In the Political Crossfires (Part 1)
General Assembly 2012 Event 226
A panel of Arizona activists from across the state, representing a variety of organizations will share their stories and actions about migration, not only in Arizona but across the continent. Among the panelists are Lydia Guzman, Respect, Respeto; Daniel Rodriguez, Somos America; Carlos Garcia, Puente, and Julie Erfle, local Unitarian Universalist.
SPEAKER 1: Good afternoon. I want to welcome you to "In the Political Crossfires." It's a panel that we put together. One of the things in planning this particular General Assembly and wanting to involve as many local people as we could, we realized that we weren't going to be able to give individual time slots to everybody that we wanted to have share with you all some of their experiences. So we put together this panel.
Our plan this afternoon, because I know it's down in two slots, is to have our presenters—three out of the five of whom are sitting before you—talk for 10 to 15 minutes, tell you their stories and their involvements with the community, and then move into the questions and answers. We'll take the break, which I think is scheduled—what is it? 3:15 to 4:45, I think, is when it's scheduled for, or something like that. 4:30. It's 4:30 and then we restart at 5:00, I think, is what it is.
Our plan is to, really, in the second part do more conversation and questions and answers. If the audience changes a little, we may do a little recap for you. So it is not going to be a repeat of the same thing in the second part, is what I wanted to let people know.
So again, welcome to "In the Political Crossfire." We also want to let you know that we have Spanish language interpretation going on.
SPEAKER 2: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
SPEAKER 1: So we are all here. We're going to start with Todd Landfried, who is the executive director of the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. Over the couple of years that I've known Todd and his work, I've really never known anybody who has his hand on the facts and the figures of what the issues of migration and laws in various states means. In fact,
Todd has traveled around the country giving testimony before legislators in several different states, as I recall. I'm not sure what the count is up to. I think Lydia actually just came and actually joined him at one or two of them, if I recall correctly. And I think in some ways, telling the Arizona story to other legislatures really did have some impact on either modifying or even cutting short some of the state legislatures this past year when they heard the impact, particularly the impact on the business community with whom Todd works with.
And too often we hear, I think, when we're dealing with issues like that, we tend to be in the either/or position about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. And I think it's important for us to hear the story of how Todd works within the business community to be really supportive of a broader vision of what we're doing when it comes to migration and border issues. So Todd, welcome.
Panelist Todd Landfried
TODD LANDFRIED: OK, good afternoon, everybody. While I'm waiting for the projector to wake up, just out of curiosity, how many people here think you have a good grasp of the facts of immigration into the country? What are the impacts? If you think you have a good grasp, raise your hand high so I can see. As you get older, I'm sure you know your eyes don't work as well. OK, there's a few of you. How many of you would like to know more? OK. My kind of crowd.
I'm going to go through this somewhat quickly, because there's an awful lot of ground that I want to cover here in a very short period of time. But I just want you to know that at the end of my presentation, there's a slide that has our website on it, which is www.azeir.org, that really is a pretty good resource for information, a lot of which you're going to see today.
Typically, what I do is, when I give a talk, I will go out and I will post this presentation online so you all can go back and see it again or refer it to other people. We are very generous in how we share our information. We just say that, if you use it and steal it, that you at least give us a little credit for it.
Closer to the mic? How's that? OK. God, I wish this could come a little closer.
Anyway, so let me get started here. What I was asked to talk about is to really give you guys a quick overview of what the real facts are regarding to immigration, particularly with regards to the politics of all this stuff. Mark Twain famously said, it's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble, it's what you know for sure that just ain't so. And if there's any issue that this has any relevance to, it's certainly the issue of immigration.
So you have to ask at some point, how did we get into this mess? How did we get to this point where we have so much division in our country, and in our towns and in our communities, on the immigration issue? I think it's really fairly simple.
You've got partisanship, ideology, and fear raise people's emotions. You've got mis-distortions and, a lot of times, as you'll see in a moment, outright lies framing the issue. You've got rhetoric that makes scapegoats out of government, employees, workers, families, Dream Act kids—pick somebody—that generally intimidates them into silence. And we've seen that just in spades here in Arizona.
So what happens, then, is people get polarized along these moral, ethic, and economic grounds. And so what we've done is effectively—and I think this is part of the idea—we've created immigration to be this third-rail issue, where anybody who disagrees with what the status quo is, or what the politicians believe, gets shouted down, and anybody who wants to suggest some other kind of solution, it all gets pushed aside.
TODD LANDFRIED: Sure. Now I love this quote. The salient characteristic of current debate on US immigration policy is a high ratio of hot air to data. And it's really true. And that's a huge screen and you probably aren't going to be able to see many of these at all.
But anyway, this is a State Senator Russell Pearce, or former Senator, and this is a quote that he made during the 2010 election, where he talks about the number of illegal immigrants who murder Americans each year. He says it's like 9,000, which is nuts, because if you actually look at the real statistics, there's 14,000 murders in the United States each year. So what he's suggesting is that undocumented immigrants commit 61% of the murders in the United States, which is absurd. But anyway, if you could see, it says, "inconclusive" in there.
So a year later during his recall, he made the same statement. And you would think that, if someone catches you saying something that's not true or inconclusive, you would be a conscientious public official and go and research it and find out what the real statement is. But not Russell. So he said the same thing again. Now it really doesn't matter. Just everything that's out there says inconclusive, unsupported, or false.
Now I'm really big on quotes. I like this one too. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. And when you're talking about politics, once some message gets out there that people lob onto, and people get elected on it, it's like flies to you-know-what. And so they start adopting it. And so what we've seen is politicians around the country are adopting these same kinds of statements.
And as you can kind of see up there—this is from PolitiFact. They have a true/false meter. These are all false. And these are statements like, illegal immigrants cost the state taxpayer $3 billion a year. You hear that stuff across a lot of States, but there's really no information at all, no supporting data for that. They're making it up.
Now this next batch—these are the pants-on-fire lies. Like the one from Russell down on the bottom says 61% of Hispanics support Arizona's immigration law, which isn't even close. It's not even close. But again, it's these things. Phoenix is the number two murder capital of the world. Rick Perry's up there saying that the federal government has not done anything in border security in the last three years. It's all false.
So what I did was I went and looked at the newspaper organizations who track this true/false stuff. And I just tallied them all up. Now you can see along the top here, pants-on-fire false, mostly false, half-true, mostly-true, true.
Now let me ask a question. Raise your hand if you watch lawyer shows on TV, or have watched one in the past. Like Perry Mason, CRIS or whatever they are. I don't watch those things. My wife does, I don't. But anyway, so when they put somebody on the stand to swear them, they swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, right? They don't swear to tell the truth, mostly the truth, or half of the truth.
And so what's wrong with holding politicians to the same standard that we've used for our legal system? And when you look at that, nearly 90% of the statements that they make are false. That's 9 out of 10, they're wrong.
Now if you look at statements that are made here in Arizona—this is AZ Fact Check, for those of you that live in Arizona. That's our local newspaper, the Arizona Republic. The false statements coming from Arizona politicians on immigration are wrong, flat-out, stone-cold false, 60% of the time. Across all of them, it's almost 92% of the time they're wrong. Again, that's 9 times out of 10, they're false.
Now what kind of public policy can one possibly hope to get out of statements and out of beliefs of politicians that are wrong 9 times out of 10. Put yourself an in their shoes. If you're a CEO, or even in your churches, if you had somebody who you really relied on to give you good information, if they came back and said, well, gee, it's x, y, or z, and 9 times out of 10, they were wrong, would you keep them around?
The greatest threat to democracy, and I believe this, is having a public that thinks it's fully informed but really isn't informed at all. And I want to show you a couple examples of this. I call this the birthright fallacy. This is this whole 14th Amendment silliness. What you see here—these are the timelines for a US citizen to bring a foreign-born spouse, minor, child, or sibling into the country. So it's three years, seven years, 22 years.
Now what the argument is, is that by having a baby in the United States, they're somehow kicked to the front of the line in terms of sponsoring a parent or sibling into the United States. Well, first of all, the law is that you're ineligible to do that until you're the age of 21. You can't do it. You can't file paperwork, you can't do anything. You have to be 21 years old.
Then there's a mandatory 10-year wait outside of the country if the person you're trying to bring in was in the country for more than a year. It's three years if they were in for less than a year.
Then on top of that, you have the regular wait. So if you're trying to bring a parent in from a child who was born in the United States, you're waiting 38 years. Now I love raising the hands, so raise your hand if your family has a 38-year plan. Nobody? Come on. OK.
For a sibling, it's 53 years. Now I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you don't have a 38-year plan, you probably don't have a 53-year plan. Now add on top of that the age of the parent. So very likely it's never. But two, there are much faster ways and quicker ways to become a citizen than going through this process. So it's just a nuts fallacy and more people need to be talking about it, because it just doesn't make any sense.
When you talk about the economics, these are things that are reported around here. Education costs, they say it's $810 million. A recent study shows it's really $379 million. But you've got to remember, a lot of these kids are US citizens. They're entitled to the education. We're not giving them anything special. They're entitled to it. So that's an exaggeration of 214%.
Health care costs—they say it's $400 million in Arizona. It's really $24 million. Why? Because they don't go to hospitals and they're not clogging up emergency rooms, because they don't want to get caught. People don't think about this stuff. The same thing with tax payments. They say they only pay in $257 million, but the actual number is $2.84 billion.
You get into the crime fallacies. You hear all the time they're creating all the crime, all this other stuff. There's really no data at all to support that claim at all. There just really isn't. Hate crimes—this is an increasing problem in this country. We're told it's not a problem, but it's up 68% in the last couple years.
Identity theft, they all steal your identity, right? Isn't that what we're told? They all steal your identity. If you go look at the data from the Arizona Department of Corrections, it's less than 2% of the people who are in there for identity theft. How does that work? So people have to start questioning these facts.
Ken referred to the fact that I had been talking at various legislatures around the country. And these are the types of information that we gave them. So let me give you a little review to show you how popular SB 1070-type laws are.
In 2011, 1,592 immigration-related laws were introduced in the United States. 162 passed. That's a success rate of 10%. Put another way, 90% of them failed. Now, I guess only in politics does a 90% failure rate equate to success. But that's what they want you to believe. 30 SB1070 copycat laws were introduced in 2011. Five passed. That's a 16% success rate, 84% failure rate.
Now we've been down this street before. Anybody who's been a student of immigration law will know that the Chinese Exclusion Act—I mean, these are just a couple of examples. The Bracero Program is one that people keep [? touting. ?] But since 2007, these restrictive immigration laws have come in favor again. Typically there's one person or one community group that's all behind it. They all rely on the same bad data that we just showed. But let's see how it's working this time.
Oh, someone turned the volume down.
-It's bigger than Prince William County politics. That said, Prince William County has the highest foreclosure rate in the region.
-The negativism that's emerged is creating long-term damage to those economies. People who have felt threatened and unwelcome have left. And there's evidence of that in declining retail sales. These stores generated a BPOL tax. They generate sales tax. They generate jobs. The housing markets where these people have lived, those houses generate real estate tax. A deteriorating house generates real estate tax than one that's up and running.
-Those were the houses that were the first to go, and that did improve. But at the same time, it's pretty desperate to look down your street that you've lived your whole life and see almost half of it empty.
-When you drive by and you see grass up to their hips, every time you see that, your house is going down in value.
-There are foreclosures everywhere. A friend of mine who's a real estate agent said he hasn't shown a house to anyone except an investor looking for foreclosures in the last month. Businesses are failing. But to me, it's more of a human thing.
-My grandson has lost all of his friends. I mean, literally everyone in the neighborhood that he used to play with, except for one child, has left.
-Mailbox Junction, may I help you?
I'm 2/3 off. I should have had 50 customers today, and I had 15 or 18 customers all day. These predominantly Hispanic shoppers shopped in stores that weren't Hispanic. These stores operate at a very small margin. If you lose 10% of your sales, that may be the difference between success and failure.
Investors avoid controversy. A controversial company loses its investors. It happens in local economies too. The slowdown in the economy is happening because of a national slowdown in the economy. In Prince William County they made it worse by targeting a portion of their low-income population, making it feel less welcome.
They took that spending power, that tax generating power, that economic benefit out of the solution. There's going to be fewer workers, less spending, fewer resources, less investment behind the recovery. And some of that will have shifted to other places that seem more accommodating or friendly.
[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]
TODD LANDFRIED: Now if you look at the other jurisdictions in the country that have introduced these types of laws, you see the exact same kind of impact. The top bullet there talks about Prince William County, which is what that little clip was about. Farmer's Branch, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, spent $3.2 million for lawyers, $5 million in settlement costs. Hazleton, Pennsylvania—$1 million for lawyers, $2.4 million in settlement costs.
In Oklahoma, they passed a restrictive kind of precursor to the SB 1070 law. The Banker's Association did a study and found that when 90,000 undocumented immigrants and their families left the state, it meant a $1.9 billion loss in the state's economy. Another study looked at this whole notion that we keep being told all the time, that they're using all these health benefits and stuff. What they found is that there's a negligible impact on those services, because a lot of times, they're not eligible for them in the first place.
In Arizona, if you just kind of look there, $5 million to train law enforcement. $186 million loss in near-term convention and tourism events. A $14.4 billion loss in Arizona gross state product. 172,000 related job losses. You have to ask yourself, does this sound good? I mean, shrinking workforce, population loss, deteriorating tax base, loss of jobs, all this kind of stuff.
But you know what? There are some states who went ahead and did it anyway. I don't know what you have to show them. We were successful in showing Utah, Kansas, and Texas and a couple other states the problem. But these states did it anyway.
If you look at Georgia, same thing that Arizona experienced. The same thing these other jurisdictions did. In fact, they felt it within days. It got so bad that their governor called for an economic impact study 14 days after he signed the bill. Now you would think you'd want to do an impact study before you signed the bill, but he did it afterwards.
Now you've got to give the guy credit. He's trying to help the farmers who are saying, our workers are gone. So he suggests a program for probationers. As you can see up there, 14 showed up on the first day, and a week later seven were left. But they needed 11,000. The math doesn't work.
Now his next idea was, let's use prison labor. Now you use farm implements to harvest in farms. And I'm just wondering, how many of you, show of hands, would support giving prison laborers this knife? It's here. It's a good one.
But anyway, people say, well, they gave prison laborers tools before. But go talk to an insurance agent who insures farmers, and ask them what's going to happen to your insurance rates if you're giving people who are convicted of crimes this knife in your field. You're not going to be able to afford the policies.
OK, I just want to wind up here quickly. Alabama, same kind of thing. It's just a persistent result.
Here's a quiz. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Exactly right. So we know these attrition laws don't work. In fact, there's not a single published study in the United States that show these laws have the intended effects. Not one. Not even from the organizations that are pushing this stuff. There's no proof that it works.
The fact that Russell Pearce was recalled and was beaten by a guy who argued for successful immigration policies should tell us that it is possible to have a sensible and calm discussion about immigration and the people will engage and listen to it. But federal reform, as it says up there, cannot occur without state and local pressure.
So these are the things that I want you guys to take away with you from my talk. Bad data equals bad policy equals bad outcomes. There's boatloads of proof of that. Misinformation, distortions, all these things are causing our legislators to do things that we shouldn't be doing for moral reasons, for economic reasons, for social reasons. We've been down this street before. It doesn't work. It doesn't work at the city level, it doesn't work at the county level, it doesn't work at the state level.
We need to start demanding better solutions. And they're out there. They really are. But we have to encourage others to learn about them, to learn these types of facts, so when you go out into communities you can talk about it with some level of confidence and certainty. Because most people don't want to talk about stuff that they don't really know things about.
In fact, there's a friend of mine, a minister named [? Tex Sample. ?] Some guy was telling him about how much he hated illegal immigrants. And so [? Tex ?] asked him, well, so how do you know all this stuff? And the guy goes, well, I'm not really up on it. And [? Tex ?] goes—I love this—he goes, well, how can you be down on something you're not up on?
So getting involved works. Lydia and I did a little road show at the beginning of last year, and we've even done it around the state. We've done five immigration solutions conferences. In Arizona. We did one in Congress at the beginning of May.
But you can see, when you present people with the facts, these laws are defeated. But it cannot be just the business community by itself. It can't be just the faith community by itself. It can't just be the activist community by itself. Everybody's got to go together. They can all talk about what's important to them, but they have to go as a coalition.
So this is what you have to do. One, you have to stop believing everything you hear because 9 times out of 10, it's false. You have to get vocal. God blessed the UUs, you guys are out there doing a lot of stuff. And we certainly appreciate it. And I'm sure the other people who are going to be speaking will appreciate that as well.
But unless we start demanding Congress do something about it, and do not allow them to continue to kick this ball down the street, saying, oh, well, we're going to have to wait to see what the states do—no, what are you going to do? It needs to be a campaign issue. We need to ask all members of Congress, what's your solution? They're out there.
I look forward to your questions when we get to that point. Anyway, thank you very much for your time.
SPEAKER 1: Thanks, Todd. I told you he knew the facts and figures, didn't I? Our next speaker is Julie Erfle. Julie is Unitarian Universalist and has been a member of the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Phoenix and Paradise Valley here in the greater Phoenix area. She is a political blogger. Her blog is called Politics Uncuffed. And we're going to switch a little here. All of these people have different stories to share. And so she's going to share a little bit of her story that brought her to where she is as well.
Panelist Julie Erfle
JULIE ERFLE: Thanks, Ken. So I love Todd's speech because I love the facts and figures and the data. And I get up here and I don't really get to speak about a whole lot of that. And that's the part that's a little difficult for me, because my take on immigration comes from very personal story.
Immigration was not something that I spent a whole lot of time thinking about years ago. It'll be five years this fall, my husband who was a Phoenix police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty by an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported.
Nick's death was really, I think, the catalyst for a lot the anti-immigration laws that took place in Arizona. And actually just this past week, I saw his name splashed across several papers talking about the dichotomy in the SB 1070 law that's supposed to help police officers but actually puts them in the middle of the position, in that if it's viewed that they're not enforcing the law the way they should, then the departments can actually be sued by ordinary citizens.
And they were talking about my husband, as far as his case and how that came about. And I said, what a sad situation. What a sad situation that we have my husband, who they're using his death as a catalyst for a law that puts police officers in the middle of a situation that they should never be in.
And so when Nick was killed back in September of 2007, obviously, there was a lot of uproar. Russell Pearce, who you probably will hear a lot about today— he was actually running for Congress at the time. And one of his supporters, within 24 hours of Nick's death, put out a letter that asked people to support his cause. He'll get cop killers like my husband's killer off the street. Very, very tacky, of course. Pearce called him a patriot.
There was also—I believe it was Immigrants Without Borders, though I'm not sure exactly of the group. But they organized a vigil at the site where my husband was murdered. And there was an anti-immigrant group that was threatening to protest at that vigil. So I had to step in and say, don't or I'll come out publicly and you won't like it.
And anyway, so I kept quiet for a while. It was obviously a shock, my husband's death. He had previously been a two-term cancer survivor, so a lot of what I was focused on was health care reform. In my prior life, I was a journalist. And for me, that's why data is so important, and research.
And so I really took that time, as I was healing, also to learn more about immigration reform. I really felt like I had to know more about the issue and why we have the problem in the first place, and why our congressmen and congresswomen couldn't come up with the solution.
So I spent a lot of time talking to individuals within law enforcement, immigration attorneys, activists, leaders. And I really found that there was a lot more consensus than I thought. The information that Todd speaks about is out there. And people know this. And believe it or not, most of our politicians know it as well. It just hasn't been beneficial for their campaigns to talk about the facts, so a lot of it has been sidestepped.
So anyway, so I decided after some time—it was about eight months—to come public with my views on immigration, mainly because the city of Phoenix was revising its police policy in how they dealt with people who they believed to be in the country undocumented. And it was a direct result of my husband's death.
And when I came forward and I spoke, I said that I believed that this could be a first step in dealing with the problem but we needed something bigger. We need comprehensive immigration reform. And in particular, we needed immigration reform that put safety and humanity on an equal footing.
And it was shocking. And maybe, as a UU, I didn't think it would be that shocking. But apparently that was a shocking statement to make. And I was surprised at how much that statement carried forward, and how many people were then contacting me and questioning me. Why would I say that? But wait, your husband was killed by somebody who was undocumented. Why don't you hate them? Why don't you hate them?
And that was really the line of thinking that most people had, was that I should hate all people who are in this country undocumented. So my response would always be, well, if a white man killed my husband, should I hate all white men? It just didn't make sense for me. It didn't resonate.
So I had the opportunity to meet with then-governor Janet Napolitano, and we talked about ways to work on a state level to bring this forward. She assured me that once Barack Obama became president, that comprehensive immigration reform would go through, which of course we're still waiting on.
But I then actually just had the opportunity to continue to speak out, and that's what I've been doing since then. And I really believe that the more that we speak out and the more that we talk, we can educate people.
Now I found out a short time after I started speaking out that not everybody wants to be educated. I was attacked. I went in front of a police think tank in Washington DC about a year after my husband's death. And I was speaking about the human cost of immigration reform. They were holding a conference on immigration and how do you balance immigration enforcement with civil rights. What a great topic, right?
And as I was on the stage speaking, there was a little DJ here in town who was on what I like to call hate radio and was blasting me for being there with Mayor Gordon, who was not well-liked by that particular station, and essentially said, oh, the blood of the next officer is on your hands, Julie Erfle, and your husband should be ashamed of you. He'd be rolling over in his grave, and how do you look yourself in the mirror.
And that's when I realized, OK, I'd better be ready to take some of this, because this is what's going to happen. And it's out there now, and why look back?
So I continued down this path. But what I saw was that immigration was really taking a lead in all issues in Arizona. It was becoming the leading issue in Arizona, and it was taking over education, it was taking over health care. Everything was being framed under the immigration debate. And so that's actually why I started my political blog, was to really start talking about some of these issues and present, maybe, the opposing side that we weren't hearing that much about.
And so a lot of my topics on the blog are definitely framed around immigration. They're framed around Joe Arpaio as well, because he's so on the forefront of all of this. And then since then, I've just been working with different groups, really to educate people because as Todd said, that's what's going on. So many people don't understand this issue, because all we hear are the myths. And it really comes down to a few big myths that we hear over and over that I firmly believe we need to remessage.
When people say, what part of illegal don't you understand, the response to be what part of legal don't you understand? Do you not understand how complicated the visa system is? If you don't, look it up. You might be shocked. As people from the Cato Institute, which is a libertarian think tank, are fond of saying, it's about as complicated as the tax code. It's pretty complicated.
And when people make the comments about, well, why don't they just stand in the back of the line like everybody else, why can't they do it the right way like everybody else—because there is no way. There's no line. And I think we need to be willing and ready to respond in that manner to people when they bring this up time and time again.
Because we need people who can consistently say, over and over and over again, you're wrong. I'm sorry. There is no line. What you're saying is not true. It doesn't work that way. And so for me, that's really been what it's about. It's about trying to reshape the message. Because that's what we've got going on today. We live in a sound bite society. We need to be able to reshape the message.
And I think for all of you, it's the same thing. Just finding the ways that you can be involved. There are a lot of coalitions. There's a lot of conferences going on. There's a lot of ways to be involved. There's letters to the editor. There's groups. You can give of your time and your money in so many ways. And though you may think that that's not a lot, it is, because by and large, what's really going on is that so many people see it as such a big convoluted issue that they choose not to be involved at all.
And really that's the biggest problem. We have far too many people who are just not getting involved. So that's what I'm working on today, is getting people involved, hoping people will get involved, and trying to educate them, and then short-term, looking to ensure that Joe Arpaio is defeated this November. That's a big one. And long-term, looking at ways that we can educate individuals about important topics, not just immigration, but important topics in general.
Because what I have found that I think has been most surprising to me—I was kind of a nerd growing up. I thought 20/20 was one of the best shows on TV as a teenager. So I'm not exactly your typical person. But I find a lot of people who are my age who have got young kids like I do, and who are going back and forth to soccer practices and dealing with homework and work, and their lives are busy and they don't want to watch the news and they don't want to deal with it.
And it's not because they're not smart people. And it's not even because they don't want to be informed. It's more that they just don't feel like they have the time. So finding ways to make people want to buy in, and to take that extra time to be informed, finding ways to show individuals why this issue and other issues are important, and what they need to know. That that's really the bigger picture in my view. And I think that's the bigger picture for most of you out here. And that's why you're here this week.
So thank you very much. I look forward to questions.
SPEAKER 1: A pretty amazing woman, huh? I don't know. I was a teenager and used to watch Howard K. Smith as a teenager. Some of you might remember that. They probably don't up here.
Our next speaker is Daniel Rodriguez. I've worked with Daniel for a couple years. I was on the Somos America board with him. This year, he is the president of the Somos America board. He is also a Dreamer. And he's going to share some of his story and his work in the community with us now.
Panelist Danierl Rodriguez
DANIEL RODRIGUEZ: Good afternoon, everyone. OK, I think this is going to take a second, so I'm just going to go ahead and begin. My name is Daniel Rodriguez. I am the president of the Somos America coalition. I'm also the co-founder of the Arizona Dream Act coalition, and I'm a representative of the United We Dream network, which is a national network of immigrant youth-led organizations.
And today I'm just going to be speaking to you about a couple of things. One, I want to talk about youth. I want to talk about allies. And I want to talk about moving forward. So that's me.
You know, earlier, the question was how many of you guys want to learn more about the issue. And there was a lot of hands raised. So I just want to make sure that I devote some time to going back to basics, which is stories, personal stories, and learning about the people that are affected by this law. So I do want to share a little bit about my story as well. Because I love to talk, I am going to time myself. That way I stay on time.
I'm currently 26 years old. I was brought to this country when I was seven years old. I was born in Monterrey, Mexico, which is [? closer to ?] Texas, northwest Mexico. And I was raised there. I was born there. At seven years old, I had everything that I really wanted. I had friends, I had toys, I had food, and I had a home. There was nothing really else going on in my life. that I remember. My mom had a good job. She was a legal assistant or paralegal sort of type. And we were OK. It was me, my mom, my two sisters, and my father.
I remember, when I was younger, taking trips to family members every now and then. We would go stay there for a weekend or a week, sometimes even a little longer. But we always came back home. And I didn't really know why, what was going on.
One day, I remember, it was a Saturday morning, and I was playing pogs in the park. You guys know pogs, right? Kids nowadays don't know pogs. But I was the pog king of my neighborhood, and I had the biggest stack of pogs imaginable because I was really good at flipping them over. And I was really good at playing that.
And I remember I was playing pogs in this huge tournament in the park with seven-year-olds. And there was a group of me and my friends and we were circled, and out of nowhere, my mom came and she just kind of grabbed me by the hand and yanked me out. And she said, we're leaving. And I said, OK, but I want my toys. And she said, no, you can't take them with you.
And I kind of felt something was going on. So I looked at my older sister and I asked her, where are we going again? My grandmother's? And she said, no, not this time. And I said, OK. Next day, Sunday night, I was in Phoenix, Arizona after a semi-long hike.
After some confusion, I ended up in the basement of a person that I didn't know. Right away, my mom kind of just disappeared, and I didn't see her for days. My older sister was in and out. My younger sister—at the time, she was about one, and she was being taken care of by people that I didn't know. They were speaking a language that I didn't understand.
And I started to become really confused and really angry about what was going on. And I remember one time, after so many days of waiting to get some information about what was going on, I decided that I was going to wait for my mom. I didn't know where she was. But I knew that every night she used to come home and go to sleep and leave in the morning. And I said, well, I am going to wait for her, and I am going to confront her and ask, what's going on? How can you do this to us? Where are we? I was really mad at her, I remember.
And so one night, I stayed up really late, and I was waiting for her to come. And I was waiting for her to come, and it got really, really late. And I fell asleep, the first time. So the second day I decided to wait again. And this time, it was really late. I don't remember what time it was. My mom came into the garage. At the time, it was me, my mom, and my two sisters living in a small garage in west Phoenix.
And she saw me and I saw her and I just wanted to go and yell at her and tell her, how could you do this to us? Where are you? But as soon as I saw her, the only thing that I could really tell her is, mom, I miss you. And I started to break down in tears, and she broke down in tears. And it was the first time ever that I'd seen my mom cry without being beat. Because it was the fact that she was beat often that caused her to run away and come to Phoenix, Arizona.
And I felt so bad that I had made this strong Mexican woman cry, this strong mother cry, and I just felt ashamed. So I went and I hugged her, and we cried together and we talked a little. And when I was read to go to sleep, before I went to bed, she said, oh, and by the way, you're going to school tomorrow.
And that was my life here. That was the start of my life. I went to school in west Phoenix. I always tell people I was normal and I grew up normal as any other brown kid in west Phoenix could, and went to school there.
In high school, we got into another bad situation. And I remember I just really wanted to help my mom. I wanted to help her. I wanted to move my family forward. What could I do? I wasn't the best student in high school at that time. But I knew that going to college was supposed to be something good. You go to college, you get an education, you get a job, and that's it. You live the dream, right? Next comes the house and the picket fence and all that, and you're good to go.
So I said, well, Mom, I'm going to help you. I will go to college. And she said, OK.
Now at that time, I didn't know too much about what it meant to be undocumented. It was just 2002. You knew, growing up, especially when you're a Dreamer, somebody like me that grew up here, you knew that you were different. And throughout growing up, you kind of find out things that you could do and couldn't do. But you didn't really know. You didn't really know. And as you grow older, it's sort of like your world got smaller.
So my world got really small the first time I remember going to my counselor. And I said, I want to go to college. And she told me, well, you might not be able to go to college. Just focus on getting a job. And I said, OK. I left my counselor's office thinking, well, maybe college is not for me.
So I went across the street. There was a restaurant, Hometown Buffet, at that time, 75th Avenue and Thomas. And I applied for a job. And I said, I want to have a job here. And they said, OK. So I became a dishwasher. And for me, it didn't matter what I was doing, honestly. I was making money and I was helping my family, which is what I wanted to do. And I would work hard at it. But in the back of my mind, it was always, well, why couldn't college be an option?
I was getting ready to drop out of Trevor Browne High School in west Phoenix. And I don't know—I call it divine intervention. This other counselor that wasn't my counselor, Donna Barnes, she kind of called me to her office. And she asked me, well, what do you want to do? And I said, I want to go to college. And she said, OK, let's get you on a path there.
The following year—this was sophomore year—in junior year, you're going to start honors classes. Get involved, because you have to do this thing called a resume. I don't know what a resume was, but I had to get involved and apparently do it. And she said, and we'll see what happens, and don't worry about it. By the time you go to college, this thing called the Dream Act is going to pass. And I said, OK, sounds good.
So junior year came. I went to honors classes. I did really well. I got really involved and I started joining clubs. And I don't know how it happened, but within three months in my junior year, I became the president of MEChA, the Chicano/Latino student organization. I became the vice president of the black student union. I was in the newspaper. I was in the gay/straight alliance.
I was in every club imaginable. And I still have pictures of all the clubs that I was in, because initially, I wanted the money. You get involved, and you're supposed to put this line on the resume and you're supposed to get the scholarships. So honestly, that's why I got involved at first.
But then I started learning about what was going on. With MEChA, what was going on in the Latino community. With the black student union, what issues they were going—it was actually with the black student union, one of the first times that I ever went to the Arizona state capital, was with the black student union.
And at that time, in 2003 or 2004, when we went, I met—at that time— Representative Leah Landrum Taylor. She's a senator now. And at that time, she was talking about the 14th Amendment and history of the 14th Amendment. She was talking about a group here of people that were brought here, that came here, and they grew up here, that worked here, but that they were not considered American enough, that somehow they were just not good enough to be treated equal.
And as I was forming my own identity as an immigrant youth, I related to that history. I related to not feeling American enough, whether you're black or Latino. Shoot, sometimes [INAUDIBLE] woman, because there's no equality there.
So I started getting more involved and expanding my involvement from high school to the community. And I started getting involved in immigrant rights, initially. A lot of woman's rights groups as well, because of what I had learned in my family. And then when I joined the immigrant rights movement, I learned three things eventually. And these three things have shaped the work that I do. And it's been eight years now.
I saw three things. One, I was very young compared to a lot of people that were involved. Sometimes I was at meetings and talking about this issue, and I was the only one there that was under 30. And I just felt very intimidated, and I also just wanted to learn more. So I still stayed there.
Then I found, too, another thing. A lot of times, when I was in meetings about immigrant rights or the immigrant rights movement or what to do, I was in these planning meetings, I was the only undocumented person at that meeting. And I said, well, where's the people that are being affected? What do they have to say?
And three, I noticed that a lot of time it was the same old brown faces. And they were beautiful faces and I was very glad there were there, but I knew there had to be allies somewhere. I knew this issue affected other people. So why didn't this meeting look more like a rainbow instead of just brown faces?
And since then, I've shaped my advocacy and the things I do around those three things—the importance of having youth involvement, the importance of having a people-led movement where people directly affected can speak about what's going on in their communities, and also the importance of having coalitions and having allies. And so currently, of course, as you know, I am the co-founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, one of the most active immigrant youth-led organizations in this state and nationally. And I'm also the current president of the Somos America Coalition.
So with that, I want to talk youth, the importance of having youth in this movement. For the longest time, when I was involved, being a youth meant being there, being quiet, and letting the grownups do the work. But eventually, that wasn't good enough. Eventually, when we started growing up, a lot of youth decided to take leadership in their community, because it was an issue that was affecting them and their families.
And as youth, we knew our own privileges growing up. Our education, the fact that we spoke English, the fact that we knew more about how things worked. And we asked ourselves, how can we use that to move this forward? What is the role of youth?
When you see this picture, without knowing what you know about the immigrant rights movement, without knowing what you know about Dreamers—a lot of people that I talk to that don't know much, they see this picture and it's an irony. It's contradicting, because you see a student wearing a cap and gown, which reminds you of an education which reminds you of someone being good, and then you see the handcuffs and the police arresting him.
As immigrant youth, we have been able to put this image out there about—is what's going on in our communities making sense? Does it make sense to arrest people, good people, whether it's students or families? [INAUDIBLE] the work that they do.
Because you guys are in Arizona, I want to give you a little bit of background. In 2006, Arizona voters approved Proposition 300, which denied Arizona students, undocumented students, the right to apply for merit-based public scholarships, and also raised tuition 300%. That closed the doors to education for a lot of students. We went from having about 315 undocumented students at Arizona State University alone in 2007 to having less than, probably, 60 in the three major universities right now. And in the community colleges, the same thing.
One positive side of this is that as students left the classroom, they went to the streets and they started getting involved, and they started realizing how important it was to be out there and be an example for the community members and their families, and also their families themselves.
So here in Arizona and nationally, we have had youth that have risked their lives, that have risked their futures to move this issue forward, so that when you see a cap and gown, it's no longer a passive sort of image about education, but an active image about what youth, especially students, can do to further the cause of justice and human rights.
Next, the importance of allies, which in the Somos America coalition, we're following models that are being used nationally. And I want to give you an example of two groups of allies that have been really [? detrimental, ?] really important in the work that we do, and also two groups of allies [? who we ?] continue to foster relationships with.
The first one is LGBT community. In 2010, when Dreamers were outside of Senator John McCain's office, asking him—practically begging him—to support the Dream Act again, at the same time that we were out there on 16th street here in Phoenix, Arizona—we were out there on the corner protesting John McCain.
Right across the street, there was a group of LGBT organizations protesting John McCain, asking him to support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. For a lot of us, these were people that we had never even talked to, but here we were on that same day, on that same morning, protesting the same person for wanting equal rights as well.
Now although there has always been collaboration between the LGBT community and immigrant rights community, around that time in 2010 is when they became more visible, and there was more attention about how do we build bridges between different communities that are also in their own fight, in their own struggle for justice? How do we work together? The question that's always being asked, and apparently it's really hard to answer. How can we work together?
So the LGBT community is a group that we work closely at the national level, and also here locally. The Somos America coalition went from having their meetings in a [? union ?] hall to having their meetings, and having our meetings now, at the offices of an LGBT center. So we can do little things like that to learn from each other, right?
Also one of our member organizations is the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project. If you're comfortable, raise your hand if you have ever come out. Raise your hand if you have ever come out twice for different reasons. You know that feeling, when you have to come out more than once. Our communities know it as well. Some of us come out as undocumented, and you have to look at the other person and ask yourself, can I trust this individual? What will happen to me? Am I safe?
And it's the same questions that the LGBT community ask themselves when they come out of their own closet. And for many of us, we have to come out twice. So the Queer Undocumented Project also speaks to that, about the connection between the LGBT community and the immigrant rights community, and through that we're able to move our movements together.
Another, of course—the faith community. A very, very important part in our movement. We need the churches to step up. And I know that I don't have to do much to get the UUs to step up. You guys got up and ran. But there's still a huge need to do that. Dream Sabbath was the first time ever that we were able to collaborate. Hundreds of forums in churches where they devoted one Sunday to talk about the Dream Act.
What if we did the same thing to talk about human rights or to talk about general immigrant rights, and put a plan forward about how the faith community is going to be involved in this, and what the role of the faith community is? And have organizations like the Interfaith Immigration Coalition? And have more campaigns like Standing On the Side of Love? And have the UUs and the UCC, the Catholics, even the evangelicals, out there supporting this cause, because it's a cause that they all support? How can we do that together?
So again, the role of the Church is one that's very important, and we continue to ask the questions about, how can faith groups work together more so that it's more effective, and how can faith groups create spaces of change and spaces of advocacy within your own communities, whether is through Dream Sabbath or having a program, or having witness days where you go out there in the community.
Because the single most important—and people of faith know this—is to be a witness of something, just to be there. How can faith groups create spaces of witness where you're going to devote one day, maybe one week, to just being there and seeing what's going on?
Continuing the education that we have to do, education like [INAUDIBLE] talking about. How does this impact the economy? How does it impact our communities? And who are we really? Within the last two months, we have had three major articles in Time magazine about dreamers and about the immigrant community. This is the last one. We are Americans. As I stand here today, I don't tell you that I am an illegal immigrant. I am an American without papers. And we all are Americans without papers.
So how can we continue educating people about this, and how can we continue changing the way that we talk about the issue? The Latino vote—another huge project within the immigrant youth community is after 2010, when we saw the Senator John McCain, when we saw the Senator Kyl here in Arizona and everywhere else, everybody else that voted against the Dream Act, we were tired of the protests. We were tired of asking the same people to vote for something that we support.
And we said, how do we get rid of them? So how can we go out there and change the people in power, to get people there that support us? And although I cannot vote, I know you can. And I will be calling you to go out there and vote, and to vote for the right people.
So immigrant youth have started a campaign called Su Voz, Mi Voto—Your Voice, My Vote, from the perspective of an individual that can vote. That Dreamer's voice, that family's voice, is my vote, and I will vote this November for them. That's how we can mobilize our communities, right?
And lastly, because I know that my time is running out, we have to continue the legal fight. This I won't speak about too much, because Lydia's going to be talking about the work that she does with Respect-Respeto, the importance of documenting our efforts here in Arizona and in other states, and how that plays in the courts. Because of course, this fight just doesn't stay in the streets, right? It's everywhere.
The need to talk about secure communities, and what our communities are going to look like. And we call it [? insecure ?] communities. To talk about what our communities will look like in the long-term if we have these kinds of policies in place.
And lastly, how do we move from resources to families? And this is what I mean by this, that even when we have wins like the wins that we had last Friday when President Obama directed DHS not to deport immigrant youth that would be eligible in the Dream Act—he went down a very dangerous path. He said two things. One, it wasn't parents' fault, or something like that.
First, I just want to say that me, or any of the youth that I know, blame our parents not one bit. This is not about finding who to blame. This is about moving forward for what works for not just immigrant youths but for families and for communities. But second, the whole concept of prosecutorial discretion, and even the win and the directive change that we had last Friday, was based on how many resources are available to us, right?
That's what the president keeps saying. We don't have enough resources to deport them all. That's why this group we're just not going to focus on. We're going to call them low priorities. That's a dangerous path, because when you have a Congress that can, like this, increase funding so deport people, what is going to be your excuse? If you have all the resources necessary, what is going to be your excuse?
So we have to catch the dialogue that's going on, and we have to move from resources to family, to the fact that I or my mom should not be deported, not because you don't have the money to do it, but because we shouldn't deport because it's not right, it's not just, and it's inhumane. So we have to move that dialogue forward.
So with that, thank you so much. I know that after this panel, we're going to have a little break and we're going to have some questions. So I'll be looking forward to that. Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: Thank you, Daniel. OK, I've got a question for all of you. We're fast approaching the time when the first slot is supposed to end. As you can see, we still have two more presenters up here. This particular session is scheduled for two different slots. The first one was 3:15 to 4:30. The next one is scheduled from 5:00 to 6:15. I want to ask you what your preference is. You've heard a lot. Do you want to take a break now, or do you want me to continue with our speakers?
SPEAKER 1: How would just prefer to keep going? I think that's the vote. If you need to leave, fine. We understand that you may have chosen to go to a second workshop at 5 o'clock. But the folks sitting here seem to want to hear more. And we're going to continue doing it.
Lydia Guzman is our next speaker. The Unitarian Universalists over the last few years, as we've been preparing for this, have thrown a phrase around—working with or hearing from those people most impacted by the oppressive laws that we've been talking about. One of the people that works day in and day out with those people most impacted is Lydia.
Her organization, Respect-Respeto, is a community hotline that deals with a wide range of concerns in the community. And in fact, I think we've taken away from that hotline both last night and today to be with us. So she's going to share a little of her story and the people with whom she works.
Panelist Lydia Guzman
LYDIA GUZMAN: I actually have modified my presentation, because in hearing some of the other speakers, I think a lot of what was said is something that I wanted to cover. So I just took down some extra notes here, and I think I'm going to modify this.
I think what I want to start with is—a few years ago, I was president of Somos America. Somos America was actually founded back in 2005. Somos America and organizations and coalitions like Somos America just sprung up across the country.
They sprung up across the country in response to a bill that came out of our national Congress from a bill that was very hateful, very SB 1070-like. Congressman Sensenbrenner. And it was very SB 1070-like. 1070 I think it's fair to say that everybody across the country felt like this was a bucket of cold water. Wow. Out of nowhere, something like this came up.
And this is something that—you've heard the saying, when you put a frog in some hot water, the frog is going to jump out. But when you put a frog—and just so you know, I've never done this before. But the saying goes that if you put a frog in some cold water and then you turn on the heat, the water will slowly get warm, and then the frog will die because it won't have the sense to jump out, because it will kind of get acclimated to that and then it will slowly boil to death.
So when Sensenbrenner was introduced, this was that bucket of hot water or cold water. And this was the shocker.
But I think it's fair to start with some of the stuff that, way back in 1994 in California—who's from California, first of all? OK, great. So back in 1994 in California, this was an idea that came out, and it became a citizen's initiative piece, where they were circulating it so it could go on the ballot. And it was called Proposition 187. Does everybody know what Proposition 187 is? Raise your hand.
Proposition 187 was probably, in my recollection, the first piece of anti-immigrant legislation, something that was going to be put on the ballot, that aimed to target people that were defenseless, that couldn't have a voice to defend themselves. But in hearing all the arguments as this got on the ballot, and then there was a campaign, I realized that Proposition 187 was really just an argument on a problem that really didn't exist.
Because what it called to do is it called to deny services to a group of folks that didn't even qualify for it. But what it did—it sent a message. We see some of these ballot initiatives on the ballot that says, English only. Well, yeah. We know that. And so does it change anything? I mean, folks sometimes—I mean you see it, and they come on the ballots in different states, and people vote on it. But it's just the message, really. But what is that message? What is that message?
So I'm an old activist that came from California, and so I saw this, and this was kind of like my awakening. My activism days really started back when I was just doing voter registration, knocking on doors, a lot like you see a lot of the kids right now. We've seen some of the young kids right now, actually, out on the streets of Phoenix knocking on doors and doing voter registration. Let me make sure I don't fall off, because that would be funny, huh? So Proposition 187 and the whole debate with that is what started this.
Years later, I came to Arizona. And here in Arizona, I thought everything was fine. Things were dandy. And I came during a time when the discussion came up that was, I guess, an illegal alien roundup in the community of Chandler. And folks were being detained. They were being asked to prove their citizenship. They were stopping folks that looked like this table, but not folks that look like the ones on this table. Strategically, I sat on this table, by the way, OK? Because I want to point out some things right now. I love you guys, by the way.
But the fact of the matter is when officers were asking, back then, in Chandler, to do this immigration roundup, and working with immigration back then, they were stopping folks that looked like us, folks that didn't speak perfect English, maybe because of the way we dress, maybe because of the places where we congregate. And they were asking us to prove that we had the right to be here. And so then I knew, oh, I'm in a great place. I've moved to a great spot.
So then things calmed down for a while, of course. I'm so grateful that there were a couple of activists that stood up and said, this isn't right. And of course the police department reevaluated what they did, and I think they realized that they did something wrong. They established a citizen's committee so that this kind of stuff wouldn't happen again. Things were calmed down for a while.
So then in 2004 here in Arizona, we got another citizen's initiative petition. And this was called Prop 200. And guess what? It looked just like California's Prop 187, except it had two pieces to it. One was like Prop 187, in which they denied the Health and Human Services benefits to folks that were undocumented, which by the way, they still don't qualify. And then the other piece was on voter registration. Basically, what it said is you have to prove that you are a citizen to register to vote, and at the polls, you have to show your ID in order to vote.
All right, well, what's wrong with that? I mean we already know that only citizens can vote. And then this whole spin, the same spin that I heard back in California, came up again. We're talking about spin. These folks are masters at spin. They passed the piece of legislation on a problem that really didn't exist, but the rhetoric behind it—it was like shadows and ghosts and things that just weren't there. And so it was based on fear. It was based on misinformation. And we continue to see it today.
Folks aren't coming into this country sneaking in the shadows of darkness through the desert so that they can register to vote and tell the government where they can be sent their ballot, right? Come on. Let's face it. That's not what's happening.
And here in the state of Arizona, I worked for two secretaries of state. My job as director of voter outreach was to report to the Department of Justice if there was any inaccuracy. And I would go to every single county here in Arizona, and I would ask them about this. And guess what? In the time that I worked there, none of them reported that there was this kind of stuff going on. Guess what? This problem didn't exist. So why did we pass this? Why? Because it was the spin. They're masters at spin.
So that was in 2004. So because it was so popular and so overwhelmingly—I mean, this was something that resonated with some of the folks. This was a winning ticket. In 2006, then, on that ballot, we saw probably a historic number of anti-immigrant pieces of legislation. We saw everything from denying bail to someone who's undocumented when they were faced with minor violations.
What it did—it created a double standard in our justice system, because folks that look like them probably weren't going to be asked about their status, and they were just going to go ahead and, if they were in trouble, let them go on bail and bond and just release them, while folks that look like us were not only scrutinized about the status, but if they couldn't prove status, they were denied bail.
So that was one among so many others. Denying students that couldn't prove legal status or residency in-state tuition. English-only was on the ballot. So funny—English only was on that ballot, while at the same time on that same ballot, they were denying folks the opportunity to learn English. So make up your mind. Do you want us to speak English or don't you? But that was on the same ballot.
And it just went on and on. I think I remember there have to have been about 10 pieces of legislation, I think, on that ballot. It was just crazy, but it sent that message. And they passed, and so here's what happened in 2008, the following election.
Now the candidates became anti-immigrant. The person who hated the most was going to win. And that's exactly what happened. In 2006, even Arpaio jumped on that bandwagon. Arpaio never took that position. I know this, because I remember back in 2006 I was at an event with the Mexican consulate. And we were giving Arpaio an award. I mean, I was applauding for the guy, right?
We were giving him an award, because he did something and he protected the civil rights of a group of folks that were in a van, who were unlawfully detained by someone who thought that they could take the law into their own hands and hold them at gunpoint, because he suspected that they might be undocumented. A regular civilian did this, and Arpaio says, you're not going to get away with this. And he charged this man.
But what wound up happening after that is that Arpaio then was faced with the scrutiny of—you're unpatriotic. You're un-American. How dare you? Don't you know that—and then, of course, all of these things started coming up. And this was of course at the heels of 9/11 and everything. And so before he's a Sheriff, guess what? He's a politician. And he needed to get reelected. And this is how he turned. And so him, like many others, just jumped on that bandwagon.
So when he did that, then he started doing his raids, guys. That's where the raids—everyone's heard of the raids? Arpaio's raids. Boy, were they popular. They are still popular.
So where are we now? Now, in not this session, but the session before that, in the legislation in our Arizona legislature and other legislatures across the country, we're seeing the same spin, the same rhetoric, the same. You know, it's funny, because they come up with these crafty names for pieces of legislation that attack folks that look like this table, rather than folks that look like this table.
Secure communities. What's wrong with secure communities? That sounds like a pretty nice name. Who doesn't want secure communities, right? That sounds like a nice name.
The Safe Neighborhoods Act. Wow. Who's going to say no against the Safe Neighborhoods Act? The Safe Neighborhoods Act, by the way, was the name that they had when they passed SB 1070. That's what it was called in the legislature. The Safe Neighborhoods Act. There's nothing safe about that. Nothing at all.
And as Julie said, what this does is this puts police officers in a very awful position where now they're faced with having to possibly face a lawsuit or someone charging them because they don't enforce SB 1070. But on our side, what it does is it creates that mistrust with police officers. So victims of crime and witnesses of crime are not calling the police. There's nothing about that that makes our neighborhoods safer. When victims and witnesses are afraid to call the police, nothing safe about that.
So where are they calling, then, if they're a victim or a witness? And what we started to do is, especially because of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, we started doing some documentation. We opened up a hotline. And that's where I am now. I run a hotline called Respect-Respeto. And in this hotline, I'll tell you what, man. I get calls from folks on a variety of different levels. These folks are calling because they don't know who else to call. I've actually been meaning to change the name. I want to change the name to maybe like The 911 For Migrants, because really that's what it is.
Victims of crime of all levels. Consumer fraud. Domestic violence. A husband hits the wife, and the husband says, if you report me, you'll never see the kids again. I'll take them away and I'll have you deported. When an employer says to his employee, well, I need for you to work 12 hours every day, and by the way, you're only going to get a flat rate, what are you going to do? Report me? I'll have you deported.
Landlord/tenant, right? Oh, you're going to live in this moldy apartment, OK? And I want you pay me rent, cash, and even though the receipt says $500, you're going to pay me $700 a month. What are you going to do? Call the police?
And it just goes on and on. I had one where a manager was sexually harassing a young lady who is a cashier at a local grocery store. And she needs her job bad. She's a single mom. And she called me and she says, what am I going to do? I'm a single mom, and my boss told me that if I leave, I'll be faced with some of the laws that this legislature has passed, like employer sanctions, and I won't be able to find another job. I have to stick with what I have now, but he's harassing me. So I said, just document everything.
And then wouldn't you know it? A few days later, she called me, crying. He raped me. Sorry. And I need my job and I'm not going to quit. And I said, don't worry, mija, you're a victim of a crime. You're going to own that store. Watch.
So the good thing is that there are laws that protect folks like that. There are laws. We do have laws, laws that protect people's civil rights. So in order for us to take these cases forward, we had to establish a documentation system. And we started documenting these cases. We document these cases for a variety of reasons.
We've documented so many cases of abuse that we've shared it with the Department of Justice. One of the first actions that the Department of Homeland Security did, especially when it came down to some of these abuses, were they removed Arpaio's ability to check for immigration status on the street a couple of years ago. And this was thanks to the work and the collection of data that took place from Respect-Respeto, the hotline. That was called 287(g), by the way.
Another thing that happened is that folks were calling the Department of Justice and saying to them, investigate Arpaio. He's committing racial profiling. And so the Department of Justice says, well, yeah, you're making this allegation, but show me cases. Well, guess what? Because of some of the cases that were collected from Respect-Respeto, we were able to share this with the Department of Justice.
And not only did the Department of Justice come back with a scathing report in December of 2011—and it took us three years. And I'm going to say us, because it was not just solely the Department of Justice and organizations like Respect-Respeto, but many folks here that come across a victim like this and said, call Respect-Respeto.
It took about three years of data collection, and we were able to start the dialogue, not only to have Arpaio change his policies, but also to share this information with lawyers who filed a civil federal lawsuit. And even though it's been three years, the justice of wheels turns. But they turn slowly, but they are turning. So things are changing.
So documentation is good. But when we document these cases, another thing that happens is we need to share them with folks just like you, or like policymakers. I remember when Janet Napolitano was still governor, and I shared a story with her about what would happen if laws like SB 1070 would pass. She was faced with a similar law back in '08, and she vetoed it. Very similar to SB 1070. She vetoed it thanks to some of the stories that we shared with her. And she says, my goodness, this is going to be dreadful. She vetoed it, thank goodness.
But I think one of the main things and one of the important things that we've done with some of the stories is share it with the media. When we share thees stories with the media, we put a human face on the pain and the suffering of the families being torn apart.
When the camera sees the face of a child crying because his mom is being put in a squad car to be taken away, that does something, because believe it or not, I don't care how much rhetoric and spin and lies the American public hears. One thing for sure is that the American public still has a heart. And when they see this, it's one of those things that says, wait a minute, something is wrong here. We have to fix a problem. There's a problem that we need to fix.
And so in sharing this, we've noticed that we're curbing the public opinion on this. These aren't folks that purposely want to violate the law and break the law. These are folks that want to find a legal way. Just give it to us. We want to be here legally. Just give us a way. That's all.
But the documentation system—I'll tell you what. We've been collecting calls from Maricopa County because of the Sheriff, but now because of SB 1070, we've opened it up, and this is what Reverend Kim Brown is talking about. We just opened it up, the hotline, to 15 lines. And let me tell you something. We're taking a bunch of calls right now. These calls, again, are all the variety of things, because SB 1070—you think it's just folks that are being stopped by police. It's all the other pieces as well, because SB 1070 has given people permission to abuse folks that look like us.
And what we need is folks that look like you to be advocates for us, because when we go up in the legislature and we make an argument about unjust laws or about making things right, there are some folks that are still not convinced, and they still have the seed of hate in them. And the first thing they do is they roll their eyes and say, of course they're going to say that. They're looking out for their own. But when it comes from someone that doesn't look like us, wait a minute, wait a minute. Maybe there's a valid argument here.
Coalition building is so important. We know that there are a lot of good people out there like you. And thank you so much for being our allies in this struggle. We know that you see the injustices, and this is why we thank you for being with us on this fight. And you're here at a very crucial and important time. Things are about to happen.
We're about to get a decision from the Supreme Court. And you're probably about to see some of the folks in the community. They're hysterically afraid, they're scared, and some might have a little bit of anger them. But one thing for sure is that it's all based on the injustices. And so seeing you here and being with us during this time, it really makes this jagged pill a little bit easier to swallow from what's happening.
And we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts, and we hope that you can continue to be an advocate for us, not only in Arizona, but when you go back to your communities, whether it's Maryland, Vermont, California, and share the same message and be advocates for anyone who—not only in the Hispanic community, but the community of the folks that sometimes need that extra voice, that need your voice. Thank you for standing with us.
Panelist Carlos Garcia
CARLOS GARCIA: So once again, my name is Carlos Garcia. I work with the Puente Movement. I, like Daniel, was born in Mexico, and I was brought when I was six years old. I grew up undocumented. But unlike Daniel, I was fortunate enough to be adopted as a teenager. The majority of my family remains undocumented. I've had six people in my family be deported. A lot of them still remain in the same situation that they have been, living as undocumented people here in Arizona.
A lot of times you hear people from our side say, there's 20 million people undocumented in this country. There's no way you can deport them all. We've got to find a solution. And Arizona is actually proving the opposite. Arizona's proving that there is a way to get rid of all of us.
One is to physically grab folks, the way Joe Arpaio does, through Secure Communities, 287(g), and all these programs. And the other is through this war of attrition that you've heard, pieces and bits of it. It's making life so miserable for people that they'll self-deport. Those are the conditions we're living under.
Lydia went through it, and I'm going to repeat it, because I think it's really important, this line of attrition, of what we've gone through. 1070 Arpaio didn't come out of nowhere. In 2002, we had the English-only law. In 2004, we have the social services law. Since 2004 till now, people have been getting deported from hospitals.
We had a case a couple years ago of a 19-year-old who had got in an accident. Sunday morning, he was with his girlfriend. They got in an accident. They both ended up in a coma. The young man had been here since he was two. The family called us in. We went to the Scottsdale Osborn hospital and we tried to intervene, because the family was being threatened that he was going to be deported.
And we sat down with the hospital manager and the hospital manager said, it's costing me $6,000 a day to have him on life support. It's going to cost me $6,000 to put him in a helicopter and deport him. And that's what he did. We tried to get the media. We tried to stop it. They deported him to a little town called Agua Prieta, Sonora. He died two hours later. His mom had five other children that were younger than him, all US citizens.
And she was faced with a dilemma, whether she was going to go with her son in a coma to Mexico, knowing that there wasn't going to be a way for her to come back. And that's what she did. She was left in Mexico, leaving her five younger children here, now having to deal with her dead son in Mexico and not having a way to come back. Those are the type of stories that have been happening since 2004.
In 2006, Lydia mentioned, a couple a laws—out-of-state tuition. In-state situation was now denied to undocumented students. There's no bail. I think we're still the only state in the United States that doesn't allow bail for undocumented people.
2007, Sheriff Joe Arpaio gets his 287(g) agreement. 287(g) allows him to do immigration raids. He starts doing two types of raids. The ones he continues to do until a couple weeks ago, and then Lydia responds to, is business raids like ICE does across the country. They go to a business, round up anyone that's undocumented, and then bring them in.
But what he started doing in 2007 was something we've never seen in this country, which was community raids, which is what you saw—the green screen, the night vision, the little kids. What he was doing—he was sending 200 of his deputies into a community, into a perimeter in our community, and then he was also sending deputized posse members, the same folks that had been demonstrating against us.
The Minutemen, those type of folks, are now deputized with guns and now detaining people in our community. These folks were wearing ski masks. Those two little kids that you saw there who are detained—their mother was taken with an officer with ski masks.
Those kids were given toys. I don't know if you saw, they had some toys in their hands. And at the time we thought, how nice these officers are to give these kids toys while they're waiting for their aunt to come pick him up. But then we thought about it and said, this officer, when he put on his gun, when he put on his tool belt, he remembered to put toys in his car because he knew he might be separating a family. So that's the mindset that we started dealing with these officers.
In 2008, we had the Employer Sanctions Law, another pretext. I think one business, until now, has been charged with the Employer Sanctions Law, but again, it's a reason to go in and raid these businesses. In 2010, we have SB 1070, the Ethnic Studies Bill.
In 2011, a lot of folks thought we had won, and a lot of people forget that we did have some laws passed, some laws that have actually been very effective in hurting our communities. A couple of them—one was the Matricula ID was no longer accepted. Our community can no longer identify ourselves, making it easier for them to be detained.
The other was—and I think, to this day, one of the most effective employer sanctions laws, which was the food handler's card. In Arizona, in order to be able to work in the food industry, you need a food handler's card. They're now required for food handler's permits to have documents, turning the health department into an immigration agency. Anytime the health department would come to a restaurant and someone was unable to present these cards, then the business was liable to be shut down.
And then finally a real mean-spirited one. And I don't like to think that Russell Pearce and a couple of folks are in a room figuring out a way to make life so miserable for us. But as these laws happen, you realize that it is. It's really in response to what we're doing.
Something we were doing to protect our families was notarizing power of attorneys for children for their belongings, in case they were detained. And that year also passed a law with not being able to get things notarized if you were undocumented, so really in response to what we were doing to protect our families.
So a couple of things happened throughout this whole process. One is things became normalized. Every single step and every time we fight something bigger and worse, the thing before that becomes normalized. Right now we wouldn't even think about fighting for a driver's license or changing the English-only or people not being deported from hospitals. That's just the way things are. And it's really hurtful and unfortunate that that's what's happening, but that's the process we've begun and we're in now.
The other piece—it became very evident that Arizona was a laboratory, that the things that were happening here in Arizona or passing began to spread. And we saw with SB 1070 and now with Secure Communities, 94% of the country now has secure communities, and it's set to be in every jail in the country by next year.
So I know we could probably have some questions right now. But I really want to talk about at least Puente and the way we respond to this. One, we kind of use an open hand, closed fist. With the closed fist, we've continued to protest, like the one we're going to do this Saturday. What we did last July 29 in getting over 100 people arrested, continuing to do marches, actions, anything we need to do to stop and fight against these laws.
But with the open hand, we have programming. That's the stuff that often doesn't get on TV and people don't hear about, is really countering the attrition strategy, developing know-your-rights classes, having English courses, health promoters. Anything we can do to make life better for the undocumented people so they won't self-deport. And that's the area we're working on.
One thing folks always ask, and I'll leave you with this, is how can they help? I remember last year—most of us travel across the country to talk about this, but last year I was in Boston, and the whole room was really excited and wanted to help about Arizona. And a lot on them knew a lot about Arizona.
But as I begin to explain that a lot of this is happening because of Obama, that the Democratic Party hasn't been doing anything, and then I started explaining secure communities and I let them know that the city of Boston was doing the exact same things that Phoenix was, that Arizona was, they couldn't believe it. They were appalled. They looked at me and thought I was crazy.
So one thing I want to let folks know and make sure that you leave here with is that what's happening here is happening, probably, in every single place where you all live. The deportations, the same stories are happening across this country. So again, if you have fights, if you're fighting campaigns in other places, it's helping Arizona. If ICE has to worry about working with you all wherever you're at, then it makes it easier for us.
One thing that's also really hard—and a lot of folks present voting and the political system as a way of winning, as a way of changing this. And what I've been saying lately is giving the example of LA County. Here in Maricopa County, in the board of supervisors that work with the Sheriff, we have four Republicans, one Democrat, and obviously Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In LA County, they have four Democrats, one Republican, and a Latino Sheriff, Sheriff Baca.
And I always ask the folks here, or ask the folks anywhere, if we were to flip this board of supervisors—which would be amazing and it would take years to do—and do the same thing that LA County has and get four Democrats elected to the board of supervisors and elect a Latino Sheriff, would that make things better for Maricopa County? And most people, of course, answer yes and say, that would change everything and things would be better in Arizona.
And I let them know, LA County is the only county that deports more people than Maricopa County. So it's a shift in the mindset, it's the shift in the normality that we are illegal, that human beings are illegal, that we must change. We really stand on the side of love, like your campaign says it. That's what we need to shift. That's what we need to change. A simple change in politics without accountability, without changing the frame, is not going to do anything until we stop the criminalization of our community.
So I look forward to your questions. And thank you for being patient. I know this is a long time.
Audience Questions and Answers
LYDIA GUZMAN: Even though the federal government totally prohibits this, what they're asking, at some point, in complete violation of federal law, is they're asking for parents to prove a child's citizenship. Now that is not the law. That is a violation. And what we've done in response is we actually work with partners like the ACLU and MALDEF and organizations like that, that help us write little nastygram letters to the administrators, and also to the board of directors of that school district, to make sure that this type of stuff doesn't happen again.
But what we're doing is we're playing goalie. You have to stop one ball here and one ball there. And we actually would like to possibly make an example of the school district or school board and collect enough, if there is the same thing happening over and over again, so that we can file a lawsuit. And this is the importance of the document collecting, right? So that we can say, this is against the law.
But we've seen it. It seems like SB 1070 and all these things have given permission for folks, individuals in the different levels of—whether it's schools, hospitals, or whatever—to do this kind of stuff. And so we're just playing goalie right now and just collecting data.
DANIEL RODRIGUEZ: To expand a little bit, too, my belief—and I know that some people that work with me share this belief—is that what we're seeing here in Arizona and in other states is not an attack just on the immigrant community. That's the pretext. It's an attack on a lot of people of color in the Latino community. The people that make these laws are well aware that these laws are going to affect citizens here in Arizona that happen to be Latino. There's no way to separate that, no way.
So when you pass a law here, like for example Prop 300, when you have a lot of students that are forced to drop out of school, you're also setting the example for a lot of Latino students that see their family members or their friends drop out, and so they do so as well.
The University of Arizona had a report come out earlier this year about the rate of depression rates going up amongst immigrant youth, including Latino citizens, and also the rate of homelessness going up in Latino youth.
And I know that Lydia hears the stories, but I've heard them plenty of times, where a family leaves students behind or youths behind because they are citizens and they don't want to lose the opportunity for the kids to gain an education, so they leave and leave them behind, because they think that's the best option for them. So you have a lot of youth staying, like the little girl you saw in the video, going house to house, staying with different people so that they can stay here. And that's when the parents leave voluntary. Many times they leave involuntarily, as you know.
So of course there is no way to separate the attack on our immigrant communities come from the effect that it has on the general Latino citizen population.
[? SPEAKER 1: ?] [INAUDIBLE] question there?
AUDIENCE: Yes. Could you speak about the connection between the profit motive of the private detention centers and how that's related to the number of deportations?
CARLOS GARCIA: So yeah, obviously, I think one thing—if you look at Brewer's advisers now, they used to be lobbyists for CCA. I remember one of the days that 1070 passed committee, we all would go to the capital and protest. And CCA, the Correction Corporations of America, who has three facilities, private prisons, in [INAUDIBLE] Florence, Arizona, had a big tent set up outside the state capitol and fed all the legislators, fed them Mexican food [INAUDIBLE].
And so we started seeing those connections. And it gets us more into what are the root causes and what are the reasons for these laws being passed, that being one of them. Profit, over $100 a day per person [INAUDIBLE].
One of the horrible sites I saw this past year—and I don't even remember when it was that Gabrielle Gifford's shooting happened. If you all remember, one of the persons that were shot and killed that day was a judge. This judge was at the time proceeding over a program called Operation Streamline.
This was a program that criminalizes entry and reentry into the country. So every day, anywhere from 60 to 100 people are processed and given a criminal charge, and sentenced to 30 days, 60 days, 90 days in these private detention facilities. Coming back to the death of the judge, obviously the week after his passing, he was unable to have those proceedings, and those detainees weren't able to make it into these prisons.
The following week, the streamline proceedings were double. So they added an afternoon session to be able to make sure that these beds were filled. So that gives you an idea of what is at stake and what is to profit from these detention centers.
JULIE ERFLE: Sorry, I just wanted to say one other thing on the private prisons. NPR did a fantastic report, actually, on ALEC, the Arizona Legislative Exchange Council, and how they actually wrote 1070. I mean, we credit Russell Pearce as the author of 1070, but that came out of an ALEC meeting. And in that ALEC meeting was Corporation Corp of America. So essentially, that was written by private prisons. That's where 1070 came from. And they have stood to make a huge profit off of immigration.
SPEAKER 1: And Operation Streamline isn't just here in Arizona. It's across the country. Our board in the Pacific Southwest district actually observed an Operation Streamline thing last year. And it really shook folks up, because they bring in these folks in chains and uniforms, and bring 15 at a time, and it's just bap, bap, like that. And they're off to these prisons, as Carlos says.
I think there's actually two workshops tomorrow dealing with this more specifically. I know there's one at 9:00 AM, with a group called [? Enlace ?], who's working on this issue, along with an ACLU person here locally from Phoenix, talking about the prisons. And aren't you doing one later in the day, Carlos? What time is yours? Do you know?
CARLOS GARCIA: [INAUDIBLE] It's actually at 10:45.
SPEAKER 1: So tomorrow morning, if you really want to get more educated on this particular financial aspect of the prison system for profit, you'll have two opportunities tomorrow morning to do that.
AUDIENCE: I live in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which is kind of the opposite of Arizona, I feel like, at this point. We haven't experienced the Latino community having to undergo the extreme treatment that is happening here. And my question is, how can small-town America be proactive, and what steps can we take in our communities to put a structure in place that will not allow this to happen in our backyards?
LYDIA GUZMAN: My husband is from Kentucky, and this November I flew into Louisville, and the place where we drove to—it had to have been about an hour and a half drive outside of Louisville. And I know that my husband's brother lives in Bowling Green. And I'll tell you what. The folks that I talked to were very, very welcoming. And I asked this particular question. I asked this.
Now one of the things that I saw which I thought was kind of interesting was someone said to me, if you know how to cook and you open up a Mexican restaurant here, you're going to make tons of money. But I get the fact that they were saying, also, that there was a trickling in of Latinos going in there.
And in that little community where I drove around through, I saw maybe one church with a Spanish sign and I went, wow. But everything else—and then maybe like one Hispanic in a store. So it wasn't the strong presence of Latinos in the area. But I observed how other people treated them. And I thought, well, everybody was very welcoming, and this to me was very refreshing, because it gave me hope. And I looked at it as, this is something welcoming.
The only thing that really concerns me is that I also saw on the news over in—I can't remember the place, where they have the horse races. Lexington. There was—what's the name of the group? It's a National Socialist movement rally. And the National Socialist movement, it's like a neo-Nazi organization. And they were there in Lexington. And they were there to recruit members, and they were using the same rhetoric and the same spin that I had mentioned earlier, a bunch of lies and untruths. They're going to drain on the social services, on the schools, on the hospitals. And I thought, oh, no, no, no.
But I didn't see a lot of support for them. I saw a lot of folks that were saying, this is wrong, and they were standing up to protect the folks that were being scapegoated. And I thank you for that.
AUDIENCE: We actually had—there were about 30, maybe 50 people up on the Lexington capitol steps, and there were about 3,000 of us all the way down the capitol avenue, all the way across the bridge. And there were a lot of college kids that wanted to do some ugly things. But the one that chanted the most— and they left after 25 minutes—was, no hate here. [INAUDIBLE]
LYDIA GUZMAN: Yes, I saw that in the videos.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] couldn't speak. They were drowning them out. And it's one of the most effective things I've ever been involved in. But getting back to my original question.
LYDIA GUZMAN: Right. And to answer that, extending the hand to welcome a community. And one of my favorite phrases is, whether you're in Arizona, California, or wherever, don't fight it. Embrace it. Don't fight if there is a changing of your community. Here in Arizona, a lot of folks said, well, you don't understand. My community is changing. The signs are turning from "Bakery" to "Panaderia." They're selling more salsa than they are ketchup, more tortillas than bread. But this is part of the country that we are. Don't fight it. Embrace it.
And this is where you fall on the side of love. And it's just a matter of extending that hand out. And thank you, and the folks in Kentucky, I love you all. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: As [? Uni ?] churches, should we partner with those Mexican churches? Should we try to start a community of—
LYDIA GUZMAN: Yes. What I recommend is reaching out to the pastors there, because I think that the pastors would probably welcome someone to reach out to them and invite them. Or attend some of their services and then invite them to yours, or even do community picnics. Because that means the world. It opens the door to dialogue, to coalition building. And this is what needs to take place in all the communities. The dialogue, the coalition building, and the understanding of each other's culture. There's nothing to be afraid of. Embrace each other.
TODD LANDFRIED: If I can add something to that too, I think what people need to be aware of is it doesn't take much for these types of efforts to gain a foothold in a community. As I said in the beginning of my remarks, you've got to talk to all the community. It's not just the faith community talking to the faith community. You've got to go to your chambers of commerce.
There's a number of good films that are out, that the filmmakers will come to your town and show them. 9500 Liberty is a good film that talks about what happened in Virginia and looks at what the impacts were on law enforcement, looks at what the impacts were on the community, looks at what the impacts were on the economy.
And get that type of information out to people. Because look, if you've got the NSM marching in your community, you've got other fish to fry too. And there's already a foothold for that kind of mentality. And as I think we've seen around here, and as the old saying goes, bad things happen when good people sit silently.
And there have just been way too many instances, I would argue, in our state where good people have sat silently. Good people who sat silently could have stopped SB 1070. Good people who sat silently could've stopped a lot of these initiatives. Good people who sat silently could have stopped employer sanctions, but they chose not to. And so if you let them get a foothold, it's something that can grow out of control in a hurry, particularly if there's no countervoice to the arguments that they use.
I mean that's really why I use that quote in my presentation. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. Here we are in Arizona. We're at ground zero for a lot of this immigration stuff. And to a large extent, the truth doesn't have its boots on yet. And what are we waiting for? What do we need to see? What do we need to hear? It's mind-boggling to me.
But if you're proactive and reach out to a broad range of groups now—don't wait till it gets bad—you'll have a much better chance of stopping this stuff.
AUDIENCE: Do you present in communities what you showed us?
TODD LANDFRIED: Yes, ma'am. Have plane ticket, will travel.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] all this information about how to make these contacts and things like that.
SPEAKER 1: Well, there will be a wide range of presentations throughout the weekend that will focus on that. But I think the main thing is just—I mean, for me, as I think most of the folks up here have said, for those of you that do not live in this area, Maricopa County, Arizona, when you go home, recognize that the parallel organizations to the ones that we're talking about up here are in your community. I will guarantee that.
There are Dream Act folks there. There are people organizing within the Latino community. As you said, there are Spanish-speaking congregations that one can connect with as a religious community. And as Todd is suggesting, don't forget that there are businesses that care enough about the community that they live in because they know, if they don't care about the community, their business is going to be hurt. So that's all there. You don't need to be told who they are. You just need to go home and make those connection.
TODD LANDFRIED: And there are a lot of Republicans who are opposed to this kind of stuff too. So don't make an assumption just because they're not part of your immediate political circle that they may be in opposition. The right thing to do is ask, because a lot of people, once you explain it to them, will come around.
AUDIENCE: My question is going to be a little tough, because it's a why question. Given that we know that this immigration and undocumented—I mean, the Italians in the 1900s were undocumented. They got that little name, you know. WOPs.
Why do you think that the government and local city and states are behind this? Because this is so extreme. And I can't wrap my head around it, these mass deportations. What are your feelings as to why? Is it racially motivated? Is it targeting one community? Because it really seems, quite frankly—I think 60% are Latino in the undocumented?
CARLOS GARCIA: I think it's a combination of things. I don't think it's one thing. I think it's trade policies, foreign trade policies. NAFTA, what's happened? What's pushing people here? What's pulling people here? All those different things happening.
And yes, sometimes it is racism. In 2007, it was the first year that more non-white babies were born in this state than white babies. That's a reality. That's something we need to talk about. That's when Arpaio and a lot of this intensified. That just happened nationally two months ago. How is the powerful going to react to that? Again, the profiteering from these prisons, from all these different things.
So I think it's not one thing. It's politics. It's racism. It's profit. It's a whole lot of things. It's misinformed, it's fear. A lot of times it's just fear. Some folks talking about the browning of America. And we talked in length yesterday about the doctrine of discovery, and it's more like the rebrowning of America, and really recognizing the roots and the colonization and all the horrible things that founded this nation, and are coming back and are in the back of our heads and are going to create the chaos that we're living in now. So that's a complicated answer.
AUDIENCE: Yeah. I knew it wasn't going to be easy.
LYDIA GUZMAN: And if I could add to that also, it has to do with the a political power grab. As Carlos mentioned, everyone's talking about the browning of America. Well, the census numbers really scared a lot of folks. Let me tell you, for those folks that truly believe all of those lies and those myths, the implementation of some of these laws—it really comes out of the fear of the unknown, of the hate.
It's come to the point where, OK, if we can lock them up and put them away, or make it so that we make life so miserable that they have to go back to where they came from—well, back to where they came from, to folks like me, I'll just go back to LA, right?
But honestly, let me tell you something. When it comes to the power grab, they think it's like a water faucet that they can just turn off. And then we have started to see conversations about them even trying to deny citizenship to kids that are born in this country to undocumented. There's an amendment in the farm bill that was up in Congress that wanted to deny food stamps to US citizens, children of undocumented.
But it's not like a water faucet where we can just turn it off and then let's see if we can just stop the power grab right there. These aren't numbers to be played with. These are real human beings.
TODD LANDFRIED: Yeah, I would tend to agree. It's all about power. It's all about who controls government, who controls the provision of services, who runs the place. And there are some people who, I think, just absolutely positively do not want to share with anybody that they don't like. And it's unfortunate.
I mean, it's the things that Carlos mentioned. It's the things that Lydia mentioned. But the one thing that I think about when I hear people talk about this is, if you look at just how people came to this country to work 30 or 40 years ago, before the IRCA in 1986, and before they tried to revise it in '97, research shows that 85% of the people who came here to work would go back home. But they changed the laws that made it damn near impossible for you to do that easily.
So what happens is that people would stay. They would have families. They would have children who became US citizens. If they were so concerned about this issue, why didn't they fix it and do it right in the first place?
Are there unscrupulous employers? You bet. Are there unscrupulous people who come here and wish to do us harm, like the drug dealers and the arms dealers? Of course there are. But the vast majority of the people who are coming here just want to earn a living. And if they could come here and work and go home like they used to be able to do, a lot of these issues that people are so worried about would go away.
But I think a lot of it comes down to—we're going through another one of these cycles that this country has gone through before. Benjamin Franklin don't like Germans. We had the Chinese Exclusion Act. At the beginning of the 20th century, nobody wanted the Irish. It's this unfortunate cycle that we go through.
But I'll end with this, Ken. I heard somebody make this comment a couple of months ago and it just kind of made sense to me. People are bigots for two reasons. Ignorance or they just hate people. And there are just a lot of people out there who exhibit bigoted behavior because they just don't know any better.
But that gets to what Julie was talking about. Some people just don't want to know. But there are some people that, if you make the effort to educate them, you can begin to change these hearts and minds. And that, I think, is what you folks are—that's y'all's job. But we're happy to help.
AUDIENCE: I was wondering what members of the panel thought about advocating for a guest worker program. I am conscious that this is one of the few ideas that George W. Bush had that I could go along with. But it seems to me like in Europe they have the guest worker program and that gave people legal rights. And I think that might solve a problem of people who are migrants being granted guest worker status. But I don't hear anybody talking about that anymore. I thought you might like to tell us.
LYDIA GUZMAN: Right. You know, on the guest worker program, in talking to a lot of folks that are here undocumented, they can tell you one thing. We just want the ability to work without having to look over our shoulders. If they can't be handed a system from the government to become legalized, just give me the right to work without having to look over my shoulders.
And sometimes that's fine and dandy, when it comes to the advocacy groups, the advocacy groups are very careful about that. And there are two different things that are happening. One is some advocacy groups are saying, everything or nothing. And in a way, that's kind of killed us, where we can't really pass any sort of reform, because they want everything or nothing.
And in that dialogue, the way that the other side has been beating is they're passing things little by little by little. They didn't get everything or nothing. They're passing all these pieces of anti-immigrant legislation one at a time. They didn't go in everything or nothing. And so we have to learn on that side, like we already have something, maybe, for the Dream Act, or maybe ag jobs or things like that.
But on the other side, in trying to be careful with passing work permits like they did back in the Braceros, back in the '60s—it opened a door to a lot of abuse. And we don't want to see that happen. The discussion recently was if a guest worker program was open, that that worker would have been tied to that employer, and if they changed employers, then their permit would cease.
Well, then, that opens the door to an abuse. For example, if an employer says, well, you can't leave me. So if you leave me, what are you going to do now? So it would open the door maybe to indentured servitude, maybe to other abuses. Because now they're stuck with that employer. If they want to work legitimately, then you're stuck with that employer.
So we want to make sure that not only that they're protected, that their rights are protected so that they're not mistreated, but also at the same time that they're entitled to all the protections of any other worker, like a US citizen worker would be entitled to, with all of the protections of everything from overtime to medical and all the other things that are offered.
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Last updated on Friday, August 10, 2012.
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