Monday, March 29, 2010

UK Immigration - Are Sports Stars More Important than Other Immigrants?

Earlier today dreamacttexas received a comment that this article is not about Texas legislation, since it is from a London paper.
It is true that this blog is not just about Texas immigration issues. It is about global immigration policy, among other things. While we started with a focus on the DREAM Act, we soon realized that there are many other issues that need to be addressed, like public health, migration issues from other parts of the world, the dilemma of the Palestinians, among other things. The internet provides us with a fantastic opportunity to disseminate (send out) information that isn't always in our view (or on our TVs).
The problem DREAMers have in Texas and the rest of the U.S. is tragic. However, all the people that have drowned in the over crowded boats traveling from North Africa to Spain and Italy are just as important.
The purpose in mentioning the immigration issue regarding soccer players is to show that some people are seen as "necessary", and their governments don't care about quotas. This certainly isn't fair, but we have helped create this dilemma with how we idealize sports figures. Just think of how many American baseball players are immigrants who were brought over with visas by their sports teams.
As for the article being about someplace other than Texas; the UK is in a difficult place regarding immigration. Many people are saying that there are too many people of color in Britain. The country is changing, and its really hurting some of them especially because the UK has always been so rigid about it class lines.
It is important for Americans to know what is going on in other places. One aim of this blog is to remind the U.S. that we are not the center of the universe.
Tory plan to cap immigration 'could prevent clubs signing top footballers
'Annual immigration limit 'unworkable' and could keep out likes of Didier Drogba, argues left-of-centre think tank

Anushka Asthana, policy editor
The Observer, Sunday 28 March 2010

A flat immigration limit could keep out football stars such as Didier Drogba if they were signed at the wrong time of year. Photograph: Simon Dawson/AP

The Conservative party's plans to cut net immigration to the level of the early 1990s by imposing an annual cap are "unworkable", according to research published today.

The Limit to Limits, from the left-of-centre Institute of Public Policy Research, says that the move would require drastic changes to policy, including putting severe limits on the number of highly skilled immigrants from outside the EU and on overseas students. Any such moves could put the party on a collision course with big business and higher education. "Would the government be happy to tell KPMG that it could not bring over an analyst from its New York office? Or to tell Arsenal that it could not sign a promising young player from Côte d'Ivoire?" the paper asks.

David Cameron, the party's leader, has said he would like to see immigration capped at the "tens of thousands". Although he has not given an exact number, he has said he would like to see the level back to what it was in the early 1990s. Then, net annual immigration was around 50,000, compared to closer to 200,000 in recent years.

But the IPPR paper points out that the government has little control over large parts of net immigration, including workers coming from the EU, asylum seekers and Britons returning home. The government has already stopped all unskilled workers coming in from outside the EU, apart from those in industries suffering shortages. "There has been a lot of talk about capping immigration from various groups, and close to an election those calls are becoming stronger," said Sarah Mulley, author of the report. "But people are often vague about outlining how it would work in practice."

The report says: "Some visa categories in the United States do have fixed numerical limits, and they result in fairly arbitrary lines being drawn as visa categories 'sell out'." Mulley argued that such a system would have to say no to Premier League footballers, such as Chelsea's Ivorian striker Didier Drogba or Arsenal's Russian forward Andrey Arshavin, if it was the wrong time in the year.

Last week, Gordon Brown addressed the issue of immigration during his weekly podcast. The prime minister said: "I recognise that among the concerns you must address when you talk of fairness is to complete article

Are Americans the Only Ones that Don't Like Obama Anymore?

The article below is written by a British journalist. If what we see here is true, it is certainly different than the nasty things circulating around the U.S. about our President. Whether you are still supporting Obama or not, its worth reading about why someone else continues to like the guy.
We should envy America its inspirational president
Barack Obama's brilliant speech on the eve of the healthcare vote brought about real change

The Observer, Sunday 28 March 2010

The long political battle over healthcare in the US has often looked peculiar to outside observers. The idea that the state should look after people with medical needs, uncontroversial in Europe, was denounced by some American conservatives as a stepping stone to communism.

President Obama's health plan, signed into law last week, protects millions by reforming the insurance system. New regulations will enforce minimum standards and stop insurers capriciously withdrawing cover.

That might sound more like consumer protection than revolution, but in the context of US politics it is a famous victory. Only a few months ago, obituaries were being drafted for Mr Obama's presidency, with failed health reform the killer blow. The scripts are now in the bin. The healthcare success, a deal with Russia on nuclear disarmament and renewed efforts for Middle East peace are being woven into a comeback narrative.

There will be more setbacks. But Mr Obama's achievement on healthcare has not just rebutted critics, it has slain doubts. His election campaign promised the triumph of imagination and optimism over weary resignation. His slogan "Yes we can!" was meant to answer an implicit question over the ability of politics ever to be a vehicle for meaningful change.

Mr Obama revisited that theme in a brilliant speech on the eve of the healthcare vote. He asked veteran parliamentarians to recall what inspired them to get involved in politics in the first place. He invited them to fan the embers of their idealism back into flames of conviction. He used the power of pure oratory to change the boundaries of what his audience considered possible in politics. It is hard to imagine any of the current generation of British politicians mobilising anyone that to complete article

Binyamin Netanyahu suffers worst week of his second premiership
Israeli PM under fire from press at home after dispute with US over new settlements in East Jerusalem

Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
The Observer, Sunday 28 March 2010

Israel prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu ran into a storm of criticism over his dispute with the White House. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

The last week must rank as the worst of Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's second term as Israeli prime minister. It produced headlines no leader would want to read, even allowing for the sometimes excitable tone of the Israeli press: "Ambush in the White House", "A hazing in stages" and "With his back to the wall."

Netanyahu flew to Washington a week ago hoping to mend fences after an extraordinary rupture in relations but found only a frosty reception. Then Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat from London in anger at the "intolerable" forging of British passports for the hit squad who assassinated a Hamas man in Dubai. Hours later Netanyahu had a low-key meeting with Barack Obama that ended in serious disagreement and without the usual courtesy of a photographed handshake.

Perhaps it was inevitable that an American president who gave such a firm commitment to tackling the Middle East conflict so early in his term would eventually run up against one of the most rightwing coalition governments in Israel's to complete article
Arab League chief warns Mideast peace process may fail


Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa says Arab states should prepare for the possibility that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process may ultimately fail and prepare alternatives.
By News Wires (text)
Catherine Nicholson (video)

REUTERS - Arab states should prepare for the possibility that the Palestinian-Israeli peace process may be a total failure and prepare alternatives, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Saturday.

He did not specify what the alternatives might be.

The troubled Middle East peace process suffered a fresh setback when the Palestinians warned that indirect talks with the Israelis would not take place unless Israel cancelled a decision to build 1,600 new homes in a settlement near east Jerusalem.

link to complete article

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stop Taking In HFCS - And See the Pounds Melt

Editor's Note: It's a shame they have to experiment on rats to show that high fructose corn syrup is one of the roots of obesity's evil. Just go to Disneyland and walk around a couple of hours and you can see first hand the result of high fructose consumption.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called

. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said
psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."

In results published online March 18 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, the researchers from the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute reported on two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity.

The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.

The second experiment -- the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals -- monitored weight gain, body fat and
triglyceride levels

in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet. In humans, this would be equivalent to a 200-pound man gaining 96 pounds.

"These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in
abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides," said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. "In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes." In addition to Hoebel and Bocarsly, the research team included Princeton undergraduate Elyse Powell and visiting research associate Nicole Avena, who was affiliated with Rockefeller University during the study and is now on the faculty at the University of Florida. The Princeton researchers note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity.

Read the whole story here.

Stopping DREAMers in Their Tracks - 287G

Cesar Espinoza wrote this article last month in UH El Gato. The 287G program of the City of Houston has been dismantled due to lack of funding. The Harris County 287G program has grown under Sheriff Adrian Garcia. Three years ago I was present with Sheriff Garcia testified at an Congressional Immigration Hearing. On the memory of my grandmothers, I tell you that Garcia cried as he explained his family's immigration story to the panel. Apparently he has developed memory loss.


Immigration Enforcement by Local Police: Will It Make Communities Safer?

cesarHow would you liked to be asked for your immigration status when you are pulled over for a traffic violation? Well the truth is that it is happening in many cities around the U.S. and locally as well. Even though police departments refute these allegations, there have been many stories of people being profiled for looking like an “immigrant”. The reason behind many of these violations are two the two federal mandates 287g and Secure Communities. There are differences in these two but they both have one thing in common; they send the wrong message to the community.

The 287g program has brought itself national attention because it is being fully enforced by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, AZ. So what is 287g? 287g is a federally mandated program was proposed and signed into law by President Clinton under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. This program was not utilized until around 2004 and since then it has created a lot of issues and malpractices in the jurisdictions in which it has been implemented. So, the 287 g program can be broken into two pieces. First is the implementation of the program is through the jail system. Those who are brought into jails and are suspected of being an undocumented immigrant will be asked a series of questions about their citizenship status. This is very subjective because it is left to an officer’s discretion to select who is and who is not questioned in regards to their immigration status. This leaves the door open for racial profiling.

The second and more dangerous part of the 287g program is the street task force. This puts local officers on the streets and “trains” them to act as immigration officials. It take about three to four years to graduate as an immigration attorney. How is it that officers are expected to completely understand immigration law within six weeks? But it is happening and checkpoints are being set up in places like Maricopa, Co. Arizona that are pulling over people that look alien. This program has detained many hard working people, without any criminal background, by immigration officials for minor offenses such as traffic violations or class “C” misdemeanors. The program can be implemented with either one or both of these components.

The second program, Secure Communities, comes as a result of the Real ID Act of 2005 in which aims to identify and remove criminal immigrants after the 9/11 attacks. Secure Communities is a sort of a little brother to the 287g program but it is not as invasive. Secure Communities runs every single person who come into jail through various databases, including INTERPOL, FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. This program removes the human aspect from the equation because officers only run people through the databases and do not ask questions. In comparison to the 287g, only people who have outstanding warrants with the police or an order of deportation with immigration will be identified and detained by immigration. This could potentially save people who have not committed major offenses from landing in the custody of immigration. However, there have been reports that people who look “immigrant” are put through the databases.

The real problem with programs like these is that it creates a wrong perception of the police in communities. Anti-immigrant people say that this program will make communities safer while studies done, such as the one done by the Police Foundation, show that programs like this actually deteriorate police/community relations. If people are afraid of being questioned about their immigration status they will not want to come forward to the police as victims or witnesses of crimes. This will make communities less safe. It opens up opportunities to criminals to go hide out in immigrant communities. Manmajor police chiefs have pronounced themselves against these programs because they understand the public implications these programs have on their communities. Former Houston Police Chief Harold Hurt was a strong advocate against these mandates because he understood the implications they would have on the community. Community organizations have gone out and explained to the immigrant community that they should still trust the police but it is harder and harder when they are faced with the threats of such negative police actions. It is time that the federal government manage immigration issues but not to persecute sectors of the population. The diversity that immigrants bring into communities should be celebrated. Immigration should not be feared, but understood; it should be looked at from a humanitarian standpoint – not a political point of view.

If you need more information on the Dream Act, 287(g), financial aid for undocumented students, or general immigration questions you can contact Cesar at

*Cesar Espinosa is a columnist whose views do not necessarily reflect that of

The Internet Tells All

The world is an internet forum
Racial and sexual insults? Death threats for voting for healthcare reform? It's the kind of thing that happens every day online

Colin Horgan, Saturday 27 March 2010 11.00 GMT

By now we've all heard of the protesters shouted racial and sexual epithets at some House Democrats as they made their way to hear President Obama speak to his party this weekend to encourage them to pass the healthcare reform bill. Emanuel Cleaver was apparently spat on, Barney Frank was called a faggot, and John Lewis was called the N-word. And on Wednesday, CBS released some of the messages left for Bart Stupak, calling him, among other things, "a baby-killing motherfucker" for his decision to support the healthcare bill that President Obama signed into law on Monday. At least 10 members of Congress have received death threats.

I hardly find this surprising. Not because I'm a liberal, and not because I feel that these people are the crazy fringe elements of the world looking for a place to vent. And not because we saw it last summer at the town hall meetings. I'm not surprised because our tactile, physical world has become like the internet, and this kind of thing is normal there (here).

In Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan explains that, "The 'message' of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs." It's the thought process behind his famous assertion that "the medium is the message". In other words, McLuhan said, something like the railway (the medium, or "extension of ourselves") didn't introduce humans to the idea of transportation, but rather altered human perceptions and functions as they related to distance, leisure, and to complete article

Obama Takes a Stand on Israel

The New York Times

Mr. Obama and Israel
Published: March 26, 2010

After taking office last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel privately told many Americans and Europeans that he was committed to and capable of peacemaking, despite the hard-line positions that he had used to get elected for a second time. Trust me, he told them. We were skeptical when we first heard that, and we’re even more skeptical now. All this week, the Obama administration had hoped Mr. Netanyahu would give it something to work with, a way to resolve the poisonous contretemps over Jerusalem and to finally restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. It would have been a relief if they had succeeded. Serious negotiations on a two-state solution are in all their interests. And the challenges the United States and Israel face — especially Iran’s nuclear program — are too great for the leaders not to have a close working to complete article

Friday, March 26, 2010

Freezing Diplomacy in Israel


Netanyahu vows policy will not change after US demands for concessions

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes his cabinet Friday to discuss Israel's response to US pressure on Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, his office said that there would be "no change in Israel's policy".
By News Wires (text)

AFP - Israel vowed policy on Jerusalem would not change as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on Friday to craft a response to US demands for peace-promoting concessions.

Netanyahu returned Thursday from a tense visit to Washington that appeared to deepen a bitter row with the administration of President Barack Obama over the building of Jewish settlements, including in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

"The prime minister's position is that there is no change in Israel's policy on Jerusalem that has been pursued by all governments of Israel for the last 42 years," his office said in a statement.

The Americans have reportedly demanded from Netanyahu a series of steps to help kickstart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

The hawkish premier was discussing the US demands with his inner forum of seven senior ministers.

Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser said it was unlikely there would be quick agreement from the seven and denied media reports of a US deadline to supply answers by Saturday night.

"I suggest you wait patiently," he told public radio. "If there is a necessity for further discussions they will to complete article

Looking at the Republicans from a Perch in Europe

London Guardian

Republicans lurch ever rightwards
The party's refusal to move to the centre threatens to undermine any hopes Republicans have of recapturing Congress in 2010

Steven Guess, Friday 26 March 2010 20.00 GMT

The Republican party is showing no signs of moving to the centre of the political spectrum and is pushing forward with a strategy of total opposition to the president and his policies. It's an all-or-nothing gamble that has the party backed into a corner in the face of shifting attitudes towards the president and his domestic agenda. So long as Republicans continue to characterise the president as the antichrist, bent on imposing a total government takeover of the economy, it's impossible for them to reach across the aisle to soften their image. Congressional Republicans find themselves unable to work with an administration their base views as tyrannical and arrogant without being seen as legitimising a neo-Hitler figure by their supporters. It's an unhealthy dynamic that threatens to undermine any hopes Republicans have of recapturing Congress in 2010.

The latest evidence that the party is lurching to the right comes as a former Bush speechwriter, David Frum, resigned from his position at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based conservative thinktank. Frum's resignation comes not long after writing a scathing editorial attacking the GOP strategy of total defiance. Frum argued that conservative entertainment doesn't want Republicans to succeed on a policy level because it would require the sort of compromises with Democrats that doesn't foment angry outrage in the base. Suddenly, a Republican voice was suggesting that it wasn't Democratic trickery that got healthcare passed, but a flawed Republican to complete article

Immigration Reform After Health Care?

After healthcare, immigration reform

Immigration will be the Democrats' next big battle, as they try to please Latino voters, business and blue collar workers

Michael Paarlberg, Friday 26 March 2010 18.00 GMT

Protesters at an immigration reform demonstration in San Francisco, California. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty

If you didn't notice the 200,000 protesters who came to Washington last weekend demanding immigration reform, blame Nancy Pelosi. Sunday's massive rally had the bad luck of coinciding with the final House vote on healthcare reform, thus relegating the otherwise momentous gathering to page A3. Yet the timing was appropriate, for it marks the beginning of the next big legislative battle in Congress. Wednesday saw thousands march in San Francisco for the same cause. The coming storm over immigration could be even more contentious than all the "ObamaCare" town hall meetings combined. It will also be a perilous challenge for Democrats trying to balance the conflicting interests of the Latino voters they wish to court, the businesses they promise to bolster, and the blue collar workers they need to turn out to vote in November.

Democratic senator Charles Schumer and Republican Lindsey Graham entered the melee early with a bipartisan proposal for immigration reform. Like the doomed McCain-Kennedy bill that preceded it, Schumer-Graham is a hodgepodge of proposals designed to appeal to as many constituent groups as possible, even if their interests are diametrically opposed. In other words, there is something for everyone to hate. Nativists fearful that a "path to citizenship" amounts to amnesty are promised beefed-up border patrols, which in turn upset immigrant rights advocates wary of the militarisation of enforcement. The bill's most novel idea, a fingerprint-embedded biometric ID card that all workers would be required to carry, is a political non-starter: businesses balk at the system's cost (and impact on their ability to evade taxes by hiring under the table), while civil libertarians sound privacy to complete article

Trail of Dreams

Beyond a Walk
Posted on March 25, 2010 by carlos

As I write this, our motor home, which we have come to refer to as “Rusty” is driving around the RV park, making it hard to type. I keep hearing the distracting sound of the RV alarm as it backs up into our rented space for the night. Felipe, sitting nearby as he checks his email, yells “this noise is killing me” and I laugh. There’s a lot of commotion in the RV and one million and one distractions. It’s just another typical night on the trail.

We now have two additional team members, Grey and Wilfredo. They’re both activists that I’ve known for a while now. I still remember first meeting Grey at a FLIC (Florida Immigrant Coalition) Congress a couple of years back. FLIC Congress occurs once a year, and it’s a congregation of all the pro-migrant organizations in Florida aligned with the values of the coalition. She had just started this student organization known as CHISPAS at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Despite being a minority in the school, she was determined to be a strong advocate for the passage of the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act. At Congress, Felipe and I were invited by her to come speak at UF in order to share our stories and depict the struggles in the lives of undocumented students. We wanted to develop strong bonds and work to develop a youth network across the state. The FLIC Congress was the beginning of a strong alliance and mutual determination amongst organizations to achieve the passage of the DREAM Act and to provide opportunities for the futures of undocumented youth. The DREAM Act presentation we held at the UF campus encouraged many students to get involved, a couple of which actually walked with us on the trail in Gainesville.

Wilfredo is a Puerto Rican activist, who has participated in several civil disobedience actions throughout his life. In his most recent action, alongside seven others, he was on a fast for 17 days in order to call attention to the injustices of the immigration system that threatened to separate him from his family. It’s truly an honor to have both Grey and Wilfredo on the team, I feel as if the energy on the trail has improved with these new additions.

We spent this past weekend in Wilimgton, NC. We held an extremely important national interview with Univision for the show “Aqui y Ahora”. During the interview, I was able to speak out on how undocumented students continued to get deported, even though that was inconsistent with what the Obama Administration has reiterated many times. The administration has held the position that they’re only going after ‘Criminal Aliens’ when in fact, we’ve personally known of several undocumented students that have been picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in situations such as heading to school.

Leslie’s story, an example of this, whose deportation recently was halted thanks to a nationwide student-led effort, is one of many anecdotes depicting what is occurring due to the failed immigration system of this nation. Leslie was asked for her proof of documentation as she was heading to Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. Not only are bright students getting deported, but also fathers and mothers and children are seeing how immigration agents are tearing their only families apart.

These are only a few injustices of so many committed against undocumented immigrants in this nation. Our walk removes us from feeling any physical pain as we mentally reminisce some of the countless stories we’ve heard on our journey. Many of which remind me of my own personal struggles, especially having a mother battle cancer for over a decade whose mental anguish over our migratory status worsened her condition.

Regardless of the pain living the undocumented life and having aggressive cancer, her resilience was too strong and her determination to raise her children kept her alive for so long, even when the doctors would say otherwise. I firmly believe that there is nothing stronger than the love of a mother for her children.

I walk as her strength lives through me; I walk as the endless cries of over a million undocumented mothers and fathers, echo through my mind. I walk because our broken immigration system needs to recognize its effects on the destruction of our families. It needs to acknowledge our humanity once and for all.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

- The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus
link to

Trail of Dreams

Good news for Leslie
Posted on March 24, 2010 by alejo

In my first semester at Miami Dade College I found Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER). At first, I was skeptical. What could ten barefoot college kids sitting in a tiny apartment in the heart of Little Havana possibly change? I was also reluctant to become involved because of the risk it might pose—would authorities target my family and me for my activism?

By January 2009, I was one of millions in the red-white-and-blue national mall—witnessing the inauguration of President Obama; his historic election reaffirmed me that dreams can become a reality if you fight for them. Fighting for my dream, I marched. I was one of hundreds asking the new administration to halt the senseless raids and deportations. Armed with “Reform! Not Raids!” fliers and pins, I handed them to a group of brown-faced construction workers we walked by. They smiled – I could see the hope in their eyes. We reached the headquarters of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and I could feel the dry, icy, DC winter wind beating my face. I could also feel the penetrating cold stares of the ICE agents that surrounded the building. Neither the cold nor the fear paralyzed me. I waved the truck-sized U.S. flag and chanted Sí se puede! at the top of my lungs. It felt liberating to stand for what I believe in.

A year later, I continue that fight.

To this day, Obama still has not kept his promise, and students like Leslie are falling through the holes of the collander of our immigration system -- into detention centers.

Thankfully, because of collective grassroots actions led by SWER, FIAC, and friends, Leslie has been released from detention this Wednesday -- a week and a half later after she was unfairly detained.

It is actions that have released Leslie out of detention. It is the collective actions of individuals that have changed the status quo in the past. Don't be afraid to act, melt the antagonizing ice, and humanize those that have been dehumanized.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
-Margaret Mead
link to

Trail of Dreams

Daddy's Little Girl
Tags: gaby

Posted on March 23, 2010 by gaby

From the border of South Carolina and North Carolina (Entering Charlotte)
This blog is dedicated to all the fathers we have met along the way, those that open their homes to us and made us feel as one of their own, and to those that currently fear being sepearted from their children. To my father Gustavo Enrique Pacheco and to my grandfather Alberto Santos.

I remember it as if it was yesterday; all I have to do is close my eyes and hear his voice. Its like hearing the ocean waves in the middle of the city by placing a seashell gently on your ear. There is nothing more beautiful in this world than being able to receive the love from a parent. When I was just a toddler, my father used to sit me on his bed, stare me straight in the eyes, and sing to me as he played his guitar. There was nothing then that could have distracted me from hearing the melodies of love my father would play that would echo from my ears to my heart.

My father always has been a very interesting man. Although he would have been an excellent economist, politician, or actor, his profession was that of a salesman. He was a successful man, however, my parents were discontent with their overall life in Ecuador. Their marriage was failing, their safety was always at risk, they wanted something better for their four children and one day my father decided that he would try to convince my mother to move with him to the United States. Its been 17 years since then!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see into my fathers eyes once again. Since we left Miami on January 1st, I have seen my loved ones three times. They are always looking for a way to come up and see me anywhere I am on the trail, this is specially true for my father, who has been saving money to fly up with my mother on May first. I asked him to come up with the buses heading to DC for the rally on March 21st. “I can't go on the buses mija, I have to work”, he would tell me. I really wanted to see him and I thought well maybe if one of the buses from Miami would deviate for just a couple of miles I could give him at least a hug...but it wasn't possible. Two days before the departure to DC, he called me and said “Its a miracle, someone called me and they have rented a 15 passenger van, and invited me to come for free, but whats best is that they want to walk with you!”

In his eyes I found pride, joy, love, but I also noticed the inevitable signs of aging. It was a scary thing for me. I remembered, as a child, being taken by the hand, carried his shoulders, and taking care of me. Now, more than 2 decades later, I saw him struggling to walk at my pace, and it was I who held him firmly by his hand and took him up the road. Love like this is rare to find, like a pearl disguised in shells that can only be found in the depths of the ocean.

I cannot fully live without him by my side. When immigration customs and enforcement (ICE) shackled him and put an ankle bracelet on his foot, I saw him change. He aged quicker than ever, and now as I travel trying to ensure I could keep my family and millions of others families together, I fear the toll of him worrying about me everyday.

We cannot wait a single second longer. With every minute of the day, we get closer to the ultimate separation of family, death. Although, it was I who held my dad firmly by his hands and guided him down the road, it was him that kept the rhythm of my heart going. I need him, and in the arms of this country lies the fate of my heart.

Proverbs 17:6
Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
link to

Trail of Dreams

My Family is Here

Posted on March 22, 2010 by grey

An anxiety overwhelmed my body, tingles from head to toe. I stopped and looked at her. After today, I thought, things were going to be different. I will be with them for almost 2 months. Things will change in my life’s book. Finalmente, Lucharé junto a ellos. Caminando.

Grey, you’re thinking in Spanish again. Focus. I know it hurts. Piensa en ellos, tu mamá, tu papá, tu hermana. En ti. En todos. No podemos seguir asi. Focus. You know what you feel. Pick up the phone and connect with your soul. It’s never been right. Quince años e indocumentada. My head is spinning with random thoughts, but my feelings remain constant. Happiness. Confidence. Faith. Hope.I will be with them. In pain and struggle, you have found brothers and sisters and in their dreams, power and strength, you have found your motivation. They are your family. They will be your home.

I looked at her, my mother, looking tired and worn out. Not because of age, but because of the years of pain and sacrifice etched on her face. A housekeeper, in the shadows. I waved goodbye. She wipes away her tears.

He waves at me. My dad, now in his 50’s, didn’t drive to drop me off. No license. He stands tall, hands in his pockets, and smiles. He’s happy. So am I.

She calls me right then. The valedictorian of her class, my sister has the brains but no papers. She wishes me luck and tells me she loves me.

If I scream it at the top of my lungs, will someone tell me why this is happening?

The bus leaves. I look one last time and we drive away.

My family is everything to me. I left them back in Florida.

I arrived in Spartanburg, South Carolina after 24 hours on the greyhound. I arrived looking for them, looking to be with the four people that keep inspiring me to do what I do.

I FOUND THEM HERE! My family is here.

I saw my mom in Gaby, nurturing and caring. She’s wise beyond her years and doesn’t let on. She’ll be a great mother someday. Una luchadora hasta el final. QUE RABIA! It’s not fair. UNDOCUMENTED.

I saw my sister in Carlos, analytical and strong. He has a presence, one that has impacted me. 20 years and still nothing. He wants to become and architect and so does she. Creative minds. Creative souls. Y que? UNDOCUMENTED.

I saw my father in Juan, cool, calm and collected. His intelligence exudes from within. Wow, he’s so eloquent. So many dreams and aspirations. TRISTEZA, RABIA, INJUSTICIA. UNDOCUMENTED.

I saw my mother in Felipe, so happy and carefree. His heart is light, despite his continuing struggle. YA BASTA. NO MAS. UNDOCUMENTED.

My family needs me. Grey, why do you do this? Remind yourself why. WHY? My family is suffering, they bleed from the inside but no one sees it.

You need to see it. We all need to see it. I’m here now. I heeded the call because I believe. I believe in them. I believe in the power we all have together.

I got into the RV and drove away. We drove to the light, united.
link to

Trail of Dreams

Enough is Enough
Tags: felipe

Posted on March 18, 2010 by felipe

FROM: Lockhart, SC (within the city limits of Jonesville)

*Felipe giving testimonial at Townhall Meeting, Miami and Leslie graduation photo

A few days ago, I woke up thinking that I would experience an average day. Little did I know that I was going to witness one of the saddest episodes of the walk. I received a call from a good friend letting me know that Leslie Coche had been detained aboard the Tri-Rail -a local train system in Florida, from Miami to Palm Beach County, as she was going to class. I was shocked and speechless for a few seconds as I heard the voice through the receiver asking for help. Allow me to introduce who Leslie is:

Leslie is an eighteen year-old girl who had just graduated from high school with honors and could only afford two classes at Miami Dade College due to the high fees required as a “non-resident” student. She was brought to this country when she was only ten years-old and is currently the youngest inmate in Broward Transitional Center (a detention center in South Florida). What was her crime to justify her being picked up without any respect to her rights?

Leslie symbolizes the reason why we need immigration reform now that ensures family unity and equal access to education, but most importantly, she is a very clear example that our political leaders’ words do not match their actions. President Obama and his administration have continuously lied to us by saying that they are only seeking the deportation and detention of “criminals”. Our communities continue to be raided and the current system does not fail in stealing away those we love. While any student in the United States was thinking about his or her test or homework, Leslie was getting detained in the train station on her way to school. After this infamous call I imagined the following scene: Leslie sitting on a bench, waiting for the train (probably reading a book or doing homework) and out of nowhere an officer approached her to ask for her “papers”. Why this is relevant to me in specifically? I used to take the same train to go to school, the same campus Leslie attended before she was detained a few days ago. I know that route too well to know that I could’ve been the one asked for my papers at one point and taken away.

Students like Leslie and I, who depend on the Tri-Rail to go to downtown Miami to attend school at Miami Dade College, would have to take at least two hours of public transportation. This sacrifice now became intensified by the fear inflicted on us due to the flash raids that Customs and Border Protection agents are doing. Episodes such as her detention are the reason why I walk. I walk because I know everyday thousands of immigrant youth go to school asking themselves when their name will come up in the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation list. We have become sitting ducks, not knowing who is getting hit next.

The constant terror of deportation is such a prevalent part of our lives that we, undocumented youth, forget the strength we truly have. Last year, we stopped several deportations and this year we can’t fail to do the same. More than ever, we can’t hide or be quiet. When people come to me and ask my status I “come out” once again.

Yesterday a man who was hurting due to the sickness of his wife approached us with great dismay. He said, “The reason why my wife can’t get a liver transplant is because people like you are draining our system.” We were able to speak and change his heart by breaking the stereotypes we heard so many times in the media through our personal narrative. In the end of the event he told us that we weren’t at all what he expected and basically realized that we weren’t in fact the cause of any of his wife’s ailments. If all of us were to do the same and talk to at least a neighbor about our status, sharing our personal, human stories, so many hearts would change.

The question that remains is: how can we prove that people like Leslie should not be criminalized and taken away? How can we ever ask for change if we are not willing to work towards it? Freedom is not free, it only comes through struggle and hardship, but most importantly through courageous acts. Speak up! Do not keep quiet! This is your turn to make sure that your story or Leslie’s get to be told through the mouths of people who understand the issue and can properly testify on our behalf. It is up to you to either tell your story through your mouth or let people like Glenn Beck say it for you.

Some ways you can take action NOW to help Leslie Cocche is to:

1.Demand her immediate release from detention:
a.Call Janet Napolitano, Director of Department of Homeland Security, and leave comments of support for Leslie and also ask that DHS stop her deportation: 202-282-8495*
*this is an answering machine, once it is full it is out of commission for the day. Fill it up now with calls supporting Leslie.

1.Call Assistant Secretary to ICE, John Morton and leave a message urging him to take action and defer Leslie’s deportation: 202.732.3000*
*This is a live comment line, i.e. a human being will pick up and take your message. Be very polite “I am calling to leave a message of support for Leslie Cocche, I ask that Director Morton contact Field Director Rebbecca and defer Leslie’s deportation, she is an asset to this country.”

**You may be advised to redirect your call to the Florida field office, whose number is below. It is still important for the D.C. office to register the number of calls received on her behalf.

3) Call the Miami field office (Miami Office of Detention and Removal Operations) at (305) 207-2001 to urge deferral on Leslie's case. If necessary, you can provide them with her "A" number, A089-231-361
link to

France and Its Xenophobia

Migrants feel the chill as the French clamp down

'They don't treat us like humans,' says student from Gaza, as police try to make migrants disappear

Alexandra Topping in Calais
The Guardian, Thursday 25 March 2010

Migrants hoping to make it across the Channel to Britain are forced to sleep rough in Calais after police closed the 'jungle'. Photograph: Sean Smith

Minutes from the buzzing bars and bistros in the trendy Canal St Martin area in Paris, the scene could not have been more different.

Dozens of migrants gathered round open fires, some sat on old office furniture, others crouched. Nearby, in a fenced-off area under a bridge, half a dozen tents were surrounded by discarded food and plastic bags full of dirty clothes, like a miniature shantytown at the edge of the city of light.

The reason why many of them are here lies about 150 miles north of Paris, in Calais. A zero tolerance stance towards migrants has succeeded in reducing numbers in the port but has made life a misery for those who remain and pushed migrants to other places.

Last September bulldozers moved in to clear a makeshift migrant camp known as the "jungle" on the outskirts of Calais and since then police have dismantled any small makeshift settlements, confiscating blankets, sleeping bags and tents, according to charities.

Jean-Pierre Leclercq, president of the Salam charity, which distributes a daily hot meal to the migrants, estimated their number had been reduced to around 300, from approximately 1,200 before the jungle was to complete article

Do Insults Lead to Violence? It did on Long Island

The New York Times

Racial Slurs Preceded L.I. Attack, Victim’s Friend Testifies
Published: March 24, 2010

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — Walking in Patchogue with a friend shortly before midnight on a Saturday in November 2008, Angel Loja saw some young people approaching them. “I noticed that this group that was coming, they didn’t have good intentions,” Mr. Loja said Wednesday in a Long Island courtroom. “They looked furious.”

Mr. Loja had met up with his friend, Marcelo Lucero, about 2 p.m. earlier that day, Nov. 8. They had been childhood friends in Ecuador, and they separately came to America and ended up settling in the same small village of Patchogue, living about eight blocks from each other. Mr. Loja, now 37, worked in construction; Mr. Lucero, 37 at the time, worked in a dry-cleaning store.

They were on their way to a friend’s house when they saw the seven young men approach. Mr. Loja said he took two steps back, and then the insults started. Mr. Loja said the group called him and Mr. Lucero “Mexicans” and “illegals” and used racial and ethnic slurs against blacks and to complete article

Impossible Promises to Mexico

Obama must fulfil Mexican promise

It's time to initiate a new phase in relations with Mexico, based on a more nuanced understanding of life south of the border

Hillary Clinton speaks at a press conference during her visit in Mexico. Photograph: Jose Mendez/EPA

Tuesday's announcement by US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, that future US aid to Mexico will focus less on military support and more on institution building and community renewal is a step in the right direction. But this new approach is doomed to fail if it is not grounded in a more nuanced understanding of the situation south of the border. Instead of simply reacting to crises as they emerge, President Obama should develop a new forward-looking strategy of engagement.

Obama did not mention Mexico once in his state of the union address. He did visit Mexico twice last year, but both trips were brief and bureaucratic. In contrast to his visits to Europe and Africa, where he spoke before large crowds and held meetings with a wide variety of political and social leaders, he has only met behind closed doors with Mexico's president Felipe Calderón and his cabinet.

Tuesday's meeting in Mexico City was more of the same. The top-level team that accompanied Clinton did not deign to meet with anyone outside of Calderón's immediate circle and a cloud of opacity enveloped the to complete article

As U.S.-Israel rift continues, Netanyahu finds himself in a bind
(Page 1 of 5)
By Janine Zacharia
Friday, Mar 26, 2010

The Washington Post

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was welcomed home Thursday night with signs reading "Obama, No You Can't" and "Netanyahu Stand Strong" after a trip to Washington that appeared only to widen a two-week-old rift between the close allies over Israeli housing construction.

The support expressed by a few dozen people at the entrance to Jerusalem belied widespread doubts here about Netanyahu's handling of relations with President Obama. The premier's tough U.S. visit came during a week in which Israel also found itself at odds with Britain, which on Tuesday expelled an Israeli diplomat over what it said was the use of forged British passports in an alleged Mossad operation.

Netanyahu had hoped to use his visit to defuse tensions sparked by the announcement of Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes in a disputed area of Jerusalem. The announcement was made during Vice President Biden's visit to Israel this month, and it thwarted what was supposed to be a celebration of fresh negotiations on talks toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The Obama administration now says that failure to resolve the Middle East conflict is harming U.S. national security interests in the to complete article

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Gas Pedal of Death

How can it happen that the largest automaker in the world has allowed so many people to die instead of rushing to correct an electrical problem in their cars?

Years ago, someone told me that corporations weigh the risks of how much they will pay out in law suits compared to how much they will have to pay to fix a problem. Perhaps Toyota made one of these deadly decisions and voted for paying legal fees and fines...



Document: Toyota warned dealers of throttle surging in 2002
By Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick, CNN Special Investigations Unit
March 23, 2010 6:25 a.m. EDT

Auto manufacturer Toyota warned dealerships in 2002 that Camry owners were complaining about throttles surging and recommended adjustments in an electronic control unit to fix the problem, according to a document obtained by CNN.

The technical service bulletin went to every U.S. Toyota dealership in late August 2002 after some customers reported their vehicles were speeding up unexpectedly.

"Some 2002 model year Camry vehicles may exhibit a surging during light throttle input at speeds between 38-42 mph," the bulletin states. "The Engine Control Module (ECM) calibration has been revised to correct this condition."

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, has blamed acceleration surges on floor mats it says can trap accelerator pedals and recalled more than 2.3 million vehicles in January for sticky accelerator pedals. It has said that independent testing failed to find problems with its electronic throttle controls.

But Clarence Ditlow, the head of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said the 2002 document doesn't talk about mechanical issues.

"If you look at this document, it says electronics," Ditlow said. "It says the fix is reprogrammed in the computer. It doesn't say anything about floor mats."

The internal Toyota document was given to CNN by a group of attorneys now seeking a nationwide class-action lawsuit against the company. Ditlow said the document -- not previously made public -- indicates Toyota knew much earlier about an electronic connection to sudden acceleration problems. He also said the bulletin was apparently ignored or hidden from the public not only by Toyota, but also by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"The government is really hiding this information from the consumer," Ditlow told CNN. "They're in a conspiracy with the auto industry to keep these out of the public's sight."

The attorneys now suing Toyota say the repair bulletin is proof the car company knowingly lied to the public about the causes of sudden acceleration, blaming floor mats or stuck gas pedals instead.

"They can fix these problems easily," said Tim Howard, a Northeastern University law professor who heads the legal group suing Toyota. "But it would cost them about $500 a car nationwide. If you have six [million] to seven million cars, you add the numbers -- it's between $4 [billion] and $5 billion. It's hard to actually tell the truth when those numbers are at the bottom of that truth."

NHTSA did not respond to requests for comment. And Toyota did not respond to questions about the bulletin, but it issued a statement to CNN attacking Howard and his fellow lawyers.

"Toyota strongly disputes these completely baseless allegations being driven by plaintiff's attorneys like Mr. Howard," the statement said. "Toyota intends to fight against these unfounded claims vigorously."

Howard and his legal team say they plan to appear in federal court in San Diego, California, later this week, trying to persuade a federal judge to combine the 88 individual lawsuits so far filed against Toyota into a single class-action litigation. link to

CNN Spotlights "Trail of Dreams"


Students risk dreams -- and deportation -- in walk for recognition
By Elizabeth M. Nunez, CNN
March 23, 2010 12:23 p.m. EDT

When he first arrived in the United States, 14-year-old Felipe Matos liked to go to the supermarket after school just to walk the aisles.

"There was so much food! I would just look at the milk -- there's like 50 types of milk!"

Miami, Florida, was a world apart from the poor neighborhood in Brazil where he was raised by a single mother and older sister. Now 24, he recalls "lacking everything" at home in Duque de Caxias, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

There was no running toilet, and most of the time not enough food to go around. "I would be the only one at home allowed to drink a cup of milk," he says.

When his mother fell ill and could no longer work as a maid to support her family, she sent Felipe to Florida to live with a sister.

"It was one of the saddest days of my life. I was so scared. I got in the plane crying a lot and people didn't know what was happening because I only spoke Portuguese."

Felipe's story is like that of many children and teenagers who are brought or sent to the United States. Their families hope to escape hardship, persecution or poverty. The children study hard and excel in school. Then, just as the dream of getting a college education or a job is within grasp, they learn that they face deportation. As undocumented adults, they can attend college but are ineligible for financial aid. They must pay the steep tuition costs charged to foreign students.

The stellar future of a promising student becomes the uncertain one of an undocumented immigrant.

The greatest opportunity for young people like Felipe lies in the passage of the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, also known as the Dream Act. In a 2009 report, The College Board estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate each year from high school. The legislation would enable those who arrived in the United States before 16 and have lived here at least five consecutive years to obtain residency. Felipe entered the country on a tourist visa and enrolled in middle school.

"My sister said to me, 'This is a country of opportunities. If you work hard, you will make it. Our mother worked hard so the only thing I ask is that you do well in school and make her proud.' And that's what I did."

He spoke no English and stayed up nights translating textbooks and memorizing the lessons. He wrote plays that won regional competitions and graduated with honors.

But high school graduation seemed to signal the end of the road. Without money for tuition and ineligible for financial aid, he got a job and started saving for college. When a friend told him about Miami-Dade College's honors program, he applied and was able to afford tuition with a scholarship and help from his family.

By the time he graduated with an associate degree in international affairs, Felipe had been elected student government president and was recognized as one of 20 New Century Scholars nationwide. He got accepted to American University, Tulane, Duke and Florida International University, but could attend none without financial aid.

St. Thomas University, a Catholic college in Miami, awarded him a scholarship.

He hoped to become a teacher "because I believe that the way out of poverty is getting an education." But that dream ended when he learned he would need a Social Security number to teach. He then chose to study law but discovered his undocumented status would prevent him from taking the bar exam.

"I asked them, 'tell me something that I can study so that I can have a degree.' I chose economics so that I can at least work in development."

One of many dreams

At Miami-Dade, Felipe had learned he was not alone in his plight. He joined Students Working for Equal Rights and met its founder, Gaby Pacheco.

Pacheco came to the U.S. from Ecuador at 7. With three degrees in education, the 25-year-old wants to teach autistic children. But first she must resolve her undocumented status.

Juan Rodriguez is a 20-year-old Colombian who after 13 years in the U.S. became a resident in 2008. Carlos Roa, 22, was a toddler when his sister brought him from Venezuela. He harbored hopes of joining the military.

With these three members of the student activist group, Felipe joined in demonstrating against the detention of classmates and friends. But with little attention from authorities, they decided to stop waiting and start walking -- all the way to Capitol Hill -- to draw attention to their situation. They began the 1,500-mile journey from Miami on January 1.

Traveling in an unmarked RV donated by the Florida Immigration Coalition, the four get out every day to walk from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

They stop to speak about discrimination but mostly they want to hear others' stories. At times, more than 100 people have joined them in the walk. They've traversed Ku Klux Klan territory, sat with immigrant day laborers, received donations, food, places to stay and support in the unlikeliest places.

Follow their journey at

Making friends along the way

In South Carolina, they were surprised by the unexpected generosity of an African-American woman who was cleaning a church where they stopped to rest.

"She drove to meet us and gave us five bucks," Felipe recalls. "That's how we've been paying for everything. This is what makes me get up and put on my shoes every morning."

For the dreamers, as they call themselves, the walk gives voice to those who, out of fear, can not speak out -- such as the 18-year-old student from Peru who was detained by immigration officials on Friday as she waited for the tri-rail train to go to Miami-Dade College.

"Hardly a week or two goes by that we don't hear one of our students got picked up by immigration," says Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade College, which has an enrollment of about 175,000 students.

"Many of these young people are the best students in their classes -- valedictorians -- and when they are ready to go to college they cannot afford it," Padron says.

The Dream Act was first introduced in 2009. Within the Comprehensive Immigration Reform package, the provisions to give students a path to residency are perceived as the least contentious. But many opponents of the act still view it as nothing but a first step in granting amnesty to illegal aliens.

Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, says part of the opposition is focused on the fact that the proposed law might benefit more than the young adults who came to this country as children.

Camarota, who favors stronger immigration laws, says there is also the fundamental question of fairness to those who come to the U.S. legally to study.

"To some, it strikes them as unfair that illegals will get this subsidy when they shouldn't be here in the first place," he said.

Felipe says making his undocumented status public and walking to D.C. was not a question but an imperative.

"We could either sit and be quiet in Miami and wait for them to come and get us or we could raise up our voice so that the abuses can stop."

As the foursome crossed into North Carolina last weekend, their determination was fueled by the people they met along the way.

"We set out not only to change the hearts and minds but also to motivate our peers and other undocumented people to come out and not to be afraid anymore," Felipe says. "But something funny happened. They motivate us more than we motivate them."
link to