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Esperanzas por la reforma migratoria de Obama, pero el énfasis en el control de la inmigración sigue (Clip II)

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I'd like to ask Lorella Praeli about this whole issue of some of, again, the details of the proposals as they've come forth so far, as the president said and as the Senate proposal says that those who want to be legalized would have to learn English. But in the past, only someone who wanted to become a U.S. citizen, as a requirement of citizenship, had to learn English and pass a civics exams. Now the talk is of anybody who wants to get a green card or permanent residency would first have to learn English and pass a civics exam. And the Migration Policy Institute estimates that there would be, by that process, as many as 3.6 to five million of the 11 million undocumented who would not be able to pass that English exam. So your—could you talk about some of the specifics, like the English-language requirement, and how it's being applied? Yeah. So I think—I mean, again, I think that what we've seen is a bipartisan framework, and we've also seen a fact sheet that the administration released after the president spoke yesterday—the day before yesterday, sorry. But I think a lot of the—the devil is in the details, like you said earlier. So, I think we have to question the motive behind some of these principles or proposals. To me, it's unacceptable that for someone to get a green card, it is a requirement that they speak the English language. That has never been a requirement. That's a requirement if you want to naturalize and become a U.S. citizen. But, I mean, you have to begin to wonder how long are people going to be in some temporary line, and really this line means being in legal limbo for an indefinite amount of time. And what are going to be the triggers or the bars that will trap people in this provisional status as they wait to become green card holders, that will then remove them from the United States? And I just—I also want to add something to this conversation on enforcement, because I think it's—it's disappointing to hear that both the Senate and the president want to lead with making or kind of uplifting this myth that our borders are not secure and that enforcement has to be the number one priority. And I think that comes from a place of fear. It comes from a place of fear because America knows undocumented immigrants. America shares both neighborhoods and schools and many public spaces with undocumented immigrants. So, there is this notion that, you know, undocumented immigrants are criminals and they're dangerous, and so we have to lead with enforcement first. But really that's not the problem here. You've said the border is more secure than it has ever been before. Eighteen billion dollars have been spent last year. So I think it's disappointing to hear that. I do think that there are some key differences between the plan that the president has outlined and the Senate bipartisan framework. And I think a lot of that has to do with the different politics, you know, on the Senate side, needing to secure 60 votes and making sure that this is bipartisan and that Republicans can feel like they can spend political capital on this, and that this is the right thing to do for Democrats and Republicans, especially if they consider the changing demographics in this country and the mandate out of the elections. But some of the key principles that are worth underscoring are that the president does not make—does not—the president's plan does not say that one has to meet—that the border triggers have to be met in order for one to go from a provisional status or temporary legal status to a green card holder status or a legal permanent resident. And I think that's—that's key, because I would be curious to hear more from the senators working on this plan what these triggers are going to be and how they're going to measure the success, because there's a real concern in our community that we're going to wait to see —for this border to be secure, a border that is already secure, before one can become a green card holder. I think another bold move, and something that our community is happy to see the president take leadership on, is making sure that LGBT families are included. There are about 40,000 binational couples, same-sex couples, who would benefit if there was an amendment as part of the comprehensive immigration reform that would make sure that individuals married to a same-sex—that are in same-sex relationships would also be able to adjust their status that way. Lorella, in terms of the tweets you were doing during President Obama's speech yesterday in Nevada, talking about the number of people who were being deported even as he spoke? Yeah, I mean, I think that's—it's balancing that, and I think it's really uplifting and exposing the pain and the lies. You know, Viridiana said something earlier that I thought— it's what we did before we received deferred action, right? before we forced the president to deliver on deferred action or this DREAM relief—DREAMer relief program. And it's something that has to continue to happen. So we cannot expend all of our energy pushing for immigration reform while we know that our communities are continuing to be separated, and—and really, due to a flawed system. Just— I don't know if you— Very quickly, can you tell us your own story, how you came to be in the United States, and how you came to be a DREAMer activist? I came to the United States—actually, I'm an above-the-knee amputee, so I lost my right leg when I was two and a half in Peru. And because of medical reasons, my medical treatment was in the United States at Shriners Hospital. And so, my parents decided to move when I was 10 years old. And I found out I was undocumented when I was graduating from high school and wanting to pursue higher education. And I really got involved in the DREAM movement by—I mean, I think it's a miracle. I really do think that I consider myself to be very privileged for being able to speak out on these issues, but also to be a part of such a beautiful and powerful community. So what the DREAMer community did for me is it allowed me to reclaim my identity. And it reminded me that being undocumented is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to be proud of, and that we ultimately define our identity and our ability to effect change. And so, you know, I was just—I eventually, in 2010, was very frustrated by the lack of congressional action on DREAM, the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, and I called a friend, activist, in Connecticut, and I said, "I'm ready to share my story. Can you connect me to someone who can help me come out and share my story?" And I was connected to the United We Dream Network, and I became a part of this family very quickly. Carlos Saavedra, then our national coordinator, invited me to the Kentucky field planning meeting and said, "You can only come if you promise to go back to Connecticut and build something." And, of course, at that moment I didn't know what that commitment really meant. But that field planning meeting with 200 undocumented youth changed my life, for the better, and it really gave me the tools and the understanding that we define our present and we define our future, and that it is through organizing, more than anything, more than anything else, that we achieve change. So, by really empowering the community and by creating the spaces for people to come out, which is what we're doing now with the parents, our parents, and our other community members, and in really uplifting other deportation cases. Mae Ngai, I'd like to ask you, in terms—going back to some of the details of immigration reform, there are two very powerful sectors in American society that have a big interest, that haven't gotten as much of attention in this immigration reform. One is obviously the technology corporations in Silicon Valley, who have a big interest in expanding the number of technical workers, and even, from what I understand now, essentially speeding up the legalization process of any foreign student who graduates with a master's or Ph.D. in science or technology, and agribusiness, which is still lobbying to get another form of the guest worker agricultural workers portion—admission into the bill. Could you talk about those forces and what we should be watching as the debate continues over the next few months on immigration reform? Well, those are two sectors of the economy that depend a lot on foreign labor and, in the case of technology, professional labor. And, you know, there was a saying in the 1950s when proposals went out for immigration legislation that emphasized the recruitment of professionals—you know, it's no longer "Give me your tired and poor and huddled masses." It's "Give me your Ph.D.s." And your entrepreneurs. And the entrepreneurs, you know. So I think that, you know, that addresses—I mean, in many ways, it addresses the failures of public education in this country and the needs of business. And the same with agriculture. I mean, agriculture could be a living that many people could make in this country. It's not necessarily something that Americans won't do. It's because the wages are so low and the conditions are so poor. And growers shy away from mechanization, because it's cheaper for them to use immigrant labor, and especially undocumented labor. So these are all issues that should be on the table. But I think one of the things that it suggests to us is that: Should immigration only be about what business wants? So, the rush to the forefront of these particular sectors is part of that phenomenon. And people think, well, immigration should be something that serves America. Well, it is something that serves America, but it's also something that serves the immigrants themselves. And I think as long as we look at it from only the vantage point of business, we are going to be in a lot of trouble, because business only cares about one thing, and that's their bottom line. And they don't really care about the other social and economic costs that come with the kinds of immigration plans that they want. And what about the protection issues for both of these sectors? Obviously a lot of workers who come here on—professional workers who come here on guest visas come with a visa to one company. That's right. And therefore, they are really—their ability to be able to raise issues in the workplace or to defend their rights becomes a lot more difficult if the company controls their visa into the country. Well, there are many restrictions. They can bring a spouse, but the spouse cannot work. That's another constraint on them. They can't quit, really. It's not even that they can't complain, they can't quit. And this is a problem that will come up, I think, in this discussion on the issue of temporary work visas, even separate from these two sectors. That's another plan that Republicans have floated. It's unclear if the White House really supports this or not. We have a lot of experience in this country with guest worker programs, and I think that it should really give us pause. The problem with temporary labor visas is that if the employer holds the visa, as in the case of the H1s, then the worker really has no rights at all. If you say, "You didn't pay me" — and this is what happens a lot in the lower end of the H2 program — "I didn't get paid. I was forced to do overtime, all these things," you're just sent home. You have no rights, and you can't quit, you know. And we all understand in this country that the quintessential thing of being a free labor—of free labor, is the right to quit, as well as the right to organize. And those are things that you can't get with a temporary labor visa. Fernando Garcia, how are you being consulted on the border about what you want and what you feel would be a rational policy? Now, the border governors, as they're known, are given tremendous power. Yes. We've actually been engaged in multiple conversations, both with the White House and also with members of the Senate. And some of them are members of the Gang of 8. And actually, we had this protest, this concern of, like—we believe that no more border enforcement is needed. Much less, we need the border triggers. I think what we believe is that when you work and live at the border, I mean, you see the consequences of militarization. In the last few years, we have had like eight shootings, lethal shootings, by Border Patrol, and immigrants had been killed. I mean, we have also multiple civil and human rights violations, things that are not only affecting immigrants, but border residents and citizens. So, what we have proposed, though, is that—just that we welcome this discussion, we welcome this historic announcement on citizenship, which didn't happen before, but at the same time we are saying that we need to refocus and change our approach on enforcement. We need to have a different vision on enforcement. We need to go from this idea of quantity to quality. We need to actually make enforcement accountable, making it balanced. As you know, I mean, we have the largest enforcement operations in the nation, which is immigration enforcement, not only on the border but also in the interior, with no independent oversight mechanisms. So I think that there's been some progress right now, even in the principles that were released by these senators and also by the president. But there are some sections there that actually talk about more training for Border Patrol, issues about limiting the use of lethal force or racial profiling issues. There's going to be the creation of a border liaison office. So there are positive things, somewhat. We had work in the past few years. But I think more needs to be done in terms of making enforce—holding enforcement accountable, having oversight processes, having more training, having complaint processes established, as a priority of this comprehensive immigration reform. And Fernando, you mentioned that you've been in—that you've had discussions with people in the White House. The Obama administration is well known for trying to whip activists into line behind their policies and basically tolerating very little dissent or pressure from the activist community. I'm wondering what your sense is of how they're dealing on the immigration issue. We don't—we don't know what is going to be the details. We don't know the details yet of what is the proposal coming from the president. We had actually expressed many concerns about this idea of having more enforcement. We have questioned even the president putting on the table more enforcement, not only on the border, but actually also in the interior and in the workplace. I mean, that is one of the major elements on the proposed legislation, both by the president and the White House, where everybody is going to be check—if you go look for a job, you're going to be run through a database. It's very close to how [inaudible] ID. So I think we'll be very critical, not only now, but also in the past, about actually staying away from this idea that we have not controlled the—we have not controlled the borders, that we need to have a tougher criminalization policy against immigrants. So I think we are making progress. I mean, we're having that dialogue with the White House and with the Senate. But also we're really putting pressure on some decisions that are not going to work. I mean, at the end of the day, I think we're not willing—some of us, some of our organizations, some of our communities, are not willing to trade off border enforcement, for example, or have legalization at any cost. We want to thank you all very much for being with us, Fernando Garcia, with the Border Network for Human Rights, speaking to us from El Paso, Texas; Lorella Praeli, with United We Dream Coalition, was at President Obama's speech yesterday, now in Washington, D.C.; and thanks to Professor Mae Ngai, who teaches Asian-American studies at Columbia University here in New York City. Of course, this is an ongoing conversation. Muchas gracias por ver este reporte de Democracy Now! su informativo independiente diario. No aceptamos publicidad o financiación corporativa por lo que dependemos de la donaciones de telespectadores como usted. Por favor, haga su contribución visitando, necesitamos su apoyo hoy para continuar ofreciéndoles estos impactantes reportajes en profundidad.

Video Details

Duration: 17 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 79
Posted by: democracynowes on Jan 31, 2013

El presidente Obama comenzó su segundo mandato dando un fuerte impulso a una reforma migratoria integral mediante el apoyo de un proyecto del Senado acordado entre ambos partidos.

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