There is a lot of misinformation out there. I actually teach this stuff and know what the facts are. You can google my points below:
1. The flow of undocumented workers has been from and not to the U.S. since 2005. Thus, building or making the border more ‘secure,’ something that is impossible anyway, would actually keep the undocumented from leaving the U.S.
2. Obama has deported more undocumented than any other president. That is why Latinos call him the “Deporter in Chief”
3. Yes undocumented get some health benefits. But this happens because of actions at the local level rather than by federal policy. See the article below.
4. Why do cities and counties provide such services? First, because it is cheaper to do preventive care than pay for undocumented using hospital emergency rooms. Second, because the undocumented provide essential cheap labor for many local industries, from restaurants to crop harvesting to house cleaning to construction. Local economies need their labor. Trump has used undocumented Polish labor at some of his construction projects. And documented labor will not do those jobs at those wages. Third, undocumented labor contribute enormous amounts of tax revenue, often using other people’s Social Security numbers as you said, but do not collect any unemployment, housing, disability, public housing, or retirement benefits. In fact, the revenue they contribute to social security has kept that program afloat financially and makes possible the retirement of documented Americans. This is a fact. Finally, the U.S. Offers very few immigration opportunities to Latin American countries as opposed to European countries. Thus, the economic demand for cheap labor, the destruction of economies in Latin America by American companies investing there, produce pressures which result in people having to come here without papers. It is a complex process where the U.S. is just as responsible for what is happening as the people sneaking in. http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/personalfinance/illegal-immigrants-get-public-health-care-despite-federal-policy/ar-BBqT8Xo?ocid=fbmsnmoney

How to Fight Trump

Posted: November 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

I know these are troubling times. We are justified to fear what can happen in a Trump presidency. We know history and know how calamitous history can be with even small choices that snowball into something bigger. We do have to be vigilant, organize, and mobilize. That being said, I think we can also take a more positive path.

Trump did not get anywhere near a majority of the electorate. He got about 1/4. The vast majority of people voted for Hillary or did not or could not vote. The majority were not motivated to support Trump or his policies.

You will also notice that Hillary got a great deal of support from urban areas. This is not simply because these areas have more educated people as well as more people working in the new economy of technology and media. It is also true that the urban areas are also the place that have the most innovation and progressive experiments. We have to capitalize and mobilize around those.

Much of Trump’s support came from people feeling the severe dislocation caused by an economy driven by automation and globalization. He won’t be able to reverse those, even if the Congress goes along with his ideas. What we need is a path that can take advantage of those processes in order to shift the economy towards satisfying human needs. The best place to engage in these experiments is in urban areas.

One example. We can’t stop capitalist firms from shifting their manufacturing to foreign countries. Import duties won’t do anything more than limit consumption here and send our economy into recession. But we can develop different kinds of capitalist ownership models that can keep jobs here while also producing profit, though probably lower than what firms are now used to.

This means developing community and worker owned firms. Such firms will permit workers and urban residents to gain from the automation of manufacturing. This could take the form of higher income and/or reduced work weeks. Such firms are also unlikely to ship jobs overseas by their owners. The best example of this is the Green Bay Packers of the NFL. They are the only community owned team whose success has never caused them to abandon their small market community.

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There are plenty of more of these kinds of social and economic experiments that we should promote and implement in urban areas. Cities can become islands of ‘hope and change’ during the troubled times that Trump will create. It will also create the foundations that will make the progressive movement succeed by the end of Trump’s four years.

Trump’s victory is the end of liberalism and the rise of progressivism. Neo-liberalism, in particular, is dead. Trump has not and will not kill it. But he will help mobilize an opposition that will. He will prove to his supporters that he is not the answer.

Destroying Obamacare without a single payer system to replace it, is not the answer. Bombing ISIS families will just create more terrorism. Killing NAFTA will not bring jobs back. Lowering taxes on the rich will not reverse growing inequality. He will not build a wall across the southern border and not just because Mexico won’t pay for it. He may yet surprise us all and not even try to do any of those things. He could have been just blowing hot smoke after all. But his Republicans in Congress will push him towards those goals. And the country will suffer.

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Trump’s victory is a sign that half-measures, like Obamacare don’t work. It is a sign that we want radical solutions to our growing problems, like inequality. It is a sign that people don’t trust our political leaders. And Trump will show that his measures go in the entirely wrong direction. And that is how the country will turn back towards a truly progressive agenda. Many of his supporters will turn against him and his Republican policies. Frustration will increase. People will wonder what went wrong. It will be the responsibility of progressives to deliver the ideas and the organization to point till a true solution.

Get ready Bernie…your time will come…maybe before 4 years are up!

It was during my first year in college and I was a teenager. I showed up at a meeting of a squatters organization on the Upper West Side. None of them spoke Spanish. They found out that the authorities had been tipped off to what we were up to. They had to take the buildings much earlier than they had planned. So, they asked me to lead the families into some buildings one night in August. I said sure. I led about 50-60 mothers and children up Amsterdam Avenue from the 80s up to 111. As we got closer, I saw that there were a lot of cop cars with lights in front of the buildings we were going to take. About two blocks from our destination, I could also see that there were about 30 cops in riot gear waiting for us. I asked the mothers if they still wanted to go ahead and they said yes. We walked up to the cops and I saw that an officer in white shirt was telling the cops to let us pass. They were probably afraid of the bad publicity if they beat us up. So, we went past them and into the first building. We were screaming and running up the stairs and opening up the apartments. It was pure joy. When I got to the top, I heard someone calling my name from the first floor. It was one of the gringo organizers. He told me that I had gone into the wrong building. It was the building around the corner that had been secretly prepped for occupation. Hahaha… So, I led the families out of the building, past the surprised cops, and into the correct building. We squatted, de-squatted, and squatted again…

This was part of a larger squatters movement on the Upper West Side that included Latino militant groups like El Comite. A documentary about this period was done in 1971. It was called Break and Enter/Rompiendo Puertas.

Here is the trailer… 

2nd Amendment

Posted: July 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

I agree that the issue with the 2nd Amendment is not about gun technology. It is not about machine guns or assault rifles. It is about the rights established in the Constitution and for whom those rights were established. On that basis, the 2nd Amendment does not give all individuals the right to own guns… Preventing slave rebellions was one of the primary reasons for the 2nd Amendment. The larger reason was that the Founders never intended for everyone to be armed.  Conservatives insist on an “original” reading of what the founders wrote. But their reading of the Constitution is not original and just plain wrong.  If we want to know what the founding fathers thought, we cannot limit ourselves only to the vaguely written second amendment. We have to read and understand the entire Constitution.image

When we read the full Constitution, we see clearly what they thought and agreed to. Yes, they were afraid of tyrannical leaders. But they were also afraid of the people. That is why they did not give the right to vote to the vast majority of people living in the 13 colonies. That is why they made the Senate a body whose members were selected by the legislatures of the 13 new states and not by voters. That is why they created the Electoral College to establish a buffer between the voters choice, as limited as it was, and the ultimate decision about who becomes president. That is why states are equally represented in the Senate, no matter how large or small their population. All of these features of the proposed new state appeared or were not changed in the body of the Constitution. The Amendments were meant only to amend, not eliminate, the powers enumerated to the federated state created by the new Constitution. They did not change the kind of government they wanted or who was allowed to have input. They merely softened it’s impact and offered citizens, who were a small minority, the right to challenge the state through speech, assembly, etc. But these enumerated rights were not given to the entire population. Those rights were given to only the small number of people who had the right to vote.

So, when the 2nd amendment specifies a “well-regulated militia”, they were not talking about all the people. They were referring to a small volunteer militia regulated by the state governments (to prevent slave rebellion, as some historians have shown). They did not want to arm all the people. Certainly not slaves. Just as they did not want to fully enfranchise all of the population. The passage of the XV Amendment in 1869 established a right to vote. But it does not explain how the majority of the people can get that right. Women still could not vote till 1920. And Native Americans could not vote till 1921. The Founders were, in fact, deeply afraid of, what they perceived as, the people’s irrationality and passion. Giving the people, the vast majority of which were not given the right to vote, a right to bear arms is the last thing they wanted to do. The writers of the constitution were ambivalent about democracy and vague in the writing of this document. But they were not illogical. They categorically did not give all of the people “the right to bear arms.”

A lot of our knowledge of early America comes from westerns on TV and movies. Those were 19th century experiences with people moving out to territories out west. In the original 13 colonies, people lived mostly in towns and cities. And guns were restricted. Or, at least, Natives, slaves, and propertyless white men were not given the legal right to own guns in colonial and post-Constitution 18th century America. There is plenty of historical research that confirms that. Here is one… “Laws largely proscribed Indian militia service, thus limiting Indians’ lawful access to guns, and numerous colonial statutes forbade the sale of guns or ammunition to Indians altogether.” http://georgetownlawjournal.org/files/2012/06/Riley.pdf

Abortion Is Here To Stay

Posted: June 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

Abortion! Is a very politically charged issue. Pro-lifers claim that they simply want to protect human life by banning abortion. They focus on banning what some call “partial-birth abortions” because it is a graphically and morally gruesome procedure. Pro-choicers know that banning “partial-birth”, a medical procedure that is used very rarely, will not end the attempt to ban all abortions. Their concern is with the health of the mother, the reason why doctors engage in post-20 week abortions. They make the correct argument that pro-lifers will protect a fetus, that is not able to survive on its own, but are casual about the health of the mother both during pregnancy and, more generally, in life. Each side is making a moral claim… about life and about priorities. Pro-lifers will preserve life, even if the fetus is not viable and the mother’s life is a risk. Pro-choicers will preserve a woman’s right to choose, even though this sometimes means abortions of fetuses that look viable.

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What I see is that banning abortions will not end abortions. They have always existed. If legally banned, women will pursue illegal abortions with risky doctors and procedures that will put their lives at risk. The vast majority of women do not pursue abortions and are tormented by a decision to pursue one. There need be no legislation to ban what most women will not pursue. Even “partial birth” abortions were done very very rarely, when it was legal. And they were done because of the health of the mother or the fetus. As it stands right now, furthermore, we don’t view anencephalics, those small number of babies tragically born with only a brain stem and not the rest of the brain, as living humans. Even for viable anencephalics, there’s no purpose to providing treatment. We let them die.

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Pro-choice people want to protect abortion rights because they are concerned with banning what will take place anyway and because they know that illegal abortions are a lot worse for everyone. They are also insistent that life is precious after birth too and chide pro-life advocates for not doing enough to provide for those already born. Pro-choice advocates have compromised by permitting the ban on “partial-birth” even though it takes away a possibly necessary procedure from doctors. So, the onus is on pro-lifers to make the case for banning all abortions. They do not have to agree with abortions if their moral code tells them it is wrong. But they cannot take away the right to abortion from those who do not have the luxury of a moral standard that limits and endangers the life of the mother and her already existing family.teen-pregnancy-chart2

Superman got his power by being dropped to Earth. He came from another galaxy that operated according to different laws of physics. Spiderman became powerful after a spider bit him.  Wonder Woman got her special powers from Olympian Deities.

Roberto Suro recently wrote a New York Times editorial where he asks the question “Whatever Happened to Latino Political Power?” Suro provides a good description of how Latinos have not become more powerful. But, unlike what we know about superheroes, he nowhere explains what it takes to become powerful or to lose it.

So, where the hell does power come from?

barack-obama-funny-supermanIn one of her songs, Diana Krall sings plaintively “What do I have to do to make you love me?” The answer is, of course, obvious. She can try giving him flowers or a kiss or a hug or sex. She can tell him “I’m sorry.” Whether any of those actions or words will cause her beloved to open his arms again to her is not assured. Her beloved must still value what she has to offer if she is ever going to be able to make an impression and get his love back again.

Humans, unlike superheroes, get our power from each other. It does not come from outside, from external accidents, superior beings, or unusual laws of physics. We cannot influence those who do not engage with us. We cannot affect the way they think, act, or feel if we cannot offer them something of value. Two year olds know this well. They automatically spew out a barrage of “no’s” to any entreaty a parent or anyone makes to them. And by those declarations, those two year olds reject and prevent the adult’s attempt to influence them. “Comete esto ahora mismo!!” “No” dice el Niño embullado con su poder.

Suro tells us that we Latinos have tried marching and voting. Yet, still, immigration reform is not a political priority for either political party. He wrote that

“Latinos have claimed a political destiny based on their population numbers, but the numbers that count in politics are those that decide elections. On that score Latinos have a dismal record to overcome.”

That is true. Demographic growth and voting have not delivered the policy and legal changes Latinos seek. However, is it true that all that Latinos have to do to reverse this political failure is, as Suro concludes, to show up on Election Day? Only if you think that political power comes mostly by voting. We have plenty of evidence to suggest the opposite.

Voting is an integral part of the democratic process. But it is not the most important part, especially today. There is, for instance, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. That court decision unleashed and amplified the already caustic power of money in elections.  How does a mostly poor Latino community succeed against that? It can be done. But it won’t happen with money or, more accurately, with Latino money.

Those without money can compete in this corporatized republic. The Tea Party movement has proven that. This group of mostly disaffected white middle class conservatives and evangelicals managed to upend Republican congressional leadership, elect scores of Tea Party supporters, as well as push the Republican Party and it’s presidential candidates harder to the right.  But a great deal of that success has come because of the financial support they have received.

The Tea Party Movement has received generous financial support from the Koch brothers as well as from conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works. In addition, the Tea Party has the focused and uncritical support of an entire media empire and faux news distributor in Fox News.  The millions of dollars and media attention the Tea Party has received has elevated what is a small, fringe, and extremist political group into a mainstay of public consciousness and recognition.  They became well known, tapped into a growing white American fear and resentment, and hijacked the Republican Party political agenda. As a result, they were able to leverage that support into a power that outpaces its actual size of about half a million active members.

DreamersIn comparison, the mostly Latino Dreamers Movement has not received comparable support from financial elites and media. They have received funding from groups such as Unbound Philanthropy, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and other groups such as the National Education Association (NEA). Most of that money has gone to organizational development, lobbying in Washington, and scholarships. Why the difference?

The major reason why the Dreamers did not have the impact of the Tea Party is that its goals are narrow, affecting mostly Latino immigrant youth.  They sought changes in law in order to more fully participate in educational opportunities and the “American Dream.”  Financial support came from those few who agreed that existing immigration laws violated moral and democratic principles.  The Dreamers were, unlike the Tea Party, not seeking to transform the very structure of how the state taxes, spends, and relates to the economy.  The latter are the kinds of issues that make both conservative and liberal economic elites salivate.

Those different outcomes for the Tea Party and the Dreamers provide clues as to how to create more political power for Latinos.  We have to think of what Latinos can offer the general public and the economic elite that will motivate them to support and reinforce our political goals.  The problem is that I really can’t think of one such issue. Will we get support to prevent random and traumatic deportation? Not likely. What about our poor wages? Some support exists for this issue, but only as a general push to raise the minimum wage for everybody. The current economic stagnation means that a higher minimum wage will not translate into direct improvements to Latino wages, especially since so many of our community work off the books.

The conservative attempt to roll back voting rights is an important structural issue that can galvanize bipartisan support in this society. However, the weight of public opinion and support seems skewed towards restricting voting rather than expanding it.  While some bipartisan financial and political support for voting rights has emerged on the national level, the conservative political machine has focused on and succeeded in changing and rolling back voting rights at the state level. They have succeeded in changing public opinion. Today, a large majority of Americans support more restrictive voter ID laws, which are a solution to a non-existent problem. Thirty-two states have passed voter ID laws as of 2015.

The irony is that any success in fighting restrictive voter ID laws will do very little to improve Latino political power. The reason is simple. Elections are not as important to politicians as they used to be.  Politicians are concerned about elections. They want to get reelected.  Congressional politicians have to win elections every two or 6 years. But getting reelected depends more on money than on policies, legislation, or the voter’s interests.

Congressman Steve Israel, about to leave Congress, recently confessed that, when he first entered Congress, he was “advised that if I didn’t raise at least $10,000 a week (in pre-Citizens United dollars), I wouldn’t be back.” How does a poor Latino community compete with that? How do we contribute and offer the dollars that will make the hundreds of Israels in Congress, other levels of government, and the media answer our phone calls, welcome our visits, as well as open their minds and hearts to our concerns?

All Yours lovePoliticians spend more time each day they serve in Congress on raising money than on constituent communication and service.  They know without money, they can’t win. And that means that Latino sources of power will remain severely limited for the foreseeable future. It also means that Latinos will have to think of new ways to amass power that are not focused only on tactics like voting. We have to develop strategies for power that can inspire non-Latinos to join and support our causes, goals, and policies. Without that, we will forever be stuck asking, pursuing, and hoping for love… but being very disappointed.