The National Catholic Review
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Latinos, Unite!

The best outcome, though unintended, of the harsh new immigration bill passed by the Arizona legislature last month might be to rally Latinos in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

The law that Gov. Jan Brewer signed in April goes into effect in 90 days. It requires police and sheriffs to check the immigration status of individuals they reasonably deem suspicious, demand proof of citizenship (a valid driver’s license, passport or green card, for example) and make arrests if proof is lacking. It allows citizens to file lawsuits for lax enforcement but prohibits citizens from creating sanctuaries to limit the reach of the law. Latinos are not explicitly mentioned, but they make up 30 percent of Arizona’s population and are by far its largest immigrant group. It is estimated that some 450,000 illegal immigrants live in the state.

The new law could be short-lived. Already President Obama has instructed the U.S. Department of Justice to scrutinize it for violations regarding racial profiling and civil rights. Others, including the mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon, are challenging its constitutionality in the courts. Clarence Dupnik, sheriff of Pima County, Ariz., called the law racist and said he would not enforce it.

Meanwhile, the law’s intrusive overreach may give Latino activists the impetus they need to build their organizations. All Hispanics in Arizona, most of whom are U.S. citizens, will be subject to police suspicion, pullovers and carding. They too will always have to carry identification as a precaution. That could bring native-born Latinos into common cause with the foreign-born—both legal and illegal.

Activist Latino voters in Arizona could join Latinos in other states to lead the debate not merely to repeal this law, but to pass federal immigration reform. A strong national Latino electorate could press Congress to act—if not this year, then next.

Damas de Blanco

The Damas de Blanco, Ladies in White, continue processing with gladiolas after Sunday Mass in Havana in peaceful protest against the incarceration of relatives during the so-called Black Spring in mid-March 2003. Cuban state security agents rounded up human rights activists, journalists and other free-speech advocates. Seventy-five received sentences of up to 28 years. Over 50 remain imprisoned.

In recognition of their peaceful protest, in 2005 the Damas received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, but the Cuban government barred the group’s leaders from attending the award ceremony in France. This past March, to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the arrests, the Damas processed not only on Sundays, but also on each of the seven days of that week, chanting, “Libertad! Libertad!” Cuban police again harassed and beat several, as a shrill mob cried, “Fidel! Fidel!” One of the Damas, Reyna Tamayo, is the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a 42-year-old human rights activist. After a hunger strike to demand the release of those still held, he died in prison in February. This spring his mother received especially rough treatment at the hands of the police. “They dragged me, they beat me. I am all bruised,” she said afterward.

Cuba has made huge strides in literacy and medical care in the past half-century. The ongoing repression of dissent and denial of such basic human rights as freedom of speech, however, remain a blot on its achievements. Hopes that Raul Castro might effect needed changes have not been realized, and the brothers Castro continue their repressive rule.

Alternative Energy Horizons

Even as a toxic tide from the blowout of a British Petroleum oil rig drifted closer to Gulf states’ beaches, fisheries and fragile marsh ecosystems, official approval was finally granted for what will eventually become the nation’s first off-shore wind farm. Cape Wind will be a complex of 130 turbines in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Challenged by nature preservationists, the proposal had been in limbo for nine years.

When completed, the project will generate 468 megawatts of electricity, about the output of a medium-sized coal-fired plant and enough to power 200,000 Massachusetts homes. The reduction of carbon dioxide emissions promised by the grid represents the equivalent of taking 175,000 cars off the road. Such tapping of Atlantic winds may one day prove an important part of an overall national strategy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Similar wind farms are planned for other locations along the East Coast and on the Great Lakes. Europe has been building such off-shore, clean-energy powerhouses for 20 years now, and China is already constructing its first off Shanghai.

The aesthetic harm of such energy innovation is real, but the loss of a beautiful view pales in comparison to the threat to human life and ecosystems now posed by our current reliance on fossil fuel. To paraphrase one environmentalist: No one will ever have to clean up after a nasty wind spill.

 

Comments

LARRY | 5/13/2010 - 2:34pm
Yes, we have an undeniable need of a comprehensive federal immigration reform.

Between 12 and 20 million undocumented immigrants are now living and working in the United States. Simply deporting them would create more problems than it solves: children would be left inhumanly without a father or without a mother; our agricultural system would be tragically deprived of thousands of needed workers; American citizens would have to replace them, and start to wash dishes, clean hotel rooms, pick artichokes, etc.

Undocumented immigrants are at fault for having crossed our borders illigally, for having overstayed their visas, or for permitting American employers to get rich by hiring them as illegal workers.

Federal employees are also definitely at fault for neglecting to properly control our national borders; for failing to check that legal immigrants with temporary working papers actually leave when their permits expire; but especially for failing to arrest the thousands of employers who personally profit from illegal, very cheap, immigrant labor.

Since both the undocumented immigrants and our federal employees are at fault, a sensible compromise is required, some generous legal solution that remembers that it was immigration (yes, legal and illegal...) that reall built our nation. We, or our parents, or our grandparents are all immigrants... Wasn't it Ronald Reagan who years ago met a similar problem with a genuinely American type of amnesty?

We must remember what America stands for. We all know that engraved in the pillar supporting the Statue of Liberty is the poem by Emma Lazarus titled “The New Colossus.” We have all read it, but it is good to read it again:

THE NEW COLOSSUS

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
with conquering limbs astride from land to land;
here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “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!”
richard benitez | 5/10/2010 - 8:15pm
Over the years i've been exposed to lots of feed back on illegals and immigration reform. To this day i find it shocking that Americans blame Mexicans (and others, of course)for being in the US illegally. i would very much like to know why the readers of America do not blame the employers who go out of their way to find Mexican workers. Mexican workers have lowered taxes for employers and lowered costs (so employers make more money) which are passed on. One of my brothers is a developer. It takes 48 contacts to build a housing subdivision. My brother loves illegals and barely legals. Also, mexicans pay lots of taxes but get little in return. Check out the millions paid by mexicans into the Social Security trust fund with little expectation for future benefits. Americans and readers of America need to wise up on this. The days of nationhood are over. Way to go Bishops!
Enrique Alonso | 5/10/2010 - 1:28pm

It´s insulting that America´s editors justify Castro´s tyranny in Cuba with the statement: ¨Cuba has made huge strides in literacy and medical care in the past half-century. The ongoing repression of dissent and denial of such basic human rights as freedom of speech, however, remain a blot on its achievements.¨ Can anyone imagine such a statement being made had a  U.S. leader ever managed to impose himself on this nation for over 50 years?

Of course, the editors attempt to present themselves as balanced and objectve observers by also denouncing the continuing repression and praising the ¨Damas de Blanco¨.

Even if the statement about education and literacy in Cuba were true, and not a deceptive caricature and simplification, America´s editors fail to grasp that grave sins, abuses and crimes against an individual or a nation are not obliterated by the perpetrator´s supposed good deeds. Yet, these Jesuits essentialy argue that if only the repression would end, Castro and successors would be praiseworthy. Would they apply that argument  to the U.S. too? If not, then it is a double standard and utterly hypocritical. If they would, then they fail to defend the U.S constitution.

David Smith | 5/9/2010 - 1:00am

"The aesthetic harm of such energy innovation is real, but the loss of a beautiful view pales in comparison to the threat to human life and ecosystems now posed by our current reliance on fossil fuel."

The current reliance on fossil fuel will end soon enough.  The supply is finite.  In the meantime, why create and proliferate new categories of pollution?  Why not simply work harder on making technologies we've learned well perform more cleanly?  Coal is burned, I think, a lot more cleanly than it used to be and research continues on improving that.  And wind farms take a lot more space than power plants, don't they?  And they undoubtedly kill a lot more animals than  power plants.  Also, since when is aesthetic damage unimportant?  These hundreds of turbines and the wires and infrastructure connecting them will probably simply be left to rot in place, a permanent blight and navigation hazard.  Power plants can be used for a much longer time, I imagine, and then they can be disassembled and the land can be cleaned up and turned back to nature.

C Walter Mattingly | 5/8/2010 - 6:25am

Currently those Mexican citizens who apply legally for visas are punished by having to wait for permission that may or may not come in timely fashion. Meanwhile, those who break the law are rewarded by being allowed into the country and having their children become citizens of the US with the attending benefits.  We are currently, in this instance, a nation which punishes those who obey our laws and rewards those who break them. Arizona has concluded that this lawlessness has harmed the state and that the federal government has abdicated its responsibilities to enforce immigration law. It has in exasperation sought a policy that will enable it to enforce the law and remediate the problem.  If the method is illegal, let the supreme court determine it so. Meanwhile we as citizens should let the question be about justice, not, as both parties seem to be tending, the Latino vote.

I personally have been inspired by the many hispanic neighbors and their contribution to the southern cities I have lived in and the parishes in which I have participated. I do however believe a law should be enforced or repealed. I therefore think we should either enforce it, modify it, or do away with it and open the borders (the latter being largely the situation we have now.)

Mike Evans | 5/8/2010 - 12:12am

Wow - such violent anti immigrant sentiments. Perhaps some examination of conscience is in order to locate the root of such vitriolic feelings. Arizona, California, Texas, and New Mexico are border states who have for over a century welcomed and facilitated Mexican workers and their families to work in their agricultural, tourist, hospitality, construction and landscaping industries. Most have found work and are paying their way and contributing to our society. Why are we angry about this? Did you want to go and pick fruit or lettuce? Wash dishes and make tacos? Mow lawns and trim hedges? Dig ditches and tote and carry? Clean and make beds? No, I didn't think so.

E.Patrick Mosman | 5/7/2010 - 12:05pm

What does illegal mean to the editors and Catholic Bishops in America? Is the Church as represented by the Bishops teaching and championing illegal activity and showing a true lack of Charity by belittling and condemning those who support enforcing the law of the land

Since the police and other law enforcement representatives are allowed to require proof of identy from everyone stopped for an infraction of a law are the editors supporting an exemption for illegals? Also as enforcement officers are allowed to question questionable documents is another exemption proposed for illegals? 

What is the Catholic Church’s position on the regulations and restrictions imposed on foreigners in Mexico?Does it protest openly the treatment of illegal immigrants in Mexico?

Mexican Law

“– The Mexican government will bar foreigners if they upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” How’s that for racial and ethnic profiling?


— If outsiders do not enhance the country’s “economic or national interests” or are “not found to be physically or mentally healthy,” they are not welcome. Neither are those who show “contempt against national sovereignty or security.” They must not be economic burdens on society and must have clean criminal histories. Those seeking to obtain Mexican citizenship must show a birth certificate, provide a bank statement proving economic independence, pass an exam and prove they can provide their own health care.
— Illegal entry into the country is equivalent to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Document fraud is subject to fine and imprisonment; so is alien marriage fraud. Evading deportation is a serious crime; illegal re-entry after deportation is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment. Foreigners may be kicked out of the country without due process and the endless bites at the litigation apple that illegal aliens are afforded in our country (see, for example, President Obama’s illegal alien aunt — a fugitive from deportation for eight years who is awaiting a second decision on her previously rejected asylum claim).
— Law enforcement officials at all levels — by national mandate — must cooperate to enforce immigration laws, including illegal alien arrests and deportations. The Mexican military is also required to assist in immigration enforcement operations. Native-born Mexicans are empowered to make citizens’ arrests of illegal aliens and turn them in to authorities.
— Ready to show your papers? Mexico’s National Catalog of Foreigners tracks all outside tourists and foreign nationals. A National Population Registry tracks and verifies the identity of every member of the population, who must carry a citizens’ identity card. Visitors who do not possess proper documents and identification are subject to arrest as illegal aliens.
All of these provisions are enshrined in Mexico’s Ley General de Población (General Law of the Population) and were spotlighted in a 2006 research paper published by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy.
Under the Mexican constitution political speech by foreigners is banned. Noncitizens cannot “in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.” In fact, a plethora of Mexican statutes enacted by its congress limit the participation of foreign nationals and companies in everything from investment, education, mining and civil aviation to electric energy and firearms. Foreigners have severely limited private property and employment rights (if any).”

David Gibboni | 5/7/2010 - 11:31am

You seem to sidestep the legal and moral issue of 450,000 illegal aliens living in Arizona.  Their very presence there is a crime, yet you don't even mention that point.  All you see is racism where there is only law enforcement. 

I wonder if the Catholic bishops, mewling about the immorality of this law, will instruct the illegals sitting in their pews that it is their moral obligation to obey the law, and thus vacate the state. I doubt that will happen.

Ted McGoron | 5/7/2010 - 11:05am

   Another critic of the Arizona law, who has not read the law. It authorizes the police to ask for identification from people who have been stopped for breaking another law, such as driving over the speed limit. If you don't want to be stopped, don't break the law. Sounds simple to me. If this indicates a propensity among Latinos that should be a subject for another editorial.

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