Archive for September, 2011

September 29, 2011

9/29 – CNN – My encounter with anti-Latino racism –

My encounter with anti-Latino racism –

By Nick Valencia, CNN
updated 2:56 PM EST, Thu September 29, 2011
A third-generation Mexican-American, Nick Valencia says duality is reality for millions of Americans.
A third-generation Mexican-American, Nick Valencia says duality is reality for millions of Americans.

  • Nick Valencia says a woman yelled racist words at him at a concert in Atlanta
  • He’d been speaking Spanish to new acquaintances; her treatment left him speechless
  • Growing anti-Latino sentiment in U.S. is aimed at both immigrants and citizens, he says
  • Valencia: I’m third-generation Mexican-American; human, like my new friends. And I’m home

Editor’s note: Nick Valencia is a national news desk editor and former head of the CNN Spanish Desk. He has reported extensively on the drug war in Mexico for CNN. He is also the president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Soledad O’Brien reports on a Latina boxer about to face the fight of her life as she attempts to make her Olympic dream a reality. Watch “Latino In America: In Her Corner,” at 8 p.m. ET/PT Saturday, October 1.

Atlanta (CNN) — “Go home!” she yelled at me. “Why don’t you go back home to Mexico before you ruin this country like you ruined your own!”

I was standing in a crowd at the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta, where I live. A few minutes earlier I’d met a group of five people who’d been standing in front of me — here from Mexico City — and I had begun speaking Spanish with them.

Atlanta has a growing Latino community, and I am actively involved. Whenever I get the chance to speak to someone in Spanish here, I introduce myself. My new acquaintances and I were talking about what a great time we were having and how remarkable the city of Atlanta was for bringing back the festival to Piedmont Park.

And that’s when I heard the yelling woman next to me. As if “go home” wasn’t clear enough, the woman — a 20-something Caucasian — repeated the words in Spanish.


I froze. I didn’t quite know what to say, and I didn’t want to believe she was talking to me or the group of people I had just met.

Nick Valencia
Nick Valencia

As a third-generation Mexican-American growing up in Los Angeles, I had never encountered such overt racism. In fact, because my family was long since assimilated, among my Latino friends I was always considered the “pocho” or “white boy” of the group. (As I write this, a part of me knows somewhere in L.A., a friend of mine will be proud to know someone actually considered me Mexican enough to yell “go home” at me.)

My Mexican friends remind me that I am American first, Mexican second and that my English is better than my Spanish.

“Yes,” I tell them. “But I can never walk into a room and be white.”

Evidently, to some the brown color of my skin means I’m not even American. My friends and family tell me what I experienced that night is a microcosm of what is happening to Latinos across the country. You don’t have to look hard to find it. In news stories, in political discourse, on talk radio, in everyday conversation it seems it has become OK to treat Latinos in a negative and antagonistic way — whether they are new immigrants or longtime Americans. The anti-immigration legislation sweeping across the United States has made this plain. People in my Latino networks say they’ve noticed the change. And now I understand what they mean.

Like many Americans whose grandparents or parents came here from somewhere else, I live at the intersection of my two cultures. I eat tacos, but I love cheeseburgers. I go salsa dancing, and listen to rock n’ roll. I speak Spanish and English, and depending on the crowd, sometimes Spanglish. I love my country and my cultural community. My duality is my reality, just like the 50 million other Latinos in the United States.

I have been luckier than many. Before this incident, the closest I’d ever come to blatant racism was in junior high. I was in the jazz band and played first trumpet. One day our jazz band teacher invited in his predecessor, a local legend who had made Eagle Rock High School’s jazz program famous in the 1980s.

The visiting instructor pointed me out and asked me to play him 16 bars of music. I did, but he quickly interrupted.

“Stop, stop, stop. I don’t want to hear any of that mariachi music. This is jazz.”

I didn’t think anything of it. Instead I felt terrible that the legend standing in front of me didn’t think I was good enough. I went home that night, and like every night, at 6:30 p.m. my family sat down for dinner to talk about our day.

“How was your day, Nicky?” my dad asked.

So I told him. Outraged, the next day he went to my principal and filed a formal complaint. The legend didn’t come back to visit the jazz program again. Weeks later we received a letter in the mail from him apologizing for his insensitive comments. My family saved the letter.

My father was hypersensitive to ethnic identity and deeply proud of his Latino heritage. The son of a naturalized immigrant from El Salvador and a Mexican mother from Texas, he grew up in Los Angeles during a time of racial tension. When I was young he would tell me stories of the race riots in his high school, violence against people of color, and awful accounts of the struggle he had to make it as a Mexican-American teen in the 1960s.

He died when I was 17 years old, but one of the phrases he implanted in my mind before he passed was a statement activist Cesar Chavez made famous:

“Si se puede” — “Yes you can.”

And now, here I was, at 28, with this stranger yelling at me to “leave.” I stood there in the middle of a damp crowd on a late Atlanta evening, not comprehending, the wind still and the vibrations of Coldplay’s “Yellow” filling the space in the air.

I didn’t say a thing.

I didn’t have to.

The crowd around us looked in amazement at this woman. Some of them spoke up to her, telling her she was wrong to talk to us like that. The group of people from Mexico City looked at her in disgust and, realizing from the look on my face that I must not be accustomed to what I was hearing, they turned toward me to offer support.

One of them, a young man, grabbed my hand and raised it high in the air.

“Estamos aqui,” he said, which translates to “We are here.”

It was the “Si se puede” moment.

The woman continued to taunt us for some minutes, but when we did not reciprocate her hatred, she stopped.

The band played a few more songs before ending the set, and the crowd dispersed across the park into the Saturday evening.

As I walked away, the woman and I locked eyes.

“I don’t think you understand who you said that to,” I told her. Thinking to myself, I am as American as you are.

“What,” she said laughing. “Are you some kind of celebrity or something?”

No. But like the Mexicans I was standing with, I am a human being. And I am home.

September 26, 2011

9/26 – – Immigrant student who sparked debate avoids a conviction |

Immigrant student who sparked debate avoids a conviction  |


Cobb County News 6:19 p.m. Monday, September 26, 2011
By Andria Simmons

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A former Kennesaw State University student who sparked controversy when she was arrested and nearly deported over a driving offense last year has avoided a criminal conviction by entering a pretrial diversion program.

Jessica Colotl in her attorney's office Monday, May 2, 2011.

Jessica Colotl in her attorney’s office Monday, May 2, 2011.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley signed an order Sept. 1 to dismiss a felony false swearing charge against Jessica Colotl, 23, as long as she successfully completes a pretrial diversion program. To enter the program, Colotl would have had to admit she lied to deputies about her address when being booked into the Cobb County jail on March 30, 2010, on a charge of driving without a license.

The order in the case was a surprise to Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren when he was told about it Monday.

“I am disappointed, but it is the district attorney’s job to prosecute and up to the courts to find someone guilty or not guilty,” Warren said. “I believe it sets a bad precedent that someone who is not only in the country illegally and commits the offense of false statement by lying to law enforcement officials is given nothing but a slap on the wrist.”

The program run by the Cobb County district attorney’s office is designed for first offenders who have committed crimes that did not result in injury to a victim and are non-drug related.

Details about the requirements are confidential until the program is completed. Typically, participants are required to perform community service and regular check-ins with the district attorney’s office. The program takes six months to a year to complete.

The offense of false swearing is punishable by imprisonment of one to five years in prison, although a judge could order that time to be served on probation.

Colotl’s defense attorney, Jerome Lee, said she was extremely grateful to be allowed to participate in the program.

“Hopefully, Jessica can now move on with the next phase of her life,” Lee said.

Colotl’s case became a flashpoint for debate on illegal immigration after she was stopped for a minor traffic violation on campus last year, arrested for driving without a license and nearly deported. A public outcry over the case prompted the Board of Regents to ban illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition rates from Georgia’s top public colleges.

News of the case being dead-docketed rankled Phil Kent, an anti-illegal immigration activist who was recently appointed to the state’s new Immigration Enforcement Review Board, which will have the power to investigate complaints that city, county and state officials are violating state immigration enforcement laws.

“This will be an injustice if allowed to stand — yet another example of ‘no illegal alien left behind’ when it comes to coddling their law-breaking,” said Kent. “And, of all people, Miss Colotl says she wants to be a lawyer and presumably uphold the rule of law.”

Colotl, a Mexico native whose parents brought her into the country when she was 11, has said she considers herself an American. She graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in political science in May and plans to attend law school to become an immigration lawyer.

She is working as an administrative assistant for her immigration attorney, Charles Kuck, who said she is “a very, very smart young woman — the kind of woman we need in the United States.”

Kuck said the federal government has granted her immigration case deferred status until next May, at which time she can apply for another deferment. Her participation in a pretrial diversion program will not affect her immigration status, he said.

Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head said he fully intended to prosecute Colotl until the federal government granted her immigration case deferred status, making her a legal resident and therefore eligible for pretrial diversion.

“I’m not going to treat her differently than I would treat any other legal resident,” Head said.

September 26, 2011

9/26 – Media Advisory – Remove Phil Kent from IERB Petition Press Conference – Google Docs

Media Advisory – Remove Phil Kent from IERB Petition Press Conference – Google Docs.

Media Advisory

“Remove Phil Kent from Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board”
3 PM   Sept. 27, 2011  Georgia State Capitol Rotunda

Press Contacts:    Steven Golden     301.706.7520
                         Erik Voss     404.457.5901

Event:         Press Conference
Location:     Georgia State Capitol – Inside the Rotunda
Date/Time:     Sept. 27th, 2011     3 PM
What:         Diverse Georgians demand extremist Phil Kent be removed from the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board (IERB) and ask for resignation of other board members.
A [etition will be delivered to Governor Nathan Deal demanding reversal of Phil Kent appointment to the IERB, Speakers will discuss IERB member diversity, HB 87, and issues related to Georgia immigration

Atlanta, GA – On Tuesday September 27th, a group of diverse Georgians will join for a press conference in the Georgia State Capitol Rotunda advocating for the removal of Phil Kent, a known extremist.

The press conference is called to demand that Governor Deal immediately remove Phil Kent from the new HB 87 created ‘Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board’ (IERB).  
We will deliver roughly 5,000 signatures on a petition in support of this demand for Phil Kent’s immediate removal from the IERB.

This IERB, created by controversial HB 87, is being given broad authority to, among other things, subpoena individuals working in Georgia state government agencies, as well as in other county and municipal governments positions, to force them to appear before IERB.  Furthermore, the IERB will investigate compliance with Georgia’s ‘immigration law,’ and levy fines those who have been found in violation.

Steve Golden, author of the petition ( created this online, and his petition demanding Phil Kent’s immediate removal that has drawn 5,000 signatures.  

Why has Nathan Deal shot himself in the foot by appointing a well known extremist to an important government review. This act delegitimizes the IERB and calls into question the Governor’s true motivations for signing the bill.

The petition will be delivered to Governor Nathan Deal’s office after being presented for examination to the media.

There will be presentations from various speakers and advocates.

End of Advisory

September 25, 2011

9/24 – redandblack – MAN ON THE STREET: immigration without representation

MAN ON THE STREET: immigration without representation

By on September 24, 2011

The seven members in the new Immigration Enforcement Review Board appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston are already attracting controversy, not because of their decisions but instead because of their lack of diversity. Seven white men will compromise the panel investigating complaints that government officials in Georgia are violating state immigration laws.

We hit the street to discover what students thought of the lack of diversity on the panel.

AALIA SHAHEED: junior broadcast journalism and Spanish major from Alpharetta. “I definitely think minorities should be a part of the board. I think the board should be reflective of the general population.”

VICTORIA BARKER: freshman international affairs and Russian major from Suwanee. “I think you have to have a group of people that accurately represents the population. The population in Georgia isn’t all white men, so that’s kind of biased.”

DUSTIN DANIEL: junior linguistics and French major from Sylvester. “We elected Governor Deal and we should trust his decisions.”

KRISTEN McGUFFIN: freshman advertising major from Kennesaw. “I definitely do think they should have a minority on the board because they need to get opinions from all sides of the spectrum.”

KATE HOUGHTON: senior international business and marketing major from Fayetteville. “On one hand, it’s fair because it is representative of that network, but on the other hand, I think they should have sought someone out that represented the goals they were trying to accomplish.”


September 18, 2011

9/7 – Georgia Report – This Kent appointment can’t end well

This Kent appointment can’t end well. ( )

This Kent appointment can’t end well

It seems that Georgia’s attempt to enact a state immigration law is one of those things that is going to keep on generating embarrassing media attention for the state.

Ever since Gov. Nathan Deal signed HB 87 into law back in May – on a Friday the 13th, fittingly enough – the blowback from the new law has been nearly all bad.

First there was the economic damage to Georgia’s largest industry, agriculture. Farmers all over the state, with crops ripening and due for harvest, could not find enough laborers to pick their fruits and vegetables. Migrant workers, who provide the bulk of the seasonal labor here, were avoiding Georgia because of concerns that they would be hassled or arrested under the new law.

Even Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, a Republican who’s tried his best not to embarrass his GOP colleagues who pushed through HB 87, came out with a survey that said farmers reported a shortage of at least 11,000 workers. In some instances, it has been reliably reported, farmers have chosen to plow up their crops because they had no way of getting them harvested and sent to market.

Another of the state’s important business segments, the restaurant and hospitality industry, has also been hampered by the lack of people needed to cook and prepare food.

In June, a group of civil rights organizations sued the state in U.S. District Court on the grounds that the immigration law was an unconstitutional preemption of federal authority. Judge Thomas Thrash agreed with them and blocked the enforcement of two major provisions of the law.

The next big shoe to drop concerned the appointment of an immigration review board that would receive complaints filed by registered voters who believe that local government agencies or officials are not enforcing the provisions of the immigration law.

Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and House Speaker David Ralston announced the seven appointments to the board late last week. While all seven appointees were white males, which seems to run counter to the diversity of the state’s population, six of the seven appointees did not appear to be people with any particular axe to grind on the immigration issue. One of Ralston’s choices, former legislator Robert Mumford, earned a reputation as a very decent, fair-minded person during his four years as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. That’s an important factor, considering that the board is a quasi-judicial panel with the authority to impose fines on those that it determines are violating the immigration law.

And then there was the seventh appointee named by Deal: GOP political activist and anti-immigration lobbyist Phil Kent.

I have known Phil for nearly 40 years now, since the days when we both worked at the same college newspaper. He is probably the most conservative person I’ve ever met, but I’ve always found him to be quite likable at the social level, someone with whom you might want to share a drink or a joke.

“He’s never been anything but polite and decent when I deal with him,” said Charles Kuck, an Atlanta lawyer who has often debated Kent in public forums on the immigration issue. “I really like him, actually, he’s a fun person to talk to.”

But Kent, a onetime columnist for the Augusta Chronicle who still writes columns for various publications, has left a long paper trail of comments that indicate he really does not care much for people who are not of the Caucasian persuasion. That editorial animosity extends to undocumented immigrants, especially those of the brown-skinned variety from Mexico.

Kent has the same rights as everyone else to his opinion, of course, but it’s more than a little odd that Deal would appoint a person who seems to have such a visceral dislike of non-white persons to a state immigration board that would be expected to give a fair and unbiased hearing both to those who file a complaint and those against whom a complaint is filed.

Bill Nigut, the former TV newsman who is now regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, is one of those who think Kent is a bad choice for such a state board and has written a letter to Deal asking him to reconsider that appointment.

“Mr. Kent’s fixation with maintaining white culture is deeply disturbing, and his resort to fear mongering about undocumented residents is equally abhorrent,” Nigut wrote.

“Both make him an unsuitable candidate to serve on any state panel or board, much less one dedicated to enforcing immigration laws,” Nigut added. “Georgia’s new immigration law has become a lightning rod for controversy. Mr. Kent’s presence on the Immigration Enforcement Review Board will simply stir up even more controversy and bring possible discredit to the state’s efforts to control illegal immigration.”

Kent, who has always been a hard-nosed political operative, came right back at Nigut with this statement: “I’m not surprised at the personal attack on me from a left-winger like Bill Nigut. He hates Georgia’s new immigration control law, the law’s compliance panel and me personally because of my writing and activism against the open borders lobby. A believer in the politics of personal destruction, Nigut takes selective quotes from my columns over the years to try undermining my work.”

I’ll have to disagree with Kent on this one. If you read his columns – some of which have appeared in mainstream publications like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – it’s difficult not to reach the conclusion that Kent is obsessed with protecting the “whiteness” of America’s culture from the influence of immigrants whose skin color might be a little darker.

In columns that are posted on his personal website, Kent has made these statements related to the threat posed by immigration and multiculturalism to America’s “whiteness” and his belief that the Mexican government is “actively working” to take over the United States –

From a May 15, 2010 column:

If this trend is not reversed– and it could be if an immigration moratorium were imposed– what Vassar College author Hua Hsu labels America’s white “centrifugal core” will slowly disappear. This leads to big questions: What will be the values and ideas of a multicultural America? What will it mean to be white after “whiteness” no longer defines the cultural mainstream? . . .

Many whites “will flee into whiteness.” They will move to where other fair-skinned brethren are to retain their identity— nostalgically yearning for an American authenticity where everyone speaks English. Politically, the country will become more balkanized, with white leaders forming and breaking alliances with their black and Hispanic counterparts. (An example: Gwinnett County— outside of Atlanta, Ga.— will turn into an Hispanic/Muslim enclave if present trends continue. Whites there are already moving to “friendlier” areas.)

From a January 4, 2010 column:

It is hard to be outraged at the rising tide of gang-related violence, but the recent two-hour rape and torture of a 15-year old white girl during her homecoming dance at Richmond High School in Richmond, Ca., by Mexican and black gangsters is an exceptional shocker. (Black and Hispanic gangs usually fight each other, yet share one bond– they hate and attack whites.) Witnesses reported over 20 other students cheered on the brutal attack. The victim’s school is 72 percent Mexican, 14 percent black, 12 percent Asian and only 2 percent white. One of the victim’s grief-stricken white friends told a reporter: “Here at this school my sister and I are the minorities, but to you, the minorities are what surrounds me.” Indeed, as the graph on the last page of The Middle American News underscores, if present trends continue by 2042 then whites will comprise just 46 percent of the U.S. population.

Unless there is a moratorium on legal immigration coupled with stepped-up enforcement efforts to significantly curb illegal immigration, then this country will be radically transformed demographically. It will be highlighted by more and more gang atrocities like that at Richmond High which, by the way, rarely occurred in the United States before “multiculturalism” and “open borders” became liberalism’s dominant dogmas.

From a July 20, 2011 column:

There is another aspect to the problem of multilingualism, underscored by this year’s release of new census data. Its origin goes back to 1975, when Congress foolishly expanded the Voting Rights Act by inserting bilingual ballot provisions for four so-called “language minorities”: American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives and citizens of Spanish heritage. . . .

It seems the only reason for the mandatory provision of foreign language ballots would be to encourage voting by non-citizens. Bilingual ballots undermine the value of citizenship and the integrity of the naturalization process by removing a major incentive for immigrants to learn English. Congress must therefore eliminate this outdated Voting Rights Act provision, especially since the nation is drowning in debt.

From a Sept. 3, 2003 column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Clearly, we have a broken system that lets hundreds of thousands of unskilled people into the United States at random to take jobs, burden the American economy and put little or nothing back into strained local, state and federal tax coffers.

This has to end. Deportation of illegals by the feds — with help from the states — must increase and Congress needs to reduce immigration back to more manageable numbers.

From a Nov. 9, 2010 column:

Instead of defending our homeland, the Obama administration’s Justice Department is suing Arizona over its tough new immigration law. The president is actually siding with criminals against besieged Americans – a scandal in itself.

That’s why a new Congress, hopefully populated by a majority of lawmakers who finally want to do something about federal inaction on border security and illegal immigration, should lock down the entire Mexican border with more effective fencing and barriers, adequate National Guard backup and funding for even more Border Patrol personnel and equipment.

From a Aug. 7, 2007 column in the Washington Times:

The annual entry of over one million illegal aliens from around the world, over 30 percent of them Mexicans sneaking across our southern border, obviously undercut homeland security efforts. Yet more Americans must understand that Mexico’s government, far from being a friend, is actively working to subvert our country’s laws and political institutions.

Not since the heyday of expansionist Soviet communism has there been such an organized effort to undermine our nation . . .

The Mexican government promotes reconquista in the Southwest. Isn’t it obvious in many areas that Mexicans are pushing out Americans, refusing to speak English and establishing de facto Mexican enclaves? . . .

The Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (“Institute of Mexicans Abroad”) has no respect for the internal affairs of our country. The Institute was created by decree of Mexican President Vicente Fox and reports to a shadowy clique within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its vast computer database is used to deploy illegal and legal Mexicans to lobby state legislatures, city councils and county commissions to recognize worthless matricula consular “identification” cards, support granting driver’s licenses to illegals, promote multilingualism at the expense of English and help Mexicans and their children sponge off U.S. services ranging from schools to medical care . . .

Mexico has an obligation to respect our laws, encourage its citizens to do the same and commit to securing its side of the border. Since it has not done so, isn’t it time to downgrade diplomatic relations by kicking Mexico’s ambassador out of the United States and recalling ours? President George W. Bush would never do this, but it is an action that candidates running for the 2008 presidential nomination ought to consider. It would be a timely wake-up call to protest that country’s insolent policies which are so damaging to our nation and its border security.

Tags: Charles Kuck , Georgia immigration law , Mexican conspiracy theories , multiculturalism , Nathan Deal , Phil Kent , white supremacy
September 14, 2011

9/13 – CBSAtlanta TV 46 – Students protest Ga. university system immigration policy – CBS Atlanta 46

Posted: Sep 13, 2011 8:34 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 13, 2011 3:02 PM EDT

By Blake Clancy
By Mandi Milligan


Students protested against a policy Tuesday that would require students to prove they are in the country legally before enrolling in schools within Georgia’s university system.

The group known as Georgia Students for Public Higher Education rallied at Georgia State University’s courtyard area and then march to the Board of Regents.

Part of the mission on the group’s website states: “We believe that all people deserve affordable, quality education and secure employment, from the student who studies to the person who cleans. We are opposed to all attacks on undocumented students and believe that no student is illegal.”

The Board said only one person has been denied admission because of their immigration status.

via Students protest Ga. university system immigration policy – CBS Atlanta 46.

September 13, 2011

9/14 – South Cobb Patch – Immigrant Activist Ends Hunger Strike after 70 Days – South Cobb, GA Patch

Immigrant Activist Ends Hunger Strike after 70 Days – South Cobb, GA Patch.

Salvador Zamora never had his meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal, but ended his fast on Friday after being found unresponsive.

Salvador Zamora, a Mexican immigrant who began a hunger strike in opposition to the state’s new immigration reform law, has ended his hunger strike after 70 days. He began the fast on July 1, the day House Bill 87 went into effect as law.

On Friday, Martin Altamirano, a 45-year-old Honduran native who participated in the hunger strike for 12 days, found Zamora unresponsive. He called 911. Emergency responders were able to revive Zamora and he was transported in an ambulance to the hospital where he recovered from dehydration.

“It scared me a lot,” Altamirano said.

Zamora is now at home as he continues his recovery.

Various immigrant rights’ supporters held a celebration of Zamora’s effort on Saturday and brought him food trays and various dishes.

Rich Pellegrino, director of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, stated in a release, “The hunger strike succeeded beyond all expectations in attracting the attention and support of people from all over Georgia, the nation and the world, who, inspired by the sacrifice of the hunger strikers, committed to offer their own sacrifices for this cause of human and immigrant rights.”

After delivering a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office in August, Zamora said he would not stop his hunger strike until he had a meeting with Deal. However, he never heard from Deal’s office and the governor’s communications staff never responded to Patch’s email and phone inquiries about a possible meeting between the two.

Pellegrino said Zamora’s supporters from his organization and Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights were encouraged that one of their stated goals was realized.  On Aug. 18, the Obama administration agreed to halt deportation of immigrants who were not criminals, but are “low-priority immigrants like Dream Act-eligible students or those who have familial ties in the country. They would have their cases reviewed, if already involved in deportation proceedings, and possibly be given work permits.

Pellegrino stated this announcement from the Obama administration is “an encouraging first step towards Comprehensive Immigration Reform at the federal level and the dismantling of misguided state laws like HB87.”

Zamora and Altamirano have plans to bring their message to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in hopes that they can find allies there.

Additionally, the duo and their supporters will continue delivering information to immigrants about the new law, and are orchestrating more demonstrations across the country, Altamirano explained.

“We will continue with the pro-immigrant movement and look for ways to continue sending the message to American society…We will continue looking for more people to start a hunger strike in a different state,” said Altamirano.

Do you think another hunger strike in another state will help the immigrant activists’ cause? Tell us in the comments.
September 10, 2011

9/9 – Washington Independent – Petition circulates to remove restrictionist activist from new Georgia immigration review board | The Washington Independent

By Nicolas Mendoza | 09.09.11 | 1:59 pm

Immigrant rights activists are condemning Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal for appointing Phil Kent, spokesperson for the restrictionist group Americans for Immigration Control, to a seat on a government board created under the state’s new immigration law. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Kent’s critics have started a petition drive to oust him from the Immigration Enforcement Review Board. Started by Steve Golden of the Young Democrats of Georgia, the petition calls Kent a “nativist” who uses “intense racist imagery to convey his terrible beliefs.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had attracted more than 1,800 signatures. Golden said he plans to present them to Deal. A spokesman for Deal declined to comment Thursday. Kent dismissed the petition as a “fundraising tool” for one of his other critics, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which he calls a “radical left-wing group.”

Kent’s board has been attracting controversy since last Friday, when Deal announced Kent and the other six men who have been appointed to serve on the panel. That same day, the SPLC condemned Kent’s appointment. The SPLC has long labeled the organization for which Kent is the national spokesman – Americans for Immigration Control – a hate group.

The Anti-Defamation League is pointing to columns written by Kent which bemoan the growing number of non-white people in America as evidence that he should be removed from his new job:

In one column regarding estimates that minorities could overtake the white population by 2050, Kent wrote: “What will be the values and ideas of a multicultural America? What will it mean to be white after ‘whiteness’ no longer defines the cultural mainstream?” Kent also predicted “many whites ‘will flee into whiteness.’ They will move to where other fair-skinned brethren are to retain their identity — nostalgically yearning for an American authenticity where everyone speaks English.”

According to Media Matters, Kent at one point accused President Barack Obama of being a ”dangerous, anti-white multiculturalist.” Before working for Americans for Immigration Control, Kent was a press secretary for the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Under Georgia’s new immigration law, which went into effect on August 1, the review board hears complaints from citizens about whether the law is being enforced by all relevant state and municipal government agencies. It has the power to subpoena witnesses, write new regulations and penalize officials, with punishments including “revocation of qualified local government status, loss of state appropriated funds, and a monetary fine of not… more than $5,000.00.” The intent of the board is to prevent the emergence of so-called “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants, a common fear of conservatives and restrictionist groups.

The board is also being criticized — for being composed exclusively of white men — by the head of Georgia’s Legislative Black Caucus, State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur). The governor appointed three of the board members, including Kent, and the lieutenant governor and state House speaker each chose two.

Although two provisions of the Georgia immigration law were blocked by a federal judge pending a decision on the constitutionality of the “papers, please” laws by higher courts, other parts of the law have already gone into effect. These include a provision criminalizing applying to a job with a false I.D., punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

via Petition circulates to remove restrictionist activist from new Georgia immigration review board | The Washington Independent.

September 7, 2011

9/7 – AJC – Immigration enforcement panel attracts controversy |

Immigration enforcement panel attracts controversy  |

Metro Atlanta / State News 6:47 p.m. Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A powerful new panel aimed at helping curb illegal immigration in Georgia has yet to hold its first meeting but it is already attracting controversy.

The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday called on Gov. Nathan Deal to reconsider his decision to appoint anti-illegal immigration activist Phil Kent to the panel, saying Kent has a history of making “deeply disturbing” comments about immigrants. During in an interview on Wednesday, the head of Georgia’s Legislative Black Caucus also blasted the panel for not being more diverse. All seven of its members are white men.

Kent dismissed the ADL’s criticism, calling the organization a “left wing group.” A spokesman for the governor declined to comment on the ADL’s request concerning Kent but said the board’s members include people with different professions and viewpoints.

The Immigration Enforcement Review Board is expected to hold its first meeting and adopt its procedures before Oct. 1. It will have the power to investigate complaints that city, county and state officials are violating state immigration enforcement laws, hold hearings, subpoena documents, adopt regulations and hand out punishment.

The panel stems from Georgia’s new immigration enforcement law (House Bill 87), much of which went into effect July 1. The ADL filed court papers in June in support of efforts to halt that law. Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, named their appointments to the panel Friday.

Among the three men Deal appointed to the board is Kent, the national spokesman of Americans for Immigration Control, which supports strict enforcement of immigration laws. In a letter to Deal on Thursday, the ADL pointed to columns Kent wrote on his website ( about America becoming more multicultural.

In one column regarding estimates that minorities could overtake the white population by 2050, Kent wrote: “What will be the values and ideas of a multicultural America? What will it mean to be white after ‘whiteness’ no longer defines the cultural mainstream?” Kent also predicted “many whites ‘will flee into whiteness.’ They will move to where other fair-skinned brethren are to retain their identity — nostalgically yearning for an American authenticity where everyone speaks English.”

The ADL pointed to another column Kent wrote that quotes Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, saying, “Those in Congress and in the administration who have failed to fix our broken border have allowed the influx of 595,000 violent criminal aliens now threatening our cities, suburbs and even rural communities that are seeing the effects of the Mexican cartel-driven drug trade.”

“Mr. Kent’s fixation with maintaining white culture is deeply disturbing and his resort to fear-mongering about undocumented residents is equally abhorrent,” Bill Nigut, the ADL’s southeast regional director, wrote in his letter to Deal.

Kent on Wednesday said the ADL “opposed Georgia’s new immigration control law. They don’t like the law’s compliance panel. And they don’t like me.”

“I make no apologies for my work over the years to try to have strict enforcement of immigration laws,” Kent added.

State Sen. Emanuel Jones, a Democrat from Decatur and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, criticized the lack of minorities on Kent’s panel.

“That’s not Georgia. Georgia isn’t comprised of all white men,” Jones said of the panel’s membership. “If the governor is concerned about true immigration reform, he would have appointed some Latinos to that panel so it would have divergent viewpoints instead of [being] one-sided.”

Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the governor, said the members include people from different backgrounds. Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager, Dallas, Ga., Mayor Boyd Austin, Colquitt County Commissioner Terry Clark, Atlanta attorney Ben Vinson, former state legislator Robert Mumford and Shawn Hanley, former candidate for the state GOP chairmanship, have been appointed.

“It was important that we appoint advocates for the law because we need people who want to enforce it,” Robinson said. “It would make no sense to appoint people who hate the law and want to undermine it.”


September 7, 2011

9/7 – CL Atlanta – Anti-Defamation League asks Deal to reconsider Kent appointment | Atlanta News & Opinion Blog | Fresh Loaf | Creative Loafing Atlanta

Anti-Defamation League asks Deal to reconsider Kent appointment | Atlanta News & Opinion Blog | Fresh Loaf | Creative Loafing Atlanta.

Posted by Thomas Wheatley on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Bill Night, the southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, has asked Gov. Nathan Deal to reconsider his appointment of conservative columnist Phil Kent to a seven-member board tasked with sanctioning government agencies that fail to enforce Georgia’s new immigration law.

Nigut’s full letter to Deal follows below.

September 7, 2011

Governor Nathan Deal
Georgia State Capitol
Atlanta, GA

Dear Governor Deal,

As Southeast Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, I write to respectfully request that you reexamine your decision to appoint Phil Kent to the state’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board. While ADL recognizes your desire to name to the board appointees who support and will uphold Georgia’s new immigration statute, we are concerned about Mr. Kent’s history of making inflammatory and deeply disturbing comments about immigrants, both legal and undocumented. We believe it is likely that his presence on the board will undermine its authority, suggesting that the board’s agenda will not be simply to assure compliance with the new statute, but rather to pursue an anti-immigrant political agenda.

Mr. Kent suggests that citizens should fear that America is becoming a multi-cultural nation that will soon see minorities overtake “the white population.” He asks in a column posted to his web site last year: “What will be the values and ideas of a multicultural America? What will it mean to be white after ‘whiteness’ no longer defines the cultural mainstream?” He fears that whites will “flee into whiteness. They will move to where other fair-skinned brethren are to retain their identity — nostalgically yearning for an American authenticity where everyone speaks English.” On other occasions, Mr. Kent has equally disturbing views about minorities. For instance, he often tries to paint all illegal residents with the taint of criminality, perpetuating the dubious contention that “violent criminal aliens are now threatening our cities and suburbs.”Mr. Kent’s fixation with maintaining white culture is deeply disturbing, and his resort to fear mongering about undocumented residents is equally abhorrent. Georgia’s new immigration law has become a lightning rod for controversy. We ask that you weigh carefully whether Mr. Kent’s presence on the Immigration Enforcement Review Board will simply stir up even more controversy and bring possible discredit to the state’s efforts to control illegal immigration.

Sincerely yours,

Bill Nigut
Southeast Regional Director, ADL”

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