Equality First: An alternative approach to immigration

July 30, 2009

ANNOUNCMENTS. (To get your announcement in our events calendar, this web e-mail information by the 15th of the month before publication to grassrootspress@gmail.com   Priority will be given to events with a progressive or social justice theme or arts, music and cultural happenings that resonate with a sustainable lifestyle.)

Mountain View Market Co-op
The following events or classes are held at Mountain View Market Co-op, 1300 El Paseo, in the Idaho Crossings Center. Member Appreciation Days offer Co-op Members a 5 percent discount on non-sale merchandise. Please call 523-0436 for information on classes including price, and pre-registration requirements.

Aug. 8, 11 am – 12 pm, Free Lecture on EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing — A method of healing from trauma that is quick and easy, proven effective. With Adrienne Wilson, M.Ed., LPCC
Aug. 12 6pm – 7:15 pm, Healing The Gut…Naturally, With Genevieve Chavez, ND
Aug. 15 12 pm, Department of Peace Meeting
Aug. 24, 10 am- 2 pm, Peak of the Season Fiesta, at the Sunday Growers Market, Mountain View Market: Live music, fun kids’ activities, free samples of locally grown foods! Eat the freshest and tastiest of the season, and meet the people who grew it and picked it for you that very day! From Veggies to Eggs and Meat, your local growers have it covered!
Sept. 9,  6 pm – 7:15 pm, Helping Your Allergies…Naturally  With Genevieve Chavez, ND
Sept. 12, 11 am – 12 pm, Free Lecture on EMDR : Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing- A method of healing from trauma that is quick and easy, proven effective. With Adrienne Wilson, M.Ed., LPCC
Sept. 19, 12 pm, Department of Peace Meeting

The Sunday Growers Market is back! Local veggies! Local eggs! Local music! Kids Table!Support a local food system and taste the freshest foods you can find!
SUNDAYS from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. throughout the summer and fall. Join us in the Mountain View Market Co-op parking lot. Look for the Large Shade Canopy in the Idaho Crossings Center, 1300 El Paseo at Idaho. Call 523-0436 or email mountainviewgrowers@gmail.com for more info.

Unitarian Universalist Church, 2000 S. Solano, Roundtable Schedule for August 2009. Roundtables are held from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Aug. 9, Cynthia R. Garrett:  Ellis Island. “I retired as Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island in April 2009. Major projects I worked on included expansion of the Immigration Museum to address the migration of all Americans, and preservation of all the vacant buildings on Ellis. After September 11, 2001 much of my time was focused on a comprehensive security program for the park.”

Aug 16, Dr. Julie Rice:  Building a Solidarity Economy Along the Borderlands Through Fair Trade. Dr. Julie Steinkopf Rice, a sociology professor at NMSU, will discuss the fair trade movement and its place in the global solidarity economy movement (La Economía Solidaria). Her discussion will emphasize local activities currently using the fair trade model. She will discuss how fair trade and other alternative economic efforts provide a useful means by which poverty and other social and economic injustices on both sides of the border can be addressed rather than overlooked. She will also discuss practical ways local citizens can help advance economic solidarity along the border through fair trade.

Aug 23, Gill Sorg: Wildlife, Agriculture and Conservation. “I will be discussing what I do to help with the preservation of the environment and the heritage of the Mesilla Valley.  I’ll show slides of  my work at preserving our wild lands, wildlife and agriculture in and around Dona Ana County.” Gill Sorg, is a Biologist/Agriculture Consultant, and a Board Member of the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society.

Aug 30, Dan Townsend: Environmental Archive, a requirement of sustainable energy use in Las Cruces. The idea of an “Environmental Archive” will be advanced, along with facts relating to the need for sustainable energy use. These facts include the deficit in electrical energy from EPE starting in 2016; the relationship of water supply and energy; misconceptions about “green” alternatives, and the obstacles to sustainability.

•    EVERY WEDNESDAY from 4-6 p.m. Weekly Peace Vigil near the Federal Building, Church and Griggs, in downtown Las Cruces. Bring signs, water and sunscreen. Exact location may vary due to construction.

•    EVERY MONDAY from 5-6 p.m., Peace Vigil at Veteran’s Park, under the rotunda. For information visit http://clearmindzen.org

•    EVERY 1st and 3rd FRIDAY, 7 p.m. Howling Coyote Coffeehouse, New location starting Aug. 7: First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo, directly East and across the street from Las Cruces High. open mic music and poetry, refreshments. Doors open at 6:30. More information, Bob Burns, 525-9333.

•    EVERY 2nd and 4th FRIDAY NIGHT from 7 pm to 9:30 p.m., Open Mic at Starbuck’s on University. More information, contact Larry Stocker, 496-3638.

•    EVERY SUNDAY (ALMOST), 7 p.m. Open Mic at Starbuck’s on Valley. More information, contact Larry Stocker, 496-3638.

•    FOURTH THURSDAY: Progressive Voter Alliance monthly meetings, Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite. Next meeting Thursday, Aug. 27. More information, www.pva-nm.org

•    EVERY SATURDAY, CineMatinee. Each and every Saturday afternoon, a quality-talking picture (with an occasional silent one) will be screened at the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla, 2469 Calle de Guadalupe, one block south of the plaza. The general theme of this ongoing series is life in the West, which could mean the ‘new’ West, the old West, the historical West, or anything in between. At least one film a month for this series will have a ‘New Mexico Connection,’ drawing from the vast pool of movies made in the state (nearly 500) or perhaps featuring a star/story from New Mexico talent. All screenings begin at 1.30 p.m., unless otherwise noted.  Admission is $4, or $1 for Mesilla Valley Film Society members.  For more information, please call 524-8287 or 522-0286 or visit our web site: www.fountaintheatre.org

CineMatinee –August

Aug. 1, The Visitor (2007, 100 minutes, PG-13). Sixty-two-year-old Walter Vale (Oscar-nominated Richard Jenkins) is a professor of economics at a Connecticut college. He’s lost his zest for teaching and doesn’t seem to care about anything anymore. A widower, he spends his days on campus in lonely isolation.  Sent by his department to read a paper he co-wrote at a conference, Walter heads off to New York City, where he still has an apartment. He is startled to find a couple living there. Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian, and Zainab (Dania Gurira), his Senegalese girlfriend, have been duped into renting the place by a real estate scammer. They hurriedly pack to leave. But in the first of a series of risks, Walter opens his closed-off heart and says they can stay for a few nights. This is the first film written and directed by Tom McCarthy since his stunning debut, The Station Agent, another character-driven drama. Here we see how the alchemy of music and friendship transform a burnt-out man. So many movies present the barriers that keep people and especially strangers apart from each other. This one dares to celebrate the deep human connections that can be forged out of racial, cultural and religious differences. Best of all, music is the glue that lifts the spirit and brings people together in new and interesting ways.

Aug. 8, Charlie Varrick  (1973, 111 minutes, rated PG, Nevada stars as New Mexico). Charley Varrick stars Walter Matthau as a former stunt pilot reduced to robbing banks with his wife and a hot-headed young criminal. Joe Don Baker costars as an icy hit man, dispatched to recover the mob’s ill-gotten loot and kill anyone who stands between him and the money. Matthau delivers his usual sterling performance as a savvy operator working doggedly to finagle his way out of a seemingly impossible situation, but the film’s real revelation comes from Baker, whose racist, sexist, ass-kicking brute of a henchman oozes malevolent magnetism. A low-key, tough little thriller punctuated by casual bursts of deadpan humor, these characters take on a surprising poignancy and emotional resonance.

Aug. 15, Tender Mercies (1983, 96 minutes, rated PG). Tender Mercies is a riveting, compassionate, touching and thoroughly remarkable film. The screenplay by Horton Foote (winner of the Academy Award for To Kill A Mockingbird) and the cinematography by Russell Boyd (Gallipoli) are exemplary models of taste and simple beauty.
Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall) is a burnt-out country-and-western singer/songwriter whose life has become a series of disappointments. He has lost track of the reasons to keep on keeping on. One morning Mac awakes from a drunken stupor in a room at the Mariposa Motel in the middle of a dry Texas prairie. The rundown place is managed by Rosa Lee, a widow whose husband was killed in Vietnam. Mac volunteers to stay on as a handyman and work off his bill. Tender Mercies is a very poignant movie about the healing powers of love.

Aug. 22, Back to God’s Country (1919, 73 minutes, not rated- silent). Nell Shipman stars in this handsomely mounted but rarely seen silent film, as Dolores LeBeau, a child of nature on a voyage to the Arctic Circle with her new husband, Peter Burke. En route, she discovers to her horror that the Captain, Rydal, is none other than the escaped prisoner who killed her father. Rydal threatens the girl to silence and then causes an “accident” that seriously injures Peter. The killer is soon closing in on the fugitive…will she make it, and just who or what is Wapi? Find out when we have our annual celebration of silent film.  (Added attraction, two very short silent films.)

Aug. 29, Around the Bend (2004, 85 minutes, rated PG-13, made in New Mexico). Director Jordan Roberts’ feature debut pulls off the dizzying high-wire act of being both a misty-eyed glimpse into four generations of the men in the Lair family and a steely meditation on manhood, parenting, and the pitfalls thereof. Michael Caine plays the elder Lair, Henry, who as the film begins is in the process of dying with all the crusty wit he can muster (which is plenty). There’s an exquisite ‘fine-tunedness’ to the screenplay (thank you Mr. Redford) that belies the occasional gush of sentimentality, and a final grace note that will, yes, mist the eyes of all but the most cynical in the audience. A fine, familial elixir to remedy despair and soften hardened hearts, Around the Bend is likely just the first of many feathers in Roberts’ shiny, new directorial cap.

•    Aug. 3, The Friends of the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park will meet at 6:30 p. m. at the Park at 5000 Calle del Norte, Las Cruces. All MVBSP Friends and those who are interested in supporting the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park are invited to attend. The park fee will be waived for those attending the meeting. For more information, call 523-8009.

•    Aug. 3-28, The Tombaugh Gallery will feature fiber art by Cyndi Clark and Jan Harrison in Finding a Voice through Fiber. An artists’ reception will be held Sunday, Aug. 9th from noon to 2 p.m. The Tombaugh Gallery of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces is located at 2000 S. Solano, with regular gallery hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 2:00 pm. Cyndi Clark has worked in many mediums over the years. She focused on clay work for about 10 years and has now transitioned to fiber art. “While I still love working with clay, I have found my true inspiration through fabric and yarn. Fiber not only is creative but it can provide comfort to others, ” Clark explains. Jan Harrison has been involved in fiber as a knitter for more than 25 years and has gradually progressed to weaving on a floor loom and basketry. She first made traditional rugs on the loom and now does tapestry. She has moved from making vessels to sculptural basketry. For information about the exhibit please call the church office at 522-7281.

•    Aug. 6, A Prayer Vigil for Peace and Remembering Hiroshima will be held at San Jacinto Plaza in downtown El Paso starting at 5 p.m. The vigil is planned to take place for 45 minutes. The program for the event includes spoken prayers, speakers, singing, and time for silent reflection and prayers. People from all faiths traditions are invited to attend the vigil. The vigil occurs on the 64th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. Approximately 140,000 people were killed in this bombing and the subsequent bombing of Nagasaki, many of whom were civilians. This event is sponsored by Pax Christi El Paso and the Peace and Justice Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. Pax Christi El Paso is associated with the national Catholic peace movement, which seeks to promote the peace of Christ by exploring, articulating, witnessing and practicing Gospel nonviolence.

•    Sept. 11-13, Area women are invited to attend the annual WomenSpirit retreat at the Sacramento Methodist Assembly in the beautiful Lincoln National Forest near Cloudcroft, NM.  Women will gather for a weekend of fun and fellowship and a chance to rest and renew without going too far from home. There will be opportunities to learn belly-dancing, print-making, Wild-Woman pin-making, juggling, drumming, mask-making and much more. We’ll entertain each other at the talent/no-talent show, enjoy hikes, and worship together. The full cost including 4 meals, lodging, and all workshops is just $135 with a $10 discount if paid in full by Aug. 15. Partial scholarships are available. Registration forms and further details are available on the website of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces at http://uuchurchlc.org/m-members.htm, or call 575-680-2680.

•    Sept. 20-22, War on Drugs Conference at UTEP: A Global Public Policy Forum, El Paso, TX. Forty-years ago, President Nixon proclaimed that the U.S. was at war with drugs. This conference takes a comparative look at drug-war policy in an effort to calculate the effects on societies and economies. We consider the burgeoning prison population and different perspectives on addiction and rehabilitation. We analyze the underground drug market which extends to villages in Colombia, slums in Mexico City and warring cartels that have devastated the U.S.-Mexico border. Finally, we consider policy alternatives that better grapple with a 40-year problem with a 21st century  perspective. For more information, visit: http://warondrugsconference.utep.edu.
By Neil Harvey
In all of the discussion regarding immigration in recent years, info
one concept seems to have been forgotten: equality. Border security has taken precedence over many other considerations, and
and “legalization” has often been reduced to the provision of second-class status of temporary guest workers. Full legalization has been opposed by many on the pretext that it would reward law-breakers and open the country to a flood of new migrants. In all of this discussion, there is an underlying assumption that the rights of immigrants should not be equal to those of citizens. Instead, greater emphasis has been given to enforcing this hierarchy, and changes in attitude are only achieved when thousands of people march and demand equal treatment. This is not unlike previous struggles for civil rights, when enforcement of unjust laws was challenged in the streets and, finally, in the halls of government. With a new administration, there has been some expectation that immigration reform will once again be debated in Congress later this year. As we approach this topic again, it is necessary to point out some of the dangers of repeating past mistakes and propose a different approach, one that places equality front and center.
The dangers of repeating past mistakes are apparent in recent remarks made by Alan Bersin, special border czar of the Obama administration. At a “Listening Session” with border representatives in El Paso in early June, Bersin stressed the importance of enforcement measures first and foremost. He claimed that “political reality” demanded such an approach, one that would entail three pre-conditions for later progress on comprehensive immigration reform: (1) tough border enforcement measures, in collaboration with Border Patrol; (2) enforcement in the workplace, meaning employer sanctions, in order to deter people trying to find work without proper documents; and (3) interior enforcement, including the deportation of undocumented persons who have committed serious crimes.
The political reality to which Bersin refers is the assumption that Congress will require proof that the administration is taking strong steps on the enforcement issues first before considering immigration reform. The fact that the administration has so far offered little detail on its reform proposals leaves many wondering if there really will be a change in policy, or simply more resources put into enforcement. Bersin’s proposals also ignore the abuse of these enforcement measures that has been well documented in recent years. For example, David Bacon’s book Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Boston: Beacon Press, 2008) provides detailed accounts of how employers have used the threat of sanctions to fire workers and curb union organizing. The administration’s acceptance of an enforcement-first strategy also leaves out too many other perspectives in this debate. This is evident in the composition of a 21-member Homeland Security Advisory Council Southwest Border Task Force created in June. Most of the participants are representatives of private business and law-enforcement agencies, without significant balance from advocates for civil liberties, labor rights or the border environment.
The consequences of prior enforcement strategies in the past 15 years are well known. They include the channeling of migrants away from busy urban centers such as El Paso and San Diego to the inhospitable desert areas of Arizona, leading to the deaths of thousands of people and the rise in human trafficking, along with the monies received by the traffickers. Under the Bush administration, expansion of wall construction became a calculated way of winning votes in districts far from the border itself, relying on ignorance and anti-immigrant sentiment to make the government appear in control of the border. In the process, dozens of environmental and other laws were waived to make way for wall construction.
In 2009, the immigration debate must learn lessons and move beyond an enforcement-first approach. The issue should be reframed in terms of how to promote greater equality – between the U.S. and Mexican economies, and among workers from different nations. Such an approach could take lessons from the evolution of the European Union. European integration occurred with a policy of open borders for movement of workers of member states, while also investing in poorer regions through a common fund. In contrast, the integration model between the U.S., Mexico and Canada (embodied in the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1993) has excluded migration issues from its framework and has only provided very limited investment funds for border environmental projects. The right of labor mobility would mean that legalization could not be reduced to simply expanding temporary guest worker visas, but would increase the number of permanent residency visas, thereby providing all with the same rights. This step would remove the power of employers to use an employee’s lack of papers as a means to fire workers, and would benefit all employees who try to organize for improved conditions. As long as employers have access to a pool of cheap labor without the same rights as citizens, it will be harder to organize for improved contracts for anyone.
It might be argued that freedom of movement would lead to a flood of impoverished people from Mexico and other countries, but this is not inevitable. If the benefits of economic integration were more fairly distributed and democratically managed, then the opportunities for dignified work would increase in migrants’ home communities. The fact that the Republic of Ireland has become a country that attracts immigrants rather than a country of emigrants is an indication of the possibilities for balanced regional development that can begin to achieve greater equality. However, this model cannot subsequently close itself off from migrants from countries outside the European Union. Instead of reverting to enforcement-first strategy, as is currently occurring throughout Europe, we need a new global set of policies that will address the major causes of displacement and inequality today.
If immigration reform in the U.S. is to be any different from the enforcement/guest worker package, an alternative approach must include the following considerations: (1) migrants are not just workers but human beings; (2) immigration is not just a U.S. issue and cannot be resolved unilaterally; (3) negotiations must include significant and diverse input from representatives beyond business and law-enforcement officials and must make room for the perspectives of immigrants themselves; and, (4) migration cannot be divorced from the broader issue of creating more equal economic ties in the world, starting with the revision or replacement of NAFTA and similar trade mechanisms.
Neil Harvey is a Professor in the Department of Government and Director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies at New Mexico State University.


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