Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fernando Arau brings "Science and Friction" marriage comedy to Belmont Saturday

Fernando Arau, formerly of Univision's national morning show Buenos Dias a Todos, will be at Belmont University's Massey Concert Hall this Saturday, September 4, at 7:30 p.m.  Arau will perform a live version of his Spanish-language show "Marriage: A Story of Science and Friction," which is out on DVD. The concert will benefit El Shaddai Christian Church, whose church building on Concord Road suffered heavy damage in the May floods.

Massey Concert Hall is at 1900 Belmont Blvd., Nashville, TN 37212. More information is available at 615.941.8377 and at 305.592.7909. Tickets are available at Librería León de Judá, Radio Vida 1130AM, Radio Luz 900AM, Fellowship Bible Church or at www.elshaddaicc.org.

Minimum suggested donations are $20, or $50 for V.I.P.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Nomination deadline is September 15 for young writer and unsung hero awards

Conexión Americas announced September 15 as the nomination deadline for two Hispanic Heritage Month recognitions - one for high school writers, and another for unsung heroes:
'My Latino Roots, My American Dream' Essay Contest
Deadline to Submit Entry: September 15

Conexión Américas invites high school students in Middle Tennessee to participate in the third annual Young Latino Writers' Essay Contest. The top three winners will be recognized during our September 24th celebration. First place wins a laptop!
For contest guidelines and details, click here.
To read about last year's winners, click here.
Oscar Rayo, Lindsey Victoria Thompson, and Gabriela Rodriguez
2009 Young Latino Writers' Essay winners 
Orgullo Hispano Award Recognizing Unsung Heroes
Deadline to Submit Nominations: September 15

Help us find 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. They will be honored during our September 24th celebration.
For nomination form and guidelines, click here.
To read about last year's winners, click here.
Ivan Cerda, Edubina Arce, and Miguel Gonzalez
2009 Orgullo Hispano honorees

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Argentina tango, wine in the Gulch next Tuesday night

Photo by audrey_sel.  Licensed via Creative Commons.
Pablo Bodini of Funtopia sent out this invitation for an evening of Argentine culture next Tuesday night:
If you enjoyed the Tango scene from Al Pacino's movie Scent of a Woman or would like to experience authentic Argentinean culture, join us on Tuesday August 31st from 7pm to 10pm at the Wine Loft for an evening of tasty appetizers, wine sampling and sizzling LIVE Tango music & dancers from Argentina! All profits will benefit Caritas Argentina (www.caritas.org.ar), a charity institution that helps eradicate poverty and social inequity in Argentina.

Tickets are $30 (food and wine inclusive) and are available only at the Wine Loft (Open 5PM to 12AM Tuesday Thru Sunday). Only 70 tickets will be sold for the event, so don't delay!

The Wine Loft Wine Bar
503 12th Ave South
Nashville, TN 37203
615 891-2967

The Funtopia Team
901 484-0541

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hilario Razura, father of three recruited for guest worker visa, leaves for Mexico home today

Hilario Razura
Photo Copyright www.joonpowell.com Used with permission.
From Ruiz, Mexico to Smyrna, Tennessee is about the same distance as from Nashville to the Grand Canyon. Hilario Razura has made the Ruiz-Smyrna trip three times now. Most of what you will read about Hilario in the press will be about his time as a guest worker in Smyrna this year, and why that time was cut short.

I wanted to find out more about the Hilario of Mexico, and how he got here. Here is what he told me.

The hills of Ruiz, Mexico
Municipality of Ruiz

Work and family life in Ruiz, picnics by the river

Hilario came to Tennessee from the town of Ruiz, which is near Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast. He lives in Ruiz with his wife Grisela, their two daughters Graviela and Carla, and their son Manuel. Two of the kids are teenagers, and the third is a grade-schooler.

The family lives with Hilario's mother Zenaida and his stepfather, Lupe, who raised Hilario. Hilario's father died when his son was only 6 years old. Hilario was the oldest of four children - two boys, and two girls.

Hilario has a fourth-grade education. Like his father and his only brother, Hilario's work in Mexico is in the fields. Pay is the equivalent of about US$12-15/day. Harvests include chiles, tomatoes, and tobacco. The day starts at 4am, and by 2pm Hilario is back home, where Grisela will have food waiting for him. The rest of the afternoon, Dad will play with the children and talk to Mom. By 9pm, he is asleep.

They are Catholic, but they do not attend church very often. On days off, they head to a nearby river, where they picnic at the waterside.

How Hilario makes his way to Smyrna

News of work in Tennessee comes to Hilario through a man in town. Juan Gomez says he will send your name, along with the names of other workers, to a Mexican recruitment company. If you don't have a passport, you go apply for one in the nearby town of Tepic, about 30 miles south of Ruiz. Then you wait for a call from the recruiting company. When the call comes, they give you a date to show up for an interview with the U.S. consulate in Monterrey, Mexico, which is 400 miles away.

Monterrey, Mexico
Photo by John Lamb
When that day of the interview comes, Hilario arrives into Monterrey around 3 a.m. on the day before the interview. He is taken to a line where he is fingerprinted and paperwork is processed. The next day, he passes the interview at the U.S. consulate, and in a few hours, they produce his H2B visa.

The consulate officials also give Hilario a piece of paper with information about his rights. It has a 1-800 hotline number listed on it.

Memphis, TN bus station
Photo by Joseph A
Licensed via Creative Commons
With the H2B visa and the 1-800 number in hand, Hilario heads to the bus terminal and buys a ticket for Memphis. The bus crosses the border at Nuevo Laredo, heads through San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Little Rock, and finally arrives in Memphis. From the Memphis bus station, Hilario has been instructed to call his U.S. employer Vanderbilt Landscaping LLC. Hilario waits a few hours, and his employer picks him up. They all make their way to a rural property in Smyrna, near Nashville. Hilario knows every guest worker there. They're all from Ruiz.

2010 trip ends

Hilario says he has made two previous work trips to Middle Tennessee: in 2005, and last year, in 2009. All three trips were for Vanderbilt Landscaping. Hilario borrowed about $800-900 to get here this time - $500 from Vanderbilt Landscaping for travel fees and other expenses, and the rest to get to Monterrey and to pay for food and hotel there.

At some point after arriving this year, Hilario called the 1-800 number on that piece of paper from the consulate. Hilario was referred to the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity, and from there Hilario's story starts getting some press.

Hilario is traveling back to Mexico today, where he will rejoin his family.

For more on why Hilario is leaving Middle Tennessee, read any of the multiple stories here and also the photo essays on Joon Powell's blog, here and here. Mack has his commentary here.  Southern Beale has her opinion here. Photos of the housing provided by Vanderbilt Landscaping are here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are these Hispanic Heritage Month events on your calendar?

Will you be in Nashville to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?  It runs September 15-October 15, and here are the events you won't want to miss:
Hispanic Heritage Month Kick-Off Reception
Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
RSVP required: RSVP@nashvillehispanicchamber.com

A Hispanic Heritage Night: WE ARE TN-SOMOS TN!
Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Individual Tickets: $100.00
Location: Loews Vanderbilt Hotel 2100 West End Ave. Nashville, TN 37203 Start Time: 6:00pm End Time: 8:00pm
RSVP by visiting: http://www.actblue.com/page/we-tn

Latino Family Festival
Nashville Zoo
Sunday, September 19
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

2010 Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration
Conexion Americas
Friday, September 24
Historic Cannery Ballroom

Celebration of Cultures
Saturday, October 2, 2010
10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Free Admission
Centennial Park, Nashville

Hispanic Heritage Month Party
Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Thursday, October 7, 2010
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

6th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Reception & Awards Ceremony
Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Networking lunch today at Chappy's is TNHCC strength

June 3 TNHCC Networking Lunch
Photo © 2010 Todd Stringer
The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (TNHCC)* will hold its August Business Networking Lunch today from 11:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Chappy's Restaurant, 1721 Church Street in Nashville.

The event is free for members and $20 for non-members.

The continuity of TNHCC networking events at Chappy's, which have been regular occurrences for over a year now, reminds me of the early days of this chamber after I returned to Nashville in 2000, when frequent networking events were the signature of the organization.  Now, following the rebirth of the TNHCC in 2007 under the leadership of Ramon Cisneros, Tera Vazquez, and an active board, the networking events are just one part of this vibrant, multifunction group.

The Chappy's lunches are well attended and well organized, but get there early. These are sit-down lunches, and you don't want to miss the table conversation before the program.

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

J.R. Lind: my great-grandfather was illegal, but his kids weren't

J.R. Lind
J.R. Lind, lead contributor of Post Politics, tells HispanicNashville.com that Hispanics aren't the only Nashvillians with possible immigration violations in their family tree (see previous stories about Gregg Ramos, Mack, and Ken Marrero). Lind's great-grandfather Robert "Bobby" Linn had five children on American soil while he was still "illegal," as Lind puts it, and the 14th Amendment made sure that those children were automatically and unquestionably American citizens. Two of Bobby's children fought in the second World War.

Here's the story, in Lind's words:
Visa stamp courtesy of Elliott Scott
Licensed via Creative Commons
More than 90 years ago, my great-grandfather - Robert Linn - left a village south of Glasgow for the bustling English port of Liverpool. There he boarded a ship - aptly named the Liverpool - bound for New York. He arrived in New York Harbor just as the United States had adopted the first "modern" immigration and naturalization laws. British subjects were not restricted under the quotas in place at the time and, by all accounts, Bobby could have received an "immigrant's visa," at the time the first crucial step on the path to American citizenship. For whatever reason, my great-grandfather did not. Instead he was issued the early 20th century equivalent of what we call a tourist visa.
Nevertheless, Bobby made his way west, eventually settling in Iowa and overstaying that visa.
He met and fell in love with a local girl. He changed the second N in his surname to a D, perhaps because "Lind" was a fairly common name among Swedes who were his neighbors and he wanted to fit in. His little ruse didn't quite work out. He wasn't "Bobby" to his German and Scandinavian neighbors - he was "Scotty" and "Scotty's Garage" became the go-to place in that little Iowa jerkwater for auto repairs as cars became more prevalent. In the meantime, Scotty served as a general Mr. Fix-It and made house with his tall, elegant farmgirl wife. The union produced five children.
No one there seemed to care that Scotty wasn't exactly squared up with the immigration authorities. They just knew he could fix everything. They knew the Lind's clapboard house as a place to go to play cards. They knew the Linds had beautiful daughters and handsome, athletic sons. And no one called those kids "anchor babies."
Two of those sons fought in World War II - my great-uncle was an airborne soldier in Europe and my grandfather - the greatest man I know - joined the Navy before Pearl Harbor, his destroyer leaving Hawaii just days before the attack. In less than five years, he was a Chief Petty Officer. He left the Navy, met a local Iowa girl of his own and started his own family before moving to Tennessee.
It was a different time when Robert Linn stepped on the shores of America. Probably no one minded that the Scottish guy who could fix everything had overstayed his federally-mandated welcome. He was white and Protestant. He spoke English. But under the law, he was illegal. But his kids weren't, because of the 14th Amendment his two sons fought a war to defend.
Editor's Note: Three other Nashvillians who were born in the U.S. to a parent who can't confirm legal immigration status are Gregg Ramos, Mack, and Ken Marrero. Click on their names to read their stories.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fellow Americans: Luis Ramos and family

Gregg Ramos' immediate family, surrounding patriarch Luis Ramos
photo taken in Arizona, at a cousin's wedding in 1967

Gregg Ramos talks of 14th Amendment and his father

Nashville attorney and former head of the Nashville Bar Association A. Gregory ("Gregg") Ramos penned a Sunday op-ed for the Tennessean about the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Ramos mentions his father Luis Ramos, who was born in Texas to Mexican national parents who may not have had immigration status in this country. (Editor's Note: Those who would impose a label on Luis Ramos and his family, one other than "fellow Americans," have defamed their own American identity, for failure to honor the Ramos family as well as the 14th Amendment.)

Ramos concludes his editorial, which can be read in full here, arguing that his father fought in World War II for the values instilled in the 14th Amendment and what it means to be an American:
Gregg Ramos' father
and mother
During World War II, more than 300,000 Mexican-Americans, including my Texas-born father, who was the greatest American I have ever known, served our country in the armed services. They did so because of the promise that America is the land of the free, the land of opportunity. They placed their unquestioned trust in this great country in the belief that as a result of their service, bravery and sacrifice, the promise of what it is to be an American would continue to thrive.
Read the full editorial here.

Ramos fleshes out for HispanicNashville.com a little about his family history and how his father came to be born in the U.S. even though his parents might not have been through any immigration process:
The reason I keep mentioning my father is that he, as well as thousands and thousands like him of his generation, may very well have been the so called “anchor babies” (I hate that term) of their time. My Dad was born in 1924 in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican nationals. He was born in El Paso because his father and mother (my grandparents) happened to be working in or near El Paso at the time. There was no border control in those days and people just crossed the border back and forth depending on where work was to be found and where they were needed.

My Dad never knew for sure, and I certainly don’t know now, whether or not his parents (my grandparents) were properly documented in the U.S., leading me to wonder if my father, who turned out to be a great, great American and who helped defend the U.S. in WWII, was one of those so called “anchor babies.” Going back and forth from Mexico to Texas and vice versa, and always being around poor people who spoke only Spanish, resulted in my Dad not learning English until he found himself in the U.S. Army (he was drafted in 1944 at age 20 and was shipped to France in 1945, ultimately landing in Germany sometime in March of 1945).

Gregg Ramos' grandfather,
"Tata Lupe," a Mexican national
who went back and forth
across the border at will,
as was the custom.
His son Luis, Gregg's father,
was born in Texas.
This was not an unusual situation at the time. Our former U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez, acknowledged during a CNN interview in 2006 that he too was unsure about the immigration status of his grandparents (who, by the way, hailed from the same part of Northern Mexico – Chihuahua – as my grandparents). Indeed, this was the situation of many, many of the 300,000 plus Mexican-Americans who served in WWII.

So, just a bit of background. Now you can perhaps see why this 14th amendment issue hits so close to home for me.
Editor's Note: Three other Nashvillians with similar stories about an ancestor's immigration status are J.R. Lind, Mack, and Ken Marrero. Click on their names to read their stories.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Murfreesboro chapter brings Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to Rutherford County

Members include España owner Gilberto “Beto” Mendoza, Yellow Taxi Plus owner Carolina Rivas, and Upscale Barbershop owners Joseph Coriano and Alberto Guzman

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* has expanded into Murfreesboro. The Executive Director of the new Murfreesboro area chapter is Cameron Parrish, who has worked with the Hispanic community via the U.S. Census Bureau, according to the Daily News Journal.

An "After Hours Networking Event" is scheduled for Thursday, August 19, at 5:30pm at Bobby McKee's in Murfreesboro.

The mission of the Murfreesboro area chapter, according to its Facebook page, is fivefold:
  1. serve the needs of the local Hispanic business community in Murfreesboro and surrounding communities
  2. facilitate individual business growth
  3. provide access to information and educational opportunities and
  4. provide local, non-partisan representation and advocacy to support the interests of our members
  5. serv[e] as a bridge for non-Hispanic enterprises to gain exposure with Spanish-speaking consumers and businesses to generate opportunities for mutual economic benefit
The Murfreesboro Post reports that "meetings of the local chapter are held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at España at 211 W. Main St., just off the Public Square." The Post article also quotes España owner Gilberto “Beto” Mendoza and Yellow Taxi Plus owner Carolina Rivas about the benefits of membership. Rivas also owns Checker Cab in Nashville and was among seven taxicab company owners who received a certificate of appreciation for making the post-flood CMA Festival flow smoothly.

The Daily News Journal quoted businessowners Joseph Coriano and Alberto Guzman of Upscale Barbershop (Facebook/Twitter):
"We have a new shop here, and we want to reach out to the Latino community and let them know there's a place, not specifically for them, but it's a place where they can come. We speak Spanish, and want to create a diverse shop," Coriano explained, adding that both he and Guzman have Puerto Rican roots.
The Daily News Journal also reports that a Tennessee State University study shows that there are 1,400 Hispanic-owned businesses in the Nashville area.

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Immigration bankruptcy and the "reboot" gap

Walt Disney's company Laugh-O-Gram
filed bankruptcy in 1923

In a bankruptcy-type immigration system, regulation of status is continually available

I've told you about my immigration bankruptcy idea before, haven't I?

In U.S. law, bankruptcy is just one of many examples of a principle of justice that Americans cherish, which is that the law should offer a reboot from time to time.

Bankruptcy is one example of that principle. You get bankruptcy law when you abolish debtors' prisons, and you abolish debtors' prisons because you are better off as a society if people can get a fresh start in the worst of circumstances. Admittedly, those circumstances were their fault because they failed to fulfill a legal obligation, but punishing them by sticking them in a hole that separates them from society doesn't do anyone any good. They can't repay their debt that way. Bankruptcy law provides the necessary fresh start, or "reboot."

Do we condition the fresh start of bankruptcy on payment in full of the original debt? No. We acknowledge that the responsibility to fulfill the original obligation will be forever broken. In place of the original obligation, we establish rules that determine what bankruptcy will cost you. If you qualify and follow the bankruptcy rules, you get out of limbo. So even while we still have a system that generally requires you to pay your debts, there is an exception built into the law, a second option of rules, consequences and penalties to replace the first.

This concept of getting right with the law without having fully complied with the original rule is ingrained all throughout the U.S. justice system. Prosecutors waive criminal charges if a plea agreement is made, probation of a long sentence is granted in exchange for good behavior, a warning is given to a young hot-rodder instead of a speeding ticket, or the statute of limitations just runs out. (Note that in the first two examples, you have to give something up in order to get the law to go easy on you, but in the last two examples, you give up nothing and still get off scot free. Bankruptcy is like the first two; it requires giving something up. See "updated to add," below.)

This reboot principle has to be brought over to immigration law. I tell Christians that justice for the foreigner means that when you write laws that apply to foreigners, you need to use the same principles of justice you use when you write the laws that apply to you. Immigration law is a law that is specifically and exclusively applicable to foreigners, so the gaping hole of justice in that law - the lack of a reboot - has to be patched.

Patching up immigration law can't be done with a one-time path to citizenship (the proposal currently on the table), or a one-time amnesty (Ronald Reagan's approach). The fresh start of getting right with the law has to be continually available in immigration law, just as it is in bankruptcy law.

Uniting immigration and bankruptcy is not a new idea; our founders linked the two concepts in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. In the same sentence that gives Congress the power to turn immigrants into citizens, only one other power is given to Congress, the power over the subject of bankruptcy:
The Congress shall have Power To...establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.
So that's my not-so-new idea: immigration bankruptcy.

Tell your friends.

Update 1: My cousin asked me,"What do they have to give up to be allowed to keep the big screen?" Because, you know, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, people have to sell off assets to pay creditors. (And over at Post Politics, kosh iii is also wondering how this would work.) So here's how I answered my cousin, which should also serve as an answer for kosh iii:

I'd be OK with these conditions:

For 5 most recent years in the U.S. prior to filing "bankruptcy":
  • proof of previous payment of any applicable income taxes, or submission of catch-up payments plus penalties and interest
  • some familiarity with English (same familiarity required of U.S. Citizens would be OK by me)
  • no crime
  • payment of fine equal to 1/2 federal poverty level
  • payment of additional fine of 2x any shortfall between wages earned and federal minimum wage
  • submission of biometric information
Succesfully exiting "bankruptcy" would grant legal permanent resident ("LPR" a/k/a "green card") status, which typically lasts 10 years and is renewable (Damariz was in this status from 1998-2010, for instance).  LPRs can apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years as an LPR, but I'd be comfortable making these bankruptcy beneficiaries wait twice as long before eligibility.  Accordingly, the earliest a person would be able to apply for U.S. citizenship would be after 15 years - 5 years of best behavior while in the country illegally, then 10 years of best behavior while in the country legally.

If I were President, I'd sign this in a heartbeat, and any reasonable variation.

My cousin said I was being a hard-a$$.

Update 2: Who would be deported under this system? Easy: anyone who hasn't successfully filed immigration bankruptcy. That would include, for example, anyone who had been here without permission for as little as one day or as long as 4 years and 364 days (or longer if they don't file bankruptcy by then), people who commit real crimes, people who prefer to live outside the system and don't file for the protection of bankruptcy, people who can't scrape up the money in fines, people who lie about or hide the information requested in the immigration bankruptcy petition, etc.

Update 3: Timothy Lee talks about this same principle over at The Atlantic.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pastor Tommy Vallejos of H.O.P.E. elected Montgomery County Commissioner, District 14

Montgomery County Commissioner-elect Tommy Vallejos, with wife and grandchildren
photo used with permission

"I am proud to be the first Latino to be elected as a county commissioner in Montgomery County"

"I am a Chicano and proud of who I am and am as American as you can get"

"Celebrating my culture is not being un-American; it is the American way"

Clarksville resident Tommy J. Vallejos, Sr. has won his race for the District 14 seat on the Montgomery County Commission.  Election results were posted by businessclarksville.com and clarksvilleonline.com

According to Vallejos, he is the first Hispanic commissioner of Montgomery County.  Vallejos was born near Roswell, New Mexico, and his family roots in America trace back to 1598.

The 2010 County Commission election is not Vallejos' first foray into politics.  In 2006, Vallejos opposed a trio of local immigration-focused ordinances.

Vallejos granted an interview to HispanicNashville.com following his election night victory this year, and he cites those 2006 ordinances as the impetus for his candidacy:
We were successful in stopping these ordinances from being passed.  The success of this ordeal gave H.O.P.E new found respect among politicians. From this experience I knew I would one day ran for office.
Vallejos credits his win on his shoe-leather ground campaign, and also his community service:
My success was that I went door to door and made it personal. So many knew me or had heard of me and my involvement in the community. I founded a homeless shelter that today houses 41 men fighting drug and alcohol addiction. So my community-minded actions were one big plus. 
About being Hispanic in this race, how Hispanics are treated in politics in general, and identity in America, Vallejos had this to say:
My race or ethnicity never came up nor was a issue. Still, I am proud to be the first Latino to be elected as a county commissioner in Montgomery County. I believe the likelihood of more Hispanic men and women being elected to office is possible because we are all Americans and should dream and dream big. So many politicians are using Latinos as a political piñatas. I never allowed that to be a determining factor in my decision to run for office. I am a Chicano and proud of who I am and am as American as you can get. I will never deny my culture or where I came from. We must all be Americans and stand as Americans, but don't be hating because I have my culture. Celebrating my culture is not being un-American; it is the American way.
Commissioner-elect Vallejos is a pastor of Faith Outreach Church and Director of the Hispanic Organization for Progress & Education ("H.O.P.E.")

For more about Vallejos, read his interview with the Leaf-Chronicle, which covers Vallejos' reason for running for office, his goals in office, and his platform.  See also Vallejos' campaign bio below, which tells his personal story:
Tommy Vallejos was born in the barrios of Roswell, NM. His upbringing was filled with gang violence’s losing two brothers and a stepfather to the streets. Tommy’s only out was to enter the US Army in 1980. He has been married to his bride of 27 years Caroline Vallejos.

Tommy’s lifestyle continued to change when he became a Christian in 1987. As a Staff Sergeant in the US Army he fought in the first Gulf War leading an infantry platoon from the 101st Airborne Division into combat. He was award the Bronze Star for actions in the Gulf War. As a Sergeant First Class he served three years as a Drill Sgt at Ft Knox, Ky turning civilians into soldiers. His overseas tours included tours in Panama and Germany.

He retired with over 21 years of service to his country. Today he serves in two capacities one as a care pastor over a 2200 member church in Clarksville, Tn, also he is the Director of H.O.P.E. (Hispanic Organization for Progress & Education.

He is active in community services and travels the country and world spreading the word as an Evangelist or as a Gang Awareness facilitator (www.clarksvillesecure.net). His travels take him into the prison system, school and business community several times a month. Because of his influence, he has the ears of the community and politicians’ alike. He is instrumental in assisting communities to fight back against gangs and the violence’s it brings.

Tommy is a graduate of the North Tennessee Bible Institute and Seminary with a Bachelor in Practical Theology.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

14th Amendment, Muse, and Mack

Photo of Mack by Chris Wage.  Used with permission.
Children born in this country - even those born into families with immigration problems - are automatically and inherently U.S. citizens, via the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Among those American children with immigration problems higher up their family trees are conservative Nashville blogger Ken Marrero of Blue Collar Muse, and liberal Nashville blogger Mack of Coyote Chronicles.

On Marrero's About page, he says of his father, "it came to light that he’d been living as an illegal here for years."  Marrero then goes on to say:
Fortunately, the naturalization process was simpler then and his marriage to my mother was sufficient to get him his citizenship.
And here's a slice of Mack's story, from one of his recent posts:
Dear Congressman Hunter, after reading your assertion that it “takes more than walking across our border to become a citizen; it's what's in our souls,” I thought I’d introduce you to a couple of people I know pretty well.  See, I am a child of undocumented immigrants. ... I know all too well that it takes more than walking across the border to be an American.  I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me that my parents lacked something “in their souls.”  Any man that would seek to deport native-born children for ANY reason deserves to have the content of his own soul called into question, if you ask me. 
I would ask Marrero and Mack to comment on the 14th Amendment for this story, since the issue is so personal to them, but from the above, it appears they already have.

Friday, August 6, 2010

YMCA Latino Achievers announces 100% graduation rate, new director Carol Cubillo Seals

Video source: Vimeo

Nashville's YMCA Latino Achievers (formerly YMCA Hispanic Achievers) recently announced a 100% high school graduation rate, 57 student acceptances to institutions of higher education, the departure of Director Jessie Garcia Van De Griek, the promotion of Carol Cubillo Seals as Jessie's replacement, and the addition of Kathleen Fuchs as full-time coordinator.

The statement is below, and following the statement is an interview of Jessie by Cristina Allen on her program ¿Qué Pasa Nashville?
Photo source: YLA Facebook page
YMCA Latino Achievers has had a great year.

100% of participating high school seniors graduated from high school from Middle Tennessee high schools.

57 young people have applied for and been accepted to several Tennessee colleges and universities.

487 young people learned the college process, had an opportunity to attend college tours, World of Work Tours, participated in a World of Work Seminar and were mentored on the importance of cultural heritage. Our students had the opportunity to go to a motivational seminar called La Sangre Llama, visited the Frist, and engaged with many of our community partners to experience the responsibility of becoming leaders in their communities.

Last fall, Carol Cubillo Seals joined the YLA team as coordinator. Carol brings an appreciation for education and a strong love of cultural heritage. Her innate ability to speak truth and hope into the lives of our program participants has been powerful to witness, not to mention her sense of order! It is with great pleasure that I announce Carol has been promoted to Director of the YMCA Latino Achievers program. Carol has a strong vision for the next stage of Latino Achievers. I hope you'll take time to email her and congratulate her at cseals@ymcamidtn.org

Kathleen Fuchs, Intern extraordinaire, recently graduated from Vanderbilt University. In her time with YLA, Kathleen has added an enthusiasm for community and has been an incredible mentor for Latino Achievers participants. Kathleen joined our team this summer full time as YLA Coordinator. You can email Kata at kfuchs@ymcamidtn.org

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vanderbilt attracts $2 million grant to improve country's foreign language and international fluency

Vanderbilt University's Center for Latin American Studies announced that it has been awarded an over $2 million Comprehensive National Resource Center (NRC) grant from the Department of Education:
The award totals just over $2 million for four years, an increase of 30% in our funding. Our previous designation was as an Undergraduate NRC and now we are a Comprehensive NRC, the top category. We will be able to fund additional graduate students through our Foreign Language Area Studies program and strengthen all of our teaching, outreach, and service programs.
The U.S. government's NRC program is designed to promote "a national capacity" in foreign languages and international studies.
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