"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama:

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

As you prepare to take the reins of our government and move forward with an aggressive economic stimulus package to help restore confidence and hope in our economy, we stand prepared to pray with you and assist you in whatever request you may have of us.

As ministers of the Gospel, we can sense the uncertainty that many Americans are feeling today. There is a sense of confusion, hopelessness, and despair, and thoughts of frightening consequences as we ponder our country’s future.

Hundred of thousands have lost their homes because of bank foreclosures. Millions more have lost their jobs as corporations try to retool and restructure their businesses. Thousands of small businesses are closing down because of the lack of business, and this is creating another economic emergency in many small towns that depend on these businesses for goods and services....and jobs.

The jobs which may be available, offer little incentive for a worker used to making a decent living by earning a fair wage and benefits. Instead today, we see an economy that is struggling to avoid the worse recession since 1987.

Our economy was moving forward creating new and better jobs as technology opened new doors of advancement. It appeared as if our economy was set to continue to grow in this period of posterity and good and plentiful jobs.

Slowly we have seen what the greed and criminal element within the ranks of high level bankers, investors, and corporate giant business managers have done to create a world wide economic crisis. Because of their criminal behavior, millions of people today are suffering the ramifications of no oversight on these businesses.

Respected business leaders left to their own oversight created a greedy and criminal enterprise that has robbed billions of dollars from so many hard working people who placed their hard earned investments and trust in these businesses.

We now know what it feels like to be destitute, hopeless, and frightened.

Mr. President-elect, we are learning a difficult lesson that thousands of undocumented immigrants in our country have already learned. While we had a strong economy, we didn’t care much about administrative violations by undocumented immigrants. We needed these workers because many were strong, loyal, and hard working individuals. Many of these workers even began to believe in the American Dream as their own dream.

Many immigrants are facing the same fate as average good American workers. They too are losing their homes or small businesses because the job market essentially is drying up. Millions of Americans are without jobs and have little or no expectation of finding a decent job in the near future.

The only difference in this economic mess is that undocumented workers who are part of our economy have little or not recourse to pursue a better future. In spite of the fact that many neo conservatives claim undocumented workers have little or no impact on our economy. Undocumented immigrants play a key role in providing good workers during a time when competition for workers is necessary.

However, the fear of Homeland Security's anti-undocumented immigrant policies and ICE have always lurked in the minds of so many of these workers. The fear of going to church on Sunday morning, or going to work on Monday because ICE agents might raid the places they assemble.

Families ripped apart, children left without parents, wives and husbands sucked into a detention system leaving families without bread winners. Families which only sought to work hard and contribute to our way of life, have been nabbed and sent to detention centers for administrative violations of the law, with no expectation of having a fair hearing or contacting a lawyer or agency to help them.

In this dire economy, the only business which seems to be a growing enterprise is the building of detention centers for undocumented immigrants. We continue to build these detention centers by criminalizing families for living and working in our country. Many of these people have not committed a single crime, and yet are now being labeled as criminals by our own government.

Homeland Security officials have created a new class of criminals by creating policies that our elected leaders have been unwilling to challenge or change. Not wanting to be labeled as soft on terrorism, Homeland Security has successfully inserted all undocumented immigrants as a threat to our country and the need to detain them or deport them without fair hearings.

Mr. President-elect, as you face the many issues that need your immediate attention, we ask that you not forget the “the stranger in our midst.” We call upon your Christian ethic and compassion to stop the raids, stop building the wall between Mexico and our country, and stop this insane business of building detention centers that have become home for so many hard working families.

While the future looks bleak and our economy still faces numerous challenges, we will ride out this perfect economic storm and our prayer is that once again we can return to the days in which good jobs and wages will be available. That is our hope for the future, but along with that hope, we ask that you put an end to the strong arm tactics of ICE and stop putting innocent people in jails. Please stop the raids the day you take office.

Our hope is that you can guide and navigate our country through the difficult days ahead. As ministers, we pledge to offer you guidance and a shield of prayer for you and your Cabinet. Our pledge is that we will continue to perform our Godly task as the spiritual consciousness of our country and uphold our leaders in daily prayers.

And by the way, if you need a Latino Pentecostal preacher to pray sometime, I still have bus tire tracks on my back.

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Monday, December 8, 2008

Economic Free Fall

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

While we wait for the changes that the Obama Administration has promised to put in place to address the many issues and crisis we face, it is a good time for the Church to evaluate its mission and leadership role in a time of confusion, fear, and chaos.

The economic free fall of our financial infrastructure has created a worldwide spectacle as we watch the collapse of banks and financial institutions in which we had placed so much confidence.

Instead, we watch as multimillion dollar companies come begging to the Congress for a $34 Billion dollar bailout. The Big Three automobile companies in Detroit are afraid they will soon run out of money and force the companies into bankruptcy.

If these three mega industry giants were to go bankrupt, the domino effect on other companies that build parts and supplies for the auto industry would also end up throwing thousands of workers out of work.

There is a sense of fear and trepidation in the land that has not been felt since the Depression. There is a sense of hopelessness and confusion as government and business leaders look for multi billion-dollar solutions in hopes that more paper money will seal the financial leak.

While President-elect Obama is putting together his team and Cabinet Secretaries, business conditions continue to deteriorate as we enter a period of presidential transition.

It is as if no one knows who really is in charge. While the Inauguration date is still a month away, the problems and issues demanding immediate action cannot or will not wait.

While President Bush has essentially apologized for the recession, the lame duck Presidency is in no condition to set an agenda for recovery. President Bush and his budget people just recently determined that the country has been in a recession since December 2007. In case you have lost track of time, it is December 2008.

What are the steps we must take to create a sense of calm and hope? Is there really a solution to the financial free fall that we are experiencing not only in the USA, but now spread throughout the world. Globalization has brought not only the convenience of inexpensive goods and services; it also has tied our economies together. What now affects one major world power, affects the entire world’s financial checkbook.

The fear and the sense of not knowing what is next are troubling enough. For example, on our block, we have witnessed the terrible and sad foreclosure where our neighbors furniture and belongs are simply dumped on the street by the Sheriff department. Here was a neighbor who lived for years in our area, and all we could do was watch the doors to his home bolted shut, leaving him and his family - homeless.

On our block alone, three homes have been foreclosed on. Three neighbors who have lost their life savings and the hope of having a place to call home.

If you think that fear, does not creep up and cause one to wonder how can this be happening? Who might be next if the government cannot get a handle on the number of bad loans made by greedy mortgage companies?

It is frightening to watch the international financial collapse affect the home of neighbors who lost jobs or live savings with the collapse of Wall Street.

Is there hope for future? And how do we help create a sense of things being under control? What is the role of the Church as more and more people lose jobs and their livelihood?

Each financial quarter we have seen the unemployment figures inch slowing up showing more people losing their jobs. Even President-elect Obama has said that the financial picture will get worse before it gets better. That alone is frightening to hear as so many Americans have placed their future in the articulate and savy orator of the new President who talks about change and hope for the future.

Will his words be enough to settle the nerves of so many people who face tomorrow with fear and hopelessness?

We are living in a time of confusion, fear, chaos, and with no sense of how to fix the problem.

Fear is in the air and like sharks who can smell the blood of victims in the water, fear is building on itself.

What can we do as a people committed to serving our Lord and Savior? Is this part of the judgment on our land for the sin and careless living we have indulged in? Is this part of the price we must pay for forgetting to serve our God? Is the condemnation on our land for failing to serve the Lord our God without compromising our values and beliefs?

Some preachers will tell you yes, others are not so sure. It is very easy to place the blame on our sinful nature and for making easy living and pleasures of the world our God.

I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know that whenever God’s people encountered a crisis, asking God to forgive their sins, and looking for Him to lead them out danger is still a viable guide for the Church today.

Can we lead the way by starting with ourselves and asking God to set us free from our sin and our lack of attention to His Word? The time for the Church to take a stand is now.

Can we, the Church be strong enough to stand and say to all that will listen, repeat and seek the ways of the Lord. Find peace and joy in the Lord. Look away from the sin and look with hope to the future by the Words spoken thousands of years ago.

God’s Word will set us free from fear and give us the capacity to lead our nation from the brink of financial doom.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Monday, November 24, 2008

"And the Survey Says...."

Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The National Institute for Latino Policy just recently completed a survey on what the Obama victory may mean to the Latino community. With over 950 responses from Latino leaders from across the United States, the National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey (NLOLS) gives some interesting insight as to what the Latino community is expecting from the Obama administration for lending its support during the election.

While the survey was not a scientific poll, the fact that close to a 1000 Latino leaders took part in the survey should not mean the poll does not adequately represent the general mood in the Latino community at this point in time.

Seventy eight percent of the Latinos surveyed believe the election of Obama as President is “a good thing” for our community. Only four percent felt it was “a bad thing.” There was a large percentage, eighteen percent of those surveyed, who felt they were not sure or did not know.

However, the NLOLS survey also raised some interesting issues that Obama must address if he is to keep the honeymoon mood alive with the Latino community. For example, Latino leaders “are skeptical of the Obama transition and the Democratic Party responsiveness to the Latino community.”

When asked if the Obama transition team was including strong Latino leaders in the transition process, “only twenty two percent said yes. Thirty three percent said no, and forty six percent were not sure of did not know.”

An interesting point of discussion that must be addressed by the national Democratic leadership is to just assume that they have the Latino voter locked up and end up taking the Latino vote for granted. There are some serious misgivings by the Latino leaders who answered the survey.

Fifty three percent of Latino opinion leaders “felt that the Democratic Party was not being responsive to the needs of the Latino community, compared to twenty one percent who felt it was being responsive.”

Even though Latino voters gave their overwhelming support to the Democratic Party and President-elect Obama, a majority of the survey participants believe the Party has a long way to go before Latino leaders will give the party leadership a blank check when it comes to addressing issues important to Latino voters.

There is plenty of interesting data when it comes to identifying the top priority issues for the Latino community. The economy was one of the top issues Obama must address according to seventy five percent of the opinion leaders in the Latino community. This issue included the need for more jobs and strong leadership to break the cycle of poverty faced by Latino families.

It was especially noteworthy to find that the participants of the NLOLS survey did not feel “that the issues of racism, voting rights, housing, or US relations with Latin America needed to be a priority for the Obama Administration.”

I believe more research and in depth discussion is necessary before we simply accept this data, particularly when it comes to racism and immigration, housing and high foreclosures in the Latino community. I would agree that much has been done to register more Latino voters, and because of the educational process taken to increase Latino voters, most Latinos are up to speed when it comes to voting rights.

The top priority issues identified by Latino leaders that must be addressed by the Obama Administration start with immigration (twenty percent), the economy (twenty percent), education (seventeen percent), and seventeen percent said “the same as those for the country in general.”

When it comes to addressing comprehensive immigration reform, eighty four percent “do not believe or are not sure”, that Obama will introduce any immigration reform legislation in his first 100 days. However, sixty-nine percent are very hopeful and believe that Obama will call for “a moratorium on immigration raids,” with thirty percent saying they do not believe it will happen in the first 100 days.

Interestingly enough, the survey asked if immigration was the most important issue facing the Latino community. Fifty-eight percent disagreed that it was the most important, with only thirty-six percent who thought it was the most important issue.

While the survey has more information on other issues of the day, there is one important issue I believe facing our community warrants further discussion. The issue of Black-Latino relations during the elections was always a point of contention by the news pundits and commentators and what affect they felt it would have on the election.

Several polls and exit polling demonstrated that Latinos voted in large numbers for Obama, however, seventy-one percent of the survey participants felt Black-Latino relations were “only fair or poor.” Two percent believed relations were “excellent,” and twenty-five percent said they were “good.”

The NLOLS survey has more information and is worthwhile reading to get a glimpse at what Latino opinion leaders from across the United States believe. The survey helps to put many issues facing our community in perspective and can be helpful in developing strategies to move forward, and most importantly, the survey gives each of us an idea where we stand nationally in relationship to other Latino community members in our country.

For more information, contact Angelo Falcon, the President and Founder of National Institute for Latino Policy. editor@latinopolicy.org

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light – Latino Faith Initiative

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Obama Challenge & the Church

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

The election results from the two year presidential election are finally in and as a nation we have elected a new President, Barack Obama. A man who promises change and new leadership for the uncertain days of the future.

There is not a greater time than today for a new outlook and determination to fight for unyielding justice, a supreme sense of obligation to serve, and to look upon the days and months ahead as an opportunity to refocus our beliefs and values.

President-elect Obama made it clear in his acceptance speech from Chicago that he intends to be the President of all the people. At the end of many Presidential elections we have heard that refrain and pledge only to see the agenda of partisan politics become the theme of the new leadership and hope for a united people lost.

"We know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century," Obama said in his victory speech in Chicago's Grant Park. "There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created, new schools to build and threats to meet and, for us to lead, alliances to repair."

There can be no drawing back from the pledge that President-elect Obama made in Chicago, to you, to the nation and to a world looking for a new moral leadership from America.

Many Evangelicals supported Senator John McCain because he stood closer to the ideals and values Evangelicals hold dear. The belief in life, and strong stand in following the Biblical teaching that marriage is between a man and women were strong voter values.

Yet on the other hand, many Evangelicals gave up their solemn and firm belief in those two fundamental values to work for justice, to work against poverty, to fight for a better education for all, and to share the American Dream with other people who have failed to taste the sometimes bitter sweet taste of success. They will still need to stand for these new values as they must also struggle with the old challenges of the past as well.

I can upon all regardless of where they stood before tonight's historic election that we move forward toward rebuilding the trust of the American people and that we join President-elect Obama to send a strong beacon of light and hope from the hilltop to all the nations of the world who have traditionally looked to our country as the leader of the free world.

To the supporters of President-elect Obama who pledge to fight hard to combat poverty, environmental issues, lack of educational opportunities, voice for the undocumented immigrant who seeks the American dream, let us join together to build a national agenda that meets the needs of hopeless and most in need.

We live in perilous times and face large challenges and issues that only have become chaotic, divisive, and frightening, but still demanding immediate attention. The national ordeal of finding our way out of the malaise of an economy in a free fall, enemies of our nation who stand ready to attack or destroy our way of life, and two wars which have entangled our country and where we have seen too much American blood spilled in the name of democracy.

Some of us have heard the "prophetic voices" that predict more destruction and despair in our country. We have heard the "voices or righteousness leaders" say there is no hope for our future because of the perceived policies and political positions the "left wing of the Democratic Party" will institute in our national narrative and discourse.

Pastor R. Loren Sandford who has been very cynical of the election of Obama and says he still sees America irrevocably being changed by the polices of the Left and that our hope will merely be a delusion. He also sees "a whirlwind of confusion and change" that he does not understand, but believes it does not bode well for our country.

Yet Pastor Sandford is very clear on one issue that I wholeheartedly support and encourage all of us to support. He says, "Finally, no matter where you stood on this election, we are now under obligation, not to be like Israel grumbling in the wilderness or dividing from one another, but to pray lovingly and fervently for Barack Obama."

Pastor Sandford quotes I Timothy 2:1-4 as it applies to the situation we face today. "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Unfortunately politics will most likely play a role in the development of our national policy and ideals, but if President-elect Obama is serious about being the President of all the people, it is time for 'good politics and non-partisan' leadership to prevail in the Halls of Congress, lead by a strong President and a united nation.

There will be those who will claim that "their President" was elected and that "your Presidential candidate was not." That attitude will not aid President-elect Obama with the exceptionally troublesome challenges he will face as our leader, and a person who promised change and national focus.

A Washington Post article states, "After a victory of historic significance, Barack Obama will inherit problems of historic proportions. Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated at the depths of the Great Depression in 1933 has a new president been confronted with the challenges Obama will face as he starts his presidency."

Our nation embarks on a new historic opportunity and one that will draw the praise and admiration of people world-wide as they see the election as a fundamental change in our nation's history.

The mere fact and I don't in any way mean to demean the historical significance of what happened today in our history, but it will take a united country to work with President-elect Obama drawing up his vision and hope for the future, and only then can we participate in furthering the dream of justice, mercy, and acknowledgement of our God.

Tonight, the Evangelical Church is beset with a challenge and an urgent call to be the force which will not just join the movement toward a new identity, but to remain a strong voice of conscience.

More than ever, the Church must call upon the Most High for guidance, direction, inspiration, leadership, justice and mercy to ensure that our country remains a nation of high morals and values.

Senator McCain in his concession speech from Phoenix spoke of the difficulties we will continue to face and that it is going to take a united nation to pull together.

McCain said, "I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans."

The prophetic voices of today call us to positions of leadership and restoration, to remain strong voices for justice, to a higher calling to embrace the oppressed, to stand in the gap for the voiceless, and always present the Gospel as love, not hate, as salvation, not damnation, for life, not death, and for teachings and values that will lead our nation and our dreams.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colordo 80212

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama Elected in a Landslide....wink, wink....

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

If you watch or read carefully, you may sense reading between the lines and listening carefully to what the network and cable newscasters are saying. The McCain voter might as well stay home because Obama is all but about to be crowned King. For the Obama voter, stay home, Obama already has it in the bag and it will be by a landslide.

Yes, it appears that many newscasters and all of the experts they have analyzing all the different polls out there, have all but confirmed among themselves that an Obama landslide scenario is in place, leaving McCain unable to get the number of electoral votes he needs to be elected president.

A landslide election will put an end to all the clamoring about how the Latino vote made a difference and was the winning edge to electing Obama.

All the Latino electioneering will quickly be put to rest along with every other interest group that loses bragging rights as to who actually pushed Obama over the winner’s line.

With early voting taking place and mail ballots soaring in popularity, we are getting an idea how big the vote is going to be. For example, in Colorado almost a third of the voters have already cast their ballot, which is close to a million ballots already cast. Thirty states have early voting, and NBC News reports some locations already are reporting five hour wait time to vote in this year's election.

One of the reasons for the early voting is the debacle many voters faced when they were forced to stand in line for hours; an unbearable sacrifice for many prospective voters who with stood the unbearable delays and countless voting machine and software problems.

The news pundits are already making their predictions on who is actually casting the early votes. Some of the pundits say it is the elderly. Others say it is the new first time voter, excited to vote. Still other pundits and Election Night voter experts predict that it is the voter who was caught in our nation’s worst Election Day fiasco in 2006 and don’t want to repeat that experience again.

Yet the Get Out The Votes (GOTV) efforts by some voting organizers are still hard working the telephones and walking door to door trying to get their supporters ready to vote on Election Day. The weekend before Election Day are the last two best days where everyone will be out in force trying to get their voter supporters to the voting booth.

In one particular Latino precinct in west Denver, only about two percent of the registered voters have voted early, creating quite a bit of alarm for registration workers who had targeted this neighborhood. They are worried that much of their hard work to register the Latino voter may turn out to be for naught.

The telephones are starting to ring with anxiety and alarm trying to figure out why early voting numbers are so low. Trying to locate all those people who registered to vote and promised to vote early as well is becoming a major job, if not an impossible one.

It is one thing to register voters, but it is another major challenge in particular to motivate the first time voters who signed on the dotted line to actually vote. Trying to reach and impress the newly registered voter and help them understand and realize it is time to deliver on the promise to vote early, is becoming a major task in comparable neighborhoods like Westwood area in Denver.

With all the scandalous electioneering mud being thrown back and forth by the candidates, and in some cases by the candidate’s advisers, the voter registration battle hit a major snag when ACORN was accused of registering dead people, their relatives, and registering other people's names multiple times.

The scandal seemed to take a bit of steam out of the enthusiasm that surrounded getting the newly registered voter to getting around to voting early. The fraudulent cloud of suspicion also created a new voting class of illegal voters.

All the secret winks and nods of the head by newscasters, seemingly signaling in secret code that an Obama landslide is on the way, it almost gives a person sufficient reason not to stand in line again – for hours to cast their vote for a candidate the news media is already prepared to call as the winner or as the loser.

Predictions about long waits and voting machine malfunctions are beginning to creep out again. In the last election in 2006, some voters waited for several hours to vote, while some left in disgust and never got an opportunity to cast their ballots for their choice. This year in Georgia, election officials are trying to persuade voters to keep the faith after some voters WAITED six hours to vote early.

With the prospect of having to wait in line to vote for hours again, and then listen to newscasters or editorials pages preparing to call a close presidential election in other parts of the country or calling close races based on exit polling before they get to vote destroys ones confidence that one vote actually does make a difference.

In the end, one of the most important responsibilities we have as a citizen of the world’s greatest democracy is being polluted by scandal, trickery, and violation of our election laws.

If the newscasters on network or cable news outlets and newspaper editors are prepared to declare Obama the winner by a landslide even before everyone has had a chance to vote, may these news outlets continue to sink in the viewers perception of being fair and balanced.

No wonder so many voters are contemplating to simply stay away again at a time when we need every vote to be counted….wink, wink.

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is McCain really losing the Latino Vote?

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The National Survey of Latino Protestants: Immigration and the 2008 Election revealed some interesting information about who Latinos may end supporting for president, plus outlining issues that may play a role in how Latinos may vote in the upcoming election.

The survey finds that Latino Protestant voters may have shifted their support from the Republican Party to the Democratic presidential candidate. The results of the survey also claim immigration is a key factor in helping Latinos determine how they will cast their vote.

One very interesting factor revealed by the survey shows that Latinos are blaming both political parties for “the negative rhetoric on immigration.”

The biased notion reported by the news media indicting the Republican Party as being the chief culprit in creating a very negative and hateful tone against undocumented immigrants has not fully convinced Latinos that the GOP is the sole instigator of this anti-immigrant movement.

There is no doubt, the Republican’s pursuit of their heavy handed enforcement only strategy has incubated the anti immigration atmosphere of fear and hate in our country, however, Latinos are quick to point out the Democrat Party has not done much to differentiate themselves from the Republicans on this issue.

When powerful Democratic leaders like Representative Rahm Emanuel continue to pressure Democratic members of the House to support legislation like the SAVE Act, and the failed H. B. 4437 which would have made religious leaders and other leaders in non-profit organizations who work with undocumented immigrants – felons. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish who is more anti-immigrant.

In fact, in my opinion, both parties are equally vague when it comes to how they will champion immigration reform in a new administration after the election determines the next president.

In breaking down the numbers of the recently released poll, it is somewhat confusing just how much support John McCain is receiving from Latino voters.

The National Survey of Latino Protestants indicates that Obama is benefiting by a shift in the support of Latinos by a wide margin, and that immigration is a key factor in helping influence their support.

Other polls conducted among the Latino voter have shown that immigration is in fact not the only reason some Latinos are supporting Obama over McCain.

Many of the previous polls have shown that Latino voters are equally concerned about the economy as the number one issue, with the war in Iraq, education, and other bread and butter issues that concern other mainstream voters.

However, I do agree with the statement Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference made about the new survey. “This poll powerfully demonstrates that immigration is a profoundly religious issue for Hispanic evangelicals. We will vote our faith and we will vote our values. It’s time that all candidates take notice.”

In my opinion, we must be careful what the new poll numbers accurately reflect about the Latino voter versus what the new poll surveyed – “Latino Protestants” reflects. Looking back at other surveys and polls, the new survey seems to be cutting out a new sub-group of voter presences.

For example, the new survey says that Latino Protestants are supporting Obama by a”wider margin”, than they supported President George W. Bush in the 2004 election. The survey states that Obama has the support of Latino Protestants by 50.4% compared to the 33.6% for McCain. 10.4% of the voters remain undecided, which I believe is a large number of undecided voters each candidate needs to work to get them in their column.

The survey states, “This represents a dramatic shift from 2004 when George W. Bush soundly won the Latino Protestant vote*.” I believe this statement clearly needs an asterisk as to not confuse the percentage of support that President Bush enjoyed in the 2004 election.

Surveys taken after the 2004 election have shown that President Bush had 40% to 44% of the Latino vote. In fact, Bush increased his support among Latinos from 2000 to 2004 by almost 7% to 11%.

While I researched other 2004 surveys looking for a voter sub-group or a voter pool of “Latino Protestants” that reflected the preference of this group, I have been unable to find a breakdown of support by this Latino voter sub-group.

For me it is difficult to say that McCain has lost a large percentage of the Latino voters while the new survey is indicating he is now receiving 33.6% of the “Latino Protestant” voter.

By reviewing the post 2004-election results showing the level of support “Latinos“ gave Bush and the results of this new survey is almost like comparing apples to oranges. It is impossible to do.

Here is where it can get tricky if we are not careful to co-mingle the “Latino Protestant” voter of 2008, with perhaps a larger poll sub-group of “Latino” voters of 2004.

If we take the figures from 2004 surveys and new survey results from the National Survey of Latino Protestants: Immigration and the 2008 Election, we can very well draw the conclusion that McCain is on track to match Bush’s Latino support in 2008.

Bush received 40% of the Latino vote in 2008, and the newly released survey shows 33.6% for McCain, McCain seems to be holding his own with Latino voters. In fact, from an earlier 2008 survey, McCain has increased his support from 26% Latino support.

Several pollsters have disputed the 40% support that Bush received in 2004 claiming the results were closer to 37% or even less.

If these pollsters have heart burn over the fact that some post 2004 election surveys have Bush at 40% of the Latino vote, imagine the level of discomfort they must have when reading the results from the new recently released survey that states, “According to 2004 post-election survey data, Bush won 63% of this segment of the Latino electorate.”

Whether or not the results of the new survey show more movement from the Latino voter toward the Democratic Party is open to debate. The fact that McCain is receiving 33.6% support among Latino voters is a signal to both candidates that Latinos are not running in droves to the Obama candidacy, particularly when you factor in the 10.4% that remains undecided.

Dr. Jesse Miranda, of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, best explains the strategy both candidates need to work out to secure a greater percentage of the Latino voter. “However, this energy can shift in the opposite direction unless there is support of what is important in terms of the interests and concerns of the largest minority in this country. This should be a clarion call to the next U. S. president.”

With a religious standard of justice and compassion toward undocumented immigrants, Latino voters value the importance of having the federal government living up to its responsibility to reform our antiqued immigration laws.

Yet, no political candidate should forget for one moment that Latinos also value a good economy, jobs that pay adequate salaries, quality educational opportunities, an end to the war in Iraq, and a new president that can restore our standing as a nation of justice, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

At this stage of the election, Democrats should not take the Latino vote for granted and Republicans in spite of the negative rhetoric from some members of the party, can still be convinced to vote for the candidate closer to their values and beliefs.

After all, there are still Democrats who have lost their way, and instead of pushing a favorable political agenda for Latino voters, their politics reflect a very negative anti-immigrant and Latino political position, which is one reason the Latino voter has not given its soul to the Democratic Party.

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Sunday, October 19, 2008

USA Today, Latino Protestants leaning toward Obama, survey shows

By Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — Latino Protestant voters appear to be swinging away from the Republican Party, a new poll shows, and immigration is a key factor.
The survey of 500 Latino Protestant registered voters found that 50.4% favored Democrat Barack Obama, while 33.6% favored Republican John McCain. Ten percent were undecided.

Those figures compare dramatically to post-election surveys that found President Bush won 63% of Latino Protestants in 2004 and 32% in 2000.

"This is a clear indication that the vote is indeed swinging dramatically from 2004 to 2008 but we'll see on Election Day how things actually turn out," said Katie Paris, a spokeswoman for Faith in Public Life, one of the co-sponsors of the poll.

Eighty percent of the Latino Protestants polled were self-identified "born-again" Christians and/or attended a congregation affiliated with an evangelical denomination.

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The immigration issue factored significantly in the findings, ranking close to abortion as a priority issue for this segment of voters. While 75% said abortion was "extremely" or "very" important in determining their vote, 71% felt that way about immigration reform. A smaller percentage, 56%, said gay marriage was extremely or very important.

"The lack of immigration reform may very well determine the outcome of the election," said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a poll co-sponsor.

"Immigration is a profoundly religious issue for Hispanic evangelicals. We will vote our faith and we will vote our values."

The poll also found that 83% of Latino Protestants said a candidate's position on immigration is key in determining their vote this year. Three out of four respondents said their religious beliefs are important in influencing their views on immigration.

The poll of 500 Latino Protestant registered voters also was sponsored by the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, America's Voice Education Fund and Gaston Espinosa, associate professor of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College. It was conducted by SDR Consulting in Atlanta and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can the Church relate to Justice?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Recently, I participated on a panel discussion sponsored by Greenwood Community Church, a mega-church in southwest Denver, related to justice. It was a unique opportunity to share my views and values on justice with other members of a diverse panel on what we perceived as justice.

A friend of mine, Dr. Malcolm Newton spoke of the need for the Church to embrace justice as well as the church has embraced charity. Dr. Newton feels the Anglo church has taken positive steps to try and address the issues related to poverty, hunger, and quality of life issues, but even so, he feels the Church has failed to live up to upholding justice as a primary responsibility of the church.

While a clear definition of "what is justice?" is not easy to reduce to a simple sentence we can all understand, it remains a group of words we must manipulate in order to create a simple sentence that is easily articulated in a fashion that we all can understand.

Justice is one concept we must learn to understand universally if we are to bring about equality and liberty for all. How does the Church do justice? How do we do justice?

A few weeks ago, I participated in a minister's regional retreat with pastors from La Iglesia de Dios (Church of God in Christ) in Colorado Springs with a similar goal. The objective of our group session was how do we reach out to a lost and trapped society, addressing issues of justice and civic participation.

Both the panel discussion and pastoral retreat related to the problem of the Church failing to reach out and literally touch the lives of the people who are hurting because of injustice in their lives. To often the Church seeks to address issues of justice and civic participation from only within the four walls of the Church. Anything beyond the walls of the church, both physical barriers or walls or the philosophical limits that go beyond our own purview of what justice means.

If the hurting, the down trodden, the sick, the homeless, those seeking justice don't show up inside our churches, often times we fail to reach out to them.

The "four wall theology" has been around for some time, and in my estimation has been one of the major reasons our churches have failed to establish themselves as search lights on the hill top.

Instead of being a beacon of hope offering a way to righteousness and ultimately justice, the beacon serves only to advertise our own self-righteousness and selfishness.

Our philosophy pertaining to our definition of justice must be associated with our public life style, and one that is strong enough in spite of controversy or hardship to stand with people who seek compassionate justice to address the problems they face.

Too often the church lives in a stage of chaos and panic, ready to condemn sin, call sinners to punishment and damnation, but rarely taking the time to understand why the people calling upon the Church for help, need help in the here and now.

The Church is quick to issue its condemnation and judgment on the lost. In some respects, the Church has become the jury and judge, and is quick to sentence the lost to more time in a sinful place, from which they have sought to change in the first place.

I sincerely believe the Church does not understand or have a corporate church definition of justice, and as a result, it loses many opportunities to reach out and help people survive the pressures of a demanding society.

The "four wall theology" goes hand in hand without thinking a judicial strategy of justice is an essential ministry. If we don't understand the ministry of justice, which I believe Christ came to administer to the lost and hopeless as an example for the Church to understand and relate to as important ministry. As for the Church, for too long we have failed to understand as one of our primary reasons for ministry.

Both sessions, the panel discussion and the pastoral presentation both sought out a way to declare a righteousness and to live beyond the life of good intentions.

By having the Biblical perspective of justice and righteousness, the Church can address issues hurting people face in their lives on a daily basis. Sometimes that calls for the pastor to go to the problem instead of asking people to come to the comfort of the pastoral office.

The Church must function outside of the four walls in ministry and find a path toward justice and righteousness.

The four wall theology should be put to rest, and the Church should be looking for at any opportunity to ask the question, how can the Church be a beacon of justice?

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hispanic Evangelicals Defend Traditional Marriage

By Matt Daniels, J.D., Ph.D.
AFM Educates and Mobilizes
Latino Leaders in Arizona
The struggle to stop radical groups from destroying marriage and the family in our nation’s courts is accelerating in several states. For example, as in the case of California, voters in Arizona will be asked on Election Day to support a state amendment protecting marriage.

Last week, AFM Advisory Board Member Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Jr, delivered the keynote address at a meeting of the Arizona Latino Commission, attended by over a hundred Latino leaders from across the state. Collectively, these Latino leaders represent tens of thousands of Latinos in the state of Arizona.

Rev. Rodriguez’ message to Arizona Latino Commission -- which aired live over Almavision, a Spanish-lang uage television network -- was crystal clear: It’s just commonsense that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“Let’s defend marriage! It’s not about being against anything, it’s about being in favor of protecting our children,” said Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Jr., President of the National Hispani c Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). “Marriage represents the antidote to the destructive social behavior of drug activity, teenage pregnancy, gang involvement, high school dropout and many others.”

The Arizona Latino Commission is comprised of about four-hundred Latino community leaders and Hispanic pastors – “Latino's serving Latino's” in the state of Arizona, focused on strengthening marriages, promoting bi-lingual education for children and teens, and providing parenting classes.

Marriage and family are central to Hispanic Americans – and the driving engine of their growth and success as a community. When this powerful cultural identity is connected with demographic reality, it’s not difficult to see that America’s Latino community is the determining force in the historic battle to protect marriage under our laws.

For years, the Alliance for Marriage has built a broad national coalition that reflects the wide support for marriage in America across racial, cultural and religious boundary lines. Building on this strategy, we are leading the effort to educate and mobilize Latino Americans in the struggle to protect marriage for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

Rev. Rodriguez’ remarks are most timely, as the state’s vibrant Latino community may be the deciding margin at the ballot box in a historic campaign to protect the future of marriage for our children in Arizona.

Thank you for your friendship a nd partnership in our efforts to ensure that more children in America are raised in a home with a mother and a father.

Matt Daniels, J.D., Ph.D.
Founder and President

NHCLC President, Rodriguez, speaks at Liberty University Convocation

Samuel Rodriguez speaks at convocation

Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia
posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 by By Eric Brown | in General News

In a time of uncertainty, students heard a message during Wednesday’s convocation that spoke of the one thing that remains certain throughout life’s struggles — God’s kingdom. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, challenged students to overcome life’s obstacles by holding onto the dreams God has for them.

Using the biblical example of Joseph, Rodriguez noted that Egypt’s second-in-command adhered to God’s plan and purpose even in the most grueling situations. Upon sharing a dream with his brothers that he would one day rule over them, Joseph’s siblings stripped him of his robe and sold him into slavery.

Staying true to God’s will, Joseph rose up to become Pharaoh’s right-hand man, overseeing the day-to-day governing of Egypt. Rodriguez reminded students that much like Joseph, God’s plan for their lives supersedes the everyday challenges they face.

“You are here because God’s training and purpose in your life was greater than circumstances surrounding your life,” Rodriguez said. “Your promise was greater than your problem. Your miracle was greater than your mistake and your tomorrow shall be greater than your yesterday.”

Rodriguez also addressed the country’s economic state, reiterating that God is greater than the bleakest conditions. Quoting Matthew 6:33, he urged the crowd to be Christians first and focus on the values that take precedence over finances.

“There is something even more important than that which is in my wallet or in my bank account,” he said. “It is our commitment to the restoration of life, to the restoration of traditional marriage, and the restoration of the Judeo-Christian value system.”

Critics and pundits often point to the current generation as one that does not have a moral compass. Rodriguez responded to this criticism, saying that there are countless future Christian leaders who will impact the world for Christ.

“For those that believe that America is going to hell in a hand basket, I challenge them to come to Liberty University and see the future of America — those that will transform our nation and the world.”

Hispanics turn cold shoulder to McCain

By: Ben Smith
October 9, 2008 08:11 PM EST

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Polls show Obama winning the broadest support from Latino voters of any Democrat in a decade, while McCain is struggling to reach 30 percent, closer to Senator Bob Dole's dismal 1996 result than to Bush's historic 40% four years ago.

McCain seems to have wound up with the worst of both worlds: He appears to be getting no credit from Latino voters for his past support for immigration reform, while carrying the baggage of other Republicans' hostility to illegal immigration.

And he's been unable or unwilling to attack Obama—who was once thought to have taken a lethally liberal stance by supporting granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants—from the right.

As October puts four states with large Hispanic populations - Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico - at the center of the presidential contest, what appeared at first to be a possible strength for McCain has emerged as a profound weakness.

"I feel bad for McCain," said Sam Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a prominent supporter of George W. Bush in 2004, who is neutral this year. "We find ourselves between the proverbial rock and the hard place. We really like John McCain. We really don't like the Republican Party."

Democrats relish McCain's quandary.

"It's hurt him in every way," said Simon Rosenberg, the president of the New Democrat Network, which has focused on bringing Hispanics back to the Democratic Party. "I don't think it's assured the right he's really with them. And for those who are immigration reform advocates, he's become a betrayer, having been a leader."

Since America's economic crisis deepened this fall, immigration has almost entirely vanished from the national conversation. Three debates have passed without a single mention of the issue. And the undertow has pushed Hispanic and anti-immigrant voters alike toward the Democratic Party.

But under the radar, McCain and Obama are slugging it out in a bitter exchange of attack ads on Spanish-language radio and television.

Obama's goal has been simple: To associate McCain with the anti-illegal immigrant Republican right. One ad - which even some of Obama's allies declined to defend - associated McCain with tough immigration-related rhetoric from Rush Limbaugh. McCain countered with an ad accusing Obama of distortions and, less credibly, of having killed last year's immigration reform measure himself.

Obama, whose Spanish-language barrage also touches a range of economic issues, responded with a more defensible attack ad, saying McCain "surrendered to the anti-immigrant movement" by saying he wouldn't vote for his own immigration reform bill.

"We're seeing the most aggressive Spanish language communication campaign for president that the state of Florida and the country has ever seen," said Fernand Amandi, the executive vice president of Bendixen and Associates, a polling firm that advises Obama.

Amandi said that some had also falsely assumed that because McCain shared Bush's moderate position on immigration, he would inherit Bush's support.

"President Bush making his life and career in Texas grew up with Hispanics, always had Hispanics in his inner circle and in his kitchen cabinet, and had a genuine respect for the culture," he said. "There was never an emotional connection, there was never a personal connection, between McCain and the Hispanic community."

McCain advisor Ana Navarro called the attack ads "pathetic ploys," and conceded that McCain is being dramatically outspent on the Spanish-language airwaves.

"Obama is trying to do with $20 million what John McCain has done with over 20 years of service," she said, citing a figure released by the Obama campaign. "We don't have that kind of money to spend."

Nonetheless, McCain continues to push hard for the Hispanic vote. He spoke about his plan to buy up bad mortgages in an interview with Univision Thursday, and he has offered almost nothing to the anti-immigration wing of his party since sewing up the Republican nomination.

Recent Gallup surveys show McCain with just 26 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Meanwhile, McCain is getting little affection from the other end of the spectrum either: anti-immigration conservatives.

"There's no substantial difference between the candidates on the underlying issue," said Steve Camarota, the research director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restricting immigration.

To some analysts, McCain is ignoring a major chink in Obama's armor, though one which may have less salience now that the economic crisis dominates the headlines. When Obama said last fall that he would support states' decisions to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, Hillary Clinton's pollster Mark Penn told her staff that Obama might have just lost himself the election.

"We thought he was going to get killed over it," recalled a Clinton staffer, who said Penn's polling portrayed it as so "lethal" that it could cost Obama the reliably Democratic state of California.

Views differ on why McCain hasn't exploited this issue.

"He just doesn't have the stomach for pandering," said Navarro.

Others say immigration never cut as deeply as pundits imagined, and point to the dismal failure of Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo's single-issue presidential campaign.

"This issue has been a total loser, even inside the Republican Party," said Rosenberg.

And the shift of the campaign to the West and Florida may have simply made it too risky to antagonize his remaining Hispanic supporters, though some Democrats still think the issue may surface.

"Would McCain say, 'Screw it, I'm not picking up votes in these states, and would that be a Hail Mary? I wouldn't be surprised," said Frank Sharry, the executive director of the Democratic-leaning immigration group, America's Voice.

But as with other elements of his campaign, McCain may be battling forces beyond his control, as his advisor, Ana Navarro, noted.

"I don't think it has anything to do with John McCain," she said of his poll numbers.

Sam Rodriguez, the Hispanic evangelical leader who backed Bush, concurred.

"We really looked at McCain," he said. "If Bill Clinton was the first black president, John McCain could have been the first Latino president. Things were marching on until immigration reform failed."

© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC

Power in the Pews, Newsweek Magazine and Hispanic Evangelicals

By Susan Ferriss - sferriss@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, October 10, 2008

Two presidential debates later, and still no comment from John McCain or Barack Obama on the issue of illegal immigration.

With anxiety over the economy high, immigration has faded from the national stage and become an inconvenient topic for candidates, said Efrain Escobedo, voter engagement director for the nonpartisan National Association of Latino Elected Officials, or NALEO.

Ironically, though, Escobedo said, the election's outcome could hinge on how each candidate frames immigration and how many Latino votes he can win in four swing states: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

Both candidates are trying to connect with Latinos in those states who have been stung by anti-immigrant rhetoric they regard as racially tinged. The candidates want such voters to know they want increased immigration enforcement but also a path for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to try to earn legal status.

McCain may have the more difficult task.

He once earned the respect of Latinos – and the wrath of many immigration hardliners in his own party – for championing so-called comprehensive reform. The Republican nominee now says he won't consider legalization or visa reform before Southwest governors certify that the U.S.-Mexico border is secure.

However, the Republican platform contradicts McCain by rejecting amnesty or "en mass legalizations."

The Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Sacramento-based president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an evangelical network, is a social conservative leaning toward voting for McCain.

He has spoken with McCain about immigration and is convinced he has a commitment to legalization. But Rodriguez says he is bothered that the McCain campaign's message on immigration changes "according to the venue."

"The problem is Senator McCain's party has been the personification of xenophobia and nativism," said Rodriguez, who is Puerto Rican. "We really need the RNC (the Republican National Committee) to apologize to the Hispanic community."

Rodriguez was asked to serve on a national McCain Hispanic advisory committee, but turned it down at the behest of his organization.

McCain's support for legalization "was at his own political peril," said longtime GOP Latina activist and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, who is strongly pro-McCain. "Hispanics should be grateful."

Marin, state Consumer Services Agency secretary, will go to Colorado, she said, to turn out Latino votes before Election Day.

"There is no question" McCain will pursue legalization once the border is declared secure, Marin said. "He knows he doesn't have to bring every single Republican into the mix," she said.

Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law and one of three professors at the school advising the Obama campaign on immigration policy, said immigration reform is "a dangerous issue to talk about when the economy is melting down."

But Obama hasn't wavered on the explosive issue when pressed publicly, Johnson said.

Leaving nothing to chance, both campaigns are airing immigration-related television ads, among other themes, in Spanish in swing states.

In one ad, McCain falsely blamed Obama and Democrats for the failure of comprehensive reform in Congress. An Obama ad drew fire for linking McCain to anti-immigrant GOP figures and radio talk-show hosts who have attacked McCain as soft on immigration.

Latinos are not monolithic, said NALEO's Escobedo, and the choice of how to campaign in each swing state shows that.

For example, McCain might attract votes talking up his military service in New Mexico or Colorado, with their high numbers of Latino veterans.

But in Nevada, an affirmative immigration message could tap into nearly 60,000 Latino voters who have registered since 2004 – half of all the state's registered Latinos.

President Bush won Nevada in 2004 by only 20,000 votes.

In a NALEO survey last month, Nevada Latino voters said immigration reform was the second-most important issue in deciding how to vote.

The survey also found that one out of every three Latino voters in Nevada is undecided.

Bill Hing, another Obama adviser from UC Davis Law School, said the Democratic nominee "understands immigrants are dumped on unfairly. He's used the word scapegoat."

In North Carolina, Obama was asked recently whether undocumented youths should be allowed to attend community colleges, as 112 did last year.

The Democratic nominee said he thought it made sense if they had spent most of their lives here, and that it would be better to find a pathway for them to become legal. Contacted by media in that state, the McCain campaign didn't address the specific question but said McCain doesn't support amnesty or benefits for illegal immigrants.

Obama, Johnson said, backs the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented youths who grew up here to earn legal status if they attend college or serve in the military.

McCain was once a prominent GOP supporter of the act. At a July conference of the National Council of La Raza, a civil rights group, he implied he still backed the concept.

He didn't show up for a 2007 Senate vote on the DREAM Act, and his campaign didn't respond to several requests for clarification on his stand.

Rodriguez, who has campaigned for Bush twice, noted that Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote nationwide in 2004, 10 points higher than in 2000.

If McCain falls far short of Bush's last results in Nevada and other swing states and loses the election, Rodriguez said, "the Republican Party has only itself to blame."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Will Values push Latinos to the Polls?

Fidel "Butch" Montoya

As the global economic fallout continues to create fear and chaos around the world, it is difficult at best to try and listen to the two candidates discuss issues of little or no relevance in the debates.

In fact, the last debate was labeled by many pundits as simply, "boring!"

It is almost frightening to think the two candidates for the highest political office in the world are using cheap lies and campaign trickery at each other instead of providing solutions to a bankrupt American economy, and like it or not, to a global economy we worked so hard to create.

Recent poll watchers who follow Latino preferences and issues related to the campaign were dumb-founded to find out that Latinos like every other American voter, are most of all concerned about the economy.

Duh? It is the economy - stupid.

Read my lips...the economy.

Apparently too many pollsters and political "experts" believe that all we do is sit around all day against the cactus, sleeping with our large sombrero down over our eyes, and when we do get up from our siesta for that cold tequila, we immediately start plotting ways to exploit the immigration issue.

Surprise - surprise...."Latino priorities are American priorities." Arturo Vargas, the director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, wrote in his blog.

For some reason, the uneducated and unaware political advisor to McCain or Obama have created the false impression that all we care about is immigration.

Not to belittle the immigration issue, it is an important issue because with it comes the possible resolution to better jobs, more quality of life opportunities, better educational options, and believe it or not, less racism and bigotry.

Lack of immigration reform has allowed too many so-called Americans to spew out their hatred and racism at all "brown people." If you were to ask many of our "white citizens," most would tell you that all immigrants and brown people are from Mexico, and unfortunately, they truly believe what they are saying.

So while immigration reform remains an important issue, believe it or not, Latinos buy homes, purchase new vehicles, go the grocery store like everyone else, and have to buy gasoline for their SUV's like John Smith down the road. Four dollar gasoline prices hurt our budgets just like everyone else.

I worry about the long term prospects of the monthly mortgage payment, filling up the three cars we own with high grade gasoline, and whether or not, we get to go out to a movie and dinner this week.

So finally as some of the pollsters are finding out, Latinos are voters just like every other voter group out there. We are conservative, moderate, and liberal.

Our daughters like the color pink like any other American first grade girl.

We are not some strange "alien" like so many hate radio two faced talkers like to spew out on hate radio.

I worry about the war in Iraq, just like my neighbor down the street. We all worry about universal health care for our families, not necessarily better jobs, just jobs, and better educational options for our families.

It is amazing how pundits and pollsters like to "break out the numbers" from their polls and analyze how "the Latino is going to vote."

For the Democratic Party leaders, like it or not, most Latino voters are conservatives. Too many of us have been misled over the years to believe the Democratic Party is the party of the people.

In all actuality, Latino values are closer to the Republican Party than most want to admit. It is just that we have been sold a bill of goods all these years that says the Democrats are the party of the poor people. Fortunately, not all Latinos are poor people anymore and as such, aren't the good Democrats anymore either.

While we - the Latino voter - know the issues of poverty, lack of education, health care, and environment very well, we still remain strong opponents of abortion and gay marriage.

I find it amusing that for some reason, the Democratic Party finally discovered poverty this year as an issue. Let me tell you, poverty is an important issue and it is a real problem we have faced all of our lives, and trust me, poverty has never been trendy in our community.

Those old pair of shoes I got off the shelf at the second hand store in Center, Colorado in first grade were brand new to me...and those same shoes, were someone else's trash.

What the Democratic Party is trying to do is "pretend like poverty is much more important than abortion or gay marriage," and therefore, a priority for Latinos.

Poverty, gay marriage, abortion, health care, education have always been priority issues in our community. Don't try to fool me into believing that poverty is more important than abortion, both are equally bad.

Our value system are family oriented and center around the importance of family unity. Abortion is not about family and it represents something dark and unwelcome in our culture.

We celebrate life and the traditional marriage because it is an integral part of our culture and value system which represents the good we have.

Yes, we have gays in our community, but the 2% do not dictate to the majority what a traditional marriage is all about.

It is very plain in our culture, if you are part of the family, you are family.

Unfortunately, gays have been shunned in our community like any other community in our country. Gay bashers know no color or creed.

I love my family - no matter who you are. As long as my blood flows in your veins, you are family!

Arturo Vargas does articulate one more point about this year's election that is very important. "The candidate who speaks most directly and effectively to the issues Latinos - and all Americans - care about will find himself in the White House in January."

So while we the Latino voter are an important voter group in this election, unless we actually get out and vote on election day, our good intentions will not matter.

So how will Latinos vote in the general election?

Like any other American who cares about our country.

Don't use the right to vote, and you lose the right to complain.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Sunday, October 5, 2008

So Whose Fault is the Banking Collapse?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Like most other folks, I have been terribly concerned and confused by the Wall Street mess and the bailout by the American taxpayer. Looking at the issue simply as a selfish one, and asking the question, what does the bailout do for me and what do I get out of it?

I have read the news articles about the back door meetings with members of Congress and the Bush Administration Treasury officials. At some points in the meeting, it has been reported that you could hear a pin drop as the shocked and frightened members of Congress heard of the alternatives if they could not saddle the tax bill on the tax payer.

There was talk of a global financial meltdown and of a great depression for our country. Treasury officials were worried about more bank failures, perhaps even causing a run on the banks as panicked consumers looked to get their money out of failing banks.

Perhaps all of the scenarios did not look good at that point, but what concerns me the most is how we allowed our banking and investment institutions to get to this point. It does not make sense that our country would allow banking executives to play so loose with our country's financial and banking industry? How could this happen?

Now we are talking about a more than $750 Billion dollar bailout, guaranteed by American taxpayers, and this is supposedly only the beginning of the "investment the American taxpayer must make in our economy."

Some financial experts say there are plenty of suspects as to who is responsible for the collapse of several financial icons and bankruptcies of American companies we all thought represented integrity and honor among financial institutions.

Imagine the horror as thousands, hundred of thousands employees saw their companies, collapse and basically overnight disappear from the Wall Street scene. There was video of employees walking out of tower offices, carrying a box of belongings. The end of their careers, at least with some of these companies.

While there was enough human drama and stories that could break your heart as employees felt the world had just ended, the ugly question remained, who was responsible for this collapse? Who would put our country in such peril if we are to believe all the end of the world scenarios outlined for Congress members?

It seemed so easy to just assume that the taxpayer would accept responsibility for the failure, man made failures by banking institutions.

After reading time and time again, how top corporate executives often walked away from their failing companies with "golden parachutes" worth millions of dollars, it just didn't seem right when it happened. While rank and file employees faced financial peril, there was no one to look out for their interests.

And for me that is the central point of concern. While the bigwigs lived high in the penthouses of New York City, ate at all the fancy restaurants, and lived the lives of Kings and Queens, the rest of us have had to eat our losses and pay higher taxes with no one willing to bail us out.

Just once it would have been nice to see a bank tell a customer who was in mortgage default, "Don't worry, we will let you pass this month, and we are considering writing off your bad loan."

Millions of Americans are losing their homes due to mortgage defaults, thousands are losing their jobs, GM, Ford, and other car manufacturers are close to bankruptcy or in bankruptcy, airlines flying with so much red ink, it is frightening, and yet, I don't see any efforts being made to help individual American taxpayers who need help the most right now.

For someone who is losing their job, their home, their future, it could very well feel like a depression, a personal financial meltdown, and no help in sight.

I hope the politicians come clean on this bailout....a word the government does not want us to use, because it creates the impression we are bailing out private capitalist enterprises, and since when do we owe the business fat cats our support?

Perhaps I don't understand all the repercussions and the fate that awaits our economy, but where was the President, the Congress, the Treasury Department, and the candidates for federal offices? Why are we paying our elected officials if they seem to not know how to protect our country's financial resources and future?

Meanwhile, I am waiting for my mortgage banker to call me and say, "we are writing off your loan. Have a happy day, and by the way, if you need another loan or credit card, don't be afraid, just ask."

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Friday, September 19, 2008

Slanderous attack of Palin, Pentecostalism, Christianity and God.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya

This Pat Oliphant political cartoon from The Washington Post is the height of news media hypocrisy and irresponsibility as it relates to the private religious beliefs of Sarah Palin, the candidate for vice-president under the Republican ticket.

I am appalled and sickened to think that a major newspaper would publish such garbage and left wing liberal slandering of a religious group of people in the United States who profess to be Pentecostal believers. The media frenzy in trying to discredit and destroy the candidacy of Palin is simply the openness of the evil that has overtaken our country, in this case under the guise of the First Amendment. This cartoon is hogwash!

The General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, George O. Wood has condemned the cartoon as something other religious faiths would not stand for, or allow to be published without voicing their outrage.

"The cartoon is despicable." Millions of Christians today follow the example of first century Christians who prayed in other tongues. The 'Washington Post' would not think of printing a cartoon that mocked members of the Muslim or Jewish faiths. It should be ashamed."

The cartoon is despicable and I for one wonder where the outrage of the Muslim or Jewish faiths are?? If this type of shameless depiction of Muslim or Jewish faiths were to printed in The Washington Post or any other major news paper in the United States....or in fact, in the world, we would not hear the end of the outrage and criticism.

In fact, when newspapers around the world published a cartoon likeness of the Prophet Mohammed, there were world wide riots and death threats toward the cartoonist and newspapers who published the cartoons, and remember, it was just because of the likeness of the Prophet was being printed, not necessarily any political statement that might have appeared with the cartoon.

Here are some interesting findings of a Harris Poll related to who believes in God as the ultimate Creator of life. Keep in mind, I am not implying any opinion of mine own, just reporting the facts as the poll discovered.

"The belief was pronounced along partisan divides: 73 percent of Republican respondents and 75 percent of conservatives believe God is the ultimate Creator. The figure stood at 58 percent among Democrats and 48 percent among liberals."

And some people wonder under what influences do the ideas such as this Oliphant political cartoon are generated?

The Ombudsman for The Washington Post, Deborah Hall, a person who supposedly represents the viewers perspective related to news opinions or bias used in a news story by some "fair and balanced" reporters, told the A/G News and Information Service, "Speaking of overdoing it, a political
cartoon by Pat Oliphant that appeared on washingtonpost.com Wednesday prompted complaints from about 350 readers who said he lampooned their faith. Readers were right to complain,"

Yes, we have the right to complain and need to do it in larger numbers. Here are two Internet links that we need to share with other Believers who need to voice their Holy outrage and sentiments that condemn the "liberal news media" for their callous and despicable attitude" toward Sarah Palin and Pentecostal believers.

Deborah Howell e-mail: HowellDC@washingtonpost.com

Link to letter to the editor:

I also call up the religious leaders of other faiths and beliefs to condemn the cartoons that lampoon the religious beliefs of not only Sarah Palin, but millions of Pentecostal believers. Pentecostal believers are one of the world's largest growing religious sects and the Assemblies of God represents one of the largest Pentecostal church organizations in the world. We are not dealing with a small religious sect or a group of "wacko's or holy rollers."

This outrageous cartoon was posted online in The Washington Post on Wednesday, September . It is evident the political cartoonist does not understand the first thing about Pentecostal beliefs. Instead he leans on his biased and ignorant myths about Pentecostalism. His audacious and lack of understanding is a poor example of a journalist who should at least understand what he is mocking and condemning in his unrighteous bigotry. According to another national poll, the Gallup Poll states, "most Americans believe God is the Creator, but the cartoonist paints Him to be cranky, befuddled, a user of profanity and far from omniscient."

What a shame The Washington Post is compiled to publish such religious bigotry and in the same breath, defend the notion that such mockery, blistering and blasphemous attack against Pentecostals and ultimately, God the Creator is warranted.

This perhaps is the best open example of the attacks that Sarah Palin and her family are experiencing because of their religious beliefs. In a country where the liberal news media defends the right of every person in our country to believe and do as they please, they are always quick to condemn the "intolerance" of Christians.

It seems in their minds it is okay to believe in anything they find palatable, but if we condemn their lifestyle, we are intolerant and quick to condemn a person's right to live as they please. In fact, their hypocrisy is despicable.

I suppose if I mentioned the Biblical truth Pat Oliphant must face for blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and the consequences of such stupidity, I might be called a cold and callous Christian. But the Bible is clear, Luke 12:10, "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven."

Not just my words....but Biblical truth from the Holy Bible.

Blessings to you and may the Lord give us strength to remain faithful to our beliefs and yearning to speak in whatever language we chose or as the Spirit directs us, to make our supplications known to the Lord Jesus.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

"And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." "Micah 6:8

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What Drugs are doing to Our Families

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

I received a telephone call a few days ago from Pastor Jerry Gonzales of Grand Junction, Colorado with an urgent request for prayer. He asked that I share the prayer request with you and your churches. This is a very urgent prayer request and we believe that only through the intervention of God will make a difference. But first of all, as members of His Church, we must call upon his name in unity.

Yesterday two women came to his office at the church and were very worried and distraught about the drug wars in Mexico. The Washington Post recently had an editorial about "Mexico's War". The newspaper editorial reports there have been numerous murders, missing people kidnapped by drug thugs, rape and crimes against women and children, scores of beheadings, massacres of entire families and assassinations of senior officials.

Unfortunately there are many corrupt local police who are on the drug lord's payroll. Even federal law enforcement authorities are also cooperating with the drug cartels. President Felipe Calderon recently added 40,000 army soldiers to fight this war, but even they have failed to put a halt to the state of chaos, violence, fear and the gangs waging this war.

Pastor Gonzales says in his email, "Yesterday I spoke with two very distraught ladies about a very critical situation going on with their loved-ones in Mexico. I spoke with Rosario and her sister Ortancia regarding the kidnapping and beating of their brother and husbands by criminal elements demanding money and/or selling drugs for them. The brother was severely beaten but his life was spared after the gang members were offered his new car.

Entire villages are at the mercy of these thugs. The police and authorities are powerless to do anything and in many places they have abandoned villages and towns in fear for their own lives.

Only an intervention by All-mighty God is the answer. I ask you to pray not only for this situation but for all of Mexico.

This situation is just the tip of the ice berg. I know I am not telling you anything you are not already aware of but my heart was so broken by this family that I am trying to share this with the people of God to come together and intercede for those suffering so greatly."

From a political and strategic point of view, with the worsening conditions in Mexico, we must remember a free and democratic Mexico is best for Mexico and the United States. If Mexican President Felipe Calderón cannot control and resolve the violence and state of urgent need, we may have a very dysfunctional and leftist government, on less than friendly terms with our country, just south of our border. The ramifications of a country out of control would have massive repercussions for both the United States and Mexico.

Here is just one more fact mentioned in The Washington Post editorial which I think will help you understand the urgency and violence that exists in Mexico at this very hour.

"MANY PEOPLE in Washington are rightly alarmed about the rising toll of military and civilian casualties in Afghanistan. They might be surprised to learn that a roughly equal number of people have been killed so far this year in a war raging much closer to home -- in Mexico.

More Mexican soldiers and police officers have died fighting the country's drug gangs in the past two years than the number of U.S. and NATO troops killed battling the Taliban. Civilian casualties have been just as numerous, and as gruesome, By the official count, kidnappings in Mexico now average 65 a month, ranking it well ahead of Afghanistan and Iraq."

One last thought we need to think about and include in our prayer as well. "U.S. money and weapons are fueling this war. Billions of dollars from American drug users flow to the drug syndicates."

The Mexican government's battle against drug gangs is deadlier than most of us realize.

Let us join together in prayer across this nation in unity and in a spirit of urgency, asking for deliverance from the killings and violence for the people of Mexico.

God Bless Mexico and it's people,

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are Nativism, xenophobia, & quasi-racist elements Exculsive to Republicans?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

A question was asked if we could really vote for the Republican ticket because of their harsh treatment of the immigration issue in the GOP platform. The question was whether or not Latino evangelicals "can vote for McCain-Palin in spite of the Nativism, xenophobia, and quasi-racist elements embedded in the Republican Party."

Here is an article reviewing where the Democrats have ended up in their platform on immigration. Much to my disgust, it doesn't look much different than the Republican platform. The Democrats were the party of change and creating a climate for comprehensive immigration reform.

I don't see much happening unfortunately when it comes to immigration reform. We will continue to scapegoat the immigrant, the stranger amongst us. Raids will continue to separate families, create fear, suspicion, hate, and more articulation of racism in our society.

Here is an interesting development that received very little media attention and as most of you may know, the immigration reform issue received zero attention from the Obama/Biden team during the DNC. In fact as you will read below, the Democrats have moved to the right on the issue of undocumented immigration.

While we were being promised a new and aggressive attempt to address the issue of immigration, instead we find a party platform that could read as harshly as the GOP's platform. We now see phrases like, "required to obey the law," "get right with the law," "nation of laws," and a conditional "pathway to citizenship,"

The article states that "centralist Democrats, in league with mainstream Latino and immigrant-rights advocacy groups, MISCALCULATED the political power of the anti-immigrant messaging and abandoned the center in the debate, allowing anti-immigration forces to shift it further to the right."

The Democratic Party moved to "enforcement first," but have been pressured to accept "enforcement only" immigration policy. The proponents of the get tough movement have successfully steered the party toward an "enforcement only" policy, making any attempt for meaningful reform more difficult..

In fact, the article states, " The "come out of the shadows and get right with the law" language of the Democratic Party furthers the restrictionist stereotyping of illegal immigrants as criminals and threats to society. Rather than new messaging, the party appears to be ceding to right-wing concepts of criminalization of immigrants and place the onus of the immigration mess on immigrants rather than on the system itself."

I ask myself the question, how did this happen? Too many Democrats who supported HB 4437 and we did nothing to expose or call them on the carpet. Allowing Democrats to co-sponsor the SAVE Act and again keeping the blinders on and politely keeping silent. We have not even held the party leadership who have advocated a more harsh position accountable. Unfortunately before the changes in the platform, it was getting harder to sometimes tell the difference between a Democrat and a Republican....now it seems there may be no difference.

"Acceding to a law-and-order and security framing of the immigration crisis, the Democrats have given the ongoing crackdown greater legitimacy." Imagine if the Democrats were not the party of the people, or maybe that may have changed as well.

Read the article below and see how the Democrats have shifted to the right on immigration with enforcement being the central key and emphasis.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Democrat's shift right on immigration a mistake on many levels

Migra Matters - posted by Duke1676

Those of us who have followed the immigration debate over the last few years couldn't help but notice the rightward shift on immigration recently taken by the Democratic Party and its beltway allies in the quest for electoral victory. With the release of the party platform formulated in Denver, this shift now becomes party orthodoxy.

A recent article published by the Center for International Policy's, Americas Policy Program, a leading liberal international policy think tank, documents not only the origins of this "new framing", but looks at it's ultimate ramifications on the greater issue of reforming immigration policy in any meaningful way.

Having acknowledged that the immigration restrictionists are dominating the immigration debate, the Democratic Party and its allies are desperately seeking to reframe the immigration crisis. Their new language about immigration policy-"nation of laws," "rule of law," and "required legal status"-is popping up everywhere, from the pronouncements of immigrant-rights groups to the Democratic Party platform.

.The party doesn't back away from comprehensive immigration reform that includes legalization for illegal immigrants. As if by rote, it includes the standard language about America being "a nation of immigrants." But the party also strikes a harsher stance than in the past. Trying to please all tendencies, the Democrats say that immigration reform should be "tough, practical, and humane."

Instead of offering an "earned path to citizenship," as it has in the past, the party is now proclaiming that illegal immigrants will be required to obey the law-with the emphasis on the verb "require."

"For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law," states the party's platform. "We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens."

The "get right with the law" framing is also evident in the recent shift of Democratic Party leaders and pro-immigration toward a dual vision of immigration reform. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other leading Democrats now echo the party line that America can be "both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws."

IRC-Americas Program

As noted in previous examinations of this "new framing," centrist Democrats, in league with mainstream Latino and immigrant-rights advocacy groups, miscalculated the political power of anti-immigrant messaging and abandoned the center in the debate, allowing anti-immigrant forces to shift it further to the right.

Central to the new Democratic framing is the concept of requiring immigrants to "get right with the law" rather than offering them a "pathway to citizenship."

Where did this new language come from?

Apparently from two progressive Beltway institutes close to the Democratic Party: Center for American Progress and America's Voice. These two organizations floated the "required" language in a few polls to determine how the party and immigration advocates should parse the immigration issue.

What's the number one goal of Americans with respect to the issue of illegal immigration? In their report "Winning the Immigration Issue: Requiring Legal Status for Illegal Immigrants," the pollsters state: "Hispanic and non-Hispanic voters agree that the most important goal in dealing with illegal immigration is to require illegal immigrants to become legal."

In addition to the "required" wording, the two other key elements of the Democratic Party messaging, according to the polling results, are:

* "The 'required legal status' proposal finds strong support provided there are conditions: paying taxes, learning English, passing a criminal background check, and going to the back of the citizenship line."

* "Focus on the role of employers. Democrats should favor strong enforcement not only at the border, but also in the workplace. The public believes the main cause of illegal immigration is that employers hire undocumented workers."

"The focus on requiring immigrants to become legal or face deportation if they fail to register gives Democrats a tough, seamless message about getting the immigration system under control and having respect for the rule of law," said the pollsters.

Headed by Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the pollsters observed: "Historically, the Democratic immigration message focused on providing an 'earned path to citizenship,' but this approach has no more appeal than a deportation agenda. However, the idea of requiring illegal immigrants to become legal generates a sharply different response. Nearly nine in ten voters favor a proposal to 'require illegal immigrants to become legal, obey U.S. laws, pay taxes, or face deportation ...'"

The polling report recommends the following as a concise summary of the party's position-a position largely reflected in the party's platform:

"We must be tough and smart to get our immigration system under control. It is unacceptable to have 12 million people in our country living outside the legal system. We must secure the border but we must also require illegal immigrants to register and become legal, pay their taxes, learn English, and pass criminal background checks. Those who have a criminal record or refuse to register should be sent home."

IRC-Americas Program

This framing, originally formulated by beltway spinmeisters, is now the cornerstone of the current Democratic immigration policy.

But, by capitulating to anti-immigrant forces and not only accepting their framing, but adopting it, Democrats have ultimately set up a scenario whereby even if they were to gain meaningful majorities in both houses of Congress and control of the Whitehouse it would be nearly impossible to put the genie back in the bottle and enact meaningful and humane immigration reform.

But there are risks to moving toward a law-and-order framing of immigration reform. Over the past few years, Democrats have signed on to the "enforcement-first" policy agenda of the Republicans in the belief that this would bolster the chances of achieving comprehensive reform.

What has occurred, however, is that the "enforcement-first" approach to immigration reform has become the "enforcement-only" immigration policy that immigration restrictionists have long advocated. Acceding to a law-and-order and security framing of the immigration crisis, the Democrats have given the ongoing crackdown greater legitimacy. Rather than improving the chances for comprehensive reform that includes legalization, it's likely that the Democrats have by their actions in Congress and their new rhetoric on the campaign trail reinforced a "rule of law" messaging that will make legalization still more difficult to achieve.

The "come out of the shadows and get right with the law" language of the Democratic Party furthers the restrictionist stereotyping of illegal immigrants as criminals and threats to society. Rather than new messaging, the party appears to be ceding to right-wing concepts of criminalization of immigrants and place the onus of the immigration mess on immigrants rather than on the system itself.

IRC-Americas Program

Ironically, in their quest inoculate themselves from Nativist political backlash, and hopefully craft a "sweet spot" in the immigration debate that could guarantee electoral victory, the Democrats appear to have misread the realities of Nativist political power and perhaps have put themselves on the wrong side of this issue.

A new report released by theProgressive States Network looks at the actual legislative successes of anti-immigrant legislation on the state level, and it's power as a political wedge, and finds that despite all the media hype and bravado of Nativist advocates, anti-immigrant sentiments do not translate into legislative or electoral success.

The report, The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed: Positive Integration Policies by State Governments Still Far Outweigh Punitive Policies Aimed at New Immigrants, as its title implies, found that by and large, State governments have overwhelming rejected anti-immigrant measures - this despite all the media attention lavished on certain high-profile local initiatives like those in Hazelton or Farmers Branch.

The Misguided Media Hype over Anti-Immigrant Legislation: Despite much media hype, the supposed wave of anti-immigrant politics has amounted to a few punitive laws in a handful of states, even as most states have quietly been moving forward with positive, integrative approaches to new immigrants in their communities.

The Failed Use of Immigration as a "Wedge" Issue: The current hype around anti-immigrant policies is, unfortunately, about electoral politics. The media largely fell for the tactics of political opportunists who hoped to use the issue of immigration as a "wedge" issue, much as they have used gay marriage and other social issues to undermine progressive coalitions and support rightwing politicians during elections. Yet the result has largely been political failure for rightwing politicians trying to play the anti-immigrant political card.

The Success of Positive Immigration Policy: Many states, including those where most immigrants live, now provide in-state tuition (so-called DREAM Acts) for undocumented immigrants going to public universities. Others are promoting policies to integrate immigrants through English language instruction and assistance in navigating the citizenship process. A number of states are providing health insurance to undocumented children. And instead of trying to punish immigrant workers, states are increasingly working with native and immigrant workers to crack down on bad employers who are violating minimum wage, safety and workers compensation laws.

Highlighting Positive State Legislation for New Immigrants: In this report, we have provided a state-by-state summary of major immigrant-related policies, both punitive and integrative, enacted in the last few years. We divide states based on those policies into six categories, from integrative to punitive, and highlight charts and graphs that demonstrate that positive integrative policies are far more common in the states than negative punitive policies.

Progressive States Network

When the dust settled, the report found that only in those few states that were already dominated by right-wing legislatures were they able to manage to leverage enough support to pass anti-immigrant legislation, and that by far, the greatest number of immigration related bills nation-wide were those favorable to migrant interests.

With most 2008 state legislative sessions at an end, we can take a step back and make a few conclusions about what happened in the states on policies effecting the immigrant population:

. In a few states where the right-wing controlled the legislature, they jammed through some laws creating punitive sanctions against undocumented immigrants.

. However, in states where moderates or progressives had any significant influence, the momentum for anti-immigration legislation stalled and almost all anti-immigrant legislation failed to pass.

. In the largest states where most undocumented immigrants actually live -- California, Illinois, New York, Texas and Florida -- no significant anti-immigrant legislation was enacted this session or last.

. Largely ignored by the media, over the last few years, quite a few states have pioneered programs and laws to positively integrate new immigrants into our communities and address citizens' economic fears in ways that raise wage standards for everyone, immigrant and native worker alike.

. In fact, when you look at what policies states have actually enacted, most undocumented immigrants live in states that have enacted positive programs to integrate new immigrants and rejected punitive approaches to new immigrants.

.The bottom-line is that despite much media hype, the supposed wave of anti-immigrant politics has amounted to a few punitive laws in a handful of states, even as most states have quietly been moving forward with positive, integrative approaches to new immigrants in their communities. Many states, including those where most immigrants live, now provide in-state tuition (so-called DREAM Acts) for undocumented immigrants going to public universities. Others are promoting policies to integrate immigrants through English language instruction and assistance in navigating the citizenship process. A number of states are providing health insurance to undocumented children. And instead of trying to punish immigrant workers, states are increasingly working with native and immigrant workers to crack down on bad employers who are violating minimum wage, safety and workers compensation laws.

One reason bad legislation stalled in all but a handful of states in 2008 is that legislators and the public have increasingly recognized that scapegoating immigrants is not going to solve the economic pressure working families experience. The real problem is a far more pervasive one of employers violating the workplace rights of all workers, both native and immigrant.

.The current hype around anti-immigrant policies is, unfortunately, about electoral politics. It is true that there is a vocal minority of the public that has promoted anti-immigrant policies for years, much as they have on and off throughout American history. This has been especially true in a few states, especially those with little previous historical experience with immigration, that have experienced rapid immigrant population growth in recent years.

Yet with so few states actually passing anti-immigrant legislation, the remarkable thing is how much attention the media has given anti-immigrant politicians. The media largely fell for the tactics of political opportunists who hoped to use the issue of immigration as a "wedge" issue, much as they have used gay marriage and other social issues to undermine progressive coalitions and support rightwing politicians during elections. Politicians like Congressman Tom Tancredo championed anti-immigrant proposals at the federal level and conservative state politicians sought to promote similar policies for electoral gain. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed a series of anti-immigrant executive orders earlier this year, a tactic that Javier Morillo-Alicea, President of SEIU Local 26, noted "has everything to do with the presidential race," since Pawlenty was angling for a slot as the Vice-Presidential nominee.

Yet the result has largely been political failure for rightwing politicians trying to play the anti-immigrant political card. In 2006, many analysts raised fears that anti-immigrant fervor would doom progressive candidates. Instead, progressives won big in those elections. In 2007, it was more of the same in elections in Virginia and New York where Democrats gained control of the Virginia Senate and expanded control in Long Island's Suffolk County, despite opponents trying to make political hay off of the immigration issue.

.Yet the media continued to fixate on the handful of states debating anti-immigrant policies, abetted by Lou Dobbs and politicians still hoping to stir up racial divisions in the population. In the end, however, only in state legislatures already dominated by rightwing leadership such as Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, and Utah were significant anti-immigrant policies able to make headway in 2008, just as they only made headway in similar rightwing-controlled legislatures like Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee in previous sessions. Everywhere else, states either stalled anti-immigrant bills or enacted positive policies to better integrate new immigrants, the latter a story almost completely overlooked by the national media.

Progessive States Network

In light of recent past history it would be wise for Democrats to re-evaluate their new found acceptance of the right-wing frames as advocated by those like Stan Greenberg and Americas Voice. Not only do they adversely effect the lives of 12 million undocumented migrants by re-enforcing the de-humanizing stereo-types of immigrant criminality, they will make it all the more difficult to enact real meaningful reform down the road - and there's a good chance that the whole strategy might blow up in Democrats faces when a vital swing vote this coming November later demands more from its leaders than platitudes and slogans ...can you say "Si se puede" Mr Greenberg?