Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cecilia Melo-Romie launches Williamson County dialogue on new arrival integration

Cecilia Melo-Romie and Avi Poster

Avi Poster: "My parents were immigrants; they had challenges when they came here, but they were made to feel welcome in this country"

On September 30 at La Hacienda in Franklin, Williamson County resident and Chile native Cecilia Melo-Romie (no relation to Eva Melo) threw an event to launch a dialogue on the successful integration of new arrivals in Williamson County. The event featured two of the county's elected officials and many of its residents.

The moderator was Avi Poster, who jokingly described himself as an "adopted" Williamson County resident on account of his frequent visits to its restaurants. After Poster asked the crowd to thank La Hacienda owner and host Salvador Guzman ("one of Williamson County's favorite citizens"), he described Nashville's efforts to redirect "awful" conversations about new arrivals to the city, which led to the Coalition of Education about Immigration, which now claims 1200 individuals and 40 organizations among its members. Poster said the purpose of the event was to help bring "that conversation" to Williamson County about 30 days out from the event, which is right about now.

Poster said:
My parents were immigrants; they had challenges when they came here, but they were made to feel welcome in this country.
Williamson County resident and Loews Vanderbilt Hotel's Tom Negri described the efforts of Nashville for All of Us to beat back the Virginia-funded English Only referendum in January. He mentioned that the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce was recently named the No. 1 large chamber of commerce in the country by American Chamber of Commerce Executives, in part because of the chamber's role in Nashville for All of Us. Negri also mentioned that he spent three years in Colombia, his wife is Colombian, and that his oldest son Danny just bought a house in Williamson County. He told the story that on Danny's first night in the home, one of his neighbors called the police reporting a Hispanic male in the back yard of that house. So while Danny was watering trees he had planted behind his own home, three police cars pulled up and wanted to know what he was doing there. Negri said "the officers were great" - in fact, they actually knew Danny. "But these things happen, and we don't want them to happen," said Negri.

Fabian Bedne of the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats urged new citizens to vote so that political campaigns would take them into account. He also pointed out that even though some campaign strategies focus on the voters of the last ten election cycles as those voters most likely to influence an election, candidates should remember that such a metric will discount active and interested new citizen voters, who will show up only for the election cycles since they obtained their U.S. citizenship.

Bedne also mentioned his bipartisan efforts, along with his Republican colleague Raul Lopez, to register new citizens to vote. Together, they fought the misperception that speaking Spanish means that you aren't a U.S. citizen, when the fact is that certain U.S.-born citizens (like residents of Puerto Rico), as well as older immigrants, may not be fluent in English but are nonetheless U.S. citizens and eligible voters. See their joint statement here, including the excerpt, "To say that a Latino who doesn't speak perfect English is not a citizen is simply wrong."

Another attendee's account of the event is at Sarah's Juniper Tree. I have more on the event which I hope to post later.

Photo by John Lamb. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Metro Council's Frank Harrison: why I voted against 287(g)

Metro Council Member Frank Harrison

City Paper also provides broad coverage of opposition viewpoint

Last Tuesday, October 20, three Metro Council members expressed Nashville's first official opposition to 287(g) in its current form. "287(g)" is the name for the program that ratchets up the interactions between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. In some of the 60 or so jurisdictions where 287(g) is in place, thousands of people have been deported even though they are not dangerous criminals. Nashville is one of those jurisdictions.

The council members voting against 287(g) were Megan Barry, Sam Coleman and Frank Harrison.

I asked Frank Harrison why he voted the way he did, and this was his response:
I felt that it was the right thing for me to do and would have preferred some debate before the vote. Perhaps more would have felt the same. Also I would not feel comfortable being part of causing hardships on families.
The lack of debate before the vote was reported by the Tennessean here and lamented by local blogger Aunt B. here:
If you cannot face the people most affected by a decision you make and explain your reasons for making your decision, even if it will be wildly unpopular with them, it tells both you and those people something–that you know you’re doing the wrong thing.
Monday's City Paper gave opponents' points a lot of ink, starting with the main story:
"The reality of the program here is that the vast majority of people who are being identified by this program have committed misdemeanors,” Esquivel said. “Rather than focusing on what I think there's a broad consensus on — which is using this program to target real criminals — we're using it to target people who are not criminals in any sense that the community had in mind when this was rolled out or what it ought to be used for.”
The City Paper's anonymous columnist "Rex Noseworthy" caught a hypothetical about the potential economic impact of 287(g):
“How long will it be a until a Nissan executive from Mexico has a rental car with a faulty blinker and winds up in a Metro jail because of it?” Esquivel asked.
Kleinheider, from the City Paper's sister publication the Nashville Post, explored the influence of ideology on support for or opposition to 287(g):
Most people who support the 287(g) program no more want the police actively targeting undocumented workers to deport than most opponents want the government giving illegal immigrants unfettered access to public services.
The City Paper excerpts above are brief clips; there is more discussion about 287(g) in the full content of the main story here, in Rex's column here, and in Kleinheider's column here.

For full coverage of 287(g) visit

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Announces 5th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Business & Community Awards

(Left to right) Ionela Chera, Shannon Kasakevics, Gil Veda, Brenna Davenport-Leigh, Mario Ramos, Holly Spann, Santos Gonzalez, Dr. Alicia Griffin, Loraine Segovia-Paz, Luis Bustillos, Dr. Galen Hull. At the podium, Yuri Cunza, NAHCC President & CEO

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* held its fifth annual Hispanic Heritage Month Business & Community Awards at and in partnership with Nashville Public Television.

Chamber President and CEO Yuri Cunza had the following comment:
On behalf of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, our Board of Directors, and our network of more than 200 businesses members, we celebrate this year's award recipients. The individuals and businesses selected are great examples of entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and the hard work of our emergent and established business community. We were very honored to recognize NAHCC members whose support has helped us continue the empowerment of Hispanic business.
The 2009 recipients, selected from among nominations received from NAHCC members, are as follows:

Manuel Cuevas with daughter Morelia
  • Outstanding Arts & Culture Innovation Achievement Award presented to visual artist and composer Gil Veda
  • Nashville Hispanic Founder Award presented to NAHCC Chairman and community advocate Luis Bustillos

Hershell Warren (Mayor's Office) Loraine Segovia, Luis Bustillos (NAHCC Board), Charlie Cook (NPT Chairman), Shannon Kasakevics (Leave Them Speechless Events/NAHCC Board)

More photos of the event, co-produced by chamber member LTSEvents, are here.

About the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Founded in 2000, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (NAHCC) is a non-profit member based organization representing the interests of more than 200 businesses, individuals and organizations with interest in Nashville's booming Hispanic market. The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce promotes actively the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and businesses.

President/Owner, Shannon Martinez Kasakevics, CMP of Leave Them Speechless Events. LTSEvents is a 5-Star, full-service event management, production, marketing and PR firm created by award-winning and certified hospitality and entertainment industry event producers. Our goal is to infuse and enhance our clients' inspiration, vision, and energy into unforgettable events.
About Nashville Public Television

Nashville Public Television is available free and over the air to nearly 2.2 million people throughout the Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky viewing area, and is watched by more than 600,000 households every week. NPT provides, through the power of traditional television and interactive telecommunications, high quality educational, cultural and civic experiences that address issues and concerns of the people of the Nashville region, and which thereby help improve the lives of those we serve.

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gumucio one of 500 relationship builders to participate in The Davidson Group

Ed Gumucio is featured in a Tennessean article about the Davidson Group, a 28-year-old Nashville organization dedicated to pairing people from different backgrounds for conversation and mutual understanding.

From the article:
The program, founded by the late Nashville businessman Nelson C. Andrews, has had about 500 people participate during its history.
Eduardo Gumucio, a native of Bolivia who has lived in Nashville for the last 15 years, plans to be there. He operates a business, Hablemos, that helps companies tap into the growing the Latino community. When he met his Davidson Group partner, an older Nashville businessman who is white, Gumucio was the first Bolivian the man had ever met.
"The concept is it's hard to dislike your friends; it's hard to not understand and even appreciate something about them once they are in your life," said Deborah Varallo, who is also chairman of the group's advisory board and a participant in what is now her second Davidson Group pairing.
Stonecrest Medical Center, where Gumucio is a trustee, has this abbreviated Gumucio bio:
Born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Eduardo “Ed” Gumucio now lives in Smyrna and serves as the president of The Hispanic Solution, LLC, a consulting firm that developed the Hispanic Friendly Corporation™ model. This model analyzes a company’s key organizational functions and recommends methods for interacting more successfully with the Hispanic population. Mr. Gumucio’s civic involvement includes chairing the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s multi-cultural task force for three years, as well as serving on the boards of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the American Diabetes Association.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Feel Good Friday: the song of U.S. citizenship

My friend Alejandro from Miami told me this wonderful story about when he became a U.S. citizen.

Alejandro moved to Florida from Chile a number of years ago, and recently he was eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. When he got to the point of his citizenship test, where you have to be able to name the 13 colonies, the number of voting representatives in the House of Representatives, the name of the U.S. President during World War II, and other facts like that, along with a basic command of English, he passed.

When they told him he had passed, he asked, "May I sing at the ceremony?" Alejandro is a trained classical tenor.

The test administrator wasn't sure what to think. She asked him what he had said, and he repeated his request: "May I sing at my naturalization ceremony?" The administrator, befuddled, excused herself and walked to the office of her supervisor. She and the supervisor returned a few moments later, wanting to make sure they understood right, and they had.

"You want to sing at the ceremony," the supervisor asked, now the second person in the office who was trying to make sense of the unusual request.

"Yes, I am a singer," he replied, "and I would like to sing the national anthem of my new country."

"And you really can sing?"

"Yes," Alejandro answered.

They then asked him to step into another room and requested that Alejandro provide a demonstration of his vocal skills. In full performance volume, Alejandro started belting out the Star-Spangled Banner.

The women were blown away.

Not only did Alejandro sing the Star-Spangled Banner at his own naturalization ceremony, but officials have since asked him to return for two other naturalization ceremonies.

And so Alejandro has become a beautiful part of the first moments of being an American.

Photo by Josh Hallett. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saturday at Cheekwood: 10th annual Dia de los Muertos family festival, also opening of "Dichos" exhibit on art of bus drivers' self-expression

From Cheekwood:

Cheekwood’s 10th Annual

Fall Festival
Saturday, October 24th 2009
11:00am – 5:00pm

Come celebrate with us at our 10th annual Fall Family Day, El Día de los Muertos. In recognition of this Latin American holiday, Cheekwood will bring the traditions of Mexico to Nashville. We’ll celebrate with traditional music and dance, vibrant art activities and authentic Mexican food. Learn about the culture of our Latin American neighbors as you explore the beautiful altar displays, shop in the bustling Mexican marketplace, and enjoy the fine cuisine from local bakeries and restaurants.

Dichos: Words to Live, Love, and Laugh by in Latin America
October 24 2009 - January 17 2010

Truck and bus drivers across Latin America delight in inscribing dichos—sayings or amusing expressions—on their vehicles. Hand painted in an endless variety of graphic styles and colors, dichos address subjects ranging from religion and love to puns and earthy humor. Unfortunately, with the emergence of corporate trucking and government push for standardized public transportation, this vibrant folk art may gradually disappear.

The 46 color photographs are accompanied by miniature dicho-laden vehicles, including one painted by well-known Latin American artist Arturo Sosa Perez, and full-size metal bumpers with text and graphics. The exhibition is organized thematically according to the content of the dichos. The four categories are Love; Faith and Devotion; Wit, Commentary, and Egotism; and Buses of Panama.

RNHA event today: Hispanic Heritage Month with Attorney General Gonzales

Posted via email from

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today marks 6 years of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook

I started the Hispanic Nashville Notebook on October 21, 2003 - six years ago today. For the four years up to that point, I had been printing and keeping a physical notebook of Nashville's Hispanic stories, but online technology made me give that up. Keeping an electronic record was easier, and so this web site was born. From 2003 forward, whenever I wanted to share a story that I had seen about our Hispanic neighbors in Nashville, I knew where I could find it. And eventually, so did you.

Looking back over those six years, we see not only news but also lives collected here - from the first child born in Nashville in 2004 to the 2009 passings of writer Tim Chavez, 5-year-old Max Gomez, and singer Azucena Rios.

The stories in these archives are Nashville stories as much as they are Hispanic stories. I recently started celebrating the Hispanic identity of Nashville as being "muy bna" - very Nashville, and very good (a play on "BNA" being both the Nashville airport code and also an abbreviation of "buena" - the Spanish word for "good.")

To my Hispanic neighbors in Nashville, including my own Hispanic family, you are muy bna. Since these are your stories, Happy Sixth Anniversary.


To hear the story of Humberto, the man in the photo above, click here. Photo by Susan Adcock, copyright 2008. Used with permission.

Lamar Alexander: Spanish-speaker, Latin American major

"Impressed with all of the student demonstrations in Latin America"

From a recent Vanderbilt Hustler interview with Tennessee's senior U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander:
Vanderbilt Hustler: When you were an editor at The Hustler, I understand that you habitually made speeches in Spanish at really early morning hours. What were those about?

Lamar Alexander: I don’t remember what they were about. They were at 2 in the morning. I had gone to Latin America; I was a Latin American major, and I traveled in Latin America the summer before I was a senior. I was impressed with all of the student demonstrations in Latin America so I had nothing better to do than make a speech about uprisings and revolutions and that kind of thing.

They made no sense. And they weren’t serious. But they were in Spanish, so nobody else knew what they said either.
Read the entire interview here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nashville faces wisdom of 287(g) vote

Sculptures of Wisdom, Law and Courage at Davidson County Courthouse. Photo by Brent Moore. Licensed by Creative Commons.

How many peace-loving families have to be sacrificed to get rid of dangerous criminals?

Prayer vigil at 5:30 p.m.

Last night, I was at the Courthouse to watch the Metro Council public safety committee deliberate the "287(g)" agreement between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Thousands of people have been deported out of Middle Tennessee as a result of the program, most of whom were not dangerous criminals. The 287(g) agreement was nonetheless unanimously approved by the committee.

Two 287(g) opponents were given the chance to express their concerns that people who aren't dangerous are being caught up in the program more than dangerous criminals are. David Esquivel, the son of Cuban immigrants, talked about the disproportionately severe impact on ordinary people in the immigrant community. Pastor Gwen Brown-Felder of Ernest Newman United Methodist Church offered the committee a vision of 287(g) as contrary to our faith. Her comments crystallized for me that we will look back on 287(g) in shame.

The good news is that a handful of council members asked thoughtful questions of the Sheriff, who gave his own presentation. At least two council members, however, took a simplistic view of the issue. One of them quoted the Bible and in the next breath concluded with, "what part of illegal don't you understand." So much for Letter from Birmingham Jail.

The committee's unanimous vote in favor of the program was disappointing. I left the Council chambers concerned for my hometown. To see the city so far from Brown-Felder's vision was disheartening.

As I was walking off the beautiful new lawn of Public Square, under a refreshingly clear field of stars, my only recourse was to pray. I prayed for my city. I prayed for the hearts of stone to be softened. God was close, bigger than the city machinations that had just taken place.

Below my feet as I faced War Memorial auditorium and the newly refurbished Deaderick Avenue, I noticed the word "STRENGTH" in an artistic feature in the Public Square pavement. "Strength" was a value the committee likely thought it was implementing perfectly by approving 287(g) without a second thought. I wondered what other values appeared in the pavement around the circle-shaped lawn, and whether there might be a complimentary value to strength that the city aspired to. I walked around the circle to the towers that bump up against the Cumberland River to see what was the counterbalance to "Strength."

It was "PROTECTION" - surely another value that the committee would consider it had upheld last night. Was I surprised that "Strength" would be balanced by "Protection" - definitely, yes. Not much of a check and balance.

Then I noticed I wasn't done examining the circle. In the 6 o'clock position in the circle there was another value.

It was "WISDOM."

Particularly appropriate that wisdom is the closest of the three values to the new reflecting pools and also to the fountain that rises from the ground at the southern entrance to the plaza. A city that so thoughtfully developed this place of reflection and meditation rightly honored wisdom with this central and thoughtful location.

It's an empty wisdom, however, that merely defers to strength and protection instead of informing the exercise of those values. In the words of Primo Levi:
A country is considered the more civilized the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak or a powerful one too powerful.
The charge of this city to the members of the Metro Council is that they bring wisdom to their full vote on 287(g) tonight. I would ask council members, have you spent any time with immigrants and their world-class advocates in Nashville, without which it is impossible to fully consider the facts about an immigrant-related local program?

Have you asked how many peace-loving families have to be sacrificed to get rid of dangerous criminals? Can the disproportions ever become so great before the trade-off is deemed unjust, inefficient and unwise?

Constituents of Nashville's council, please ask yourself the same questions and urge your representatives to write our laws and give our city's approval not just with safety or protection in mind. Wisdom calls for more.

A prayer vigil will be held tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Courthouse.

For more on the strength, protection, and wisdom symbolism at the Courthouse, as well as other values, see Paragraph II B of this 1981 report by Ann Reynolds, Historic Preservationist, Historical Commission of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County and section 1.G. of this recent call for artwork to represent those values. See the diagram below for the layout of Public Square and the pavement decorations.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tim Chavez v. 287(g): excerpts from his opposition

The late Tim Chavez

Former Tennessean columnist and blogger Tim Chavez, whose passing on June 18, 2009 was mourned by Nashvillians across the political spectrum, was a vigorous opponent of 287(g), which is up for a vote in the Metro Council on Tuesday (Resolution 2009-997) and will be heard before the Public Safety committee on Monday at 6pm.

287(g) is a section of federal immigration law that allows local law enforcement to screen for immigration violations in partnership with federal immigration authorities. Local and state governments have to opt in to participate, and different levels of local approval have to be given in order for the program to be put in place. In Nashville, the Sheriff has to sign an agreement with Washington, and the Metro Council has to approve that agreement. The Metro approval is the vote scheduled for committee review on Monday and Council vote on Tuesday.

Chavez used his Political Salsa blog to register his opposition to the implementation of 287(g) in Nashville. Excerpts from 2008 are below, with links to the related posts.

"Gross dysfunction of the sheriff's advisory board"

The gross dysfunction of the sheriff's advisory board was well known before Ozment's public comment on a TV program. Gregg Ramos, a Nashville attorney and chairman of Catholic Charities for the Dioicese of Nashville, has said that the sheriff does not even listen to board members. And Hall did not invite members of the board to his political dog and pony show earlier this year touting the success of the program in mistreating undocumented human beings. September 3, 2008

"Where is their sense of decency?"

Sheriff Daron Hall made a big mistake in bringing 287g here and grossly misleading the public on its true intent for personal political gain. Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper deserve rebuke for their silence over the outrage of 287g and the torture of Mrs. Villegas, not to mention her newborn son.

Where is their sense of decency? Where are their loyalities to the progressive people who put them in office? Where are the voices of the progressive people who put them in office? Or maybe "progressive" is not what I believe it means? These three elected officials also are Democrats, or what passes for one in the South. August 6, 2008

"Destroying hard-working families"

But from the victims of public policy in Hispanic families in the Nashville area where I live, I can tell you that all Hispanics -- legal or not -- are being painted with the same intolerant brush. The 287g program is destroying hard-working families. I have the personal stories to prove that point, not the backside-covering rhetoric of empty ideological words. June 30, 2008

"The police are not at fault here"

When the undocumented workers cannot produce needed ID with picture -- since Tennessee revoked its law allowing driver's licenses to undocumented workers -- police arrest the Hispanics and book them.

That's the law for anyone who police do not believe will show up in court to pay for a traffic or other offense. The police are not at fault here; it's the local sheriff who then takes the name and fingerprints of offenders to see if they're legally in this country. June 23, 2008

" 287(g) programs like here in Nashville have stigmatized all Hispanics, citizens or not"

As for Hispanic voters, Obama made no mention Tuesday night of the national persecution of people who look like us and our abuelos. ICE raids and 287(g) programs like here in Nashville have stigmatized all Hispanics, citizens or not. The human rights abuses are outrageous. Due process has been sacrificed, because undocumented workers can't read the applications in English waiving their rights to counsel and hearings -- where they could invoke their right to seek asylum from violence and/or political persecution in their homelands. Or to get a guest worker permit. June 5, 2008

"Programs such as 287(g) are not about deporting criminals. They are about scoring political points"


Sen. Dole,

I've read the e-mail you sent last week to North Carolina voters about your establishment of a 287(g) deportation program with county sheriffs across the state. The purpose of the program, you say, is to deport illegal aliens who are committing crimes to property and people.
[In Nashville,] 62 percent of those arrested went to jail for the first time. For the remaining 32% who had criminal records, two-thirds of those records were for misdemeanors.
Programs such as 287(g) are not about deporting criminals. They are about scoring political points with talk show hosts, extremists in the immigration debate and sadly, some bigots. America's historical bigotry against Hispanics, parituclarly those of Mexican descent like myself, is well-documented. You may win for the moment in your state, but you are writing the GOP's obituary by going after Hispanics. We will remember these outrages against human decency and human rights. And history will increasingly be written from our point of view as our numbers and economic influence grow.June 3, 2008

"Two thirds ... did not have criminal records"

Here, we have what's called the 287(g) deportation program. The local sheriff -- who is elected -- made an agreement with the Feds to detain immigrants on traffic charges of driving without a seat belt or fishing without a license. Then he checks their immigration status on an INS database and holds them for the Feds.

He sold the program to Nashville, which is predominantly a Democratic and liberal city, as a way to just deport criminal elements of undocumented workers. Now, after 3,000 deportations in only a year, he is basking in praise from local radio talk show hosts, including Phil Valentine of The Tennessean newspaper and local radio.

But the sheriff, who claims to be a Democrat, is now backtracking from claims he started the program to deport criminals. That's because more than two-thirds of the 3,000 people deported did not have criminal records. They did, however, have families. And those families are now being torn apart. The children suffer the most, not knowing when they kiss Papa goodbye for school in the morning if they'll see him for months or years after they return home in the afternoon. May 27, 2008

"Some of the most inhumane treatment of people in this nation since the Civil Rights movement days and the internment of Japanese-American families during World War II"

The 287(g) deportation program in Nashville has produced some of the most inhumane treatment of people in this nation since the Civil Rights movement days and the internment of Japanese-American families during World War II. May 16, 2008

Parthenon hosted Spanish/English "Monday Night Football" Week 5 intro

In duet with Gloria Estefan, Hank Williams Jr. sings, "¿Estás listo para football?"

From a Habana Avenue press release:
As fall begins to drift south NFL fans are feverous for their football and so is Hank Williams, Jr. Williams is joined by Gloria Estefan to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Week in this 40th anniversary season of ESPN's "Monday Night Football" (MNF.) The broadcast special show open was supervised by Habana Avenue executive producer/creative director Steven J. Levy. Ms. Estefan joined Williams on Week 5 of the open, when the Miami Dolphins battled the New York Jets.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the show ESPN director Robert Toms decided to keep Williams close to home, using Nashville's full-scale replica of the Parthenon to give some historical gravitas to a raucous MNF party. With help from Fresh Paint Visual Effects and Design (now represented by Spots & Content @ Habana Avenue), the classical edifice was cast as the MNF Hall of Fame in which stone statues of football players come to life as Williams performs to cheering crowds. The open marked the 21st season Williams has been featured; he's won four Emmy Awards for his work on MNF.

Habana Avenue was charged with creative consultation, staging and lighting the extensive two-day shoot at the Parthenon, an art museum in Nashville's Centennial Park. Radio and Internet casting calls recruited some 250 extras for an interior Parthenon party scene and another 500 for an exterior party sequence. During this shoot Williams teamed with Gloria Estefan on a rousing bilingual, Miami-themed duet.

"Making of" videos

There are a few "making-of" videos highlighting the behind-the-scenes of the bilingual Parthenon video shoot: the official "making of" video embedded below, the Tennessean version, and the video of a local who was there.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hispanic treasures in Scene's annual "Best of Nashville" issue

All three "Best New Restaurant" honorees have Hispanic roots

The Nashville Scene announced its 20th annual "Best of Nashville" award winners, and Hispanic Nashvillians and Hispanic food and music were among them.

The honorees include Mia Calderon's "Manik", a concert by Helado Negro, Christine Maddela's Twitter feed, Fiesta Mexicana, Local Taco, ChaChah, Cantina Laredo, Las Paletas, Cinco de Mayo, Mas Tacos, Lime, Rosepepper, Las Palmas, Las Maracas, La Hacienda, Baja Burrito, Blue Coast Burrito, Nuvo Burrito, and San Antonio Taco Co. ("SATCO"). Let me know if I missed any.

(Celebrate with a few grains of salt around the rim of your margarita, considering the fact that Adam Dread won "Best Attorney" and former Vice President Al Gore took second fiddle to local radio host Mary Mancini in the "Best Local Liberal" category. Although, to be fair to Mary, she might be more local and more liberal than the veep.)

From the staff awards:
Best Latin-Electro-Pop Album: Manik by Mia Calderon

Best House Concert: Helado Negro at Willy T's

Best Local Twitter Feed (TV): Christine Maddela, WKRN

Best Mexican Restaurant with a View: Fiesta Mexicana
From the readers' poll:
Best New Restaurant (Opened Since Oct. 2008): Local Taco, ChaChah, and Cantina Laredo

Best Dessert: Sunset Grill, Jackson's, and Las Paletas

Best Restaurant in Wilson County: Demos', Sunset, and Cinco de Mayo

Best Cheap Eats: Calypso Cafe, Baja Burrito, and SATCO

Best Mobile Vendor: Mas Tacos, I Dream of Weenie, and The Juice Wagon

Best Restaurant Décor: Flyte, Lime, and Sambuca

Best Patio: Rumours, Jackson's, and Rosepepper

Best Bar That Makes You Feel Like You're Not in Nashville: The Patterson House, Lime, and Sambuca

Best Bar to People Watch: Lime, 3 Crow Bar, and Tribe

Best Mexican Restaurant: Las Palmas, Las Maracas, and La Hacienda

Best Margarita: Rosepepper, Cantina Laredo, Las Palmas

Best Burrito: Baja Burrito, Blue Coast Burrito, and Nuvo Burrito

Best Cheese Dip: SATCO, Las Palmas, and Rosepepper

Best Fish Taco: Baja Burrito, Mas Tacos, and Local Taco
All of this year's awards can be found here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spanish-TV launches seventh season

Spanish-TV, in its seventh season as of September 12, 2009, is now viewable via its YouTube channel and every Saturday at 10am on channel CSN 176, Comcast.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tera Vazquez credits TN Minority Supplier Development Council in Nashville Post interview

President of Guy Brown Products and Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Peru native and Brentwood businesswoman Maria Teresa “Tera” Vazquez was recently interviewed by the Nashville Post. Vazquez is the co-founder and President of Guy Brown Products, a $200 million ink toner cartridge supplier. She is also the first elected woman president of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce*.

In the interview, Vazquez credits the Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council for key assistance in Guy Brown's early stages:
The [Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council] was the catalyst for our success. You must be the best at what you do in order to effectively compete, but having a supporter like Cheri Henderson (TMSDC’s executive director) has definitively made a difference.
Read the entire Nashville Post interview here.

Vazquez was also interviewed by the Tennessean in March, under the headline "Chamber's Vazquez turned ink into gold" (PDF here courtesy of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce).

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to speak to Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Tennessee October 22 at Waller Lansden

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Headliner for "Hispanic Heritage Month Grand Finale Fiesta"

Gonzales was first Hispanic American and Mexican-American U.S. Attorney General

"I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror"

Honored by United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, League of United Latin American Citizens, Harvard Law School Association Award, Hispanic National Bar Association, United Way, others

Immigration status of three grandparents "unclear"

The Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Tennessee sent out an invitation to its "Hispanic Heritage Month Grand Finale Fiesta" featuring former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The event will take place on October 22, from 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. at the Waller Lansden law firm downtown. The invitation is available at the end of this post and also at the RNHA of TN's new web address

Washington career and "War on Terror"

Gonzales was sworn in as the nation's 80th Attorney General on February 3, 2005, and was the first Hispanic American and Mexican-American to hold that position. Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, he was commissioned as White House Counsel to President George W. Bush in January of 2001.

As both Attorney General and White House Counsel, Gonzales was a central figure in what the Bush administration described as the "War on Terror." Gonzales authored a controversial memo in January 2002 that explored the application of Article III of the Geneva Convention to Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan and held in detention facilities around the world. He also authored the Presidential Order which authorized the use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects. He fought with Congress to keep Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy task force documents from being reviewed. Gonzales was also an early advocate of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act.

Gonzales' testimony before Congress about a domestic warrantless wiretap program and a related 2004 hospital visit he made to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was the subject of controversy that immediately preceded his resignation.

Gonzales has characterized his role in Washington as that of a scapegoat:
For some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.

Texas career

Prior to serving in the White House, Gonzales served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. Before his appointment to the Texas Supreme Court in 1999, he served as Texas' 100th Secretary of State from December 2, 1997 to January 10, 1999. Among his many duties as Secretary of State, Gonzales was a senior advisor to then Governor Bush, chief elections officer, and the Governor's lead liaison on Mexico and border issues.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary of State, Gonzales was the General Counsel to Governor Bush for three years. Before joining the Governor's staff, he was a partner with the law firm of Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. in Houston, Texas. He joined the firm in June 1982. While in private practice, Gonzales also taught law as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center.


Among his many honors, in 2003 Gonzales was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Alumni Hall of Fame, was honored with the Good Neighbor Award from the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, and received President's Awards from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the League of United Latin American Citizens. In 2002, he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Rice University by the Association of Rice Alumni and was honored by the Harvard Law School Association with the Harvard Law School Association Award. Gonzales was recognized as the 1999 Latino Lawyer of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association, and he received a Presidential Citation from the State Bar of Texas in 1997 for his dedication to addressing basic legal needs of the indigent. He was chosen as one of the Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Jaycees in 1994, and as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas by the Texas Young Lawyers Association in 1992. Gonzales was honored by the United Way in 1993 with a Commitment to Leadership Award, and received the Hispanic Salute Award in 1989 from the Houston Metro Ford Dealers for his work in the field of education.

Family, education, military service

Gonzales was born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in a small town outside of Houston. He was the second of eight children born to Maria Gonzales, who had a sixth grade education, and Pablo Gonzales, a construction worker who had a second-grade education. According to Gonzales, it's "unclear" whether his three Mexican-born grandparents entered and resided in the United States legally or illegally.

He is a graduate of Texas public schools, Rice University, and Harvard Law School. Gonzales served in the United States Air Force between 1973 and 1975, and attended the United States Air Force Academy between 1975 and 1977. He and his wife, Rebecca Turner Gonzales, have three sons.

Gonzales currently teaches a political science course at Texas Tech University.


The invitation to the October 22 event is below:

The RNHA Invites You:

To Celebrate,
Hispanic Heritage Month Grand Finale Fiesta

and meet Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

October 22nd
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
at the Law Offices of Waller/Lansden
511 Union St 27th Floor

$35.00 per person
R.S.V.P. by October 20th at

11:15 a.m.
Private Photo Reception at the Hermitage Hotel

If you are interested in attending the Private Photo Reception
with Alberto Gonzales and/or the Lunch Fiesta please call
Juan Borges at (615) 579-5161 or email Raul Lopez at

Lunch Hosts
Mayor Bill Haslam and Congressman Zach Wamp
State Senator Bill Ketron, Jim Tracy, Diane Black and Dolores Gresham
State Representative Beth Harwell and Glen Casada, Steve Lynn, Tera Vazquez, Nelson Remus, Rene Valadez
Tim Skow, Sylvia Marcela Gomez, Attorney of Law Diana Cachaya and Jesus Cachaya, Attorney of Law Larry Crain, Attorney of Law Paul Ney, Wilson County Republican Party

Biographical information courtesy of U.S. government and Wikipedia. U.S. government text is in the public domain. Wikipedia text is under a Creative Commons license; this post may be reproduced under the same terms of that license.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Most sermons in Nashville's 19th century synagogues were in German

Nashville's Vine Street Temple, dedicated in 1876

This weekend's 30th Annual Oktoberfest had me thinking again about the history of German immigrants in Nashville. The Church of the Assumption celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and I have previously reported that 50 of those years featured German-language preaching.

German immigrants to Nashville were also instrumental in founding Jewish congregations, and like their Catholic counterparts, the majority of them worshiped in German for a while, according to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities:
Jews were very active in civic life in Nashville. Many were involved with non-Jewish fraternal societies like the Masons and Odd Fellows. A number joined German-speaking lodges, reflecting their strong German identity. Indeed, most of the sermons delivered in Nashville’s synagogues in the latter half of the 19th century were in German.
Photo source: Tennessee State Library and Archives

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lack of identification for background check was the reason DCS took children away from Maria Gurrola

"DCS is supposed to try to keep families together and there were plenty of relatives willing to take in the children"

2009 Ketron bill would make i.d. available to qualified visaless applicants

Nashvillian Maria Gurrola has been cleared of the baby-selling allegations that arose following the abduction of her son, Yair Carillo, but those allegations put her children in state custody for a few days until she was cleared. Yesterday, Travis Loller of the Associated Press reported the reason for the taking of the children.

Loller reports that the Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") took Maria Gurrola's children away from her during the investigation of the now-disproven allegations because some of Gurrola's family members, who could have otherwise taken the children, are visaless and don't have sufficient I.D. for a background check:
Maria Gurrola, still recovering from stab wounds and a collapsed lung, started crying and shaking when she learned week-old Yahir Anthony Carrillo and his three siblings would be put into foster homes, said Norma Rodriguez, the cousin of Jose Carrillo, the baby's father.
[Gurrola's court-appointed attorney Dennis] Nordhoff questioned the need to put the already-suffering family through the trauma of separation. He said DCS is supposed to try to keep families together and there were plenty of relatives willing to take in the children, but DCS would not allow it because they were illegal immigrants, although some of them had been in the country for many years without ever getting in any trouble. Gurrola is originally from Durango, Mexico.
[DCS Spokesman Rob] Johnson, speaking generally, said, "DCS always looks for relatives who already know a child as an alternative to state custody, but DCS must be able to perform background checks and DCS must be able to verify people's relationships to a family in question."
Over 40,000 visaless Tennesseans were stripped of their I.D. when the state changed its drivers license law in 2004. A 2009 bill by State Senator Bill Ketron (R) would make a state-issued I.D. available to qualified visaless applicants.

Gurrola's experience is another example of why it is important for everyone to be able to have I.D. Also, it's the first time that the family members' immigration status has been reported in a way that is relevant to the Gurrola story (see my Monday and Tuesday discussions of the relevance of immigration status to this story).

I say "visaless" and/or "unvisaed" instead of "undocumented," because it's the lack of a visa that more specifically describes people without immigration status. Most visaless people usually are in possession of whatever documents the government allows them to have - you've never seen a visaless immigrant driving without a license plate, have you? And until the change in TN law, the visaless had drivers' licenses, which made the term "undocumented" even more clearly inappropriate.

*And is it "Gurrola" or "Gurrolla"? The
Tennessean and now Loller's AP piece are using "Gurrola." The Nashville police department had previously reported both spellings, even in the same press release, but it appears that corrections have been made to unify the police department's spelling to "Gurrolla." On the other hand, the FBI's criminal complaint against the alleged abductor uses "Gurrola" exclusively. Google News searches show that there are many more stories with the "Gurrolla" spelling than with the "Gurrola" spelling.

Photo by atom heart father. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Conexion Americas announces "Orgullo Hispano" and young writer award winners

Photo by Camilo Garcia

Last Friday, Conexión Américas announced the winners of its two sets of awards given in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month: the Orgullo Hispano awards, for "three Latino adults or young people who have been persistently but quietly working to better their immediate community --neighborhood, school, workplace, nonprofit or civic organization," and the "My Latino Roots, My American Dream" essay contest for young writers.

Mayor Karl Dean, U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper and others attended the reception which immediately preceded the organization's annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration.

Descriptions of the winners are below.


When Ivan Cerda enrolled in a leadership program at the Oasis Center three years ago he had been involved in a local gang, had been kicked out of several schools and was, by his own admission, hanging with the wrong crowd. Trouble found him easily.

Initially, he rarely said anything during Oasis Center meetings, but eventually he spoke up and shared his experiences, he gained the admiration of his peers, he got involved in various community service projects such as research, fundraising and panel discussions, giving fresh feedback and insight to community leaders.

Today, Ivan is a student at Nashville State Tech, where he is the class president. He also is an intern on the Youth Engagement & Action team at the Oasis Center.

Brandon Hill, who nominated Ivan, said this: “Ivan’s story is a success that must be heard. Despite his past troubles he had a sincere desire to make a positive impact on the people around him, and he did just that, despite the odds against him. He has made one the greatest transformations I have witnessed in my 8 years of youth work.”

Edubina Arce was an attorney and judge in her native Colombia and while she does not work in the legal field in Nashville, she works tirelessly to help those who need it. She acts as translator for those who can’t afford one, and she prepares meals for those in need. She works hard help those who have been defrauded and shammed, and she does much of it on her personal time and from an altruistic heart. Edubina, a realtor by profession, has personally helped many families achieve their American Dream of homeownership with guidance and support beyond the regular duties of a realtor.

Miguel Gonzalez relocated from California to Shelbyville to work at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, and has become a community leader through his volunteerism at the Centro Latino, of which he is the director.

Originally from Mexico, he is a tireless advocate and has worked closely with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, organizing youth and being a champion for the Dream Act, a piece of legislation that would open the doors of higher education to immigrant students in Tennessee. His work and his passion have made a real difference in the Shelbyville community, his nominator said.
German Franco

In Memoriam:

German Franco was killed Sept. 2 by an unknown assailant. His nomination for Orgullo Hispano came from friends who are mourning the 58-year-old husband, father, businessman and volunteer.

German, originally from Colombia, came to Nashville and built a successful ice cream business, but he also gave his time to organizations such as the Hispanic Achievers of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee and Catholic Charities, mentoring young people and helping low-income families prepare their tax returns.

“Perhaps the largest lesson German left us was his modesty -- in capital letters -- because his generosity and humility was very large…’’ his nomination read.

“My Latino Roots, My American Dream” Essay Contest for Young Writers

Oscar Rayo

Oscar grabbed the judges from the beginning with one simple paragraph.

"Cuándo vine a lo Estados Unidos traje conmigo un bolso lleno de recuerdos, sueños e ilusiones. La idea de tener una mejor vida y una mejor educación me llenaba de alegría y de ilusión. Ahora que estoy en la tierra de oportunidades, esos sueños e ilusiones han dejado de ser eso y se han convertido en algo diferente, metas."

For those who do not understand, he arrived with a bag full of memories, dreams and illusions. But now that he is in the land of opportunity, those illusions have converted themselves into goals.

Oscar, who believes he wants to be an accountant, wrote in his honest and heart-felt essay that hopes the voices of immigrants will be heard so that so many no longer have to live in the shadows.

Lindsey Victoria Thompson

Lindsey Victoria Thompson’s essay, Mango Season, celebrates her Latina Mexican DNA and was a wonderful example to the judges of just how comfortable our bicultural children can be in their own skin, and of how they celebrate the idiosyncrasies of their cultures.

Her essay described the difference between how she and her Mexican mother eat a mango, versus how her father, an Anglo, eats it.

First, the Mexican style:

"We sink our incisors straight into its flesh and peel away the skin with our teeth. This sends juices running down our chins, and we reposition ourselves over the sink to prevent further messes. We have taken to eating our fruit in a tribal and savage manner. I don’t know if it is because we adore the ambrosia of tropical fruit or because it awakens some sort of savage inner self that lies dormant during the mango off-season, but the tradition of tearing apart fruit in this way can be dated back centuries in my mom’s Mexican heritage."

And a bit further down on the American father...

"We go on eating like this, my mom and I like untamed animals and my father like a daintily brought up debutante, when he says what I consider to be the most Anglo thing a person could say: 'How do I know if I’m eating the pit?'”

Gabriela RodrÍguez

Gabriela RodrÍguez started her essay, Volver a Empezar, with "No puedo, no puedo.'' In the essay she was referring to the words she cried out on the first day of school in the United States: I can't. I can't.

But, she clearly could.

Gabriela told us about coming to the United States from Ecuador, a country she vividly and poetically described. She told us of suffering through grades that were less-than-acceptable to her, and of the climb toward English proficiency and much higher grades. She is in AP Spanish, by the way. Gabriela's "no puedo" turned into "si, pude'' and "si, podre.'' I did and I can.

She wrote:

"Ahora se que nada es facil en la vida, per tampoco imposible de conseguirlo, solo hace falta dedicacion, determinacion y confianza en ti misma.''

Nothing is easy in life, but nothing is impossible either. You only need dedication, determination and confidence in yourself.

Congratulations to them all.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Miss Tennessee Latina Pageant skips 2009

Miss Tennessee Latina Lilibeth Leon

The Miss Tennessee Latina Pageant will not take place in 2009, according to Marjorie Weller, state coordinator of the 2008 event. The national pageant, Miss Latina US, has also been pushed back from its originally scheduled September 2009 date and moved to May 25–30, 2010, with some details still yet to be finalized. The national Teen pageant for younger contestants, is on hiatus and will be separated from the main national competition going forward.

The Tennessee pageant was last held November 22, 2008, and the reigning Miss Tennessee Latina is Lilibeth Leon, a senior at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga who grew up in Jackson, Tennessee.

Interviewed by the Jackson Sun, Leon described the benefit of having a Miss Tennessee Latina pageant:
Sometimes I feel like we're overlooked. There are so many Hispanic girls out there who are bilingual and accomplished. It's so important for us to gather and do events like that. This just shows other Hispanics that they're not alone.
When asked to describe her greatest inspiration, Leon pointed to her mother:
She came here not knowing how to speak English. After she
learned how to speak English, she started helping other women who can't. She takes them to the doctor. She does a lot in the community, especially in Jackson.
Leon and Miss Teen Tennessee Latina Alexia Medina were also the focus of this photo-filled interview in eSpanglish Magazine.

Both Leon and Medina have roots in Mexico and in Georgia.

Photo used with permission of Miss Tennessee Latina Pageant and Lilibeth Leon. Photo by All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Would you let this person in? Why? What did you do wrong?

Tennessean narrows focus to core question: "It's unknown why Gurrola was targeted and how her attacker knew when to strike"

I'm still struggling with whether it's right to report an alleged crime victim's immigration status, which was the basis of my post yesterday about Maria Gurrolla*, the Nashville mother who appeared before the press last week to report that her newborn son had been stolen by someone posing as an immigration agent.

Here's how an actual journalist (which I am not) compared the dilemma about mentioning immigration status in a story to the issue of mentioning race, and this quote was part of the piece I linked to yesterday:
Immigration, in some respects, is like another thorny identifier in stories: race. We've been taught that you only identify one's race if race is central to the story. Immigration status mandates a similar threshold. (Of course, identifying someone's race will never get them deported.)
My question is whether the alleged victim's actual immigration status should be in the story. Using the test above, is the victim's actual immigration status "central" to the story of an alleged abduction in which the alleged perpetrator posed as an immigration agent?

Here's why the immigration status of the alleged victim might not be central to the story, even when the alleged perpetrator poses as an immigration agent:

1. The Question. The central question is a combination of, "why was the alleged victim targeted," and "why was the immigration agent ruse chosen?"

2. The Possible Answers. Possible answers to one or both of those questions include the following:

(a) that the alleged victim had observable characteristics that are equated with problematic visa status, like the Spanish language and/or ethnicity (see “Alderman Cherry responded, ‘If they’re speaking Spanish, I tend to think they are illegal.’”)

(b) that the alleged victim had observable characteristics that are equated with the Hispanic community, which has a heightened word-of-mouth awareness of being on the wrong end of an immigration raid, whether justified or not, and also proximity to people who would be subject to an immigration raid, or

(c) the alleged victim’s actual immigration status, which if tenuous, and also if that fact was known by the alleged perpetrator, would imply that the perpetrator had more information about the alleged victim than what could be obtained by casual observation.

Addressing Question 1 by reporting that the alleged perpetrator's motive and strategy are unknown - as the Tennessean did this morning - is central to the story. Going straight to Answer 2(c) without even mentioning Question 1 is not central to the story. Answer 2(c) becomes central to the story after Question 1 has been mentioned first, as well as 2(a) and 2(b) or any other possible answers. Answer 2(c) also becomes central to the story when facts are revealed that make it the actual or more likely answer.

Why does this matter to me? Maybe because it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see an alleged victim hounded by questions of what the victim might have done wrong. Also, if the assumption is that someone who opens the door for an immigration agent might be hiding an immigration problem, then what is the assumption about someone who refuses to open the door for an immigration agent?

Wading into the questions journalists ask themselves about story content has led me to appreciate the following people for the reasons given below:

For their reporting

Chris Echegaray and Kate Howard of the Tennessean for reporting this morning that "[i]t's unknown why Gurrola was targeted and how her attacker knew when to strike." It more directly addresses the question that Christian Grantham said was worth asking, and it is more elegantly worded than my suggestion.

The Nashville Scene's Liz Garrigan, over at the Pith blog, in which she reported the opinion of immigration attorneys that the Department of Children's Services would not base an intervention on the immigration status of the mother.

Kyle Swanson of the City Paper for confirming that Children's Services wouldn't take children away from their parents because of unclear immigration status.

Kristin Hall and the AP for pointing out that the police considered the mother's immigration status to be irrelevant to the investigation, at least with the facts they had at first (I say "at first" because of the shocking twist in the case revealed late Monday).

For sharing the journalist's point of view

WKRN's Christian Grantham, who has addressed my questions head-on over at Nashville Is Talking. As of last night, I had asked why other abduction stories on WKRN's web site didn't go into the facts behind the ruses in those cases, and why reporting on the unknown immigration status of the alleged victim is more central than reporting on the unknown motive of the alleged perpetrator. Christian has been kind enough to answer my questions twice in the comments.

Another reporter who explained to me that reporting on the mother's immigration status helps the reader see the events through her eyes.

For his comment in yesterday's post

To Mario, who commented yesterday about the U visa, for victims of certain crimes, if at the end of the day this story does reveal a visaless victim:
The U-visa provides temporary legal status, valid up to 4 years, which includes employment authorization and the ability to bring one's immediate relatives into the country. The temporary legal status can transition into permanent status. Congress authorized the U-visas, recognizing that immigrant crime victims, particularly women and children, hesitate to call police for fear of being deported. To qualify for a U-visa, applicants must demonstrate that they are willing to assist or have already assisted in the investigation and/or prosecution of criminal activity identified in the 2000 Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

For law enforcement

They found the missing newborn in less than a week.

*Is it "Gurrola" or "Gurrolla"? The Tennessean this morning is reporting "Gurrola." The Nashville police department had previously reported both spellings, even in the same press release, but it appears that corrections have been made to unify the police department's spelling to "Gurrolla." On the other hand, the FBI's criminal complaint against the alleged abductor uses "Gurrola" exclusively. Google News searches show that there are many more stories with the "Gurrolla" spelling than with the "Gurrola" spelling.

Photo of NCIS badge by larry zou. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Police: Maria Gurrolla's immigration status was "not relevant" to solving assault and abduction of Gurrolla's days-old son

If someone posing as the IRS attacked you at work, would the press interview your accountant?

Boy found after 4-day search

Even before Maria Gurrolla's days-old son Yair Anthony Carillo was found after only four days, thanks to amazing police and investigative work, the abductor's ruse led the press to dedicate part of their stories to the immigration status of the mother (saying it was "unclear" or "unknown").

Why should the ruse of the criminal abductor lead to reporting on the immigration status of the victim? If someone posing as the IRS attacked you at work, would there be an investigation into your tax returns?

An AP report by Kristin Hall simultaneously brings up the immigration status of Gurrolla while pointing out that Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said that her immigration status was "not significant to the investigation":
Police said they think the mom has been in Nashville about 10 years, but it isn't clear if she is an immigrant or a citizen. Her family has declined to talk about the issue, and police spokesman Don Aaron said her citizenship was not significant to the investigation.
According to a police press release, Gurrolla had to be hospitalized with stab wounds "to her head, neck, breast and thigh." It was also reported that Gurrolla had a collapsed lung as a result of the attack.

In 2008, journalist asked when immigration status is relevant

A year and a half ago in a column on, Mizanur Rahman of the Houston Chronicle asked the question, when is it relevant to report on the immigration status of crime suspects?

I'm wondering when it is relevant to report on the immigration status of victims.

Child abduction has hit Hispanic Nashvillians before

Kristin Hall's AP article rightly points out that an attempted abduction of another Hispanic Nashvillian child occurred in 2005, but with much worse results: the mother and her 3-year-old daughter were killed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ricardo Lagos' speech at Vanderbilt, Twitter-style

Economic growth should lead to a better life, says former president of Chile

Lagos: consumers are unequal in the market, but citizens are equal in a democracy

Vanderbilt Center of Latin American Studies came highly recommended

The former President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, spoke at Vanderbilt University yesterday. Read Tuesday's story for more about Lagos.

Below, in reverse chronological order, are excerpts from his remarks, from the Twitter feed (@hispanicnashtn):

Standing ovation at Vanderbilt for former Chile President Ricardo Lagos

U.S. Bankr. Judge George Paine, [II] to Lagos: you are "far too wise" and "far too sensible" to have made it in politics in U.S.

Lagos: U.S. as sole superpower in 21st century means smaller countries like Chile need geometrics (?) of cooperation

Lagos: "new world" of 21st century: sole superpower

Lagos: sole superpower U.S. realizing it can't solve world's problems by itself; rest of world also needs U.S. for big problems

Lagos: Italy upset I didn't nominate it to Security Council; I said but you're in the G7 - big leagues!; now it's the G20 w/ 3 from Lat Am

Lagos: after fall of Berlin Wall and fall of Wall Street, something new must be coming

Lagos: I turned down Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" b/c not through multinational channels; sent troops to Haiti when UN asked

Lagos: do you know who the political leaders were at the time of Mozart and Bach?

Lagos: if you ask about important national figures, the artists stand out

Lagos: cultural diversity is "more democracy"

Lagos: market ruled by consumers; government ruled by citizens; you need both

Lagos: more or less government is not the question; efficient government is the goal

Lagos: my grandkids say "hi" to me and then head to the computer

Lagos: too many social benefits danger investments; extreme in other direction is also unstable

Lagos: we offered scholarships but few knew about them; woman told me her shame in poverty led her to assume she had no options

Lagos: poverty went from 38% to 13% in my 6 years as President of Chile [?] but income disparity didn't change much

Lagos: in a democracy you decide what should be a public good

Lagos: compulsory education is not a decision of the market

Lagos: I don't like trickle-down economics, because markets conform to unequal pockets of consumers, but citizens are equals.

Lagos: "How do we make sure growth goes to everybody? This is social policy."

Lagos: Chilean scallops farmer doubled price by exporting to France over ice instead of frozen; exporting scallops or know-how?

Lagos: patents on agricultural products is the modern world; know-how not the product itself is the export

Lagos: infrastructure solves many social problems

Lagos: Are you going to provide drinkable water where market can't provide (and shouldn't b/c there is no profit)? Yes.

Lagos: current President Bachelet also linked budget to long-term copper prices; allowed for stimulus without debt

Lagos: in my presidency in 2000 we faced Asian crisis by linking budget to long-term copper prices

Lagos: economic growth requires rule of law

Lagos: "in what other country" can a non-establishment candidate become president, as Obama did?

Lagos: "What about Twitter?" as democratic interaction

Lagos: President overshadowing legislature and judiciary is not democracy

Lagos: ensuring that growth leads to better life and not just statistics means democracy has delivered

Lagos: Lat Am recovery in 2010 expected to be better than US & Europe

Lagos: economic growth + democracy should lead to solutions

Lagos: Lat Am has PhD on how to manage crisis: this time we did better than other regions

Lagos: Brazil President Fernando Enrique Cardozo told me I had to visit Vanderbilt Center for Lat Am Studies

Former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos about to speak at Vanderbilt

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"I want to be a missionary to Nolensville Road"

Belmont Church associate missions pastor echoes Nolensville churches' 2006 sentiments

Stuart Stokes, World Outreach Associate Pastor at Belmont Church, writes about a world of "missionary" opportunities right here in Nashville:
“So, I bet you love to travel.”
Not necessarily. In fact, it would be easier if all our missionaries lived right here on Middle TN.
This usually gets a strange look.
I want to go to Africa to see the Cochrans or the Omallas and the work they are doing.
I go to Mexico to see the Arroyos and partner with them for a short time. I want to go to Europe to see Randy in his element. The same with Joseph Watson where ever he is at the time.
If I want to “travel” I just put my passport on my night stand and drive over to Nolensville Road.
Suddenly the world is at my fingertips. Mexicans, Kurds, Sudanese, Vietnamese, Kenyans, Saudis and the list goes on and on.
My name is Stuart Stokes and I want to be a missionary to Nolensville Road.
In 2006, some Nolensville churchgoers were also seeing ministry opportunities toward neighboring immigrants. Here is a sample from that story:
Raylene King, wife of Stonebrook minister Dennis King, looks at immigration not so much as an issue but as a really big ministry.
Read Stokes' full post here and the Nolensville full story here.

Photo by David Antis. Licensed under Creative Commons.
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