCC para ajustar finanzas.

Por otro lado, aunque las becas sean de menor monto, esto puede ayudar porque beneficia a más estudiantes, explican representantes de La Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC).

LULAC otorgó menos becas para 2009 que en 2008 por las mismas dificultades que atraviesan otros. “Preferimos dar más becas de 500 dólares para ayudar a más jóvenes. Es un pequeño empujón, pero no queremos que se queden atrás”, dice Mary Almendarez, vicepresidenta del Concilio 402.

Monday, August 10, 2009

U.S. Military - the Suicide Factory

The talk of joining together military service with college as a way for a DREAMer to regularize his/her status is still with us. This added option will certainly help the DREAM Act pass. Yet at what price? Suicide is not the only consequence of serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is also Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (which the military does not like to treat) - and the numerous horrifying brain injuries that we are now seeing - in soldiers who a few years ago would have died. Our new technologies are saving their lives, but the quality of their existence is questionable...

Soldiering has never been good for your health. But at least the military is now willing to see why so many are committing suicide...
By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 10, 2009

Doctors leading the largest study ever of suicide and mental health in the military are developing intensive soldier surveys that they hope will provide clues as to why suicide rates among Army personnel have grown dramatically in recent years.

The study, a collaboration between the National Institute of Mental Health and the Army, will seek data from every soldier recruited into the Army over the next three years as well as from about 90,000 soldiers already in the service, and the project could eventually involve half a million participants.

The soldiers will be asked on a volunteer basis for personal information that can be used to make psychological assessments. Family members might be contacted for further information. In some cases, saliva and blood samples will be collected for genetic and neurobiological studies.

The information will serve as an "ongoing natural laboratory," officials said, as researchers follow these soldiers for years, looking for common strands as to which individuals are more likely to commit suicide.

"We're looking at suicide as the culmination of a long chain of events," said Robert K. Heinssen, the NIMH study director.

In 2008, 143 soldiers committed suicide, the highest number in the three decades that the Army has kept to complete WP article

chart is from the Huffington Post