Presenters: Enrique Morones, David G. Hinojosa
This program focuses on realities of the border—shares humane aspects through testimonies and stories—and the state of current immigration topics including: AZ SB1070; coarsening of rhetoric; increased federal enforcement; and community efforts to secure a congressional down payment on comprehensive immigration reform, such as the DREAM Act. Enrique Morones is an internationally acclaimed human rights activist and a founder of Border Angels. David G. Hinojosa is senior legal counsel for MALDEF, the leading Latino legal civil rights organization in the U.S.
ANGELA HERRERA: Excellent. Welcome to Love Has No Borders—Border Realities and Immigration Today. I'm Angela Herrera. I'm the assistant minister at First Unitarian in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I'm delighted to introduce our speakers this afternoon.
We are honored to have two distinguished guests who are both well-known activists in the area of immigration justice, Enrique Morones and David Hinojosa.
Enrique Morones was born in San Diego to Mexican parents, and his career has shown his dedication to both countries. He was the first two-time president of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 1995, he joined the San Diego Padres organization, establishing the first department of Hispanic marketing in major league baseball. He was president and founder of House of Mexico in San Diego, an organization dedicated to showcasing the Mexican culture in San Diego, and president and founder of Border Angels, an agency created 25 years ago to help save the lives of migrants trying to enter the US through mountainous and desert terrain.
For eight years, he led opposition to Operation Gatekeeper, the United States government program for blocking and redirecting immigrant flows from Mexico. In 2009, he was given Mexico's National Human Rights award by Mexican president Felipe Calderon. And in 2010, he received a Spirit Award from the California Latino Legislative Caucus for Human Rights Work.
David Hinojosa is regional counsel for the southwest office of MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. It's often described as the law firm of the Latino community. MALDEF combines advocacy, educational outreach, and litigation strategies to achieve its goals.
Mr.Hinojosa has a growing national reputation for leadership in the field of education civil rights litigation. In one of his most recent cases, he filed a motion that successfully defended the rights of undocumented immigrant college students in Texas to receive in-state tuition. He succeeds Nina Perales, who was recently promoted to MALDEF's national director of litigation.
Each of our speakers will make approximately a 20-minute presentation, after which there'll be a time for questions and answers. I'll add that if you turned your cell phone on during lunch, this is a great time to turn it off. And please join me in welcoming both of our guests.
Angela, thank you very much, and you forgot to mention that the presentations today will be in Spanish. So I hope all of you speak Spanish.
AUDIENCE: Sabian. Si se puede.
ENRIQUE MORONES: Sabian? Si se puede. First of all, thank you to the Unitarian Universalists. I'm a big supporter, and congratulations on your 50 years of but doing God's work, because it's very important that people practice what they preach. And we see that—and I'm not against any of the religions or anything like that—but we see a lot of people out there that preach a lot about doing the right thing, but they don't do it. Well, you're the exception. And there's others, of course, but I really appreciate all the work that you do. And yesterday I had an opportunity to meet with my good friend Peter Morales, and I think he's doing a great job and so are all of you. And I also see several San Diegans out there, and I'm from San Diego, so I'm glad to be here in North Carolina.
My name's Enrique Morones, and I'm the president and founder of Border Angels as was mentioned. It's the 25th anniversary of Border Angels and when we started in 1986, it was simply a friend of mine from the great country—my family is from Mexico and I'm very proud of my Mexican roots—this woman was from the great country of El Salvador and she said, Enrique, you're always asking people to donate things so you can take them to Tijuana across the border to some of the needy people there. And that's very noble, but how about the people here in San Diego? The migrant community here? And I said, well actually I come from a working class family. And my dad has two jobs and in our neighborhood, we need things, too.
And she says, no, where I, Yolanda live, I live in Carlsbad. And in Carlsbad, there's migrants, too. But they live in the canyons, outdoors. And I go, what do you mean? She goes, yeah they live outdoors. So I started going there with the church I belong to but—it was the North County chapter, St.Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church—Started going there and sure enough, there was people living down the canyons, and I couldn't believe it.
In 1986, we didn't have a wall, so was a whole different situation, but how could the most powerful nation in the history of the Earth allow people to live in these conditions? The same people that, thanks to them, we have food on our table, they take care of our kids, to they our homes. You know, the community.
So I had a situation that we encounter every day. A situation where you have three choices. The first choice that most of us do, including myself I've done it many times, is ignore the issue. Pretend you don't see it, just kind of ignore it. The second choice that a lot of us do, and I've done it before, is say well those people deserve to be in that situation. So let them be. And the third choice, which I decided to take on that particular day, was to do something about it.
So that's how Border Angels was born in the canyons of North County, San Diego in 1986. Let's fast track to the '90s now, because I was born and raised in San Diego. I lived there all my life, with the exception of the first few years of the 1990's, when I lived in Los Angeles. And when I lived in Los Angeles, there was lots of things going on. Similar to what's happening—the terrible things that are happening—in Arizona today. There was a lot of tension in California, a lot of tension in Los Angeles. There was shootings and innocent people were being killed.
And a person was pulled over by law enforcement and he was almost beat to death. A person of color. That was not unusual. What was unusual was that it was caught on film. Because back in the early '90s, we didn't have these cell phone cameras like we do today. And that young man was Rodney King. So you had the riots in the streets of Los Angeles.
So we put together an event in Los Angeles to try to bring the communities together. And at that event, shortly after that event, I met a wonderful woman as a result of that event that was fascinated about what we were doing. Because we work very closely with the Cesar Chavez family and Cesar had just died. So they invited this woman to this event and she said, Enrique, what is it that you do? So I told her about the canyons. And she, I've never heard of it. And I said, I just want to do the right thing. And she said, that's very noble, but people need to know about what you're doing so they can help.
Like in your situation, you hear about these issues, you heard of the great news from New York yesterday, right? Did you guys all hear the great news from New York?
So that happens because people take action. It happens because people believe in what's just and they take action. Well, she said, you need to let people know what's happening in San Diego. So I moved back down to San Diego and I started taking more of a leadership role. And in 1994 when I moved back down to San Diego—and by the way, the woman that inspired me to move back down to San Diego that was telling me all of this is this from the family of a big hero of many of us. Her name was Ethel Kennedy.
So when Mrs. Kennedy asked me to move back down to San Diego, I did. And in 1994 we had a lot of what's happening in Arizona today. We had to the original birth of SB 1070. It was called Proposition 187, which would deny the children of undocumented people the right to go to school, to receive health care, amongst other the evils. We had the North American Free Trade Agreement—some of you saw the film yesterday—which allowed commerce to cross border, but not people. We had a young man in southern Mexico rise up and say, hey, how about us? We need to be able to sell our coffee and corn, but the US coffee and corn is cheaper now. And he rose up and his name was Subcomandante Marcos. All this happened in 1994.
But something else that happened in 1994 which really inspired me to take it to the next level, beside what Mrs. Kennedy said, was Operation Gatekeeper. Operation Gatekeeper—and I see many San Diegans here—is the wall between San Diego and Tijuana. And that wall, which the previous decade, the President of the United States had said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. Now this government was building a wall. And that wall, Operation Gatekeeper has led to the deaths of approximately 10,000 people. And these are 10,000 human beings that have died because of that wall. Because they have to go around the wall, over the wall, under the wall. And it's a tragedy. And it's 10,000 people.
And I doubt that there's maybe one or two people in this room that can name three of the people that have died. There's 10,000 of them. Maybe you can't even name two, or even one. These are human beings are dying every day, looking for a better opportunity, like many of your forefathers and foremothers did at one time coming to this nation. I know some were brought by force. But some came here because they were looking—most of you came here because your forefathers and foremothers were looking for opportunity. Political asylum, religious freedom, economic opportunity, family reunification, that hasn't changed.
All of the people coming from the Americas are coming predominantly for two reasons, 97% of them. Economic opportunity, that's 67%, or two-thirds, The other third predominantly, family reunification. Let me tell you a couple of stories, because you need to know these stories in order to see what happened in New York yesterday, be able to happen on a national basis with immigration reform.
The story of Marco Antonio Villasenor. He was a 5-year-old little boy, and he crossed the border with his dad for the number one reason people come today—economic opportunity. His dad had a job lined up and he, like these 10,000 other people, have no line to get into. There's no line. It's not like they want to cut in front of the line, there is no line. If you're of a certain socioeconomic group today, you don't qualify for a visa. So people say, they should follow along get in line. Well, there is no line, right?
So Marco Antonio crosses with his dad. He's only 5-years-old. And as he crosses with his dad, he becomes very thirsty, so he asked his father for some water and his dad wouldn't give him any water. So he asked the next man, and the next man, and the next—He asked 18 men for water. And neither of these 18 men would give the little boy water. And why not? They were already dead. His father was dead, the seventeen other men were dead. And Marco Antonio Villasenor also died in the spring of 2003, in Victoria, Texas.
People are dying every day like Marco Antonio Villasenor. But it's not only little boys and men, it's also women, like Lucretia Dominguez. Lucretia crossed for the really only other reason people come. And I know there's exceptions. But Lucretia came for family reunification. She wanted to get back together with her husband. She can't get a visa. So she contracts a smuggler, and the smuggler says, OK I'll cross you, but don't bring those two little kids you have with you, because they're going to slow us down and the border patrol will catch us. Jesus, her 15-year-old son and Nora, her 7-year-old daughter.
The next day she shows up, she brings them and she pays for them. And the smuggler accepts to bring them. She paid for all three, $1,500 per person, now it's about $4,500 per person, or more. And I'm talking about from crossing from the northern border into the United States. Not the journey when they came from South America, Central, Southern Mexico, or wherever.
So anyways, she pays the smuggler, they cross with a group of migrants and as they're crossing, the kids did slow down the group. So what happens is, the smuggler says, I told you not to bring them. You're on your own. I'm not giving you your money back. So the group of migrants takes off with the smuggler. Lucretia is with her two little children. And Lucretia Dominguez literally dies in the arms of Jesus. Her 15-year-old son, Jesus.
This is happening every day and that's not what this country's all about. That's not standing on the side of love. People need to know what's happening so they can do the right thing, like Mrs. Kennedy told me. So Border Angels continues to—we started going out to the desert to put water out there, we started doing that around 1996, because the wall was built in 1994. So in 1996 we started going out there, I would go out there with other players from the Padres. But we we're very unorganized.
We really didn't get organized and become Border Angels, as an entity, 'til 2001. Because in 2001 I was invited to the number one talk show in the world. And it's not Oprah Winfrey. In 2001, I was invited to Sabado Gigante with Don Francisco which is 100 times big—this is all over the Spanish language world. So I'm invited to Don Francisco Sabado Gigante, a Spanish language show, based in Miami. And he's the one that said, el angel de la frontera, the border angel. And I said that's too presumptuous for an individual, but I like it for the group, so that's how we became the Border Angels in 2001.
That was my last year in baseball and a lot of things happened. But we started getting more and more organized. In 2005, I set up another division because in 2005, was the dawn, the beginning of a group that unfortunately exists this in every country, but this particular group got organized and had a name. And it's a group that practices hate—you know them as The Minutemen.
They started on April 1 of 2005. So I went out there to protest peacefully, because we're like yourself, very peace-oriented. And we went out there to protest. There was going to be 1,000 Minutemen and it was only about 100. They haven't had 1,000 Minutemen even since they started. But to make a long story short, we chased them out of there, but I heard they were coming to San Diego. So they came to San Diego on July 16 of 2005. So I formed a group called Gente Unida, or United People. We formed 65 human rights groups and we resisted the Minutemen when they arrived on July 16. And eventually we chased them away, but they can be very damaging.
One of the women that trained there, she's from Washington state, she trained there a years later and you heard about her. You might not know of her name. And you might not know the name of her victim, but you remember her story, because what happened was Shawna Forde wanted to start her own Minutemen chapter. So she came down to San Diego to train in Campo, California, which is part of San Diego county. And she trained, and she wanted to start her own Minutemen chapter. This is only a couple years ago.
So she decides to go to the state of hate, the state of—some people call it the state of hate, the state which is the state where we're seeing all these vicious laws come from—she decides to go to Arizona and start her own Minutemen chapter.
She follows SB1070, she racially profiles a man, follows him into his house, and she decides to rob him. Her and two accomplices. And they do rob him, and they kill him. His name was Raul Flores. And Raul's wife is there, and they think they kill her. They shoot her and all this, but she doesn't die. And a little 9-year-old girl comes out of the bedroom to find out what's going on, and you could hear on the 911 call, she's saying, please don't kill my family, and they kill her, too. Her name was Brisenia Flores. Killed by Shawna Forde and two accomplices. They have been captured and now they're facing the death sentence, and there in Arizona.
So this is happening every day. And we got to change this. So Border Angels continues to go to the desert to place water, we go to the day labor sites like other groups do, to the Home Depots and bring food and those types of things, we do vigils across the country, and at the end of 2005, Proposition 187 was back again, but it was national, and it was called HR 4437, House Resolution 4437. And at that time there was a Republican-controlled Congress, Senate and President. And the Republican-controlled Congress of December of 2005 passed HR 4437, which was even worse than 187. And what happened was we said we got to do something about this, we can't allow this to go on.
So, I announce we're going to do something called Marcha Migrante, which is really a caravan across the country. And I came here to North Carolina, I went to Durham. We went to 40 cities, in 27 days, in 20 different states, in a caravan of 111 cars. And we stopped in cities like Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Tucson, Phoenix, Chicago, Washington, Durham, and we said, we need to take to the streets and march in protest. And we did this, we came back on February 28.
On March 1, I get a call from the Catholic diocese in Los Angeles to go up there. On March 2, we hold a major press conference and announce the marches of the spring of 2006. On March 10 in Chicago, 400,000 people marched in Chicago. March 10, people marched here. On March 25, in Los Angeles, 800,000 people marched. On April 9 in San Diego, 100,000 people marched. We know it wasn't just because of Marcha Migrante, it was for many reasons, but we marched and we stopped 4437. So now every February 2, we do Marcha Migrante. The second one was from San Diego to Brownsville. Why did people march? The stories like Lucretia and Marco Antonio.
Marche Migrante III, su voto, es su voz. Your vote is your voice. We went from San Diego, Friendship Park, where we always start to the Canadian border, and registered people to vote. We didn't tell them who to vote for anything like that—[FAKE COUGH] Obama—we just kind of asked people to vote, because we're a nonpartisan group.
So we came back and then Marcha Migrante IV, we went from Florida to Washington, DC. And we delivered 50,000 letters to President Obama, brand new president, saying we marched, we voted, now it's time to deliver. And there's some letters here that you can sign also if you support that cause after we're both done.
Marcha Migrante V, we went and crossed, literally crossed the desert walking, like some of you have done—they were telling me that they've done this experience—we crossed from Sasabe, Sonora to Tucson. We only walked a couple of miles then we hopped in cars, went to Tucson and did our prayer vigil, went to Phoenix and we protested, along with our friend, [? Paul ?] [? Resa ?] we protested Joe Arpaio. And then we went to the Holtville cemetery in Imperial Valley, where there's 700 unidentified people buried, 700. The biggest mass grave in the United States that's not a military grave site. There's a picture of it in the brochure, and if you don't have a brochure we can get them later. In the middle, on the bottom you can see that grave site. So we go there, we place crosses.
Marcha Migrante VI, so this year, we did a 125-mile walk from Friendship Park to Calexico. So we continue to do these, and along those marches, we also do vigils to remind people that sometimes they don't die when they're crossing the border. Sometimes they die when they're already here. In Marcha Migrante IV when we went from Florida to Washington, DC, we stopped in a little place on February 14, Valentine's Day to do a prayer vigil for a young man, that you might not know his name. I know David knows his name because they were very helpful in this cause. They were the lead group actually.
And what happened was, that the previous year there was a young man walking down the streets of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. And the community there—some people in the community, a small part—they don't like the fact that his partner was a white woman. They weren't married, but that was the mother of his children. And they beat Luiz Ramirez to death, yelling all these racial epithets, and so forth.
So we went there and we held a prayer vigil for Luis Ramirez. And then after we held a prayer vigil, I said, I want to pray now for the three perpetrators of the crime. Why would you do that? Because they weren't born that way. Something happened along the way to change them. So we did a prayer vigil for the three perpetrators. And then they said—Would you guys like to stay in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which is right down the street? I said, no way. We're not spending a dime there, like were not spending a dime in Arizona.
So we went from there, and we drove over to a little place on Long Island, New York, where the previous year another young man had been killed. Seven people decided to have a beaner boot party. To find a Mexican and kick him to death. And they did find a young man and they did him to death. His name was Marcelo Lucero, from Ecuador.
So this is happening every day. And that's not standing on the side of love. That's not what this country or those other countries are all about. There's no country that's a bad country. There might be people that do bad things. So, Border Angels continues to go to the desert to place water. We go to the Home Depot sites, we do these vigils, we do these marches, we do these caravans. At Marcha Migrante V, I was talking to somebody a little while ago.
I had a guest in my car that wanted to find out about what we did. She knows about Border Angels. She loved our project. And she decided to do a play about it. She has written another play, her name is Josefina Lopez, she wrote another play called Real Women Have Curves. Some of you may have seen the play or the movie. Well, she wrote a new play called, Detained In The Desert. And Detained In The Desert which, is going to become a movie now. In Detained In The Desert, there's a bad character in it. His name is Lou Becker, represents Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck. And then there's a good guy in it named Ernesto Martinez who represents myself. And she has real actors in these types of plays and movies. Have you heard of George Clooney? Well, he has nothing to do with the play, I just wondered if you heard of him.
But anyway, so we're doing a lot of different thing—plays, movies, concerts, I speak at schools. I debate with the number one organization that practices hate in this country, that finances the Minutemen and starts these chapters, is a group called the Federation of American Immigration Reform. And their president is a guy named Dan Stein. I debate him every month.
And every month, no matter where I go, I could go to the most conservative place in the country. When I walk into the auditorium, a group like this, 30% of the group is already with me when I walk in, 10% is with him, 60% is with nobody. And I walk out, when we both walk out, we have 80% are with me now, 10% are still with them, and there's 10% that are undecided. That's sort of the way the country is. And that's why what we need to do now for immigration today is participate in the process of changing the laws.
We will have humane immigration reform. We need to—67% of the country supports it, according to Geller. Well, I now [UNINTELLIGIBLE] take it to the next level. You come from all over the country. You need to talk to your elected officials, because the far right, even though their numbers are really small, they're are a lot smarter about this issue. We can get millions to march in the street, but we can't get 5% of them to make a phone call, or to write a letter.
But the other side, which is really small, each one of them sends thousands of letters and phone calls to Congress and the Senate, and they know that it's a small group, but they count. They count how many calls they've got. That's why it's important that we participate in this process in a peaceful manner.
And that's why I congratulate you for all being here today. So afterwards, we have some letters there, that all you need to do—there's more people than letters that's good. And you can put multiple signatures—is your signature or your zip code. We'll send it to President Obama and we'll also send it to your senator and congressman. That's why we want the zip code. So you can sign those letters and leave them there afterwards.
And something else that's very important to us. How do we support ourselves? How do we raise money? I go on lecture across the country. I just lectured at Notre Dame. And this story, I think, is very important. I go and I'm wearing my Border Angels t-shirt, right? And you could have one, too. And I'm wearing my Border Angels t-shirt and the guy says, the cab driver, hey, I know about Border Angels, I came to this country in 1985. And I thought, wait a minute we didn't start 'til 1986, what's your story?
And he goes, my story is, I came by boat. And when I came by boat, we arrived in the bay of San Francisco and we had to jump off, whether we could swim or not. I did not know how to swim. And we jumped off, several people drowned. Miraculously, I did not drown. I make it to shore, 1985, make it to shore, and there's supposed to be like a bus or a van waiting for us, it's long gone.
So here I am in the bay of San Francisco. I'm all wet. I speak Chinese. I don't know what's going on, I'm scared. So finally, I get a ride to a shelter there. And I meet a Chinese man there and he helps me. And he helped me get a job. A lot of times the first job, even today, is in a restaurant so you have food. And they sleep outdoors.
And he says, I've got to pay my smuggler off, because if I don't pay my smuggler off, just like today, my family will be killed back home. So I said, how much did your smuggler charge you? This is 1985. He said my smuggler charged me $51,000. $51,000. That's insane and the guy goes, what did you do? And he goes, well, I'm sending all my money back home. Eventually I moved to Chicago. I make a lot more money and I pay the smuggler off, I meet a beautiful Chinese woman, and we get married. And I go, that's a fascinating story, but what are you doing as a cab driver here in South Bend, Indiana? And he says, next year my son graduates from the University of Notre Dame.
But, wow! That's the American dream. That's why you're here. Most of you, your forefathers, foremothers brought you here, or came here looking for opportunities. So we got to keep that dream going, because that's what this country's all about. Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses. That still exists today because we don't have a statue, we have a wall. Operation Gatekeeper that kills two people every day. That's got to change. That's why we're counting on your support, that's why I'm glad I was invited to come here today.
And in closing, the way—and then we're going to have questions and answers after both of us speak—but the way that we support ourselves is, besides these concerts and these types of things, is we have some t-shirts, I only have a limited amount, and you can have one, we ask for a suggested donation of $20.00 and on it, it's got our logo. And on the back, you might not have heard of this expression, but it says, standing on the side of love. So hopefully, you'll want to get a t-shirt, and because it's the 50th anniversary, and because it's the Unitarian Universalists, two for $40.00. Very special. Very special. So we're going to do two for 40.
But afterwards we're going to have an opportunity for questions, and once again, [? Andrea ?] I want to thank all of you for inviting us to come up here and to share a few words. Our contact, my contact information is on the brochure. Once again there's plenty of brochures in the front. Our web site, you could also buy the things online, and so on, and so forth. But after David speaks we'll be available for questions. Thank you very much. Muchas gracias.
DAVID HINOJOSA: Thank you very much. My name is David Hinojosa. I'm from San Antonio and I'm the southwest regional counsel now for MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. What MALDEF does is advocacy, such as testifying before state legislatures, before Congress, before local school boards, if necessary, before any municipal councils that we have to testify on. Issues that are at the heart of what's going on with the Latino community in the United States. We also do education, through a parent school partnership program where we partner parents with the school districts, so they can learn their rights and they can hopefully become more involved in their school, because we know how important parental involvement is.
And we also, when everything else fails, sometimes, for instance when Prop 187 was passed in California, nobody really wanted it except the really strong faction that had gathered together in the enough votes to pass Proposition 187. So what we did it was take them to court, because we have lawyers with our organization. We're not a membership organization but we have lawyers, so we sued them and we stopped the worst parts of Proposition 187, the parts that sought to exclude undocumented immigrant children from schools. From acquiring a mere basic education. And Proposition 187 sought to deny them that basic education.
I want to first talk about some basic facts about immigration, and then I'm going to talk about the growing wave of these state laws, these municipal ordinances that are going through, then I'm going to talk to you about one specific case that we had in Tucson, Arizona before the Honorable Judge Roll. If you recall the Honorable Judge Roll was the judge who was murdered in Arizona last year. But I think it's really important that you understand some of these facts because you might end up writing your own letters. You might be contacting your own congressman, you might be trying to educate your community, so it's really important. These are just some really basic facts.
The first, two-thirds of immigrants are here lawfully, either as naturalized citizens, or they hold some kind of visa or legal permanent residency. Almost half of all undocumented immigrants enter the United States legally. So they come on some kind of visa, and then they might overstay the visa, seeking better opportunities in this country than what they might get when they go back.
Undocumented Americans pay more in taxes than they take out. There was a study by the Texas comptroller. There's another study I believe out of a North Carolina that kind of weighed in how much taxes are being paid by undocumented immigrants, and what kind of services are they being provided? And I can tell you, the Texas comptroller, who is Republican, she was not going to weigh on the side of undocumented immigrants. Yet, after researching this issue she came out and she concluded that indeed undocumented immigrants were paying hundreds of millions of dollars more than they were receiving in various services.
And then lastly, the US economy can't sustain itself without continued contributions from the undocumented immigrant community. There's nobody who's going to pick the lettuce, there's nobody who's going to pick the crops, there's nobody who's going to work these really hard construction jobs. If undocumented immigrants don't do it, then either the job's not going to get done, or the prices are going to go sky high.
So, with that we still have all of these growing wave of state and local ordinances. It started out, actually, at the lower levels. So you had Valley Park, Missouri, you had Escondido in California, you had Hazleton in Pennsylvania, and then you had Farmers Branch in Texas, and the latest one is Fremont in Nebraska. And there's others also. These are just kind of some of the major ones that have been out. And then you had Arizona come on and along with Arizona, you have Utah, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina. Alabama is the most recent, which is probably Arizon's 2.0, and then you have Texas.
And I have Texas as a question mark, because right now, Texas hasn't passed their—that they call it a sanctuary cities bill because they don't want sanctuary cities being created, as though it's wrong to treat other humans as human. To provide them equal opportunities, to provide them with equal treatment, somehow that that's wrong. And so right now, we're fighting that. They've call a special session and Governor Perry, even though he came out against SB1070 initially, he's pushing this sanctuary cities bill, which is a softer SB1070, but still it has its own aims and purposes which could lead to drastic results.
But we haven't gotten there yet. A lot of people will say, wow, Arizona and Texas you all are a lot alike. But I always say—and I've done litigation in Arizona both in school desegregation and a immigration case—well, I always like to say the difference between Arizona and Texas is that in Texas we conceal our weapons. In Arizona they don't. They don't give a damn. As a matter of fact one of the witnesses that we deposed in the case that I'll talk about later, he actually brought his gun to the deposition.
But what exactly do these laws do? They require state and local law enforcement officers to determine the status of any individual that they reasonably suspect to be unlawfully present. Not sure exactly what they say—well this guy has a rounded face, a darker complexion, he has shoes that don't look like any brand names, are or torn clothing. I'm not sure exactly how—there's not a real science to determining whether or not someone is unlawfully present, but they're supposed to do that.
It creates criminal penalties for failing to register or carry a registration document, in violation of Federal law. A lot of immigrants are required to carry their visas on them, or their legal permanent residency card, but as we do with driver's licenses and other documentation that we have, we don't always carry it on us. And so they're subject to a criminal penalty for that.
They criminalize soliciting, or performing work. Enrique talked about his work at Home Depots and so forth, because that's where a lot of workers will go and gather to find jobs. People hire them from there, and so there's these anti-solicitation provisions that are built into the law. It requires employers to use E-Verify. That, actually, because of a real recent US Supreme Court decision is going to stand up. So that's actually constitutional now according to our the Supreme Court.
And then there's local ordinances that require landlords to check immigration documents, as if the immigration field isn't complex enough for the immigration officials and agents. And we deposed them previously in our cases, asking about various documentation requirements and various classes and immigration status. And these officials—Federal officials themselves—can't get it straight. How do you expect Joe Schmoe, the landlord to get it straight? Yet, he's supposed to be checking their immigration documentation.
The consequences, of course, with respect to the law. There's violations of the Supremacy clause built into our Constitution. A lot of people say we stand for the Constitution. The Constitution is what's right. That's the basic fabric of our law. And I agree it is, and as a lawyer it especially is dear to me. But there in our Constitution, it says that immigration is for the Federal government to decide. So when all these right-wing conservatives want to come out and talk about, well, we need immigration reform, we need states to be able to pass their own laws, we need—. They're not standing by the Constitution, are they? They're standing against the Constitution and it's creating havoc, as we have this patchwork of state immigration laws going all across the Country.
It interferes with the Federal government's foreign policy relations, as well. Because not everybody who is undocumented, and the Federal government knows about it, is getting deported. There's different decisions that are being made on that. There's also the fact that many immigrants might not have specific papers on them. So, you might not have a driver's license for whatever reason. You might be a battered spouse in hiding, and you're able to possibly adjust your status under the Violence Against Women's Act.
You might be here on temporary protective status, and temporary protected status, in a nutshell, results from there being some catastrophe. A natural catastrophe, for instance. And so people from Honduras, and other places are allowed to reside here temporarily, and the government will extend their paperwork from time to time, but they might not receive it. Because, you know it's the government who issues the paperwork, and we know how fast they all work.
So those are some of the consequences. I kind of went over this, about why state should not regulate an area of immigration, as well as you don't only have the legal consequences, but you have the economic consequences. And you have the moral issues that come up. It sends a hostile anti-Latino, anti-diversity message to the media, to businesses, and to the communities. It becomes a very divisive.
I think if you want to look at ground zero for the divisiveness, just look at Phoenix, Arizona. You have the city of Phoenix, that politically, it feels that certain decisions need to be made, and they're very progressive. But then you have the outer Maricopa County, which ends up being the purview of Joe Arpaio, the sheriff there. And so you know it creates a really strong hostile division between those. And it doesn't just set to undocumented immigrants, but it goes into different ethnicities and races.
It pushes both lawfully present and undocumented immigrants further into the shadows. Who wants to call the cops? Who wants to call the police when they are being assaulted, when you might get arrested for it or deported? When your children might get deported? When it might divide these families? It just doesn't make sense and that's why you actually have a lot of law enforcement communities coming out against these types of laws.
In Texas, we have a very strong coalition with the San Antonio police chief, with the El Paso sheriff, with the Dallas sheriff. A number of different sheriffs and police chiefs have come out and said, we don't want this kind of law. It's going to not help us do our job, it's going to prevent us from doing our job.
And the bottom line is that humans deserve—humane treatment. I mean, we can argue back and forth about what is right economically, what is right legally, but at the bottom line you have a group of people who have come here for the promise of America, trying to better themselves. They're not coming here—yeah, there might be a few who come here to sell drugs, to smuggle drugs, to commit crimes, a very, very small few. There's a heck of a lot more US citizens that are here committing crimes, smuggling drugs, using drugs, committing crimes against other people, but nothing goes against that.
As soon as an undocumented immigrant commits a crime against a US citizen, that's the first thing the media wants to get out there right? An undocumented immigrant was drinking and driving, and they hit this lady and they killed her. That's a tragedy, not because he's an undocumented immigrant, it's a tragedy because that person decided to drink and drive and killed someone.
But if it's a US citizen, they don't say a US citizen was drinking and driving, and struck this other US citizen and killed him. It happens every day. Hundreds all across the country are killed from drinking and driving accidents. Hundreds are killed from being murdered in our urban neighborhoods from possibly the lack of education. But are we up in arms about the lack of education in these neighborhoods that might help prevent some of these crimes? No. But as soon as an undocumented immigrant commits one of these crimes then all of a sudden it's splashed across the news.
Now I wanted to talk about this case that we had. It's Vicente versus Barnett. And this happened in Arizona, just outside of Douglas, Arizona. It's a very remote place. A group of undocumented immigrants had come here from different parts of Mexico. Some came from Michoacan, some came from other places. There were about a group of 20 originally who came over. They were men and women. Young and old. I think they ranged from about 19-years-old up to about 60-years-old. They came with different educational levels. Some of them only had a third grade education, some had a sixth grade education, some had a university education.
One of the guys that was working in construction in Chicago was actually a pharmacist in Mexico. Couldn't find a job as a pharmacist. Wanted to do that, that was his dream job. Couldn't do it, so he came across the border to work construction in Chicago. But they all had the same purpose in mind. What they wanted was to better their opportunities for their families, for their kids, for themselves.
And so they were walking through the desert. They already been robbed at gunpoint in Mexico before they came across. That's something that they expected. The smugglers had told them, look you know what, there's some bandits here on the border. They might come—and I don't know whether or not the bandits worked hand-in-hand with the smugglers. It might very well be, right? I'm not going to doubt it, but we don't have any proof of it. But regardless, they were robbed at gunpoint. They took the money, it wasn't a very confrontational or anything, except that they had guns pointed at them.
And so they continued on their journey, and they came across the border, and they came to a wash. And it was in March of 2004. And they came to this wash and they heard a loud noise. They didn't know what it was, was it a motorcycle or something, some loud noise, right?
And they were resting there and a man comes out, jumps off of his ATV. He has a uniform on, he has badges like insignias, has a cap with insignias on it. They think it's some kind of police official, maybe a Federal, a border patrol agent, they're not sure, but he comes out and he's yelling at them at the top of his lungs. And this man, when he yells, he spits. And so he's spitting and he starts shouting obscenities. Starts telling them, hey, you fucking Mexicans—sorry if I offended anyone there, well I'll say effing Mexicans—but, and he continued on, and he kept on telling them, you effing Mexicans, get down, get down. And he's pointing the gun at them the whole time.
And then his dog—because he has a dog with him, a trained dog—goes to some brush, where some women were laying down, because when they were resting they didn't want to get in the sun, so they found some brush and they were laying down there. And the dog starts going up to them, barking at them and coming within, so close that one of the witnesses testified that she could smell his breath, the dog's breath. And it was barking and then the man came over there and he was shouting at him and yelling at them, and pointing his gun at them.
And one of the women a young lady, Ana Vicente, was too frozen. She had no idea. She didn't know if she was going to get killed. She didn't know if this dog was going to start mauling or anything. So he goes to her and he's telling her, levantate perra, which means get up bitch or get up dog. He's telling her this and she's just frozen. She can't because he's standing with the gun over her. So then he goes and he kicks her while she's on the ground. And then he tells her again to get up, and she still can't get up, now because of the pain in her leg. And so he goes to kick her again and she grabbed her bag and put it in the way. And he ended up kicking one of her little religious statues and breaking it and breaking a couple of other personal things. That's how hard he was kicking at her.
So he finally gets them all together. One of the ladies falls down on her knees and is praying to him, please don't hurt us, please don't kill us. Please just let us go. Let us go, we'll do anything for you. And he just kept on shouting and yelling at her. Telling her to shut up. Telling her both in English and his broken Spanish. So eventually he ends up calling up his wife on the radio and saying, I got 20 of these effing Mexicans here at gunpoint. And he's laughing with her, and joking with her on the phone. Border patrol ends up coming up. The immigrants try to start telling the border patrol the story about how he's been assaulting them, because by then he's all innocent, right? He's got his handgun holstered, and he's calmed down a bit.
But then when they started telling the stories to the border patrol, he walked up to them and said, I dare you. You say it again, say it again, I dare you. And of course, they didn't, because they're scared. They were actually happy to see the border patrol come because of this crazed man. That's how crazy the situation was.
So we ended up suing them, and this man, Roger Barnett, this wasn't the first time he had done it. There were stories and reports—police reports—of him putting other immigrants on the front of his ATV and riding through the brush. And these people who were reportedly, had all the scratches on them, on their faces, and on their bodies, and so forth—because that's what he would do. He hunted them down. He had night vision goggles, he had ground sensor equipment, and you know what was worse about this situation? It didn't even occur on his land.
When we deposed him, we asked him, where did this happen? He told us where it happened and we hired a surveyor. That was not even on his land that he leased from the government. Not to say that it would make it right, because there is no making this kind of situation right. But it didn't even happen on his land and that's the way that he was treating these undocumented immigrants.
And we ended up trying it there. And it wasn't easy to try this kind of case in Tucson, Arizona. Tucson, Arizona is the southern part of Arizona. South of Tucson especially where you draw a jury from. We could not even—we had one of the jury questionnaires that said, do you believe that undocumented immigrants have any rights to recover for assault from US citizens? About 70% of the jurors who responded answered, no, to that question. No matter the assault, no matter the offense, just absolutely not. Because they're less than human, because they're undocumented immigrants and they have no rights.
Well, we ended up trying it two weeks later. The jury, after deliberating for a couple of days, and I can tell you during this trial, it was very intense. There was the Minutemen sitting on one side—at one point in the trial they started yelling at us and telling us stuff, and I—being the one who's normally the hostile person from our side—was actually trying to be a little bit more reserved.
And I told them look, you know what? I served in the military for seven and a half years. Don't tell me whether or not I'm doing the right job. These are the kinds of freedoms that I protected when I served seven and a half years in the military, in the United States Air Force. This is why my father served, this is why my brother continues to serve in the military. We don't serve so that you can abuse other people just because of their undocumented status. And certainly not in this nation.
And at the end of the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of four of our clients. About $75,000, slapped punitive damages against this rancher. So as hard as it was to try this case, at the end of the day they finally got it. They understood this story. They understood the injustices, and they understood that in America, our courts will not sacrifice the very rights that we have, embedded in the Constitution. And that's what was so great about the verdict in this case.
I have something here about the puppet masters and I won't get too far into that but their attorneys were always trying to get away from the facts what was going on and they were trying to say that we were the ones who were designing everything and creating everything, as though we caused the violence against these undocumented immigrants.
And just to touch upon this, I know my time is up now, but with respect to immigration reform, we continue to do this and as Enrique said, it is so very important, so very important that you pick up that pen and put it to paper. It's even easier signing the letter that Enrique has here. But picking up that phone and calling, I mean, I call my senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. You think that she really wants to hear from me from Texas? No, but I do it. When the Texas Dream Act was up before Congress, I was calling her all the time and sending emails asking for it. Because I wanted her to know, because I know, just like what Enrique says, there's thousands of calls coming on the other side, and it's just from a select few. That's something that we need to understand.
And lastly, what happens if we legalize undocumented immigrants? What are the consequences? How horrible would our country be if we legalized undocumented immigrants, if they were the dream students who have gone through the educational system, done so well that they're admitted to schools, some done even better that they're qualified for scholarships. They say the Pledge of Allegiance with as much passion and allegiance as any one of us. They know what the Star-Spangled Banner is about, and everything that you think is American, they understand equally with you. But because they're undocumented, they're denied a lot of that access and those privileges.
So, what would happen is that we would have undocumented immigrants coming out of the shadows. It would result in probably higher wages, right? If you legalize them, you can't pay them under the table, you can't pay them lower. And, it would lead to safer communities, as I talked about earlier, and a larger tax base. Then these high school and college students who were brought to the US as young children would have a path to citizenship. And right now, the Dream Act, I have to say that I'm not very happy with it. It's been watered down, so horribly limited. I would much rather see comprehensive immigration reform. We would, MALDEF would. But if we can get a down payment, if we can make some headway through some kind of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, if there is also an ag jobs bill, and other parts of comprehensive immigration reform, then definitely that's where we want to go.
So I thank you all for this opportunity. I really look forward to your questions, so that we can provide you with whatever answers that we might. But I really think that it's very important that you as a community and as a church, take the initiative to do something about it. We're not going to reform the nation's immigration laws without people like you. They expect to hear from us. They don't expect to hear from you. And I think it's an important beginning right here, that you all have added this to your conference. And it's a tremendous turnout that we have here on this panel. I thank you very much again.
ENRIQUE MORONES: Nice job.
ANGELA HERRERA: Thank you for those powerful testimonies about the reality of what's happening. We have time now for your comments and questions, there are certainly lots of us in the room. I know there'll be lots of comments and questions, so let's please try to keep them to no longer than a minute or two. There's a mike in the center, where you can stand up so all can hear you, and if anyone's unable to get to the microphone because of mobility or other issues, please just raise your hand and we'll get to your question that way.
AUDIENCE: Hello, I am Michael from the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Maryland, right outside our nation's capital. This religious denomination is planning to be in Phoenix, Arizona next year. I think you know that already. I would invite you to give us some advice and recommendations for specific ways that we can contribute and support your leadership, as we gather in Phoenix next year. Thank you.
ENRIQUE MORONES: To make a quick comment on that, my good friend [? Mark ?] [? Arnas ?] from San Diego Unitarian Universalists is the first person arrested by Joe Arpaio at one of the protests there. We are going to be doing, we, Border Angels and a few others and hopefully the Unitarian Universalists will join us. We're going to do a peaceful, prayerful protest July 12 at the baseball all-star game, our national pastime, where a third of the players are Latino.
How can we celebrate an all-star game, where you have SB1070, Jan Brewer, the Minutemen, neo-Nazis on the border, the murder of Brisenia Flores, Joe Arpaio, et cetera. It's unbelievable. I've talked to Bud Selig, the commissioner and he's going forward with it, so hopefully you'll join us and I'd like to talk to the Arizona Unitarian Universalists especially. We would like to have some sort of a peaceful prayer vigil outside of the all-star game, like we did this past July in Anaheim. So please see me afterwards if you want to join us.
But I have mixed feelings about going to Phoenix on a national convention, to tell you the truth. I don't want to get into it. I know you've all discussed it. And I'm very supportive of whatever your decision is, but I think it's important that we speak out, that we take action, continue to do peaceful action. And as both of us said to make phone calls. Right now, don't wait for the convention next year. Start making phone calls you, have the letter over there. And also I forgot to mention, we're going to get a listserv going. If David'll give me a couple of his yellow sheets there, we're going to write your emails down if you want to get on a listserv. And we'll send you information about what's going on in. Idon't know if MALDEF is taking a position.
DAVID HINOJOSA: You know, I mean we have so many cases in Arizona right now. One against Joe Arpaio, we had the E-Verify case, we have SB 1070, we have a Tucson school desegregation case that we're still litigating in the year 2011. But, I mean the ways that you can help, I think one are—I forgot to mention this www.maldef.org/donate is one.
But two, is just to take their own initiative. You know my daughter told me something the other day. She was playing the Michael Jackson We and I said, which one's your favorite [? Mamass ?]? That's my nickname for her. I said, which one's your favorite, [? Mamass ?]? and she said, Man in the Mirror. And I said, Man in the Mirror? Why do you like that one? And she's like, well, 'cuz the message. And I'm like, what do you mean. She's like, Man in the Mirror, yeah, I'm not going to sing for you.
I'm not going to sing for you. But it's take a look at yourself, basically, and see who that person is in the mirror and make the change that you need to. That's where it's got to start, and I thought that was very prophetic for my 12-year-old daughter to say. I would have said, Rock With You, or something like that is my favorite Michael Jackson song. But in many ways it does start with you, and yourself. So, thanks.
AUDIENCE: I'm Mary Thompson I'm from Las Cruces, New Mexico just in the middle of two years living there. I'm basically a Buckeye who's moved southwest. But one of the things I've discovered since being there is—of course, living there, you can't live there without meeting Latino people and illegal immigrants, and the many Mexicans that I have met are here, not for economic opportunity, or even necessarily for family reunification, but out of fear for being shot by the drug lords in Juarez. And we are contributing to that with our war on drugs and our drug users who support the warlords.
And one of my favorite people was a nurse in Mexico, is now working in a church daycare center. I'm sure she's marvelous with the children, she's a lovely woman. And she has a house in Juarez. She would love to go back home, but she's afraid of being shot.
ENRIQUE MORONES: I'd like to make a couple of comments. Mary, thank you very much for that comment. Most of the people in Mexico have no desire to leave Mexico and do not. We're talking about a small group of the population. And there's 250 million undocumented people in the world. Most don't come to the United States, they go elsewhere. But those that are coming here because of that situation, it is an issue.
We know that the United States is a great country. It has 5% of the world's population, with about 310 million people. Yet it consumes half of the world's illegal drugs. That's a demand-driven issue. And that has caused a lot of violence in my country of Mexico. President Calderon is fighting this war head-on. 40,000 innocent civilians have died in Northern Mexico because of this war. And yes, people are leaving. And yes, people are—Mexico needs to do more, no doubt about it, and it is.
In my 50-plus years of life, Mexico has gone from the 50th economy to the 12th economy in the world, and there's about 200 countries. But there's a big difference between the #1 economy and the #12. So, both countries in this case, Mexico and the United States, both need to do more, no doubt about it. We should be building bridges.
And another thing that I wanted to address. Because this issue about drugs is a very important issue and I had a big showdown with John McCain about this issue. Was a big YouTube thing that happened on it. But we both need to be working on it, the weapons going south, the drugs going north, and so forth. And we got to educate our kids, because in Mexico the use of drugs was not a problem before, now it is. That cancer has gone south. So it's a very complex issue and it's very important that we deal with it.
And on the back of our brochure, we talk about them, as David mentioned, a few of them. Those undocumented people don't pay taxes. That's one of them. When was the last time any of us went to a store, heard somebody speaking Spanish or another language, and the clerk says, see that stuff you're buying? Are you documented or undocumented? Because if you're not documented, you don't have to pay taxes on any of that stuff. Never.
So it's important that we know the facts. There was a guy that said, they only want to speak their own language, hang out in their own neighborhoods, and wave their own flags. That'd be Lou Dobbs or Bill O'Reilly today. But I'm talking about Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of this country, talking about Germans. And so, there's the time there was too many Germans, too many Italians, too many Polish, now they're saying, too many Mexicans.
So it's important that we know the truth about these issues. And yes, there are some people that are escaping the violence in other countries, not just here. And, I don't know if you know, there's 1,000,000 Americans living in Mexico. Many undocumented. They go down there for different reasons though. To retire, to learn Spanish, things like that, so. Yes, so it's important. That's why I love this church. And like [? Marr ?] said, you're a Unitarian and you didn't even know it. Said, well, I'll be proud to be, so. So, thank you very much.
AUDIENCE: I'm Ken Brown. I'm the district executive of the Pacific Southwest district. That includes both Southern California and Arizona.
Enrique, we UUs are already organizing around the all-star game. And in Phoenix one of the groups we're working with is Somos America. And we're going to have a press conference next Tuesday, and we're going to ask people around the country to wear white ribbons in solidarity with our stand. Anybody has any connections with any of the folks getting elected to all-stars, let us know, because we'd love to get directly in touch with them. I know Adrian Gonzalez spoke out last year against 2010. I'm not sure what he's going to do this year when he gets elected to the all-star game, but it would be nice.
David, I actually got up here to ask you to do an addendum to your last story about that court case and the lawsuit. Because while it was a great victory in court, there's an addendum from the legislature to that story, as well.
DAVID HINOJOSA: What's interesting in our case is, that because they were victims of this crime at the hands of Roger Barnett, they actually became documented. They got their papers. They have U visas. And so, that law which says that undocumented immigrants cannot recover damages, well, since they filed the lawsuit and since the lawsuit was tried, and the jury verdict was returned, they've been documented. And so, I think that they tried to bring that up during trial, and tried to dirty the record, but the fact is that they actually had their papers and they still have their papers, and they will becoming US citizens in the very short years to come now. So, imagine that.
LORRAINE FONTANA: My name is Lorraine Fontana, I'm with the First Existentialist congregation in Atlanta, Georgia. And I wanted to ask questions about how to make some good arguments to people around two issues.
One, is, in Georgia we passed SB1070 plus. And before, we were trying to make the arguments based on economics and business, thinking that's what might affect some of the legislators, rather than moral or ethical arguments. That, the money we'll be losing, the people that will flee out of fear, meaning our agricultural industry will be lacking. And what's happened in Georgia is—at least this is what I heard, maybe you can say this is true or not—that, yes, there are some undocumented immigrants who are leaving and have left. And they're going to use, basically, slave labor. They're going to get prisoners to take the place of some of those people in the fields. So is there any—when that kind of thing happens—do we have economic arguments left? Where could we go to get those kind of arguments?
And I'm Italian, and some of my family as well as other people I know who came from immigrant families will say, we got here legally. And so what I want to do is help them understand the changes in, not only immigration law, but also the changes in reality about who we are now, versus the beginning of the 20th century when they came over.
DAVID HINOJOSA: Just real quickly and then I'll let Enrique comment. On our website, maldef.org, under the immigration tab, we have a section there that is titled, Truth and Immigration. And you can find a wealth of information there about, we call out Lou Dobbs when he says certain stats that are wrong, and all of these other Glenn Beck and everybody else who might spout out some of these false statements. We'll try and keep track of them, but we also have some talking points available on this issue.
And the bottom line is, it's just really tough. I'll tell you, in Texas we are fighting tooth and nail with this. We've fought it off a couple of sessions in a row. And we have the business community. The Texas Association of Business is with us. We have religious groups who are with us. And right now, probably the religious groups and the business groups because there's—
This isn't a clear Democrat versus Republican issue, right? There's a lot of Republicans who are for reasonable comprehensive immigration reform, and who are against these types of anti-sanctuary city bills and these ordinances and legislation that's being passed. But without their support it's very difficult, but you just got to look to your own legislature and try to figure it out. I mean you can have all the arguments, but people's hate sometimes, and their ignorance, their stupidity gets in the way and really there's not a lot that we can do. But, they are being sued for their statute right now, too, so.
ENRIQUE MORONES: And we have on the back of our brochure, and there's more up in the front here, the midsection. And on our website as well, borderangels.org, we have the sources of this information, like the positive impact economically, the fact that we are learning [UNINTELLIGIBLE] And this is very important that we know the truth about these things.
With Lou Dobbs, when we started protesting Lou Dobbs, and I was on his show several times, we would go to Atlanta and protest him in Atlanta. I met with Jonathan Klein, his boss, and a coalition of us finally got him fired after several years. It all begins with one. And we have a saying that the change that we're going to see in the world, it begins with the person we look at in the mirror every morning. When I went to Arizona to protest, not only Roger Barnett, but also his brother, I met with these two people. You're familiar with one of them, you don't know the other one. David knows both of them. One of them is Terry Goddard, and the other one was a pretty new governor back then, Janet Napolitano. And I said, these guys out here, these Barnett brothers, are terrorizing the community. This is before the Minutemen. The Minutemen started about a year later. So this is kind of like the original Minutemen, so it all begins with one.
As far as your Italian heritage and I love Italy, and all these other countries. Before the 1920's there really wasn't an illegal way to come in. So when they see my family came here legally, and I go, if they came before the 1920's everybody came legally, because there was no illegal way. And I was saying, are you telling me that your family would not have the courage to risk everything like these people dying every day to come into this country because they want a better life? Because there was no illegal way and so forth, so a lot of people don't realize this and they think that there's a line which doesn't exist. We're a law-abiding country, we should follow the laws. And yet, child labor was a law. Women couldn't vote was a law. Slavery was a law. Those were immoral laws. Two people dying every day, that's immoral. We need to have humane immigration reform.
ANGELA HERRERA: We probably have time for just two, maybe three more questions and then I hope anybody who's left will come on up front and—
ENRIQUE MORONES: How about this? If the four ask their question and then we answer, once the four have asked their question, we'll write them down and then we could just answer them, all four together.
ANGELA HERRERA: Let's do it, that's a good idea. OK, quick question.
ROBERT LUDGATE: Just very briefly. My name is Robert Ludgate. I'm social justice co-chair from the whitest and most conservative county in California, Placer County.
And I want to exhort and encourage, while you're here at GA, to think about this, take this back your congregations. We can work with this community, the Latin community, by becoming allies, by doing things such as what we're doing there now, working with the community garden, doing health checks, we've started an English as second language class, in which we are helping Latino mothers to learn English as a second language and they are teaching us Spanish. They say that a person who speaks two languages is bilingual, three languages is multilingual, and the person speaks one language is American. Learn Spanish. And Enrique and David, Gracias para su presentacion.
ENRIQUE MORONES: Gracias.
AUDIENCE: My name's Gretchen Woods. I serve as minister emerita of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Corvallis, Oregon. My question goes to an area we're not talking about. My son's partner is from the Philippines. He was brought here on a student visa. He then was working for three different corporations as an HR person. And he was promised by each corporation that they would take him through the process to get a green card. Every single one of them failed him. And then the lawyer for my son's corporation, which also was going to help them in their emigration to Canada, failed them yet again. How can we call our corporations to account for their behaviors?
LINDI RAMSDEN: I'm Reverend Lindi Ramsden. I'm the senior minister and executive director of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry for California. There's about 14 different statewide UU advocacy networks that are working on legislative arenas, so we're just stepping into the immigration task, to begin to be helpful. I was wondering if you could speak briefly about how, since you don't want to see states doing bad laws, in terms of a patchwork, given that immigration reform needs to happen nationally. What are the positive things that you see can happen in some of the more progressive states and also in some of the more progressive cities. Where people can work locally to begin to build the will from some of the other sort of non-usual suspects that can step forward in allied positions. Thank you.
ENRIQUE MORONES: I'll let David answer the legal questions and so forth. Those are all very good questions and comments and we really appreciate the opportunity to share with you.
I just wanted to mention that it's important that we continue to move forward. And he made a comment that I just want to clarify—it was true what he said—I just wanted to clarify. When I said that these people who are dying have no way of getting visas, and he mentioned that 30% or 40% of the people actually came here legally? Those are people that had work, tourist, or student visas and their visas expired and they stayed. Like the 9-11 terrorists, for example. But those people aren't from Latin America. Some are, but most of them are not, because you have to have money to get one of those visas. So they're mostly from Asia and from Europe, and there are a few from Latin America, that's one thing.
Another thing is, we welcome the opportunity—at least I do, I'm confident David does—to speak at your churches. And let us know, hey Enrique, can you come up? I just spoke in Monterrey, for example like I mentioned, and I've spoken at other ones. Let us know. We want to go to your communities. And this isn't a Mexican issue. The people come from all over the world, and so it's—and about 60% are Latino, but the rest are from other parts of the world—so it's not just a Mexican issue but when you see this anti-immigrant attack, it's usually anti-Mexican.
And as [? Shirley ?] said in her testimony, and one of the cities that he didn't mention is Riverside, New Jersey, where they took a really tremendous anti-immigrant stance, anti-Mexican. And the people, documented and documented, ended up leaving. So the city went bankrupt. Riverside, New Jersey's bankrupt. Now they have signs in main street Riverside saying, please come back, we love immigrants, in Spanish. And the people aren't coming back. The people aren't coming back. So that will happen. Don't forget the listserv, if you want to get our emails once we're done here, sign up for the listserv. And then, of course, we have the t-shirts and so forth. But we really need help. We really need help.
And one of the key things that David mentioned, and I love that and I'm going to steal that phrase, because they do expect us to be there. And like, with Lou Dobbs, I remember with Lou Dobbs when I would go on his show, and Bill O'Reilly, which I still go on his show, they kind of already know what I'm going to say. But when they see people that don't look like us, and all of a sudden saying, hey wait a minute, stand on the side of love. What? They're not expecting that. That's why it's so important and once again, we're so appreciative of the Unitarian Universalists and the wonderful work that you're doing. Because I can tell you as somebody who's proud of his faith, you're an example to follow. And if other religions did what you did, this would definitely be a better world. So keep it going. [SPEAKING SPANISH]
ANGELA HERRERA: Got about one minute left.
DAVID HINOJOSA: Just to touch on, first, on the corporations issue. There's a number of corporations that abuse the H-2A, H-2B processes. Make all these promises to people. They either get promises back in their homeland by these agents who recruit the workers there, or they get promises when they come across stateside.
Some people in New Orleans, they were promised certain jobs, then they were funneled to—they were promised construction jobs and then they were funneled to the car washes, and so forth. We even have teachers who have been recruited from the Philippines, and from other places, promised certain things. And then they come over here and checks are withheld, and so forth. It's a very abusive process. Corporations have a lot a lot of weight. They have a lot of power and sometimes numbers can't overcome that power.
But one angle that I would suggest and that we've done before, which is kind of to let the story out to the media. So they can know, so they can tarnish that corporation's reputation. You have to do it very smartly. It can't just be done—I'm going to call up this reporter, and that's it. You need to sit down with the reporter with the facts and stuff, and let them know about the story. And for a lot of papers, not all papers, but a lot of papers, they'll have these very progressive reporters that you can reach out to.
Just real quick on what can you do, as opposed to fighting everything back. I think that this past session we killed about 80-plus anti-immigration bills in Texas alone. We helped kill a bill to take away the Kansas Dream Act, again. But we preserved that. Kansas still has the Dream Act. Oklahoma still has a version of the Dream Act. So they haven't been successful all the times. And I forgot to show this slide which says, the light at the end of the tunnel. And this actually talks about that. Maryland passed a state Dream Act, Massachusetts stepped up against secured communities, and you talked about New York, and so there are lights. And there's another state, and I'm sorry I'm not remembering it, that passed its own Dream Act also, because I think—
AUDIENCE: Illinois. [INAUDIBLE].
DAVID HINOJOSA: Illinois and—
DAVID HINOJOSA: Well, I have Maryland here. Yes.
AUDIENCE: [UNINTELLIGIBLE] the governor's going to [UNINTELLIGIBLE] to announce that the state is a secure community.
DAVID HINOJOSA: What's that?
AUDIENCE: That [UNINTELLIGIBLE] the state police will not participate in a secured communities.
DAVID HINOJOSA: Yeah and secured communities is just a waste. I mean, it was supposed to be intended at targeting violent felons and so forth, but it has not done that, in large part. So, that's what I have here. I really appreciate this opportunity. Thank you very much, and Godspeed to all of you.
ANGELA HERRERA: Thank you both very much for being here. Have a great afternoon, everybody. [UNINTELLIGIBLE]
Love Has No Borders: Border Realities and Immigration Today is General Assembly 2011 event number 4004.
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Last updated on Tuesday, October 11, 2011.
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