On Supporting Immigrant/Refugee Rights
People rally outside the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard in the case of President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
“Building Multi-Racial Coalitions Against Trump’s Criminalization Policies”
| Jose Calderon |
The families who are coming here from Central America, Mexico, and Latin America overall are coming as a result of years of this country’s foreign policies toward those countries and the growing violence and poverty. These reasons include the economic inequalities that exist between the U. S. and Latin America, the uprooting of farmers and peasants as a result of trade agreements such as NAFTA that favor the subsidized multinational corporate interests in this country, and policies that result in the undercutting of staple crops such as beans and corn.
These policies have historically tended to separate immigrants coming to this country into political and economic refugees. Those coming from Cuba, for example, have been labeled as political refugees, as running from a country that this country has decided is persecuting them, and has welcomed them with speedy and immediate legalization status. This was also true for Vietnamese refugees who were also labeled as political refugees.
Those coming from Mexico or Central America are labeled as “economic refugees.” In practice, the U. S. during the Reagan administration continued to grant refugee status to immigrants from Southeast Asian and Eastern Europe while making it difficult for others fleeing places like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Being a refugee then has not been a matter of personal choice, but of government decisions based on a combination of legal guidelines and political expediency. How one is classified, as either an economic or political refugee, depends on the relationship between the U. S. and the country of origin and the international context of the time. It is problematic because it is not an economic mode of incorporation but a political status, validated by an explicit decision of the U. S. government.
The immigrant and refugee families from Central America come from countries where U. S. companies have been using their cheap labor and resources historically. The immigrant and refugee families are also running from drug cartels who would have no success were it not for the demand of the consumers that are primarily located right here in the U. S. Many are hoping to be reunited with parents or relatives already living in America, and they cross the border without papers because there are virtually no legal ways for them to immigrate. Nor can their undocumented parents return home to get them.
The media primarily blames the immigrant and refugee families for leaving because of gang violence but there are deeper issues here. A lot of the gangs in Southern California were formed as part of the great migration from El Salvador when Ronald Reagan and the U. S. government in the 1980’s intervened in that civil war resulting in 75,000 deaths. Many were arrested and deported and, in El Salvador and other central American countries we saw the rise of death squads and the mass incarceration of gang members. After the war, there was a rise in gangs and, although the U. S. government has not played any role in developing programs to deal with this issue, it has been organizations such as that of Homies Unidos who have been in the forefront of organizing and reducing the incarceration of gang members. Similarly, the Central American country of Honduras, from where many recent refugee children and families are coming from, has had a long history of wars that have displaced thousands. More recently, in 2009, the U. S. supported a military coup in Honduras that resulted in the ouster of the democratically-elected government of Manuel Zelaya. Following the coup, there has been mayhem in the government with oppression of any groups that protest. The economy has been in dire stress and thousands of children and families have been thrown into the streets and, with nowhere else to go, have joined the thousands of refugees who have made their way to the U. S. Mexican border. This is also true for the thousands climbing on trains and leaving Guatemala, a country where the U. S. supported a military junta that killed thousands of indigenous people.
The media and politicians in this country bypass this history when they present the reasons why immigrant and refugee families are coming here and seeking asylum. As a result, we have had rabid racism and nativism displayed by angry mobs in places like Murrieta, California with cries that these families have no rights to be here and should be immediately deported.
This goes against the official reports by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which documents that almost 60 percent of the children and the families fleeing to the United States from Central America are legitimate asylum seekers.
It is only our efforts that can ensure that the asylum-seeking immigrant and refugee families stuck in places like Tijuana and those who are coming here are not removed through a non-judicial process but receive the opportunity for fair and full consideration of their legal claims with access to legal counsel. The cost of pushing these refugee and immigrant families back into dangerous or deadly situations is simply too high.
These children and families, under international law, are entitled to be classified as refugees from violence and war. They have the right, as refugees, to have legal assistance and to have their cases heard before a judge. Those who are found to be refugees from violence or persecution have the right to asylum. However, instead of the U.S. asylum system recognizing the unique forms of persecution that these immigrant and refugee families have faced in their host countries, they are being denied any opportunity to articulate their claims for asylum — they are simply detained for long periods of time in inadequate facilities with little regard for their best interests.
In recent years, we have learned that it is only our organizing work at the grass-roots that can ensure legislation that is truly just and that rewards, not criminalizes, immigrant families and refugees for their contributions. We have moved forward from the period in 2004-2006 when California Governor Pete Wilson used Proposition 187 to get re-elected, when the Sensenbrenner bill was advanced by the anti-immigrant conservative right, and when there was a cutting of bilingual education and affirmative action. It was not that long ago that many labor unions were anti-immigrant. Now, in a recent session of the CA legislature, it was unions that helped to pass Assembly Bill 450, requiring an employer to require proper court documents before allowing immigration agents access to the workplace or to employee information. Alongside this, it is important to recognize the role that Dream Act recipients played in moving policy at a federal level like no other organization has been able to do in recent years. It was Dream Act recipients, before the 2012 elections, that showed their capacities for exerting this political power by presenting 11,000 signatures, courageously leading protests in the streets, and holding a series of sit-ins across the country that, along with many community-based legal teams, led to Obama’s executive order granting “deferred action status” and implementing a Deferred Action Policy.
The best strategy that these combined forces have been able to advance has been one that has organized multi-racially at the local, state, and national levels. On the local level, in the city of Pomona, I have been part of coalitions that have included immigrant, labor (UFCW), student, faith-based, and community-based organizations. The Pomona Habla coalition, on a local level, was an example of a coalition that took a local issue about immigrant rights and connected it to policy changes statewide (while building support to change immigration policies nationally).
The coalition became a model for the passage of ordinances in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Baldwin Park allowing an unlicensed driver that permit an unlicensed driver to allow another licensed driver to allow another licensed driver to take custody of the vehicle rather than having it impounded. These statewide efforts led to the introduction of a bill by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, restricting local police from impounding cars at traffic checkpoint simply because a driver is unlicensed. This ultimately led to the passage of a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
In connecting the local to statewide efforts it is no accident why our political representatives have taken positions of “no ban and no wall,” supporting California as a sanctuary state, and vowing to protect the rights of our immigrant and targeted communities regardless of what oppressive policies Trump tries to force the states and cities to carry out. In recent years, it is the immigrant rights and worker movements who have pressured legislators in passing landmark pro–immigrant legislative policies such as: in-state tuition, driver’s licenses, new rules designed to limit deportations, state-funded healthcare for children, a new law to erase the word “alien” from California’s labor code, and the passage of SB-54, called the Sanctuary bill, which prohibits California officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status and limits cooperation between California police officers and federal immigration agents. There are other bills in recent legislative session that have included measures to block the expansion of immigration detention centers, to protect undocumented immigrants from housing discrimination, and to stop unjust workplace raids.
The roots of these changes on the state level have their foundation in the organizing that is taking place at the grass-roots. On the local level, we have our coalitions that have been exemplary in the development of a partnership between the community-based Latino and Latina Roundtable organization, the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, the Pomona Valley Chapter of the NAACP, the Inland Valley Immigrant Justice Coaltion, and others. In creating connections between the educational and immigrant rights needs of families, the partnership has implemented workshops for hundreds of students and parents in how to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, how to obtain a Matricula Consular card (an official identification document issued by the Mexican government), and (with a coalition with the Pomona Day Labor Center) workshops on how to obtain a California driver’s license. The partnership on K-12 and college pipeline issues has led to further action, including family summits and some parents who have gone with us to Sacramento to educate our representatives on bills to provide safe schools for immigrant children and to ban the use of public funds to aid federal agents in deportation actions, as well as other legislation to protect vulnerable students and advance educational equity. We have also been organizing by getting our members and others to understand the Real ID, after the California DMV began offering a compliant Real ID driver license or ID card as an option in order for its holders to be able to board a domestic flight or enter a federal facility as of October 1, 2020. Most of the undocumented community is not eligible to receive these documents, which exposes them to vigilantism, profiling, and persecution. We therefore have been calling on our communities to opt for a non-compliant I.D. or driver’s license for use in our daily life in California instead – and in this way our documentation will be the same as that of an undocumented person with a driver’s license, thus making the distinction between “compliant” and “non-compliant” documents less effective as a mechanism to isolate our undocumented community.
As part of these efforts, we have been organizing to defend the rights of our Central American families who have faced deportation with Trump’s actions to abolish the Temporary Protected Status program affecting many Central American families (some whom have been here for over twenty years) with children who have grown up in this country and are now attending school or college or have full-time jobs. When the Trump administration sought to deport over 400,000 immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a coalition made up of organizations such as the National Day Labor Organizing Network, CARECEN-LA, and the National TPS Alliance led a campaign to defend the program. This multiracial coalition has been exemplary in organizing a grassroots network of over 70 TPS committees from across the country, in training new immigrant rights leaders, and in bringing two class-action TPS justice lawsuits that initially blocked Trump’s termination of TPS status for nearly half a million people from six countries: Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Nepal. These efforts, while initially successful in achieving a one-year extension for all six countries covered by the two lawsuits, received a setback on October 12 when the Ninth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Trump administration and cleared the way for ending the protection of the 400,000 families covered under this program. In response, the coalition is embarking on a “Road to Justice” bus tour exposing how Trump’s TPS terminations were motivated by racism, going to 54 cities in 32 states, and ending with advocacy actions and meetings with congressional legislators in Washington, D.C.
We continue to point out through forums and our research that the focus of this administration on enforcement and against a speedy process goes against the many studies that show how much undocumented immigrants would stimulate the economy if they were allowed legalization as quickly as possible. According to the American Progress organization, a speedier legalization would result in: an additional $1.4 trillion to the Gross National Product between the present and 2022; resident workers benefitting with an additional $791 billion in personal income; and the economy creating an average of an additional 203,000 jobs per year. Within five years of their legalization, undocumented immigrant workers would be earning 25% more than they are earning resulting in an additional tax revenue of $184 billion (with $116 billion to the federal government and $68 billion to state and local governments). Overall these statistics sustain the argument that the sooner asylum and legalization can happen, the more the significant gains for all working people and the greater the gains for the U.S. economy.
A progressive immigration policy will take fighting for supporting the allocation of funds for processing and not for enforcement — to take the millions being proposed for more fence and more border officers and use it for a more efficient means of doing away with a backlog of thousands waiting in line for legalization. It needs to include additional resources to allow for hearings that ensure the rights and interests of the children and families in all proceedings, so that they can be released as quickly as possible from Border Patrol facilities that are inadequate.
Beyond the short-term need to ensure protection of rights and safe environments for our immigrant and refugee families, it is important to deal with the reality of conditions that are occurring in Latin American countries. What is true is the reality that immigrant workers will remain in or return to their homeland when the economy in these countries improves. If the U. S. federal government was really interested in doing something about immigration long-term, it would work to strengthen the sending countries’ economies. There is no reason why the U.S. could not develop bilateral job-creating approaches in key immigrant-sending areas. What is needed now and long-term is moving away from policies that merely focus on an enforcement that racially profiles our communities to policies that will speed-up the process to legalization, and advance a commitment to enhanced funding streams for economic development in the immigrant-sending countries (such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras).
It was refreshing after Trump’s announcement of non-support for DACA to see how people from all backgrounds walked out of schools and jobs to protest in support. Our support for the DACA program has been further bolstered by a study that just came out from Professor Roberto Gonzalez, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, how DACA has benefited over 800,000 of our young immigrants, contributed to the nation’s workforce, and added billions of dollars to the economy. This study comes at a time when the Supreme Court opposed the Trump Administration’s policies to terminate DACA (sending the decision back to the Department of Homeland Security) and brings forward the significance of the November presidential elections in deciding its future.
With this administration’s attacks in opposing DACA and TPS, it is more important than ever to continue organizing marches and protests by our individual organizations alongside building multi-racial coalitions who are collectively carrying out voter turn-out efforts to ensure the election of representatives who truly represent the interests and issues of our communities; fighting alongside our communities against immigration and refugee policies that only focus on enforcement; and fighting for policies that will immediately lead to permanent residency and citizenship for our immigrant and refugee families with no expansion of temporary guest worker (bracero) programs and with labor law protections.
Post-Industrial Systemic Transformative Thinking in the Contemporary Period
Tracing a thread from the 1980s to the present, José Z. Calderón explores the emerging movements to reorganize the structures of production and distribution in our economy.
Hidden too often in the mainstream’s version of history in this country are the many collective efforts that have created economic and political models of systemic structural change — models nationally and globally which have sought to create structural changes in Capitalism.
We have the commonality that there is a need to advance a dialogue on the contradictions inherent in the system of capitalism, deepen research on the new local and global economic models that are emerging, and promote the growth of a movement based on the creation of transformative structural models of equity.
With the inability of traditional politics and politicians internationally not being able to come up with viable solutions to a growing economic crisis, there is a growing movement to advance theories and practices for a new economy.
This movement is one that is based on rethinking the nature of ownership and rethinking the definition of “growth” as a basis for gauging whether there is progress. This is a movement advancing a transformation of the economy so that the public, rather than a small elite, little by little come to control the productive assets in the society.
At the base of this rethinking is the turning around of a system that survives on the existence of an unequal stratification system and the divisions it creates on the basis of wages, wealth, and opportunity.
An emphasis on the quantity of profit over quality of life has led to the rise of a right-wing movement to make sure that our potential power is scattered and decapitated through: deregulating and allowing corporations to spew chemicals in the air that result in more of us dying (particularly in people of color and low-income communities); through the cutting of our cutting health care; through incarcerating us (we have more African Americans in jail now than we had in slavery); through keeping us from voting by gutting the voting rights act and unjust gerrymandering; and through increased enforcement, deportation, and limits on asylum of our immigrant young people, families, and refugees. This movement, particularly evident in the policies of the past Trump administration, continues to rear its head by waging a war against our communities (and particularly those who have been in the forefront of any gains made in civil, human, and environmental rights in the last decades).
We have the Alt-Right, the Bannons, the Rockford Institute, the neo-conservative movements in this country who promote white supremacist, racial-nationalist and neo-fascist ideologies, who push a deregulated free enterprise system, more funding for the military, and stand against anything that promotes a system based on equality. These are movements that continue to defend and promote the privatization of our economy and that, rather than advancing spaces and places of a more just and equal world, are seeking to foment a politics of individualism and ignorance about global warming and the economy.
This trend promotes an unregulated economic system where corporations rule, where the needs of our communities are put aside for the priorities of profit-making interests, and that advances a form of neoliberalism that places emphasis on privatization and consumerism with the outcome of destroying any ideology that truly advances practices for the collective good.
To combat this right-wing conservative trend, we need a program that: transforms power at the top; abolishes a structure that allows the wealthy, the corporations, and businesses to manipulate the tax system in their favor; reverses banking concentration and supports a system of decentralized community accountable banks and credit unions; combats unjust gerrymandering; abolishes the electoral college; moves toward a form of proportional representation and builds a social movement in support of a living wage; health care with universal coverage; accessibility for everyone to a quality education; a guaranteed basic income; investment in pre-school, K-12, and higher education; public financing of elections; and trade agreements that ensure environmental and labor standards.
At the local level, we need a social movement to create transitional forms of a new structure or a new system that is based on the collective and not just the interests of the individual. Some of these transitional forms include employee-owned enterprises; cooperatives; and businesses that are used in the interests of the community.
About 130 million people in the country are members of various urban, agricultural, and credit union cooperatives. In Cleveland, Ohio, a group of worker-owned companies has been developed that is supported in part by the purchasing power of large hospitals and universities. The cooperatives include a solar installation and weatherization company, an ecologically advanced laundry, and a greenhouse capable of producing over three million heads of lettuce a year. The Cleveland model is not simply about worker ownership but the democratization of wealth and building community particularly in the low-income areas. They are doing this through the creation of community-serving non-profit corporations, a revolving fund, agreements that the companies cannot be sold outside the network and that they must return ten percent of profits to help develop additional worker-owned firms in the area. Further, an important element are the agreements with local hospitals and universities who, until recently, spent their $3 billion on goods and services per year, outside the immediate neighborhoods. The “Cleveland model” has now won over these entities to be responsible as publicly-financed institutions and to allocate part of their spending and assets to the worker co-ops in support of a larger community-building vision. There are other cities now creating similar models (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Amarillo, Texas, and Washington, D. C.) and there are unions, such as the United Steelworkers, that are developing co-op union models of ownership.
This is about an alternative form of municipal development and land use. In some cities, such as Washington, D. C. and Atlanta, cities bring in millions by capturing the increased land values that their transit investments create. The town of Riverview, Michigan has been a national leader in trapping methane from its landfills and used it to fuel electricity generation (providing both revenues and jobs). There are 500 such projects nationwide. Many cities have established municipally-owned hotels. There are nearly 2,000 publicly-owned utilities that provide power and broadband services to more than 45 million people — generating $50 billion in annual revenue. In Alaska, state oil revenues provide each person living in the state, dividends from public investment strategies.
Related to this is the creativity of Community development Banks, like the Bank of North Dakota (a state-owned bank founded in 1919) that are designed to facilitate economic revitalization of poor communities. In recent years, the bank returned $340 million in profits to the state. In Oregon, there are efforts to develop a similar bank, a “virtual state bank,” with no storefront. The South Shore Bank in Chicago is another example (developed in 1973) that provides real estate management, technical assistance, job training, equity investment, and economic consulting. It has assets exceeding $1 billion with $150 million invested in low-income communities.
All these models are closely related to what the New Democratic Movement (that many of us were part of) advocated in the 1980s: the development of a post-industrial society with concrete innovative economic “transitional” forms.
The Post-Industrial Society thinking of the 1980’s proposed a “struggle to develop the material basis for a strong cooperative movement” — and a society, not just based on “high levels of productivity” but on the maximum involvement of all the people. This outlook encouraged the development of small businesses, worker-owned cooperatives, and investment in human capital (particularly in education, housing, and health). It called for a society based on a revolution in the current mode of production where high productivity is possible through the development of the most advanced technologies.
This direction, in the contemporary period, includes some contemporary writers and thinkers that are thinking along the lines of the need for a new economy. Some of the ideas that relate to the post-industrial thinking advocated in the 1980’s by the New Democratic Movement are now being promoted by such economists as Richard Wolff, Emeritus in Economics at the University of Massachusetts; Gar Alperovitz, historian and political economist; Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative; and Joe Guinan, Executive Director of the Next System Project and Martin O’Neill, Political Philosophy at the University of York. There are many names being given to these models that, in addition, to post-industrial a post-industrial economy, include: stakeholder capitalism, the solidarity economy, new economy, sharing economy, regenerative economy, and the living economy.
In connecting with some of these themes, in the contemporary period, economist Richard Wolff, proposes systemic change “where the nature of work is transformed;” where people “once again control production;” where the creativity of workers is valued, and where they are in “control of the entire product.” Agreeing with Marx’s notion of surplus value, Richard Wolff proposes “workers self-directed enterprises where workers, who produce the surplus capital, are in charge of the profit (and not the managers or executives). Similar to aspects of the post-industrial article, Wolff proposes that production works best “when performed by a community that collectively and democratically designs and carries out shared labor.” The transformative element for Wolff is the “reorganization of all workplace enterprises to eliminate exploitation … where the workers become collectively self-directed at their work sites.”
In his book Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, Richard Wolff proposes that these models are fine but that what needs to change is the class structure of production and that many of the systemic models, including private and state capitalism have had the commonality of advancing state-capitalist class structures of top-down production that exclude the workers from production decisions and the distribution of their production. He proposes that even in the transitions from capitalist to socialist economic systems in various countries, there was a lack of prioritization or did not “explicitly include, or if they came to power, institute an economic system in which the production and distribution of surplus was carried out by those who produced it.” Overall, he argues that even in those countries categorized as “socialist,” there was a lack of prioritizing what he proposes as workers’ self-directed enterprises (where the workers who produce the surplus generated inside the enterprise function collectively to appropriate and distribute it). His solution of “workers’ self-directed enterprises” emphasizes that workers must partly or completely own the enterprises where they work and have a decision-making voice in the surpluses they produce. Such a transformation, from his outlook, will also advance the abilities of “workers to become informed, competent, and full participants in the democratic governance of the communities in which they reside.”
Similarly, Joe Guinan and Martin O’Neill in The Case for Community Wealth Building propose that organizing at the local level, in what they call “local justice,” can be a means of developing models (such as the ones that have been presented here as examples) that both take on the power of corporations and “build a more equal and democratic economy.”
Gar Alperovitz, in What Then Must We Do, proposes a direction that builds models of democratizing wealth and the building of a cooperative and community-based economy from the ground up. Like aspects of the post-industrial article, Alperovitz proposes cooperative models that include community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, and employee stock ownership plans.
In this vein, Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard, in The Making of a Democratic Economy, present models that are “making what was once radical seem more like common sense.” These models include: “cooperatively-owned work places; of cities committed to economic policies rooted in racial justice; of ethical financing and investing; of communities on the frontline of crisis-building” to show us that “a different economy is not just a theoretical possibility but that it is something happening in right now in the real world.” The models include policies such as that of the Green New Deal (proposed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) to shift to 100% renewable energy in 10 years, to create tens of thousands of new jobs, and to advance the implementation of publicly-owned banks like the North Dakota Bank. Already, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and California Governor Gavin Newsom have committed to establishing state public banks. This follows with the thinking of Gar Alperovitz that a whole new economic system is emerging that already include models of economic development with racial justice at the forefront, employee-owned companies, and local purchasing by anchor institutions. Agreeing with other economists, Alperovitz presents “anchor” models that are not just about theory but are “real models” that have taken the example in Cleveland (the Cleveland Model) and are now being constructed in other places ranging from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Rochester, New York, and to Richmond, Virginia.
The rise of this new economy include worker-owned cooperatives ranging from the “Si Se Puede” cooperative (a Brooklyn house-cleaning enterprise owned primarily by Latinas) to union cooperatives (such as the Communications Workers of America Local 7777 in Denver (Green Taxi) where the leadership and board is made up entirely of immigrant drivers from East Africa and Morocco). Further, worker coops are being implemented now in New York City, Newark, Oakland, Rochester, and Madison. There are more than 6,600 employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) throughout the country with $1.4 trillion in assets and “businesses owned by the people they serve” (that include credit unions, agricultural cooperatives, and consumer cooperatives) that represent $500 billion in revenue and employ more than 2 million people.
There are four principles that involve moving in this direction:
- Thinking of new ways to democratize wealth
- Placing the building of community and what is in the interests of community in the forefront in all development
- Decentralizing power in general – so that there is community input
- Planning in the interests of quality of life
The character of capital and corporations is that they have the highest level of planning in individual corporations that do everything competitively to reap the most profits with a culture of greed and selfishness in the forefront. However, there is the capacity for a new kind of planning, with a culture of collectivity in the forefront, to use the earth’s resources to solve the many problems threatening our survival.
Presentacion en “Instituto de Liderazgo Jose Fernando Pedraza”
Por Jose Zapata Calderon – 26 de Enero, 2020
Gracias por la invitacion a esta inaguracion del “Instituto de Liderazgo Jose Fernando Pedraza.” El desarollo de la Red Nacional de Jornaleros y ahora este instituto – esta cerca de mi Corazon. —- Yo era parte del comienso del Centro Jornalero en Pomona en 1997 cuando el concilio paso una ley a multar cada jornalero mil quinientos dolares nomas por pedir trabajo en la calle — y Respondimos con una marcha y llenamos el concilio con cienes de personas hasta que estuvieron en acuerdo con ayudar a desarollar ese centro jornalero. Yo era parte del comienso de la Red Nacional cuando se desarollo la primera conferencia con doce organisaciones comunitarias en Northridge en Julio de 2001 –
Tengo que decirles que mi compromiso – mi pasion – en apoyo de estas luchas –vinieron de que yo era inmigrante de Mexico – que vine a los siete anos – con mis padres – que eran campesinos en Colorado toda sus vidas – y mi padre era jornalero en los inviernos – esperando en las esquinas – hasta cuando habia nieve – por un trabajo – para que pudieramos comer. Nunca olvide – y cuando gradue del colegio – fui a trabajar por un rato con la Union de Campesinos en Delano – y cuando regrese a Colorado con mis padres – comense una escuelita en en un garaje atras de la casa de mis padres – y les tengo que decir que comense a ensenar 18 estudiantes que no sabian ingles en el mismo modo que ustedes estan usando el metodo de Paulo Freire – la educasion popular. Y les tengo que decir hoy que no hay mejor manera de honrar la vida de Fernando Pedraza que con el desarollo de este Instituto porque Fernando verdadera era el ejemplo de un desarollo de conciencia – de un jornalero que organisaba otros jornaleros – en una esquina – para respetarse unos a otros en busca de trabajo – y tambien a luchar en contra injusticia. Fernando era parte de las clases con algunos de mis estudiantes – haciendo para aprender alfabetisacion – pero lo que aprendio y enseno – fue mucho mas que nomas aprender a escribir y leer – Fernando era el ejemplo de usar sus abilidades para luchar en contra injusticia. En 2002, cuando la ciudad de Rancho Cucamonga paso una ley en contra los jornaleros poder buscar trabajo en la esquina – Fernando no tenia miedo en usar su nombre y llevo la ciudad a corte para asegurar el derecho de sus companeros Jornaleros poder a continuar a buscar trabajo en esa esquina. Despues de esa Victoria, Fernando continuo a luchar para un centro para los jornaleros. Y era porque Fernando, Don Gilberto y los demas trabajadores, con apoyo de estudiantes y el centro jornalero de Pomona y la Red — desarollaron una esquina de lucha – que anti-inmigrante grupos como el Ku Klux Klan y los Minute Men comensaron a protestar los trabajadores en esa esquina de Arrow y Grove. Era en Abril 2, 2007 – cuando una docena del grupo Ku Klux Klan protesto a la esquina. Y era nomas un mes despues – en el Cinco de Mayo de 2007 – un dia que se celebra como dia cuando Los Mejicanos ganaron una gran Guerra en contra los Franceses en Pueble – que el grupo Minute Men estaba protestando en contra los jornaleros – cuando dos carros choquearon en medio de la carretera – y uno de los carros atropello y mato a nuestro lider Fernando. Aunque su muerte nos dolió profundamente – Fernando a continuado a vivir en el desarollo del Centro de Pomona, en el continuo de clases y liderazgo en la esquina, y en un memorial atendido por jornaleros, estudiantes, y comunidad cada ano. El ejemplo y espiritu de Fernando esta aqui hoy – con ustedes – lideres – con el desarollo de la Red Nacional (que comenso con unos cuantos y ahora existe en esquinas, centros, y ciudades por toda la nacion).
— Estamos aqui en el espiritu de Fernando a usar nuestras abilidades – sin tener miedo – a derrotar los muros de ignorancia, racismo – y de hacernos chivos expiatorios. En este tiempo cuando los de la derecho y el gobierno usan la frustracion de trabajadores (muchos que no tienen Buenos sueldos y beneficios para sobrevivir) para avanzar odio en contra nuestras comunidades inmigrantes – es mas importante que nunca – para cometernos a luchar y organisar (en el espiritu de Fernando) por justicia, igualdad, y legalisacion por nuestras comunidades que contribuyen billones a la economia con su sudor de trabajo y impuestos. Sabemos muy bien que esto fuera lo que quisiera Fernando y todos esos jornaleros por todo la nacion que han sacrificado sus vidas y ya no estan fisicamente con nosotros. El Espiritu de Fernando y todos esos antepasados esta muy vivo entre nosotros – y con ese espiritu – con la Red, con el desarollo de Instituto – hay que estar seguros que a lo ultimo la verdad va a ganar – que un mejor futuro para nuestras comunidades esta al alcance de nuestros esfuerzos – y que: Pedraza Vive, La Lucha Sigue y Sigue — Pedraza Vive, La Lucha Sigue y Sigue!
Presentation at Fernando Pedraza Celebration
We are here today – on Cinco de Mayo – a day that has been commercialized and its real meaning lost in festivities that fail to mention how a less equipped army of Mexican people defeated the colonial French army in Puebla.
We are here in this tradition of struggle – of organizing — once again to commemorate the life of Fernando Pedraza, a father – a grandfather – and a day laborer leader – who died in 2007. In 2007, at this time, Fernando Pedraza stood alongside other day laborers here – like any other day – waiting for a job. Little did they know that the Minute Men would use this day – Cinco de Mayo – as a day to protest the Rancho Cucamonga day laborers. On any other day, the workers would have been gone by noon – but because of the Minute Men presence – they stayed on. An auto collision in this intersection resulted in the death of our brother Fernando. He died at a time when he had been advocating to the Rancho Cucamonga city council for a day labor center. This was his dream. Since Fernando died, we have continued to organize and fight for the rights of our day laborer and immigrant communities.
The federal government, under Trump—continues to use the sincere frustration of working people (who have lost their jobs and their homes in this economic crisis) – — and use that frustration to blame our day laborers and immigrants. We are here to place the blame where it belongs – on a system that is broken – and continues to create roadblocks to the legalization of our 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country. The year that Fernando died – the Minute Men had protested a number of times before his death and the Ku Klux Klan showed up at one of their protests. We have responded in how Fernando would want us to respond- through organizing as we are doing today – through marches, protests and pickets – but through also carrying out citizenship drives, voter registration drives, getting out the vote – and ultimately prevailing – by throwing out an administration who has been intent on attacking our Muslim communities, refugees, women, LGBTQ communities, unions, workers, people of color, our poor people, our immigrant communities, and our physically and mentally challenged.
Today we gather in memory of Fernando and for all those whose only dream is to have a better life. Today we gather as “bridge-builders” – to tear down the walls of ignorance, scapegoating, and hate. We vow today to continue exposing those who blame our immigrant and refugee communities for all the economic ills in this country – and commit to remember Fernando and all day laborers and immigrant families who have sacrificed their lives—by working to build the kind of sacred spaces that we have been able to create today – one that places the quality of life in the forefront – builds bridges among all people of all backgrounds – and advances our common ongoing efforts to obtain justice and equality for all our immigrant families, workers and communities.
On Cinco de Mayo, 2007, a spontaneous demonstration by the Minutemen against day laborers on the corner of Arrow Highway and Grove Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga, ended with the death of day laborer leader Jose Fernando Pedraza. Fifty-seven year old Pedraza died at the corner where he waited on a daily basis for one-day jobs. It is also the corner where Pedraza organized other day laborers to defend their rights. In 2002, Pedraza was part of a court case against the City of Rancho Cucamonga who wanted to enforce a law disallowing day laborers to gather on the street. In the recent months before his death, Pedraza had attended several meetings of the Rancho Cucamonga city council to support his fellow day laborers so that they could have a job center where they could be safe from hate-based attacks and traffic accidents.
Pedraza, a Mexican immigrant and a father of five daughters and the grandfather of seven, was killed at 1 P. M. on May 5, 2007 when an SUV, that hit a car in the intersection, rolled onto the sidewalk where day laborers were gathered. On any other day, the day laborers would have left by the noon hour. On this day, the day laborers stayed because the Minutemen showed up to protest the day laborer corner.
The memorial march and service is supported by the Latina/o Roundtable, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Latino Student Union, The National Day Labor Organizing Network, CLUE, and a coalition of campus/community organizations.
LA MISMA LUCHA
Derechos de las y los Inmigrantes y la Justicia Educativa
- José Calderón -
Mesa redonda Latino/a y Pitzer College y de los valles de San Gabriel y Pomona,
José Calderón describe cómo ha establecido una conexión entre las luchas por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa en su trabajo como activista académico en la ciudad de Pomona, en el Condado de Los Ángeles. José comienza relatando su propia historia llegando como inmigrante a este país y el papel que la educación pública tuvo en abrir nuevas oportunidades en su vida. A continuación, analiza una serie de campañas paralelas: poner fin a los retenes policiales, la lucha por el derecho al voto, la creación de alternativas a la violencia de las pandillas, y la promoción de escuelas comunitarias. Discute también los profundos procesos de construcción de relaciones que tuvieron lugar a través de estas campañas, creando coaliciones multirraciales con una visión unida que combina los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa.
MI PASIÓN POR CONSTRUIR PUENTES entre las luchas de nuestras comunidades inmigrantes y la justicia educativa se encuentra en mi propia historia como inmigrante. Llegué a los Estados Unidos a los siete años junto a mi padre y mi madre, quienes trabajaron toda su vida en los campos como trabajadores agrícolas. Vivíamos en el barrio, en un cuarto ubicado en el segundo piso de una gasolinera, con una estufa a leña y sin plomería interior. Comencé la escuela con otros siete estudiantes de México que, como yo, no sabían hablar inglés. En conjunto, enfrentamos el doble problema de ser pobres y no saber hablar inglés. Gracias a una maestra que se quedaba conmigo después de la escuela, logré aprender el inglés y graduarme de la escuela secundaria, la universidad y, finalmente, un programa de doctorado. Otros estudiantes de origen mexicano en mi clase no tuvieron la misma fortuna, ya que gradualmente abandonaron la escuela.
Cuando me gradué de la Universidad de Colorado en 1971, tomé un autobús a Delano, California, para poder conocer a César Chávez y unirme al movimiento de trabajadores agrícolas. Cuando llegué, durante una huelga de trabajadores de la uva, escuché las palabras que cambiaron el resto de mi vida. En un mitin nocturno en Forty Acres, la sede central del Sindicato de Trabajadores Agrícolas Unidos, César desafió a las y los jóvenes estudiantes ahí presentes: nos dijo que solo hay una cosa asegurada, y eso es la muerte. Entre este momento y el de la muerte, la pregunta es cómo usaremos nuestras vidas. Podemos desperdiciarlas fácilmente con las drogas, el egoísmo y las cosas materiales, pensando que esto nos traerá felicidad; pero nos aseguró que, si comprometemos nuestras vidas al servicio de los demás para empoderar a otros, cuando envejezcamos y miremos hacia atrás podremos ser capaces de decir que nuestras vidas han sido realmente significativas.
Transformado por esta experiencia, regresé a mi ciudad, Ault, Colorado, e inicié una escuela con dieciocho jóvenes estudiantes de inglés en una vieja cochera en el patio de mis padres. Cuando la junta escolar local les dijo a nuestras estudiantes que se “regresaran a México” si queríamos una educación bilingüe en las escuelas, treinta estudiantes y yo organizamos una marcha de cuatro días y setenta millas hacia el Capitolio estatal. Cientos de simpatizantes nos encontraron en el camino y nos animaron. Cuando mis estudiantes regresaron, tomaron la iniciativa de organizar escuelas en todo el condado, lo que dio como resultado algunos de los mejores programas bilingües en el estado.
Debido a que la mayoría de quienes estudiaban el idioma inglés provenía de familias inmigrantes, los problemas de justicia educativa en las escuelas se entrelazaron con la lucha por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes en nuestras comunidades. Por lo tanto, algunos de los mismos padres y madres que se organizaron para la educación bilingüe en las escuelas también se organizaron para proteger a residentes sin documentos. Finalmente, obtuvieron el compromiso del Sheriff Richard Martínez y del Departamento del Sheriff del Condado de Weld de que no detendrían a inmigrantes sin documentos. Estas experiencias me llevaron a realizar un compromiso de catorce años para organizar en el norte de Colorado, tanto por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes como por la justicia educativa.
Salí de Colorado para obtener un doctorado en sociología en UCLA, pero fue a través de estas experiencias de organización comunitaria como realmente entendí las conexiones entre las inequidades en nuestras comunidades y los problemas que estudiantes con poca representación enfrentan en las aulas. Mis luchas con el aprendizaje del inglés y el crecer en una familia pobre de trabajadores agrícolas inmigrantes sentó las bases de las conexiones que finalmente llegué a hacer, tanto como estudiante graduado y como profesor, entre los problemas con los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la educación, lo que me llevó a convertirme en un activista académico. Como activista, he sido parte de los esfuerzos para crear coaliciones entre padres y madres, docentes, estudiantes y organizaciones comunitarias para organizarse en torno a los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa. Como académico, realicé una investigación basada en la comunidad para apoyar estos esfuerzos de organización. Como activista académico, combino la investigación y la organización para crear cambios dentro de las escuelas y en los vecindarios donde residen padres, madres y estudiantes.
Luchando contra el movimiento English-Only en Monterey Park
Un ejemplo sobre cómo conectar los movimientos por los derechos de las inmigrantes y la justicia educativa ocurrió en la ciudad de Monterey Park, donde residía con mi familia mientras completaba mi doctorado en sociología. Monterey Park, ubicado al este de Los Ángeles, es una ciudad con más de sesenta y dos mil residentes. Ha pasado de ser un 85 por ciento blanca en 1960 a ser una ciudad mayoritariamente minoritaria en la actualidad. Según el Censo de los Estados Unidos en 2015, aproximadamente el 65 por ciento de la población era del Asia Pacífico, el 30 por ciento era latina y solo el 4 por ciento era blanca.1 Muchos miembros de la comunidad del Asia Pacífico y casi toda la comunidad latina son inmigrantes.
Trabajé con otros organizadores y organizadoras en Monterey Park para generar confianza entre miembros de la comunidad y las y los investigadores, y crear así la base para un cambio social. Muy frecuentemente, las y los investigadores de la academia han ido a la comunidad simplemente para recolectar datos y luego irse cuando la investigación finaliza. La creación de confianza lleva más tiempo, ya que se requiere que los miembros de la comunidad vean que las y los investigadores contribuyen a los esfuerzos comunitarios, y luego adopten la investigación como una herramienta para lograr sus objetivos. En mi caso, combiné los roles de investigador y organizador y construí confianza al hacer un compromiso a largo plazo con la comunidad de Monterey Park.
En 1986, el consejo municipal de Monterey Park –compuesto en su totalidad de personas de raza blanca– aprobó una resolución que requería que sólo se utilizase el inglés en la literatura oficial de la ciudad y en los letreros públicos. Formé parte de la Coalición para la Armonía en Monterey Park (con siglas en inglés CHAMP), un grupo multiétnico de residentes que reunió a padres y madres inmigrantes de las comunidades latina y del Asia Pacífico para derrotar la ordenanza y, eventualmente, reemplazar vía votación a sus principales proponentes. Más tarde, en respuesta a políticos de derecha y personas que culpaban a la comunidad china por la congestión de las calles y por la construcción excesiva en Monterey Park, nuestra coalición eligió candidatos y candidatas que propusieron un desarrollo planificado, sin abordar el tema del crecimiento urbano en términos antinmigrantes.
Esta coalición creó un nivel de confianza que también ayudó a resolver conflictos en las escuelas de la ciudad. Cuando surgieron tensiones raciales entre estudiantes latinos/as y del Asia Pacífico en el distrito escolar de Alhambra, los padres y madres inmigrantes trabajaron juntos para crear un Grupo de Trabajo Multiétnico en todo el distrito, compuesto por padres y madres, estudiantes, miembros de la PTA, el sindicato de docentes, el personal de servicio y el personal administrativo. Para contrarrestar las afirmaciones de algunos funcionarios escolares que negaban la existencia de tensiones raciales en las escuelas —culpando el “machismo” o las “hormonas” naturales de las y los adolescentes por las tensiones—, colaboré con el grupo de trabajo para llevar a cabo una encuesta a mil quinientos estudiantes, incluyendo trescientos estudiantes con un inglés limitado. Encontramos que el 86 por ciento del cuerpo estudiantil percibía las tensiones raciales como un problema muy serio en las escuelas. Utilizamos la investigación para hacer que la junta escolar adoptase una política que lidiase con el comportamiento motivado por el odio, para institucionalizar las clases sobre resolución de conflictos y para crear la opción de la mediación como una alternativa a las expulsiones de estudiantes.
Sabíamos que los conflictos en las escuelas y la comunidad estaban vinculados. Al existir una gran afluencia de inmigrantes del Asia Pacífico, principalmente de nacionalidad china que se asentó en Monterey Park, la unión con los padres y madres y estudiantes latinos/as se produjo al encontrar un terreno común radicado en sus historias comunes como inmigrantes. Al proponer una estrategia de formación de coaliciones, los dos grupos pudieron utilizar colectivamente las investigaciones como una herramienta para promover un currículo multicultural y programas de resolución de conflictos que beneficiaron a ambos grupos.
La experiencia en Monterey Park me ayudó a resolver el dilema de cómo conectar mi posición en el mundo académico con la investigación participativa, la enseñanza y el aprendizaje basado en la comunidad. En lugar de perpetuar la idea tradicional de que las y los investigadores no deberían participar en las organizaciones que estudian, esta experiencia de investigación y acción participativa permitió mi participación, tanto en mi rol de organizador como de investigador en la comunidad. Cuando acepté un puesto de profesor en el Pitzer College y me mudé al Valle de Pomona, en el Condado de Los Ángeles, tomé las lecciones aprendidas en Monterey Park y comencé a organizar gente en la ciudad de Pomona. Aquí nuevamente combiné la investigación y la organización para ayudar a los padres, madres y estudiantes a establecer conexiones entre los movimientos de los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y de la justicia educativa.
Terminando con los Retenes Policiales en Pomona
Mis estudiantes y yo nos unimos a padres, madres y líderes comunitarios para organizar una coalición de base amplia para construir un movimiento local de justicia social que expusiera el uso injusto de los puestos de revisión policiales para atacar a las y los inmigrantes. Durante los últimos veinticinco años, la ciudad de Pomona ha experimentado los cambios demográficos que se están produciendo en todo el Sur de California. Según el Censo de los EE. UU., ahora es una ciudad de mayoría minoritaria que en 2015 estaba compuesta por aproximadamente 71 por ciento latinos, un 6 por ciento afroamericanos, un 9 por ciento de asiáticos del Pacífico y un 11 por ciento blancos no-hispanos.2 Cuando la policía de la ciudad de Pomona comenzó a ubicar los retenes de revisión frente a escuelas, negocios y vecindarios que servían principalmente a familias latinas y trabajadores inmigrantes, padres y madres inmigrantes junto a simpatizantes formaron una coalición llamada Pomona Habla (Pomona Speaks). A través de esta coalición, lanzamos un proyecto de investigación que impulsó acciones organizadas contra los puntos de control de tráfico en la ciudad de Pomona. Nuestra investigación descubrió datos que mostraron que menos del .001 por ciento de quienes conducían y fueron detenidos en los puntos de control lo hacían bajo la influencia del alcohol.3 Las estadísticas también mostraron que la mayoría de los detenidos eran inmigrantes sin documentos que no tenían licencia de conducir y no podían pagar las excesivas tarifas de la multa, el remolque y la cuota del corralón.
La coalición Pomona Habla lanzó una serie de protestas y acciones en las que residentes y estudiantes de la comunidad sostuvieron carteles que alertaban a las y los conductores sobre los puestos de control en las calles cercanas. Las tensiones en la ciudad alcanzaron su punto máximo cuando la policía llevó a cabo un punto de control vehicular de cuatro vías (que cubría cuatro esquinas de las calles) que incluía a oficiales de policía de cuarenta ciudades, lo que provocó la detención de 4,027 vehículos, la confiscación de 152 de ellos y la emisión de 172 multas.4 En respuesta, Pomona Habla lideró una protesta de más de mil personas y estableció a estudiantes y miembros de la comunidad en cada punto de control policial. La investigación y las acciones dieron como resultado que el consejo de la ciudad acordara detener los puntos de control de cuatro vías, permitir los puntos de control sólo en áreas residenciales y desarrollar un comité ad hoc para revisar las quejas y recomendaciones de la ciudadanía.
La investigación y organización basadas en la comunidad de esta coalición se convirtieron en un modelo para la aprobación de ordenanzas en San Francisco, Los Ángeles y Baldwin Park, las que permiten ahora que un conductor sin licencia transfiera a otro conductor con licencia la custodia del vehículo en lugar de que éste sea confiscado. Estos esfuerzos en todo el estado llevaron a la propuesta de un proyecto de ley por parte del asambleísta de California Gil Cedillo, la que fue aprobada formalmente por el gobernador Jerry Brown en 2011, restringiendo la capacidad de la policía local para confiscar autos en puntos de control de tráfico simplemente porque quien conduce no posee licencia. En última instancia, esto llevó a la aprobación de un proyecto de ley que permite a inmigrantes sin documentos obtener licencias de conducir. Pomona Habla, que incluía organizaciones comunitarias y estudiantes de escuelas y universidades locales (incluyendo estudiantes de mis clases en Pitzer College), reunió más de diez mil firmas en la región para apoyar este proyecto de ley.
ORGANIZACIÓN E INVESTIGACIÓN SOBRE EL DERECHO AL VOTO
Como reacción a estas victorias, la Asociación de la Policía de Pomona, junto con otras fuerzas conservadoras de la ciudad, se enfocaron en una de las líderes de esta coalición, la concejala de la ciudad Cristina Carrizosa. Intentaron expulsarla de su cargo al proponer un proyecto de ley, la Medida T, en la boleta electoral de noviembre del 2012 para reemplazar la elección de los miembros del consejo de la ciudad por distrito con elecciones generales. La medida buscaba contradecir la voluntad de la gente de Pomona que, luego de las demandas del Fondo Mexicano-Americano de Defensa Legal y Educación y el Proyecto de Registro de Votantes del Suroeste, votaron en 1990 la eliminación de las elecciones a lo largo de la ciudad a favor de distritos de un solo miembro para reforzar la representación de minorías. Trabajando con la coalición, mis estudiantes y yo llevamos a cabo una investigación que reveló un historial de derechos del voto de cómo se crearon las elecciones del distrito y quién estaba detrás de la Medida T. Nuestra investigación reveló cómo la asociación de policías había dado más de cincuenta mil dólares para respaldar este proyecto de ley, descubriendo también su patrocinio a la elaboración de un volante que representa una mano blanca extendida hacia arriba sobre las manos cafés que se extienden desde abajo.5 Una coalición multirracial de miembros y organizaciones de la comunidad llamó a una conferencia de prensa, difundió tocando de puerta en puerta y, en el Día de Elecciones, derrotó a la Medida T y además ayudó a elegir dos concejales adicionales que apoyaban los derechos de las y los inmigrantes.
LA CREACIÓN DE LA COALICIÓN SOBRE VIOLENCIA CALLEJERA
Después de la derrota de la Medida T, el problema de las pandillas y la violencia callejera surgió en la ciudad. En respuesta a la creciente tasa de homicidios, la policía llevó a cabo una redada de presuntos pandilleros que resultó en el arresto de 165 personas. Nuestra coalición creía que las estrategias más exitosas para lidiar con la creciente violencia entre jóvenes tenían que centrarse en la prevención en lugar de la penalización y la acción policiaca. Mis estudiantes y yo, junto con miembros de una coalición progresista liderada por la Mesa Redonda Latino/a y el Local 1428 del United Food and Commercial Workers, investigamos una serie de reuniones comunitarias. Argumentamos que la violencia de las pandillas no existiría si las pandillas no tomaran el lugar de otros satisfactores de las desesperadas necesidades de los jóvenes por una familia, educación, tutoría, vivienda, empleo, atención médica y apoyo espiritual y social. A medida que ampliamos la coalición para incluir a padres, madres, estudiantes, maestros y organizaciones comunitarias, defendimos una estrategia para contrarrestar a las pandillas con un plan de justicia económica y estrategias de creación de capacidad para empleos de calidad, vivienda, salud, educación y educación preescolar / programas extraescolares, particularmente en sectores de bajos ingresos de la comunidad.
En este proceso, estudiamos modelos exitosos de prevención de pandillas, incluyendo uno desarrollado por el Padre Gregory Boyle en Los Ángeles. Este modelo aborda las necesidades de los jóvenes para desarrollar una escuela primaria alternativa, programas de guardería e instancias después de la escuela, organización comunitaria y un extenso proyecto de desarrollo económico de Homeboy Industries, que incluye Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen y Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise. Convocamos a una conferencia comunitaria basada en este modelo para promover la idea de abordar los problemas estructurales que afectan a las y los jóvenes y a sus familias en Pomona.
PROMOVIENDO ESCUELAS COMUNITARIAS Y UN MOVIMIENTO MÁS AMPLIO
Esta nueva dirección para abordar los problemas de la juventud llevó al desarrollo de una asociación entre la organización comunitaria Mesa Redonda Latino/a, de la cual soy presidente, el Capítulo del Valle de Pomona del NAACP y el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Pomona. Como parte de esta asociación, un comité de desarrollo comunitario ha realizado reuniones mensuales para implementar varios proyectos de construcción de comunidad y transformación educativa. Esta coalición ha incluido a padres y madres de familia líderes de las iniciativas comunitarias sobre los puntos policiacos de control y las pandillas. La coalición también impulsó las propuestas identificadas inicialmente en las reuniones de la conferencia para alejarse de la simple aplicación de la ley e ir hacia estrategias centradas en el desarrollo de la juventud y la comunidad.
La coalición ha comenzado a implementar el concepto de las escuelas comunitarias, donde las escuelas proporcionan educación y servicios sociales y de salud a jóvenes, padres y madres de familia y miembros de la comunidad. Después de que la Mesa Redonda Latino/a y la NAACP se pronunciaron a favor de una resolución para implementar el concepto de escuelas comunitarias, la Junta Escolar Unificada de Pomona votó su apoyo por unanimidad. La Junta Escolar impulsó planes estratégicos avanzados que incluyen (1) currículos culturalmente relevantes y atractivos; (2) un énfasis en enseñanza de alta calidad, no en las pruebas de altas expectativas; (3) sistemas de apoyo que incluyen servicios sociales/emocionales y atención médica; (4) prácticas de disciplina positiva, como la justicia restaurativa; (5) participación de los padres y madres de familia y la comunidad; y (6) liderazgo escolar inclusivo y comprometido a hacer que la estrategia escolar de transformación comunitaria integral se parte del mandato y funcionamiento de la escuela.
Siguiendo el principio de César Chávez de usar la vida de uno para servir a los demás, ayudé a que el distrito escolar se uniera a una coalición que organiza una marcha y festival anual de peregrinación por César Chávez que se centra en temas de justicia social. Estos temas, que incluyen la solidaridad con Black Lives Matter, los estudiantes mexicanos desaparecidos en 2014 y el apoyo a los estudios de minorías étnicas y el Santuario para Todos y Todas, ofrecen ejemplos del entendimiento amplio que hemos desarrollado a partir de las conexiones entre temas de justicia educativa y derechos de las y los inmigrantes.
Con este entendimiento interseccional, la asociación ha implementado talleres para cientos de estudiantes, padres y madres sobre cómo calificar para el programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA), cómo obtener una tarjeta de Matrícula Consular (un documento de identificación oficial emitido por el gobierno mexicano) y cómo obtener una licencia de conducir de California. Más recientemente, como parte de una coalición estatal de College for All, esta asociación se ha expandido para respaldar e implementar activamente el Proyecto de Ley 1050 del Senado de California (cuyo paso fue dirigido por uno de mis antiguos alumnos, el presidente del Senado pro tempore Kevin de León) para crear un conducto de oportunidades educativas y el éxito desde la guardería infantil hasta la universidad para estudiantes de bajos ingresos, aprendices del idioma inglés e hijos e hijas adoptivas. La asociación en estos temas ha llevado a una serie de desarrollos extraordinarios, que incluyen talleres educativos para cientos de padres y madres de familia, muchas de los cuales luego cabildean con nosotros en el capitolio del estado sobre proyectos ley para proporcionar escuelas seguras para niñas y niños inmigrantes y para prohibir el uso de fondos públicos que permitan acciones de deportación por parte de agentes federales, así como otras leyes para proteger a estudiantes vulnerables y promover la equidad educativa.
CONCLUSION: JUSTICIA EDUCATIVA EN EL CORAZÓN DE LOS DERECHOS DE LOS INMIGRANTES
La experiencia y trayectoria de mi propia vida muestra cómo la búsqueda de la educación es fundamental para la lucha de las inmigrantes. Soy un organizador, un educador y un miembro de la comunidad. Uso la investigación y la organización de base comunitaria para construir puentes entre las comunidades de inmigrantes y entre los movimientos por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa. Este tipo de compromiso e investigación muestra la conexión íntima entre ambos, enfatiza los aspectos sistémicos y estructurales de la desigualdad e involucra a investigadores e investigadoras activistas para que trabajen junto a comunidades excluidas en proyectos comunes para abordar las causas fundamentales del racismo, la exclusión, la práctica de culpar a los más vulnerables y la desigualdad en nuestro sistema educativo y en nuestras comunidades.
Las y los activistas de la academia construyen una base de confianza con las comunidades al comprometerse a trabajar a largo plazo en una asociación genuina para encontrar e implementar soluciones a los problemas que enfrentan las comunidades. Este tipo de acción e investigación se aleja de la caridad o el servicio y se alinea con la creación de nuevos modelos de participación democrática y de creación de coaliciones para el cambio social. Este modelo interseccional distingue los fundamentos estructurales de las desigualdades experimentadas por las comunidades de inmigrantes en las aulas y en la comunidad, creando estrategias que conectan las luchas por la justicia educativa y los derechos de las y los inmigrantes.
Presentation at Keeping Families Together Rally
Posted July 4, 2018
I came here as an immigrant child with my parents and appreciated that I had parents who were there for me – as we crossed into this country.
My parents brought me to this country – looking for a better life – and they worked all their lives as farmworkers — died in a barrio as farmworkers — — looking for a better life like many of the families who are coming here from Mexico – from Central America — Families who have been uprooted as a result of poverty, violence, wars – with some of the roots lying in a history of colonization and the role that international corporations have played in making profits from the labor of the workers – from the resources in those countries – and, at the same time, forcing some families to leave – and to work in this country – producing billions in profits and taxes and remittances — while at the same time being scapegoated – blamed for the state of the economy – when workers here do not see any improvement in their quality of life – and are lied to – manipulated – into believing that it is these immigrants – it is these families – it is these children – that are the cause for the economic conditions – where we know the truth – where corporations are making record profits while the wages of workers remain the same for decades.
This is the foundation of why I am here today – why we are here today – for, it is under these conditions that the Trump Administration is breaking up families – and taking children from their mothers – and placing them as nothing more than concentration camps – where even actor George Takai has proclaimed are “worse” than the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II” because, as he succinctly wrote in an op-ed: “At least during the internment, when I was just 5 years old, I was not taken from my parents,”
And let us be clear that that what Trump is proposing now is no backing off of criminalizing all undocumented immigrant families but seeking to quell the international furor over his inhumane policies of separating the children from their families by ensuring that families will continue to be detained- but be incarcerated “together.”
Let us be clear that there is no plan – and that the only plan is to increase the numbers that are being detained and forcing immigrant families to decide whether to leave their children behind or take them with them to face the deadly consequences of why they risked their lives to come here in the first place. Let us be clear that it is an executive order by the President that has created this crisis – and that it is only our organizing efforts and the use of our voting power – that can turn this situation around. To this today – We say — Stop the criminalizing of our families! — Our children and families belong in our communities and not in family concentration camps! – Full legalization for our refugee and undocumented immigrant families! – No Hate No Fear – Immigrants are Welcome Here! No Ban – No Wall – Sanctuary for All!
Presentation to Latino and Latina Roundtable Retreat on “Conditions, Threats, and Opportunities” – February 10, 2018
What is important in looking at conditions – is not to look at it superficially – but to look at the systemic or structural reasons for the conditions – which is primary in our consolidation on why we are doing what we are doing – and how it can be tied to creating what I call sacred spaces of collectivity – with a vision of how we change the structural conditions of our problems.
Internationally – there is the rise of the conservative right in many countries – an anti-immigrant wave. Economies are in turmoil. It is important to look at what is happening internationally and nationally as tied to this system serving the very rich and multinational corporations – for quantity of profit and not quality of life I am sure that you will agree that the character of this system is primarily based on profit. When we talk about the Gross Development Product – it is only measured on the basis of quantity of profit and not quality of life. This has been going on for quite some time. In the past the rich countries such as the U. S. and Great Britain (or what have often been called the first world) have grown rich by extracting profit from the workers in their own countries as well as from countries they have colonized (particularly using the labor power of indigenous populations). Mexico as an example – Puerto Rico as an Example – Haiti as an example – Central America as an example. The profit of major corporations has been derived from labor power – and when this profit decreases – due to many factors including colonies liberating themselves, workers unionizing and winning better wages and benefits – the tendency has been for these major corporations to move abroad (where they get away from paying taxes by creating tax havens – and are able to use the labor power and the resources in those countries – at a cheaper rate than if they had to just use workers in their home country. The other way is to promote migration through keeping third world countries oppressed, poor, and dependent – and accumulate profits in another way – by controlling the resources in those countries – using the labor power there – but also, through their policies, forcing a migration of a sector that crosses borders to survive economically. In this scenario, the corporations, and the political elites who support them, appreciate the labor of this sector – as long as they can use the workers without having to give them any rights. Any giving of rights – can mean a lessening of profits – and they will use every form of enforcement to ensure no rights. The reality is that worldwide – corporations have been pulling in record profits – with the top 1% benefiting – while the conditions of working people have stagnated. We have only to look at the situation in the U. S. where – over the past four decades the U. S. economy has doubled in size but the bottom half of the U. S. households have seen no income gains. ”In 1970, the bottom half of wage earners made an average of $16,000 a year. By 2014, this group’s earnings had risen to only $16,200. Over 85 percent of income gains have gone to the top 1 percent with CEO’s of major firms earning over 300 times more than typical workers. The Forbes 400 – billionaires have a combined net worth of $2.3 trillion – with more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the U. S. population combined.
The result of this is that workers have had to work longer hours, take-on more debt, and forced more numbers in the family to work. Almost half of U. S. workers earn under $15 an hour – and one in three – less than $12 an hour.
— One of every seven persons in this country – live below the poverty line.
— Since the great recession of 2008, over 85% of income gains have gone to the top 1% of households – and CEO’s of major firms earn over 300 times more than average works in their companies.*
— The growing inequalities of income bring to the fore the inequalities of income and wealth – particularly historic inequalities when comparing Black, Latino, and white households. According to the PEW Research Center – the median wealth of white households in 2013 was `13 times that of Black households. White households had ten times more wealth than Latino households.
— It is this wealth and power that we must look at – when we ask the question about “ what is democracy in the age of trump– Most workers, today, are getting by only on poverty wages – with nearly half of the workforce stuck in jobs that pay less than $15 an hour – earning less than $25,000 a year.*
— We have only to question this structure when elections are run by money – and donors who use tax-exempt funds to influence politics. Look at the networks of the Koch brothers who organized a network of donors (including coal, gas, and oil industries) to prevent environmental regulation and ensure the control of health care by the for-profit drug and medical monopolies. This has included big monies to elect those candidates that represent their interests.
It is under these conditions that a form of power has emerged — where power is at the top – decisions are made – and we feel powerless to do anything about it. This is a form of power that focuses on specific issues that raise emotions and have no context other than to benefit those in power, the wealthy – confuse working people – and divide our movements. This form of power — being promoted as democracy – is now presented in the realm of an authoritarian top-down government and state – where we have a never-ending war, more power being given to corporations, manipulation of the media, an increase in repression, and policies of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. – to foment division. Since the mid-1970’s, there has been a major power shift. Today, fewer than 12% of workers are in unions – while the power of multinational corporations – the power of financial capital — has grown.*
— With this power – laws governing taxes, global trade, wages, and government spending priorities – have shifted to the power of capital and not of wage workers.
Under these conditions, there are blatant Policies that are aimed at blaming the problems in the economy on immigrants, women, and working people – to blame the problems on them – and advance an ideology that the problems will be solved if their power is diminished, if they are incarcerated, kept from voting, and deported. This authoritarianism lives off of the politics of resentment, alienation, frustration, anger and fear. It is here especially – where the economic problems of working people – who are angry at their conditions – are used, much like they were used in Germany against Jewish people – to scapegoat and to dehumanize. It involves power – controlling the power of the state and to violate all principles in ensuring that power.
An emphasis on the quantity of profit over quality of life has led to what I call a form of genocide to make sure that our potential power is scattered and decapitated – through deregulating and allowing corporations to spew chemicals in the air that result in more of us dying (particularly in people of color and low-income communities); through the cutting of our cutting health care; through incarcerating us (we have more African Americans in jail now – than we had in slavery) and keeping us from voting through gutting the voting rights act and unjust gerrymandering – and of course through increased enforcement, deportation, and limits on asylum of our immigrant young people, families, and refugees. This authoritarianism is waging a war against our communities – and particularly those who have been in the forefront of any gains made in civil, human, and environmental rights in the last decades. This authoritarianism is using deficits in the economy to cut Medicare, Medicaid, – to threaten social security – and ensures that the power over the future of our health stays in the hands of the profit-making health and drug industry.
Under these conditions — we have the Alt-Right, the Bannons, the Rockford Institute, the neo-conservative movements in this country who promote white supremacist,racial-nationalist and neo-fascist ideologies — who push a deregulated free enterprise system, more funding for the military, the building of a wall, and mass deportations. This is an authoritarianism that has allowed for the privatization of our economy and institutions to run rampant – that has resulted in more of our people in debt – and remaining on the margins – with the result of creating a foundation of anger among working people – allowing for a politics of scapegoating.
It is a form that, rather than advancing spaces and places of a more just and equal world – is seeking to destroy our educational institutions, our unions – our research and science – to foment a politics of individualism and ignorance about global warming and the economy.
This authoritarianism promotes an unregulated economic system where corporations rule – where the needs of our communities are put aside for the priorities of profit-making interests – and advances a form of neoliberalism that places emphasis on privatization and consumerism – with the outcome of destroying any ideology that truly builds a collective community or engages in practices for the collective good.
There are opportunities in a growing movement nationally that understands the foundations of our conditions and sees the creation of sacred collective spaces as not being abstract – but is concretely uniting around a program that builds power from below to change power at the top – a program that proposes abolishing a structure that allows the wealthy, the corporations, and businesses to manipulate the tax system in their favor; that reverses banking concentration and supports a system of decentralized community accountable banks and credit unions – that combats unjust gerrymandering, abolishes the electoral college, moves toward a form of proportional representation and builds a social movement in support of a living wage; health care with universal coverage; accessibility for everyone to a quality education; a guaranteed basic income; investment in pre-school, k-12, and higher education; public financing of elections; legalization for our 12 million immigrant brothers and sisters, and trade agreements that turn around the profits going to the richer countries and that ensure environmental and labor standards.
On a local level – in California — it is no accident why our political representatives have taken positions of “no ban and no wall” – supporting California as a sanctuary state – and vowing to protect the rights of our immigrant and targeted communities regardless of what oppressive policies Trump tries to force the states and cities to carry out. It has been our grass-roots work and the building of coalitions.
It was not that long ago that many labor unions were anti-immigrant – now, in this last session – it was unions that helped to pass Assembly Bill 450, requiring an employer to require proper court documents before allowing immigration agents access to the workplace or to employee information.
On a state level, it is no coincidence that California is now an exemplary state in its support of undocumented immigrants.
Look at this — and I can only mention a few of the pro –immigrant legislative policies that have been passed: in-state tuition. driver’s licenses, new rules designed to limit deportations, state-funded healthcare for children, a new law to erase the word “alien” from California’s labor code; $40 million in the most recent state budget to provide Medi-Cal coverage to children younger than 19 regardless of legal status – the appointment of a number of noncitizens in the country to state agencies and departments, the passage of SB-54 (called the Sanctuary bill) that prohibits California officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status and limits cooperation between California police officers and federal immigration agents about people detained by police or in jail awaiting trial; — and there are other bills, in this last session that include measures to protect undocumented immigrants from housing discrimination, workplace raids and block the expansion of immigration detention centers.
On the local level, we have our coalitions that have been exemplary in the development of a partnership between the community-based Latino and Latina Roundtable organization, the Pomona Valley Chapter of the NAACP, and the Pomona Unified School District. In creating connections between the educational and immigrant rights needs of families, the partnership has implemented workshops for hundreds of students and parents in how to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, how to obtain a Matricula Consular card (an official identification document issued by the Mexican government), and (with a coalition with the Pomona Day Labor Center) workshops on how to obtain a California driver’s license. The partnership on k-12 and college pipeline issues has led to: including family summits and some parents who have gone with us to Sacramento to educate our representatives on bills to provide safe schools for immigrant children and to ban the use of public funds to aid federal agents in deportation actions, as well as other legislation to protect vulnerable students and advance educational equity.
It is the character of the work of these multi-racial grass-roots coalitions in both organizing and turning out the vote on a state, local, and national level that have been the foundation for bringing to the forefront a national dialogue that is now highlighting the contributions of undocumented immigrants – and how much their labor is needed by the service, business, and agricultural establishments.
With these conditions, it is more important than ever to advance the development of cross-border alliances with movements in Mexico, Central America, Latin America, Haiti, and globally — as part of our understanding that immigration patterns will not significantly change because of domestic immigration policies alone.
As part of these alliances, We have to fight to ensure the continuance of this TPS program – defend the rights of these Central American families (some who have been here for over twenty years – with children who have grown up in this country and know no other country except this one).
It was refreshing – after Trump’s announcement on DACA to see how our coalitions responded right here in Pomona with a press conference — in Los Angeles, D. C., New York, Phoenix – with students walking out in Denver – and colleges supporting all over the nation – with the majority – people from all backgrounds – workers, educators, political and business leaders standing up in support. Again, we have to be careful of those politicians and organizations who are willing to use DACA as a “bargaining chip” – and conciliate a tradeoff for supporting Trump’s recent enforcement policy proposals that include funding more funds for border enforcement, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, expansion of the e-verify program, a decrease in the number of refugees allowed to enter, and immediate removal of minors crossing into the U. S. from Central American seeking asylum.
Overall, we need to continue to build multi-racial coalitions that collectively carry out naturalization drives, voter registration, voter turn-out – and education forums that can ensure the election of local, state, and federal representatives who truly represent the interests and issues of our communities – who will fight alongside our communities against immigration and refugee policies that only focus on enforcement – and will fight for policies that will immediately lead to permanent residency and citizenship – with no expansion of temporary guest worker (bracero) programs and with labor law protections.
Finally, on the local level, in addition to our continued work for immigrant and education rights, there is a need for a type of “community schools” or education – that can utilize classes, forums, workshops, and clinics to train a leadership – provide tools to new leaders in deepening their understanding – so that we can build policy campaigns – and advance alternative solutions – to address the structural foundations of a direction which is strategically using the media, educational system, the new technologies, and the global means of communication to confuse our communities – to divide us and to keep us from using our potential political, social, and economic power. What would further strengthen our efforts, in my view, is to build a new sector to our work that is a Leadership School that unites us – and allows for the fullest use of our resources in building the type of equal and just society that we all deserve to live in.
*Note: Statistics primarily from “Reversing Inequality: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of An Equitable Economy”by Chuck Collins, The Democracy Colaborative and Next System Project, 2017.
The Age of Trump and the Rise of Authoritarianism
I like the title of this conference, flirting with Fascism, because what is happening in this country right now – has some vestiges of fascism – although this is not a settled question. We still have democratic forms and some democratic rights – that we must use to advance a more just and democratic society. However, what are some of these vestiges?
There is a form of authoritarianism that has emerged where power is at the top – decisions are made – and we feel powerless to do anything about it. This is an authoritarianism that focuses on specific issues that raise emotions and have no context other than to benefit those in power, the wealthy – confuse working people – and divide our movements. This authoritarianism threatens what vestiges are left of democratic institutions and social movements in our society. The term democracy is thrown around and used by the Trump administration and the alt-right to advance policies based on quantity of profit over quality of life. There are many, such a Noam Chomsky – who I agree with – that what is being promoted as democracy – is now presented in the realm of an authoritarian top-down government and state – where we have a never-ending war, more power being given to corporations, manipulation of the media, an increase in repression, and policies of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. – to foment division. These are blatant Policies that are aimed at blaming the problems in the economy on immigrants, women, and working people – to blame the problems on them – and advance an ideology that the problems will be solved if their power is diminished, if they are incarcerated, kept from voting, and deported. This authoritarianism lives off of the politics of resentment, alienation, frustration, anger and fear. It is here especially – where the economic problems of working people – who are angry at their conditions – are used, much like they were used in Germany against Jewish people – to scapegoat and to dehumanize. It involves power – controlling the power of the state and to violate all principles in ensuring that power.
An emphasis on the quantity of profit over quality of life has led to what I call a form of genocide to make sure that our potential power is scattered and decapitated – through deregulating and allowing corporations to spew chemicals in the air that result in more of us dying (particularly in people of color and low-income communities); through the cutting of our health care; through incarcerating us (we have more African Americans in jail now – than we had in slavery) and keeping us from voting through gutting the voting rights act and unjust gerrymandering – and of course through increased enforcement, deportation, and limits on asylum of our immigrant young people, families, and refugees. This authoritarianism is waging a war against our communities – and particularly those who have been in the forefront of any gains made in civil, human, and environmental rights in the last decades. This authoritarianism is using deficits in the economy to cut Medicare, Medicaid, – to threaten social security – and ensures that the power over the future of our health stays in the hands of the profit-making health and drug industry.
We have the Alt-Right, the Bannons, the Rockford Institute, the neo-conservative movements in this country who promote white supremacist,racial-nationalist and neo-fascist ideologies — who push a deregulated free enterprise system, more funding for the military, and stand against anything that promotes a system based on equality. This is an authoritarianism that has allowed for the privatization of our economy and institutions to run rampant – that has resulted in more of our people in debt – and remaining on the margins – with the result of creating a foundation of anger among working people – allowing for a politics of scapegoating.
It is a form that, rather than advancing spaces and places of a more just and equal world – is seeking to destroy our educational institutions, our unions – our research and science – to foment a politics of individualism and ignorance about global warming and the economy.
This authoritarianism promotes an unregulated economic system where corporations rule – where the needs of our communities are put aside for the priorities of profit-making interests – and advances a form of neoliberalism that places emphasis on privatization and consumerism – with the outcome of destroying any ideology that truly builds a collective community or engages in practices for the collective good.
To combat this authoritarianism – we need a program that transforms power at the top – that abolishes a structure that allows the wealthy, the corporations, and businesses to manipulate the tax system in their favor; that reverses banking concentration and supports a system of decentralized community accountable banks and credit unions – that combats unjust gerrymandering, abolishes the electoral college, moves toward a form of proportional representation and builds a social movement in support of a living wage; health care with universal coverage; accessibility for everyone to a quality education; a guaranteed basic income; investment in pre-school, k-12, and higher education; public financing of elections; and trade agreements that ensure environmental and labor standards.
Jose Zapata Calderon
Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies
1050 North Mills Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711-6101
No Ban, No Wall Rally Video
Being Able to Elect Candidates is Not Enough
Pomona now is comprised entirely of Latino and Latina representatives on the council. This is in a city that is 70% Latino, 10% Black, and 7% Asian Pacific Islanders. While, on the one hand, this is historic – on the other, it does not mean the interests of our communities will be fully represented. While it is important to elect Latino/a candidates to positions where they can wield some political power, there is also the necessity of our community-based organizations ensuring that they will represent the issues that our communities are most concerned about – and that these representatives truly represent the needs of quality jobs, health care, education, environment, and community development. In Pomona, although the council is now fully comprised of Latinos and Latinas, there is the example of Ginna Escobar who voted against a resolution opposing immigration raids, supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, calling for imposing a moratorium on immigration raids, and calling for all city employees to not collaborate in enforcing federal civil immigration laws. Another Latina councilmember, Adriana Robledo, abstained on the resolution. Hence, electing Latinos and Latinas to political positions does not mean that they will represent the interests of our communities. It is a step forward to register our people to vote and to get them to vote – but this has to be coupled with collaborative educational efforts which focus on the issues in our communities and what is in their interests. Otherwise, Latinos/as can be elected that represent their own interests or those of power elites, such as greedy developers, whose interests are in the quantity of profit and not in the quality of life. It is important for our communities to continue to be organized after the elections to ensure that the individuals that they elect are held accountable – and use their growing power of the vote to vote them out when they clearly are not representing the interests of our communities.
Nevertheless, the election of a new mayor, Tim Sandoval and new city councilmembers Rubio Ramiro Gonzalez, Elizabeth Ontiveros-Cole, and Robert Torres is historic. There was a time when, although the city had a majority of Latino/a people in the city, there was little representation from this community. Back in 1990, after law suits were filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Southwest Voter Registration Project, Pomona residents voted to scrap citywide elections in favor of single-member districts to bolster minority representation, to facilitate more direct communication between the voters and their representatives, and to reduce the costs of running for city council seats. The voters voted in this way, also to stop the reality that, although Pomona had changed demographically to over 50% in ethnic minorities in the city, only two members of racial or ethnic minorities, up until 1986, had ever been elected to the council in the city’s 99-year history. Now, in recent years, we have seen the results of the voters’ decision in 1990 – as we have seen a diversity of city council candidates and elected city council members – and for the first time an all-Latino/a city council. At the same time – why this has been possible is that candidates have been able to run from a district that they live in and not at-large. The possibilities are stronger now, with strong community-based organizing, to have candidates who are closer to the issues that represent the people that they vow to represent, and that can be held accountable. This is the challenge in the coming years in Pomona.
Jose Zapata Calderon
Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies
1050 North Mills Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711-6101
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS EN CENTRO DE LABOR: ACORDANDO JORNALEROS
NOVIEMBRE 2, 2016 –
POR JOSE ZAPATA CALDERON
Me acuerdo de Gerardo, David, Don Luis –
Y todo los obstaculos que confrontaron —
El dolor que tenian en sus ultimos dias –
y verdaderamente –
Yo, como ustededs, no sabia que hacer.
Pero siempre – habia un sentimiento de
Sobrevivir todos obstaculos para hallar
Un espacio de unidad en este centro –
Que para todos de nosotros a venido a
Ser nuestro domicilio – nuestro santuario.
Gerardo, david, Don Luis apresiaban este centro con todo
Sus corazones – y lucharon por este centro
En las oficinas del concilio – En las juntas para asegurar
Que no lo cerraran.
En un tiempo – Gerardo, David, y Don Luis – eran parte de las juntas
De trabajadores – participaban con los estudiantes en los Encuentros
Y eran parte de varios proyectos con los estudiantes.
Me acuerdo que ellos se llenaba con tanta alegria cuando
Participaban con los proyectos de los estudiantes.
Ellos eran quienes somos – personas luchando para mejorar la vida –
Mientras que la ferocidad de la economia nos ataca en modos
Que ultimamente afecta nuestra salud.
Todo lo que tenemos – es uno a otros – y muchas veces
Yo se que este centro es mas que un espacio para buscar
Trabajo – Para Gerardo, David, Don Luis y muchos otros – a sido – amistad,
A sido un abrazo – a sido una fiesta cuando no hubiera navidad
O dia de gracia – a sido – y es lo que quiere decir familia.
Me duele mucho que no pude hacer mas para estos amigos –
Y a veces nos perdemos en tantas otras problemas – que nuestros
Amigos nos pasan – y a veces estamos ciegos –
Pero en lo ultimo – hacemos lo que podemos para sobrevivir –
Y nos acordamos unos a otros.
El acuerdo de Gerardo, David, Don Luis esta aqui en el centro – que continua
A sobrevivir por lo que contribuimos – y por lo que todos ustedes
Han contribuido y continuan a contribuir.
Yo se que Gerardo, david, y Don Luis quisieran que los acordaramos como los estamos
Acrodando hoy – Y yo se que ellos quisieran que los acordaramos en
Continuar la lucha – para que otros no tengan que sufrir –
Y para que el inmigrante que a dado tanto de su sudor para esta nacion
Pueda algun dia recibir la justicia y igualdad que merece.
Nos acordamos de Gerardo, david, y Don Luis hoy – y nos cometemos a continuar
Lo que este es este espacio – un santuario – un abrazo – una amistad
Un Esfuerzo para el futuro – y mas de todo – una familia.
Gerardo, David, y Don Luis y todos Jornaleros que viven en nuestras memorias – hoy y siempre – somos tu Familia.
Pomona Valley Hospital Workers Support Statement
by Jose Calderon
October 19, 2016
I am here today, as President of the Latina and Latino Roundtable of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley, an Emeritus Professor at Pitzer College – and one who has known about Pomona Valley Hospital and the high quality of work by the service and technical workers – because I have been a patient here. I am here – we are all here — to support these workers. We are calling on Pomona Valley Hospital to show the same commitment to patients as the people who directly care for them. What does this mean? It means respecting the workers’ decision to unite in a union.
-As many of you know, I am a strong union and labor supporter and I have always supported the workers at Pomona Valley Hospital. I was here in 2001 in support of the nurses when the same tactics being used today were used against our nurses. We won then – and we will win now! Recently, I was dismayed when Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center workers and community members informed me about the recent union election at the hospital where Over 1,100 service and technical workers won a union election in January to join SEIU-United Healthcare Workers-West (SE-UHW).
-On the one hand, I was so glad to hear about the National Labor Relations Board ruling that a majority of workers – that were eligible to vote at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center – voted for the SEIU-UHW in a fair and democratic election. This was a big victory” On the other, I was dismayed to learn that the CEO decided to file “exceptions” with the NLRB’s Regional Director in order to delay the NLRB from certifying the election results and, consequently, preventing the workers from joining the Union. As many of you know, I come from a long history of supporting the unionization efforts of the United Farm Worker’s Union and I am well aware of how these types of tactics result in long delays with the intention of outlasting the wish of the workers. It is my strong view that Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s full attention and resources should be focused on its patient care and not on legal tactics aimed at delaying the SEIU-UHW from representing workers.
-In these critical times, it seems that Pomona Valley is more interested in increasing executive pay than doing what is best for the staff and patients. The CEO is paid $1.7 Million – which is far more than CEO’s who run larger hospitals. And this – in Pomona where the median household income is $49,000 per year.
-In light of this, – today – we call on the CEO and top management to work with our service and technical workers – and not against them – to treat them with dignity and respect with a contract that treats them fairly and recognizes their contributions to quality care.
-Today, we call on Pomona Valley Hospital to stop using union-busting tactics and sit down and negotiate a contract that helps the patients, our workers, and our community. We know that when management and employees work together – the patients win, our diverse communities win – we all win. Now is the time for Pomona Valley Hospital management to honor the contributions of our workers here in a win-win direction – in respecting their vote — that will continue to sustain the best patient care – and ensure, in the long-term the retention and attraction of the best staff. Brothers, and sisters – what do we want? A union contract? When do we want it? Now.
Theory to Practice in Community Engagement
I have been deeply thinking about the meaning of the connections between theory and practice, teaching and learning as it connects to our continued efforts to connect the academic with pedagogy, research, and community-based organizing for social change (see my book Lessons from an Activist Intellectual). Some recent books which directly connect to this thinking include: On Intellectual Activism by Patricia Hill Collins (which directly applies to my history of connecting the issues of race, class, and gender to Public Sociology); Community Gardening as Social Activism by Claire Nettle (which directly connects to my practice of creating collective quality of life spaces as examples of the kind of local/global world we can help create); Publicly Engaged Scholars by Margaret A. Post, Elaine Ward, Nicholas V. Long, and John Saltmarsh Liberating Service Learning by Randy Stoecker. The theories and practices in these books are something that I would like to build on to help further the thinking, scholarship, and practice of campus/community engagement for social change. Indeed, the commonality of these works is that they are all seeking new and visionary strategies for social change. All have in common a critique of service learning models based on mere service, charity, or dependence. Patricia Hill Collins focuses on two primary strategies. One that “speaks the truth to power” which harnesses the power of ideas toward the specific goal of confronting existing power relations” and a second strategy of speaking “the truth directly to the people” – one that argues “that ordinary everyday people need truthful ideas that will assist them in their everyday lives.” The others have in common – how to move from diagnosing and theory to actual implementation of concrete new models for social change. Both Liberating Service Learning and Publicly Engaged Scholars critique the practices in academia that have a tendency to implement a practice of market driven privatization. In Publicly Engaged Scholars, the authors argue that “higher education became viewed as a private benefit” where “education became part of the commodification of everything and its larger democratic and social goals were either discarded or redefined in market terms.” It included “relentless attachment to privatization and the destruction of an ethical and relational public – undermining the civic commitments of the movement.” Liberating Service Learning agrees with this perspective that institutionalized service learning “feeds into neoliberalism by promoting the belief that, since individuals all have assets, all they have to do is mobilize those assets and they will be successful in life.” Lacking a critique of the social structure, this perspective proposes that these types of practices result in the destruction of collectivities and turns the “consumer and person-turned-into-capital open to the … market persuaders that manufacture reality in the quest for market share.” All these authors have the commonality of which our work in connecting theory to practice should strive for: structural social change and the creation of spaces and places where community-based engagement is democratic, raises consciousness, builds collective leadership alongside our diverse communities, and results in collective quality of life outcomes.
Presentation by Jose Zapata Calderon
NAACP—Sponsored Forum and Candle Light Vigil in Solidarity With Family and Friends in Louisiana and Minnesota
Madedonia Baptist Church in Pomona, CA
July 8th, 2016
We are all here, as we have gathered before, to reflect – and to continue our work to stop the senseless violence in our communities. We cannot, for one moment, put aside the conditions in this country – and those who use these conditions to spread fear, hatred, negative stereotypes, and hostility. These conditions include the state of the ECONOMY, growing demographic changes — conditions that are forcing our diverse communities to compete, rather than collaborate, for the diminishing resources in health, education, employment, and quality of life. With an increasing global society — it is easy to scapegoat the most vulnerable among us and create anger toward our increasingly diverse communities.
We are all here today – remembering the lives of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castil in Minnesota – two African American men whose deaths once again bring to light the issue – that more than 500 people have been killed by police in 2016 – and that racial profiling and excessive use of force are on the upswing.
We are also here to reflect on what happened in Dallas – and that a peaceful demonstration was turned into a stage of violence – with the media tending to blame “the Black Lives Matter” movement – when the violent acts were clearly carried out by individuals who had nothing to do with this movement. As we have said in the past, there is a foundation to the anger and frustration in our communities – but it is important not to take this anger out on one’s self, or on others (particularly those close to us in our communities) – but we need to turn frustration into organizing to change the conditions which are creating our anger.
It is no accident that we have an increase in hate crimes. When presidential candidates, such as Trump use the frustration of working people with the economy – to call for a ban on Muslims’ entry to the U. S. and targets Mexican and Latino people – and influences public attitude with the help of the news media — to call for the deportation of the eleven million undocumented — and force Mexico to fund a wall to keep them out – there is a direction being promoted here that targets specific groups as a threat to national security – and influences public opinion – (with 25% approving of such policies as religious profiling, surveillance, special ID’s, and incarceration).
There is no getting around the issues of poverty and race in our communities – and the problems of crime, violence, substandard housing, unemployment, lack of jobs, and environmental degradation. Mass deportations and mass incarcerations have been expanding to unconscionable levels in recent years – leading to separation of families – children left without parents – poverty, unemployment, homelessness – in our communities. We do have to change the stereotypical media portrayal of our Muslim and people of color communities. We do have to change the reality of a renewed form of racial segregation, profiling, and criminalization of our communities. We do have to take concrete steps such as those proposed in a report by the Center for Popular Democracy and Policy Link titled Building From the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing:
- Stop criminalizing everything: de-prioritize enforcing and prosecuting low-level offenses.
- Stop using poor people to fatten city budgets.
- Kick ICE out of your city. The report suggests that cities sever ties between ICE and local police department. ICE should not be able to request these holds. Nor should they have access to the address and names of family members of people detained by local police.
- Treat addicts and mentally ill people like they need help, not jail. Some issue – like acting erratically due to mental illness or possessing and using drugs due to addiction – are actually better served by medical attention, not incarceration.
- Make policy makers face their own racism. The report recommends that policy makers should have to evaluate the potential racial impact of any new laws they create, and involve community organizers and people who work with disadvantaged population in every step of the process.
- Actually ban racist policing. But at the very least, cities, counties and states should provide avenues through which private citizens can take the police to court when they believe they’ve been profiled.
- Obey the Fourth Amendment – prohibiting “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
- Involve the community in big decisions. Every city should have an adequately funded community oversight board with significant investigatory and disciplinary powers.
- Collect data obsessively. The report says that cities and departments should maintain a transparent and searchable database on every stop, frisk, summons, use of force, arrest, and killing they conduct.
- Body cameras. Body cameras are far from the solution. But they can be important and helpful, especially when the local community supports their use, guided by clear regulations.
- Don’t let friends of the police prosecute the police. Cases against police officers would be tried by independent prosecutors, not the district attorney who works with them all the time.
- Oversight, oversight, oversight. The report proposes external oversight committees – ones that oversee the implementation of reforms and proactively identify issues in police operations and practices.
- No more military equipment. President Barack Obama did recently issue and executive order prohibiting police departments from obtaining specific equipment – namely tracked armored vehicles, grenade launcher, large caliber weapons, ammunition, and bayonets.
- Establish a “use of force” standard. The report says that all departments should issue a statement affirming that their officers should use minimum force to subdue people. They should develop clear and transparent standards for reporting, investigating, and disciplining officers who do not comply.
- Train the police to be members of the community, not just armed patrolmen. Police should be trained on how to develop better relationships with their communities – training that incorporates culture, diversity, mental illness training, youth development, bias, and racism.
Brothers and sisters – it is time to build a movement to not take our frustrations, conditions, and fears on oneself – or take it out on our friends, families, and neighbors – but to use our energies and abilities to build unity in our communities – to fight for legislative actions (at the local, state, and national levels) that directly address racial profiling, excessive use of enforcement – without addressing the foundations. With so many problems being faced by our society, there is the need for coalitions to develop between all of us — in advancing a leadership that combats prejudice, racism, sexism, and homophobia — and builds our unity in advancing solutions to the structural issues of racism, poverty, and inequality in our communities.