Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pro Immigrant Videos

Check out these YouTube videos done by groups in other states. I really like the spirit of the ads. What could we do here that would be similar? Ideas? Suggestions?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Senate continues debate

The senate will vote on Friday for cloture, to close the debate and then vote on the bill. If you haven't called your senators yet, now would be a good time to do so. Wayne Allard has been voting against any humanitarian amendments and for every detention provision. Salazar has been doing the opposite. There are 12 million people in our communities who will either be negated or affirmed in the next few days. Let's affirm them by calling our senators and asking them to support these core principles.

  • Provide a Path to Permanent Resident Status and Citizenship for All Members of Our Communities.
  • Reunite Families and Reduce Immigration Backlogs.
  • Create a Worker Program that Protects the Rights and Dignity of Workers.
  • Ensure that All Law Enforcement Entities Respect Human Rights and Civil Liberties.
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Provide Clear Steps to Integrating Immigrants into All Facets of Community Life.
  • Restore Fundamental Civil Rights.
  • Protect the Rights of Refugees and Asylees.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Senate Stalls on Immigration

Yesterday the Senate process stalled. On Wednesday and Thursday I watched our nation's leaders dissolve into partisanship and hurt egos. Many senators complained about their amendment not yet being heard when there were still 14 amendments ahead of them. It's like whining that you can't get a drink and you're not being given a turn when there are 14 people in line ahead of you at the drinking fountain.

I appreciated Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried trying to rein it all in on both sides. His goal was to get both sides to discuss which amendments they felt were most important and narrow the over 300 amendments to 5 on each side. Then the Senate could have voted on those amendments and moved to a vote on the bill.

Many senators on the floor seemed to have lost a sense of urgency about the bill. They appeared to think more about elections and how to spin their votes on amendments and cloture than about the 67% of Americans (75% of whom are Republicans p2) who agree with the need for comprehensive reform which includes a path to legalization for the undocumented. Nor were they considering business' need for labor, laborers' need for a level playing field, and the immigrants themselves.

Both parties appear to be confused and divided on the issue of immigration because the issue requires examination of racism and the history of oppression in this country, market forces, labor rights, family values, religious beliefs about the humanity of all persons, national security issues linked with fear and democracy.

The compromise bill attempted to address all these issues. Compromise doesn't make anyone fully satisfied. There were parts of this bill which I believed to be terrible, but I harbored hope. However, the spectacle of Thursday revealed that even some of the negotiators decided ideology trumps reality, constituents and country. Narrow ideologies will not give birth to a solution for those here without documentation and for our communities.

One day we'll have whole communities and families. One day we'll all work with the same rights and ability to bargain with our employers. One day all will be able to express individual culture without fear. One day everyone will be valued equally while being recognized fully for who they are and all parts of their identity.

That day was not today. So the work continues to speak out at every opportunity and to listen and to learn more and to march and to write and to offer sanctuary and friendship and receive those back.

That day was not today. But we are not where we were years ago. The movement is stronger and so is each member. We can support each other and the wisdom and growth of the movement will carry us all forward.

That day was not today. So as allies, we must come together and be ready. Ready for new tasks and new forms of support. We can work to connect and make new alliances and continue to grow and make our own work better and more accountable to those we are standing with.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Day Labor Center in Aurora

I've had the greatest experience this week volunteering at the Day Labor site in Aurora. The site is located in a parking lot with the owner's permission. My father is a member of the Electrical Workers union (IBEW). I know that I have reaped the benefits of the organizing of previous generations. I view this opportunity to help out the site as an opportunity to pay back that debt.The workers at the site have organized to ask $10/hour. They negotiate together with employers.Before, the workers were making only $5 or $6 an hour. I believe that supporting others in their crusade to organize will drive wages up and helps to put all workers on the same playing field. Some of the police and the city attorney are taking the side of Temporary businesses in the area. businesses charge employers $10-16 dollars an hour and then pay the worker only $5 or $6. So, as in all other labor struggles, the government has sided with business and has begun using its authority to intimidate.The police have threatened to call Immigration. The city attorney has threatened to cite the property owner using a code that says Temporary Employment Offices cannot be located within 1500 feet of each other. The police assume people don't have papers, based on what they couldn't tell us.The city attorney may not be aware that Temporary Employment Offices are defined as:"Temporary employment office means a business office engaged in procuring, for a fee, employment for others and employees for employers on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis." (Sec 46-2001 of Aurora Zoning Code)This means that the day labor site is NOT a Temporary Employment Office and so the statute does not apply. A more sinister possibility is that maybe the city attorney did know the definition of a Temporary Employment Office and hoped that we did not. Intimidation will not work. It is my hope that the attorney and the chief of police, as well as the owner of the business, will meet with us so we can negotiate an end to the conflict just as many of my predecessors negotiated with corporations.