The “Border Beat” (September 22, 2008)

If you had asked me last spring, I would have predicted that by now both major party nominees for president would be making the news on a weekly basis touting their stances on immigration and ripping apart those of their opponent.  By summer, the issue of immigration had started to fade away in the presidential contest, less a result of its “hot potato” status than the way more tabloid-like issues began to take prominence.  Now, with the economic downturn looking more like a kind of collapse, I don’t expect this diminished status will change.

The Bush administration’s ICE raids, however, continue to unleash an assortment of passions on either end of the political spectrum.  In addition, the impact of Latinos within U.S. society continues to grow.  So between ICE, the race for the White House, and the return of Ugly Betty, I’m sure there will be enough news for this weekly post.

Here is a round-up of some of the more interesting news and opinion pieces relating to Latinos in the United States this past week.

• “Displaced People: NAFTA’s Most Important Product” (No Sweat)
People are always asking me to explain why people are leaving specific parts of Latin America in such large numbers.  Here’s the biggest answer.

• “Bishops call for end to ICE Raids” (Rhode Island Catholic)
Before WWII, the history of the Catholic church and the Latino population in the United States was less than favorable.  They had been huge supporters of “Americanization” programs (highly racialized endeavors based upon white superiority and colored inferiority) and reflected the same kinds of institutional ignorance exhibited by government at large.  After WWII, though the formal hierarchy was slow to change, grassroots endeavors by priests and lay leadership began to write a different story.  Today, they remain near the forefront of the immigrants’ rights movement.

• “Edward Roybal is a big name around town” (LA Times)
Roybal was a serious Mexican American legend in politics and deserves all the posthumus accolades coming his way.  There will come a day when textbooks will do the same.

• “Dual citizenship growing-its pros, cons” (SF Chronicle)
This is a far more complicated issue than this article can address but you clearly get an idea of it from some of their informants.  The thing that kept echoing in my mind as I read it, however, was how many people in this country would see this as part of the growing problem of Latino immigrants coming to the U.S. to take jobs and not become “Americans.”

• “McCain-Palin ticket appeals to Hispanic American voters” (Pueblo Chieftain)
Former Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla is working hard to elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.  He’s even written an opinion piece explaining how the Republican ticket is the right one for Latinos to buy.  Or does he mean only those who identify as “Hispanic American”?

• “Klansman’s Conviction In 1964 Case Overturned” (NPR)
This is a sad story as well as an example of a difficult dilemma in American jurisprudence.  The 2007 conviction of James Ford Seale for the 1964 murder of two black teenagers in Mississippi (Charles Moore and Henry Dee) has been overturned on grounds that the statute of limitations has expired.  It is a limiting, not to mention disrespectful, belief to imagine the legal system as the equivalent of justice.

Historical Photograph of the Week

Cesar Chavez, May 6, 1966. [Source.]

September 16 marked the 43rd anniversary of the start of the legendary strike which gave birth to the UFW, the union of agricultural workers Chavez made famous.  This is a beautiful shot, making the almost mythical labor leader into something of a normal man, human, young, and yet still somehow special.

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