May 13, 2005

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Schwarzenegger is the “Mexterminatory”

The cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz has dubbed Arnold Schwarzenegger the “Mexterminator,” and he is certainly living up to that moniker.

One of the first things the Mexterminator did when he entered office was to rescind the order allowing undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses, unconcerned that it is in California’s best interest to know that everyone driving can prove they know the rules of the road for the sake of our safety. It was more important to him to reward the racist right for their support.

Recently, the Mexterminator praised the armed vigilantes who are taking the law into their own hands patrolling along the American border and encouraged them to continue this dangerous practice, unconcerned about the safety of the citizens of either country. It was more important to prove to the racist right that he was on their side.

Now, the Mexterminator hires San Diego Superintendent of School’s Alan Bersin as California’s education czar, unconcerned that Bersin’s Blueprint was a disaster, increasing the dropout rates of our children with the possibility of ruining their academic careers. But that of course is precisely the point, the Mexterminator is giving his corporate sponsors what they need to ensure a supply of cheap labor for California. It is important to keep the brown masses down to appease the racist right.

The Mexterminator’s chances for re-election in California are uncertain. But that won’t stop the racist right from pushing to amend the Constitution so that he can run for President. And no doubt he will win: America is waiting for their hero.

Katherine Lopez
San Diego

Misleading recruiting practices must stop

While I support our troops, I believe it is time to end the false and misleading recruiting practices of our military. According to the Marine Corps Times, the government has set recruitment goals that are 7% higher than last year, but most branches of the armed services are below their current recruitment goals. The military knows they need to make adjustments in order to increase recruitment but they should not be allowed to take students’ private information. The military has also started distributing video games in an effort to connect with young people. These games make war seem like a lot of fun, something that can be easily controlled, and if you get killed just hit the reset button! In real life, dying or having your arm or leg blown off is nothing like a video game. It’s for real, and it’s permanent. Is a few thousand dollars for college three or four years down the road worth dying for?

Samantha Granado

Oppose the right-wing power grab

I call on our Senators and Congressmen to oppose the right-wing power grab!

If the Republican-controlled Congress has its way and they use their so-called “nuclear option” to destroy the use of the filibuster, our entire government will have turned into a 1-party rule!

In case you have forgotten, a 1-party-rule is what a dictatorship is.

Clearly, a 1-party-rule runs counter to every principle of a free nation. Everyone in this nation should be violently opposed to this power-grab by ANY governing party.

Patricia Gracian
San Diego

Fate of Anti-Immigrant Legislation Appears to be Sealed

We have been fighting this legislative package (Real ID Act) since last October because we think it is misguided, ineffective, and distracts the immigration debate from what we really need to be doing, which is fixing the broken system comprehensively. 

Three miles of border fence and a higher standard of proof for people seeking safety from religious persecution isn’t going to make us any safer and will do nothing to address the underlying dysfunctionality of our immigration and border security policies.

Despite the best efforts by a handful of senators on both sides of the aisle who stood up to House conferees on some of the most ridiculous provisions of the REAL ID Act, the Senate was unable, in the end, to gut the House-passed proposal. The White House’s inexcusable endorsement of this package was just the push it needed to be enacted.

Removed were provisions that would have allowed people to be deported before they had completed the appeals process. Also cut was a provision to set loose bounty hunters and bail bondsmen on immigrants, even those still in the process of appealing deportation rulings. These modest changes are a small consolation for all immigrants who will face greater difficulties in getting their day in court.

The REAL ID Act still makes genuine asylum seekers more likely to be sent back to their tormentors, still imposes unfunded mandates on states related in reorganizing how driver’s licenses are issued, and still restricts immigrants’ access to the courts. And most importantly, it still piles more ineffective and unworkable policies on top of an already broken and unworkable immigration system.

The American people want solutions that secure our borders, screen intending immigrants intelligently, and shrink the haystack of those hiding in shadows. The REAL ID Act fails on all these accounts and is a distraction from real reform.

More than ever, comprehensive, bipartisan reform of our immigration laws is needed to move the immigration debate and our national security forward. When comprehensive, bipartisan reform legislation is introduced and debated in Congress, President Bush and Congress will again have an opportunity to indicate whether they support common-sense reforms that enhance security or prefer political polarization that derails bipartisan solutions.

Angela Kelley
Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum

Recall the broken promises of NAFTA and to reject CAFTA

As a Member of Congress and former Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, I worked hard to ensure that NAFTA became law. I accepted the final terms of the trade agreement with assurances that we would properly address three key elements:

1) fair wage and labor standards;

2) environmental standards; and

3) the promise for better economic and social conditions for workers on both sides of the border by way of the North American Development Bank.

While the intentions of NAFTA were good, I now know that NAFTA in reality has been a tragic failure. I sided in support of NAFTA, but today I look back on it as a broken promise. With Congress considering the arguments used by CAFTA proponents, the themes strike hauntingly familiar chords to those used in favor of NAFTA. Those that make them have failed to learn from the last eleven years. CAFTA, based upon the failed NAFTA model, will only make a bad situation worse.

Many of us supported NAFTA because of its principal promise — we thought it would create increased economic opportunity on both sides of the border. Sadly, under NAFTA, nearly a million U.S. jobs have been lost in the United States. In Mexico, 1.5 million farmers have lost their farms due to NAFTA while the minimum wage there has dropped severely over the last decade.

In Spanish, there is a proverb, “Dime con quien andas y te digo quien eres,” or tell me with whom you walk and I’ll tell you who you are. We owe all those who could be adversely affected by CAFTA, for years to come, to demonstrate that we have learned from our past mistakes. Looking back at NAFTA, we clearly failed to protect the critical areas we sought to protect. I ask you, my esteemed colleagues of the House, to help Central America to move forward, rather than backward when it comes to economic opportunity and fundamental rights for workers. The failure of NAFTA demands that all Members of Congress concerned about the fate of workers, farmers and immigrants reject CAFTA.

Esteban E. Torres

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