Did the Department of Homeland Security Hold a Roundtable Discussion with Fake Bloggers?

Earlier this week, Latina Lista reported that the Department of Homeland Security, under the direction of Secretary Michael Chertoff, was tired of going through the legal channels to satisfy Texas border residents who are fighting the intent to build a wall along the southern U.S.- Mexico border.

So to speed things up he has decided to forego a few laws (30 of them) to get things moving.

In a transcript of a roundtable discussion that Sec. Chertoff had with some bloggers yesterday, he admits that the law is just in his way.

Question: Can you give us an update how things stand with the fence? I know there was some big news yesterday.

Secretary Chertoff: Well, we’ve got about 310 miles built — about 170 of pedestrian fence and about 140 of vehicle fence. We’re on track — I want to get 670 miles done by the end of the calendar year, of which 370 will be pedestrian and 300 will be vehicle.

To do that, although we want to be respectful of the environment, we cannot afford to get enmeshed in the kinds of litigation that have traditionally caused projects to take decades to complete…

Unfortunately, that’s what working through our judicial system means. Look how many innocent men have sat on death row waiting to be exonerated because of all the litigation that had to be endured to reach a just conclusion?

Yet, that’s not the most disturbing item from this transcript. Reading the transcript, which was released as a press release, and is only a partial transcript at that, not one blogger is identified.

The strangeness of this situation immediately waves red flags.

Before the government releases a bogus statement about protecting privacy, there exists something in the blogosphere that is an universal truth – no blogger wants to be anonymous, especially if they were lucky enough to score an interview with a high-profile individual like Chertoff. (more…)

Soft Ethnic Cleansing in Irving, Texas


[It’s not just Irving, of course: the video above is of police violence to break up a peaceful pro-migrants demonstration in Los Angeles this past Spring. Thanks to Marisa for this post. She’s been covering this story regularly at Latina Lista. — Pach]

Break the law, expect to do the time. That’s a tenet of any justice system that deserves respect and enforcement. But there’s a big difference between a major crime classified as a felony and lesser crimes known as misdemeanors* that can either draw a stiff fine or a short jail stay.

Illegal immigration is one of those misdemeanors. The only time it transforms into a felony is when the undocumented immigrant’s record shows he/she was deported once before and they are now back in the country illegally.

For the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, this is the only “major” law they will ever break while living in the United States. Yet, because of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is running rampant nowadays that freely labels all undocumented immigrants as lawbreakers and equates them with serious criminals, the public mindset is that they are all wanted on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

That’s hardly the case but you wouldn’t (more…)

Texas Border Towns Unite Against a Border Wall

hands-logo.jpgOne of the truths of Hispanic culture is that we can make a fiesta out of just about any gathering. That was definitely the case last weekend in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley where throughout the weekend people trekked from one international bridge or border area to another to wrap up the Hands Across El Rio protest against the proposed border wall.

On this last weekend of the protest that spanned the border from El Paso to Laredo over the last 16 days, it was reported that hundreds showed up.

On Saturday in Brownsville, the president of the local university, along with, state congressmen, students and townspeople all clasped hands along a chain-link fence located at the Gateway International Bridge and formed a human chain that stretched across the border into Mexico.

The human chain was the protest’s symbolic gesture of solidarity between the two countries and was used at each of the 11 sites throughout the protest.

At the weekend gatherings, in addition to finding the traditional signs and banners, chants and speeches, that are the hallmarks of every protest, there was also comida (food), refrescos (drinks), piñatas and informational booths from all the different organizations opposed to the wall.

Does that mean people aren’t (more…)

He Let Us All Down


(Guest writer Marisa Treviño blogs at Latina Lista)

A lot of things can be said now about former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales – and a lot of people are saying them.

But if there was one point that no one can dispute, it was his loyalty to the President.

In fact, it’s fair to say that Alberto was loyal – to a disgraceful fault.

Rightly or wrongly, because there are still too few highly accomplished Latinos in the public arena, whether it be politics, sports, entertainment, etc., there exists a collective pride among Latinos when “one of our own” makes it.

That should have been the case with Alberto Gonzales.

His kind of background – one of eight children of Mexican migrant parents, who worked his way up through school, weekend jobs and military service – is routinely held up as a model within the Latino community as evidence that realizing the American Dream is not just a dream but can be a reality, our reality because a boy like Alberto proved it true.

Those kinds of stories are legacies unto themselves and if Alberto had followed the usual course of not just achieving success but being a Latino of strong character who upheld the principles of (more…)

Texans to Bush: Get Off My Lawn!


(Please welcome our guest contributor, Marisa Treviño of Latina Lista. It’s great to have her here and if I may gratuitously say it, I hope you bookmark her site, just as I have. — Pach)

A funny thing happened on the way to building the Lower Rio Grande Valley portion of the Texas-Mexico border fence.

It was something that caught Chertoff and the Department of Homeland Security off guard, the White House, Congress and even the average American citizen who lives miles away from the border in question — Texans, who actually live along that portion of the border, don’t want it.

It’s a concept that is hard for the rest of the country to grasp. After all, aren’t border residents living in fear for their lives by living on the frontlines with what conservative extremists like to term “the invasion” of illegal immigrants?

Well, according to border residents, the only invasion they’re feeling is the one from Washington that is dictating that a fence be built through, along and around their communities.

The idea of a physical structure being built is so repulsive to these residents that in a show of rare solidarity, unlike anywhere else seen in the country, activists and environmentalists are (more…)