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

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Only One Constitutional Hearing Needed

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

There is no getting around it; some members of the Republican Party, along with some members of the Democratic Party are bent on causing as much trouble for undocumented immigrants and Latino community as they can. It is strange in this day and age to see a political strategy which sole purpose is to bend the laws to create situations of injustice and intimidation for Latinos.

For a party whose calling card has been, “what part of illegal don’t you understand?” it is hard to understand how easily they can manipulate the law to meet their own goals of unrighteousness and injustice. Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is perhaps the best know sheriff to abuse the law to intimidate, create fear and confusion, and profile Latinos for non-violent crimes. His ethnic profiled sweeps and raids in Spanish-speaking communities are appalling and a discredit to credible law enforcement officials.

While some faith leaders are quick to criticize officials in law enforcement, we shouldn’t forget many are fighting against laws like SB 1070, federal immigration programs like 287 (g), and Secure Communities where ICE wants local law enforcement agencies to share finger prints of undocumented immigrants for minor infractions of the law. These are reputable law enforcement agencies and officials who want no part of the injustice of our broken immigration system.

Yet, everyday in Congress we hear Republican congressional leaders calling for more law enforcement and more militarization of the southern border with Mexico. Perhaps the most troubling part of this chilling and frightening movement toward finding more reasons to arrest and detain and scapegoat undocumented immigrants is a disease that is afflicting conservative Democratic leaders in Congress as well. This contagious disease of hate which is turning into an epidemic among politicians who want to scare voters into making undocumented immigrants the worst problem this country has ever experienced.

The whole silly idea and debate on holding hearings on the 14th Amendment and “anchor babies” is one of the biggest political farces being dramatized to feed the prejudice, fear, and bigotry of Americans who cannot accept the blame for the many troubles we have created and that our is nation facing.

When you listen to United States Senators calling for hearings to amend the Constitution, it is as if they have forgotten the difficult process the founding leaders of our country put in place to amendment or change the United States Constitution.

Any changes or amendments to the Constitution must pass both chambers of Congress by a two thirds majority. This unlikely scenario for a Congress that can’t get enough votes to help the unemployed, or show enough compassion for Americans needing food stamps to feed their families, or putting a bi-partisan plan forward to create more jobs for Americans. The unemployment rate in this country is above 10%, and that is not even counting the people who have simply given up looking for work. In the Latino community, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate the unemployment rate for Latinos is over 12.1%.

Yet our Congress refuses to address the real significant issues facing our country. Every economic indicator and forecast show the horizon darkening with a more severe economic downturn looming in our immediate future. Instead they use the political rhetoric of fear, hate, and bigotry to blame undocumented immigrants for the failed economic policies of this country. Unless politicians stop playing with fire and get down to business of creating new jobs, our country faces a much bleaker future.

Bill Hing, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco on a Immigration Policy Center teleconference on issues related to changing the 14th Amendment explained the difficulty this process would face. "The Constitution can only be amended in two ways: The first is for a bill to pass both houses of Congress, by a two-thirds majority. Good luck with that, especially in this partisan environment. The second method requires that a constitutional convention be called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the states. Any amendments adopted would then be sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures. This route has never been taken. It can't be a serious proposal because it can't be done politically and is simply a distraction from true immigration reform."

Any amendments adopted would then need to be approved by three fourths of the state legislatures. Imagine the lawsuits that would be "birthed" out any changes to the 14th Amendment.

Talk about paths lined by political pitfalls, it appears almost impossible for any amendments to the Constitution could actually even have a chance to pass in our country so badly divided by partisan politics, ideology of hate and bigotry, and racism. Perhaps our founding leaders knew that at some day in the future, there would be those in the Congress who would try to abuse the Constitution with punitive changes and amendments which would only harm our nation.

Yet, we have Republican leaders in Congress calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment and how to change the Constitution so little babies which they have labeled as "anchor babies” and whom they claim are invading our country and should not be afforded the privilege and right to be born as citizens of our country.

I doubt the political leaders calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment realize their plan would only create another class of people who would have no status whatsoever and essentially be caught in a state of limbo. I would pray that people in our country have enough sense to see the veiled threats the GOP are creating about "anchor babies" and refuse to have the Constitution amended for reasons of prejudice and unfounded lies and rumors.

Some of the Republicans, lead by former immigration reform Senator Lindsey Graham are not even sure if they would support amending the Constitution. The only reason they want hearings is to continue stirring the boiling pot of racism and to keep the Tea Party, Minutemen, and other hard core right wing racists of this country pre-occupied with their fantasy of restoring America back to the days when “everything was okay.”

In an interview on Fox News, Graham alleges that undocumented immigrant mothers are coming across the border simply to have their baby born in this country, so they can become citizens of the USA. "They come here to drop a child," Mr. Graham said. It is outrageous for Senator Graham to treat the birth of a baby as something as coarse as coming to our country to "drop a child." Obviously, an unmarried man does not have any idea what a baby coming into the lives of a family means.

In other words, Graham and others that believe their own lies, want to take America back to the days when minorities like Blacks, Japanese, American Natives, and Latinos were second class citizens, treated as poor laborers, and where “white privilege” prevailed as the national attitude toward anyone who didn’t fit the profile of belonging to the right clubs of privilege and rightful ethnic profiles. Return back to a period in our country’s history where “entitlement” and “Manifest Destiny” for the white settlers of the West was a way of life.

More than ever, it is going to take a vigilant attitude, a stronger sense of believing in our heritage and cultures, creating coalitions of like minded people who share the same values and beliefs, and a willingness to stand up and fight back against this terrible cancer which is destroying "the land of the free and home of the brave". We are losing our self respect, and in order for some Americans to have their hate fix of the day, they must continue to find “brown skin” scapegoats in whom they can blame for the problems we are facing today.

What are most frightening are the facts that unless we pull together, fight against the hate, the fear, the panic, and the self fulfilling prophecy of watching our country be destroyed from within, this hate will continue to grow uncontrollably right before our very eyes. When will we stop the hate, the violence, and the fear, starting to get a death grip on our very freedoms and rights that many Americans sacrificed their lives or shed their blood, tears, and pain to preserve the USA?

We must put a stop to the partisan politics of hate, seeking to scapegoat Latinos, and destroy the freedoms we have enjoyed. We don’t need hearings on amending the 14th Amendment; or find a way to take citizenship away from mere babies born in our country. What we do need are courageous leaders to call for hearings on why we are allowing racism to rule our country and why we are doing nothing about it.

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 as a journalist. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; and in law enforcement as the Manager of Public Safety, responsible for the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department, and Denver Sheriff Department 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.

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