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April 30, 2010

A wonderful message

Today I read with mixed emotions the news of Senate support for immigration reform, President Obama's luke warm statements defending immigrants and Arizona law allowing profiling of undocumented.

Then I read a wonderful email (below) from Tennessee State Senator Douglass Henry against the English Only bill in Tennessee.

In 1995 we organized a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville. The only politician I recall who attended was Senator Henry. He and I spoke about the growth of the immigrant community which he had seen as a native of Nashville. Senator Henry recalled how the first Asian and Mexican restaurants had come to Nashville. I speak Spanish, French and English and was impressed to find out that Senator Henry spoke and enjoyed the art of languages. He spoke with confidence and without fear of immigrants.

At this time we had organized Hispanic advocacy group UNAMONOS (United) and were working on obtaining the drivers license test in Spanish for persons without a social security number. A collateral project was to translate the TN Drivers license manual into Spanish. To translate the manual we took the English version and following volunteers translated a page or two from English to Spanish;

Jacki Akbari Western Union, Norma Antillon, David Bermudez, Dr. Arturo Buenahora, Luis Bustillo, Cesar Castillo Metro Officer, Francisco Caicedo TN Probation Officer, Dave & Luce Fore, Melissa Fore, Peter Frelinghausen & Tannia Ortiz, Antonio & Rosa Garcia, Esperanza Garcia, Jill Hamilton, Gustavo & Blanca Hernandez, Heriberto & Genevera Hernandez, Luis & Martha Mascorro La Voz Newspaper, Corinne Martinez, Efrain Martinez Pastor Iglesia Hispana, Teresa Medina TennCare, Pastor Chuck & Lilia Padilla Judson Baptist Church, Gia Payne, Dr. Andres & Renee Ramos, Mario & Iris Ramos, Ana Rivera, Andy Robinson, Marlon Rodriguez, Martha Salazar Comunidad Hispana, Maggie Sapien President Hispanic Resource Center (which became Conexion Americas, 2002), Pete & Helena Tellez St Edwards Catholic Church, Begona Toral, Paul & Leonor Van Cotthem Buenos Dias Newspaper, Andy Yambure.

To proof read the translations W. Todd Turner “Tadeo” and Dr. David C. Julseth, Belmont University served as the editors. Then we distributed through out Tennessee the 10,000 copies sponsored by Western Union. Later on we got the Tennessee Department of Safety to make the test available in Spanish for persons without a social security number. On a trade mission to Asia Governor Sunquist expanded the test into Japanese and Korean. The Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton made the test unavailable to those without a social security number. Senator Henry successfully guided into law a bill which made it legal at that time to obtain a drivers license without a social. Senator Henry gained the vote of Marsha Blackburn at that time. At this time Tennessee was the only state allowing in the US a driver’s license to be obtained without a social security number.

Since then the driver’s license struggle has gone back and forth and past supporters have become nemeses. Through out all this time Senator Henry has remained a bright light in support of the simple idea of allowing people to learn the rules of driving in Tennessee and to obtain proof of identity.

Here is the email I received from Senator Henry this morning; “English only sends wrong message about Tennessee


Would the executives at Volkswagen or Wacker Chimie or Nissan have located large plants in Tennessee if we had sent the message that folks who speak another language aren’t welcome here? At a time when so many Tennesseans need jobs, we as a state should be trying to attract good companies. This is not the time to hang a sign on our front door that says “not welcome.”

A bill that would give preference to English only in the Tennessee driver’s test does just that. My colleague, Senator Jim Kyle put it well this week as we considered the legislation in the Senate Finance Committee: “What it does is put us in a column of states that have passed English-only drivers’ licenses. That’s the list I would start with if I was overseas and deciding where I don’t want to go.” I opposed this sort of thing when there was a move afoot to force Metro to handle much of its business in English only, and I oppose it now. Tennessee is a patchwork of rich cultures. Throughout my career serving you, I have been an advocate of recognizing all the distinct parts of our state.

If you would like to help me continue to bring this perspective to the legislature, I hope you will join my re-election campaign. Reply to this e-mail or visit our Web site if you would like to volunteer. Or, get in touch with us by phone at 615-460-1114 or 615-305-5062. We’ll look forward to hearing from you! Douglas Henry””.

On May the 4th I and my wife Iris will vote to re-elect Senator Henry to finish the job he began long ago.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2010

Here is a discouraging interview by President Obama

"Obama: 'There may not be an appetite' to tackle immigration this year

By Debbi Wilgoren, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, April 29, 2010; 11:17 AM

President Obama said late Wednesday that "there may not be an appetite" to overhaul the nation's immigration laws this year, even though he believes there is a pressing need to do so.

"It's a matter of political will," Obama said during a rare visit to the press section of his presidential plane. He added, "This is a difficult issue. It generates a lot of emotions. . . . I need some help on the Republican side."

Obama has called repeatedly for comprehensive immigration reform, saying he wants to tighten control of the nation's borders but also chart a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that he wanted to push forward with legislation regardless of whether lawmakers can forge a bipartisan compromise. But he later backed off that pledge, and Obama told reporters on the plane that he is willing to wait in order to work with Republican senators.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Reid and Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.) are forging a proposal that would call for more border security measures before expanding citizenship options.

In his remarks to reporters, Obama cited the bruising battle over health care and the current debate on financial regulatory reform and an energy bill, as well as November's midterm congressional elections, as reasons an immigration bill might have to wait.

"We've gone through a tough year, and I've been working Congress pretty hard," the president said. "So I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue."

Obama applauded negotiations on immigration legislation between Schumer and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and said he would like to see a working group of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle craft "serious legislation that solves the border problem and solves the wide range of issues that we face under immigration reform in a way that can garner the support of the American people." He did not address the reported effort by Reid, Schumer and Menendez...".


Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2010

Metro Nashville police block visas for crime victims, witnesses

By Janell Ross • THE TENNESSEAN, April 18, 2010

"Luis Cisneros' body was found two days before Christmas 2003.

The 4-year-old had been scalded, beaten and dumped behind a dirt mound in a West Nashville park. His mother and her boyfriend fled to Mexico, their native country. The FBI put the boyfriend on its Most Wanted list, alongside people like Osama bin Laden.

Three years after the grisly crime, Teodora Patlan Cano felt compelled to seek justice for her dead nephew. She called Metro police and told them where her sister was living.

That act got Patlan Cano deported late last year.

A visa that protects illegal immigrants who witness or become victims of crimes might have prevented that, but it requires certification from local police. Metro police rejected Patlan Cano's request to be certified as a witness, an event immigrants and their advocates say happens far too frequently with that department.

"What we know is they did not lift a finger to help this woman," said Elliott Ozment, Patlan Cano's Nashville immigration attorney. "This, it appears, is how Metro Nashville treats its informants and people who are trying to help this city fight egregious crimes."

Police department officials contend they have an efficient certification process and recognize that the visas are valuable incentives to get illegal immigrants to cooperate. The department will participate next month in a national program to help develop best practices for handling crime victim and witness certifications and requests...".


Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2010

Shame On You Governor Brewer—Boycott Arizona Now

From the leadership of the American Immigration Lawyers Association;

"Congratulations Governor Brewer, your signature on SB 1070, an anti-immigrant bill which effectively makes all Latinos the target of arrest or interrogation, has now enshrined your legacy with the likes of Governor Evan Mechem, who will be forever remembered for his cancellation of the state's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, attributing high divorce rates to working women, and disparaging references to African American children. And just like Mecham's bad acts, your endorsement of Arizona's hate legislation will lead to a mass boycott of your state—AILA has already decided to pull its upcoming fall conference out of Arizona—costing Arizona taxpayers billions in lost revenue.

Your signature on this dreadful bill, which President Obama described today as "misguided", does nothing to create a functional immigration system, secure the border, nor rid the state of dangerous criminals. Nor does it protect the wages and working conditions of US workers. Instead, it targets day laborers and ordinary citizens whose appearance might raise "reasonable suspicion" of unlawful immigration status in the mind of a police officer. Now that you have signed the bill people in Arizona with foreign sounding accents or who don't "look American" had better not run into the wrong cop (or even the right cop) because the law mandates they prove they are here legally.

Further, the new law will take money out of the pockets of Arizona taxpayers. The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) reported this week that "if significant numbers of immigrants and Latinos are actually persuaded to leave the state because of this new law, they will take their tax dollars, businesses, and purchasing power with them. The University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy estimates that the total economic output attributable to Arizona's immigrant workers was $44 billion in 2004, which sustained roughly 400,000 full-time jobs. Furthermore, over 35,000 businesses in Arizona are Latino-owned and had sales and receipts of $4.3 billion and employed 39,363 people in 2002, the last year for which data is available. The Perryman Group estimates that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time. Putting economic contributions of this magnitude at risk during a time of recession would not serve Arizona well." And this loss of revenue to the hard working taxpayers of Arizona does not take into account the cost of defending the inevitable lawsuits that will be brought against the state for civil rights and other violations. According to the IPC, "Arizona would probably face a costly slew of lawsuits on behalf of legal immigrants and native-born Latinos who feel they have been unjustly targeted" leading to millions of dollars in expenditures. http://bit.ly/dbguDK".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2010

Call for nationwide civic disobidence campaign

I just watched Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer sign a controversial immigration bill that would require police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally.

We need to take action on a non-violent level.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

Join The People Against SB 1070 on Facebook

The People United and Organized Against SB1070. We Demand Jan Brewer do the right thing for Arizona & Veto SB 1070. SB 1070 would Legalize Racial Profiling.

A few days ago, the Arizona Reporter said about the ghastly bill:

“As of Monday, the Governor’s office had received 1,356 calls, e-mails and faxes in favor of SB1070 and 11,931 against the bill.”


Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2010

No Bill Means Civil Action

CONGRESS DAILY: Advocates: No Bill Means Civil Action
Friday, April 16, 2010

by Chris Strohm

Advocates who favor an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws said today the Obama administration and members of Congress must introduce comprehensive reform legislation by May 1 or face a backlash that will include mass demonstrations, civil disobedience and lack of votes in November.

The advocates, who held a conference call, said they are not willing to wait until after the November elections to enact immigration reform - an option Senate Majority Leader Reid floated this week.

"What we need right now is a bill to be introduced as soon as possible," said Gabe Gonzalez, director of the Campaign for Community Values. "You can expect weeks of actions following May 1 if a bill is not introduced."

They also want the Homeland Security Department to put a moratorium on a program that allows local police departments to enforce immigration laws, known as the 287g program. If no bill and moratorium are in place by May 1, millions of people will march in the streets and thousands will conduct civil disobedience, said Emma Lozano, executive director of Chicago's Centro Sin Fronteras.

"We are not a little loud tea party," she said.

"We are aware that this is a hard, difficult fight, but we also know that inaction does not mean the problem will go away. It will only get worse," added Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union. "This is not a question if there will be immigration reform. It's only a question of when."

Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are in charge of writing an immigration bill. When asked earlier this week whether a bill would be introduced by the end of April, Schumer only said he wants to pass immigration reform this year and is waiting for a second Republican to help him and Graham introduce the bill.

Reid also touched off some controversy when he said Tuesday that the Senate will not take up immigration reform during the current work period, which lasts until Memorial Day. But advocates quickly responded, saying a bill could be marked up by Senate Judiciary in May and then brought to the Senate floor in June or July.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2010

Your action needed to oppose Senate Bill SB63/House Bill HB262

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the three other large urban chambers in Tennessee (Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis) are opposing legislation (SB63/HB262) that would require that Tennessee driver's license exams be only given in English except for economic development purposes and support the current practice that allows tests in multiple languages.

The opposition comes out of a concern that the bill's English-only primary requirement sends a powerful negative message that Tennessee is unwelcoming to foreign investment and business presence and to individuals who choose to live in our state for other reasons outside of economic development.

Please contact members of the Tennessee General Assembly by Friday, April 16 and let them know your opinion about the bill, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's official opposition to the bill, and ask them to vote against it. Your personal perspective as a company operating internationally will be very powerful.

If you have any specific questions or comments about the bill, please contact Debby Dale Mason, the Chamber's chief community action officer, at dmason@nashvillechamber.com or 615-743-3082.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

Urge Governor Brewer to VETO Russell Pearce's SB1070!

from the Border Action Network;

The Arizona House may have passed SB1070, but we still need to bombard Arizona Governor Jan Brewer with phone calls, faxes and emails urging her to VETO this terrible bill!

We have spoken in large numbers over the past few months, and now Governor Brewer needs to hear from us more than ever!

Please sign the online petition, call or fax the Governor, and send this email to your friends and contacts in AZ!

We may only have a few days to convince her before the bill arrives on her desk, so please email and call ASAP.

Click Here to sign Change.org's petition to the Governor;


Governor Brewer's Phone Numbers and Contact Info:

Toll Free: 1 (602) 542-4331

Fax: (602) 542-1381

Email: azgov@az.gov

Thank you for your support and your action! This fight is not over yet!

If you have any doubts about Pearce's irrational, single-minded focus on pushing immigrant families and everyone in the state further down the path of backwards policies, watch an interview with the Senator on the Sunday Square Off:


Note: not a single statistic he tosses out is true. We'll get to that another day…

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2010

"Immigration: More Rogue than Right?,"

Check out the new new video, "Immigration: More Rogue than Right?," and then raise your voice about our nation's unjust immigration policies:


Last week, the Washington Post reported that federal immigration agents now have quotas to round up "easy targets" -- moms and dads working to feed their families -- instead of going after serious criminals.

The President himself has said, "When communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel, when all that is happening, the system just isn't working, and we need to change it."

Watch the new video and then tell President Obama that the system just isn't working -- we need real immigration reform that protects families, not rogue tactics that destroy them!
Thank you for taking the time to raise your voice and push for change.

Jackie Mahendra, America's Voice

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2010

2 million estimated deportations during the Obama's administration

In the first year of office Obama's administration deported 387,000 immigrants. The plan by ICE is to increase the number to 400,000. So if this course of action continues as demonstrated by the past acts deportations will reach an estimated 450,000 in Obama's third year and 500,000 in the fourth year.

Add all of these numbers together and it is just short of 2 million persons.

This is the reality of the state of reform under Obama. We need to take action to prevent this existing reality from continuing to exist.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)