Anatomy of an Immigration Debate: Brown Faces at the White House


“E pluribus unum”

–Motto found on the seal of the United States

The dictum “Out of many, one” is as ubiquitous–officially–as it is defining of  U.S. mythology. It is imprinted on money which underscores how critical it is to the daily life of average Americans.  And yet, this motto exists in a virtually invisible state, its meaning lurking in the shadows and in the open, precisely because we handle it everyday–whether hedge fund whizzes move millions or a homeless person drops coins into the bus meter after a day of begging.

It is fitting, then, that this motto serve as the ethos of a new blog segment called: “Anatomy of an Immigration Debate” which begins with “Brown Faces at the White House” and this week’s Hispanic Policy Conference (with “brown” being loosely used to refer to Latinos whose complexions range from Snow White like Giselle Bündchen, to black like salsa diva Celia Cruz, and every shade in between).

Then we’ll reach back to the Spring when the President shifted the stalled immigration debate into high gear.  When addressing (the lack of) comprehensive immigration reform in El Paso, Texas, President Obama, passionately evoked “E pluribus unum.”  Smart man: the 2012 Presidential election may be the first to be determined by Latino voters; deportations, including those of DREAMers–undocumented students and military service members–accelerate on his watch; and the Republican leadership is unable–or unwilling–to rein in the xenophobic wing of the party.

It is within our current and charged political and social context that “Out of Many, One” lives, breathes, and receives sustenance.  The extraordinary demographic changes confirmed by the 2010 U.S. Census is re-defining and challenging our notion of the body politic.

Anatomy of an Immigration Debate: Brown Faces at the White House

I give the President credit for inviting Latino leaders to the White House for a two day long opening “of the lines of communications.”

Imagine a wonky speed dating, where critical issues that will determine our nation’s future around economic recovery, education, and competitiveness are being presented.  ”Hi, I’m X, and I work at _______ (fill in the agency).  This is what we do…”  Next bureaucrat.  Next session.

It’s a sign of respect for a growing voting block with significant issues around educational attainment, political, and economic disenfranchisement.  But as David Ferreira, partner at the Hispanic Strategy Group and former VP for Government Affairs for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce posted on Facebook, ‎”Breakouts on everything except #CIR [Comprehensive Immigration Reform]. Please don’t be a “judge us on other issues” conf?”

A break-out session on CIR would have been nothing short of political suicide for a President struggling to lower the unemployment rate and strike a deal with Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, including Arizona’s senior Senator who last month, as I write in Senator McCain’s Definition of Illegal Could Mean You, crossed the border into Bizarro-ville.  Still, Latinos, a so-called “friendly” audience, asked tough questions about immigration in virtually every session ranging from jobs, to healthcare, to education, to faith-based initiatives.  On several occasions, attendees demanded an explanation to Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement (ICE)’s continuing deportation of DREAMers–and not solely criminals–in defiance of the President’s directives.

Hispanics, however, are not a one-trick immigration pony: these leaders also demanded to know what is being done to create more jobs, how to increase Latinas’ earning power to match that of white men and women, and why the Administration has not penalized banks that received billions in bailout money for not sufficiently helping working American keep their homes.

How these “brown” faces acquire access to political, social, and economic opportunities is a challenge that requires equal parts government leadership, personal ganas or guts, and community commitment.  Failure is a malignant tumor left to grow and corrode.  Success strengthens the body–in this case, the nation.

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10 Responses to “Anatomy of an Immigration Debate: Brown Faces at the White House”

  1. David Ferreira says:

    Great post … it is worthwhile to note that they did a fantastic job today. They weren’t able to dedicate a lot of time to the issues, but tomorrow is a free-for-all where anything and everything will come up. My principal concern that you cited was if the Administration were to ignore that a politically galvanizing issue for our community is immigration, and seek to encourage that we look past it. Indeed, they are not and referenced immigration today at various times where they restated their commitment to CIR. Are we a one-issue community? Absolutely not. Yet, CIR is one of the easiest ways that Democrats can differentiate themselves from Republicans. While Republicans seek to find commonalities with Latinos in social and entrepreneurship values, Democrats should never be shy to highlight that they are the party that continues to defend Latino civil rights, because immigration, after all, isn’t just about immigration … its about civil rights, profiling, access to services, and the vilification of our community.

  2. Brittanicus says:

    HOW MANY ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE REALLY HERE?

    In all the talks and discussions about cutting back on the US treasury deficits, both parties are refusing to consider in these antagonistic debates, the fact that illegal aliens are compounding this major issue; the dollar amount to the $14.5 Trillion dollars, in this miserable meltdown we are facing. The Department of Homeland Security estimated in 2003, that 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens had settled in America and 700,000 new people enter illegally and stay each year. That’s across borders, by lying at entry ports as tourists to the official. These administration statistics are somewhat suspect and may represent major under counting, as they are fashioned by the very people accountable for the tsunami of illegal aliens entering our country. An alternative method is used here to estimate a range of numbers of illegal’s that is probable more levelheaded.

    The precise number of illegal’s entering the United States and the exact rate at which they cross our borders are unknown. Official government numbers are often hard to come by, remain intentionally concealed and are habitually sanitized, in the federal sector and states. This directed (CAPS) California for Population Stabilization to seriously question officials at the Census Bureau and (DOF) California Department of Finance, population figures on these numbers. As an alternative of the 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens these agencies and the liberal progressives claim to be here, there may actually be 20 million to 30 million or more? Nobody truly knows?

    The cost of harboring illegal immigrants in the United States is a staggering $113 billion a year; an average of $1,117 for every household in America and that’s just at the federal level. More truth and Statistics requested? Go to NumbersUSA or Judicial Watch.

    Freshman Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) added his name to 14 different bills on Thursday that would reduce overall immigration levels and work to end illegal immigration.

    * H.R.152 – a bill introduced by Rep. Ted Poe’s to improve border security
    * H.R.310 – a bill introduced by Rep. Sure Myrick that would prohibit federal funding to institutions of higher learning that provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens
    * H.R.691 – a bill introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey that would prevent mortgages from going to illegal aliens
    * H.R.692 – a bill introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey that would end Chain Migration
    * H.R.693 – a bill introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey that would require all businesses to use E-Verify within 60 days
    * H.R.800 – a bill introduced by Rep. John Carter that would require all businesses to use E-Verify within 2 years
    *
    * H.R.1091, introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter that would require DHS to construct 350 additional miles of border fencing
    * H.R.1134 – a bill introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter that would prohibit federal funds being sent to sanctuary cities
    * H.R.1196 – a compilation bill introduced by Rep. Gary Miller, the LEAVE Act, that would end birthright citizenship, require nationwide use of E-Verify, improve interior enforcement, and discontinue rewards to illegal aliens
    * H.R.1459 – a bill introduced by Rep. Sue Myrick, the Scott Gardner Act, that would increase penalties for illegal aliens caught with a DWI
    * H.R.1698 – a bill introduced by Rep. Sue Myrick that would increase fines for employers that hire illegal aliens
    * H.R.1764 – a bill introduced by Rep. Charles Boustany that would end sanctuary cities
    * H.R. 2000 – a bill introduced by Rep. Heath Shuler, the SAVE Act, that would require all employers to use E-Verify and strengthen interior and border enforcement
    * H.R.2164 – a bill introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith, the Legal Workforce Act, which would require all employers to use E-Verify.

    American cannot afford anymore to support the poverty of other countries. The final straw was learning from the (FAIR) Federation of American Immigration reform that a volume amnesty would cost to process everybody with all the FBI background checks, health checks and the occupied paperwork over $2.5 trillion dollars. This is incorrigible when 13 million Americans are seeking work and this country, is still in a recession and unlikely to climb out of this $14.4 Trillion dollars financial chaos for years. Every American needs to rethink his vote for 2012. Not for Democrats, not for Liberals and not for Republicans, but for this Nation’s People under the banner of the TEA PARTY.

    This is the time to empty the overcrowded classrooms, full with the children of illegal aliens. Give hospitals breathing space saving billions of dollars from uninsured illegal immigrants, who knowingly enter by foot, vehicle, aircraft or boat into the United States. Entering illegally in a violation of our national sovereignty and should be a felony, for illegal aliens and those who knowingly break the rules, including businesses. Start the Attrition by enforcement programs such as E-Verify, Secure Communities and support Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Utah and States nationwide who have no choice but to restrict illegal immigrants through police laws as their welfare programs are being sucked dry.

    Fearful illegal nationals are bypassing Arizona and loading their possessions, heading for Sanctuary States as California, Nevada, Illinois, Washington state and many counties within particular States.

  3. David Ferreira says:

    In response to the post from Brittanicus, not only are the data and conclusions included absolutely wrong, but they are taken from organizations that have ties to white nationalism and white supremacy. See below a profile on the founder of the organizations that Brittanicus cites from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group dedicated to legally fighting white supremacy and neo-nazis.

    JOHN TANTON
    Date of Birth: 1934
    Groups: Federation for American Immigration Reform; The Social Contract Press
    Location: Petoskey, Mich.
    Ideology: Anti-Immigrant
    John Tanton is the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement. He created a network of organizations – the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA – that have profoundly shaped the immigration debate in the United States. A retired Michigan ophthalmologist, Tanton has white nationalist beliefs and has written that to maintain American culture, “a European-American majority” is required. As of 2010, Tanton served on FAIR’s board of directors.

    In His Own Words
    “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”
    – Dec. 10, 1993, letter to the late Garrett Hardin, a controversial ecology professor.

    “I have no doubt that individual minority persons can assimilate to the culture necessary to run an advanced society but if through mass migration, the culture of the homeland is transplanted from Latin America to California, then my guess is we will see the same degree of success with governmental and social institutions that we have seen in Latin America.”
    – Jan. 26, 1996, letter to Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA (and then an employee of Tanton’s foundation U.S. Inc.).

    “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?”
    – Sept. 18, 1996, letter to now-deceased California multimillionaire and eugenicist Robert K. Graham.

    “I write to encourage keeping track of those on our same side of the issue, but who are nonetheless our competitors for dollars and members.”
    – April 20, 1998, correspondence asking several FAIR employees to ensure they receive mailings from American Renaissance, a racist, pseudo-scientific magazine focusing on race, intelligence and eugenics. (The underlining was in Tanton’s original letter).

    Background
    A retired Michigan ophthalmologist, John Tanton spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement. His racist views were first exposed in 1988 when a series of private memos he wrote for principals at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) were leaked to the press. The memos were filled with racist statements and warned about a coming “Latin onslaught.”

    Tanton’s white nationalist views are fully exposed in his private papers at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” Tanton wrote in a Dec. 10, 1993, letter to Garrett Hardin, a controversial ecology professor.

    The papers in the Bentley Library also show that Tanton has for decades been at the heart of the white nationalist scene. He has corresponded with Holocaust deniers, former Klan lawyers and the leading white nationalist thinkers of the era. He introduced key FAIR leaders to the president of the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist group set up to encourage “race betterment,” at a 1997 meeting at a private club. He wrote a major funder to encourage her to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor — to “give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s theories on the Jews. He practically worshipped a principal architect of the Immigration Act of 1924 (instituting a national origin quota system and barring Asian immigration), a rabid anti-Semite whose pro-Nazi American Coalition of Patriotic Societies was indicted for sedition in 1942.

    Tanton also runs the racist publishing company, The Social Contract Press, which is part of his foundation, U.S. Inc. One special issue of the press’ journal, The Social Contract, was devoted to the theme of “Europhobia: The Hostility Toward European-Descended Americans” and featured a lead article from John Vinson, head of the Tanton-backed hate group, the American Immigration Control Foundation. Vinson argued that multiculturalism was replacing “successful Euro-American culture” with “dysfunctional Third World cultures.” Tanton elaborated in his own remarks, decrying the “unwarranted hatred and fear” of whites that he blamed on “multiculturalists” and immigrants.

    In 1994, The Social Contract Press republished an infamous racist novel, The Camp of the Saints, along with his wholehearted endorsement and a special afterword from its author saying “the proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, to extinction.” The novel describes “swarthy hordes” of Indian immigrants who take over France, send white women to “a whorehouse for Hindus” and engage in a grotesque orgy of men, women and children. The immigrants are described as “monsters,” “grotesque little beggars from the streets of Calcutta” and worse. Unconcerned, Tanton said he was “honored” to republish what he described as an important and “prescient” text. The novel, like the race war fantasy The Turner Diaries, has become a key screed for American white supremacists.

    This history has not prevented Tanton from playing a central role in the nation’s immigration debate, particularly through the many anti-immigration organizations he has founded or funded over the years. He is still active with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which he founded and where he was listed as a board member as recently as 2010.

    FAIR, whose members have testified frequently before Congress, accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a racist foundation devoted to proving a connection between race and intelligence. FAIR has hired as key officials men who were also active in white supremacist groups and has others who write for anti-immigrant hate sites. Due to these activities, FAIR has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

    FAIR is just one part of an anti-immigration network created by Tanton that has never strayed far from its roots. In fact, these groups are fundamentally linked and driven by their founder’s vision that non-white immigration is a threat to white America.

    The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) – which bills itself as a scholarly think tank and has been widely quoted in the media – began its life as a FAIR program and continues to produce dubious studies furthering FAIR’s anti-immigration agenda. It’s a vision described by Tanton in a 1985 letter in which he wrote that CIS would produce reports “for later passage to FAIR, the activist organization, to remedy.”

    Similarly, NumbersUSA began life as a Tanton foundation program. Its executive director, Roy Beck, was designated by Tanton as his “heir apparent” at U.S. Inc. Beck edited The Immigration Invasion, a book by Tanton and a colleague that was so fierce in its immigrant-bashing that Canadian border authorities banned it as hate literature.

    Tanton and FAIR often assert they are being unfairly attacked by their critics, but Tanton’s own words offer evidence to the contrary. On Jan. 26, 1996, he wrote to Beck, then an employee of U.S. Inc., questioning the ability of Latinos to govern California.

    Tanton wondered “whether the minorities who are going to inherit California (85% of the lower-grade school children are now ‘minorities’ — demography is destiny) can run an advanced society?”

    On April 20, 1998, Tanton wrote to several FAIR employees to ensure they receive mailings from American Renaissance, a racist, pseudo-scientific magazine focusing on race, intelligence and eugenics.

    “I write to encourage keeping track of those on our same side of the issue, but who are nonetheless our competitors for dollars and members,” Tanton wrote.

  4. Eva Smith says:

    What a great honor for all the people that attended the White House Hispanic Policy Conference. I’m most interested in the STEM discussion. I hope there will be more roundtables in the future.

  5. Great headline, Viviana!

  6. Having recently moved from DC after 10+ years working for PR for the federal government, I can really appreciate this post. Thank you for the insights. Love the headline!

  7. And this is why I read blogs…ni enterada this was happening! Thanks for the perspective and the info

  8. Thank you, Viviana…and ignore the trolls and spammers.

    Que joder.

  9. Thank you for the insight. I also love knowing what is happening in the political world.

  10. Vianessa says:

    Great article. Even enjoyed reading the comments – I love a good debate :-)

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