Wednesday, April 05, 2006

LULAC -- League of United Latin American Citizens

On 18 May 1929, at the Allende Hall in Corpus Christi, Texas, the first LULAC General Convention was called to order by Ben Garza. The first order of business was a constitution. The assembly promptly adopted one proposed by J.T. Canales and based upon the one used by The Knights of America. The next order of business was the election of officers. Ben Garza was elected President General, M.C. Gonzalez was elected Vice President General, A. DeLuna was elected Secretary General, and Louis C. Wilmot of Corpus Christi, Texas, was elected Treasurer General. These officers undertook the thankless job of guiding a new and young organization besieged by many enemies and skeptical friends and facing a future beset by pitfalls yet to be encountered.

Mexican Americans were not allowed to vote because in many instances they could not understand the English language, because they were not allowed to learn it. Finally, when Mexican American were able to vote, they had to pay for this right. Many were not able to pay, instead their anglo bosses paid this charge and told them who to vote for.

Many Mexican Americans were denied jobs because they were perceived as lazy, poorly dressed, dirty, ill educated, and thieves. In the end, many Mexican men and their entire families worked in the fields, farms, and ranches and their children never went to school.

American children had to attend segregated schools known as "Mexican Schools. "In those days "Mexican Schools" were legal in the southwest. These schools were staffed with the worse of teachers and the buildings were in deplorable conditions.

Hmm. Where have we heard this before???

Press release dated April 4

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the National Capitol Immigration Coalition in partnership with organizations from across the country will hold rallies across the country on Monday, April 10, 2006 in support of a fair and comprehensive immigration reform bill. Over 29 cities will participate in this unprecedented day of action that has energized immigrant communities nationwide.

“Comprehensive immigration reform must include an earned adjustment for immigrants currently working in the United States; create legal channels for future flows of immigrant workers; and reduce the vast backlogs in family-sponsored immigration,” said LULAC National President Hector M. Flores, “There is a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that offers effective enforcement, strengthens borders, and encourages people to come out of the shadows by offering a path to permanent residency.”

This earned legalization legislation is not amnesty because under the provisions of this legislation, an undocumented worker will have to pay a $2,000 fine, undergo a background check, pay any back taxes, learn English, enroll in civic education, remain employed for six years, and then, at the end of those six years, go to the back of the line to apply for legal permanent resident (LPR) status.

Sounds to me they are supporting, not protesting, constructive legislation addressing the elephant in the room. HR 4437 does not meet that need. It is seen by advocacy groups as counteer-productive for a number of reasons. If it has done nothing else, this proposal, called the "Sensenbrenner Bill," has glavanized immigrant advocacy groups like nothing else has done.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center was founded in 1979 by Bill Hing, a well-known immigrant rights advocate who recognized the developing need for expert technical assistance in immigration law and policy. In the mid-1970's, at a time when legal service agencies weren’t focusing on immigration law, Bill responded by organizing the Golden Gate Immigration Clinic, an agency originally staffed by law students. This early experience revealed that Bay Area community-based organizations serving immigrants and refugees lacked adequate training and staffing to grapple with the increasingly complex legal and social challenges faced by their clients. As a result, the agency became the ILRC in 1979 and Bill served as the organization's first Executive Director on a volunteer basis from 1979 to 2000.

Objections to HR 4437 are listed at the ILRC website.
  • criminalizes organizations and individuals assisting undocumented immigrants
  • criminalizes undocumented immigration status
  • grants state and local law enforcement agencies “inherent authority” to enforce immigration laws
  • furthers the erosion of due process
  • expands the costly detention of immigrants
  • guts the federal courts’ authority to review immigration matters
  • turns many minor crimes into aggravated felonies, which carry the worst possible immigration consequences
  • expands the consequences of an aggravated felony and other offenses
  • eliminates key safeguards concerning evidence used to prove that an immigrant is deportable for an aggravated felony
  • reverses the burden of proof
  • makes an immigrant associated with any street gang deportable and ineligible for any immigration benefits
  • undermines state court decisions regarding the reversal or vacation of convictions in immigration proceedings
  • imposes mandatory minimum sentences for many offenses

That list is neither frivolous nor vague. Each of these items is addressed individually. For example under the "street gangs" section...

...The Attorney General, through a secret process that provides no notice or opportunity to be heard to the immigrant, can designate any formal or informal group of three or more persons who have committed two or more enumerated gang crimes a “criminal street gang.” As a result of this designation, many immigrants who never committed or supported a single criminal act may be punished severely for exercising their right to association – they may be deported to a country where they face interrogation, torture, detention and even death.

You don't have to be a weatherman, they say...

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