Posts Tagged ‘immigration politics’

Al Ataque: Todos Contra ICE! (Attack: All Against ICE!)

May 19, 2008

//” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

This just in from the Daily News (DN), one of the largest dailies in the U.S. DN Columinst Albor Ruiz’s article reminds us to put our attention where it belongs: on the biggest scandal in ICE’s history. As as he says,

“Shockingly, between January 2004 and November 2007, more detainees have perished while in custody of ICE than in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo combined.”

Just this should be enough to put the forces of the immigrant rights movement on moral and political alert lest they let this largest, most high visibility crisis ICE has faced since its inception pass without a response. But there is more, much more at stake: nothing less than the moral fabric of the entire country. Coming on the same continuum of detention and militarism as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the immigration detention scandal brings the U.S. government’s disrespect for human life within the borders of the country itself. In the words of Ruiz,

“What goes on inside immigration detention centers points to a moral crisis that threatens to shred the nation’s basic values.”

Viewed from this vantage point, It’s pretty clear that last week’s “biggest”, “largest” (according to ICE press releases) raid in Iowa was a diversionary tactic designed to take attention-and pressure- away from the political vulnerability ICE’s violence and neglect in detention centers have opened up, a vulnerability that must exploited if their impunity and corruption are to end. Raids before, during and after marches illustrate how very political ICE is-and acts.

The number of ICE scandal actions -vigils, videos, social networking sites, posts, op-eds, public educational events a, letters, protests and other direct action -will define how truly political-and effective- we are. Responses – and non-responses-to this crisis will tell us, the immigrant community and our powerful adversaries whether we really want to pull out of the defensive, reactive (as in only reacting to raids and other ICE initiatives) politic that we seem all-to-comfortable with.

The great danger right now is that we allow the Democrats and their allies to frame the ICE crisis in a reformist manner, as something simply requiring better management and health care. We must, to the best of our abilities make clear that the crisis is not solely nor primarily about the health conditions that need to be reformed; its about the policies and the institutionalized verbal, visual and physical violence against human beings who happen to be migrants, policies that need to be destroyed. The Democrats have done nothing to stem the tide of institutional intolerance and hate. Nothing. So, they should follow, not lead. Some other local national detention rights groups are planning press events, actions etc in coming weeks.

This crisis at ICE has given us what no violent raid or series of violent raids can give us;the crisis has given us the kind media coverage that started the ball rolling on detention scandals in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: in-depth, front page reporting in the NYT, Washington Post and 60 minutes. The media did its part in this case. Democrats and other politicos will align along whatever vectors of political -and moral-pressure they are placed in. And ICE and its subcontractors have done their part with their corruption, unconstitutional practices and relentless violence.

So, ICE’s fate really is up to those of us in the fight for migrant rights now. Let us seize the moment.

Al Ataque: Todos Contra ICE! (Attack: All Against ICE!)

Toupees, Tears and Toxic Immigration Policies: the Political Legacy of Tom Tancredo

December 21, 2007


Here’s a quick analysis I wrote for Alternet about the political legacy left by outgoing GOP Presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo. While many of my peers in the Latino blogosphere and in the migrant rights community hail yesterday’s announcement by Tancredo as some kind of indicator of the decline of the anti-immigrant politic, I, for one, find such jubilation misplaced and historically blind at best. You decide.

Xenophobe Tom Tancredo Quits GOP Race, But There’s Little Reason to Cheer

By Roberto Lovato, AlterNet
Posted on December 21, 2007, Printed on December 21, 2007

When I first met Tom Tancredo in 2004, he was a toupee’d David battling immigration policies backed by better groomed GOP Goliaths Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Bush. We were in New York, at the Republican Convention as the room we were in rattled with a great gnashing of his teeth after he read his party’s draft platform on immigration. The draft declared that “The Republican Party supports reforming the immigration system to make it more legal, safe, orderly and humane”. “They (Bush and Schwarzenegger) are using Clintonesque doublespeak” shrieked the then-little-know Tancredo, whose geniality, Old Glory tie and toupee combined with his acidic immigration rhetoric to give him that larger-than-life bizarro glow one finds in a Coen brothers movie.

His odd demeanor, his histrionic tone and the titanic correlation of elite corporate and political forces lined up against him made it hard to take him seriously that late August day when he defiantly declared, “They are ignoring the will of the American people. I will prevail because I don’t.”

While yesterday’s announcement of his decision to quit the presidential race has given some of my fellow bloggers and immigrant rights activists reason to declare Tancredo wrong about the appeal of the anti-immigrant politic, I, for one, do not share their glee.

Viewed from the vantage point of recent political history, Tancredo’s wild and often wacky political journey has taken him from being a relatively unknown young David to become a more seasoned leader, a King David of immigration politics who will continue to exercise power far beyond the humbler days when he was a lone voice crying in the anti-immigrant wilderness of the GOP.

We will undoubtedly be dealing with the effects of Tancredo’s brand of immigration politics in the alpha of the short term as well as in the long term.

The short term effects of Tancredo’s trajectory will be most apparent in the Presidential primaries he rightly takes credit for helping shape. A more stately and serious (as opposed to the angry loon that traveled to small border towns to keynote once obscure meetings of formerly unknown hate groups like the Minutemen), Tancredo looked stunningly presidential as he affirmed in yesterday’s farewell speech that credited his campaign with bringing “… the issue of immigration to the forefront of the national debate and, more importantly, with forcing nearly every Republican presidential candidate to commit themselves to an immigration plan that calls for securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws.”

While Republican candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and other primary states will no longer find themselves in a campaign in which they “try to out-Tancredo Tancredo,” political ads and debate sound bites chock full of “get-tough on immigrants” rhetoric may well prevail beyond the primaries. That Tancredo has helped turn mainstream what was formerly right-wing fringe is clear from how, for example, rather than denouncing the Minutemen as a hate group, GOP front-runner Mike Huckabee proudly announced the recent endorsement of Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist. And Tancredo’s much buzzed-about support of Mitt Romney, who like Tancredo, has hired undocumented workers to work on his home all the while erecting Presidential campaign strategies savaging them, reflects the opportunity and danger inherent in the mainstreaming of the Tancredo immigration politic.

Like the short-term economic logic that brought us the sub-prime mortgage morass, the short-term electoral greed of those GOP — and Democratic — pols who buy Tancredo’s immigration tonic, may well turn their political futures toxic. While Tancredo prevailed against Bush and Schwarzenegger between 2004 and today, the lame duck pols may yet have their “I-told-you-so” moment when the angry white voter politic loses its appeal in coming years.

Though hardly alone, Tancredo, more than most politicos has helped shape a future Latino politic that equates Republicano with “racista”. While hardly any immigrants know who Lou Dobbs is (Spanish language media does not report on or translate him), many can easily identify the man who they feel refused to appear at the recent Univision GOP debate “por pena” (for shame) at facing fellow human beings who happen to be immigrant, a debate where his former fellow candidates were uncharacteristically demure about immigration and immigrants. That the 10 year-old citizen children that marched with their undocumented parents in L.A.’s pro-immigrant march of thousands in 1994 were among the 22 year-old leaders of marches of more than two million last year is another testament to the success of Tancredo and his supporters in shaping a powerful, anti-racist political culture resembling that of the African American community.

The once reliably Republicano evangelical Latinos who played pivotal roles in electing Bush in 2004 are turning away from the GOP thanks to the Tancredo train. Just days after a Pew Hispanic poll concluded that even right-leaning Latinos find themselves negatively impacted by the tone of immigration debate, a large group of prominent Latino evangelical leaders held a press conference to declare that they “reject hateful speech” heard in that same debate. Once on their way to following the right wing politics of many white evangelical denominations, Latino evangelicos find themselves adopting the activist tradition of many black churches thanks to politicos like Tom Tancredo.

So, in the long term, Tancredo may not prevail after all. His geniality, Old Glory tie and toupee and acidic immigration politics may end up looking very bizarro after all.

Roberto Lovato, a frequent Nation contributor, is a New York-based writer with New America Media. Read more of his work at

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Latino Love Fest Over for Romney and Huckabee

December 12, 2007

Just two days after trying to melt the Latino political ice during the Univision television debate, GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were back to to the usual immigration antics. After a brief respit from using the words “illegals”, “illegal aliens” and other terms considered racist by many Latinos, Romney was back to his anti-immigrant business with ads like this one in which he attacks Idaho front-runner Huckabee for being “soft on immigration”:


Not to be outdone, Huckabee upped the ante by announcing his endorsement by Jim Gilchrist, one of the founders of the racist Minutemen organization.

How the Republicans expect to woo the Latino vote all the while flirting with white supremacist screed really does boggle the mind.