Friday, January 25, 2008

New Sanctuary Minute passed

The program committee of the Denver office of the American Friends Service Committee decided to approve a "minute" in support of the New Sanctuary Movement. In Quaker parlance, a "minute" is, essentially, an official statement. The minute will now be passed on to the Central Region Program Committee.

But what exactly is New Sanctuary? To see the courageous work immigrants and their allies in the faith community are doing around the country, check out:

Here is the context and the minute:

The New Sanctuary Movement
Introduction and Minute 2007
In the early 1980's, thousands of Central American refugees poured into the United States, fleeing life-threatening repression and extensive human rights violations by their governments.
At the time, federal immigration policy would have denied the majority political asylum simply because their governments were allies of the U.S. Many of these refugees had actively participated in the liberation theology movement and naturally sought support from congregations.
As faith communities across the country joined to offer protection to those fleeing their homelands, we, the American Friends Services Committee, were likewise called to respond to the injustice and inhumanity of our governments’ actions. We issued statements of concern and support, standing in solidarity with congregations united in the Sanctuary Movement.
Our efforts succeeded in overcoming suffering and injustice. Together we changed national policy and protected tens of thousands, enabling them to start a new life in the U.S.

Now, over 25 years later, faith communities across a broad spectrum of denominations are again joining to protest our government’s policies and protect those who have left their homelands. The human rights of immigrants are daily violated through acts of hatred, workplace discrimination and unjust deportation. We are moved to speak and to act.
In 1986, Jim Corbett, a Quaker and active participant in the Sanctuary Movement, observed, “Individuals can resist injustice, but only in community can we do justice.”
Through a community of congregations across the country, the Sanctuary Movement did, in fact, do justice, protecting human lives and changing national policy.
Today, a community has once again convened to pursue this vision of justice under the banner of the New Sanctuary Movement. As participants in the New Sanctuary Movement, we bear witness to the injustice that our immigrant brothers and sisters daily endure at the hands of government and society. We refuse to watch silently.
We, the American Friends Service Committee, believe that oppression in all its forms can give way. Just as Corbett suggested, we understand that we are stronger when we stand with all people, the poor and materially comfortable, the disenfranchised and the powerful, and those of other faiths. We hope to act with courage and vision in taking initiatives that may not be popular. For these reasons, we join with congregations around the country in the New Sanctuary Movement.
Our work is grounded in the Quaker testimonies, one of which is community. Our vision is that all life is interconnected, that there is that of God in everyone. Our communities include those who are like us and those who are different. Our vision of community welcomes the stranger because there is that of God in him or her. We recognize that immigrants are members of our communities throughout the U.S.
While immigrants are part of our communities, we recognize that U.S. policies have often unjustly forced them from their homelands. We recognize that U.S. economic and military presence abroad compromises the survival and safety of those who make the difficult decision to migrate.
We also recognize that U.S. policies at home are gravely unjust to immigrant members of our communities. We acknowledge that the same system that allows us to live in abundance and comfort, with inexpensive goods and services, necessitates the underpaid labor of immigrants. We have watched as immigrant families live in ever-greater fear of separation.
Our vision is that our country treat all people fairly, whether they live within or outside of its borders. This vision demands we not remain silent when our government espouses policies that impoverish, exploit and force people to live in fear.
Because our government has failed to protect immigrant members of our communities, to treat them justly and with integrity, we are called to oppose policies that threaten to overwhelm that which is precious in human beings. We join in the New Sanctuary Movement as a commitment to the immigrant members of our communities, to accompany and protect those facing injustice to our greatest ability.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Gazette Takes A Reasonable Approach

There are many reasons to support immigration reform and immigrant rights including those based in our faith traditions, human rights, labor rights and the contributions, both cultural and economic, that immigrants make to our communities. The Colorado Springs Gazette detailed how demographics impact the economy and explains how immigration may be helping the economy, not hurting it.

I went to a training myself yesterday and learned the Labor Department estimates that by 2010 there will be a 151 million jobs in the United States and 141 million workers. This is not a political statistic, it is real.

Our View - Thursday

January 10, 2008

Forbidden topic
How immigration could save us

Anti-immigrant tough talk has failed, once again, as it did in the 2006 election. The toughest of the tough-on-immigration candidates — Colorado’s Tom Tancredo — didn’t get to New Hampshire before his campaign fizzled. John McCain and Hillary Clinton, two of the weakest tough-on-immigration candidates, stole the show in New Hampshire, where immigration never became an issue.

There’s a lesson in this: Americans are confused on immigration, they don’t feel deeply either way, and the topic is mostly a source of anxiety. They’ll reward candidates who ignore it.

Politicians learned this from Tancredo’s demise. They also learned from Clinton, who waffled on the issue of drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants and suffered in the polls. Immigration, from any perspective, is a perilous, no-win issue for candidates on each side of the aisle.

And that’s too bad, because immigration may be the most important issue pertaining to our country’s economic plight.

Consider a report in the business pages of Wednesday’s Gazette, where Money Management columnist Dan Serra interviewed Littleton financial planner James Lunney, author of “Surviving the Storm; Investment Strategies that Help You Maximize Profit and Control Risk During the Coming Economic Winter.”

One can hope that Lunney’s “Economic Winter” subtitle represents an overly pessimistic forecast. But don’t count on it. A growing number of economists say our economy is already in recession. Meanwhile, the stock market continues to sag, and the nation’s leading mortgage lender teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, along with the largest insurer of municipal bonds. Investors abroad are deserting the dollar in favor of the euro and the yen.

Lunney is rare among economists and financial planners, in that he seems to grasp the very foundation of long-term financial challenges facing our country. He describes what might be viewed as an inverted population pyramid, telling Serra: “Never has there been a period in history where you have a large generation followed by a smaller generation.”

Lunney cites government statistics that show Americans spend the most in their mid- to late-40s, and the majority of baby boomers are beyond that. Younger generations are smaller in numbers, meaning the economy is heading into a period in which fewer people will be consuming services and goods, and a large population of seniors will be dependent on younger generations to drive the economy and care for them. It’s a gloomy equation.

“The market’s not going down because boomers are taking money out of stocks, it’s because of reduced spending,” Lunney said.

The days of families producing five to 10 kids are probably over for good, so the inverted pyramid may be hard to reverse. Or is it? Immigration — the “problem” a failed crop of politicians promised to fix — is the obvious cure.

Massive immigration, legal or not, is nothing other than a demand of our economy — a force powered by the wants and needs of some 300 million consumers who vote with their dollars every day. Politicians such as Tancredo mistake the immigration influx as exploitation of America by a poorer class, believing that our country has tolerated the influx as a favor to Latin Americans. They fail to grasp the American economy as a self-serving, self-correcting entity so powerful and sophisticated that market forces of correction mimic gravity, or the suction of a vacuous void, regardless of political whim.

The economy pulls immigrants in to give us a working class, and a base of consumers to help support the businesses and fill the homes that resulted from a large class of baby boomers, most of whom are moving past their most consumptive and productive years.

Americans know instinctively that politicians cannot, and should not, stop an immigration tide that’s pulled by the gravity of economic want and need. Most Americans know the immigrants who fix their leaking roofs and mop the floors at their children’s schools. Business leaders know the immigrants who buy their goods and services, and they’re thankful.

Presidential candidates will probably continue ignoring the debate, viewed as a proven campaign failure. As a result, the country will continue with inane immigration laws that mischaracterize a legitimate reaction to economic demand as a dark and unlawful attack on our country. Open, honest political dialogue about the causes and benefits of immigrant consumers and workers — and ways to curtail the liabilities associated with them — could be the first step in saving us from recession, or worse. Unfortunately, such conversations don’t conform to the emotional and expedient nature of presidential politics. Neither, however, does tough-guy anti-immigrant talk.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Attention: Your Legislator Went to Work Yesterday!

Yesterday was the opening day of the Colorado legislative session. People who genuinely want to make a change, our elected representatives will start sorting through about 500 bills and try to make good choices that represent you. They don't do it for the money. The position pays about $30,000 a year.

I found Senator Ken Gordon's commentary to be refreshing and to the point. It's attached below. It's non-partisan advice to voters. He has ran his campaigns without taking any special interest money and is an interesting guy, Anyhow, he can be honest because he cannot run again due to term limits. Check it out.

Also, you can go here to find out who your state level Reps and Senators are. Click "Find/Change Location" to the right of the map. Enter your address without abbreviations. You just need your street address, city and zip code. Ignore the other info. It will come back with the map and, on the top left, your districts and the names of your state level house and senate reps and your congressional rep to the United States House.

This year the State Legislature House proceedings will be televised on Comcast Cable TV Channel 165 or on the net at Broadcasting begins the 21st of January.

If you are interested in Adopting a Policy Maker for Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, please contact Jordan Garcia
By Senator Ken Gordon
The People

As we start a new legislative session we can expect elected leaders and special interests to face intense scrutiny. Yet there is an indispensable group that is rarely noticed and whose actions almost never receive any critical examination: the People of Colorado.

It is understandable that politicians are reluctant to criticize voters. Imagine the following, not completely apocryphal, conversation.

Candidate: "Someone criticizes every position I take. The people want small classes, affordable in-state college tuition, a robust health care safety net and well-maintained roads and bridges. They vote for these costly services every time they get a chance, and then they vote for lower taxes every time they get a chance. They are inconsistent. Only half of them vote on a good day. And then they elect candidates who tell them they can have something for nothing. I'm going to tell the people that the reason this country is in such a mess is because of them."

Campaign Manager: "Mr. Candidate... uh… that would be a good idea if... you were crazy."

Let's strike a bargain and consider dividing responsibilities.

Elected officials... will listen to input from the public and experts. They will read the studies, examine the facts and negotiate in good faith with People who disagree. They will be honest, and not hesitate to point out when something is not possible. They will not avoid wrestling with unpleasant facts and tough choices by finding an "enemy" that everyone can blame. They will not sell their souls to special interests for campaign contributions.

The People... will keep up with public events to a sufficient degree to make intelligent choices when they vote. They will not be persuaded by special-interest financed, mindless television ads, where a candidate stands in front of a mountain and says, "I care about Colorado." They will be logical, and not reward politicians who promise them inconsistent outcomes. They will not support the candidate backed by their own special interest for selfish reasons; they will think about the general welfare as well.

Here is an example that highlights the problem...

For more click here

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Decoding O'Reilley

Decoding O' Reilley He makes racism a black problem by saying that it is their attitude in dealing with racism that has to change. He also uses a tone of tokenism; arguments whose conclusion is that you're alright if you are black as long as you act white. He holds up examples of "american" culture and then gives numerous examples of people who are black who fit his mold. Basically, entertainers and sports stars. He decries rap and R&B as unamerican. He tries to sympathize with black america by recognizing racism exists and then spends the whole show downplaying the role of white america in racsim. He states over and over that you can't change what people think, but advocates a change in thinking in black americans. I guess he could be talking to his audience to try and get his point across or convince them. However, I find it hard to believe that O'Reiley is trying to advocate for black americans. Especially in light of his anti-immigrant stance which is actually a crusade to maintain the "white majority" by limiting the migration of people of color. My cynical brain says he's using the same strategy as "Choose Black America" which is to drive a wedge between groups so you can win. Decide for yourself by listening. -Piper