Rifles, Helmets and Riot Shields

SWAT image
Photo Credit: Operational Skills Group

This morning at 5 am, I jolted awake from a big BOOM! It felt like a bomb went off in the front room.

I knew that J had an early call at work. In my fog of being yanked out of a deep sleep, I thought that perhaps C had slammed the front door after dropping off J at work.

I ran out of my bed, and called out C’s name. He was standing by the front door, completely startled, which is unusual for him.

We both instinctively knew not to peek out the window for this one.

Eventually, we both took a look.  The picture above, while not of this morning’s event, is similar to what we saw in the early morning darkness. Rifles, helmets and riot shields.

Apparently, the Oakland Police Department did a gang-related crime sweep this morning.  

One of those raids happened right in front of the house where I live, at a neighbor’s house right across the narrow street.

It wasn’t a surprise to any of us peeking out from behind the curtains that the specific house that got raided was on the Oakland Police Department’s sweep list.

I’ve witnessed over the years how the state in Mexico that R and I live in became more visibly militarized, due to the so-called, “war against drugs” led by Mexico’s previous president, Felipe Calderón. R and I saw how our busy block went deathly quiet. R and I saw armed soldiers on the landing of our front stoop, leaning casually on our door, finger on the trigger of their automatic rifle. R and I saw military tanks parked right outside our living room window on more than one occasion.

In today’s early morning darkness, I thought about how Oakland and Mexico are connected. That what happens in one country is intimately connected to what happens in the other. That drug production and drug consumption are siren songs that flout borders.

The front bay window of the neighbor’s house across the street was blown out by a sonic weapon. That was the boom that probably shook the whole neighborhood awake. There are reports that flashbang grenades were also used during the raids. 

Later this morning, a neighbor who lives next door to the raided house came over to help with a blue vacuum cleaner, a broom, and willing hands.

Sweeps of all kinds going on this morning in Oakland. Sweeps of all kinds.

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

Hopelessness During Hard Times

Hello mis blog peeps.

You know, the World Cup is a lovely distraction. And I’ve been drilling into freelance work like nobody’s business. Head in the sand and all that.

But I’m overwhelmed by all of the bad and terrible news when it comes to US immigration. Right now, I’m in the moment where I can only take it in thimble-sized doses.

It happens. I get overloaded.

The funeral dirge that is the immigration situation in the US marches on, whether I click on the latest link or not.

And I learn of more and more blogs/news by and about US spouses who live and breathe my situation. US spouses  who try to do everything immigration-wise by the letter, and still have to choose between living without their partner in the US, or living with their spouse in another country.

And most of our spouses don’t get deported back to a “first-world” nation.

While on the one hand I now have a community that means the world to me, I’m also destroyed by the fact that there are so many of us out there. Our numbers grow every day.

You know the birds that are swamped with BP’s oil, like this one?

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert/May 9

That’s how I feel like right now. No matter how we US spouses fight against that literal and figurative border wall, we still get swept up in the slick.

There’s a real and deep connection between the amount of oil that continues to gush in the Gulf of Mexico, and the amount of time that comprehensive immigration reform continues to go unresolved in the United States.

These feelings of hopelessness around a realistic resolution to comprehensive immigration reform in the US weigh heavily on me.

Thick and sludge-like oil on my immigration activist wings.

Pro-Immigration Neo-Nazis

Happy Friday peeps. Have you taken my blog’s donation button for a spin yet?:)

You know, something came up recently that has come up many times before:

People simply don’t understand that I live full-time in Mexico with my husband.

As a writer and performer, I have my own website, complete with a super-short bio. Even have a quick FAQ section for my show, The Deportee’s Wife. (Where I reiterate that I live in Mexico with R)

And yet, I can’t tell you how many times people in the States ask things along the lines of,

“How often do you visit your husband in Mexico?”

“When did you two decide to separate?”

“Is it hard with the two of you living in different countries?”

“We need you for a show in the States in a week/two days/this afternoon…etc…” (And of course, no offer of travel expenses)

Sure, there’ll be moments when I’m in the States for extended periods of time, due to my artistic work. That information is also on my website.

But here’s what gets me heated – the majority of the time, the confusion about where I live comes from people involved in the pro-immigration movement.

They’re usually white, middle-to-upper class, and have the “best” of intentions:

They want me to come and perform my show. They supposedly want me and my show to be a space for dialogue.

But they’re not listening. Forget about listening, they’re not reading.

And what I find fascinating is the unspoken assumption: Because I have formal education, grew up in an upper-middle class environment, US-born, of mixed race yet “pass,” etc…the unspoken assumption is that there’d be no way in hell that I’d live full-time with my husband in Mexico.

No matter how great a guy he may be.

Now, let me be clear here – all of us who have an immigration situation that directly affects our lives have the right to make whatever decision we want to in regards to our living situation.

So I’m no better a spouse than my US counterparts who stay in the US when immigration hits and splits their own family’s life. We all have our reasons.

But if these supposedly pro-immigrant white and privileged US-based activists who want to hire me/interview me/photograph me asap and can’t bother to read a one-paragraph bio in English and my small FAQ section, well then, here’s my question to them:

How are you  pro-immigrant activists purporting to give their voice to the voiceless, i.e. the undocumented people in the US?

Because if me with all of my privileges is met with such a degree of ignorance/lack of all types of listening, then how are undocumented people with a lot less privilege in the US being heard?

Let me put it to you like the New Yorker I am: If you’re a white, middle-upper class, formally educated  pro-immigration activist who has no direct and personal examples of immigration decimation in your own life, then you must identify and deal with your areas of privilege BEFORE you dive head-first into pro-immigration reform.

And you must listen like you’ve never listened before. There is no other option.

If you don’t follow that rule, I’ll take dealing with an anti-immigrant neo-nazi any day over dealing with the likes of you.

At least with the neo-nazi, I know exactly where we both stand.

PS. A first-a PS on my blog! My friend directed me towards this short video, by News with Nezua. Perfect.

The Diamond-Studded Saw That Replaces Immigration Reform

Kids, happy Wednesday.

So let’s start class today, shall we?

The BP leak is gushing thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There’s lots of finger-pointing. Lots of political tap-dancing. Thousands of families are affected, and naturally, the land itself.

US Immigration is deporting thousands of immigrants back to countries like Mexico. There’s lots of finger pointing. Lots of political tap-dancing. Thousands of families are affected, and naturally, the land itself.

More problems ahead for BP as stated in the New York Times today: “The latest attempt to contain the gushing into the Gulf of Mexico hit a snag Wednesday when a diamond-studded saw operated by an underwater robot got stuck in the riser pipe it was intended to slice off, federal officials said.”

The US Department of State is now increasing fees for all nonimmigrant visa applications.

This includes the fiancé(es) visa, commonly known as the K visa.

There’s never time available to address immigration reforms.

But there’s apparently all the time in the world to raise immigration fees.

So kids, let’s just think of these fee increases as the US Government’s  “diamond-studded saw that got stuck in the riser pipe that it was intended to slice off.”

I’ll let you decide who the underwater robot is.

Because let me be clear here: The US Government is intending to slice off as many immigrants as it can.