The Dog With a Toy In Its Mouth


Listen, former President Barack Obama didn’t earn the nickname deporter-in-chief out of nowhere. But the screws are turned more tightly right now. People who never thought about immigration before are now carrying the word around like a dog with a toy in its mouth.

On the one hand, sure – more people are talking about immigration.

On the other hand, many of these people are following the ferociously bad lead of numerous U.S.- born, usually white “allies” to treat immigrants as children. And while there are a tremendous amount of kids and unaccompanied minors who arrive to the U.S. every day, this isn’t the group that I’m talking about right now.

I’m talking about adult immigrants. Who may or may not speak English. Who may or may not have any kind of papers. Who perhaps have been living here 30 years, or just one. Could be that they arrived as children, but that was a while back. Formally educated or not. With complicated immigration histories or slightly more straightforward ones.

I get the instinct, the desire that bubbles up in the throats of U.S.- born, usually white “allies.” And you want to help immigrants right now.  Or, you’ve supposedly been helping immigrants for decades and use that fact as your own street cred for what’s happening in the country right now. Either way, listen up:

There’s a big difference between providing protection for immigrants and proselytizing to immigrants. It frustrates the hell out of me that I feel the need to write those words. However, I’ve been watching and reading too many in-person interactions/news segments/emails and articles where immigrants are being lectured to/spoken at by U.S. – born “allies” as if they were seated in those little plastic chairs in a kindergarten class and the allies were the classroom teachers.

Providing protection often involves less words and more actions. It means actively listening. Especially if you’re new to this work. And it means really listening on a higher level if you think that you’ve seen it all and have nothing new to learn from this work.

What U.S.- born “allies” should not be telling immigrants unasked right now? How to act. What to feel. Where to go. What to do. What not to do. Who to talk to. Who to fear. 

What U.S. – born allies really should not be doing right now? Vomiting their own feelings about U.S. immigration onto an immigrant. You do not have carte blanche to tear up while talking to an immigrant about how terrible you feel right now. You also do not have the right to be verbally dumping on the immigrant community how much you supposedly do for those communities.

Unless you’re being asked directly by an immigrant for your professional or personal opinion, keep your mouth shut. 

These immigration traps were laid out a long time ago. I’m talking about way before the last U.S. presidential election. And many of you were out here whistling Dixie in more ways than one.

So all those feelings of guilt, fear and shock, combined with the need to infantilize immigrants and their communities? You need to deal with those emotions on your own.

Because the last thing you need to do right now is gallop over to an immigrant with a soft plush toy in your mouth.

Danger: Do Not Lean Against Doors


this morning i’m thinking about the kids singing christmas carols in politicans’ offices in the name of immigration reform. i’m thinking about the fasters. i’m thinking about the protesters who lay down their bodies, locking and linking their bodies to buses. to fences. to each other. this morning i’m thinking about the days that i can count on one hand that are left to the 2013 legislative session. i’m thinking about how cir’s chances in 2014 are the same as mexico winning the next world cup. i’m thinking about the dream9. the dream30. the interrupters and infiltrators. i’m thinking about the petitions, the phonecalls, the lawyers and the vigils. this morning i’m thinking about how president obama’s words rang hollow and flat and fake at nelson mandela’s memorial service, because the deportations in the u.s. continued while he spoke in south africa. this morning i look at the bart doors across from me. the warning of danger: do not lean against doors. the doors of power, the doors of privilege, the doors of access that are so closed to so many. i’m thinking this morning about what it’s going to take to blow these doors off their hinges for good, for the good of us all.

Gird Your Loins


Hey kids.

So the white stack of papers on the chair is my husband’s waiver application, formally known as Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission Into the United States After Deportation or Removal.

Quite the tongue twister, I know.

When I was previously blogging, both my husband and I were under the impression that R was banned for 20 years from entering the United States.

He’s actually banned for life from entering the United States, due to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, also known as the IIRIRA, signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.

I couldn’t find a link that I liked that explained the whole kit and caboodle in plain English. If you find one, let me know.

In R’s situation, he is banned for life, because he entered the US for the second time without papers, after an initial deportation. His second deportation triggers the lifetime ban that’s outlined in the dense and inaccessible language of the IIRIRA. At the moment when R was deported, we were informed by a US immigration official that R was banned for 20 years. R’s second deportation happened in 2001, five years after IIRIRA went into effect.

So the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing.

Or the left hand doesn’t always want to know what the right hand is doing.

The beige envelopes are full of documents that we had to send to prove that our marriage was real, and that R has been in Mexico since 2001.

Those envelopes hold cold documents like bank statements, apartment leases, telephone bills full of numbers, balances and payments received.

They also hold warm documents like letters from friends and family members, full of words, feelings and the desire for justice proclaimed.

There’s no formal time limit by which US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has to release a decision about R’s waiver. As some of you know, the application went out  September of last year, 2012.

An answer could come down tomorrow. Or in two months. Or September of this year, 2013.

That is, of course, if the left hand is coordinating with the right hand.

So with all the talk that’s been going on this week about “improving a broken system,” and “getting to the back of the line,” I present to you R’s I-212 waiver application.

That stack on the chair is one waiver application for one person without a formal time limit for an answer.

So if there truly is going to be a deep dive into fixing the system, then I’m taking a cue from The Devil Wears Prada: 

“Gird Your Loins.”

DREAM Now Letters and News with Nezua

Hey peeps.

Here are two important links to check out  and support today:

The DREAM Now Letters to President Barack Obama. Here’s the statement from Citizen Orange:

For those of you that haven’t been following the DREAM Act closely, we’re currently in a fight for our lives to get the legislation passed. We have about a two month window to get it enacted and we’re pulling out all the stops. The fact that we’re doing so is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that undocumented youth have taken to getting themselves arrested in the offices of legislators, risking deportation. Despite these dramatic steps there’s still far too many people that don’t know what the DREAM Act is or have yet to hear from undocumented youth. That’s why I’ve helped start a social media campaign called the DREAM Now Letters to Barack Obama, where undocumented youth write letters to Barack Obama in an effort to raise awareness about the DREAM Act.

News with Nezua is the other.

At the end of this week’s video, Nezua asks his viewers for their financial support.

Nezua’s voice is challenging, on point, and in my opinion, must continue. Scroll down to the tamale image, where it says, “Help Support UMX!”

Please support them as much as you can and spread the word.


Whistling Dixie in July

Hello kids.

The expression “too little too late” is banging around my head this morning.

It comes up when I think about President Obama’s speech last week on immigration combined with the US Justice Department suing Arizona over SB1070.

There’s this big and obvious push to make it look like Obama and the US government finally woke up.

But I truly believe that it is all about a focused and concentrated political strategy for the upcoming November elections.

Once again, undocumented immigrants and their families aren’t at the center of this issue.

As I’ve stated previously, Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) passing this year is about as likely as one of my cats standing on two legs and belting out a Lady Gaga song.

So why all of the sudden intensity?

Kids, it feels to me like an ex trying to win us back.

You know how it is. Once you’ve made the decision to walk away, the other person wakes up.

But it’s too little too late.

President Obama, you know that ring of hope that you placed on my finger on Election Night in 2008?

I just pawned it for some much-needed cash.

Radical Love from Where We Least Expect It

Hey Kids.

I’d like to post some words by Thich Nhat Hanh today. They come from his book, Peace is Every Step. Thank you to S for sharing it with me.

These words resonate for me in light of what I’m going through personally and what I’m witnessing right now from both sides of the immigration movement.

I feel that President Barack Obama is very clearly using the immigration movement as a political football. I walk around with a lot of anger and sadness about this issue, as well as other issues in my life.

But what if those of us in the immigration movement met him and the others in government with love? Radical love?

What if we all met each other with radical love?

What if we actively meditated on loving thoughts for Governor Jan Brewer?

What if we actively meditated on loving thoughts for Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

What if I send you loving thoughts and you sent them back, no matter how we feel about the immigration debate?

A Love Letter to Your Congressman

In the peace movement, there is a lot of anger, frustration, and misunderstanding. People in the peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not so skilled at writing love letters. We need to learn to write letters to the Congress and the President that they will want to read, and not just throw away. They way we speak, the kind of understanding, the kind of language we use should not turn people off. The President is a person like any of us.

Can the peace movement talk in loving speech, showing the way for peace? I think that will depend on whether the people in the pace movement can “be peace.” Because without being peace, we cannot do anything for peace. If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people smile. If we are not peaceful, then we cannot contribute to the peace movement.

I hope we can offer a new dimension to the peace movement. The peace movement often is filled with anger and hatred and does not fulfill the role we expect of it. A fresh way of being peace, of making peace is needed. That is why it is so important for us to practice mindfulness, to acquire the capacity to look, to see,and to understand. It would be wonderful if we could bring to the peace movement our non-dualistic way of looking at things. That alone would diminish hatred and aggression. Peace work means, first of all, being peace. We rely on each other. Our children are relying on us in order for them to have a future.

Kids, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.


The Deportee’s Wife

President Barack Obama and Javier Aguirre’s Echo Chamber

Hey kids.

So Javier Aguirre, the head coach of Mexico’s national soccer team is holding a press conference today. He’ll supposedly be addressing the team’s dismal performance at the World Cup and his next steps. He already previously stated that he won’t continue to coach the Mexican team, or even stay in Mexico.

Mexico’s soccer team hasn’t gone past the second round of World Cup games for the past four World Cups.

16 years.

That track record isn’t due to a lack of talent. It’s all about backroom politics.

When it comes to Mexico, the best players aren’t all called for the World Cup. It’s another classic Mexican game called Who You Know.

President Barack Obama is supposed to give a speech tomorrow about immigration.

Kids, let me remind all of you that at the very least, President Obama could stop the deportation of undocumented youth today with an executive order.

As explained in a Colorlines article by Daisy Hernandez,

“After Latino Democratic lawmakers confirmed that comprehensive immigration reform won’t happen this year, Obama convened a meeting yesterday with community leaders to strategize on how they might push for such legislation. Why push for something that can’t happen? To make Republicans look like the bad guys come November elections.”

And voila! Backroom politics, part 2.

Otherwise known as not making it past the second round in 16 years.

So here’s the thing peeps: I have the sneaking suspicion that what Aguirre has to say today and what President Obama has to say tomorrow will sadly echo each other.

And that in both situations, we’ll have to wait a minimum of another four years for some kind of justice.