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

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pray Without Ceasing

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

On the dawn of our nation's most historic week, it is incumbent that we uphold our new President and his family in our prayers. The challenges and issues facing our nation are perhaps the most serious we as a nation have ever experienced.

The economic crisis is being called the worst recession we have faced, and rumors of a deeper and longer depression loom on the horizon since the Big Depression of the 1930's.

President Obama has made it clear that we may very well confront more serious economic challenges before we begin to see any sign of recovery. The number of people, hard working American losing their jobs, their homes, and hope for the future is staggering.

Distracted by loss of jobs and hope here at home, we seem to lose sight of the fact we are still fighting two major wars which have become over shadowed in the evening newscasts by the economic problems we are facing. But as a praying Church, we must not forget our nation is at war on two battle fronts in the Middle East.

Over 5000 men and women from our armed forces have lost their lives, with thousands more injured and maimed. For families who have lost loved ones, the human toll has been a heavy loss to bare.

Certainty we must not forget the civilian causalities suffered by the people of Iraq. The war has taken thousands in human lives, and yet, we are locked in these wars without an end in sight. Our new President has promised to end our involvement and begin to bring our soldiers home.

Already the President is finding out that closing Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is easier said then done. May he have the divine courage to move forward with his good intentions.

Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security raids continue to cause misery, fear, and separation of families because of old and antiqued immigration laws. Over three million children are separated from their families.

More and more proponents of immigration reform are demanding that the raids be stopped. Too many immigrant families are being ripped apart, leaving fear, chaos, and hopelessness.

May we pray that our new President find the wisdom and courage to bring an end to the raids and work with the new Congress to find comprehensive immigration reform that will serve the needs of our nation and "strangers who live amongst us."

As Barrack Obama takes the reins of leadership as President of our nation, we must join together across our country in fasting and prayer for him and our congressional leadership.

At this point in our nation's history, it does not matter whether or not you voted or supported Barrack Obama as our choice for President. As a praying nation, we must now unite behind our new President and seek divine intervention of the Holy Spirit in the difficult decisions President Obama will have to make on our behalf in the days and years ahead.

Our national and global community faces so many serious problems from which solutions seem impossible to find, but there is no doubt in my mind, President Obama will struggle and succeed in leading our nation back from the brink of economic, immoral, and social abyss.

Lest we forget, the serious problems we face are not just economic, or the wars we have started, but the destruction of the moral core and values of our nation as well.

The other day as I contemplated the many serious issues facing our world wide community, there is little room for our President to maneuver in making the right decisions and resolving the serious concerns we all face.

Unless the Lord intervenes and directs the path of our President, the problems intertwined between our nation and the other nations of our world, will be unsolvable and hopeless.

As we face a new dawn with a new sense of hope and expectation, let us not grow weary in our prayers for President Barrack Obama and our nation. The stress, the tension, and the unrelenting pressures our President will face as our leader, it is incumbent for the Church to cover him in our prayers.

The historical significance of President Barrack Obama being called to lead our nation must not be overlooked or lost by the many issues we face. It is an historical milestone and one in which we must acknowledge that the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King has been fulfilled.

Our nation has reached a significant and memorable period of time in our nation's history. May all good men and women remember to pray on a daily basis for our President.

One of nation's most respected religious leaders, and committed Latino pastor to issues of justice and righteousness, Rev. Mark Gonzales of Dallas is leading a national prayer effort where Latino pastors and ministers join in a weekly national conference call to pray for our President.

The United States Hispanic Prayer Network gathers every Monday evening bringing pastors and ministers together to pray together for President Obama and the many issues facing our nation. It is a time of praying together with a national perspective from the Latino faith community.

I am convinced that without divine intervention, our nation will suffer immeasurable pain, hopelessness and loss. Yet with the dawn of a new day, the Holy Spirit provides a new hope, and a desire for renewal and charity.

May we allow our new President the time and space he will need to solve and lead us out of the fear and uncertainty we sense and most certainly will have to face.

As members of God's family, let us pray without ceasing for our new President and his family. May we truly return to the days when "In God We Trust," actually stood as a testament of our faith.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

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

(For more information about the United States Hispanic Prayer Network, write to Pastor Mark Gonzales: ushispanicprayernetwork@gmail.com ).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Friend or Foe? Decide Now.....

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

For too long we have relied upon the Democratic Party to be our ally in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform and other important issues affecting our community. With the start of the new Obama Administration, the issue of immigration reform has already been pushed to the bottom of the President’s agenda, partly because it seems there is always a ‘more important issue’ facing our country.

The President’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, we must not forget, pushed Democratic House members to vote for HB 4437, which in turn was denounced by millions of Latino protestors from coast to coast in the streets of our cities. Actually, HB 4437 will go down in history as the reason why the Latino community was not afraid to take to the streets to demand the defeat of this hateful legislation.

Emanuel also encouraged House members of Congress to support the SAVE Act, and openly sought Democrats to co-sponsor this legislation. Again, it was legislation that would make life more problematic for undocumented workers and could eventually push thousands of workers out of their jobs by relaying on a computer system called ‘E-verify’ that the government even admits is not very reliable.

We must not be lulled into thinking that Emanuel will change his stripes overnight and in my opinion, will continue to provide anti-immigrant advice to President Obama. As the Chief of Staff, Emanuel will be the President’s most important member of his inner circle in the White House.

This week, national Latino advocates met in Washington, D.C. to devise a strategy of priority issues that affect the Latino community. Fresh from the election, where Latinos voted two to one in favor of Obama over McCain, there is a sense from these leaders that President Obama ‘has to’ listen to our concerns.

I trust they kept in mind that in order to keep comprehensive immigration reform alive, Emanuel must be kept in check. The bottom line, in the inner circle of the President is someone who is not our friend.

In fact, John TrasviƱa, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, made the comment, “we have friends in high places” in the Obama Administration. Trasvina pointed to Latinos who were appointed to high level Cabinet positions within the government.

Tina Tchen, the White House director of public liaison, delivered a message from the President to the Latino leaders which gathered to map out priorities. “You showed how powerful you are on November 4” and the Presidential appointments are “a measure of my commitment” to ensure that appointments reflect the diversity of our country.

Wanting to cash in for supporting the President, Latino leaders prioritized what they wanted from the President. Not surprising, immigration reform was at the top of the list.

The president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or Lulac, Rosa Rosales said, “It’s also our responsibility, as leaders in our community that they hear from us.” Making the point that the Latino vote cannot be ignored again, Rosales made it clear that the Latino voter made a difference in this year’s election.

Looking back at the election, lost in the news, or better said, ignored by the mainstream news media, McCain spoke forcibly about the need for immigration reform in a speech he gave with business leaders in San Jose back in May, 2008.

McCain openly admitted, “Senator Kennedy and I tried very hard to get immigration reform, a comprehensive plan, through the Congress of the United States,” he said. “It is a federal responsibility and because of our failure as a federal obligation, we’re seeing all these various conflicts and problems throughout our nation as different towns, cities, counties, whatever they are, implement different policies and different programs which makes things even worse and even more confusing.”

Even McCain knows that comprehensive immigration reform should be a priority for the new Obama Administration; it is too bad that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is not our friend when it comes to immigration.

As Latino leaders put their list of policy issues together for President Obama to consider, and remind the President Latino voters made a difference in the election, the Latino community holds another hot hand in the game of political poker.

We will soon start counting the number of people in our country for the national 2010 census. The Latino community is the fastest growing ethnic group in our country and will certainly affect how congressional districts will be redrawn.

If the Latino vote made a difference in the last election, both political parties need to not only pay more attention to the Latino community, they will need to ensure that their political platforms favor issues and policies that are important to the Latino community.

For starters, to the Republican Party, it means backing off from their anti immigrant policies and hateful rhetoric.

Simon Rosenberg, the president and founder of the progressive think tank, the New Democratic Network, says the Latino vote can no longer be ignored by any party.

Rosenberg also believes the prospect of newly redrawn congressional districts after the 2010 census which will favor Latinos, enemies of comprehensive immigration reform will need to consider the consequences if they continue to oppose passage of immigration reform.

One important predicament Rosenberg points out should make the Republican Party in particular call for a full retreat from their campaign of hate and fear against Latinos.

“I anticipate a dramatic shift in power toward heavily Latino parts of the United States” following the redistricting, Mr. Rosenberg said. “Remember: in redistricting, we count people, not citizens.”

I wonder if Chief of Staff Emanuel will be paying attention to the 2010 census redistricting?

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

Monday, January 12, 2009

Children have rights, too

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

The economic crisis looms large on the mind of President-elect Obama as he gets ready to assume the torch of leadership from President Bush. Obama has cautioned the nation that the economy could get worse before it gets any better. No doubt, our country is caught up in a major economic crisis, which in turn has triggered a worldwide economic mess as well.

Amid all the discussion about deficits, trillion dollar budgets, tax cuts, a new organization is working to ensure that children born of undocumented immigrants in the United States receive the benefits of citizenship.

The Organization to Help Citizen Children has sent a letter to Obama asking him to consider some humanitarian support to children who are forced to leave our country. Many children have the right as citizens of our country to live here, and unfortunately, our government continues to disregard their rights under the Constitution.

Over three million citizen children are being denied the privilege of United States citizenship. Under the 14th Amendment, anyone born on USA soil is granted the right of citizenship. ICE continues to criminalize all immigrants and by doing so, has created a real mess of our existing immigration laws.

Joe Kennard, the President of the organization says, “With one or both of their parents subject to being deported for being here illegally, these innocent victims are subjected to being left behind to fend for themselves or in less than desirable or suitable arrangements.”

What Kennard’s organization would like, is for President Obama to consider “issuing an executive order staying the deportation of any parent of a U. S. citizen who has not committed a felonious crime until the new Congress proposes an overhaul of the current law.”

Family reunification should be one of the top priority issues that must be addressed in a comprehensive immigration reform act. Too often, families are being forced to leave their children behind in the United States while they face an uncertain future due to deportation for their undocumented status.

Parents are being forced to make one of the most difficult decisions a parent can make. The decision to leave their citizen children behind so that they can continue to work for a better future for themselves.

There are too many stories of young children being forced to leave our country after their homes have been raided by ICE and other law enforcement troopers from Homeland Security. The uncertain future that awaits them in their parent's homeland has played a significant role for parents to make the tough decision of leaving their children behind. Many of the children born here know little or no Spanish, making it difficult for them to compete in school. The culture shock many children face as they are forced to leave our country is a very difficult situation for them.

The Organization to Help Citizen Children aims to keep families together while parents seek to appeal to the courts to allow them to stay in spite of their undocumented status. The disruption of families being separated by an antiqued immigration system is morally wrong.

I find it very difficult to understand how our government has such total disregard for innocent families who only seek to find a better life. Instead, our immigration system works overtime to criminalize them and label them as felons.

In the letter to the President, it states, “The irreparable physical and emotional harm is being inflicted on these children. We can prevent this anguish by allowing these families to remain intact.”

Our country must offer these parents and their children a humanitarian option to remain together so they can continue to stay together as a family.

There is no doubt that the children of undocumented immigrants who were born here in the United States are American citizens. The only problem is they have no voice to speak for them. They have no one to champion their cause. That is what motivated Joe Kennard to help form the Organization to Help Citizen Children.

Kennard's commitment to helping children of undocumented parents is a genuine effort. He has gone one-step further by allowing one young woman stay in their home, where she is still able to hang out with her friends, and live the life she has grown accustom to. She is able to live in a culture she understands and wants to live in.

There is frequent communication with her parents, and every effort is being made to keep the young woman in touch with her parents. Yet, it is a sad commentary for other families who must face separation and see their young children stay behind.

Kennard is asking the new incoming President to address this issue by requesting that he consider “issuing an executive order staying the deportation of any parent of a U. S. citizen who has not committed a felonious crime until the new Congress proposes an overhaul of the current law. While there are many complex immigration issues that need to be addressed, it would seem that the well being and preservation of families would be paramount.”

To learn more about this humanitarian effort and how you can join the battle to keep and preserve families, go to this website: http://www.helpcitizenchildren.org

The family is one of our primary values and we must not allow the government to destroy the family structure. Let us join the effort to help citizen children stay with their families. We must work that immigration reform does not label these families as "illegal aliens." We need to keep in mind we are dealing with families who want to stay together.

At a time when divorce continues to destroy thousands of families, the families who are fighting to stay together should have our support to help them remain as families.

Why must we allow our government to push parents out of the country and leave their children behind?

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

Monday, January 5, 2009

Criminal Free Fall in Mexico

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

As we approach the historical event of the Presidential Inauguration, our nation seems posed and prepared for the changes President-elect Barack Obama promised during the election campaign.

There is a sense of hope and great expectation in the air that a new administration will bring about the necessary changes needed for our nation to remain a world leader and power.

Most Americans can sense the historical aspect of our country’s first African-American President taking office.

Meanwhile, many proponents of comprehensive immigration reform look forward to the changes President-elect Obama will be proposing and supporting. In fact, those who support comprehensive immigration reform felt the new incoming president would have at least voiced his support for the challenge facing immigration reform as he prepares to take the oath of office.

Instead, of working to solve pressing policy issues regarding reform, we find our nation facing the most serious economic crisis since the depression of the 1930’s.

There is no doubt the economy has the full attention of the new President as he prepares to take office. Everywhere we look, we see more and more signs our economy weakening, and the economic free fall continuing.

The world is looking for the United States for leadership in facing this global economic crisis, but there questions as to whether or not we can resolve the money problems unless the leadership from both political parties are working together.

In fact, columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times writes, “The fact is that recent economic numbers have been terrifying, not just in the United States but around the world. Manufacturing, in particular, is plunging everywhere. Banks are not lending; businesses and consumers are not spending. Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression.”

Krugman says Obama will need to put his full energy and attention in bringing about the critical economic changes needed. “If we don’t act swiftly and boldly,” declared President-elect Barack Obama in his latest weekly address, “we could see a much deeper economic downturn that could lead to double-digit unemployment.”

While we wait for the Congress to work closely with President-elect Obama on the economic crisis facing our nation, unfortunately other pressing issues are not receiving the necessary attention required to prevent those serious problems and concerns from becoming larger.

Immigration watchers expected to see a much larger exodus of undocumented immigrants leaving our country because of the poor economy here in our country. While there are fewer jobs now, undocumented immigrants are looking for ways to survive the slow economy without having to leave the USA.

Less money is being sent home to families in Mexico and other countries that depend on the money to survive and keep families together. Our economy is affecting the livelihood of thousands of families who depend on a good economy up North.

President-elect must face this growing crisis before it becomes a far greater issue and concern for our country. While our country is in a free fall as far the economy is concerned, Mexico is in a criminal free fall.

Hundreds of families with relatives in the United States are facing the violence of hooded criminals who are holding kidnapped family members ransom. Criminals in Mexico know what families have relatives in the United States and are demanding money in order for kidnapped relatives to be set free.

The New York Times reports, “A string of similar kidnappings, singling out people with children or spouses in the United States, so panicked this village in the state of Zacatecas that many people boarded up their homes and headed north, some legally and some not, seeking havens with relatives in California and other American states.”

While many immigration policy makers expected to see more immigrants leaving and returning to their homes, some undocumented immigrants are making the tough decision to stay and face the danger of ICE raids, racism, and the prospect of little or no work.

The situation in Mexico is growing more and more serious by the day. While Mexico has declared war on the drug lords, serious and vicious crimes have been committed against army, police, and civilian targets.

Corruption is everywhere. It has been reported that during the day, police officers fight the drug lords, and on their own time, they work part-time for the very same drug lords.

The crime so prevalent in Juarez or Tijuana has spread to all parts of Mexico. In one small town in Mexico, of the 400 houses there, 200 have been boarded up, with the families who lived there leaving to find safety and security in the United States.

If Mexico continues to slide toward more civil unrest, it is clear the ramifications will be felt here in the United States. We could see thousands of Mexicans fleeing their homes to find safety in our country. Instead of looking for jobs, they will come looking for a safe place to live.

It is imperative that President-elect Obama look at resolving some of the problems of undocumented immigrants wanting to stay in our country.

If given a choice, it seems many Mexicans are prepared to deal with ICE raids and job insecurity than the fact that family members might be kidnapped and held for ransom or even murdered by the drug lords.

The growing demand for illicit drugs in our country has created a stronger criminal element in Mexico that seeks to destroy Mexican democracy. While we fight a war in the Middle East to establish an Iraqi democracy, we are facing the destruction of one of the most stable democracies south of our border.

Comprehensive immigration reform will address some of the issues related to the violence and crime in Mexico, but if President-elect Obama’s team of advisers continue to ignore the growing crisis in Mexico, we could face a nation along the 2000-mile border falling under criminal dictatorship without any regard for the violence that will surely cross that border.

We need for our leaders in the Congress to lead and quit the partisan bickering and infighting. It is time our leaders from both sides of the political spectrum to work
with President-elect Obama on resolving serious problems facing our nation.

If we do not stand together, resolving to face the serious issues confronting our country, we are truly sliding much more quickly into an economic and social depression never seen before.

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