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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Bold Outspoken Leader

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
El Semanario 6/23/2010

Last week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke before the City Club of Cleveland, giving a major speech calling on union members from the economically hard hit rust-belt region to embrace comprehensive immigration reform.

Trumka acknowledged the economic predicament Cleveland union workers have endured due to the poor economy and great recession.

"Cleveland embodies both the consequences of our failed economic policies of the last three decades - and our hope for a different future. The economic crisis has hit hard here -116,000 lost jobs in the last decade in Cuyahoga County. Eighty-six thousand home foreclosures last year alone."

It was not only unusual for Trumka to give this speech supporting immigration reform in Cleveland in front of union members and business leaders, it demonstrated his exceptional leadership abilities to speak out on an issue he believes must be heard.

He criticized the low wage, high consumption society that imports more and more of what we consume and that it was time to embrace a new national strategy for a global economy.

But for our economy to change means acknowledging that the economic policies of the past have not worked and that it is going to take "world class workforce skills and workforce rights and trade policies that serve the interests of the American people."

Trumka made it clear that in order to have this national narrative about changing our economic strategy, a national introspective look at our personal opinions and political beliefs is necessary.

"Today I also want to talk to you about what may seem like a strange subject--immigration--because it is patently clear that we cannot talk about our national workforce strategy unless we face head-on our own contradictions, hypocrisy and history on immigration."

Trumka spoke of the bigotry and racism his family faced when they first came to this country. "My parents fled poverty and war from different corners of Europe. We were the last hired and first fired, the people who did the hardest and most dangerous work, the people whose pay got shorted because we didn't know the language and were afraid to complain."

He made the case that undocumented immigrants are facing the same intolerance his family faced years ago. Trumka said immigrant families who came to America to find their dream, are now biased of undocumented immigrants seeking the very same dream they wanted in America.

"And yet today I hear from working people who should know better, some in my own family - that those immigrants are taking our jobs, ruining our country. Haven't we been here before?

When I hear that kind of talk, I want to say, did an immigrant move your plant overseas? Did an immigrant take away your pension? Or cut your health care? Did an immigrant destroy American workers' right to organize? Or crash the financial system? Did immigrant workers write the trade laws that have done so much harm to Ohio?"

Trumka said the American Dream brought scores of people to this country, so that "all of us will have a fair portion of the good things in life. Time to be with our families. The chances for our children to get an education and the opportunity to make their own way in the world. Laws that protect us, not oppress us."

Trumka said it was time for immigration reform because employers like cheap labor, like workers who are afraid to organize, afraid to complain when they are mistreated or robbed of their wages and benefits. Borders that are "open enough to ensure an endless supply of socially and legally powerless cheap labor."

Outlining reasons for immigration reform, Trumka made it clear that as members of the union movement, it was time for workers to unite under a banner of fair wages, right to organize, right to work without fear of retaliation, and the right for a pathway that will allow undocumented immigrants to be part of our country from day one.

Trumka spoke passionately of how our country has turned to hate and dissension because of the lack of compelling moral leadership; allowing the voices of hate to feed the public's anger, pain and desperation. "We see today a dangerous drift toward a politics of hate."

Unless our leaders become advocates of change and push for a progressive perspective on the economy that respects workers, the voices of hate will only continue to breed and drag our country in the wrong direction.

Therein lays the problem. We need more leaders like Trumka who are not afraid to speak out to audiences who have used the undocumented immigrant as the scapegoat. The activists of hate have taken advantage of this economic recession to prey upon the anger, depression, and unemployment.

President Obama has not consistently called upon the "haters and racists" to put an end to their bigotry. There is no moral leadership from the President for comprehensive immigration reform. He has not even made comprehensive immigration reform a priority for his administration, much less articulating a political strategy pushing for legislation.

In fact, Obama has prioritized immigration enforcement concentrating on families, not those with criminal backgrounds.

Other politicians are missing in action as well when it comes to advocating for immigration reform or for calling an end to the hate and racism. Thank God, faith leaders have taken forceful steps to call upon the President for immigration reform and have condemned the unjust laws and hate in our country.

Richard Trumka has taken on a significant role as a leader and it was very bold for him to take his message into the heartland of the rust belt. As a strong American, he understands what is necessary so all can achieve the American Dream.

"We as a nation must be true to our better selves -employers must not make a buck on the backs of workers who live in fear of deportation, and workers must stand together in the workplace for good jobs, safe jobs, health care for all, and retirement security we can count on. And so when we talk about making the American Dream real, the labor movement stands for making it real for all of us who do the work of our country. All of us - no matter what we look like, who we choose to love, or where we come from. Surely there we can find common ground."

Our political leaders must change the dialogue and alter the national tone and narrative on comprehensive immigration reform. The voices of hate and dissension will only prey upon people who fail to realize undocumented immigrants only want what our immigrant families wanted and worked for, the American Dream.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time to Register Your Values

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The battle lines on the political horizon are being drawn as our nation’s voters begin to determine the most important issues facing our country in the mid-term election in November 2010. From the extremist right-wing factions, to the ultra-liberals, voters are siding up with their preferred political and social ideology and political candidates who they believe best represent their views and supporting beliefs.

Unfortunately, our nation finds itself becoming increasingly divided by biased beliefs of self preservation and ideologies of racism and bigotry. In many cases, it is our own fellow American citizens who are leading the anti undocumented immigrant crusade. By spewing venom of hate and fear of undocumented immigrants, the bigoted demigods of this hate movement are instigating the spread this racist cancer whose sole purpose is to generate an atmosphere of panic, trepidation, confusion, and racism.

Everyday we see more and more people openly express their disdain and hate for the undocumented immigrants and Latinos. Like other historically distressing times in this country, it has become fashionable once again for people to be undisturbed by critics as they peddle in public their bigotry and unparalleled hate and racism in town meetings, street demonstrations, posters, bumper stickers, and on hate radio.

The messengers of hate, divisiveness, and open racism are undaunted by standing in public and allowing others to see first hand their hate and distain for undocumented immigrants and Latinos and forcing others to endure the rancor of their bigotry. The facial expressions of these hate messengers should frighten and challenge us to stand up for our own values.

If there ever was such a time for the Latino Evangelical voter to stand up and denounce this revival of hate and racism, it is now! It is a critical time in our nation’s history and a time when Christian’s must understand the importance of getting involved not in the dirty politics and mud slinging, but in representing our values and demanding that candidates for office embody our core values and Christian beliefs.

It is time to retire those politicians who have refused to listen to our pleas for common sense in government and for the politics of divisiveness and obstruction to come to an end. We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and allow the opposition to destroy the Judeo-Christian ethic that this nation was founded on.

For too long we have turned the other cheek when confronted by the enemies of the cross on issues affecting our nation. As Christians, we are often lectured to be tolerant and open to new ways of thinking and solving issues and concerns facing our country. If others profess their political or religious beliefs, we are expected to acquiesce to those beliefs.

Yet, when we speak up and stand up for our values and beliefs, we are accused of not being tolerant and considerate of opposing view points. Our values and beliefs are then condemned as being narrow-minded and offensive.

We are told we cannot pray in schools, public and civic functions, and if we do pray, we must be respectful and tolerant of other religious and spiritual philosophies and beliefs, by not invoking the name of Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, we are mandated to sit back and allow others to proclaim their spiritual ideologies and beliefs even if those beliefs proclaim the ultimate destruction of our personal spiritual values and beliefs...and our country!

The time for Evangelicals to stand up for their core values is now. We must be empowered to vote for those candidates and politicians who mirror our beliefs and core spiritual values.

For too long, Latino Christian voters have voted for candidates and political parties based on our family political heritage. It is time to forget who “Dad would vote for”…and remember we are living in a time when it is critically important to vote for candidates or issues that are best for our families and country. The political parties and their promises of the past to remedy our concerns no longer characterize the urgency for change and a new beginning.

Of course in order to do that, Latinos must register to vote. There are millions of potential voters who have not taken the most important step in changing the direction of this nation by putting themselves in the voter booth on Election Day.

One way we can make a difference is to join the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Fuerza 2010 voter registration drive and encourage our families, friends, and neighbors to register to vote. And then most importantly, actually turn out on Election Day to express our political and spiritual beliefs in the election booth.

Apathy and by not participating in voting for the issues that reflect our core values has allowed other political ideologies to destroy our liberties and freedoms. We must encourage Latino Evangelicals to register to vote….and to VOTE on Election Day.

It is so important for Latino Evangelical Christians to play a fundamental role in determining the future direction of our cities, states, and our country. We must be outspoken in our opposition to those who would destroy and deny the Christian heritage of our nation.

The best way to express your opposition to the candidates and politicians who have disregarded your values is to vote them out of office. The key and most significant achievement we can have is VOTING them out of office. In order to exercise your God given liberty to stand up for your values is to be able to participate in the national narrative by VOTING in any local, state, or national election.

I encourage you to join this NHCLC FUERZA 2010 Voter Registration Drive and ask those who have not yet registered to vote, to join the national effort to change the wrong direction this nation is headed.

To register to vote, simply text “NHCLC Vote” on your cell phone and become a voice for justice, righteousness, and truth by taking the first step by registering to vote in the upcoming mid-term November 2010 elections.

To get involved in this national NHCLC voter registration drive locally in your city or state, contact National FUERZA 2010 Coordinator, Pastor Johnny Murillo at 916-343-6074 or email him at johnny_murillo@yahoo.com

Register to Vote…and then vote like your values depended on it this time!
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Border Out of Control?

El Semanario

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

When the issue of protecting one’s home or neighborhood comes up, the first thing we say as homeowners is we should have the right to determine what we want done to protect our quality of life.

If there is one thing home owners despise, it is having outsiders telling them what they think is the best approach to dealing with any safety issues. We have heard the heated arguments and the local refrain, “We live here and we know what is best for our area.”

An article in the Texas Observer explains how border communities are finally uniting to fight militarization of the border and determine what the best policies are to secure their communities.

The main complaint residents along the border have is that they have become the victims of politicians’ hateful rhetoric bent on perpetuating the fear about undocumented immigrants.

One of the main culprits is Arizona Senator Jon Kyl who tried to get an amendment passed that would throw undocumented immigrants in jail for two weeks before deporting them back to Mexico. Kyl said this would be a deterrent to them trying again. This is just another scheme to criminalize undocumented immigrants.

According to the Observer, border communities are concerned once the Democrats realize a lot of horse trading with the GOP is going to be necessary to push immigration reform forward, “Residents are already bracing to become the sacrificial lamb for Democrats desperate for Republican buy-in on immigration reform. They're already seeing it with the 1,200 guard troops and a Predator Drone dispatched to El Paso.”

Arizona Senator John McCain is so desperate to get re-elected; he has pushed aside his personal values and political beliefs and has become one of the strongest proponents of harsher laws against undocumented immigrants.

McCain attempted to have the Senate pass an amendment sending 6,000 National Guard troops to the border. Even after losing that vote, he still managed to sneak his amendment back in a defense bill that comes up for a vote later this year.

One of the leaders of the effort to unite border communities puts the nasty debate about border safety in perspective. Louie Gilot, director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso told the Observer, “We’ve got to separate border security from immigration reform. We need to have an independent voice for the well being of the communities and so the border isn’t sacrificed the next time immigration reform is taken up.”

Gilot went to mention she is a resident of El Paso, Texas, and according to the latest FBI crime statistics just released; El Paso has the second lowest level of violent crimes per capita among the top 25 most populated cities. In plain language, El Paso is the second safest city in the USA!

Putting those statistics in better perspective, El Paso with a population of about 612,000 residents had 4 homicides last year. Our nation’s capital, with a smaller population of about 592,000 had 66 murders last year.

Yet, the people leading the effort to unite border communities rightfully complain that the border area is often described by the news media and the politicians that rarely venture out of the belt way in D.C. as “a war zone.”

Gilot says one of the main problems is that these politicians have a misperception about the border, and so when they discuss border options, they are made from a “border perceived to be a war zone.”

In March 2010, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a press release outlining the border security initiatives.

“Over the past year, our unprecedented cooperation with the Mexican government and sustained security efforts along the border have resulted in major progress in combating the ruthless cartels that threaten the safety of both our nations.”

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has also taken a tougher enforcement approach in trying to secure the border, but has focused on capturing undocumented immigrants instead of closing the border to the drug cartels and gangs that are involved in human trafficking.

But as one reviews the press release, one has to wonder why an additional 1,200 National Guard troops are needed at the border at this time?

Ordering troops to border is just another example of how political rhetoric and bad policy decisions are meant only to exploit the politics of immigration reform, and create more fear and hate.

Texas Senator John Cornyn perhaps best exemplifies how the fear sound bite works to stall any efforts to move immigration reform forward by exploiting the issue of the border. "Until we deal with this broken border, we are not going to be able to deal with other aspects of our broken immigration system."

If the border is still considered “a war zone,” by the politicians back in Washington, D.C., we need to demand answers from them why all of the border initiatives Napolitano claims have made it safer are not working.

The DHS press release touts the facts about border improvements that are simply hard to rationalize. “Since last March, DHS has doubled the number of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces; tripled the number of ICE intelligence analysts working along the U.S.-Mexico border; quadrupled deployments of Border Liaison Officers; and begun screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs and cash—for the first time ever.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Doubled the number of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces. Tripled the number of ICE intelligence analysts working along the U.S.-Mexico border. DHS quadrupled deployment of Border Liaison Officers.

Most startling to me is the fact that for the very first time ever, the U.S. government has “begun screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs and cash - For the very first time ever!”

This means that for years, our government simply ignored the fact that shipments of weapons, drugs and cash were probably being shipped across the border without any threat of government intervention. Outrageous if you ask me!

The Border Patrol in its 85 year history has doubled its agents from 10,000 in 2004 to over than 20,000 agents in 2009.

A question that must be asked is that if the Department of Homeland Security is accomplishing all of these goals and making the border safer, why it is even necessary to talk about the border as “a war zone?” Why is Senator McCain still talking about adding 6,000 more National Guard troops to militarize the border?

It is time that the President along with his Department of Homeland Security and every elected politician in D.C. stop viewing the border as “a war zone” and need to demand accountability of all the high priced technology and border personnel being sent to the border.

It is also time to listen to the people living along the border who know better than anyone else what is actually happening at the border and stop this rhetoric of fear and panic the politicians use to politicize the immigration reform movement.

Lobbying for more troops on the border, Arizona Senator John McCain said, "The borders are broken. We have an obligation to our citizens to secure our border and allow them to lead lives where they not live in fear."

If anyone knows what border policies may actually allow residents to lead their lives where they are not living in fear, it is the residents who live on the border.

So why aren’t our politicians and President listening to these people? Militarizing our borders is bad public policy. We must stop paying attention to news media reports, politicians, and opinion pundits that claim the border is out of control.

For once, why don’t we let the people most affected by the impractical border initiatives from uninformed politicians in the DC beltway have a say in what is best for their communities?
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More About the Numbers....

by Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Thousands of marchers came from across the USA to march on May 29th in Phoenix, Arizona. It was pegged as one of the largest marches in the history of Phoenix as tens of thousands braved the dry hot conditions to march against injustice and racism. Viewing video from several news media sources, it was clear this was a mega march against SB 1070, supported by 100,000 marchers.

Pastor Eve Nunez, a Latina Evangelical pastor from Phoenix told me that she has marched from the early days with Cesar Chavez, and this was the biggest march she has seen in Phoenix. This is coming from someone who has committed her ministry to seeking justice and fighting unjust laws.

Pastor Nunez told me, “I have been in every Marcha since the 70s with Cesar. I asked police officers present (about the number of marchers), they said at least One Hundred Thousand. The Organizer Salvador Reza from Puente told me he believes there was more. This was the most Hispanic Clergy,” present in a march in Phoenix.

Yet if you read news accounts of the march, some news outlets estimated the crowd at 10,000. Others simply said, “Thousands marched against SB 1070.” The Los Angeles Times did try to estimate the crowd, one of the few to do so, but still did not give a figure. “Under a broiling desert sun, tens of thousands of protesters on Saturday slowly marched five miles to the state Capitol to rally against Arizona's controversial new immigration law. There was no official crowd estimate, but the march was by far the biggest demonstration since Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23.”

Reading the New York Times, the reporter appeared to try and present “a balanced approach” to the story. “Two sides of the immigration debate converged here Saturday: a throng of several thousand marching for five miles opposed to Arizona’s new immigration law, and several thousand nearly filling a nearby stadium in the evening in support of it.”

Why is the news media attempting to down play the number of over 100,000 people who marched on May 29th in Phoenix? It seems very odd to me that the news media went out of it way to discount the tens of thousands who marched for several miles to the State Capitol building.

Without a doubt, the news media can influence the outcome of a major mega march like the one in Phoenix. Readers and viewers who depend on these news outlets for news and information also expect for the reporters on the scene to be accurate and truthful, not just giving their opinions of what they believe actually happened. When reporters fail to accurately report the facts of a major march like the one in Phoenix, the credibility of these reporters becomes suspect.

Pastor Nunez felt strongly that it was the largest march she has seen in Phoenix and seemed perplexed by the low estimate by the news media. Aerial video of the march on CNN clearly showed that tens of thousands of people participated in the march. From viewing the video, it was clear to me that more than 10,000 people were marching. Even several police officers present at the march told Pastor Nunez that it appeared that there were 100,000 marchers on the streets of Phoenix.

Julie Gonzales, one of Colorado’s best organizers for immigration reform did attend the march in Phoenix. I asked her what she thought about the number of people who marched the 5.7 miles in the heat. “Yes, it was absolutely over 10.000. I was about 15 blocks away from my friend who was much closer to the front of the march, and I then turned around and I still couldn't see the end of the march. And we're talking both sidewalks full of people. It wasn't just people in the street, or on one lane. It was building to building full of people.”

Gonzales did admit that she could not estimate the crowd, but did say, “I can't really speak to whether it was 50 or 100 or 200 thousand. All I know is that it was massive.” But she also made it clear that it was far more than the 10,000 reported by some news media outlets.

The New York Daily News reported, “Thousands of civil rights and labor activists from across the United States – carrying banners that read:
“Obama Keep Your Promise” – rallied in Phoenix to protest the law, which requires state and local police to investigate the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally.” Again, the newspaper reporter made no attempt to estimate the crowd, just the word,

Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, one of the primary organizers of the mega march on May 29th, in an email to supporters of the march wrote, “This weekend 100,000 people marched six miles from Steele Indian School Park to the State Capitol to denounce SB 1070 and demand President Obama intervene in the growing human rights crisis of Arizona.”

It is unfortunate that the news media reporting on the march did not report on the actual number of people who came from across the country to protest a law that has created what Alvarado calls, “the growing human rights crisis of Arizona.”

Let me be very clear about one issue. It is not just about the number of people who marched, but about the number of people who came out on a very hot day to demand that SB 1070 be reversed and taken off the books as a hateful and illegal profiling law.

The fact that 100,000 people came together in the streets of Phoenix should serve notice that many thousands of people are opposed to this law. The accurate reporting on the events of the day should reflect the fact that thousands of people, 100,000 of them, were willing to travel to Phoenix and march demanding that President Obama intervene in this issue and challenge the law in the courts.

It is time that the news media report accurately the fact the “civil rights movement of the 21st century” is a real a movement and it is only beginning to grow. Pastor Nunez mentioned that this was the first time that many members of the Hispanic clergy marched along the throngs of marchers demanding justice and righteousness.

Under the leadership of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, more and more Latino faith leaders are voicing their opposition to the immoral and illegal law that allows police officers to profile any “brown person” whom they “reasonably suspect” might be an undocumented immigrant in the country illegally.

Already, many “brown” American citizens are being detained and put in detention facilities because police officers are not trained properly to determine who is illegal and who just because of their “Latino features” are immediately suspected as being illegal.

This is what brought over 100,000 to the streets of Phoenix on May 29th. This is what is causing the Latino clergy to understand that a prophetic and voice of spiritual leadership is needed today just as the Dr. Martin Luther King brought to the early civil rights movement. More and more national Latino spiritual faith leaders are demanding that we stand together in the face of hate and discrimination that has sprouted an ugly racist movement against Latinos.

In the future, one would trust that the news media would do a better job reporting on the nature of the event, highlighting the fact that the largest march against SB 1070 took place with over 100,000 marchers demanding justice and due process. The May 29th march was not just another march or civic expression of frustration and fear.

This is just the beginning of a new civil rights movement, one that is partnering with Black leaders who marched during past civil rights demonstrations demanding justice and equality.

Together, we will bring Arizona to its knees, either by showing that a national boycott will cause unprecedented financial ramifications to the state economy, or to its knees asking forgiveness for being so open with their hate and bigotry toward Latinos.
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.