The “Other” Protest this Past Weekend…
No, not the ANSWER clowns...
"Wake up and smell the cafecito!":
Tens of thousands of immigrants and their supporters from across the United States packed the Mall on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to spur Congress and the White House to overhaul the nation's immigration system and offer its 10.8 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship this year against increasingly long odds.
Warmed by occasional bursts of sunshine, the festive crowd beat drums and waved American flags and placards reading "Change takes Courage" and "Obama Don't Forget Your Promise!"
"We've been patient long enough. We've listened quietly. We've asked politely. We've turned the other cheek so many times our heads are spinning," Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who has led the push for immigration legislation within the House of Representatives, shouted, to roars of approval. "It's time to let immigrants come out of the shadows into the light and for America to embrace them and protect them."
Immigrants don't need to "come out of the shadows". ILLEGAL immigrants do, so they can be thrown out.
prominent Latino figures such as Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza, were joined by leaders of Asian American organizations and smaller groups representing immigrants from countries including Haiti.
You know what? I was wrong about America not being a racist nation. It is racist, thanks to the likes of La Raza, "Asian American organizations", and all the other special interest groups who don't rally together based upon shared values and politics, but around shared ethnicity and skin color. So long as people engage in race identity, we will be quagmired on race. I'm sick of it.
Numerous speakers pointed to the political muscle Latinos demonstrated during the presidential election, when 57 percent voted for Barack Obama.
"Wake up and smell the cafecito!" yelled Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. "Latino workers, campesinos [farm workers] and families are here to stay. To be counted in the ballot box."
Ah yes, Democrats have an incentive to support illegal immigrants becoming citizens to increase their potential voting block.
Defiant? They break the law, root and anchor and chain themselves here, then demand they be given citizen rights and move in permanently. Would any of their supporters be willing to let strangers come into their homes unannounced, overstay their "welcome", put their feet up on the furniture, raid the fridge, and demand of their host, "I live here too, now"?
President Obama, who appeared in a video message played at the demonstration, immediately endorsed the plan, although he stopped short of earlier promises to move on a bill this year. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) also promised floor time if the bill emerges from the Judiciary Committee.
However, Sunday's rally also highlighted the challenges of taking on the immigration system with midterm elections approaching in the fall and at a time of 10 percent unemployment. Noticeably absent were business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was a key backer of the 2007 legislation. The chamber has expressed doubts about details of this year's proposal.
Still, the mood of the crowd remained hopeful and often defiant.
Cue the violins for ILLEGAL immigration sob stories:
The three immigrants wearing ankle bracelets couldn't stay for the whole march. The bracelets' batteries were running low. If they didn't recharge them, immigration agents would be after them again.
The first time had been enough.
Torres's job in the meeting was to raise the subject of workplace raids, which he believes sweep up people whose only crime was crossing the border in search of work. The Obama administration has significantly reduced the number of workplace raids, but most immigrants removed through all enforcement measures continue to be non-criminals.
Focus on people who've committed crimes, Torres urged the president, according to participants. Obama replied that he must enforce existing law, but he directed Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to meet with the leaders to discuss ways to lessen the impact on hardworking immigrants.
Torres left the White House feeling optimistic. Then he checked his phone. His top organizer had sent a text message.
"Dealing with raid," the organizer said. "YOU NEED TO CALL ME NOW."
Just a couple of hours earlier, about 10:45 a.m., a kitchen worker at Timbuktu Restaurant in Hanover was going to a refrigerator to get some potatoes when he saw agents coming in a rear door. He ran into the main part of the kitchen. "Immigration!" he warned his co-workers.
Police vans, unmarked SUVs and squad cars had wheeled into the driveways and parking lots of two restaurants, an office and several residences in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties. Dozens of ICE agents and local police surrounded the properties and secured the exits.
Immigration, they said on entering, according to witnesses. Don't move. Stay calm. Nothing's going to happen. We're only going to identify each person.
(Immigration enforcement officials declined to discuss details of the raids because the investigation is ongoing.)
There was no escape. One desperate immigrant dived into a large walk-in refrigerator and slid under a shelf holding cases of beer. He muted his cellphone and watched as heavy black shoes paced up and down the chilly chamber.
The agents asked the workers if they had proof of legal residency. They bound suspected illegal immigrants with white plastic handcuffs behind their backs.
At the raided locations, 28 men and one woman from Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Bangladesh were detained. So far, none has been charged with a crime. All are suspected of "administrative" violations of immigration law. All but six were released by Friday. The six are those who have prior immigration violations. The fates of the others will be decided by immigration officials in coming weeks.
The questioning went on for hours. Where are you from? When did you arrive? Where did you enter?
Timbuktu busboy Walter Rosas Alvarez, 34, answered: He came from Guayaquil, Ecuador, about five years ago. He is single with no children and was helping support his parents back in his homeland. He had never been in trouble with the police or immigration officials in either country and had been paying taxes with an IRS tax ID number.
Later, Rosas Alvarez would say that he dreamed of staying in the United States and had been counting on immigration reform making that possible. He had been saving his money and buying sophisticated woodworking tools to continue the skilled carpentry work he once did in Ecuador. Now he expects to be deported. "For five years, all I did was work," he said. "I came suffering, and I leave suffering."
A similar scene unfolded at By the Docks restaurant in Middle River, just outside Baltimore. Agents searched the restaurants' offices for paperwork and took computer hard drives, according to witnesses.
In the redbrick rambler next door to Timbuktu, where about nine of the immigrant workers lived, Jose Martinez, 35, a cook from Cuenca, Ecuador, heard agents shouting commands to open the door. But before Martinez could answer, a battering ram crashed through the door and three agents entered the living room, guns pointed at him, Martinez recalled later.
Three other workers, including Josue Perez, 21, were also in the house. Perez, a busboy, explained later that he was working to support his elderly parents and three younger brothers who are deaf and unable to speak.
The agents cuffed the men and questioned them. They searched the rooms, pulling out belongings and throwing things on the floor, Martinez said. Later, the agents marched the workers to vans and drove them to the detention centers in Howard and Carroll counties.
After seven hours in the refrigerator at Timbuktu, the hidden immigrant stuck his head out from under the beer shelf. He felt frozen. He couldn't walk. Two acquaintances carried him close to the kitchen oven, to warm him.
He had escaped the raid. But now what?
Trying to lie low
About the same time Torres was heading into the White House, and 29 handcuffed immigrants were answering questions, Valerie Yahlouskaya was driving on Eastern Boulevard in Middle River.
Yahlouskaya passed By the Docks, where her husband worked in the kitchen. She thought it was strange that police cars were blocking the entrance and exit to the parking lot. She saw a waitress crying on the restaurant porch.
Yahlouskaya tried to call her husband. No answer. She called the restaurant. No answer. Then she got a call, and a waitress, between sobs, talked low and fast before abruptly hanging up: The cops came and they took all the guys. . . . A cop is coming, I have to go!
"I was in shock," Yahlouskaya said, recalling events later. "It was surreal. I got scared."
She spoke on the condition that her husband's name and his home country in Central America not be disclosed. (Immigration officials declined to identify any of the suspects.)
Yahlouskaya and her husband, both 30, met in 2003 and married in 2004. They have three children, American citizens, ages 2, 3 and 5.
Her husband worked in the restaurant kitchen six days a week, up to 12 hours a day. They had been getting ready to buy a house, Yahlouskaya said. "We kept waiting to see -- maybe they'll pass the [immigration reform] law," she said. "We got a new president. . . . It was just lay low and see if something changes."
Now her husband faces possible deportation.
"No way, I don't want to think about it," Yahlouskaya says. Neither she nor the children speak Spanish, she said, and she's not sure she could relocate to Central America.
But if she didn't, "he won't see his kids, they won't see their father."
The ripple effects of the raid know no borders.
In the little town of Quebrada de Arena, Honduras, Esperanza Pineda learned that her husband had been detained. He had been sending home $900 a month, the sole support for his wife and four children, ages 14 and younger.
Maria Perez's cellphone rang in Langley Park. It was her uncle, who works construction in Maryland: Had she heard from her brother Josue? Josue was picked up in the raid on the group house.
"I thought it was a bad joke," said Maria Perez, 20, a waitress.
She would have to tell their parents in Central America. (A lawyer advised her not to disclose the country.)
Josue had come to the United States five years ago, Maria three years ago. Together they sent home $150 a month to help support their parents and disabled brothers -- about a quarter of the family's monthly budget, according to their mother, Elvida Esperanza Oliva Cardona.
"He went away, risking and suffering to support his brothers," Oliva Cardona said in a telephone interview, bursting into tears. "He is our right hand."
Now with Josue's future uncertain, "it's up to me to stay, more than ever," Maria Perez said. "It's a big responsibility."
You know what? None of these raids, the painful uprooting of families would be happening if they weren't here illegally in the first place.
The healthcare debate is not over- not according to President Obama; not according to us. But we also have other looming battles ahead of us, including the issue of illegal immigration reform.
No, I don't think kicking them all out is the viable, realistic, pragmatic solution; and in some sense, we must reap what we've sown and take into account some of the "sob stories". We're in part responsible for the mess we've created in allowing it to get to this point where we did not enforce existing laws after the first go-round of amnesty; we should fix it and be tough, but also do so as humanely as possible.
But I'll be damned if I allow the president to grant Obamnesty to 10+ million home invaders. I'll be damned if he begins channeling Reagan the way he did Teddy Roosevelt.
And I'll be damned if I watch Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders walk arm-in-arm again like they're "fighting the good fight" in a civil rights movement/struggle. Good grief!
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces
Labels: Illegal Immigration