Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Luis Palau at Christ Church Nashville on Sunday; CityFest in May announced that internationally renowned multicultural evangelist Luis Palau is coming to Christ Church this Sunday. One purpose of Palau's visit is to generate support for the Nashville CityFest, an evangelism festival scheduled for May 19 & 20, according to this calendar.


A man, who crosses the multi-cultural lines, also brings a message of hope and love to millions all over the world.

Luis Palau, native Argentinean, has been called the Latin-worlds Billy Graham. He is an innovative evangelist that focuses mainly on community in each city he visits. Every year there are several festivals that bring great music, fun games, extreme sports and the Gospel all together.

This Sunday, February 4th, Luis Palau will be speaking at Christ Church Nashville, 15354 Old Hickory Blvd., at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. services.

These festivals attract huge crowds in cities all over the world. The festivals are always free event, entertaining for the whole family and open to the public.

We want to attract the un-churched, and we want them to encounter God, and bring them all to Christ and to understand and to connect. We also want to unite and energize the church community wherever we go, said Palau.

This non-traditional evangelism is what makes Palau's festivals so attractive, especially to young people. The events include full multi-media productions featuring some of the biggest names in Christian music. In each city, a large skate park is also set up that showcases some of the top athletes in extreme sports such as skateboarding, BMX and motocross. These events are hosted by actor Stephen Baldwin. The festival does not leave out the children. There is also a big play area and family fun zone that includes some favorite VeggieTales.

Today's young people understand music and technology, but few have an understanding of what a life walked in faith can produce. They don't know the person of Jesus Christ - that He is alive, that He is divine, and that He wants everyone to know Him personally, Palau said.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Free tickets to Pan's Labyrinth

Acclaimed Spanish-language film at Belcourt through Thursday

The Belcourt Theater has been showing Pan's Labyrinth, a fantasy tale by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and the run (unless extended) ends Thursday. The film has been widely praised (see press release below and local comments here via the Nashville Scene), and the Hispanic Nashville Notebook is offering readers two free tickets (see below).

EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO/PAN'S LABYRINTH (in Spanish with English subtitles), the new critically acclaimed film by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is showing at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville. The movie was nominated for six Oscars - Achievement in Art Direction, Achievement in Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, Achievement in Makeup, Best Original Score, and Best Original Screenplay. Other nominations include Best Feature and Best Cinematography at the Independent Spirit Awards 2007, and Best Foreign Language Film 2006 Golden Globes. It won Best Film 2006 by the National Society of Film Critics and was featured at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

Showtimes at the Belcourt are: Mon-Thu, Jan. 29th-Feb. 1st @ 5:00, 7:20, 9:40 Belcourt 615-383-9140.

To be eligible to win two (2) free tickets, send an e-mail with "movie" in the subject to the editor along with your name, your preferred showtime, and at least one original photo of Hispanic Nashville (people, places, events, etc.) plus a description of the photo and where it was taken. Entrants must own the copyright to the photos they submit. Upon submission the photos become property of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook and may be published anywhere, including in the Hispanic Nashville Scrapbook. The winner will be chosen at the sole discretion of the editor. Tickets will be made available for pickup in the Nashville area during business hours.

Abintra Montessori: Spanish immersion for children at full capacity

Amy Napier Viteri at WKRN produced this video profile of the Spanish immersion program at Nashville's Abintra Montessori School. The program is at full capacity for this year and next year.

The story features an interview with Spanish Guide Patricia Salazar. The school's web site includes a description of the program:

In Abintra's Spanish Immersion classroom, the Montessori curriculum is presented entirely in Spanish. Adults speak only Spanish; children are free to speak in whatever language they feel comfortable. This provides an opportunity for children to learn a second language in a completely natural environment. This also enables children to take advantage of their critical period for native-style language acquisition. Additional support staff is provided to ensure that students receive pre-reading and writing skills in English as well.

Research shows that when children learn a second language before the developmental window closes, they enhance their own native language skills as well. They also increase their creativity, enhance their verbal and mathematical problem solving skills, and acquire advantages in concept formation ("Early Childhood Bilingualism in the Montessori Children's House," Montessori LIFE, Spring 1998). These skills contribute profoundly to a child's self-esteem and his or her sense of values. They prepare the child for life in the multi-cultural, multi-lingual world of the 21st century.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mario Ramos recognized for "outstanding advocacy" by American Immigration Lawyers Association

From the December 26, 2006 edition of the AILA publication The Pulse:

Featured Activist
Mario Ramos, Mid-South Chapter

AILA Advocacy can be just as easy and routine as getting your coffee fix. AILA Mid-South Chapter member Mario Ramos met one key staff person from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce for coffee one time and introduced him to the issue of immigration. Two more meetings and two more months later, executive members of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce came to Washington, D.C., to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform. Read about Mario's outstanding advocacy on pages 6 & 7 of the July/August 2006 issue of AILA's Dispatch.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Progreso Community Center opens

Hispanic Community Group of TennesseeThe Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT) issued this press release announcing the opening of its Progreso Community Center:

HCGT inaugurated its Progreso Community Center on January 16, 2007, with around 70 people from the Hispanic community and general community in attendance.

Upcoming activities at the Progreso Community Center include:

1. Meeting of the Nashville Latino Health Coalition (NLHC) on January 30, 2007, at 6:30 p.m.
2. English classes beginning on February 1, 2007, on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Juan Canedo, President of HCGT, mentioned that this community group was founded on February 22, 2006, and it is the first Hispanic grassroots membership organization in Nashville, Tennessee. HCGT operates under a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.

Canedo also said that this community group was created out of the need for a democratic and participatory membership organization in the Hispanic community. Therefore, HCGT’s motto is “voice and vote for each member.”

He explained that the creation of HCGT was conceived and led by diverse members of the Hispanic community, such as day laborers, owners and employees of small businesses, and women workers.

Their organizing capacity has been manifested through collective community action processes that achieved social changes for the benefit of the Hispanic community, in particular, and the Nashville community in general.

Francisco Reyes, an HCGT member, said, “I want to invite every one in the community to become members, too, and help each other.” Membership in HCGT is free and open to the public.

Progreso Community Center is located at 2720 Nolensville Pike, Suite 210, near Thompson Lane, Nashville, in the heart of the Hispanic community.

To obtain more information about Progreso Community Center, HCGT membership, English classes, and other community activities, call (615) 587-0365, visit the website ( or write to

Pictures of the opening are posted in the Hispanic Nashville Scrapbook on

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Country music Hispanic study presentation scheduled for March 1

Country Radio Seminar 38 offers education, networking in one-day package

In an effort to open its doors to those who normally could not commit to the three full days of Country Radio Seminar 38 (CRS-38), Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc. (CRB) is once again offering attendees the option of purchasing the Spring Town Meeting package.

The Spring Town Meeting, sponsored by BMI, will be held on Thursday, March 1, 2007. This special offer is specifically designed to give music industry professionals the opportunity to participate in a portion of the convention at a nominal cost. The initiative will include a panel discussion, performances and great networking opportunities.

Registration for the Spring Town Meeting package is only $85 until February 2, 2007. The on-site price after February 2 will be $110. The package will encompass the following segments:

Hispanic Study Presentation (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM) - The results from the first-ever study of Hispanic Americans and their relationship with Country Radio and Country Music are in! The study analyzes Census statistics and Arbitron data, combined with an original nationally sampled survey of Hispanic Americans and one-on-one in-depth interviews with Hispanics aged 12-49.

No Holds Barred (Rap Session) (3:15 PM - 4:10 PM) - Sit back and relax for an open, honest discussion with the gatekeepers in YOUR business. Bob Kingsley of Bob Kingsley's Top 40 asks the questions as Scott Lindy/Sirius Satellite, Mike Dungan/Capitol Nashville, Luke Lewis/UMG, Charlie Cook/Cumulus Media and Clay walker/Curb/Asylum sit at the bar and share their thoughts and concerns on Country's past, present and future.

BMI WCRS LIVE! (4:15 PM - 5:45 PM) - Co-sponsored by Country Aircheck, this showcase will feature acoustic performances by top singer/song-writers Sarah Buxton, Pat Green, Mac Davis and the show's host, Jeffrey Steele.

BMI Exhibit Area Networking Hour (6:00 PM - 7:00 PM) - Thursday Happy Hour is directly after WCRS Live! in the Exhibit Area.

"Country radio remains the primary source of exposure for Country songs, recordings and artists. Country Radio Broadcasters is providing this low cost way for all those in the Country Music industry who cannot attend the entire Country Radio Seminar to interact with radio stations who attend from all over America," said Ed Salamon, Country Radio Broadcasters' Executive Director. "I often hear misconceptions repeated about how radio selects and programs its music, and The Spring Town Meeting is an excellent opportunity for writers, producers, artists and others to talk directly to radio. This year's Spring Town Meeting attendees will also be the first in the industry to hear about the Country Radio Broadcasters' new study opportunities for Country music with Hispanics."

CRS-38 will be held February 28 through March 2, 2007 at the Nashville Convention Center. To register for the Spring Town Meeting package, and for complete seminar information, contact CRB, Inc. at 615.327.4487 or by visiting Country Radio Seminar is a registered trademark of Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Melo takes local anchor post at Telefutura

Still the only Spanish-language network in Nashville with locally developed content

Telemundo seeking input

Univision launch delayed

Solo Nashville/Telefutura Channel 42 announced in the following press release that Eva Melo has assumed the local news anchor position at that station. As reported recently here in the Nashville Scene, Telefutura is the only Spanish-language TV station in Nashville with local news programming, created through a partnership with WTVF-Channel 5. The other locally-based Spanish-language TV station is Telemundo, which partners with WSMV-Channel 4. Telemundo is exploring the possibility of locally created content and intends to consult with Hispanic members of the Nashville community before creating a local product, but none is currently available. A third Spanish-language station, Univision, is in the wings and was originally expected to arrive in January 2007 (story here). The Scene says that Univision will arrive later this year and will produce local content.

Here is the Telefutura press release:

Eva Melo is the new presenter of Telefutura 42's nightly news program, Noticias Locales.

Eva Melo is heavily involved with middle Tennessee's Hispanic community through her work as President of the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and publisher of Nashville's only bilingual entertainment guide, 'Que Pasa en Tennessee'.
Melo is delighted to be part of Telefutura 42's local news service. "The local news on Telefutura 42 is a very valuable service for our Nashville community. It is vital that Hispanics know what is happening in their city and the daily news service keeps everyone informed and connected.We are looking to expand the news coverage in 2007 so this is a very exciting time to be working for Telefutura 42."

For those outside the broadcast area, the daily newscast can be viewed on Scroll down toward the bottom of the homepage and click on the most recent date under Noticias A Su Alcance.

Telefutura 42 first began broadcasting in February 2004 and is the only Spanish language TV station in Nashville with local news and programming. Telefutura 42 features first-class family entertainment programming that includes original Latin American talk shows, news briefs, variety shows, soap operas, movies, sports, and local programming. For more information about programming visit

Monday, January 22, 2007

Medieval Spain, Argentine Tango, border ballads, and immigration forum: a busy week in Hispanic Nashville

Monday: immigration forum at University School of Nashville

"Making sense of the debate"

Monday, January 22, from 7 – 9 p.m.

University School of Nashville Auditorium
2000 Edgehill Avenue
Nashville, TN 37212

Please join us for an educational forum designed to illuminate the complex and emotionally-charged rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate. This session will center on a thoughtful and constructive conversation on immigration and the positive steps that can be taken to address the problems associated with illegal immigration. The forum will address:

· the history of immigration in America

· the influence immigration has had on the democratic process

· current trends in immigration in Nashville, Tennessee, and the nation

· the impact of immigration on the US economy

· the national and local legislation being proposed

· alternative solutions to the problems and challenges at hand

Presenters include Dr. Katharine Donato (Vanderbilt Professor of Sociology), Stephen Fotopulos (Policy Director – Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition), Tom Negri (Tennessee Hotel Association/General Manager Loews Vanderbilt Hotel), and members of the immigrant community. The panel discussion and audience participation will be moderated by Caroline Blackwell, Director of Multicultural Affairs, University School of Nashville.

The forum is being sponsored by University School of Nashville’s Office of Multicultural Affairs in partnership with the Coalition for Education and Informed Conversation on Immigration.

Catholic Charities, Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation, Conexion Americas, Fisk University Race Relations Institute, Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Jewish Family Service, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Human Relations Commission, Nashville Peace and Justice Center, National Conference of Community and Justice—Middle Tennessee, Scarritt-Bennett Center, Tennessee AFL-CIO, Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Hispanic Voters Coalition, Tennessee Hotel and Lodging Association, Tennessee Human Rights Commission, TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Woodbine Community Organization

For more information about this event, contact Caroline Blackwell at (615) 277-7480 or at The forum is free and open to public.

Thursday: Border-crossing composer drives story in "Al Otro Lado," showing at Vanderbilt

Director will be present for discussion

The Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies Spring Film & Speaker Series presents "Al Otro Lado" (To the Other Side, 2005) on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Buttrick 101. This film tells the story behind illegal immigration and drug trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico through the eyes of Magdiel, a 23-year old fisherman and aspiring composer who dreams of a better life.

As movingly chronicled in "Al Otro Lado," Natalia Almada's debut feature, the border is a place where one people's dreams collide with another people's politics, and the 200-year-old tradition of corrido music vibrantly chronicles it all. In fact, if you really want to understand what is happening on the U.S./Mexico border, listen to the corridos, troubadour-like ballads that have become the voice of people whose views are rarely heard in mainstream media.

A discussion of the film with director Natalia Almada will follow the screening.

Thursday: Tango Nashville's second monthly Milonga

A new twist for dance group

Tango Nashville is already on the dance floor in 2007, having held beginner, intermediate and advanced classes and one Milonga already. The group has will hold its second January Milonga this Thursday, January 25 and has announced various special events for dance-minded Nashvillians this year:

NEW in 2007: TWO Monthly 'Milongas'!!
New: 2nd. Sunday of each month: 4 to 6 pm
As always: 4th. Thursday of each month: 7 to 9 pm

By popular demand, we have added a new date and time to share your Tango spirit and moves!
Here's the skinny for January 2007:

Thursday, January 25, 2007
7 to 9 pm
Ibiza Night Club
15128 Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, TN 37211
(almost corner with Nolensville Pike, in the Hickory Trace Village strip mall where the Sherwin Williams store is).
Practice and show off your Tango! Socialize and relax, while dancing to a great selection of Tango music.
Tickets are:
$12 per person for non-Tango Nashville members
$8 per person for Tango Nashville members



Saturday, February 3, 2007
4:30 to 7:30 pm
'Tango & Art', in partnership with the Tennessee Art League

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
6:30 to 8:30 pm
'Tango & Romance' @ the Nashville City Club

June 2007
'Tango & Wine'

Saturday, August 18, 2007
'Tango & Country' - Our Annual Fundraiser

For information about classes, visit the Tango Nashville web site at

Photo credit: FangFangMM

Thursday: Austin Peay Spanish Professor Dr. Miguel Ruiz-Aviles speaks at Charlemos Spanish on "Medieval Spain: Model of Tolerance"

Dr. Miguel R. Ruiz-Avilés will speak, in Spanish, on Medieval Spain as a model of religious tolerance for the present day at Charlemos Spanish on Thursday 25 January. Charlemos Spanish meets the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Palette Gallery and Cafe at 2119 Belcourt Avenue in Hillsboro Village. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Ruiz is an Associate Professor of Spanish; the Director of the Hispanic Cultural Center; and the Coordinator of the Study Abroad Program in Spain for the Department of Languages and Literature at Austin Peay State University. He is originally from Puerto Rico.

“Miguel has some very interesting ideas and is a dynamic speaker”, said Charlemos president, Elizabeth Worrell Braswell. “This is an opportunity to hear about one of the most fascinating periods of Spanish history, from an expert”, added Braswell.

“In 711, Spain began the first European renaissance. Jews, Muslims and Christians were allowed, for the most part, to freely practice their religions and many Jews and Christians held important post in the Moorish government of the time. Today, when we are looking for political, military or social solutions to the problems in the Middle East, Spain could very well serve as a model that needs to be studied in more depth”, explained Miguel.

Charlemos Spanish is a social conversation group, for all levels of Spanish-speakers, created in December 2006 by the Spanish Committee of Sister Cities of Nashville, a nonprofit organization, founded in 1990, dedicated to the promotion of global understanding through educational, professional and cultural exchanges.

Mayor Bill Purcell is the Honorary Chair for Sister Cities of Nashville.

Charlemos Spanish is for persons who wish to:
* Speak Spanish on a regular basis
* Make bilingual friends
* Learn more about Hispanic culture.

Founding members of Charlemos Spanish include—
* Claudia Villavicencio, Spanish teacher at MBA, Montgomery Bell Academy
* Kim Sorensen, Online Producer at CMT, Country Music Television
* Diana Holland, President of Tango Nashville, and a Hispanic cross-cultural consultant
* Elizabeth Worrell Braswell, online Spanish instructor for Austin Peay State University, president of Charlemos Spanish.

For directions and more information on the gallery go to:

Photo credit: Ruth Lozano

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

Friday, January 19, 2007

"Illegal" noun in Tennessean headline

National Association of Hispanic Journalists "particularly troubled" by the practice

A headline in today's Tennessean features the word "illegal" as a noun. In March 2006, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists called for the media to discontinue such usage:

"As protesters march in the streets and debate intensifies in Congress over how to fix the nation’s immigration laws, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls on our nation’s news media to use accurate terminology in its coverage of immigration and to stop dehumanizing undocumented immigrants."

"NAHJ is concerned with the increasing use of pejorative terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word 'illegals' as a noun, shorthand for 'illegal aliens'. Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use 'illegals' in headlines."

"Shortening the term in this way also stereotypes undocumented people who are in the United States as having committed a crime. Under current U.S. immigration law, being an undocumented immigrant is not a crime, it is a civil violation. Furthermore, an estimated 40 percent of all undocumented people living in the U.S. are visa overstayers, meaning they did not illegally cross the U.S. border."

The underling story in the Tennessean did not contain the usage of the word "illegal" as a noun, except in a direct quote. Newspaper headlines are often written by copywriters or other newspaper personnel and not the reporter.

Source: National Association of Hispanic Journalists press release

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gabriela Lena Frank performance lecture today at Blair, joins Nashville Symphony tonight through Saturday

Incorporates Latino/Latin American themes

Peruvian-Jewish-Chinese heritage

Part of series sponsored by Nashville's ALIAS

"Honesty and genius ... unself-conscious craft and mastery ... brilliantly effective ... striking, original ... luminous"

As part of the Double Take series, ALIAS and the Nashville Symphony are pleased to present a performance lecture with composer Gabriela Lena Frank, who will speak about her string quartet, Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout.

The lecture will be held Thursday, January 18, at 3:00pm in Turner Recital Hall at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. Admission is free.

Starting Thursday evening and continuing through Saturday, join the Nashville Symphony as they perform Ms. Frank's work Manchay Tiempo. Also on the program are works by Shostakovich and Prokofiev. This is a rare opportunity to hear how a living composer approaches the composition of both symphonic and chamber works.

According to her publisher, "Composer and pianist Gabriela Lena Frank has been hailed as representing 'the next generation of American composers.' She regularly draws on and incorporates Latino/Latin American mythology, archeology, art, poetry, and folk music into western classical forms, reflecting her Peruvian-Jewish-Chinese heritage. Her compositions exhibit 'honesty and genius' (Springfield Union-News), 'unself-conscious craft and mastery' (Washington Post), and 'brilliantly effective writing' (New York Times); and have furthermore been described as 'striking, original' (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), and 'luminous... bursting with fresh originality' (Los Angeles Times). Her work Los Sombras de los Apus for cello quartet was recently elected to Chamber Music America's list of 'Top One Hundred and One Great American Ensemble Works.'"

ALIAS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit chamber ensemble dedicated to an innovative repertoire, artistic excellence, and a desire to give back to the community. Its wide-ranging repertoire brings Nashville audiences a mix of chamber music that cannot be heard anywhere else, and its education and community programs enrich the lives of Nashville's students, families, and diverse communities with the gift of chamber music.

ALIAS is sponsored in part by the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, the Nashville Scene, and Ventures Public Relations. For more information, visit

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Governor Bredesen leads the way for ongoing immigrant policy discussion without rhetoric against Spanish-speakers and foreign-born

Among growing number of statesmen from both parties demanding standards in debate

Sloppy oppositions cross into "very, very bad territory"

In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press about his agenda for his second term, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen defined boundaries for public dialogue in regard to immigrants, saying that opposition to Spanish-speakers and the foreign-born in general goes too far.

"Anticipating further discussion about immigration reform in this year’s legislative session, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said earlier this week that he hopes for an approach that balances the need to crack down on illegal immigration with avoiding discrimination against Hispanics."

"'Illegal immigration is bad. It is OK to fight it,' he said. 'But when that starts slopping over into ‘We’re opposed to anybody who speaks Spanish or we’re opposed to anybody who’s not American-born,’ I think you get into very, very bad territory. And there’s been some of that.'"

In 2005, it was said of Bredesen that he was not "tuned in to the animosity" related to immigrants (story here), but Bredesen's recent comments prove otherwise. He has heard the animosity and believes there is a better way for Tennessee.

Bredesen's political opponents previously believed that his failure to "tune in" to the negative rhetoric would be a political liability in his re-election bid (same story cited above). Also, see earlier stories from the Hispanic Nashville Notebook about the fanning of anger in Tennessee for political gain (here and here).

Leaders across the political spectrum, however, have warned against sloppy negative rhetoric, including Nashville's Democratic U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (story here), Republican and former Bush official Leslie Sanchez (story here), and President Bush himself:

"America needs to conduct this debate on immigration in a reasoned and respectful tone. Feelings run deep on this issue, and as we work it out, all of us need to keep some things in mind. We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain."

"We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say."

- President George W. Bush, May 15, 2006

Bredesen won his re-election bid. The sloppy, divisive rhetoric about immigrants did not work against him, and now that he has a second term in which to govern, the Governor has set the tone for the work to come.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gregg Ramos hosts David Briley mayoral campaign fundraiser January 17

Briley speaks Spanish, has experience in Latin America

Gregg Ramos will host a fundraiser for mayoral candidate David Briley at Ramos' home this Wednesday evening, January 17, starting at 5:30 p.m. The address is 9454 Chaucer’s Court, Brentwood, Tennessee. Call 370-8526 for more information.

Briley's campaign web site describes his experience in Central and South America:

"After graduating from college, I traveled to Latin America to volunteer as a teacher in impoverished areas of Ecuador and Peru. In that time, I worked on becoming fluent in Spanish and on understanding the complex cultural and economic relations between our societies." There is also a picture on the site of Briley during his time in Ecuador.

Briley is the grandson of Metro Nashville's first mayor Beverly Briley and is currently a councilman-at-large. Ramos is an attorney and a former president of the Nashville Bar Association.

Ramos is not the only politically active Hispanic leader hosting a fundraiser for a mayoral candidate. Businessman Salvador Guzman has announced that he plans to hold a mayoral campaign fundraiser for Howard Genry (campaign web site here). The original date for that fundraiser was postponed, and no new date has been set. Gentry is currently Vice Mayor.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr. services today

Nashville Area Chamber participates in march at 10am

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce urged its members and friends to attend an event today to celebrate the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Details of the Chamber's own "Day of Unity" portion of the city-wide MLK march are listed below, and the Tennessean has a list here of other events throughout the week.

A Day of Unity in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
Monday, January 15, 2007, 10:00 am
Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church
2708 Jefferson Street , 37208
Ph: 329-2990

We will gather at the Church and will march together to the Gentry Center on the campus of Tennessee State University for an 11:00 a.m. Convocation program.

Should you have any questions please contact IMF (Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship) President, Bishop George Price at 615/244-0607 or 615/277-1773

We look forward to seeing you there.
Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Recipients of the 2006 Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards

Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards 2006

We hold tight to what we love

The recipients of the inaugural Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards are announced below.

Each recipient was nominated by the readers of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook for noteworthy contributions to the Hispanic community in Nashville (see call for nominations here). Although the awards were wide open for nominations of any kind, the nominee had to be noteworthy and in the Hispanic community in Nashville. There was no requirement that service to the community the primary focus of the nomination - the more mundane contributions such as favorite foods and neighborhoods were fair game - but the nominations this year were overwhelmingly focused on community service.

The awards are based on the idea that "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things." In other words, we hold tight to what we love. And while there are many important contributions to the Hispanic community in Nashville who are not on this list, these recipients of the awards were chosen for special recognition this year.

Here are the 2006 recipients of the Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards:


Noteworthy in Education (Youth)
For educating and orienting Hispanic youths into the fabric of American society, without surrendering their Hispanic culture, values, or identity, in order to improve the social and economic conditions in their communities


Noteworthy in Education (Children)
For ensuring a successful future for children by motivating them to love learning


Noteworthy in Education (Adults)
For nurturing grassroots leaders


Noteworthy in Social Unity
For uniting persons who speak and want to speak Spanish, at the same time promoting "all things Hispanic"

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Franklin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Noteworthy in Advocacy
For generously giving their time to assist not just the business community but also the man and woman on the street

Congratulations to all, and thank you to the readers of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook who submitted nominations. Let us remember on this day of honoring the life and contributions of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. that all people, not only our friends but also those who could be defined as our enemies, have something noteworthy inside - or in the words of Rev. James Lawson, "a spark of God" - and that we must always treat those around us as we want to be treated.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hispanic congregation shares MLK event podium with Rev. James Lawson

Lawson jailed repeatedly for nonviolent lawbreaking; expelled by Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1960; King called him "the leading nonviolence theorist in the world"

The Tennessean reports that the choir of a local Hispanic congregation will share the podium with the Rev. James Lawson in a church service today to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The service will include a children's choir, as well as the choirs of Primera Iglesia Metodista Hispana, a Nashville Hispanic congregation, and Woodbine United Methodist Church."

"Services at Gordon Memorial UMC begin at 4 p.m. and are open to the public. The church is at 2334 Herman St."

"Lawson's sermon is one of a series of events marking Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the holiday honoring the legacy of the civil rights leader killed in Memphis in 1968."

Before he came to Nashville, James Lawson was a renowned pacifist activist and minister who had spent 13 months in jail for refusing the Korean draft and had spent three years ministering in India. He moved to Nashville in 1958 at the personal request of Dr. King for the purpose of assisting in the civil rights movement. Lawson enrolled in the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University and in turn educated many civil rights advocates, including the organizers of the sit-ins in Nashville's downtown lunch counters.

On February 27, 1960, dozens of students participating in the sit-ins were arrested for disorderly conduct after they were attacked by local teenagers. The teenage attackers were let go.

Agitators attack a sit-in demonstrator, February 27, 1960
Photo by Vic Cooley, Nashville Banner
source: Civil Rights Collection of the Nashville Public Library

Lawson subsequently was arrested for his role in training the organizers. Mayor Ben West echoed the attitude of the time - "As God is my helper, the law is going to be enforced in Nashville" (source: Time Magazine), but he also recognized that lunch counters should be desegregated. Businesses changed their discriminatory practices upon hearing of West's position.

James Lawson is arrested for his role in student sit-ins, March 3, 1960
Photo by Vic Cooley, Nashville Banner
source: Civil Rights Collection of the Nashville Public Library

Lawson was also expelled from Vanderbilt for his role in the civil disobedience, and a number of professors and officials resigned in protest of his explusion. One year ago, Vanderbilt named Lawson its Distinguished University Professor for the 2006-07 academic year and its 2005 Distinguished Alumnus (press release here). From Vanderbilt's press release: "As a young man, [Lawson] studied the Gandhian movement in India before becoming an integral part of the civil rights movement. Lawson was dubbed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as 'the leading nonviolence theorist in the world.'"

Friday, January 12, 2007

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber joins city-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce sent out the following invitation to participate in the city-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. march, followed by the annual MLK convocation at Tennessee State University on Monday, January 15. Organizers announced in late November that they were reaching out to multiple racial and ethnic groups in an effort to put on the biggest Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in the country (story here). For more details on the march and the convocation, see the TSU press release here.

United We Are Stronger....

"Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true".
Martin Luther King Jr.
(1929 - 1968)

Members and Friends,

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce joins in support of the 2007 MLK Jr. Day Celebration. Let us members, family, friends, co-workers, children and neighbors come together as we celebrate this very special day.

A Day of Unity in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
Monday, January 15, 2007, 10:00 am
Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church
2708 Jefferson Street, 37208
Ph: 329-2990

We will gather at the Church and will march together to the Gentry Center on the campus of Tennessee State University for an 11:00 a.m. Convocation program.

Should you have any questions please contact IMF (Interdenominational Ministers
Fellowship) President, Bishop George Price at 615/244-0607 or 615/277-1773

We look forward to seeing you there.

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sheriff Daron Hall describes known, unknown impact of local immigrant detainment and deportation system

"I have learned of special needs that immigrants may have as they face deportation."

12 deputies to get five-week training

Implementation may be three months away

"There are many, many productive immigrant citizens in this community – and they have nothing to fear."

Read an interview with a former member of Hall's immigrant advisory council here.

In the following interview with the Hispanic Nashville Notebook (HNN), Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall answers questions about 287(g), the federal/local cooperation initiative to review, detain, and possibly deport immigrants. Last week, Hall's application to implement 287(g) in Davidson County was approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier this week, HNN recapped the news to date on 287(g) and interviewed one of the members of Hall's advisory committee on 287(g).

Sheriff Hall's own comments about the preliminary status of 287(g) are below.

HNN: You have requested a program by which your office will have the power to review detainees' immigration records and process them for deportation by the federal government. Is that a fair characterization of 287(g)? What other goals does the program have?

It is the intent of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) partnership, through the 287 (g) Delegation of Authority program, to verify the immigration status of all foreign-born criminal arrestees and those issued misdemeanor citations in lieu of arrest. Criminal (physical) arrestees will be subject to a more intense investigation.

HNN: Is the primary purpose of 287(g) to enhance your ability to protect the population from dangerous criminals who also happen to have no valid immigration status, or is it something else? How does your office attempt to accomplish this now in the absence of 287(g)? Has there been any success on this front without 287(g)?

The ultimate goal is to increase public safety by detaining and removing those who pose a risk to the Nashville community. Currently, the DCSO has no authority to investigate the status of any foreign-born individual. As has been the case for years, foreign-born arrestees names are provided via a computer query during the booking process to ICE and they have the responsibility to investigate further.

HNN: Does 287(g) have any empirical evidence to support its implementation? Another way to ask this question is, what proof do we have that deportation actually reduce instances of violent crime? Isn't it possible for someone who is deported to return without your department knowing about it?

You would really need to ask ICE about the reduction in violent crimes or other counties who have had this program in place for some time. Charlotte, NC, has stats that show that since they started their program (eight months ago) there has been 15 percent drop in arrests for driving-related offenses. In addition, driving and minor crime arrests of persons who were later identified as illegal or suspected illegal immigrants also declined by 15 percent. I will tell you there were several high-profile crimes over the summer last year that were committed by people who were later identified as illegal immigrants who had also had previous contact with the Davidson County criminal justice system. The public voiced great concern over these crimes and no one in government had an answer. I sought to improve the system -recognizing that no plan or program is perfect, the 287 (g) option appears to be well suited for Nashville.

Yes, it is possible for someone to return without us knowing it.

HNN: What kind of immigration status information would you be able to review in a 287(g) program? Would you know everything there is to know in terms of an individual's prior immigration history, or is there a narrower set of data that your office will get? Is there any concern that the information you get is inaccurate or insufficient?

You must understand that we just received approval last week, which is one of the first steps. Our officers must undergo five weeks of training where much of this information will be revealed. Again, I would suggest contacting ICE or other agencies (Charlotte) that are already in operation.

HNN: How much detail is known already about what Nashville's 287(g) program would look like? I.e.: How would the 287(g) be triggered, and what kind of interview process is there?

Anyone who indicates they are foreign-born and processes through the jail would be subject to investigation under 287 (g).

HNN: Would speaking a foreign language be enough to trigger a federal records check?


HNN: How long would the federal records check take, and what are the various outcomes of that check?

Processing one individual could take up to four hours. Outcomes could range from release, to issuance of a Notice to Appear, to deportation.

HNN: At what point would a person be flagged for deportation, and how would that work?

These guidelines are set by ICE and we are not in possession of them yet. Again, the training will set-forth these regulations.

HNN: Would deportation occur in every instance in which an individual is flagged for deportation, or would release be possible?

Release would be possible – not deportation every time.

HNN: What would the typical detention times be for people sent through 287(g) - both people who are eventually cleared and people who are flagged for deportation?

Someone who is cleared could be have their immigration status verified within an hour, however, they must still face the arrest charges. Someone who is flagged for an automatic deportation would be held until they are deported.

HNN: Is it possible that legal immigrants and U.S. citizens will be subject to a 287(g) check and detained longer than if they were not put through a 287(g) check, and if so, how long? Is it possible that someone would be erroneously flagged for deportation? How likely is that?

These are all “what if” questions and we really need to stick with the facts of what we know. Understand that as we get further in this process more questions can be answered, and we will do everything to ensure this program is run as efficiently and effectively as possible.

HNN: You have reviewed the implementation of 287(g) in other places such as North Carolina. What kind of results are you hearing about? What are the successes? What are the challenges? How do you plan to meet those challenges?

Please look back to questions where Charlotte is referenced. I would rather not comment for them. I have formed an Immigration Advisory Council earlier than any other jurisdiction approved for 287 (g). I wanted to hear their concerns, educate them on the process, and get their input as we move forward.

HNN: Now that Tennesseans without legal immigration status have been prohibited by the State from getting drivers licenses and motor vehicle insurance, is it more likely that non-criminal civil immigrant infractions will be picked up by police and processed by your office?

We do not determine who is picked up by the police, but those who are foreign-born with citations for driving infractions will be processed via a computer query with ICE just as they have been for the past several years.

HNN: Will there be any evaluation of whether 287(g) catches more dangerous criminals than ordinary immigrants, or vice versa? Would you be able to guess now what those statistics would look like?

I won’t predict what any stats will look like, but we do plan to keep extensive, detailed statistics.

HNN: What are the keys to the success of the 287(g) program, and what do you have to avoid to keep 287(g) from making things worse for your department and the community?

What people must understand is that the 287 (g) program is regulated by federal immigration law. There is very little the Sheriff’s Office will dictate as far as who is processed. Although this is not the perfect solution, it is a step in the right direction in keeping our community safe. For me, this is about public safety and what I can do as sheriff for our community. We want to keep the public informed about what we are doing and transparency is important so that we will continue to have credibility with those we serve.

HNN: If 287(g) is implemented, will it be enough?

It is a step in the right direction and all we can do with the limited authority we will possess under 287 (g).

HNN: When illegal immigrants continue to commit crimes after 287(g), what is the next power or set of powers that you could envision being requested for your department or for the police department?

That is a question for the federal government. They would be the entity that would determine whether or not they want to give local jurisdictions any further powers.

HNN: Your office is distinct from the Metro Nashville Police Department. What role do the police have in the implementation of 287(g)?


HNN: Does your office have any interest in how the MNPD does its job that could affect how your office implements 287(g)?

I believe the MNPD is a professional organization and under Chief Serpas’ direction will continue to be effective under 287 (g). We are two separate agencies and police officers will not even have access to the room where the 287 (g) information system is located.

HNN: What kind of skills and/or experience do you have that adds value to the implementation of 287(g), and what skills or experience would you look for in any future successor that would be crucial to the success of the 287(g) program?

I have public safety as my number one priority for this community and I believe anyone who serves as sheriff would need to share that desire.

HNN: What role have community representatives had in the application for a 287(g) program? Who are they, how were they selected, and why have they been invited to the table? How important has their participation been to the process?

When I started the application process for this program, I asked for the help of the TN delegation, local/state lawmakers, and anyone else that I felt would be beneficial in making this happen. I have also formed a council, as mentioned previously, of those who have particular interest in immigration issues. They were randomly selected among people who showed interest and also were selected because they might not think the same as I do. I wanted healthy debate about this issue and I believe those who are on the council are contributing that. Participants include immigration attorneys, independent advocates, local Hispanic business owners, and immigrant representatives from non-profit organizations.

HNN: Who will make the ultimate decisions in whether to implement 287(g) and how it will be implemented?

By applying, I made the decision as sheriff that the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office was willing to participate in the program. Receiving the approval last week from the Department of Homeland Security, made our participation possible. The ICE regulations will determine how it is implemented. We hope to have the program up and running within the next 90 days – give or take. Twelve Sheriff’s Office deputies will need to be selected and go through a rigorous five week training.

HNN: What restrictions are built in to 287(g) that you might otherwise want to do without? Are there modifications or customizations that you can or have requested? Do you have any discretion in how you implement the program, and if so, will the community involvement you have solicited be included?

We will learn more details of the program’s implementation as we move forward these next couple of weeks and I will be able to better answer that as these details are made clear.

HNN: Have you learned anything from your discussions with the immigrant community that is particularly useful or insightful?

Most importantly, I have learned of special needs that immigrants may have as they face deportation and what the Sheriff’s Office can do to assist immigrants and their families. I will do everything possible to accommodate needs during a difficult time.

HNN: Are any of the concerns raised by the immigrant community also echoed by the community at large?

No. The feedback from the community at large has been predominately positive with none of the concerns echoed by the immigrant community.

HNN: If you could get one message about 287(g) to the Hispanic people in your jurisdiction - including (criminal and noncriminal) U.S.-born citizens, foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens, legal immigrant permanent and temporary residents, and illegal immigrant permanent and temporary residents - and it would be guaranteed that they would hear it, what would that message be?

We are not going out and looking for illegal immigrants to “round up” and deport. There are many, many productive immigrant citizens in this community – and they have nothing to fear. The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office does not conduct checkpoints or make criminal arrests. However, if you are illegal and committing crimes, and arrested by the police department, you will be processed through this program and could face deportation.

Update 1/14/2007: The Nashville City Paper reported here on the January 10 meeting of the Sheriff's advisory council.

Read the HNN interview with one of the members of the advisory council here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Advisory council member cautious about Nashville's immigrant processing proposal

"A person that has lived and worked here for a decade without committing a crime has proven to share our values as Americans."

"Once we single out a portion of our population and determine that they are unworthy of basic human rights, it becomes easier and easier to justify."

Part 2 of 2; read Part 1

Tomorrow: Interview with Sheriff Hall

HNN: You say that you think 287(g) is a weapon in a war of attrition. What do you mean, and why is that a problem?

Actually, I believe I said that an improper application of 287(g) could reduce it to a weapon in a war of attrition. It is my hope that the intentions that brought 287(g) here were aimed toward removing those from our communities that are proven threats. I was skeptical at first because virtually every police department in the country has access to a pretty reliable database that assists them in gathering information about a person’s prior criminal activity. At first glance, it seemed like reinventing the wheel. While it’s true that the NCIC database does not track immigration offenses, in many cases, neither does the ICE database. That’s because if an undocumented immigrant has had no prior brushes with the law, he or she does not exist in any legal sense. As I said before, with the suspension of the Driver Certificate program, and the use of police dragnets in specific areas of town, we are likely to expend precious police resources dealing with those whose only crime is driving to work. So the time and effort spent on arresting, interviewing, and ultimately deporting a person found driving without a license, is time, energy, and resources not applied to the apprehension of dangerous criminals.

HNN: Why is it bad for a person in your example with 10 years of working and contributing to the community to be deported if that person is here illegally?

Well, let’s look at that. For years, though we have had an immigration policy in this country, we have employed a sort of “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” approach towards enforcement of that policy. Our country’s remarkable economic expansion was in no small part fueled by an abundance of affordable labor. Our politicians have for years avoided revamping our immigration policies so that those wishing to come here and work and contribute can do so. Again, silence is tacit approval. A person that has lived and worked here for a decade without committing a crime has proven to share our values as Americans. How is it that we benefit by removing him or her from their family?

HNN: You mentioned "obvious human rights issues" and "indefinite detainment and separation from loved ones" - is that the problem, or is there more to it? If that's it, what exactly are the human rights issues? Don't we routinely imprison people and separate them from their families when they commit legal infractions? Or is there a concern that the punishment is somehow unwarranted?

The phrase “human rights” is indeed applicable. While it is true that we are a nation of laws, it is critical to remember some of the important cornerstones of our legal system, for instance, the right of due process, the right against indefinite detainment, the statutes of limitations, and the notion that the punishment should fit the crime. To specifically answer your question regarding the routine incarceration of those who commit infractions, I would have to ask you for evidence of this. To my knowledge, we do not routinely jail those who jaywalk, litter, or trespass. At this time, mere presence without documents is not a crime, but is equivalent to a civil infraction like those listed above. We pride ourselves on our fair and just legal system, and rightly so, which is why we should seek to uphold the founding principles of it, even when, in fact especially when it is inconvenient. A good example of these are the abuses of Guantanamo Bay. Many of us were alarmed that our country had embarked down the slippery slope of abandoning our constitutional principles because we felt threatened. As the old saying goes, you can’t get a little bit pregnant. Once we single out a portion of our population and determine that they are unworthy of basic human rights, it becomes easier and easier to justify.

HNN: Is your concern for human rights violations why you mentioned that the African-American community should be at the table?

It is my belief that what affects one segment of our population affects us all. I grew up during this country’s civil rights movement. Even then most Americans knew that the segregation and exploitation of our African-American citizens was morally unacceptable, and Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds participated in the protests that ultimately brought about change. A less lofty rationale might, for instance, be that an increased police presence in poorer neighborhoods will certainly impact many African-American families, and they should be included in the discussion.

HNN: Is it good that the Sheriff is consulting with the federal government, instead of trying to implement immigrant-related changes on his own?

Tough call. On the one hand, yes, at least there would be some safeguards with respect to constitutional violations I suppose, but I would of course have preferred the Sheriff to form or join a coalition with other law enforcement agencies to petition the government to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. I wonder why we can't revamp our criminal justice system to be more effective against the Gustavo Reyes sort, without the need to run every detainee through a Federal database to determine status. I see no correlation between status and likelihood of criminal activity.

HNN: You said that perhaps as an advisory council member you could at least ensure that information about the program was available to the immigrant community unfiltered. What kind of unfiltered information are you talking about?

Let me preface this answer by stating that thus far there is no evidence of this, but if for instance the program is implemented without addressing the concerns of civilian community leaders, those on the council would know this first hand. It is a constant struggle for me to temper my cynicism and participate in this with an open mind and with the expectation and belief that the sheriff’s department will negotiate in good faith. That is because I grew up in an area whose Hispanic population knew that the sheriff’s deputies patrolling our neighborhoods were less than ethical when enforcing the law. Almost everyone knew of someone who had suffered at the hands of rogue police officers. Again, it is important for me to make clear that so far there is no evidence that this behavior is prevalent in either the Metro Police or the Sheriff’s Department.

HNN: When HNN asked for comment from Chief Serpas, his office said that it does not have anything to do with the implementation of 287(g), that its race- and culture-neutral policies will continue unchanged, and that I should direct my questions to Sheriff Hall (whose interview appears tomorrow). But isn't Serpas' police department involved in the discussion about 287(g) already, and for reasons including but not limited to discretion exercised by the police at the street level?

Again, in the strictest sense, he is correct that his department has nothing to do with the implementation of 287(g). That’s a little bit like saying that the pizza delivery person has nothing to do with the consumption of pizza. I find it a tad disingenuous that his office would seek to minimize the implications of his participation in the council. When a company invests in an expensive piece of equipment and also spends time and money training its employees to use it, there is a natural expectation for that company to expect results. Without the police, Sheriff Hall and his deputies might as well use their new computers to bid for items on Ebay. In my old line of work, there is a saying, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something,” and that is applicable here. Until a Metro Police Officer arrests someone, 287(g) lies dormant. So I would argue that the Chief’s involvement in the council is as important as Sheriff Hall’s.

HNN: You mentioned the need for policies that will outlast Serpas - requiring a minimum amount of bilingual deputies on duty each shift, and at the very least, cultural diversity training for those officers who are not bilingual, and in addition, clear-cut provisions that determine who is detained and who is issued an NTA, and civilian oversight - who can implement those policies?

Again, I believe I said that this program will outlast both Chief Serpas and Sheriff Hall. That is why I believe so strongly that we need to slow down and think this through. As I mentioned before, now that the press conferences have been held and we have pointed at our shiny new machine, the public is going to expect results. The current political climate combined with the onslaught of nativist rhetoric coming from talk radio could have the effect of a “body count” mentality seeping in to our collective mindset. The people of Tennessee may open their newspapers and read that “x” number of people were held for deportation in a given time period with no idea whether or not it was the right people who were held and deported. This may soothe their fears in the short run but does nothing to make their communities any safer. And isn’t that the point? We need to be prudent and conscientious when drafting the Memorandum of Understanding. If we expect the support and cooperation of the immigrant community, they must be convinced that their rights will be protected. If the immigrant community feels that they must avoid interacting with the police for any reason, then all of us are less safe.

HNN: Will your suggestions be brought to people who can implement them? Is it Serpas, Hall, the Metro Council, the State, the Federal Government, or someone else?

Of all the people listed in that question, you seem to have omitted some very important people, and that is the people of Tennessee. I believe they have both a moral and a civic responsibility to look beyond the propaganda offered by all sides and educate themselves about this important debate. Absent that, it is conceivable that Tennesseans may find themselves mired in abuses reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, and we still deal with the shame and resentment from that disgraceful period in our history. So yes, specifically, Chief Serpas and Sheriff Hall have important roles in how this program is implemented and administered, the state’s responsibility is to acknowledge that until we finish sorting through meaningful immigration reform that working families have a right to drive to work, and the federal government has a moral responsibility to rise above political expediency and draft fair, realistic, and viable immigration policies. I would like to thank you for doing your part to cover this issue in depth. It is sometimes quite difficult to elaborate due to the constraints of traditional media. This issue cannot be properly addressed with ten second sound bites.

Tomorrow: interview with Sheriff Hall

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Rick Caceres on proposed changes in local power over immigrants

Member of Sheriff's advisory council offers concerns, suggestions for 287(g) program

Part 1: Today
Part 2: Tomorrow

The Nashville/Davidson County Sheriff is preparing for a program called 287(g), which will provide greater integration with federal immigration resources (see yesterday's story here). The Sheriff has convened an advisory council with members of the community who have provided comment and concerns about the implementation of such a program.

Rick Caceres is one of the council members, and the Hispanic Nashville Notebook (HNN) interviewed Mr. Caceres about his background, his concerns about the 287(g) program, and how he believes those concerns might be addressed. This is a two-part interview, with the first part appearing below. The second part will be published tomorrow.

HNN: Could you tell us about your background?

50-year-old retired entrepreneur, originally from California. My parents were migrant farm workers until World War II, when my father enlisted and after fighting the Japanese, returned home and used the G.I. Bill to get a college degree. My father was an activist and politician, being the first Hispanic to be elected to city government. So, early on I was exposed to "on the ground" tactics, canvassing, voter registration, etc. He was a prolific fundraiser, and I remember working all through my childhood on his various campaigns. He worked with, and raised money for, Caesar Chavez; and we made frequent trips to Mexico to tour "Our Little Brothers and Sisters", which were church-run orphanages that my father contributed to. Anyway, there isn't much remarkable about me, I served in the Army and received Vietnam Veteran Status, even though I traveled no further than Fort Ord, Calif. I owned an insurance brokerage, went broke, until I eventually saved enough money to open a 5000-square-foot restaurant/sports bar. I sold it in 1999 and bought a small horsefarm and am about to open a Bed & Breakfast there. I breed quarterhorses and stay active in Democratic politics and latino causes, as well as GLBT causes. I worked a little with MoveOn, and for Wesley Clark, and then John Kerry. I have a brother and two sisters, and two kids, age 10 and 9.

HNN: Metro Nashville government is contemplating a program by which local law enforcement officers will have the power to review detainees' immigration records and deport them if necessary. Is that a fair characterization of 287(g)? What else would it do?

No. In fact, it is a common misconception that there is some sort of accurate real time Federal database that Davidson County and other cities that adopt this program will have access to, and that is simply not the case. The database may very well tell local law enforcement if someone has overstayed a visa or if someone has prior criminal conduct on their record. If that were the sole purpose of the 287(g) program, and if the database accurately depicted a person’s change of status, I might not have a problem with it. However, there are dozens if not hundreds of visas available and it has been my experience that even seasoned immigration attorneys are not familiar with all of them.

You asked what else it would do. If a person without proper documentation has lived and worked and contributed to our community for 10 years, and has had no interaction with the police, and happens to be a passenger in a vehicle stopped by local police, he could possibly be subject to arrest, detainment, and put through the interview process, and ultimately issued an NTA (Notice to Appear), which many immigration attorneys will tell you amounts to a de facto deportation.

HNN: What involvement do you have in the effort to implement a 287(g) program in Nashville?

I have no interest in implementing the 287(g) program in Nashville. The potential for misuse is enormous, and while I believe that Sheriff Hall and Chief Serpas have the highest ethical standards, this program will outlive them. In a political climate wherein we see a strong anti-immigrant sentiment, this program becomes nothing more than a weapon in a war of attrition.

HNN: How did you get involved?

I received a letter from Sheriff Hall’s office asking if I would be interested in serving on an advisory council for the program. My decision to participate was based on the belief that the program’s arrival in Nashville was inevitable, but perhaps as a council member I could at least ensure that information about the program was available to the immigrant community unfiltered.

HNN: What kind of skills and/or experience do you have that adds value to the process?

It’s not that I possess skills that are necessarily unique, or that my education and/or training make me more qualified than anyone else, rather I feel I bring many years of personal experience, particularly with respect issues affecting the Hispanic community, and I have been told that I have a gift for communicating, even with those that have an opposing viewpoint. Of course, that may change when this is all said and done!

HNN: What other people are being consulted? Is there anyone or any voice missing that should have been consulted, in your opinion?

There are a number of well-qualified, dedicated people serving on this council. Elliot Ozment, Sean Lewis, Yvette Sebelist, and Maria Clara Mejia come to mind. I believe that the absence of some prominent voices within the advocate community is a result of the belief that participation in this effort amounts to tacit approval. That said, besides the obvious human rights issues at stake, there is the potential for debilitating economic consequences to many area businesses, so I am somewhat surprised that there is no representative from the Chamber of Commerce participating. In addition, I feel we may have missed an opportunity to involve the African-American community.

HNN: What is your impression of the way the 287(g) effort is being handled here in Nashville, including the process that brought you to the table?

It’s a mixed bag. I am pleased that Sheriff Hall has attempted to make the process transparent; after all, he is not required to involve leaders in the immigrant community. However, part of me is uncomfortable with what appears to be a political tactic of calling attention to this proposed program without more consultation with those same leaders. Good public policy is a result of candid dialogue between those who may ultimately be affected by it. I would hate to think that this program merely provides an opportunity for those seeking office to point to as evidence of their commitment to the greater good.

HNN: You visited North Carolina to see how 287(g) is being implemented there. Have things changed over there, and for the better?

I suppose that depends upon who you ask. The advocacy groups I interviewed while there were not at all happy with the abuses of power that came along with this program. This is where it gets a little sticky: Sheriff Hall likes to say that he has no control over who winds up in his jail, and he is correct in saying so. Much like Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, the sheriff’s department has no arrest authority. The program, as implemented in Mecklenburg County, leaves little room for discretion; that is to say that the protocols or processes simply kick in once a person is deemed to be foreign born. So, I asked the training sergeant the obvious question, which was, “If a person indicates that they were born in El Paso, Texas, for instance, would this preclude them from being put through the interview process?” His reply was, “Yes, provided the intake officer had no reason to suspect otherwise.” Naturally, I asked what might draw suspicion. “Not speaking English would be a good indicator.” he replied. I found that alarming. That means that any meaningful discretion will be exercised by the police at the street level. In North Carolina, there have been reports of people subjected to arrest and ultimately put through the process for REPORTING crimes to the police. I can’t say what affect the program has had on the lives of average Mecklenburg County residents.

HNN: Most immigrants, plus their families, their friends, and their advocates disagree with the U.S. immigration laws that treat ordinary people like dangerous criminals. Is it possible to view programs like 287(g) as a blessing in disguise, in that it is a model for a nationwide immigration policy, one that focuses on the dangerous criminals instead of ordinary people? Do you disagree that violent immigrants should be detained and, if necessary, deported? Why wouldn't 287(g) be useful in this context?

Let’s answer that last question first. I believe you would be hard pressed to find a single immigrant or immigrant advocate that doesn’t believe in incarcerating or deporting criminals. The people living along Nolensville Road want the same things for their community that those living along West End Avenue want. In fact, in the entire debate about immigration and immigration reform, this fact often goes unmentioned. Long before we elected to divide our neighbors and co-workers based on their residency status, they were people, with families, with dreams, aspirations, and yes, flaws.

The problem with programs like the 287(g), is that yet again, it is plainly punitive in its scope. Instead of engaging the immigrant community, and establishing an environment of trust, coupled with a frank discussion of the issues at stake, we seem to focus on knee-jerk proposals that have the effect of driving these people further into the shadows. Any real comprehensive and viable immigration reform will require the cooperation of the immigrant community. I wonder how we will achieve this, when we imply that they are first and foremost perceived as criminals.

HNN: If you were given carte blanche to implement a program like 287(g), with whatever modifications you felt were appropriate, what would it look like?

That’s a good question. In fact, while certainly not being carte blanche, the members of the council will submit their recommendations and ideas to Sheriff Hall and his staff on January 10th. A partial list of recommendations I have include a minimum amount of bilingual deputies on duty each shift, and at the very least, cultural diversity training for those officers who are not bilingual. In addition, and perhaps most important, are clear-cut provisions that determine who is detained and who is issued an NTA. I believe that the program should be monitored by civilian oversight.

I have found Chief Serpas to be incredibly accessible and his office seems to make good use of statistical data. He seems willing to provide those statistics that might point to rogue street-level police so that they may be disciplined and/or terminated. If he continues that trend, it should go a long way toward re-establishing trust and two-way communication between the community and the Police Department. Unfortunately, that is the only possibly upside I see today.

HNN: Are you being heard? Are there others who share your concerns? Are you participating on behalf of any organization, or on your own?

Much to my chagrin, I have a reputation for being the proverbial squeaky wheel, and I have done some interviews like this one in the press, so I suppose I am being “heard”. But that isn’t really the point. The people I most want to hear OUR concerns are Sheriff Hall, Chief Serpas, and the Metro Council, and it’s too early to know.

As for others who might share these concerns, I’ll probably tweak some people when I say this, but yes, of course there are, and I wonder why they see fit to remain silent, because silence, to me, is tacit approval. If you think about it, this program, improperly implemented, and without real oversight, and coupled with the suspension of the Driving Certificate program, could have a devastating effect on area businesses whether or not they employ an immigrant workforce.

HNN: You have said that 287(g) is much more dangerous to the Hispanic community than the language ban currently being considered by the Metro Council. Why is that?

No question. The bill proposed by Councilman Crafton was an obvious political ploy, more symbolic than anything. I was thrilled to see how many council members took the time to educate themselves on the long-term effects of that bill. Even if the bill had passed without changes, perhaps the worst thing that could happen is that some non-English speaking person would be turned away when seeking to interact with local government. Bad enough, but hardly the nightmare of indefinite detainment and separation from loved ones that this program will surely produce.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of 2 of the Rick Caceres interview (preview below)

You say that you think 287(g) is a weapon in a war of attrition. What do you mean, and why is that a problem?

You mentioned "obvious human rights issues" and "indefinite detainment and separation from loved ones" - is that the problem, or is there more to it? If that's it, what exactly are the human rights issues?

You said that perhaps as a council member you could at least ensure that information about the program was available to the immigrant community unfiltered. What kind of unfiltered information are you talking about?

You mentioned the need for policies - requiring a minimum amount of bilingual deputies on duty each shift, and at the very least, cultural diversity training for those officers who are not bilingual, and in addition, clear-cut provisions that determine who is detained and who is issued an NTA, and civilian oversight - who can
implement those policies?

And more...

Monday, January 8, 2007

Deported, detained, or not; Sheriff will get new power over immigrants

Washington adds Nashville to limited list of cities granted access to federal database, personnel

Sheriff: only dangerous criminals should be detained, not ordinary immigrants

The Tennessean reported last Thursday that the Davidson County Sheriff's office has been approved for a federal immigrant initiative called 287(g), which "provides state and local law enforcement with the training and subsequent authorization to identify, process, and when appropriate, detain immigration offenders they encounter during their regular, daily law-enforcement activity," according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) web site. The Tennessean says that 287(g) could be in place and enforced in Davidson County within 90 days.

"Nashville officials estimate the program could result in 2,960 illegal immigrants being turned over to federal officials each year."

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall has set up a community advisory council, which has met once and will meet again this Wednesday. See the WSMV-Channel 4 report here.

One concern about the program is that it will not distinguish between dangerous criminals and ordinary people. For example, Tennessee has stripped driving privileges (and motor vehicle insurance) from many noncriminal legal and illegal immigrants, which makes it more likely that they will be processed by law enforcement for driving without a license, even though they have not committed any violent crimes (see previous story in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook here). In one recent instance, even without 287(g) in place, a local mother named Claudia Nunez was scheduled for deportation when she showed up to traffic court. (Her story appeared in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook here.)

The impact of deportation on immigrants and their families, and their available options, has been featured not only in regard to the Claudia Nunez story, but also in this recent WKRN story ("They want you to give up"), as well as in other stories around the country (Denver Post ("friends and relatives worked their cellphones busily trying to bypass government, keeping children whose parents weren't present in hiding, fearing that social-services agents would snatch them away"), ("Two months later Josè Hernan was still there, languishing in a jail cell and cut off from the world while his deportation file gathered dust at a maze of federal agencies"), and the Salt Lake Tribune ("'Even though we are so poor we have hope... Even though we are sad we have hope. Even though we lost our home we have hope. Even though we have ragged cloth[es] we have hope. Even though we have no shoes we have hope. Even though we have no tree, we have hope for Santa.'")

The City Paper published this story about the concerns about 287(g), publishing Hall's response to the idea that 287(g) will lead to the indiscriminate deportation of ordinary immigrants:

"'The purpose of this is not to automatically deport people. It’s to avoid ignoring them,' Hall said."

"And Hall said he agrees with the group that his officers should not be detaining suspected illegal immigrants who pose no threat to the public."

The City Paper reported here that the idea for the 287(g) program in Nashville was sparked by a high-profile DUI death case which may have been prevented by, among other things, a program like 287(g):

"Not surprisingly, Hall said he anticipates having multiple DUI offenses listed among the situations that would lead a suspected illegal to being detained."

"That, Hall said, would have put Gustavo Reyes Garcia on the Sheriff’s immigration radar screen long before September, when after 17 arrests dating back to 1997 – 14 of them for driving offenses – Garcia allegedly crashed his SUV while driving drunk into a car driven by a Mt. Juliet couple, killing them both."

"'This all started with Gustavo Reyes Garcia,' Hall said. 'And after his first arrest in 1997 we probably would have released him on an order to appear in federal court. But if he had failed to appear or failed that test, he would have been deported then."

Hispanic advocates share the Sheriff's views that DUI is a public safety danger, and as a result they launched a public awareness campaign about the dangers of DUI (Hispanic Nashville Notebook story here). But recent stories about DUI stops in Hispanic parts of Nashville have concerned some advocates, who worry that sober drivers or passengers will be asked for their identification and detained because merely they are or look Hispanic. Tennessean stories here and here, with poll here.

The City Paper published the Metro Police department's comments on those concerns:

"Metro Police officials stressed that DUI enforcement – through checkpoints or otherwise – is based solely on officer observation of driving and driver behavior."

"'The police department never has and never will base its sobriety checkpoints on an area’s racial and ethnic makeup,' said Department spokesman Don Aaron."

"Aaron also said that sobriety checkpoints are not roadblocks, as immigrant advocates said many immigrants would fear."

"'When a person approaches a sobriety checkpoint, there is always an avenue to bypass the checkpoint,' Aaron said. 'Officers are not stopping cars asking for driver’s licenses or identification."

"He said the only instance an officer would ask for passenger driver’s license would be if an impaired driver consented to having a sober passenger transport his or her vehicle home."

According to the City Paper, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights (TIRRC) President David Lubell "suggested including in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – the document written by the Sheriff’s Office and DHS that governs local implementation of the program – a written policy spelling out that traffic violators would not be targeted."

Legal immigrants and U.S. citizens fear they will be targeted because of their ethnicity, race, or language proficiency. WKRN interviewed some residents who raised their concerns on camera (story on here, including comment by anchor/reporter Christine Maddela). The Tennessean story cites a legal immigrant who is concerned that he could be mistakenly caught up in the system, because the federal paperwork that proves he is here legally is confusing; and he fears for his wife who doesn't speak English yet.

The Tennessean also quoted TIRRC President David Lubell cautioning that the program could impair trust and communication between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.

Fisk professor Alfredo Cambronero told the Tennessean that "It is a type of policy that has good intentions, but lends itself to misuse, abuse and errors of different kinds, but will be of significant consequences. ... I'll hate to see policemen with the intimidation factor trying to put pressure on people to show what they consider to be the right documents."

Local implementation of 287(g) will not require any new laws but will enforce currently existing laws. In a country with a long history of lax enforcement of laws against certain immigrants, this is an important change at the ground level of ordinary people. The iniative does not, however, increase any enforcement against U.S. citizen violators of immigration law, such as employers or smugglers.

Later this week: interviews with key participants in the Nashville 287(g) application and implementation

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