Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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1. Newsday: Brother: Hate crime victim wanted 'the American dream'


2. New York Times Editorial: A Death in Patchogue


3. Inter Press Service News Agency: Obama Foreign Policy May Not Require a Clean Break


4. San Antonio Express News: Voters exacted a stiff price for immigration politicking


5. Boston Globe: Obama victory took root in Kennedy-inspired Immigration Act




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Brother: Hate crime victim wanted 'the American dream'



November 11, 2008

Marcello Lucero liked playing volleyball and lifting weights. He rented movies with friends and called his mother in Ecuador several times a week.

"Even though he'd been in the United States for 16 years, he always said, 'I miss home. I'm going back,' " his brother Joselo said yesterday. "Now he'll never be able to go home."

Friends in Patchogue found it both tragic and ironic that Lucero, 38, was stabbed in the chest seven times Saturday night in what police describe as a hate crime. They describe him as a thoughtful, quiet man who avoided arguments and often went out of his way to help neighbors.

His landlady, Rosa Orellana, who knew Lucero when both were children in Ecuador, remembered the way he would greet her cheerily when he returned from working at a dry cleaner. As soon as snow started to fall, she said, he would shovel her walkways.

"This is a guy who got along with everyone," Orellana said. "I mean everyone."

Lucero was 10 when his father died of a heart attack. "Suddenly, he became the man of the house, and had to help my mother raise three younger siblings," said his brother, also known as Efriam. "He never complained."

The family lived in the Andean mountains of Ecuador, and a sister left to become a resident of Queens. Marcello got a visa to come to the States, and was followed by his brother, who is four years younger. "There were so few opportunities at home," his brother said. "He wanted the American dream."

Lucero settled in a neighborhood next to downtown Patchogue that's favored by Ecuadoreans from the same region, known as Cuenca. He paid $500 for a room above Orellana's house. A friend, Cesar Angamarca, said that Marcello's life was "boring and predictable - go to work, then home, then back to work."

Another friend, Jose Morales, said Lucero rarely walked at night because he was afraid of being attacked by muggers who prey on Hispanics, but on Saturday he decided to walk a few blocks away to watch a movie at a friend's apartment. As Lucero passed Morales' house, he left a voice-mail message: "Hey, I'm outside." Morales was asleep but his cell phone recorded the time of the call - 11:36 and 57 seconds - just minutes before Lucerno was killed.

Police blame a group of seven teenagers, who they say were looking to kill a Hispanic - any Hispanic.

Marcello Lucerno was elated by the election of Barack Obama last week, his brother said. "He saw it as a chance for people with brown skin to be seen as equals. Instead, my brother was killed because of his appearance."

Joselo added, "I want the maximum penalty for these guys, although that won't bring back my brother. They killed a beautiful man."


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New York Times



November 11, 2008



A Death in Patchogue

Marcello Lucero was killed late Saturday night near the commuter railroad station in Patchogue, N.Y., a middle-class village in central Long Island. He was beaten and stabbed. The friend who crouched beside him in a parking lot as he lay dying, soaked in blood, said Mr. Lucero, who was 37, had come to the United States 16 years ago from Ecuador.

The police arrested seven teenage boys, who they said had driven into the village from out of town looking for Latinos to beat up. The police said the mob cornered Mr. Lucero and another man, who escaped and later identified the suspects to the police. A prosecutor at the arraignment on Monday quoted the young men as having said: “Let’s go find some Mexicans.” They have pleaded not guilty.

The county executive, Steve Levy, quickly issued a news release denouncing this latest apparent hate crime in Suffolk County. That should be the first and least of the actions he and other leaders take.

A possible lynching in a New York suburb should be more than enough to force this country to acknowledge the bitter chill that has overcome Latinos in these days of rage against illegal immigration.

The atmosphere began to darken when Republican politicians decided a few years ago to exploit immigration as a wedge issue. They drafted harsh legislation to criminalize the undocumented. They cheered as vigilantes streamed to the border to confront the concocted crisis of Spanish-speaking workers sneaking in to steal jobs and spread diseases. Cable personalities and radio talk-show hosts latched on to the issue. Years of effort in Congress to assemble a responsible overhaul of the immigration system failed repeatedly. Its opponents wanted only to demonize and punish the Latino workers on which the country had come to depend.

A campaign of raids and deportations, led by federal agents with help from state and local posses, has become so pervasive that nearly 1 in 10 Latinos, including citizens and legal immigrants, have told of being stopped and asked about their immigration status, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Now that the economy is in free fall, the possibility of scapegoating is deepening Hispanic anxiety.

It is not yet clear how closely connected Mr. Lucero’s murder is to this broad wave of xenophobia. But there is both a message and opportunity here for officials like Mr. Levy, an immigration hard-liner whose relations with his rapidly growing Latino immigrant constituency have been strained by past crises and confrontations.

Deadly violence represents the worst fear that immigrants deal with every day, but it is not the only one. It must be every leader’s task to move beyond easy outrage and take on the difficult job of understanding and defending a community so vulnerable to sudden outbreaks of hostility and terror.


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Inter Press Service News Agency



Monday, November 10, 2008 19:49 GMT


Obama Foreign Policy May Not Require a Clean Break


Analysis by Jim Lobe*


WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (IPS) - While much of the world and many of his U.S. supporters are expecting a sharp break with his predecessor's foreign policy after President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20, they may be surprised by the degree of continuity between the two administrations.


That continuity -- which would made more concrete if, as expected, Pentagon chief Robert Gates is asked to remain at his post -- has less to do with Obama's hesitation in following through on his more sweeping campaign promises than with the fact that President George W. Bush, has quietly -- if grudgingly -- moved key U.S. policies in directions that are largely compatible with Obama's own intentions.


Obama will no doubt announce a series of steps during or just after his inauguration to reaffirm to his supporters and, in the words of his victory speech Tuesday night, "to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, (that) our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, a new dawn of American leadership is at hand."


Those steps will be designed to contrast his commitment to multilateralism and diplomatic engagement with Bush's fabled unilateralism and reliance on military power. They will probably include an immediate and comprehensive ban on the use of torture and a promise to close of the Guantanamo detention facility at an early date.


In addition, Obama will likely move quickly to improve ties with two governments toward which Bush proved unremittingly hostile: Cuba, where he is expected to repeal Bush-imposed restrictions on the freedom of Cuban Americans to visit their homeland and send money to their relatives as a down payment toward further normalisation; and Syria, where he will dispatch an ambassador to signal his interest both in renewing anti-terror cooperation and encouraging the resumption of Turkish-mediated peace talks between Damascus and Israel, if not a broader peace process.


At the global level, Obama is expected to pledge full U.S. participation in any successor regime to the Kyoto Protocol, including binding reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, he may well announce his intent to gain Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and several other long-pending treaties opposed by Bush, including the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. He will also restore funding to another Bush target, the U.N. Population Fund.


He may even indicate a willingness to negotiate a "Bretton Woods II", as proposed by key U.S. allies in Europe, that would strengthen global financial watchdogs and allocate significantly more power to emerging markets in the Third World in international economic agencies long controlled by the West.


In addition to earning Obama great goodwill overseas, all of these steps will help dramatise the contrast between his more open and inclusive approach to the world and that of his predecessor, whose unilateralism and cowboy image have brought Washington's standing among foreign publics to an all-time low.


To be fair, however, that image -- so richly earned during his first term when neo-conservatives and other hawks ruled the roost -- is somewhat outdated. Chastened by the Iraq war and guided step by halting step by the foreign policy realists, notably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gates, and his top military commanders, who have come to dominate the last two years of his presidency, Bush has essentially -- if not explicitly -- laid the groundwork for Obama's "new dawn", especially with respect to key crisis areas that are certain to figure near the top of the new president's agenda.


Despite loud protests and repeated efforts by hawks around Vice President Dick Cheney to deep-six the process, for example, Bush has stuck by Rice and her top Asia aide, Christopher Hill, in making the necessary concessions to keep the "Six-Party Talks" to de-nuclearise North Korea alive.


Similarly, Bush broke his own diplomatic embargo on Iran -- along with Pyongyang, the last surviving member of the "Axis of Evil" -- by sending a senior State Department official, Undersecretary of State William Burns, to sit down with his Iranian counterpart as part of a larger meeting including other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany last summer. Significantly, Burns will serve as the State Department's chief liaison with Obama's transition team.


The administration also appears close to announcing that it intends to set up an Interests Section in Tehran even before Obama takes office. Such a step will no doubt make it far less controversial for the new president to open comprehensive, high-level talks with Iran without conditions when he chooses to do so (possibly after Iran's presidential elections in June so as to avoid boosting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chances of re-election).


And after effectively ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly seven years, Bush finally re-launched peace talks at Annapolis last November. While those talks have made little progress and now, with Israeli elections scheduled for February, have no hope of reaching an accord by the time Bush leaves office, he will bequeath, as Rice, the effort's most dogged booster, noted this weekend, a process that Obama can use to fulfill his promise to make a two-state solution an urgent priority.


Even on Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush has helped lay the groundwork for Obama's plans to accelerate the withdrawal of combat troops from the former and rapidly deploying more to the latter, which the president-elect has long argued, unlike the incumbent, constitutes the "central front in the war on terror". By acquiescing in a still-pending accord with the Iraqi government, Bush has also accepted a 2012 deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops -- not just its combat forces, which Obama has pledged to withdraw by mid-2010.


As for Russia, whose intervention in Georgia last August brought bilateral ties to their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War, Bush, like Obama, has acted with relative restraint, particularly compared to the urgings of Obama's Republican rival, Sen. John McCain.


And while his insistence on deploying missile-defence systems in central and eastern Europe is clearly more provocative than Obama's cautious ambiguity on the subject, Bush has also moved in recent days both to address Moscow's concerns and lay the basis for a new accord on sharply reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, something that Obama is expected to make a high priority in the early days.


In other areas, Obama's engagement strategy is likely to build on more positive achievements by Bush that have not received nearly as much attention as his "war-on-terror" debacles: most notably in East Asia, where, to the aggravation of the hawks, good ties with China have not only been preserved, but enhanced; India, where the new nuclear deal capped a rapidly growing strategic relationship; and much of Africa, where Bush's five-year-old, 15-billion-dollar AIDS programme, strongly endorsed by Obama, is given credit not only for saving millions of lives, but also for making the region the most Bush-friendly by far, according to recent public opinion polls.


*Jim Lobe's blog on U.S. foreign policy, and particularly the neo-conservative influence in the Bush administration, can be read at http://www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/


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San Antonio Express News



Voters exacted a stiff price for immigration politicking


Carlos Guerra

Last Tuesday's election surfaced important new constituencies that will change the political landscape.

A New York Times exit poll found that men split 49-48 between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, while women sided with Obama 56-43.

In terms of race and ethnicity, however, the differences were stark. White voters, who were 74 percent of the electorate, voted 55-43 for McCain, while 95 percent of black voters — 13 percent of the total — voted for Obama. Hispanics and Asians, the two fastest-growing blocs, also voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

Asians, who were 2 percent of the electorate, voted 62-35 for Obama, while Hispanics favored him 67-31. Veteran pollster Sergio Bendixen found that Hispanic immigrants — about 40 percent of Hispanic voters — gave the Democrat 78 percent of their votes.

While these two groups compose only one in nine voters today, they are expected to be at least half the electorate by mid-century, and immigration issues are very important to both.

On “Meet the Press” after his state — and his core constituency, Hispanics — voted heavily for Democrats for the first time in more than a decade, Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, offered Republicans sobering advice: “The very divisive rhetoric of the immigration debate set a very bad tone for ... Republicans. The fact ... is that Hispanics are going to be a more vibrant part of the electorate and the Republican Party had better figure out how to talk to them.

“We had a very dramatic shift in what President Bush was able to do with Hispanic voters, where he won 44 percent of them, and what happened with Sen. McCain,” Martinez said, arguing that McCain, a comprehensive immigration reform champion, didn't deserve the drubbing Hispanics gave him.

“There were voices within our party that if they continue with that kind of anti-Hispanic rhetoric, we're going to be relegated to minority status,” Martinez said.

In 2000 and again in '04, Bush promised comprehensive immigration reform but congressional Republicans derailed his initiatives and, instead, passed a series of harsh anti-immigration measures — including the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — which McCain and Obama voted for and which Bush signed.

The hateful rhetoric provided fodder for Obama, who used it to great advantage, though his positions on immigration virtually mirrored McCain's.

“This is not a uniquely Hispanic problem, though that is how it has been played,” Obama told me in an exclusive interview in February. “It's political talk to raise anti-Hispanic sentiments and that's very sad.”

He expressed reservations about the border wall, but justified his yes vote for it.

“You are not going to solve this problem with fencing ... but frankly, I cannot make the argument for dealing with the 12 million undocumented immigrants here unless there is some real confidence that we are making a real effort on the border,” he said. “We can either accept the status quo that people can come here illegally, that we tolerate it with a wink and a nod, and they are in the shadows and they are never in the process to become citizens and they are always worried about being deported, or we can strengthen our borders and make it harder for people to come in but then we can give real opportunities that people deserve in this country.”

Ironically, the economic slide that dashed McCain's presidential dreams did what the wall and beefed-up border enforcement could not: It significantly diminished unauthorized immigration.

But unless we get a comprehensive immigration reform package that provides for an orderly inflow of the foreign workers we need, the problem will worsen as the economy improves.

And it will.



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Boston Globe



Obama victory took root in Kennedy-inspired Immigration Act


By Peter S. Canellos, Globe Staff  |  November 11, 2008

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama's victory last week triggered an immediate accounting of debts to be paid off in constructing his new administration. There were those who speculated that Obama would be building a White House staff of loyal old Chicago hands. Others foresaw a bevy of Clintonistas. And still others had a vision of a kind of Kennedy redux that wags quickly dubbed "Obamalot."

After all, Caroline Kennedy had emerged from her shell of shyness to head Obama's vice-presidential search team, after joining her Uncle Ted on a national barnstorming tour with Obama in the days leading up to Super Tuesday. Her exertion not only signaled her enthusiasm for Obama, but also her willingness to be a greater presence in public life: Some now envision her as a possible UN ambassador.

Her cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has spent decades developing credibility as a global environmental activist, and some people close to the Kennedy family feel he, too, is ready to emerge on the national stage, having overcome a troubled youth. They see him as a possible Environmental Protection Agency chief.

There is no question that Obama owes a debt to the Kennedys - but it may be far greater than he or they realize. Yes, Senator Edward M. Kennedy offered a crucial early endorsement, comparing the Obama of 2008 to the Jack Kennedy of 1960. And certainly Caroline and others in the Kennedy family worked hard on the campaign trail. But the greatest Kennedy legacy to Obama isn't Ted or Caroline or Bobby Jr., but rather the Immigration Act of 1965, which created the diverse country that is already being called Obama's America.

That act is rarely mentioned when recounting the high points of 1960s liberalism, but its impact arguably rivals the Voting Rights Act, the creation of Medicare, or other legislative landmarks of the era. It transformed a nation 85 percent white in 1965 into one that's one-third minority today, and on track for a nonwhite majority by 2042.

Before the act, immigration visas were apportioned based on the demographic breakdown that existed at the time of the 1920 Census - meaning that there were few if any limits on immigrants from Western and Northern Europe, but strict quotas on those from elsewhere.

The belief that the United States should remain a nation of European lineage was openly discussed when immigration laws were revisited in 1952. The resulting bill, the McCarran-Walter Act, was notorious for giving the State Department the right to exclude visitors for ideological reasons, meaning that a raft of left-wing artists and writers - including Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, British novelist Graham Greene - and scores of others were denied visas. But it also had the effect of maintaining the 1920s-era notion of the United States as a white nation. (Congress imposed the bill over President Truman's veto.)

A decade later, attitudes were changing, and President Kennedy proposed a new immigration structure that would no longer be based on national origins. After Kennedy's assassination, his brother Ted took up the fight, pushing the Johnson administration to go even further than it wanted in evening the playing field. Though Lyndon Johnson, in signing the bill, tried to reassure opponents that it wouldn't do much to change the balance of immigration, its impact was dramatic.

In the 1950s, 53 percent of all immigrants were Europeans and just 6 percent were Asians; by the 1990s, just 16 percent were Europeans and 31 percent were Asians. The percentages of Latino and African immigrants also jumped significantly.

Simon Rosenberg, president of the liberal think tank NDN, formerly the New Democrat Network, calls the Immigration Act of 1965 "the most important piece of legislation that no one's ever heard of," and said it "set America on a very different demographic course than the previous 300 years."

By adding so many Asians, Latinos, and African immigrants, Rosenberg says, the act changed the racial narrative in America from one of oppression - the white-black divide dating to slavery - to one of diversity. That change was strongly echoed in the Obama campaign, which emphasized the candidate's mixed-race background as making him representative of a new generation of Americans.

That generation has its roots in the Immigration Act of 1965, and the act had its roots in the Kennedys. Obamalot may be the modern reflection of JFK's New Frontier, after all.

Peter S. Canellos is the Globe's Washington bureau chief. National Perspective is his weekly analysis of events in the capital and beyond. He can be reached at canellos@globe.com 



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