[Marxism] FW: To Count and be Counted: Latinos and the 2010 Census

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sun Oct 4 11:24:39 MDT 2009



From: Mexican American Political Association [mailto:newsletter at mapa-ca.org]

Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 3:48 PM
To: jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Subject: To Count and be Counted: Latinos and the 2010 Census

October 02, 2009


To Count and be Counted: Latinos and the 2010 Census 
Center for Migration and Development 
Wallace Hall 
Princeton University, NJ 

Speech by: Nativo Vigil Lopez, National President, 
Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) - 
nativolopez at mapa-ca.org. 

Culpable, culpable, culpable, guilty, guilty, guilty - 85 times guilty. This
is what I observed in a recent trip to Tucson, Arizona, the current
epicenter of anti- immigrant laws, policies, and practices - the laboratory
as we call it - when I attended the federal court hearing of the day of the
recent batch of immigrant detainees who allegedly attempted to enter the
U.S. without inspection. This is a daily occurrence, an average of 85
individuals, who are legally processed through the government's program
called "streamline," which results in their incarceration and eventual
removal to their country of origin. Annually the number comes to 25,000 such
summary hearings and removals. On that particular day all of the detainees
were of Mexican origin, but one, and ten were women. All were clearly of
indigenous stock, rural workers; one-fourth only spoke their native
language, not fluent even in Spanish. They were held in a private detention
facility, a nice name for a prison, which has a contract with the government
that brings down $13 million monthly to its owner. 

Within one hour all 85 individuals had been advised of their rights by the
judge, a Latina, counseled by their court-appointed attorneys (some
Latinos), entered their guilty pleas, and been sentenced to time served, 30,
60, 120, and 180 days - after which they will be turned over to the
Immigration and Custom Enforcement for deportation. They were ushered out of
the hearing room by Latino federal marshals. And, if per chance they are
detained again they could face up to ten years in federal prison. Their
crime - seeking to work in the U.S. This is what we refer to as the
criminalization of immigrant workers and the criminalization of work. And,
boy, did I feel proud about the ultimate success of affirmative action for
Latinos - judges, attorneys, marshals, interpreters, clerks, even
prosecutors. Yes, we have truly arrived. 

I point this out today due to the impression it made on me - the streamlined
manner in which immigrants detained at the border are incarcerated and
processed for removal, and the use of private prisons in this mix; and the
collateral relationship with the issue we are addressing today. In fact,
deportations are up over any quarter during the Bush administration; removal
hearings are up beyond the Bush experience; enforcement of employer
sanctions and the resulting terminations are up; yes, the trains run on time
under the Obama administration. Google the word ENDGAME and you will
conclude that the more things change the more they remain the same - at
least as this applies to immigration law enforcement from one administration
to another, irrespective of political party. The ENDGAME strategy was
designed by the Department of Homeland Security under President Bush and its
operational objective is the physical removal of millions of undocumented
persons from the U.S., obviously preceding any eventual legalization

An August 3rd article by Julia Preston for the New York Times reminded us
that, "After early pledges by President Obama that he would moderate the
Bush administration's tough policy on immigration enforcement, his
administration is pursuing an aggressive strategy for an illegal-immigration
crackdown that relies significantly on programs started by his predecessor."

I made the trip purposely last week to witness Obama's streamline program
for myself; the renunciation of legal rights by indigenous immigrants; their
inability to obtain bond while they prepare for their defense (this has been
disallowed in such hearings); and the use of private prisons subsidized by
the American taxpayer to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,

If I ever had any doubts about the correctness of the tactic of
noncooperation and noncompliance with the U.S. Census, Tucson, Arizona
removed them from my mind. Tucson, the old outpost cowboy town of bandits,
cattle smugglers and rustlers, made it crystal clear that we are on the
right road in not cooperating with an immoral and bad government. 

But I was not always of this mind-set. In April of this year I was quoted as
follows by the newspaper, Orange County Register, "I'm absolutely elated
that there are pastors more radical than me but I think the target is
misplaced." The article went on to relate that my organization, the
Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, would instead encourage the undocumented
to participate and be counted. If not, I warned that immigrant communities
will not get their fair share or resources and representation, which is
based on population data. "Just for the very reason that a sizable
percentage of our population hides in the shadows, their goal is politically
counterproductive; it would be disastrous for us to do that." Well, that was
then, and much has happened since April 2009, while we waited patiently as
good obedient political loyalists for the Obama administration to make its
move. And, move it did, but not in the direction that we had hoped for or in
a direction of change promised to us. 

After a radio interview debate with the good Reverend Miguel Rivera wherein
I took the opposing view to that espoused by him, I was left feeling not
triumphant, but intrigued. I told myself that I had a moral obligation to
consult with my constituency, present both sides objectively, and then shut
up and listen, and then listen some more. After a series of large public
assemblies with immigrants I was astonished at what I heard and what I
learned. And, I was won over, 180 degrees so, to a different perspective -
one dictated by the life experiences and simple logic articulated by the
immigrants that I serve. 

One after another they took the floor to expound their views. 

Nativo (they would call out directly to me), I've worked at Overhill Farms
for 20 years and I was just fired along with 300 of my compatriots because
the employer claimed that there was a discrepancy with my social security
number, and now I have no recourse for employment - I DO NOT COUNT TO THE

Nativo, I was losing y home to foreclosure due to fraud committed against me
like so many millions of others. I went to the Legal Aid Services office for
legal help and I was turned away for lack of legal papers - I DO NOT COUNT

Nativo, I also was recently fired from my job from American Apparel, the
largest clothing manufacturing company in the U.S., along with 1,800 of my
friends and other family members - including my husband, son, and brother -
due to employer sanctions enforcement by Mr. Obama; and then my husband was
picked up by ICE and deported - I DO NOT COUNT TO THE GOVERNMENT. 

Nativo, my daughter just completed high school with the highest honors and
was accepted to some of the most prestigious universities, yet she was
unable to attend due to her legal status and no available financial aid to
her. I brought her to this country as a new-born and she has worked ever so
hard with great expectations and hopes for a brighter future then that of my
previous fate. Now, she DOES NOT COUNT TO THE GOVERNMENT. 

Nativo, my husband just had his car impounded. This is his fifth vehicle
confiscated in the city of Los Angeles due to the lack of a driver's
license. This is just one of our dilemmas since 1994 in California and now
this is the situation throughout the U.S. We thought that a new Latino mayor
and city council members could change this situation at least in Los
Angeles, but they too have ignored us. MY HUSBAND DOES NOT COUNT TO THE

And, on and on, example after example was presented, and I was told that the
government not only does not count the immigrant, but in fact systematically
pursues, persecutes, maligns, and denigrates the immigrant. Some, however,
hypocritically sing their praises when it is politically convenient to them,
but then pursue contrary policies and practices. 

To the person I was emphatically, but politely, told that "if we cannot
count on the government, the government shall not count on us, and we will
not be counted." 

We have given our lives in hard menial, but valuable labor; we have given up
our sons and daughters to fight the government's wars in Bosnia, Iraq, and
Afghanistan, and continue to do so; our children for the most part have
behaved themselves and studied hard, but have been denied access to higher
education as the "Negro" and "Mexican" of a previous era of segregation and
American apartheid; we have repeatedly demonstrated that there is no
backbreaking, dangerous, filthy, degrading, miserly paid, job that we are
not willing to perform. What more does the government want from us before we
are accorded civility and fairness codified in a federal statue called
legalization - a fair and humane immigration reform? 

This was my epiphany ladies and gentlemen, about how I came around to take
up the census boycott. As a person of faith and integrity to the
constituency that I serve I could not do otherwise. Their logic was not
esoteric, but quite simple and direct - very compelling, and premised not on
an entertaining television reality show, but the life and death experiences
of salt of the earth most common working poor immigrants - yes, the stock of
which America is made. 

Present to us all of the statistics, economic reasoning, devolution of tax
dollars from the federal government to local communities, infrastructure,
health and human services, even investment in education, more favorable
congressional seats through redistricting - old and new-fangled arguments,
many that I myself previously used, to counter the census boycott, and all
of these are quite puny juxtaposed to the immigrant's logic. 

This is why the census boycott - noncooperation and noncompliance, is
winning. It is as simple as staying at home, remaining silent - the lion's
growl of no confidence in an immoral government. It is the epitome of
non-violent action through inaction, which undermines the moral credibility
of a political regime and its political party leadership that urgently seeks
the immigrant's participation, cooperation, and compliance. Herein lays the
beauty and simplicity of the immigrant's leverage. 

The government and party leaders want something that the immigrant has; and
this is the something that the immigrant can withhold until she gets what
she wants in return - a fair exchange. To use a pun, it is Adam Smith's idea
of the free market in the era of globalization. It is a nodal point of
vulnerability in the political regime that the immigrant can turn to his

The Obama "hard-line" enforcement-only pursuit of immigrants must be met
with a counter-veiling response that brings to the fore the political
character of the policy, but also demonstrates its immorality and
objectionable nature to millions of immigrant families and their U.S.
citizen and permanent resident relatives, and Americans generally who find
favor with immigration reform in poll after poll. 

Refusing to cooperate with the U.S. census count is a political act of
noncooperation and noncompliance in the best of Gandhian tradition conducted
for the purpose of pressuring the political regime that pursues the
persecution of immigrants on a daily basis at all nexus of social
connection. This action seeks to dissociate ourselves from this repugnant
and immoral policy, which strikes at the heart of the immigrant family. 

The immediate objective of this tactic is to secure a moratorium of the
current policy. Second, the medium- range objective is to win a fair and
humane immigration reform, which results in legalizing the estimated 12-15
million persons without authorized status, but also overhauls other areas of
the law - including the repeal of employer sanctions and mothballing the
e-verify program. Third, and most importantly, the campaign is designed to
raise the civic awareness and political consciousness of the immigrant
community and its family members - irrespective of status - with regard to
their own inherent power as contributing members of society in all its
dimensions, and express the same in an organized concerted way to send a
message of disfavor with the president and the leadership in the U.S.

At a time when the federal government is spending millions of dollars to
insure a "full count" and especially reach into the cracks and shadows of
social life to enumerate the hardest to reach individuals, noncooperation
and noncompliance appears as the greatest leverage available to immigrants
in their own pursuit of fairness and justice. It is the equivalent of a vote
abstention for those who do not have the right to vote - their vote of
no-confidence. Immigrants will send a clear message to Mr. Obama that they
will not step out of the shadow only to be counted by the census enumerators
and then be told to step back in the shadow when it comes to benefits,
services, and rights. Their resounding demand is - before you count you must
legalize us! This will be their clearest expression of political power. 


Join us in this prolonged campaign for driver's licenses and visas for our
families. The first step in making change is to join an organization that
pursues the change we desire. We welcome you to our ranks. 

Other organizations leading this movement include: Hermandad Mexicana
Latinoamericana, Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), MAPA Youth
Leadership, Southern California Immigration Coalition, Liberty and Justice
for Immigrants Movement, National Alliance for Immigrant's Rights, and
immigrant's rights coalitions throughout the U.S.. 

Nativo V. Lopez, National President of MAPA (323) 269-1575 

Join the Mexican American Political Association mailing list 	

Join the Mexican American Political Association mailing list 	


Mexican American Political Association 

email: nativolopez at mapa-ca.org 
phone: 323-269-1575 
web: http://www.mapa.org 

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