Tag Archives: Mexico

Moron of the Week – JW Lown

Love makes us do retarded things.


Mayor of San Angelo, Texas–J.W. Lown–has abruptly stepped down from his post earlier this week, declaring that he had moved to Mexico to be with his male lover, who had been living illegally in the United States for quite some time.

Scheduled to take the oath of office last Tuesday for his fourth term as mayor, Lown did not appear at the event. In a telephone call late Wednesday afternoon from Mexico the Mayor explained that  because he was in personal relationship with a man who does not have legal residency in the United States, he didn’t see fit to take the oath of office knowing he was “aiding and assisting” someone who was not a legal citizen.

I suppose it’s alright if the President does it :cough: Aunt Zeituni :cough: …

Immigration law in this country has less to do with laws and more to do with whom we know. I have little doubt that Lown could have used his political connections to get temporary reprieve for his lover. People with less power do it all the time.

It’s honest, noble and certainly sweet. And just moronic with immigration reform on the table this year.

Lown, you got your partner a 10-year ban, assuming he was over 18 and accrued illegal presence.

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Filed under Immigration, LGBTQ, Moron of the Week

Critique: Subaltern Immigrants

Odem 2008 Subaltern Immigrants

The status of millions of undocumented workers from Mexico and Latin America in the United States poses a serious challenge to the country’s founding myth as an immigrant nation. They form an integral part of the US labour force, but exist on the margins of the nation’s political and social life. With a view to illuminating one aspect of subalternity and citizenship in the US, this essay examines significant shifts in twentieth century immigration law regarding Mexicans and others from south of the border and the shifting conceptions of American national identity on which these laws were based. Since the beginning of large-scale Mexican immigration to the US, they were positioned as cheap, temporary labour – accepted as hard workers, but not desired as permanent citizens. Mexican and other Latino immigrants have resisted their position as a disposable labour force by establishing families and communities and claiming membership in the places where they have settled. I examine the local struggles over immigrant membership in Atlanta, Georgia, a metropolitan area that has experienced a dramatic increase in Latino immigration in the last two decades and that has been at the centre of the political turmoil around illegal immigration.

Thanks to Kyle from Citizen Orange for the article.

Written by Mary Odem from Emory University, this article is one of the few that align the Gramscian word ‘subaltern’ to ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘undocumented immigrants.’ While ‘illegal alien’ is plain derogatory and ‘undocumented immigrant’ fails to capture the reality of many out-of-status immigrants who do possess documents and paperwork, ‘subaltern immigrant’ also fails to really capture the essence of ‘irregular immigrants.’

I do not have a discursive preference.

For those who are unfamiliar with what subaltern denotes, Wikipedia comes to the rescue:

Subaltern is a term that commonly refers to the perspective of persons from regions and groups outside of the hegemonic power structure.

There is much dispute whether the term should simply denote marginalized groups in society or whether it should be reserved for marginalized groups that do not speak the hegemonic discourse.

Gayatri Spivak, a Marxist deconstructionist, would state that establishing families, learning English and wanting to be a part of the mainstream is not subaltern. It is not a counter-hegemonic discourse. And DREAM Act students are certainly not subaltern since we abide by the same hegemonic discourses–border enforcement, nationalism, militarization, legal-illegal binaries–that oppress us.

Who would be a subaltern immigrant if we are to abide by Spivak’s reservations?

The No Borders networks come to mind.

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More Border Woes – DHS runs out of $$; Head replaced

Trouble seems to follow the border fence everywhere–they may be hedged together. After waiving environmental protections, trying to build the wall through a school campus, and causing flooding trouble, we hear from the DHS that the proposed border wall is over-budget and that the official in charge of the multibillion-dollar program, Greg Giddens, has been removed.

Sep. 22–The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has run out of money to build remaining segments of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere, and the project already is $400 million over budget.

Unexpected construction costs and legal holdups have paralyzed construction just weeks after DHS broke ground in the Valley.

A Sept. 10 Government Accountability Office report said the average cost of fencing has increased more than 40 percent this year.

Seems like it is bailout season all-round. Just say no! Congress is now bailing out DHS as well from going overbudget. How much? Not some thousands, not some millions, no, just about $4 billion. NB: How many children can that kind of money feed?

I cannot fathom how the most powerful country in the world goes over-budget and spends more than it has allocated for projects like building a border wall. Costs of materials increased? Please, when you are asking Congress for funding, don’t you account for inflation and annual cost increases? Or does the DHS have poor economists on staff, (much like poor IJs)?

Maybe they had hoped to get some ‘illegals’ to build the border wall and cut costs in that manner. At any time, the government is the largest employer of undocumented immigrants alas, the increased scrutiny probably dampened those plans.

Regardless, this is what the GAO said:

According to program officials, as of August 2008, fencing costs averaged $7.5 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $2.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing, up from estimates in February 2008 of $4 million and $2 million per mile, respectively. Furthermore, the life-cycle cost is not yet known, in part because of increasing construction costs and because the program office has yet to determine maintenance costs and locations for fencing projects beyond December 2008. In addition, land acquisition issues present a challenge to completing fence construction.

Wait, you are telling me THESE fences are worth millions of dollars and supposed to ‘keep out’ illegal immigrants? I used to climb higher walls at age 7 !!

Continue reading

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Border No Boundary for Some Students

Students from a school in the Roma Independent School District cross the Miquel Aleman Bridge from Mexico into the United States.

Students from a school in the Roma Independent School District cross the Miquel Aleman Bridge from Mexico into the United States.

The Monitor photos by Gabe Hernandez  A student walks across the Miguel Aleman Bridge from Mexico to the United States with her guardian to attend a school in the Roma Independent School District.

The Monitor photos by Gabe Hernandez A student walks across the Miguel Aleman Bridge from Mexico to the United States with her guardian to attend a school in the Roma Independent School District.

A quick glance at all the border-binary related news for the week brought this amazing story to my attention.

“In so many families, the community is not divided by a border like the land,” said Elaine Hampton, a University of Texas-El Paso professor who has studied educational systems on both sides of the border. “It makes it hard to peg exactly where you live. What constitutes a permanent address?”

I think that is a critical question. There is no permanent and stable ‘identity’ and moreover, life in itself is not ‘permanent’ so how can anyone have a ‘permanent address?’ More people than ever before work, study and live outside countries where they were born and the numbers are likely to go up.

Coming back to the story, I am often amazed at the lengths that some parents go for their children, to provide them with a better future (or what they deem a better future). The presence of these students in schools across the border most probably enriches the classroom and provides for a greater cultural experience for everyone.

Of course, the nativists–devoid of any sense of history and borderlands culture–are going to express another round of outrage i.e. “Look they are sending their illegal kids to our schools, committing crimes by lying on public documents, overcrowding them, and decreasing standardized scores all at our expense!”

Look beyond the imaginary lines on a map. These kids know how to do that and challenge those arbitrary boundaries every school day. Why can’t everyone else?

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Filed under Education, Immigration

Step Backwards – USCIS closes offices in Tijuana

On one hand, the ICE and concerned Americans are pressing for a crackdown on “illegal immigration” and on the other hand, USCIS is making legal migration from Mexico much tougher by permanently closing offices in Tijuana. Obviously, this move is contradictory to resolving the problem of “illegal immigration” into the United States.

The Sun reports:

The office has provided a location for foreign nationals, especially citizens of Mexico, to begin the immigration process to the United States by obtaining needed information and materials. Americans in our area who are assisting relatives who want to immigrate to our nation or get necessary documentation have also used the Tijuana office.

Mexican citizens and even Americans making use of the office in Tijuana would be further discouraged from pursuing legal avenues of migration. USCIS is already plagued with inefficient paper bureaucracy, lack of communication and inadequate services–closing down offices is not the solution to resolving immigration issues with our neighbor and major trading partner. With a strong borderlands culture and connection to the United States, Tijuana serves as a major source of migrant workers into the United States. Instead of closing offices, more services should be provided to ensure legal channels of immigration.

Read more here

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No Building a Wall Through the Middle of a College Campus

Lets set aside the larger issues concerning the construction of the $49 billion border fence along U.S.-Mexico; pretend for a moment that debates over efficiency, cost, the environment, property rights, detrimental political and symbolic messages just do not exist when it comes to this mammoth task. How much sense does it make to build a wall across a college campus that would split the UT-Brownsville campus between two countries?

Maybe our immigration officials have finally come of age. Maybe they are thinking ahead to a smaller world with increased communication between different cultures and an education with more global influence. Maybe we can share the UT-Brownsville campus with Mexico, teach half the courses in Spanish, provide joint daycare at the university, and promote soccer in the United States while we teach the Mexican nationals about American football.

No, no such thing. In fact, Rep. Tom ‘border hawk’ Tancredo stated that if the residents of Brownsville were so staunchly opposed to the fence, perhaps it should simply be built north of Brownsville. In other words, dissent against building a wall across the middle of a university campus means we are un-American and don’t deserve to live in the United States. Already, the border fence is not being built on the border but 1 mile north of the Rio Grande.

Thankfully, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has stalled this insanity till July 31 at least. Even after filing documents with the federal judge that building a fence across the campus was the ONLY viable alternative, Hanen ordered Homeland Security to work with UT-Brownsville and figure out alternatives to building the wall across the campus.

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Filed under Immigration, Nationalism

Deportation of Classmate sparks Immigration Teach-in

6-8th graders at St. Bernard School in Wisconsin learned more about the painful side of deportation when one of their classmates–Miriam–was deported to Mexico.

The students were quite unaware of immigration policies and had questions. Some expressed their closeness to Miriam and were saddened by her absence from the school.

“For me it was kind of difficult,” said Jasmin Torres. “This is my first year here and she was like the only person I knew when I got here. It just made it a lot harder coming to school without her.”

Elle Bellisle attended St. Philip the Apostle School with Miriam before it closed two years ago. “When it closed down we came here,” she said. “She was like the only one I hung out with.”

The teach-ins led by an immigration counselor from Catholic Charities was eye-opening for the students. Many expressed that they had no idea that it took about 14 years to immigrate to the United States, or immigrants who seeked asylum because they feared persecution in their country.

It is heartening to see the Catholic Church on the right side of the immigration debate, promoting understanding and education instead of intolerance and hatred. Teaching kids about the painful side of the immigration debate at an early age builds tolerance and understanding of the matter. It also helps to form a stronger community and enable kids to be helpful and pro-active.

The entire story is here.

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