Friday, June 3, 2011

Chicano/Latino activist group urges Presidential intervention...

This open letter was sent to President Barack Obama by Chicano/Latino activists from California urging him to intervene in the deportation of college student Ricardo Muñiz.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C.

Re: Urgent Opposition to Deportation of Ricardo Muñiz

Dear Mr. Obama,

We are Chicano Latino activists in California. We are the activists who are preparing to work tirelessly for your re-election in 2012. We are still spitting up car fumes from standing at highway entrances holding signs promoting Democratic Party candidates such as Congressman Thompson, Congresswoman Matsui, and Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Barbara Boxer, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada and other supporters of your agenda. Our families spent their evening’s phone banking and our children used their Saturdays to distribute Democratic Party door hangers.

We cannot say that we were not deeply disappointed by the failure of your administration to pass the Dream Act. We listened to your speech in El Paso, Texas where you spoke of the necessity for immigration reform and of your support for young American Latinos who face deportation to a foreign nation to which they have no ties. Deportation of our youth is not “a focus on criminals.” Nor does the deportation of our children serve to protect us. Rather it serves only to terrorize our community.

On May 19th, 2011, one of our children, Ricardo Muñiz, received a letter of deportation with a deportation date of June 9th, 2011. Ricardo is a 22 years old student at Fullerton College majoring in Business Administration and International Relations. He lives in Anaheim, California. Ricardo is a teen mentor in his community, active member on his campus, and a true fighter for equality. Ironically, Ricardo recently performed in a play to commemorate the Mendez vs. Westminster school desegregation case in which Latino attorneys and a legendary African American attorney, Thurgood Marshall, fought against school segregation of our youth. School segregation was an unjust rule of law in its day. Several great Democratic Presidents fought to change that unjust law.

We implore you to intervene on Ricardo’s behalf in the name of morality and all that is right. In El Paso, you spoke of the rule of law. During the Great Depression deportation trains carried our people south in the name of the same xenophobia and rule of law that interned the Japanese, forbade the immigration of Filipinas, barred Chicanos and Blacks from juries, and excluded Chicanos and Blacks from home ownership through restrictive covenants. All of those were also the rules of law in their day. Those laws were not just. During the Great Recession, the shrill cries for deportation have reappeared. Our youth turn to us with disillusionment for us to defend them. And so we turn to you. You are our first and strongest line of defense. In your election, we envisioned a greater America that valued our children.

We can accept the fact that the Republican dominated House denied our community the benefits of the Dream Act and we hope to extract a heavy political price for their bigotry in the next election. What we cannot accept is to watch the President we advocate to our community sit idly by and allow the unjust deportation of our best and brightest minds. We implore you to stop Ricardo’s deportation and the deportation of a hundred thousand other children who also “have a Dream.”

We believe that the people of America support the Dream Act. Aspects of the Dream Act such as curtailing deportations of our children can be implemented now by Executive Order. When Congress would not act in the name of justice, Democratic Presidents such as Presidents Roosevelt and Truman used Executive Orders to promulgate civil rights policy. In 1948, President Harry Truman integrated the armed forces with Executive Order 9981. Truman an unlikely advocate for civil rights had earlier in his career observed that ”[i]f any class or race can be permanently set apart from, or pushed down below the rest in political and civil rights, so may any other class or race when it shall incur the displeasure of its more powerful associates, and we may say farewell to the principles on which we count our safety.” In 1962 President Kennedy used an Executive Order to ban discrimination in federal housing-this was two years before passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. President Kennedy established the Peace Corps by Executive Order.

As President you have a reservoir of authority to alter administrative and regulatory processes as well as to affect the implementation of law. Traditionally, Presidents have taken an expansive view of their power to adopt Executive Orders. Between 1939 and 1946, President Roosevelt issued 286 Executive Orders. On his last day of Office on January 19, 1981, President Carter issued ten Executive Orders concerning the exchange of the Iran hostage for frozen Iranian assets; all ten Executive orders were upheld by the United States Supreme Court. Between 1789 and 1956 only sixteen Executive Orders were overturned. President Ford issued seven Executive Orders on his last day in office.

Now it is your watch. You are cast in the role of President and Champion in a time when yet another group faces the stigma of opprobrium. You may shape the public agenda of immigration reform with an Executive Order that protects these young people. The deportation of Ricardo and other Dreamers poses a great moral crisis for our nation. At a time such as this, you cannot maintain your neutrality.

Is your legacy to be the President who deported more Mexicans than any other President in history? Or are you to be the organizer from Chicago who inspired our support and love by his devotion to the causes of the underprivileged and by his dedication to the advocacy of justice? We respectfully ask that you act on behalf of Ricardo Muñiz immediately and that you stop the deportation of all youth who would qualify under the Dream Act.

Tony Perez
CHAIR, Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic Party*

Neptaly “Taty” Aguilera
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic Party*

Carlos Alcalá
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic Party*

 Norma Alcala
CORRESPONDING SECRETARY, Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic

Angelica Tellechea
RECORDING SECETARY, Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic Party*

Vianey Nunez 
TREASURER, Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic Party*

cc:  Dolores Huerta, Dolores Huerta Foundation
       John Burton, Chair California Democratic Party
       Senator Feinstein
       California Latino Legislative Caucus

*Title is for reference purposes only

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