Monday, March 29, 2010

Whose Country is it?

This is the second of several Op-eds focusing on changing American demographics and the anger brewing across the U.S. (see post below as well).

American Rage? It's not all about Health Care

For many months I have been writing about the disproportionate rage that has been expressed by people, particularly here in Northern Virginia, but also around the nation regarding immigration and immigrants. More recently, I've been watching the response to the health care debate with s similar curiosity. Surely this cannot be about increasing health coverage for 30 million Americans. And c'mon folks, we all know that the call Social Security "social" because it is a form of wealth redistribution, or (heaven help us) socialism.

This Op-Ed from the NYT is one of several posts that I'm going to post here today that addresses the issue of rage and it causes. As I have long speculated, the author argues that the recent eruptions are based more on white America's fear of being replaced as the majority population.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seeking Healthcare in Mexico

This is an outstanding story on Mexican Americans who travel back to Mexico for health care. The story features young women who return for dental care, but it also discusses the rather large number who do so for very ordinary conditions. It also suggests that this practice will continue even after the new health care regulations are in place.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What will become of the Immigration Debate?

From the Immigration Rally on Sunday:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Immigration Rally

Some 150,000 people marched on Washington today to rally for comprehensive immigration reform.  The timing was interesting--the rally took place during the historic House debate on health care reform.  The House is voting now--and apparently is ready to pass the legislation.  Perhaps now the administration will be able to attention to the immigration issue once again.:

WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of immigrants and activists rallied here on Sunday, calling for legislation this year to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants and seeking to pressure President Obama to keep working on the contentious issue once the health care debate is behind him.
Demonstrators filled five lengthy blocks of the Washington Mall, down the hill from the Capitol where last-minute negotiations were under way on the health care bill. The immigrant activists, chanting Mr. Obama’s campaign slogan of “Yes we can” in Spanish and English, tried to compete with their numbers for public and media attention which were mainly focused on the climactic health care events in the House of Representatives.

The rally brought the return to major street action by immigration activists, who turned out hundreds of thousands of protesters in marches and rallies in 2006. After an immigration overhaul measure was defeated in Congress in 2007, the pace of enforcement raids picked up and many immigrants, especially those without legal status, preferred to lay low.

But immigrant advocates decided to gamble by calling the march, to give a show of force that might impress Mr. Obama and also to vent the frustration of many immigrants who have taken to heart his repeated promises that he would move an immigration bill in Congress by early this year.
Mr. Obama addressed the crowd via a videotaped message displayed on huge screens, promising to keep working on the issue but avoiding a specific time frame.

“I have always pledged to be your partner as we work to fix our broken immigration system, and that’s a commitment that I reaffirm today,” Mr. Obama said.

He expressed his support for the outline of an immigration bill presented last week by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. While pledging to help build bipartisan support, Mr. Obama warned, “You know as well as I do that this won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.”

But speaker after speaker rose to demand immigration legislation sooner rather than later, leaving aside any mention of the acrid political environment in Washington in the aftermath of the health care battle.
“Every day without reform is a day when 12 million hard-working immigrants must live in the shadow of fear,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a Democrat from New York who is the chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“Don’t forget that in the last presidential election 10 million Hispanics came out to vote,” she said. She told the crowd to tell lawmakers “that you will not forget which side of this debate they stood on.”
Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois, a Democrat who has been a leader of the immigrants’ movement, said he was optimistic that Mr. Obama would try to get an immigration bill this year.
“I see a new focus on the part of this president,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “That’s why we are here to say we are not invisible.”

The urgency was echoed by church leaders who spoke, including Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles, and Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, the leader of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the largest organization of Latino evangelical churches.
“The angst and trepidation in our communities is unprecedented,” Mr. Rodriguez said. He compared the mood among Latinos to the hard days of the civil rights movement. “This is our Selma,” he said.
Echoing that thought were an array of African-American leaders who turned out for the event. Speakers included the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Benjamin T. Jealous, president of the N.A.A.C.P; Cornel West, a Princeton scholar, and Marc H. Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans and the president of the National Urban League.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum and a leading organizer of the event, said that rallies were planned in several cities on April 10, the last day of the Congressional recess. On May 1, Mr. Noorani said, immigrant groups would release a report card of every lawmaker and where they stand on the immigration overhaul.

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said he thought an immigration bill could pass at the end of the year, after the storm of the November elections had passed.

The crowd, overwhelmingly Latino immigrants, arrived on buses from California, Ohio, Texas, Michigan, Colorado and many other places. Unions brought thousands of members, including dozens of workers from a meat-packing plant in Tar Heel, N.C.

While a few demonstrators waved flags from other countries, most flew American flags overhead, recalling the negative reaction from American voters to earlier protests where Mexican flags dominated. Farm workers from Florida held one billowing flag overhead and propped it with sticks, forming a tent.

In the crowd, frustration with Mr. Obama was strong. Rudy Romero, 19, and Andrea Rentaria, 23, said they boarded buses early Friday in Colorado with 54 other people, and 36 hours later, arrived in Washington. They said they were disappointed with the pace of progress on immigration.
“We’ve been waiting for so long,” Mr. Romero said. “I know it takes time, but a promise is a promise. We are demanding it today.”

Ms. Rentaria added, “We want to step up and say, ‘Hey, wake up. We’re here. We’re still waiting. We’ve given you time to settle in. When is this going happen?’ ”

“I understand you have to take care of health care,” Ms. Rentaria said. “As soon as we’re done with that,” she said, immigration should be next.

Although there were a few jeers for Mr. Obama during a morning rally, the crowd roared when he appeared on video.

Adrian Vasquez, 32, held up a sign reading “Support Our President, Immigration Reform Now!” Mr. Vasquez, who has been in the United States for 20 years and is now an illegal immigrant, admitted that the push for an overhaul “could not come at a worse time” for Mr. Obama.

But he said, “I’m eager for change. I think we can get it done.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Research on Retirement in Mexico

The International Community Foundation recently released a series of reports that examine the lives and choices of Americans who retire in Mexico.  

The foundation's work entitled, "Retiring Responsibly in Mexico" has three stated objectives:

  1. Undertake timely and relevant research on the demographic patterns of U.S. retirees in Mexican coastal communities to better understand the impacts of current north to south migration trends as they relate to emerging issues of economic security, health care and public safety.
  2. Understand the impacts of recent coastal development in Mexico fueled by the influx of U.S. retirees, assessing the impacts on surrounding ecosystems, documenting trends in sustainable retirement communities, and recognizing the legal/financial risk for homebuyers.
  3. Assess the level of social capital among U.S. retirees residing in Mexico with a focus on volunteerism, charitable giving, and civic engagement in their adopted communities.
The reports and more information on the International Community Foundation can be found here.

March 21 March for Immigration Reform

Tomorrow supporters of comprehensive immigration reform will march on Washington to raise awareness and (hopefully) support.  This article describes how organizers are reaching out to the African American community.

Latinos and the Obama Administration

This article from today's Washington Post outlines the frustration Latino supporters have had with Mr. Obama.  Frankly, I'm not sure why the administration did not simply put forth an immigration bill and take the change of allowing the Republicans to vote it down.  Obama has a group of non-starters in congress, they will oppose anything he stands for simply to be contrarian.  Why not force them to put their positions and party on the line?