Great article from the NYT on Immigration

Hey… it’s Monday.

Perdónenme el San Lunes but I just want to post a link to a great article I read this morning on the metro (I’m not done reading it todavía, but it’s great reporting as usual from the NYT and worth a read.)

Here comes 2012 and the elections and the never ending conversation/debate/issue that is Immigration. Brace yourselves, people. There’s more to come.

To read: “Crossing Over, and Over” from Damien Cave for the New York Times, click HERE.

Screen shot from

Gregory Rodriguez from the LA Times says it best

The immigration rants and rhetoric are getting worse everyday in the US. You can practically blame Hispanics for any problem there is,  like the all the boogeymen, right wingers and hate mongers do. Then it’s all over the tv news and internet and public opinion is all messed up.

Is there a solution to this? Here’s an excellent column by Gregory Rodriguez from the LA Times: “Immigration facts figures and thoughts” which tries to shed some light on the statistics, while presenting a pro immigration voice that does not seem unbalanced.

I could not agree more with Mr. Rodriguez. 100% de acuerdo.  Although people in my camp rarely get any airtime on the nightly news or talk shows. We are just not dramatic enough, I guess.

No doubt haters will be flocking to Mr. Rodriguez’ column/page at the Times to inundate it with hate mail. Asi pasa cuando sucede. The internet gave everybody with a keyboard and wifi the chance to post, and I don’t think anybody is monitoring feedback on these publications. So we have to read hateful comments along with the few comments that are actually of value and insight.

Como dijo Rodney King durante los LA Riots, “Can’t we all get along?”

From the Los Angeles Times. July 26, 2010

Immigration facts, figures — and thoughts

Gregory Rodriguez

Illegal immigration has actually fallen in the last few years. So why all the heated rhetoric today?

With the immigration debate heating up — and a federal court case over Arizona’s SB 1070 brewing — you’d think that the U.S. was besieged by growing numbers of illegal immigrants. But you’d be wrong.

Despite the heightened rhetoric and the bloodcurdling vitriol surrounding the issue, illegal immigration has actually declined significantly over the last few years. While journalists like to characterize the anger over immigration as a response to facts on the ground — i.e. people are inundated and incensed — the numbers don’t bear them out.

In fact, the opposite is true. According to a February report by the Department of Homeland Security the number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. actually dropped by a whopping 1 million between 2008 and 2009, which amounts to the sharpest decrease in 30 years. It was the second year of declining numbers.

Likewise, the Border Patrol reports that apprehensions are down by more than 60% since 2000, to 550,000 last year, the lowest number in 35 years, even though the border is more tightly controlled than ever. As William Finnegan wrote in last week’s New Yorker, “The southern border, far from being ‘unsecured,’ is in better shape than it has been for years — better managed and less porous.”

And there’s more. Despite the drumbeat about hordes of undocumented Mexicans who have come north to take our jobs, consider this: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, between 2005 and 2008, the number of Mexican migrants arriving in the U.S. actually declined by 40%.

It’s not only the number of Mexican illegal immigrants that has dropped. The fact that the U.S. economy is struggling has discouraged high-skilled immigrants from around the globe from looking for jobs in America, and the flow of applicants for H1-B visas, or work permits, has slowed. Before the recession, the entire 85,000 H1-B annual quota would be filled within days of the application date on the first of April. For fiscal year 2010, the quota wasn’t reached until December 2009.

Finally, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey last fall revealed a historic decline in the percentage of U.S. residents who are foreign-born — from 12.6% in 2007 to 12.5% in 2008. That represents only about 40,000 people numerically, but it is the first time since the 1970 census — 40 years ago — that the foreign-born percentage of the U.S. population has gone down.

So, in the face of all this data showing that legal and illegal immigration is down dramatically, what’s all the fuss about? Why has the debate turned so nasty? Why does it seem worse than it did in 1994, during the debate over Proposition 187, California’s anti-immigrant ballot measure?

The easy answer, of course, is that the economy is tough and historically people have looked for targets to blame for their feelings of impotence.

But today I think there are other contributing factors. The political discourse overall is pretty horrific, and while immigration has always brought out the worst in people, today’s polarized climate only makes matters worse.

Furthermore, the right wing, where much of the anti-immigrant frenzy comes from, no longer has an authoritative voice of reason pressing for decency on the issue. Four years ago, after President George W. Bush unsuccessfully launched his own effort at comprehensive immigration reform, he warned against “harsh, ugly rhetoric.” Today, Bush is hardly heard from and the right has an “open borders” policy on over-the-top rhetoric.

Struggling newspapers seeking to engage readers at any cost are also part of the problem. Whereas racist rants were once confined to marginal websites, today many papers — including this one — have opened their online comments section to, well, complete nut-jobs. Allowing vitriolic racial rhetoric to remain on a mainstream website is to give it a level of acceptability. Just last week, in response to my column on the so-called burka ban in France, a rabid commenter proposed that all those crossing the U.S.- Mexico border without papers should be shot on sight. Nice. Such “dialogue” not only pushes out reasonable people, it emboldens the unreasonable ones. By allowing it to be posted, newspapers are presiding over the mainstreaming of anti-immigrant hate speech.

There may be those who see hatred as a justifiable means to an end. Perhaps they hope that all this harsh rhetoric will keep even more illegal immigrants at home. But they’d be silly to think that such invective only makes life harder for immigrants. Unfortunately, it also actively degrades our culture, our public square and our democracy. //

Los Tigres del Norte ROAR at Disney Hall

Cantaron, bailaron y gozaron en el Disney Hall. (Foto Universal Music)

Un verdadero acontecimiento tuvo lugar el viernes en la noche en Los Angeles. History in the making!

Los Tigres del Norte, el famosísimo grupo con éxitos como La Puerta Negra, La Jaula de Oro, La Reina del Sur entre otras miles de canciones, hicieron historia al ser el primer grupo de música regional mexicana que tiene un concierto el prestigioso Disney Hall de Los Angeles.

THIS IS A VERY BIG DEAL!! And you’ve got to hand it to the organizers and the board of trustees of the music center who thought of this. I’m sure once all the latinos started coming in en masse they thought, “Oh MY GAWD, what were we thinking?

Still, it was a great concert that went over 2 hours long, in a beautiful setting, and even the gringos enjoyed it. Of course they probably got lost in the translation and didn’t understand the lyrics. Esas canciones están llenas de reclamos, de verdades. Piden justicia para los indocumentados y exigen que se nos reconozca más a los latinos en este país, “que también es nuestro.”

"De qué me sirve el dinero, si estoy como prisionero, dentro de esta gran nación, cuando me acuerdo hasta lloro, aunque la jaula sea de oro, no deja de ser prisión..." (La Jaula de Oro)

Ya entendí porque son tan famosos. Tienen el don de combinar la música popular con historias y letras que expresan lo que sienten los imigrantes, estén legales o no, y el coraje que da que te hagan menos por tu raza, especialmente en estos tiempos con leyes como las de Arizona.

Ya me gritaron mil veces que me regrese a mi tierra, porque aqui no quepo yo. Quiero recordarle al gringo: Yo no cruce la frontera, la frontera me cruzó…Y si no miente la historia, aqui se asentó en la gloria de esta poderosa nación…entre guerreros y valientes, indios de dos continentes, mezclados con español. Y si a los siglos nos vamos: somos más americanos, somos más americanos que el hijo del anglo sajón…” (Somos Más Americanos)

Los Tigres le cantaron a los imigrantes, a los latinos, a los enamorados y a los desenamorados.

Ya se imaginarán que la raza casi se vuelve loca con gritos y aplausos. Me dió gusto ver a la bandera mexicana, a la gente cantando en español la música norteña. De veras que emocionan.

Todos Los Tigres del Norte son parientes. Creo que son hermanos y primos. Desconozco exactamente los lazos familiares pero todos se parecen: Jorge Hernández, Hernán Hernández, Eduardo Hernández, Luis Hernández y Oscar Lara. Ahi entre todos tocan guitarra, acordeones, saxofón, el cello y los tambores. Y con la acústica del Disney Hall, la música estuvo fabulosa. Cantaron y cantaron y cantaron. Hasta les dieron papelitos con peticiones para que cada quien escuchara su favorita. A una señora le cantaron las mañanitas porque era su cumpleaños. Todo el mundo salió contento.

Así que ya lo saben: all you Rush Limbaughs, Pete Wilsons, Jan Brew-has and other immigration haters out there: You may seem to be gaining ground and air time; pero a los latinos ya nos invitaron al Disney Hall, y esta fiesta con nos gustó. We like it here.  Entonces ya se pueden ir acostumbrando al rugir de estos Tigres por aquí, verdad que sí? Ajúuuuua!!

"Así quedó" el Disney Hall after the concert.

Arizona reminds me of 1930’s Germany


Artwork by the brilliant Lalo Alcaraz. See more of his comics at

It’s been a few days since the SB1070 Immigration bill was signed into law by the governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer (La Brew-Ha como le dicen en facebook.) Y aunque este no es un blog político, si es un blog de la vida en spanglish, so it’s about time I voice my opinion. 

Before the hate comments come in (how interesting that when I post something that is immigration related I get a few hate emails which are never published) let me start off by saying there is no easy way out of this immigration mess, no easy single solution that will make everyone happy when it comes to undocumented workers in the US. There are too many obstacles (money, power, race, pride) and too many people (12 million and counting) to solve this in one step. 

The debate heats up every year, around the month of May curiously enough, and everybody gets all worked up and passionate abut the subject. But nothing has changed in years and meanwhile people are divided into camps: Pro-Immigration Reform and the “Send them All Back ” groups como los MinuteMen. 

But we’ve never seen anything like this. Not even back in the days of 187 in California were people so split on this issue.

The extremist and racist profiling tactics and measures that will now take place legally in Arizona are shocking. I don’t exaggerate when I say it reminds me of Germany, Pre World War II., circa 1930. Back then Jews were blamed for everything from diseases to unemployment to taking away from “rightful” citizens to being a threat to the community. Sound familiar?

It seems the people of Arizona took a note out of history and came up with a law that basically would give a law enforcement official, cualquier policía de la calle, the right to ask anybody that doesn’t look “gringo” enough for proof of residencyor legal status and put you in jail or deport you if you don’t have it with you. I suppose they wouldn’t be looking for Chinese, or European, or Canadians, or African Americans, right? This is a law that is aimed at Hispanics and anyone who “looks” Hispanic. What that means is left up entirely to the law officers judgement.

Everyday I come across different opinions on the subject of immigration. Yes there are way too many people who are here without “legal staus”. Yes the system is broken, yes there are crimes and misdemeanors.  However, we are not all criminals, nor thugs, nor abusive “disease ridden illegal aliens who bring lice and diseases across the border” as someone on CNN said recently, imagine that.

What about the millions of hardworking, decent, HUMAN BEINGS that come to work here and grow this country’s economy? What about the people that cook for you in restaurants, wait at your table, clean your office building, park your car, help you out when your car is stranded on the road (it happened to me!), clean your hotel room? What about the construction worker, the janitor, the cook, the nurse, the student with good grades, the nanny, the gardener, the person who helps you carry your groceries, the dishwasher? Don’t they deserve a chance to work/live here legally? Everyday they prove they are worthy of the American Dream. They work hard and provide for their families. I have met people and know stories that inspire, esta gente lo ha sufrido y lo ha vivido. Salen con miedo todos los dias de ser deportados, y aun así se arriesgan. Merecen tener el derecho a trabajar y quedarse aqui. He dicho. 

Jan Brew-ha can say this won’t affect Arizona’s economy. Allá ella. We’ll see. For the moment, I won’t so much as spend a cent in AZ, nor drive through there. “I won’t even drink Arizona Tea,” says my friend Mickey Vega. Lo siento por los residentes de su estado, but that’s the way it is. 

So that’s my humilde opinión. I have a feeling this time things will be a little different. People are more informed. More vocal.And we now have the power of Facebook!  Social Media is a great tool for defending your point of view (either for or against Immigration Reform) and it’s not going anywhere soon. Here’s a few groups that have formed since last week: 

1 Million Strong Against Arizona Immigration Law SB 1070. 

Possible Illegal Immigrants 

Si un policia me dice papeles y yo digo tijeras gano yo 

And other links to (a great group credited with bringing down Lou Dobbs)

Shame on Arizona 

And here’s a cool video link my friend Marisol Rosas sent me (Gracias!) from the Colbert Report: (Click below to watch) 

No Problemo

Theres’ still plenty to mention, but for now, here we are.  ¡Animo amigos!