Friday, February 1, 2013

Five myths about the immigration ‘line'

By Daniel M. Kowalski, Published: February 1

Daniel M. Kowalski is a senior fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism and the editor of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin. He practices citizenship and visa law in Austin at the Fowler Law Firm.

by Daniel M. Kowalski - The “line” of people seeking American citizenship or legal status has become an integral part of our immigration debate. In a speech Tuesday, President Obama said that undocumented immigrants should go to “the back of the line” behind those who are going through the process legally. The immigration reform blueprint presented a day earlier by a group of senators contained the same requirement. But misinformation about this line abounds.

1. There is one line.

The federal government has issued more than 1 million green cards per year, on average, for the past five years. But there are several lines — which one immigrants end up in depends on whether they have a job or family in the United States.

There are four family-based categories for many relatives, called “preferences,” and five based on employment. The number of green cards issued through each is limited by country of origin, but there is no cap for “immediate relatives” — spouses of U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens’ unmarried children under age 21 and parents of adult U.S. citizens over 21.

Immigrants and their lawyers track their “place in line” in the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin, which lists cut-off dates for each preference and country. For example, the February 2013 bulletin lists EB-1 “priority workers” — superstars in their fields, such as rock stars and neurosurgeons — as “current,” meaning they are likely to wait just the four to six months it takes to prepare visa paperwork and schedule a consular interview.

2. Anyone can get in line.

Most of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants would love to get in line if they could. They remain without papers because they don’t fit into any visa preference or because the wait is just too long. Without a relative to petition for them under a family-based preference or a job that fits into an employment-based category, there’s no line to enter.

Millions of low-wage service, industrial, manufacturing and construction jobs are filled by unauthorized workers who don’t qualify for visas because the Labor Department won’t certify a shortage of “U.S. workers” — citizens, green-card holders, refugees and others with work authorization — in those occupations. The department claims there are plenty of U.S. workers available, but talk to the owner of a landscaping company who spends thousands of dollars annually on lawyers to secure temporary H-2B visas for gardeners, and she’ll tell you that she can’t get American workers to apply for the jobs or stick with them. (One could argue that the prevailing wage for landscapers — roughly $12 per hour now in Central Texas — is the problem.)

3. Once you are in line, the wait is not too long.

In some visa categories, the wait can be decades. If the line is too long, would-be immigrants might break the law by, for example, sneaking over borders or overstaying student visas. People can’t be expected to wait decades for permission to work or live near their loved ones.

The Visa Bulletin provides a rough prediction of how long the wait will be in any given line. However, the fixed number of visas for each preference, plus increasing demand, ensure that the lines only get longer. For example, one family-based preference — for brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens — for immigrants from the Philippines is stuck at June 1, 1989. That means that a Filipino U.S. citizen trying to get her sister legal status would have had to file her petition on or before June 1, 1989, for the petition to be heard today. Based on monthly calculations of supply and demand, the visa office moves this cutoff date forward only a few days per month. The waiting period could be 30 years or more for these Filipino siblings.

4. If you broke the law, it’s only fair that you go to the back of the line.

If the line is relatively short and an immigrant has not lived long in the United States, that might be fair. But if, as Obama has pointed out, an immigrant was brought here illegally as a child, faces a decades-long wait and knows no other country, what’s fair about going “home” to a nation she doesn’t remember to wait for permission to return?

Our immigration policy runs counter to our national ethos of civil and human rights. Over the past century, we have come to believe that discrimination on the basis of race, gender, faith and sexual orientation — things that cannot be changed or that we cannot demand be changed — is morally wrong. Yet the Immigration and Nationality Act, by setting quotas on how many people can come from certain countries, is another form of discrimination.

5. There’s no way to make the line shorter.

For more than 100 years, our country had no numerical visa quotas. Every limit we have put on the number of green cards has been arbitrary, driven by fear more than facts. In 1882, for example, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred almost all Chinese from immigration or naturalization. This shameful, race-based law was not repealed until 1943.

In 1921, Congress enacted the first quotas based on the racist conclusions of the Dillingham Commission Report, limiting admission of immigrants to a fixed percentage of the foreign-born from each country who were already in the United States as of 1910. Later, the date was pushed back to 1890. This formula favored those of British descent and discriminated against Southern and Eastern Europeans. These quotas were not abolished until 1965.

For comprehensive immigration reform to work, Congress will have to substantially increase the number of green cards available each year in every visa preference. This may mean, for example, allowing a one-time surge of visas to wipe out the backlog, then doubling or tripling some quotas. If we keep our system as it is, we will be spending more on fences, drones, border guards, immigration courts and deportation officers.

Article from The Washington Post:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Transcript: Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Jordan Fabian, January 28, 2013

From Senators Chuck Schumer, John McCain, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio, Michael Bennet, and Jeff Flake


We recognize that our immigration system is broken. And while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, we still don't have a functioning immigration system. This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows. Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here. We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited.

Four Basic Legislative Pillars:

1. Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;

2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;

3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,

4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

1. Creating a Path to Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants Already Here that is Contingent Upon Securing the Border and Combating Visa Overstays

- Our legislation will provide a tough, fair, and practical roadmap to address the status of unauthorized immigrants in the United States that is contingent upon our success in securing our borders and addressing visa overstays.

- To fulfill the basic governmental function of securing our borders, we will continue the increased efforts of the Border Patrol by providing them with the latest technology, infrastructure, and personnel needed to prevent, detect, and apprehend every unauthorized entrant.

- Additionally, our legislation will increase the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and surveillance equipment, improve radio interoperability and increase the number of agents at and between ports of entry. The purpose is to substantially lower the number of successful illegal border crossings while continuing to facilitate commerce.

- We will strengthen prohibitions against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force, enhance the training of border patrol agents, increase oversight, and create a mechanism to ensure a meaningful opportunity for border communities to share input, including critiques.

- Our legislation will require the completion of an entry-exit system that tracks whether all persons entering the United States on temporary visas via airports and seaports have left the country as required by law.

- We recognize that Americans living along the Southwest border are key to recognizing and understanding when the border is truly secure. Our legislation will create a commission comprised of governors, attorneys general, and community leaders living along the Southwest border to monitor the progress of securing our border and to make a recommendation regarding when the bill's security measures outlined in the legislation are completed.

- While these security measures are being put into place, we will simultaneously require those who came or remained in the United States without our permission to register with the government. This will include passing a background check and settling their debt to society by paying a fine and back taxes, in order to earn probationary legal status, which will allow them to live and work legally in the United States. Individuals with a serious criminal background or others who pose a threat to our national security will be ineligible for legal status and subject to deportation. Illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes face immediate deportation.

- We will demonstrate our commitment to securing our borders and combating visa overstays by requiring our proposed enforcement measures be complete before any immigrant on probationary status can earn a green card.

- Current restrictions preventing non-immigrants from accessing federal public benefits will also apply to lawful probationary immigrants.

- Once the enforcement measures have been completed, individuals with probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, pass an additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment, among other requirements, in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. Those individuals who successfully complete these requirements can eventually earn a green card.

- Individuals who are present without lawful status - not including people within the two categories identified below - will only receive a green card after every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card, at the time this legislation is enacted, has received their green card. Our purpose is to ensure that no one who has violated America's immigration laws will receive preferential treatment as they relate to those individuals who have complied with the law.

- Our legislation also recognizes that the circumstances and the conduct of people without lawful status are not the same, and cannot be addressed identically.

For instance, individuals who entered the United States as minor children did not knowingly choose to violate any immigration laws. Consequently, under our proposal these individuals will not face the same requirements as other individuals in order to earn a path to citizenship.

Similarly, individuals who have been working without legal status in the United States agricultural industry have been performing very important and difficult work to maintain America's food supply while earning subsistence wages. Due to the utmost importance in our nation maintaining the safety of its food supply, agricultural workers who commit to the long term stability of our nation's agricultural industries will be treated differently than the rest of the undocumented population because of the role they play in ensuring that Americans have safe and secure agricultural products to sell and consume. These individuals will earn a path to citizenship through a different process under our new agricultural worker program.

2. Improving our Legal Immigration System and Attracting the World's Best and Brightest

- The development of a rational legal immigration system is essential to ensuring America's future economic prosperity. Our failure to act is perpetuating a broken system which sadly discourages the world's best and brightest citizens from coming to the United States and remaining in our country to contribute to our economy. This failure makes a legal path to entry in the United States insurmountably difficult for well-meaning immigrants. This unarguably discourages innovation and economic growth. It has also created substantial visa backlogs which force families to live apart, which incentivizes illegal immigration.

- Our new immigration system must be more focused on recognizing the important characteristics which will help build the American economy and strengthen American families. Additionally, we must reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories so that future immigrants view our future legal immigration system as the exclusive means for entry into the United States.

- The United States must do a better job of attracting and keeping the world's best and brightest. As such, our immigration proposal will award a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university. It makes no sense to educate the world's future innovators and entrepreneurs only to ultimately force them to leave our country at the moment they are most able to contribute to our economy.

3. Strong Employment Verification

- We recognize that undocumented immigrants come to the United States almost exclusively for jobs. As such, dramatically reducing future illegal immigration can only be achieved by developing a tough, fair, effective and mandatory employment verification system. An employment verification system must hold employers accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented workers and make it more difficult for unauthorized immigrants to falsify documents to obtain employment. Employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers must face stiff fines and criminal penalties for egregious offenses.

- We believe the federal government must provide U.S. employers with a fast and reliable method to confirm whether new hires are legally authorized to work in the United States. This is essential to ensure the effective enforcement of immigration laws.

- Our proposal will create an effective employment verification system which prevents identity theft and ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers. We believe requiring prospective workers to demonstrate both legal status and identity, through non-forgeable electronic means prior to obtaining employment, is essential to an employee verification system; and,

- The employee verification system in our proposal will be crafted with procedural safeguards to protect American workers, prevent identity theft, and provide due process protections.

4. Admitting New Workers and Protecting Workers' Rights

- The overwhelming majority of the 327,000 illegal entrants apprehended by CBP in FY2011 were seeking employment in the United States. We recognize that to prevent future waves of illegal immigration a humane and effective system needs to be created for these immigrant workers to enter the country and find employment without seeking the aid of human traffickers or drug cartels.

- Our proposal will provide businesses with the ability to hire lower-skilled workers in a timely manner when Americans are unavailable or unwilling to fill those jobs.

Our legislation would:

- Allow employers to hire immigrants if it can be demonstrated that they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American to fill an open position and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace American workers;

- Create a workable program to meet the needs of America's agricultural industry, including dairy to find agricultural workers when American workers are not available to fill open positions;

- Allow more lower-skilled immigrants to come here when our economy is creating jobs, and fewer when our economy is not creating jobs;

- Protect workers by ensuring strong labor protections; and,

- Permit workers who have succeeded in the workplace and contributed to their communities over many years to earn green cards.

Article of ABC News-Univision:

Monday, February 28, 2011

New Study on Immigrant Integration: US Ranked in Top 10 Among 31 Countries

For Immediate Release

New Study on Immigrant Integration Compares and Ranks the United States,
Canada, and Europe 
US Ranked in Top 10 Among 31 Countries  

February 28, 2011

Washington D.C. - In cooperation with the Immigration Policy Center, the British Council and the Migration Policy Group release a new study today which reviews and ranks U.S. immigrant integration policies against other countries. The Migrant Integration Policy Index ( contrasts and compares integration policies for legal immigrants across countries in Europe and North America. The United States is ranked ninth among 31 countries. This is the first year the United States has been part of the study, and IPC is pleased to be chosen as the U.S. partner for this important study.

The MIPEX compares and ranks countries across 148 policy indicators, providing objective and comparable data presented in a reference guide and an interactive online tool to help policymakers, advocates and researchers assess and compare integration policies around the globe. The policy indicators are divided into seven categories: employment opportunities, family reunion, education, political participation, long-term residence, access to citizenship and anti-discrimination. Countries include all 27 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, and the USA.

Overall the U.S. ranked ninth in terms of integration policies, and first in terms of its strong anti-discrimination laws and protections. The U.S. also ranked high on the access to citizenship scale because it encourages newcomers to become citizens in order to fully participate in American public life. Compared with other countries, legal immigrants in the U.S. enjoy employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and the opportunity to reunite with close family members. However, MIPEX also acknowledges that the U.S.'s complex immigration laws, limited visa ability, high fees, and long backlogs may make it challenging for immigrants to integrate into the fabric of American life.

MIPEX also highlights the fact that several U.S. states are taking the lead on immigrant integration.  States including Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington state, as well as major cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco have offices dedicated to welcoming newcomers.

"As the United States continues to struggle with its own immigration policies, the MIPEX index offers policymakers and the public a framework for analyzing our best and worst practices on immigrant integration compared to other countries in the world. We have much to learn from other countries as well, but perhaps the greatest lesson that comes from MIPEX is that the very things that distinguish the United States are worth preserving as we move forward into the next decade of the 21st century," said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center.

"As the UK's international cultural relations organization, the British Council fosters the networks, cooperation and dialogue needed to build trust between people worldwide. We hope the third phase of MIPEX research will encourage dialogue and debate on best practice and enable better future policies," said Sharon Memis, Director of the British Council North America.

  • For more about MIPEX and to access the online tool, visit
MIPEX has been co-financed by the European Community under the European Integration Fund. 
For more information contact:
Mary Giovagnoli, Immigration Policy Center, or 202-507-7511.
Samantha Yale, British Council, or 202-588-7838

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC), established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

About the British Council: The British Council is the United Kingdom's international non-profit organization for cultural relations and education opportunities. Working in over 100 countries, we build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people worldwide. In the US, we cultivate long-term links between the UK and US, re-energizing the strategic transatlantic relationship through the arts, education and young leadership networks. To learn more, please visit

About the Migration Policy Group: The Migration Policy Group is an independent non-profit European think-tank committed to contributing to lasting and positive change resulting in open and inclusive societies. To learn more, please visit

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blue is Beautiful

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The Red Wave of the Tea Party missed Colorado as it stood in stark contrast to the Red States in the Rocky Mountain region. Colorado elected a Democratic Governor, electing Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper who crushed two challengers, the infamous undocumented immigrant crusader Tom Tancredo, and political unknown Dan Maes. Tancredo ran as a third party candidate, who was unable to sell his extremist views to Colorado voters, and hopefully has reached the end of his extremist political career.

Colorado also elected appointed Senator Michael Bennet to a full six year term, squeaking out a victory over Tea Party favorite Weld County D. A. Ken Buck. Buck was expected to win according to the political pundits who felt Bennet would be unable to withstand the Red Wave that drown Democratic control of the House, and came within four or five candidates of submerging the Senate in a Tea Party tsunami.

While Republicans were able to defeat two Democratic Congressional candidates, Democrats were able to re-elect three Congressional incumbents in spite of an angry atmosphere toward President Obama’s agenda and Democratic incumbents.

Looking at what happened in other states on election night to Democratic incumbents and candidates, Colorado withstood the anger and Tea Party addiction. Colorado Democratic candidates were able to hold their own on a night that President Obama even admitted was not a good night for his administration, telling the nation, “I feel bad.”

Senator Bennet fought the outside money that pushed Ken Buck to the brink of victory with a get out the vote strategy that even pushed his own voter projections beyond his own expectations. In many bell weather counties, Bennet was winning with larger voter percentages that came out to help Senator Bennet defeat Buck with about a total of 15,000 votes or less. While many national news media refused to call the race on election night, KUSA-TV political consultant, Floyd Ciruli called the race in Bennet’s favor on Wednesday morning after a long night of analyzing voter results.

Latino voters played a pivotal role in several key races for Democrats. In Colorado, Bennet pulled 81% of the Latino vote, which gave Bennet the edge he needed to defeat Buck. Polling by Latino Decisions projected that Latinos in Nevada supported Senator Reid with 90% of the Latino vote. California Barbara Boxer enjoyed the support of 86% of Latino voters.

All in all, it was a night that demonstrated that when Latino voters are engaged, they can make the difference. It was clear the misdirected attempt by GOP Latino operatives to discourage Latino voters from going to the polls to vote, backfired and instead, angered Latinos into turning out to vote and supporting three important Senatorial races that kept control of the Senate in Democratic hands.

Without strong Latino get out the vote strategies, there is no question that Reid, Boxer, and Bennet would have been defeated by their challengers. While political pundits have claimed that Latino voters could change the outcome of elections, there is no doubt these three senatorial races dynamically demonstrated the strength of the Latino voter. No longer just a political theory, Latino voter participation is now considered a potent political weapon that other candidates will seek to duplicate in the future if they want to win the tight race.

As we face the uncertainty and dynamic change in political power in Congress, Latinos are positioned to play a key role in determining and changing the outcome of voter expectations.

While the Tea Party influence also played a key role in electing Republican Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Republican Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Latinos also demonstrated that they do not speak with one voice or are of one political persuasion. Martinez was elected as the first Hispanic female Republican Governor. Sandoval defeated Rory Reid, Senator Reid’s son for the governorship of Nevada. Rubio, who claims to be a son of exiled Cuban immigrants, is considered one of the strongest foes of immigration reform.

In spite of political party or favorite political beverage, Latinos are positioned on the national stage to govern and bring about change for the Latino community. Latino voter turn out in the future will need to be a priority for any group wishing to change the outcome of elections. While major emphasis has been given to voter registration, it is clear that we cannot neglect to follow through and engage in broad based get out the Latino vote in future elections.

If we neglect to push Latino voter participation in 2012, we will be failing to utilize the most important voter outcome weapon that has shown in the mid-term elections, that the Latino voters do make a difference.

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.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vote Republican? Not Hardly

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

I was recently reading an article by Steve Sailer, movie critic for The American Conservative entitled, "What GOP Should Say to Hispanics - Vote like Americans." Sailer used information from the Hispanic Pew Center study released on October 5th. The survey - "Latinos and the 2010 Elections: Strong Support for Democrats; Voter Weak Motivation" attempted to explain Latino issues that might affect how Latinos vote.

The Pew survey polled Hispanics on the top seven issues which Latinos felt were the extremely important to the Latino community. Several earlier polls have shown immigration to be one of the top issues that Latinos want addressed by consistent governmental policy and legislation.

There is no doubt that comprehensive immigration reform remains one of the issues that Latinos have demanded from President Obama, and is seen as one of the main reasons his positive polling numbers among Latinos has plunged dramatically.

Sailer on the other hand took the latest Hispanic Pew survey to misrepresent the feelings of the Latino community, and used his article to demonstrate that Latinos are losing interest or steam when it comes to immigration reform. His premise was that among the top seven most important issues facing the Latino community, "Immigration reform" only placed 5th in order of importance.

Using that misdirected premise, Sailer goes on a mission to demonstrate that if the GOP reached out to Hispanics, and asked to them to vote "like Americans," Latino Democrats might consider the message, because most Republicans concur with Latino preferences as well. The Hispanic Pew study states their polling shows that while Latinos generally support the Democrats, there is little motivation to vote come the mid-term elections. It gets back to that "enthusiasm gap," that generally is being touted by the GOP as affecting all Democrats.

Sailer's main rationale is simple, but clearly out of step with reality and any sense of what the Latino community feels about immigration reform. I don't know of any Latino leader who proposes to have open borders and leave the border unsecured. Most believe that an acceptable pathway to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants who want citizenship should be part of any immigration reform.

I don't find most immigration reform proponents demanding that undocumented immigrants be deported in train box cars like "our American government," did during "Operation Wetback" in the 1950's.

What Sailer proposes is, "My conclusion: After a Bush-blighted decade, it's time for Republican candidates to address Hispanic voters directly over illegal immigration. As a general rule, human beings respond more constructively to being challenged than to being pandered to. Hence, GOP candidates should forthrightly ask for the support of Hispanic voters in opposing illegal immigration."

What an idiotic proposal and void of any political reality that anyone would actually think that Latinos would vote for Republicans, especially how in practically every race in the country, they have demonized and dehumanized undocumented immigrants, and now Sailer thinks we would even consider voting "like Americans," and vote for Republicans?

Looking back at the top issues that registered Latino voters find extremely important start with Education at 58%. Jobs at 54%. Healthcare at 51%. Federal Budget Deficit at 35%. Immigration at 31%. Environment at 29%. And finally the war in Afghanistan at 27%.

When you understand that while the American economy has edged closer to the brink of bankruptcy for the last two years and unemployment and loss of jobs has affected most Americans, it is understandable that Jobs and Federal Budget Deficit are among the top five concerns. While the Obama Administration claims national unemployment figures top out at about 9.2%, many economists will tell you, in the Black and Latino communities the unemployment rates are anywhere from 12% to 15%.

For over forty or more years the Latino community has demanded that something be done with the great social equalizer, education. Education rates first at 58%. With 50% or more Latino students dropping out of school, it is a national crisis that most Republicans probably don't even recognize.

The same concern also rises in the Latino community when it comes to a lack of affordable healthcare. Most Latinos or immigrants will stay away from the doctors and hospitals because medical care is not affordable. The problem is when most Latinos finally go the doctor; their health problem is far more serious than if they had taken care of the health problem earlier.

No Mr. Sailer, it should not surprise you that at this point in time, while most Americans deal with the Great Recession, most people of color, including Latinos are dealing with the Great Depression of 2010.

The Hispanic Pew survey should not be misleading, because consistently in other Pew surveys, most Latinos want comprehensive immigration reform taken care of. But when you can't find a job to put food on the table of a hungry family, pay the rent or mortgage, deal with higher prices for transportation or keeping the old car drivable, and worrying about what happens when one of the kids gets sick, or how to deal with the costs of healthcare, it is no wonder these issues float to the top of the extremely important issues facing the Latino community.

Also, don't be so ignorant as to think that if Republicans simply "challenge Latinos instead of pandering to them," by asking Latinos to support the GOP's hate campaign against undocumented immigrants will resonate in the Latino community. Demonizing, dehumanizing, and calling people "illegals," is not going to drive as you call Latinos, "unmotivated Democrats," to vote for Republicans.

In fact, your misguided attempt to challenge Latinos to vote for the GOP candidate because of our "Hispanic patriotism," is like asking us to commit treason.


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.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Menendez/Leahy Immigration Bill of 2010

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the US Senate that includes some provisions that are certain to stimulate considerable debate among proponents of immigration reform. The coming days will determine a better perspective on whether the immigration reform coalition will continue to work together to push immigration reform forward.

For example, conservatives for immigration reform have called extending family based immigration or reunification for same sex couples as a "deal breaker." This particular provision has been discussed in the past, and perhaps making it more active to other groups seeking immigration reform, it may well create a barrier to continued support for some religious groups seeking to push reform in the Congress. While it is expected that this provision will ignite considerable debate, it will depend on the art of politics and compromise to see if the Menendez/Leahy Bill goes forward.

The enforcement provisions will also provoke considerable debate over what constitutes a "secure border," or is this simply a unattainable goal being used by the opponents of immigration reform to keep the security standard unreachable so that many provisions of the bill are not activated or triggered? At some point, enough is enough in terms of the dollars and human resources placed on the border. It is time to allow some provisions of the bill to put an end to the sacrifice and injustice suffered by many immigrant families without having to jump through so many Republican loop holes intended to delay or kill any effort for reform.

Already experiencing the failure of not being able to garner the support of any member of the "Party of No" to support the DREAM Act just last week, many critics are wondering why Senator Menendez would introduce an immigration bill that "probably will go not go anywhere in the Congress anyway." Senator Menendez has countered that criticism with the fact that this bill demonstrates the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. While Democrats are willing to push the debate on comprehensive immigration reform with a new proposal, the voters who have overwhelming indicated support for immigration reform, will see that it is clearly the Republicans who continue to refuse to consider any new proposals on reform and remain the impediment to passing comprehensive immigration reform any time soon.

In the coming days, as we all review the details of the Menendez/Leahy Bill, it will be clear that the debate over immigration reform will continue to point out the urgent need once and for all the importance of all parties affected by the legislation to sit down and find a bill that will be a just and righteous approach to extending a pathway to protecting and legalizing the status for undocumented immigrants who wish to remain in the USA.

Regardless of the potential barriers to a just reform bill, it is critically important that we all review the bill and join in the debate so our fight for comprehensive immigration reform is not perceived as a stumbling block to families separated and affected by a broken immigration system that penalizes and punishes their efforts to find a better life.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Here for your reading enjoyment are the fundamental points related to the Menendez/Leahy Bill on immigration reform:


Introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D‐NJ) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D‐VT)

Title I – Border Enforcement
 Establishes border enforcement “triggers” that must be met before any unauthorized immigrants can apply for permanent residency.
 Requires DHS to review assets and staffing needed for border security and enforcement.
 Funds port of entry improvements and tools and technology, in line with this review.
 Expands Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) staffing, in line with this review.
 Improves training and accountability for DHS border and immigration officers.
 Enhances cooperation with Canada and Mexico, as well as local law enforcement agencies, to improve border security and coordinate crime fighting.
 Clarifies that the power to regulate immigration resides with the federal government, not states and localities, and that state and local police do not have the “inherent authority” to enforce federal immigration laws (outside of 287(g) agreements).
 Involves border communities in enforcement policy through creation of a U.S.‐Mexico Border Enforcement Commission and a Border Communities Liaison Office.

Title II – Interior Enforcement
 Requires DHS to track the departure of noncitizens to ensure that individuals do not overstay their visas.
 Denies “visa waiver” privileges to countries whose citizens attempt to overstay visas.
 Refines existing law on illegal entry, illegal reentry and voluntary departure of noncitizens to ensure enforcement of those provisions and heighten penalties for those who commit serious offenses.
 Funds and expands the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program to cover additional criminal justice costs borne by state and local governments.
 Enhances efforts to ensure that DHS does not mistakenly deport U.S. citizens and residents.
 Expands penalties for passport, visa, and immigration fraud; unlawful flight from immigration or customs controls; and gang activity.
 Expands other civil penalties and grounds of inadmissibility for certain criminals.
 Provides common‐sense rules governing the detention of families, elderly or ill immigrants, crime victims, and other “vulnerable populations” like torture survivors, as well as enforcement actions that involve children.
 Improves detention conditions to meet basic standards; expands secure alternatives to detention.
 Ends the waiting period for refugees and asylees to obtain green cards.

Title III – Worksite Enforcement
 Mandates the use of an employment verification system for all employers within five years. 2
 Creates a new fraud‐resistant, tamper‐resistant Social Security card; requires workers to use fraud‐ and tamper‐resistant documents to prove authorization to work in the United States.
 Requires the Social Security Administration to create a reliable and secure way of verifying Social Security numbers and work authorization.
 Adds criminal penalties for fraud and misuse of Social Security numbers.
 Provides protections for workers to prevent fraudulent use of social security numbers, correct government database errors, and combat employment discrimination.
 Creates a voluntary pilot program using biometric identifiers to demonstrate work authorization.

Title IV – Reforming America’s Legal Immigration System
 Creates a Standing Commission on Immigration, Labor Markets, and the National interest to evaluate labor market and economic conditions and recommend quotas for employment based visa programs that Congress and the President would act on. The Commission will be made up of the Secretaries of DHS, State, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture, as well as the Attorney General, Social Security Commissioner, and seven nongovernmental members appointed by the President.
 Creates the structure for a new nonimmigrant visa program (H‐2C) to address gaps in existing worker programs that have lead to undocumented migration. The number of H‐2C workers admitted to the program is completely dependent upon the Commission’s recommendations regarding the impact on the labor market and economy. Workers must have a job offer and meet various application requirements. Once in the U.S., H‐2C visa holders are able to change jobs, provided their new employer is authorized to hire H‐2C workers.
o The H‐2C program has various features to protect U.S. workers, such as: bars to use of the program in high‐unemployment areas; requirements for employers to recruit and hire American workers first; employer‐paid program fees; employer banishment from the program for improper use or misrepresentation; etc.
o H‐2C workers are eligible to apply for green cards after having worked in the U.S. for four years, or immediately if they are sponsored by their employer.
 Significantly expands labor protections in current H‐2A, H‐2B, H‐1B, and L‐1 visa programs.
 Ensures that the number of family and employment green cards authorized by Congress do not expire because of processing delays; expands the share of visas that each country can access within existing quotas that limit overall immigration.
 Exempts certain immigrants from counting against the annual green card quotas so that they can immediately reunite with loved ones in the U.S., including spouses and minor children of green card holders.
 Revises unlawful presence bars to immigration so that individuals with family ties are not permanently banished from the U.S.
 Incorporates the AgJOBS bill, which provides a path to permanent residency for farm workers and revises agricultural employer sponsorship requirements.
 Incorporates the Uniting American Families Act, which allows permanent partners to access the family‐based immigration system.

Title V – Legalization of Undocumented Individuals
 Creates Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) status for non‐criminal undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. since 9/30/10. Requires applicants to submit biometric and biographical data, undergo security and law enforcement checks, and pay a $500 fine plus application fees. LPI status lasts four years and can be extended. It includes work authorization and permission to travel abroad; immediate family members are also eligible for status under the program.
o Immigrants may apply for LPI status even if they are in deportation proceedings at the time of application or have an outstanding removal order.
o In order to transition from LPI status to Legal Permanent Residency (i.e. a “green card”), applicants are required to wait at least six years; pay taxes and a $1000 fine; learn English and U.S. civics; and undergo additional background checks. They will not obtain green cards before those who were waiting “in line” to immigrate as of date of enactment.
o The LPI program includes a level of administrative and judicial review, confidentiality protections for applicants and their employers, and fraud prevention measures.
 Incorporates the DREAM Act, which creates a path to legal status for individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, provided they meet age and other criteria and enroll in college or the U.S. military.

Title VI ‐ Immigrant Integration and Other Reforms
 Enhances programs and policies to help immigrants learn English and U.S. civics, such as: tax credits for teachers of English language learners and businesses who provide such training for their employees; a revamped DHS Office of Citizenship and New Americans to assist with immigrant integration; and grants for states who work to successfully integrate newcomers.
 Provides humanitarian immigration visas for Haitian children orphaned by the 2010 earthquake; Liberian nationals who fled civil strife and received Temporary Protected Status in the U.S.; and the immediate relatives of September 11th terrorism victims.
 Establishes a Commission on Wartime Treatment of European Americans and a Commission on Wartime Treatment of Jewish Refugees to review the country’s immigration and foreign policies during World War II.
 Improves access to interpreters in state courts.
 Evaluates the factors that drive undocumented migration from key sending countries and requires the State Department to develop a strategy to reduce migration pressures.

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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dreams or Nightmare?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Once again the Republican Party defied the Latino community by refusing to consider the DREAM Act. The GOP stalled consideration of the defense spending bill by voting 56 to 43, with two Democrats joining the GOP in effect killing the DREAM Act. Just shy of the 60 votes needed to push the debate forward, the GOP's dirty politics alienated Latino voters and blocked the bill.

The DREAM Act was added as an amendment to the defense spending bill and is part of Department of Defense's effort to maintain a strong "All Volunteer Force." The DOD has included the DREAM Act in its Office of Personnel Readiness FY2010 - 2012 Strategic Plan. "We must be able to recruit, retain, develop and motivate a high-quality, diverse, and properly sized workforce." Republicans claim the DREAM Act has nothing to do with national defense and was a political move by Democrats to energize the Latino vote before the mid-term elections.

Perhaps the real reason the DREAM Act failed is the Senate's failure to reconsider repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell, the right of gay service people to serve openly in the Armed Forces which was also attached to the defense spending bill.

But what troubled me even more than the Republican's motive to kill the bill, is what some Dreamers have expressed since the defeat of the bill. The accusation that we are trying to criminalize their parents for crossing the border without proper documents, is offensive.

The impertinent attacks by some undocumented youth who believe that serving in our Armed Forces is not an admirable or alternative service to our country are troubling.

This debate concerning the DREAM Act has been on the table for several years and rarely have I heard any sustained effort to keep "community service" as an option. Now, we hear from disenchanted Dreamers they had been left out of the debate. Yet because of the strong presence of Dreamers with fasts, sit-ins, and public protests were reasons we came close to passing the bill.

I believe the argument of not wanting to serve in the military is one sure basis of giving opponents reason to oppose this bill. It is the wrong argument to make as thousands of Americans have given their lives for freedom. Furthermore, it is disgraceful to service men and women and their families.

For a Dreamer who literally has no legal right to be in this country to accuse supporters of the DREAM Act of being inconsiderate or unsympathetic to their beliefs because "we do not understand what it means to be an undocumented student" shows lack of integrity and maturity. To criticize supporters of the DREAM Act as being out of touch and indifferent to their concerns is disingenuous.

I hear the questionable allegation that the Democrats are forcing undocumented youth to renounce their loyalty and love for their parents because Democrats are using the argument that parents crossed the border illegally, bringing their young children with them. Excuse me for not understanding, but these are the facts. No one is asking any young adult to turn their back on their parents.

The intention of the DREAM Act is to create opportunities for youth, who parents crossed the border without the proper documentation, to gain a pathway to citizenship, continue with their education in college, or serve in the military for two years, be given an opportunity to get a driver's license, a Social Security number so they can work, and contribute to the success of our country.

If some of the 850,000 undocumented youth find these provisions unacceptable, no one is going to force them to participate in the benefits of the DREAM Act. They can continue to live their lives in the shadows, threatened every single day with the fear of deportation.

I support comprehensive immigration reform and have been a strong proponent of reform working with faith leaders to fight for justice and righteousness. I support the DREAM Act because I feel it provides unprecedented opportunities for youth who are basically "Americans" in every sense of the word, except by the fact they were not born in this country.

When I read that undocumented youth do not want to serve in the Armed Forces because of their belief our government is at war for unjust or immoral reasons, I am convinced that they need to read the history of this country and for example, how it fought against Germany and Japan when they tried to enslave the world with their totalitarian ideology.

I am confused and dismayed that as proponents of the bill, we are called inconsiderate by Dreamers who claim their status is being exploited simply for political reasons. If we are using the wrong tactics, what are the acceptable arguments needed to pass this bill?

Apparently, it comes down to the fact some undocumented youth in our country want to enjoy the benefits of citizenship, but don't agree with the military alternative, and are taking out their frustration on supporters who support the DREAM Act, with the military option.

If the present bill is unacceptable, don't take your dissatisfaction out on your allies and friends who are working to pass the DREAM Act. Work to change it, but don't take out your frustration on supporters trying to make your life better.

Is there unfairness toward undocumented immigrants in our country? Absolutely, and that is why we must continue our fight to overcome injustice. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, "justice too long delayed is justice denied." But in order to overcome this hate and paranoia, we need to work together against a common enemy, not against each other.

This unjustifiable outcry that we are criminalizing the parents of Dreamers or forcing them to serve in the military as young Americans have done in the past is disheartening. The DREAM Act offers options, and provides a very virtuous way to citizenship.

I wonder if we are fighting a losing battle against the racists and extremist Republicans, knowing that from within the DREAM Act movement, I am considered the enemy by some of the very same young adults I am trying to help.

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.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Day After

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The day after the Glenn Beck “revival meeting” at the Lincoln Memorial, I found myself thinking that Beck might be on to something good. I was troubled however, because something seemed lacking from his message.

It took Bill Press, national radio talk show host, by condemning Beck to put the day after into perspective for me. “We don’t need a Mormon to teach Christians what the Gospel is all about.”

Press’s criticism wasn’t haughty or boastful, but the truth that most of us have neglected to comprehend. Mormonism is not Christianity. It is a cult that has many beliefs that simply don’t add up to Christianity.

Press clarified his condemnation of Beck after some critics were quick to condemn Press as being too judgmental. “As a Christian; however, I would never dare tell a Jew how to practice Judaism, nor a Muslim how to practice Islam. And I repeat: We don’t need a Mormon, especially one named Glenn Beck, to teach Christians what the Gospel is all about.”

Beck’s parade of what some pundits called the “Black Robes” or Evangelical leaders was a charade.

It was shameful for Evangelical leaders to lend their support at a nationalistic rally threaded throughout the day with code for hate, fear, and outright bigotry for many people in our country.

The music and some of the words and slogans about returning to God sounded like a revival meeting. But nationalistic rallies are not the way.

The predominantly white audience had very few Blacks or Latinos. It doesn’t mean that just because it was a white audience that it was bad, but it does cause me to wonder why the Beck message does not resonate with people of color?

Many Americans were appalled that Beck would stand in the very same spot a real Christian stood 47 years ago. Dr. Martin Luther King exalted in his ‘I have a Dream’ speech the true meaning of serving the poor, and those forgotten by society.

Beck has allowed guests on his show to do more to divide our country with lies and urban myths about immigration. For months now, Beck has criticized President Obama about his faith. He has criticized faith leaders who are fighting for comprehensive immigration reform as extremists. In short, Beck has not delivered on his revival message at the D.C. Mall – I believe it is called walking the talk.

Beck’s lack of understanding of the Gospel is what brought the strong rebuke from Press. Press is a theologian in his own right and if anyone understands the Gospel, it is Press.

At the center of the controversy is what does the Gospel teach us about reaching out to the poor or neglected? Beck’s distorted view is that “liberation theology” or the essence of the Gospel is “Marxism disguised as religion.” In fact, the Gospel teaches it is compulsory to help the needy.

As many of you may know, Priest Gustavo Gutierrez led the movement of liberation theology that was born in Latin America during the 1950’s. With social unrest in many Latin American countries, courageous priests of the Catholic Church disgruntled with the Catholic Church’s support of deceitful military dictatorships, taught that the Gospel required the Church to serve the poor. In collaboration with Protestant religious leaders, the Gospel became a reality in the lives of the poor and neglected who often were abused by governments who only sought to serve the powerful and corrupt.

Press explained, “While priests and nuns worked among the poor in the barrios, bishops and cardinals hung out with the generals, CEO’s, and dictators in their palaces, while supporting their suppression of the poor.” The Gospel teaches us the purpose of the Church is to serve, not ignore the poor or marginalized.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25, Jesus explains his new theology – teaching those who listened how on Judgment Day the Father would punish those who neglected the poor.

Jesus went on to explain, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged me.”

“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care; I was in prison and you came to see Me.”

Christ made clear the path we are to take in order to serve as his followers.

On the other hand, Beck misses the clear directive of the Gospel. Serving the poor, the neglected, the marginalized, or the sick is not Marxist ideology, but inspiration of the Holy Spirit on what the Gospel instructs us.

I am shocked that some “Christians” would follow the false theology of Beck in the name of returning our nation to God. How can they follow a man who refuses to love those who disagree with his perverted world view?

I believe it is essential that we not be misled by the false prophet Beck and his teary words of hypocrisy.

It is time to call out our lying politicians, talk show hosts, and faith leaders who are seeking to cover up the sin of hate and justification for racism of undocumented immigrants, the poor, and others in need.

It is wrong for politicians to make repulsive and false statements about Social Security, undocumented immigrants, and the jobless. President Obama just signed into law $600 million dollars based on fear and false perceptions on border security at the expense of neglecting the poor and needy.

It is time in America for liberation theology to break the bonds and chains that hold Americans hostage to lies of ego driven cable talk show hosts and dangerous politicians.

Beware America of the wolves in sheep clothing who come seeking your heart and soul. Beware America of the greed and corruption that has led this nation to not only of the brink of economic disaster, but to the abyss of immorality.

El Semanairo 9/9/10
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.

Friday, August 20, 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 shows 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 only would 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 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.


That One Question that Haunts us All

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Much has been written and discussed about the decision of U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton who ruled that four of the controversial sections of SB 1070 should be put on hold. The controversial sections of the law were blocked by the judge granting an injunction requested by the Department of Justice.

Yet even as opponents of SB 1070 were gratified by the judge's ruling, the essence of the law still remains in force. Governor Jan Brewer said the state would appeal the decision, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Many legal experts feel the state will have a difficult time appealing Judge Bolton's decision, but regardless of what happens next, racial and ethnic profiling will continue to still be a legal issue that Latino and undocumented immigrants will face until this hideous bill is completely thrown out by the courts.

While the injunction prohibited the state from implementing all of the sections of SB 1070, some residents in Arizona felt some relief that the full weight of the law would not fall on the Latino community. Even while many newspapers were reporting that some Arizona undocumented immigrant families were packing up and leaving, some also reported that those who decided to stay behind felt a sense of security that the most critical parts of SB 1070, like having to carry identification documents proving status had been put on hold.

But beyond the legal questions of SB 1070, and implications it still might have on churches and non-profits that help undocumented immigrant families, there remains one troubling question I believe needs to be addressed by Latino Evangelical pastors and faith leaders who support comprehensive immigration reform. It is a question that many church leaders may not want to hear or address, but none the less, it is a question that needs further clarification.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who is a Latino Evangelical minister, was traveling through Arizona. While visiting with other Latino pastors in Arizona, he tells me, "I could not believe that the whole SB 1070 law wasn't an issue. I even found several pastors that supported it." I have to admit, I felt disappointed like he did knowing that "Hispanic pastors had an anti immigration position."

It is truly a travesty to hear that some Latino pastors in Arizona are supporting laws like SB 1070. It brings up the question that haunts many of us and must be addressed and clearly articulated throughout the fellowship of ministers who belong to Christian organizations that are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

Many of fundamental reasons we support comprehensive immigration reform are based on Biblical teachings and commandments. There is no question that Latino ministers who are members of these national religious organizations and fellowships should understand their personal and/or political opinions behind the pulpit do not matter.

When they joined and pledged as members of theses fellowships to follow the doctrine of the Scripture that requires us to support not necessarily comprehensive immigration reform, but to support the values that demand that human beings should not be subjected to injustice and verbal, ethnic, and violent harassment.

Deuteronomy 26: 17 & 18 are pledges we made publicly before the Lord, yet it is inexcusable how some pastors simply refuse to acknowledge that in spite of their misguided political beliefs or opinions, they allow their own personal beliefs to over shadow the scripture.

They find personal excuses not to follow what the scripture commands of us and find motive for their lack of compassion and love for the sojourners the Bible commands us to love. (17): "You have (openly) declared the Lord this day to be your God, [pledging] to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His precepts, and to hearken to His voice." (18): "And the Lord has declared this day that you are His peculiar people, as He promised you, and you are to keep all His commandments."

We have legitimate reasons to complain about racial profiling by law enforcement against "our people." But when I hear that there are Latino pastors who support the injustice of SB 1070, who are pastors who live in Arizona, ministering to sometimes undocumented immigrants in their congregation, and who openly join the hate alliances that subscribe to laws that racially profile Latinos and that promote fear, hate, and injustice, I am disappointed by our lack of scriptural consistency.

And, let's be clear it is not just Latino Evangelical pastors and ministers in Arizona who support the efforts of the hate extremists and racists who are dividing our community and country, it is a nationwide issue.

Does the local pastor have the right to disregard the Biblical scripture that so indisputably commands us how we are to teach and preach the Gospel about this issue?

I am not talking about political issues, as much as I am presenting the case for how as ministers we are to present the Biblical scripture and commandments that teach us how we are to treat the sojourner or temporary resident in our land. Political beliefs do not trump the scripture in the Bible. If our political beliefs are contrary to the scripture, and to the guidance given by our national Evangelical leadership, do we have the right to support law like SB 1070 from pulpit?

I know that different denominations have different perspectives on the immigration reform debate and this debate is for those individual denominations to have and make it clear how their beliefs are tied to scriptural teaching and commandments.

My friend stated: "They would defend the law until I helped them understand that they were against the criminal elements that were crossing not all immigrants." There is no question or doubt many pastors are relying on the rumors and gossip they hear from the hate mongers and racists who are promoting laws like SB 1070 across the country.

Officials statements like every "immigrant crossing the border is a drug mule." Silly accusations like "headless bodies" have been found in Arizona by border patrols. When we rely upon the uninformed reporters or governmental officials who help spread these lies, we will end up spreading their racist hate and lies on to our congregation in our churches.

We know about 40% of undocumented immigrants over stay their visas. Others cross the border to be united with their families and find decent job to support them. Others are children brought here at a young age and know no other life except that of an "American," without citizenship or privileges. But the hate monger would have you believe that we are being invaded by criminals and terrorists, only to create fear, panic, and racism. And some Latino pastors are spreading these lies.

Leviticus 19: 33 & 34 verses are not optional. (33): "And if a stranger dwells temporarily with you in your land, you shall not suppress and mistreat him. (34): "But the stranger who dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you; and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Am I taking the scriptures out of context? Where are the commands to hate and malign the undocumented immigrant or temporary resident in our country?

Deuteronomy 19:18 & 19 are very clear on how we are to treat the stranger and sojourners, temporary residents in our land. (18): "He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger or temporary resident and gives him food and clothing. (19): Therefore love the stranger and sojourner, for you were strangers and sojourners in the land of Egypt." Many ministers like to claim that we are not the sojourners in Egypt often referenced in the Bible.

Yet we know full well that Egypt is a type used to signify the world and worldly practices as God's children we journey through life, with some still walking the streets of Egypt. As God's original plan, we were created free from sin, but because of the sin in the Garden of Eden, we are now born into sin. We still have to face the consequences of that disobedience and first sin. But I should not have to explain this, but if I don't someone will claim, "out of context, Brother Butch!"

Deuteronomy 24: 14 & 15 are crystal clear on how we are to treat the stranger or sojourners who are in our land. (14): "You shall not oppress or extort from a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is of your brethren, or of your strangers and sojourners who are in your land inside your towns. (15): "You shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down; for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you."

These verses are as transparent as they can possibly be. Talk about enacting policies and laws protecting workers and the undocumented worker in our land. These scriptures should be the basic premise where we begin. We should not take advantage of the stranger or the sojourner who is poor and dependent on upon the agreement we made to pay them. A part of this scripture that we often neglect to articulate is powerful and is a possible judgment against us if we neglect to follow God's Word. "Lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you."

I pray that we can come together, particularly national religious organizations, denominations, and churches that support comprehensive immigration reform for the right Christian values and begin to educate our pastors on what the scripture commands of us.

We need to create a standard of scriptural values on immigration reform conceived by the church leadership, ecumenical councils, and ministerial fellowships so a consistent message of love, compassion, and justice can be preached from the pulpit with the full assurance that we are indeed preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Vote your political beliefs, but preach the Gospel.


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; in law enforcement as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver responsible for the Police, Fire, & Sheriff Departments from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bizarre Gang of Christian-Fundamentalist - La Familia Michoacana?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

It is interesting to watch the social and debate dynamics change as more conservative Evangelicals begin to lead the national narrative on comprehensive immigration reform. Up until now, the debate was almost devoid of any moral instruction or divine tenet to lead those persons who based much of their beliefs on misguided or ill-conceived political rumor or misrepresentation of the facts.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on "The Ethical Imperative for Reform of Our Immigration System." It was to be a discussion involving three of our country's top Biblical scholars and theologians before the House panel.

The Biblical scholars were: Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, Gerald Kicanas of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Mathew Staver of Liberty University. All respected theologians and scholars who have spent their lives teaching the integral teachings of the Bible.

Several of the Congressmen who opened the session, immediately took to using or better said, taking Bible scriptures out of context as they attempted to debunk the use of the Bible or scripture to defend the Biblical instruction and expectation for Christians to follow when it comes to undocumented immigrants.

Needless to say, you can't preach to the teacher or even lecture some of the most respected conservative Bible scholars when you take words from the Bible out of context. And that is unfortunately what these Congressmen tried to do.

Another most bizarre case of misusing the Biblical teachings is happening in Mexico with La Familia Michoacana, one of the most violent and brutal gangs. This is the gang that has used chopping off heads of anyone who opposes the gang or the leader. La Familia's leader is Nazario Moreno, a.ka, El Mas Loco...the craziest one.

What perhaps is most disturbing and troubling is that Time/CNN has labeled this violent, brutal, and most evil gang we have ever seen, "a bizarre gang of Christian-fundamentalist narco-traffickers known as La Familia Michoacana."

"A bizarre gang of Christian-fundamentalist narco-traffickers known as La Familia Michoacana?" This is not only despicable, outrageous, and naïve for Time/CNN editors and reporters to refer to this gang of evil and violence in these terms, but it also demands that every Evangelical faith leader condemn Time/CNN for referring to this gang as "a bizarre gang of Christian-fundamentalists narco traffickers known as La Familia.!!" (,8816,1997449,00.html )

As bizarre, El Mas Loco is using the book, Wild at Heart, written by Colorado evangelical John Eldredge. According to the Religion News Service, the book stresses Eldredge's theology "based on a 'muscular' view of Christianity, one that emphasizes an 'authentic masculinity' that has been lost." New recruits to the gang must read Eldredge's book, participate in mandatory prayer sessions and group readings.

El Mas Loco has taken it upon himself to follow the tenets of Christian conversion - forbidding its gang members from using drugs, or selling drugs to friends and neighbors where they live. The commandments of the Bible make it a mandatory practice of loving your neighbor as loving oneself. The Bible speaks about making the family the fundamental social infrastructure and strongest bond Christians can have with one another. The gang, La Familia has accepted these beliefs and adheres to them despite being the worst and most violent gang in Mexico.

An expert on Mexican trafficking organizations, Raul Benitez says, "La Familia uses religion as a way of forcing cohesion among its members. They are building a new kind of disciplined army that we have never seen here before. It makes them more dangerous."

In the same article in the, advancement in the La Familia gang organization is not only dependent on how well you do on the shooting range, but how many prayer meetings one attends as well.

El Mas Loco always carries his own "Bible." According to the local press, he carries a "bible" of his own sayings and insists that his army of traffickers and hit men avoid the narcotics they sell. Using drugs personally or selling them to local people on the street can bring about the worst penalty for disobeying La Familia's rules.

Andrew Brown in his blog tries to explain how La Familia uses Eldredge's book to create a sense of family cohesiveness and the paradox of the gang's violence to intimidate and kill and maim its gang opponents.

"Brown writes, they announced themselves in 2006, rolling five severed heads onto a dance floor, accompanied by a card which read:

'La Familia doesn't kill for money, doesn't kill women, doesn't kill innocent people. It only kills those who deserve to die. Everyone should know this: Divine justice.'

It becomes incumbent upon the Evangelical pastor and minister to understand the scripture and teachings of Jesus Christ toward the 'sojourner', the 'alien,' and the 'stranger in our midst,' or it will continue to be taken out of context.

While others are trying to pervert the truth and commandments of Jesus Christ, it becomes more important that when we use scripture we use it in context of God's love for humanity. We were created in His image, and it becomes difficult to explain or to understand how we can hate or despise one of God's own creation?

It is clear that sometimes the most complex teachings of Christ come down to one's personal relationship and experience with Jesus Christ as Savior and our Friend. The fundamental teachings of the Bible do not have to become something so wrapped up in theology and complex teachings that we can't even share these teachings with our family or neighbor.

At the House Judiciary Committee where Congressmen Lamar Smith (R - Texas) and Steve King (R - Iowa) tried to portray themselves as theologians and Bible scholars, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D - III.) spoke these simple words of wisdom. "I'm not a theologian. I didn't come here with my Bible. I'm a good Catholic, you know. But I'll tell you, I learned two things: to love God above everything else and to love my neighbor as I love myself."

That is the best example of the scripture we can use to turn people from hate, fear, racism, and bigotry. It is also the best advice one can give El Mas Loco.

But perhaps in using the scripture, we must stand prepared and ready to condemn any article like the one that appeared in TIME/CNN June 28, 2010 where out of pure and simple ignorance, the writers are so naïve as to refer to La Familia, as "a bizarre gang of Christian-fundamentalist narco-traffickers known as La Familia Michoacana."

It is time for Evangelical leaders to stand ready to condemn and demand that TIME/CNN repudiate and correct such stupidity and naïveté understanding of Christianity. This ill-conceived ideology must be censured, rebuked, and denounced by all Evangelical faith leaders.

This is frightening and such misguided understanding of Christianity must be rebuked. We must take action to demand a correction and bring about the understanding that there is no such thing as "a bizarre gang of Christian-fundamentalist narco-traffickers known as La Familia Michoacana."

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.