The “Border Beat” (July 8, 2009)

The “Border Beat” is back with its bi-weekly rundown of Latino-themed news and views.  The July 4th holiday and the typical summertime doldrums mean a slow time for politics, and that means immigration reform talk is, well, talk. Still, there was some noteworthy talk when Obama convened an immigration legislation meeting at the White House late last month.  We’ll see where it goes. Me, I ain’t going nowhere.

Here’s the stories you might have missed:

• “Worker heat reform falters” (Modesto Bee)
This is the “near miss” story of the week as Cal-OSHA’s standards board overruled its field safety chiefs on a set of proposed amendments to the state regulations on “heat-stress.”  For those not familiar with these regulations, they require employers to provide shade, extra breaks, and water for agricultural laborers working on hot days.  Surprisingly (or not, depending on your view of race and power in CA), these regulations arose only after the 2006 round of deaths due to heat exposure in the fields. These proposed changes would have essentially relaxed the regulations, allowing for “grape vines” to count as “shade,” among other lunacies.

• “Pioneer researcher retires” (North County Times)
I normally bypass articles coming from really small publications unless they are significant in some way. This one is significant in every way. Legendary immigration researcher Wayne Cornelius has retired. In his 40 year career, Professor Cornelius advanced the field of immigration studies with his comprehensive approach to the topic. If there is a white guy who is a card-carrying honorary Chicano, this is the guy.  Happy retirement Dr. Cornelius!

• “Immigration attorney tells immigrants, ‘Don’t be scared’ about new laws” (Deseret News)
Here’s a kicker for you: Utah’s new anti-“illegal” immigrant law went into effect last week, even though nobody with any credibility on the left or the right seems to want it.  Law officials and politicians fear it will cause a flurry of discrimination claims and be costly, since the population of “illegals” in the state is so small compared to the population of legal Latinos and Mexican Americans.  Latinos are urging people to be vigilant and know their rights.  The comments at the bottom of the story–from the rank-and-file idiot brigade–are a reminder of why it is law.

• “In Mexican Vote, Nostalgia for Past Corruption” (NY Times)
The PRI won the latest round of midterm elections in Mexico.  All corruption jokes aside, it is a move worth keeping track of for the years ahead.

• “New realities eroding border double standard” (Arizona Republic)
People who work on the border and know what they are talking about have talked about the “double standard” between the U.S. border with Canada and that with Mexico since we stopped fearing a Canadian military invasion. The everyday understanding of this phenomenon is not so widely disseminated.  Hence, the value of this piece.  While the author celebrates the “erosion” with the recent passport regulations (since both are treated equally), let’s keep in mind small steps are made even smaller when they still revolve around institutionalizing our general fear of the border and what lurks beyond it.

• “U.S. Hispanics Live Longer, Despite Socio-Economic Hurdles” (HispanicBusiness.com)
David Hayes-Bautista is making some recent press with his decade-old findings that deserve all the attention he can muster for them.  Latinos live longer than the rest of the US population.  Hayes-Bautista calls it the “Hispanic Paradox” since, demographically, Latinos would be sure bets to live shorter lives. So suck it Minutemen!

SPOTLIGHT STORY:

• “Pastor who opposes homosexuality may get Chicago City Council seat” (Chicago Tribune)
Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, is about to be appointed to fill a vacant seat on the City Council. Thing is, his church is famously anti-homosexual, believing it something akin to a sickness.  De Jesus is a notable activist in his district and his impending appointment is seen as an advance for representational rights for Latinos.  The paradox here is rich and important.  I think we’re going to be seeing more of this kind of thing in the future and it is a welcome encumbrance to politics on the left. Eventually, Latinos and other so-called “progressives” are going to have the reach the point where they see the contradictions inherent in a public anti-LGBT equality stance and a representing poor communities of color.  Eventually.

Read more LATINO LIKE ME.