9/11…How Our Lives Have Changed

9 Sep

911 Volunteers

As a nation and global community takes time to pause this weekend to mark the anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, we take a moment to see how our lives have changed.

Everyone has their “moment”- some more direct than others- but everyone, everyone, especially in the U.S. were impacted on that morning.

It brings to mind waking up to calls telling me to ‘turn on the TV’, “what is going on?”, then the second plane hits and the truth settles in. A nation is under attack, sent reeling.

What rose from this day was a mixture of sense of service and sense of fear.

In 10 years we have seen changes in everyone’s daily lives. From the planes we travel, the water we drink, the borders we cross, and the people we interact with. It causes many people to stop and re-think, “that plane is flying too close to that building”, “was that an earthquake or a bomb?”

A sense of service that was birthed out of the event meant for harm, created a calling that we are all connected. That is what led this girl from Texas and a boy from Oklahoma to drop everything and go volunteer in New York City a month after the attacks. Volunteer with faith-based organizations and the American Red Cross to serve those who were in the trenches searching for survivors and clearing the rubble.

That is what leads all of us to continue to work together to try bridge gaps of understanding. That is what led to creating The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. A day that is designed to provide a productive and respectful way to honor those who perished and rekindle the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation after 9/11 to help meet the challenges we face today. http://www.serve.gov/

This is what can bring all communities and neighbors together and prosper together.

As I reflect, I remember three things remain: Faith, Hope and Love. The greatest of these is Love. Love wins.


Alabama immigration law: prejudice over common sense

26 Aug
MLK Memorial

MLK Memorial

While we set to dedicate and unveil the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in our nation’s capitol, a whole community in Alabama is about to be segregated and no one seems to be noticing.

Alabama HB 56, which was signed into law by Gover nor Bentley in J une 2011 and set to go into effect on September 1st includes the following:

  • All business must check the legal immigration status of all workers using the E-Verify system
  • Schools will be required to find out if all students are in the country legally (data is to be used for the purpose of “ statistical analysis” rather than preventing students from enrolling)
  • Permits police to arrest persons suspected of being an illegal alien if stopped for a different reason
  • Makes it a crime for persons to knowingly give rides to illegal immigrants
  • Makes it a crime for a landlord to knowingly rent property to an illegal immigrant
  • Makes all contracts entered into by an illegal immigrant unenforceable

Various reasons were given on why the law is said to “be good for Alabama”. What MATT see’s in contrast is an immigration law based on misinformation, prejudice and fear.

This law has the capacity to harm communities of every minority. It harms businesses of every kind by making it more difficult and expensive to hire new employees. It harms the whole education system- fear and intimidation do not provide a conducive learning environment and puts an extra burden upon school districts and administrators who are trying to teach.

In other words this law harms the everyday life of all Alabamans.

We can do something about it.

This law is more oppressive than Arizona’s, but not many people seem to be taking notice. We cannot grow accustomed to laws that segregate a large and growing part of our society.

“Injustice anywher e is a thr eat to justice ever ywher e.” – Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

  • Tell Governor Bentley this is not good for Alabama. Governor’s Switchboard (334) 242-7100
  • Call or visit your member of Congress! Capitol Switchboar d (202) 224-3121. Tell them that the federal government, not individual states, should control immigration enforcement. We need to come together and enact Comprehensive immigration reform.

New NADBank Bill Expands U.S.-Mexico Collaboration

13 Jul

By Tina Kosikowski at MATT.org

U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, has recently filed a bill titled H.R. 2216: NADBank Enhancement Act of 2011, allowing the North American Development Bank (NADBank) to finance new types projects improving border infrastructure and transportation. The bill would essentially allow the Mexican and U.S. government to negotiate financing on projects with the intent of promoting growth in trade and commerce between the two nations.

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa stated, “We must continue our efforts to improve the economic development and safety in the border areas of both the United States and Mexico.”

Geronimo Gutierrez, Managing Director of the NADBank, “We support this timely legislation in that it would allow the Bank to address a broader array of infrastructure needs in the border region that would help foster economic development and improve the bilateral trade relationship, ultimately for the benefit of all border residents in the United States and Mexico.”

Mexicans Find Reasons to Stay in Mexico

11 Jul

Believe it or not, Mexican migration al Norte has been reduced to a trickle of its former self and U.S. businesses are begging to stay in Mexico’s border region. Why? Education and increasing job options in Mexico are dulling the allure of an increasingly treacherous trek northward. The Mexican economy is prospering significantly faster than the United States. In less than a week, the New York Times has published two similar articles about Mexico. The common denominator in each? Mexico’s socio-economic prosperity despite violence. The article, “Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North“, provides insight:

Courtesy of iStockphoto


A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments — expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families — are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States…But Mexican immigration has always been defined by both the push (from Mexico) and the pull (of the United States). The decision to leave home involves a comparison, a wrenching cost-benefit analysis, and just as a Mexican baby boom and economic crises kicked off the emigration waves in the 1980s and ’90s, research now shows that the easing of demographic and economic pressures is helping keep departures in check.

An article titled, “Despite Violence, U.S. Firms Expand in Mexico“, explains:

When the latest bloody headlines from the drug war in Mexico reach headquarters in New York, Ken Chandler, the manager of an American electronics manufacturing plant here, jumps on the phone… He is not begging to come home. He is begging to stay… Despite the bleak outlook the drug war summons, the Mexican economy is humming along, not without warning signs, but growing considerably faster than that of the United States…The result is a boomlet in jobs in some of Mexico’s hardest-hit cities, a bright spot in an otherwise bleak stream of shootouts, departing small businesses and fear of random death.

Mexico State Vote May Help PRI

3 Jul

by Regina Cantu @ Matt.org

Today, millions of Mexicans will be voting to elect governors in three states, but the real focus is on Mexico’s presidential race next year.

The  Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) , which ruled Mexico for 70 years, hopes victories will help cement its steady march to retake the presidency. The PRI was toppled from the nation’s top office in 2000 and has been attempting a comeback ever since.

In voting expected to shape the 2012 presidential contest, the largest number of ballots was being cast in the state of Mexico, a region with 15 million people and Mexico’s most populous state. This key ballot is also a popularity test for the outgoing governor, Enrique Pena Nieto, an early favorite to win back the presidency for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.   Eruviel Avila, the PRI candidate for governor, led pre-election opinion polls by a large margin, and he was widely expected to win. “Democracy wins today,” Avila said as he cast his ballot on an overcast morning.

Pictured: Eruviel Ávila Villegas

Despite his advantages, Avila campaigned hard and reportedly spent millions of dollars to woo voters. The PRI clearly hopes that a landslide will enhance the image that the party is unstoppable ahead of 2012.

Avila’s opponents, Alejandro Encinas of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of the conservative National Action Party’s (PAN), have trailed in opinion surveys and been hurt by infighting in their respective political camps. Their negotiations aimed at forming electoral alliances between the PRD and the PAN have collapsed in their efforts to stand up to the PRI.

But the PRI has also had to confront its own legacy. Its decades of rule, when the party controlled governments, unions and media across the nation, were marked by corruption and heavy-handedness. Its opponents warn that PRI’s claims that it has reformed and modernized are bogus.

Coahuila and Nayarit will also be electing governors today. These two states have seen a dramatic rise in drug killings over the past year, a critical liability for Calderon who has staked his legacy on fighting powerful cartels since taking office in late 2006. With drug violence surging over the past four years and more than 40,000 deaths to date, some voters are fed up.

Senator Durbin’s Office: First-Ever Hearing on DREAM Act Tomorrow

27 Jun

DREAMers are back and they’re stronger than ever! Senator Durbin (D-IL) has announced the “first-ever hearing on the DREAM Act” happening tomorrow at 10am ET.  Watch it live here!

On his website:

Senator Durbin (D-IL)


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that he will chair the first-ever Senate hearing on the DREAM Act next Tuesday, June 28th, at 10:00 am ET. The hearing will be in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

“I’ve been working on the DREAM Act for over ten years,” Durbin said. “In that time, it’s been reported out of committee by a large bipartisan margin, passed the House of Representatives, and received a bipartisan majority vote in the Senate, only to fall because of a filibuster. I’ll convene the first-ever Senate hearing on this bill next week to discuss how the DREAM Act will make our country stronger by giving undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing.”

Durbin will chair the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security. The hearing will be webcast live on the Judiciary committee’s website.

The following witnesses will testify: Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano; Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan; Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Dr. Clifford Stanley; DREAM Student, Ola Kaso; Lt. Colonel (retired) Margaret Stock; and Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies, Steven Camarota. “

Will this lead to fresh discussion or continued frustration? What has to happen for “progress” in favor of DREAMers? How can we define progress?

Texas Passes Arizona-style Immigration Bill

17 Jun

by Regina Cantu @ Matt.org

In what sounds like Texas’ version of SB 1070, the Senate approved on Tuesday night a bill allowing peace officers to inquire on the immigration status of any person arrested or legally detained.

Six hours of debate resulted in the body voting to pass the special session version of the sanctuary cities bill out of the upper chamber along a party line vote, 19 to 12. The bill, SB 9 by state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, would deny state funds to entities that prohibit peace officers and employees of special districts from inquiring into the status of a person arrested or detained for the investigation of crime. It also expands the federal government’s Secure Communities initiative to all detention facilities, and codifies tighter regulations for applicants for driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs. Gov. Rick Perry added the measure to the special session agenda last week.

Senator Williams' SB-9 includes the same misguided Arizona-style provisions that are strongly opposed by the police chiefs and sheriffs.

Williams fought off repeated accusations that his bill is a blatant attempt to empower local law enforcement to act as immigration officers and deport illegal immigrants. He said there is no provision in the law that requires or allows them to do so. Instead, he said it was a necessary measure to identify criminal aliens intent on harming Texans, especially as the violence in Mexico continues unabated.

If during the course of whatever criminal or traffic (offense), whatever they are investigating, they come to the belief that that person is in the country illegally, this bill gives them the discretion (to determine what to do),” he said during the debate.

Yet police chiefs and sheriffs of every major city in the state opposed the bill, arguing that turning police into ICE agents fosters an environment of mistrust and ultimately ensures that less crime is reported and more criminals go free. Several law enforcement officers testified the bill would not only erode the success of what they labeled “community policing,” but also cost most of them millions more annually to detain immigrants and train officers.

Williams, however, routinely dismissed claims that the bill would erode trust in law enforcement and pointed to testimony Monday by a woman who said she cooperated with police officers when her abusive partner constantly badgered her and her daughter. The witness said she initially gave in to her fears and called the police, but testified that she would have been scared to do so if SB 9 was in place, for fear of being deported.

What she said yesterday exemplifies what is going to happen,” said Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. “They are going to fear calling the police.”

The vote came after a series of emotional speeches by Democrats in the legislature. At one point,Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston
asked his seven Latino colleagues to stand up. “This legislation will force them to prove their citizenship (if pulled over for a traffic violation)… This is a sad day,” he said.

State Senator Carlos Uresti “recalled his days as a U.S. Marine when he was called a ‘wetback’ and given the name ‘Charlie’ because Spanish was forbidden in school.”

Protesters say the immigrant enforcement bill is racist and causes fear in the Latino community.

And on Wednesday, after the passage of the bill, Texas faith leaders, business owners, human rights advocates, and law enforcement personnel traveled by bus from all over the state to rally on the Capitol steps. Hundreds of immigrant rights advocates also protested at the Senate Capitol the Senate’s approval. Said Reform Immigration for Texas, one of the rally organizers, “We will not forget SB 9.”

I can’t think of another piece of legislation that I believe will be judged to be so unfair and so inequitable as this piece of legislation,” said Whitmire. “We must slow down, members. It’s our moral duty to stand up against discrimination. We’re fixing to impact every Hispanic citizen in the state of Texas.”