Monday, March 31, 2008

Immigration Dialogue Circle Kicks Off April 22, 2008

IMMIGRATION Dialogue Circle
Discussing a Sensitive Topic in a SAFE Environment

Tuesdays, April 22, 29, May 6, 13 & 20, 2008
6:30 to 8:30 PM**

Presented by: the Scarritt-Bennett Center in collaboration with the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute and Welcoming Tennessee Initiative - a project of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.

Purpose: To dialogue honestly about immigration issues, perceptions, differences and similarities in a safe environment where all people can be heard. Sessions are coordinated by facilitators trained by the Scarritt-Bennett Center.

Location: Tennessee Foreign Language Institute (TFLI), 227 French Landing, Ste. 100, Nashville, 37228

Investment: $25 for all 5 sessions.
Cash, check or money order only payable to Scarritt-Bennett Center.

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Deadline to Register: Wednesday, April 16, 2008.

**IMPORTANT: Participants must commit to ALL 6 sessions, as these are progressive.**

About Scarritt-Bennett Center’s Dialogue Circles:
Dialogue Circles are comprised of 8-12 diverse individuals who meet regularly for two hours a week for between 4 and 7 weeks to dialogue about critical issues. By having trained facilitators lead the groups each individual is able to share their feelings, opinions, and thoughts in an open and honest way in an environment free of being attacked, defensive, or critical. Each person has a voice in the dialogue, and by listening to the diverse perspective of others, participants gain valuable insight that can lead to change or a better understanding of their own and other’s views. In Nashville, the program focuses on race relations, diversity, police & community relations, immigration, schools, unemployment, youth, and neighborhoods. To date, over 2,500 people in Nashville have gone through Dialogue Circles and have participated in honest conversations about sensitive issues.

For more information, and to register, please contact:
Diana Holland, Dialogue Circle Coordinator
phone: 615-367-3878

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pro-immigrant specialty license plate?

The Tennessean says here that more groups are applying for specialty license plates. Should the pro-immigrant cause have a license plate? If so, what should it say? Provide your feedback in the comments.

Below are some options I attempted to put in an online poll, but the poll software didn't work:
  • "Welcome" (in English)

  • "Welcome" (in English and other languages)

  • "Immigrant Roots"

  • "If You're Here, You're a Neighbor"

  • "Southern Hospitality"

  • "I Was a Stranger, and You Welcomed Me"

  • "Welcome the Immigrant You Once Were"

  • "Xenophobia is Unfair" (inspired by this story)

  • A condensed version of one of these ads

  • I would buy a pro-immigrant plate no matter what it said.
You can post your selection or other opinion by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eighty percent of Sheriff's deportations are for misdemeanors

287(g) program called a "clumsy tool," hurts integration

Dangerous criminal offenses are not the main cause for deportation under the Davidson County Sheriff's Office's year-old program to enforce immigration law - called "287(g)." Here is an excerpt from last year's interview with Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall by the Hispanic Nashville Notebook:
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?

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall: I won’t predict what any stats will look like, but we do plan to keep extensive, detailed statistics.
Here is the news from an article in the Tennessean today:
[A]ccording to statistics from the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, about 80 percent of those processed for deportation hearings were arrested on misdemeanor charges. Of those, about 40 percent were arrested on traffic offenses such as driving without a license.
Catalina Nieto, public awareness coordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said that she commends any program that removes dangerous criminals from the streets but that the screening program is a "clumsy tool" to do that.
Although many bemoan the failure of certain immigrants to integrate, one of Nieto's colleagues pointed out in today's Nashville City Paper that 287(g) is one of the many citizen-led programs that has led to increased, not decreased, isolation of immigrants:
“This program has had a very chilling effect on the immigrant community and immigrant community members are much less willing to interact with the broader community,” said Stephen Fotopulos, policy director for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
Photo by Christine. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Monday, March 24, 2008

West Meade "cascarones" party not the only Easter egg-cracking in town

Mexican-American, Greek Orthodox, Ukranian traditions

1,500 egg shells

The Tennessean posted this article describing a handful of egg-cracking Easter traditions on display in Nashville. A West Meade Palm Sunday party featured Mexican-American cascarones, or egg shells filled with confetti. More than 150 people cracked over 1,500 egg shells. From pictures of cascarones parties in other places (here and here), it looks like fun.

From the Tennessean:
As a little girl, Mona Tehle remembers making cascarones — confetti eggs — by hand every year with her family. Tehle, who is Mexican-American, grew up in Corpus Christi in South Texas.
Cascarones are made from standard chicken eggs; a hole is poked in one side and they're emptied and washed out. Once dry, the shells are filled with confetti. The hole is covered with a slip of tissue paper and glue and the outside, decorated. The process takes several days.

"On Easter, we'd get together with all our relatives and friends somewhere, have a big barbeque and run around and crack them on each other's heads — and your parents' heads, that's the big thing," said Tehle, who is married and has two sons ages 9 and 10.

In 2001, while living in Dallas, she decided to resurrect the practice as a way of sharing her heritage's Easter traditions with her sons. She continued the annual Easter fiesta when they moved to Nashville in 2004.

What started out as a small backyard get-together has since become a big West Meade neighborhood bash. On Palm Sunday, one week before Easter, Tehle's family welcomed 150 guests. There were two piñatas for the kids, margaritas for the adults and Mexican food for everyone. For the grand finale, Tehle had 1,500 cascarones trucked in from Texas for some grand egg cracking.

"I think people enjoy it because it's a real family event," she said. " . . . There's something for adults, and something for the kids. It's a unique event."
According to the Tennessean, other egg-cracking traditions in Nashville include the Greek Orthodox Church's tapping of red eggs together to see whose will break, with the greeting, "Christ is risen" and the response, "Truly, he is risen." And at St. Mary's Book Store and Church Supply on West End, there is an annual demonstration of the Ukranian egg-cracking game with hardboiled eggs.

Photo by Jessica Wilson. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations

From Luke 24:46-47 (version - the Message):
"You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem!"
Photo of Easter Island, Chile by Rodrigo Garcia. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A large mob, with swords and clubs

Matthew 26:47-56, Holman Christian Standard Bible:
While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: "The One I kiss, He's the One; arrest Him!" So he went right up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!"—and kissed Him.

"Friend," Jesus asked him, "why have you come?

Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him. At that moment one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest's slave and cut off his ear.

Then Jesus told him, "Put your sword back in place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?"

At that time Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture Me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple complex, and you didn't arrest Me. But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.
Photo of Betrayal, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain by Santi. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nashville hosts Olympic soccer qualifiers tonight: USA v Canada, Guatemala v Honduras

Tonight at LP Field in Nashville, international soccer fans will watch Guatemala play Honduras and the U.S. play Canada for two Olympic openings up for grabs. The winner of each game will advance to the championship game on Sunday, March 23. Both teams in the championship game will compete in Beijing in August.

The qualifiers started in Tampa and Los Angeles have been conducted by the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) since 1964. The last time the final round of qualifying games was held in the U.S. was in 2000.

According to this article in the Tennessean, "[o]nly 28,000 of the stadium's almost 69,000 seats will be open for fans to watch the U.S. play Canada and Guatemala play Honduras, and officials aren't expecting anything close to a sellout. A good turnout from the area's international and youth soccer communities is expected, however, because they represent the groups that most closely follow the sport nationwide."

March Madness and the Easter holiday are expected to keep some locals away, according to the Tennessean.

The Tennessean spoke with the coach of the Nashville Metros soccer team about the likelihood of Central American turnout this weekend:
Metros Coach Rico Laise, a native of Costa Rica, said Mexico's failure to advance to Nashville out of the original eight-team field would hurt attendance tonight, but Middle Tennesseans with ties to Guatemala and Honduras are likely to jump at a chance to be at LP Field.

"When a taste of home is available, they come out in droves," Laise said. "They are just thirsty for a taste of home and a taste of their culture.
The Tennessean also points out previous times that a U.S. national team has competed in LP Field, formerly known as Adelphia Coliseum - the 2004 women's team and the 2006 men's team played Canada and Morocco, respectively.

Ticket sales are expected to fall short of 15,000, which accompanied skepticism about Nashville from a former U.S. captain, quoted by the Tennessean:
"My initial reaction was like, 'Why there?' " said John Harkes, a former U.S. captain. "There has to be some reason behind it. Obviously it's not going to be the most supported event. It's not a real soccer-savvy market when you first think of it, though U.S. Soccer must have some ideas for why they are there."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Latino parents group honors former Metro Schools Director Pedro Garcia

COPLA (Committee of Latino Parents) sent out this recap of its event honoring former Metro Schools Director Pedro Garcia:
COPLA hosted a 'Celebration Night' to honor former Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools Dr. Pedro García.

COPLA Chair Ernestina González, Co-Chair Adelina Winston and support members Luis Del Rio, Gini Pupo-Walker, and Rubén De Peña sent out an invitation to community friends and former colleagues who gathered to celebrate Dr. Pedro García's contributions during his tenure as Metro Schools' Superintendent, including his vision for establishing COPLA.

In attendance: Eva Melo and husband Andrew (LatinMarketing Communications) Josias Arteaga (YMCA Hispanic Achievers) and wife, Fabian Bedne, Alfonso Nieto (Latino News) and wife, Eliud Treviño and Aida Hughes (El Crucero Newspaper), COPLA Chair Ernestina González, COPLA support members: Luis Del Rio and wife, Gini Pupo-Walker, Rubén De Peña and wife Dana; Pedro Quiterio (Engineer with Nissan North America), Sheyla Hicks (Spanish TV), Victor Rojas (Rojas Media Productions) José Quezada among many others including members of the school distric, members of COPLA and friends.

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* member Raul López, Vice-Chair Luis Bustillos, Treasurer Loraine Segovia and President Yuri Cunza were also present in support of COPLA's 'Celebration Night'.

For more information about COPLA call 615- 831-2967 or send an e-mail to:
how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Valdez Streaty, Soto: two of Nashville's Women of Influence

Recognized in corporate executive, nonprofit categories

On April 11, 2008, the Nashville Business Journal will host the Women Of Influence Awards Banquet to "outstanding women who are making great contributions to Middle Tennessee."

Among the four winners in the "Corporate Executive" category was Stephanie Valdez Streaty of Nissan North America, Inc. Among the five winners in "Nonprofit Leadership" was Renata Soto of Conexion Americas.

Soto is the director of Conexion Americas. Originally from Costa Rica, Soto has lived in the United States since 1993 and in Nashville since 1996.

Valdez Streaty is the senior manager of philanthropy and diversity communications for Nissan and is originally from Colorado.

Monday, March 17, 2008

VU Chancellor supported Christian refugees of Nazi Germany by sending them to South America

U.S. doors were closed

"Assist in the transportation of 2,500 of the neediest refugees to South America and other countries"

Vanderbilt University Chancellor James H. Kirkland was one of two Nashvillians and one hundred Christian Americans who signed a letter seeking public support for Christian refugees from Nazi Germany, according to an article in the December 21, 1936 New York Times. The funds raised would be used to send non-Jewish German refugees to "South America and other countries". The letter implies that Jewish refugees were to be taken care of by Jewish Americans, by offering this bit of praise: "The response of the Jews in America to the needs of their German brethren sets a heroic example for us to follow."

Why the letter would say both "the number of Christian refugees is not yet so large as to prove a serious burden upon Christians in the United States" but at the same time support their relocation outside the United States and not immigration reform to the U.S. is a nuance not explained by the article.

Perhaps the growing U.S. restrictions against German immigration were seen as unchangeable status quo, or a necessity to ensure U.S. self-protection. See below.

This 2007 Times article explains how national security fears shut down America's legal immigration even indirectly related to Germans: "By June of 1941, no one with close relatives still in Germany was allowed into the United States because of suspicions that the Nazis could use them to blackmail refugees into clandestine cooperation."

According to the 2007 article, one of the targets and victims of that national security policy, and the tight immigration controls even before 1941, was Anne Frank. Her father Otto Frank applied for U.S. visas in 1938 and 1941 and was denied both times.

An excerpt of the 1936 article is pictured in the right-hand column of this post.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eric Volz's Hispanic autobiography

Born in Sacramento

Mexican-American family

Grew up hearing Spanish and answering in English

Eric Volz, the immigrant from Nashville to Nicaragua who was cleared of a murder conviction in that Central American country in a case that is still not over, told a group of Belmont University students about the Hispanic portions of his autobiography in the context of a media ethics lecture.

Excerpts from the Tennessean:
Volz was born and raised in Sacramento and considers himself a Californian. He was 13 when his father, a musician, decided to move to Nashville to pursue a musical career.

Growing up, family members spoke to Volz in Spanish and he would answer in English.

His Mexican grandfather was the catalyst for his immersion.

"It was because of him that I really learned the language," Volz said in Spanish. "I learned about the culture, how to read it, write it and talk with the accent."

Volz's Mexican-American family lived in border towns. His mother, Maggie Anthony, was raised in Nogales, Ariz.

He went to several high schools and remained interested in Latin America and added another hobby — photography. He went to school at the University of California, San Diego, and majored in Latin American cultural studies.
Photo source: Friends of Eric Volz

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vanderbilt Hillel students serve in Uruguay

"My concept of poverty changed"

InsideVandy has this recap of a student's experience in Uruguay as a part of Vanderbilt Hillel's Alternative Spring Break, which immerses students in service. According to its web site, Vanderbilt Hillel is "the center of Jewish life at Vanderbilt, serving the religious, social, and educational needs of the undergraduate and graduate Jewish student communities."

Hillel has spent previous Spring Breaks in other Latin American countries, including Mexico (recap here and picture here), Cuba, and Argentina (video recap here).

Excerpts from the Uruguay recap:
We went to connect with the large Jewish population in Montevideo but also to somehow accomplish the arduous task of building four houses for four impoverished families before we left the country.
My concept of poverty changed. The impoverished individuals I saw had family, community, love and hope. Families worked alongside one another and laughed.
Excerpts from the Mexico recap:
That is to say, what part, if any, of Judaism provides the impetus to want to help others? Students read a number of Jewish readings during the course of the week that dealt with such concepts as the significance that every human being is created in the image of G-d, the impact of globalization on the world community and the importance of action accompanying thought.
To be a good person, it is important to give as much as you can and then give some more.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Walwyn in last year as chairman of the board of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber

Goodpasture Christian graduate with Cuban heritage, founded Nashville law firm

Nashville attorney Marc Walwyn is in his last year as chairman of the board of directors of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce*, which is more commonly associated with its President, Yuri Cunza. Walwyn addressed the group in its recent annual meeting (text of address below), highlighting increased influence and interaction with other local and national groups. Profiles of the full board are available here, including one of Walwyn:
Marc Walwyn is an attorney of Cuban heritage and the founder of the only certified minority owned law firm in Tennessee. Marc is very proud that his lawyers and staff speak to clients in their own language which include Portuguese, Korean and Spanish. While serving large American companies, Walwyn takes pride on serving families and those who need an advocate. He served as an Administrative Law Judge in Chicago before returning to his home town of Nashville. Marc graduated from Goodpasture Christian High School, obtained his B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School where he served as Administrative Editor of the Wisconsin Law Review.
Walwyn's address to members of the chamber:
Dear members,

Last year has been both challenging and exciting for the NAHCC. Re energized by our successes we at the NAHCC will continue the work that will strengthen our Hispanic businesses and aggressively move the NAHCC forward.

This work cannot be done unless we all team up JUNTOS, because TOGETHER we can make a difference.

Serving as NAHCC Chairman has given me the opportunity to work with our Board of Directors to move the organization towards financial self-sufficiency.

This is a hard task for any volunteer board; I am very appreciative to those who have invested time and effort to advance the work of the NAHCC.

To our Board, President, staff and volunteers: THANK YOU for your determination and hard work.

Highlights from last year include our increased our influence and participation with the mainstream business community and government. We are here to serve our members, but to serve our members we are to work diligently, creating opportunities, building the much needed trust, creating a bridge between communities. In order to move forward the PARTICIPATION of all of us is needed.

To our members and supporters who helped us this past year, we THANK YOU for your time and commitment. JUNTOS we are creating a better Nashville for all.

Marc Walwyn
NAHCC Chair 2006-2008
Upcoming events and announcements can be found on the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber's web site.

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Winner of CMT's Gone Country: Julio Iglesias Jr., with bilingual song

Judge John Rich: "About half my friends were Spanish kids - Mexican kids - and their first language was Spanish"

The Canadian Press is one of many international sources to report the newly minted Latin/country crossover star that is Julio Iglesias, Jr., who earned that title with his win of the Nashville-based reality show "Gone Country." Airing on CMT, the show featured an American-Idol-style showdown of various non-country artists taking a stab at country music, including Iglesias, Jr. On his way to victory, the Madrid-born, Miami-raised crooner stopped by Manuel's Nashville shop to pick up some bona fide country duds (episode info here).

Judge John Rich of Big & Rich said in his blog that he picked Iglesias because of his "X Factor" with both male and female fans, but also because of the missing Hispanic element in modern country music:
I think, that Julio Iglesias Jr. brings an element to country music that does not exist -- and that being the Spanish-English element. I remember growing up in Texas and hearing Johnny Rodriguez on my radio station, and about half my friends were Spanish kids -- Mexican kids -- and their first language was Spanish. They were all my buddies. I remember Johnny Rodriguez turning them on to country music. They liked it, but it wasn't something they completely related to until they saw Johnny Rodriguez.

Well, I think, it's been 30 years since that, and I think it's time we pay attention to that audience again. I see Spanish-speaking people coming to Big & Rich shows by the hundreds and thousands, depending on the part of the country that we're in, and right now, there's nobody in our format speaking to that audience.
Big & Rich have included bilingual Spanish/English raps on at least one album before, and Hispanic artists have done fairly well on at least other country music reality show - see John Arthur Martinez' second place finish and Melanie Torres' top-ten spot on Nashville Star. The country music industry has commissioned reports and engaging in soul-searching and head-scratching about what Hispanic interest in country music could mean for the business.

Julio Iglesias, Jr.'s winning Gone Country video performance, which includes bilingual English/Spanish lyrics, is here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rep. Cooper's chief of staff Lisa Quigley has Mexico experience

Also: Hispanic identity through the eyes of congressional interns

The Nashville Post reported here in January that U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) hired Lisa Quigley as his chief of staff. Quigley's family spent the last three years in Mexico, according to the story:
For the past three years, Quigley has been living in Mexico City with her family, and has worked as Director of the U.S.-Mexico Congressional Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. ... Quigley will live in Nashville, splitting time between Cooper's Nashville and Washington offices. ... Larry Harrington, Quigley's husband, a Tennessee native and Vanderbilt Law School grad, is well known in Nashville political circles and is concluding an assignment with the Inter-American Development Bank. Harrington, brother of former Nashville General Sessions Judge Penny Harrington, served in the office of then Vice President Al Gore before being appointed US Executive Director of IADB by President Bill Clinton. At the conclusion of his presidential appointment, he stayed on to work for the bank in Mexico.
Speaking of Washington, this Washington Post article from last July provides a unique insight into U.S. Hispanic identity through the eyes of congressional interns. Here is an excerpt:
Washington makes them mad. And it inspires them.

It also has made them think deeply about who they are, and where they fit into this turbulent feat of political imagination and plain winging-it called America.

Such existential ruminations spark other considerations: Whom do you date? How good (or bad) is your Spanish? How comfortable are you with your skin tone? (Too dark? Too light?) Are you American enough? Is the reputation of la Raza riding on your every move -- or is that perpetual feeling of being watched just an illusion?
Photo by David Porter. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Deadline today for Vanderbilt media fellowship on immigration

Journalists to interact with professors, service providers and Nashville’s immigrant communities

Today is the deadline for applying for Vanderbilt University's media fellowship - a seminar for journalists - on immigration. The event is called “Immigration: Nation’s Bedrock or Burden,” and is scheduled April 1-4. The deadline for registration is today.
Vanderbilt University encourages active journalists to apply to attend its 2008 media fellowship, “Immigration: Nation’s Bedrock or Burden,” April 1-4, 2008, in Nashville, Tenn.

The application deadline is March 7. Apply now.

Through interactions with professors and Nashville’s immigrant communities, journalists will have the opportunity to learn more about the complexities of new migration patterns that are leading many foreign-born people to cities like Nashville in the nation’s interior.

While border cities have been at the forefront of immigration issues, interior cities are now dealing with immigration’s implications for social services, health care, employment and the prospects for unionization. Nashville is emblematic of this change.

In a city known for being the buckle of the Bible belt and its country music roots – you can travel just a few miles from downtown’s Country Music Hall of Fame to find the sounds and flavors of Latin America, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kurdistan. Nashville is home to the largest Kurdish community in the United States and was one of only five cities in the country where Iraqi expatriates could cast their ballots in the 2005 Iraqi elections.

From 1990 to 2005, Tennessee experienced the fourth fastest rate of immigrant growth of any state in the country. Nashville experienced a three-fold increase in foreign-born residents – from 12,662 to 39,596 – according to the last U.S. Census Report.

The fellowship is available to a limited number of print, broadcast and experienced freelance journalists. Vanderbilt will cover the costs of lodging and some meals. The participant's employer is responsible for travel expenses and salary during the fellowship.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

High school achievement of visaless students unimpeded by government's blockade of benefits of diploma

But college, jobs out of reach of star pupils

Ten local students lobby Senators Alexander and Corker to support DREAM Act

"We don't want to make it worse by raising hopes and then dashing dreams"

Middle Tennessee high school students whose problematic immigration status was determined before they became adults, and in some cases without their knowledge, are still succeeding and graduating with great promise, despite the fact that the government currently has a blockade against them, preventing them from using the benefits of a high school education in the United States. Such students cannot often obtain in-state college tuition even they would otherwise satisfy residency requirements, they cannot work legally before or after graduation, and there is a current proposal in Tennessee to keep them out of college altogether even if they paid on their own dime.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition organized a trip for ten local students to Washington, D.C., to lobby Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker to vote in favor of the DREAM Act, which would reward high-performing high school students and renew practical incentives for success. Alexander and Corker have voted against the DREAM Act in the past.

From the story in the Tennessean:
Moya, 17, may be unable to attend college, though she has a 3.4 grade point average, received unsolicited recruiting packages from Princeton University, and speaks and writes in English and Spanish. Her parents brought her from Mexico to the U.S. at age 8 and enrolled her in Metro Nashville schools. The parents overstayed their visas, making the family illegal.

Two proposed laws — one federal, one state — would deal with Moya's situation in far different manners. The federal Dream Act would let her and students like her enter public colleges and universities and would even hold out a possibility of in-state tuition.

Tennessee's plan would bar state schools from admitting her and others who cannot prove they're in the country legally. Proponents say House and Senate bills would open up spaces for other students.
The Dream Act, which enjoyed bipartisan support, is stalled in the U.S. Senate after a fall filibuster. Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Republicans, voted against the bill.

Moya and nine other students from across the state climbed into SUVs in Nashville on Wednesday morning to drive to Washington, meet with both lawmakers and try to jump-start it. The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition organized the trip.
The situation deals a psychological blow to some students, said Jessie Van de Griek, director of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee's Hispanic Achievers' Program. The program opened seven years ago to help Hispanic students — those here legally and those who are not — navigate the college application process and develop leadership skills.

Last year, Hispanic Achievers' began referring students and their parents to immigration attorneys. Some are exploring their options, but none have been able to obtain citizenship or student visas in their home countries. Citizenship is a process that often takes more than a decade.

"It's a key issue," Van de Griek said. "If we are raising the hopes of students who are undocumented and they don't have any way to achieve, we don't want to make it worse by raising hopes and then dashing dreams."
The Tennessee proposal to blockade high performers from college altogether echoes of the doomsday clock and the misery strategy.

Students in similar situations outside Tennessee write the blogs I Am a Shadow and Dreams Unlimited, LLC. Various visaless students in California made their case to break the blockade in this video:

Photo by Margo C. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The "lost children" of Corrections Corporation of America

New Yorker magazine intensifies international spotlight on Nashville company

The March 3 issue of the New Yorker included this article entitled The Lost Children, about Correction Corporation of America's private-run immigrant family incarceration facility, the only one in the USA. Corrections Corporation is based in Nashville.

For additional background on this story from the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, see this December 2007 recap.

Despite media coverage in various local, national, and international outlets outside Music City, in the nearly two years since the T. Don Hutto prison was reopened to house families and children in May 2006, the media in Nashville do not appear to have covered this story about one of its most prominent corporations.*

From the New Yorker article:
Kevin, it must be said, was lucky. The plaintiffs’ lawyers soon figured out that the crayons and markers they had brought in to occupy the kids while they talked to their parents could also be politically useful. They were particularly so in the hands of articulate, indignant Kevin. One day, Kevin drew an American flag and wrote “Pleace help us” inside one of the stripes. He drew a picture of his common area, with sofas, tables, “police,” and “camra.” And he wrote a letter to Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, in a rainbow of colors: “Dear Mr. Priminster Harper, I don’t like to stay in this jail. I’m only nine years old. I want to go to my school in Canada. I’m sleeping beside the wall. Please Mr. Priminster haper give visa for my family. This Place is not good for me. I want to get out of the cell.” One of the University of Texas law students, Matthew Pizzo, placed Kevin’s handiwork in his satchel, and Barbara Hines later mailed it to journalists in Canada. Newspapers and bloggers there started covering Kevin’s story. Sometime around then, Hines recalls, she and her students were told by Hutto officials that they could no longer bring in crayons and markers.
*Update March 5, 2008: The Tennessean published this column on Hutto, citing

Monday, March 3, 2008

"The Bible and Immigration" breakfast at Vanderbilt March 13

Vanderbilt University issued this press release:
A Vanderbilt Divinity School professor will discuss what the Hebrew Bible has to say about immigration issues at a community breakfast on Thursday, March 13.

Alice Hunt, associate dean for academic affairs and assistant professor of Hebrew Bible at the divinity school, will speak on “Strangers, Aliens, Residents and Walls: The Bible and Immigration.”

The breakfast, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. in the refectory of Vanderbilt Divinity School, is open to the public but advance reservations are required to attend. Cost for breakfast is $10.

To register, call 615-936-8453 or go to and register online.

Vanderbilt Divinity School stages several community breakfasts each semester to offer fellowship and insights on topics of interest.
Various studies of the intersection of immigration and the Bible are available on the Internet. Just search for the Bible and immigration on Google.

"God's love" photo by Michael Dorn. Licensed under Creative Commons.
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