Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gipsy Kings at Schermerhorn



by Cindy McCain
  The wonders of wanderlust, The Gipsy Kings, will perform their mix of South American rumba and Spanish flamenco at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Thursday, April 26, 2012.   Founder/vocalist Jose Reyes with guitarist Manitas de Plata wooed worldwide fans including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Miles Davis, and John Steinbeck.  Today their legacy continues as the group’s performances wow live audiences worldwide and fans of Toy Story 3 and Zorro the Musical which feature their music.

     Today’s band consists of two families, the Reyes and the Bailiardos, descendants from Spanish gypsies who fled to France during the Spanish Civil War.  They first played weddings and parties mixing flamenco with Western pop and Latin rhythms.  In 1987 their first album launched their international career.  Their rags- to- riches story is best recounted on their website:

Today the Gipsy Kings still live with their families in the south of France.  Life may have changed for them – they no longer busk on streets or pick crops when times are hard or travel in caravans – but still, at heart, they remain Gypsies, the proud descendants of an ancient people who seduced the world with music and dance.

For tickets, call 615.687.6400 or go here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Casa Azafran breaks ground with seeds of hospitality, integration, and saffron

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean laid the first brick at Casa Azafran.
Photo by Conexion Americas. Used with permission.

By Rebecca Zanolini

April 21, 2012 marked the official groundbreaking ceremony for Nashville, Tennessee community center Casa Azafrán. Located at 2193 Nolensville Pike and set to officially open its doors later this year, Casa Azafrán will offer services for the state’s growing immigrant population.

Despite the rainy and unseasonably cool April weather, many community members came out to support Conexión Américas and its partners in this exciting venture. Upon my arrival to the event, I was immediately met with many friendly and familiar faces from the surrounding Nashville area. After an opportunity to meet and greet and drink delicious Rumba Roast coffee, the ceremony commenced with beautiful music from singer, Rachel Rodriguez. Rachel’s music left the audience with an inspiring message of unity between Nashville’s immigrant and resident communities. Rachel’s lyrics, “I’m coming home” are perhaps both symbolic for immigrant reconciliation of ethnic identity in a new country and for Casa Azafrán’s theme of “mi casa es tu casa” (my house is your house).

David Esquivel, member of the Conexión Américas’ board of directors and son of Cuban parents, provided the opening word. Other speakers during the ceremony included Mayor Karl Dean, Nashville Symphony Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero along with his wife, Shirley Guerrero, founders of Conexión Américas, José González and Renata Soto, and Ambassador of Costa Rica in Washington D.C., Muni Figueres.

The Guerrero Family with Muni Figueres, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the United States, who attended and spoke at the celebration.
Photo by Conexion Americas. Used with permission. 

Ambassador Figueres reminded us of the parallels between her native Costa Rica and the United States. Much like the United States, Costa Rica has a history of housing and providing services to neighboring immigrants who flee their country in pursuit of a better life. Both politically and culturally, Costa Rica has always supported human rights for both their natives and visitors alike. Furthermore, Figueres believes that immigrant policy is a function of economic growth. She underscores this by pointing out that a slow economy reinforces xenophobia. The Costa Rican ambassador understands the divide many immigrants encounter upon arriving to the United States. An avid supporter of Conexión Américas, Figueres believes that services provided by this organization can help to dignify immigrants in our society. She concluded her speech with, “Immigration is pura vida!”

Casa Azafrán, exterior
Photo by Conexion Americas.
Used with permission.  
José González, co-founder of Conexión Américas, pointed out the planning for community center, Casa Azafrán began in 2007. The five million dollar project has managed to raise half of their funds to date.

Renata Soto, co-founder of Conexión Américas, elaborates on the name “Casa Azafrán.” Azafrán - the Spanish word for saffron - is the world’s most expensive spice. This name is symbolic for the community center’s founders for several reasons. For one, the extraordinary amount of manual labor by many individuals required in the production of saffron is symbolic of the connection between the future community center’s employees, partners, volunteers, community supporters, and immigrant community members who work together to improve the quality of life for all. Furthermore, by choosing the name “Azafrán,” whose etymology echoes Persian and Arabic words, the community center both recognizes the Islamic and Arabic roots of the Spanish-speaking world and reinforces its mission to be an inclusive, welcoming place for immigrants of all backgrounds in Nashville.

Graphic courtesy of Conexion Americas. Used with permission. 
Mayor Karl Dean began his speech with a well said, buenos días to his largely bilingual Nashville audience. Dean adamantly supports Casa Azafrán as he believes it will help to bridge downtown Nashville with its growing immigrant community. Furthermore, Mayor Dean stated, “Opening doors, not closing doors” is necessary for improving our city.” Finally the mayor added, “I know the community center will do great things for our city.” Mayor Dean concluded his speech by laying the first brick on the floor of Casa Azafrán. This symbolic gesture was followed by several others who each laid a brick on the floor of the community center, completing the circle around the Conexión Américas emblem, symbolizing both unity and community support. Other members who took part in this gesture were: the Guerrero family, Ambassador Figueres, the Esquivel family, José González, community members who have been recipients of services from Conexión Américas, and Renata Soto.

While the day’s ceremony focused on the groundbreaking of the future community center, also worth noting is that Conexión Américas is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary.

African drumming closed out the groundbreaking ceremony
Photo by Conexion Americas. Used with permission.  

The energy in the atmosphere during this extremely well executed groundbreaking ceremony was contagious. As a former immigrant for a brief time in Costa Rica, I was overwhelmed with excitement and pride to be in the presence of such prominent and inspiring Costa Ricans as Ambassador Figueres, Renato Soto, and the Guerrero family. Their hospitality at the day’s event was outstanding and I humbly thank them and others for taking their time to talk to me. If the display of unity, acceptance, pride, and respect found during this ceremony for Casa Azafrán is any indication for the community center’s future success, it suffices to say that the positive prospects are indeed immeasurable. Let’s all continue to do our part in supporting Casa Azafrán!

Reviewer and HispanicNashville.com contributor Rebecca Zanolini teaches Spanish at Middle Tennessee State University. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and an Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Culture, Cognition, and the Learning Process. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Curriculum and Instruction at Tennessee State University.  Beyond her passion for teaching the Spanish language, she is passionate about achieving social and educational equality for Tennesseans of minority and immigrant backgrounds and improving the quality of life for all people in our community. Most recently, she has served on the Equity Task Force Committee with Franklin Special School District, volunteered with FUTURO of MTSU, and helped to lead and moderate an equality forum at MTSU known as, “We are Created E.Q.U.A.L.”  


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book review: Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective

Review by Rebecca Zanolini

Immigration research - "considering people’s experiences on the ground" - is a missing ingredient in political debate, according to Deborah A. Boehm, co-editor and author of Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective (Vanderbilt University Press 2011).

While there is a large body of research on adult migration,  the role of children in this environment is relatively understudied. The authors of Everyday Ruptures point to the importance of researching migration in youth:
“Often seen as the linchpin of social regeneration, children enhance our understanding of the interconnected web of family relations, cultural life, and social change that inevitably accompany global migration.” (p. 13)
Everyday Ruptures highlights the process youth migrants go through upon reconciliation of their (or their parents’) country of origin, language, and socio-cultural norms with that of their new home country. While arguably all immigrants suffer emotional loss, pain, nostalgia and fragmentation upon rendering their country of origin, this book illuminates the additional disadvantage for migrant youth who must nurture and navigate the juxtaposition of two worlds with limited resources

Throughout the text and within the title, the authors describe the role of migration in a child's personal displacement, also referred to as rupture. Furthermore, the word "everyday" in the title reminds the reader that the stories within the text are not isolated anomalies, but rather examples of quotidian immigrant life around the world. 

In my interview with co-editor and author Deborah A. Boehm, I asked her to elaborate on her research on transnational Mexican children. The following are excerpts from our interview.

Zanolini: Throughout the book, the collaborating writers described youth migration through the lens of agency. How can agency be noted in transnational youth as described in your chapter?

Boehm: There is a wide range of what might be considered to be agency—or a lack of agency—among transnational Mexican children and youth.  Expressions of agency are possible or difficult because of many factors, such as one’s age and gender.  At one end of the continuum are adolescent boys who migrate autonomously, sometimes as young as 13 or 14.  When they go north, they are considered adults and exercise a considerable amount of agency in their migrations.  Teenage girls do not have the same freedoms that teenage boys do, and are not likely to migrate at all—if they do, usually to reunite with family, their migrations are closely orchestrated by adult family members.  At the other end of the spectrum are very young children (infants and toddlers) whose movement is, understandably, closely controlled.

You mention an interesting story about an 18-year old named Javier who was “sent back home” to his birth country of Mexico due to his undocumented status even despite the fact that he has no socio-cultural ties with his country of origin (p. 171).  From your experience, how common is this? Is there a limitation of age that can protect potential undocumented youth like Javier?

This is a scenario that is increasingly common.  Following current immigration laws, an individual’s age at arrival is not considered in deportation cases.  By providing a path to citizenship for young people who came to the United States without authorization, the DREAM Act would address this very issue, but to date it has not been signed into law.

Deborah A. Boehm
In your research you discuss how children are between two nations, between “here” and “there.” Is it also possible, to analyze transnational youth from the point of view of being “there, not here” as opposed to “here, not there”? Perhaps this would be the youth that already developed strong socio-cultural ties in Mexico and brought to the United States later on in life?

In the chapter, I describe transnational children and youth as “here, not here” (U.S. citizen children who may be excluded from the nation despite formal membership) and “not here, here” (unauthorized migrant children who may have strong ties to the United States).  The case you describe is an interesting one, and perhaps most comparable to the experience of adult migrants because they maintain strong ties to Mexico in terms of identity and a sense of belonging.  Still, even those who migrate as adults develop connections to the United States and may feel part of both countries and/or excluded from both nations.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in compiling your research for this project?

Although not a challenge directly related to conducting research, it is very difficult to learn about the struggles of individuals and families knowing that there are few options available to migrants—for example, for unauthorized migrants who would like to begin a path to citizenship or for deportees who have no way to legally return to the United States.  I have conducted research with hundreds of people, but there are millions of people who are facing similar circumstances.

What research are you doing with transnational youth right now?

My current research focuses on deportation and the conditions in the United States that are resulting in a record number of deportations.

As a researcher, what is your ultimate goal for uncovering and sharing research of this sort both domestically and globally?

Ethnographic research—by considering people’s experiences on the ground—can provide a perspective that is not typically part of debates about immigration and has the potential to influence policy.  I hope that my research contributes in some way to this endeavor.

Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective (Vanderbilt University Press 2011) was edited by Cati Coe, Rachel R. Reynolds, Deborah A. Boehm, Julia Meredith Hess, and Heather Rae-Espinoza. The authors call on citizens, residents, immigrants, adults and youth around the globe to re-examine the world in which we live. The book successfully educates, informs, and challenges readers to make personal, professional and political changes towards an improved quality of life for all.


Reviewer and HispanicNashville.com contributor Rebecca Zanolini teaches Spanish at Middle Tennessee State University. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and an Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Culture, Cognition, and the Learning Process. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Curriculum and Instruction at Tennessee State University.  Beyond her passion for teaching the Spanish language, she is passionate about achieving social and educational equality for Tennesseans of minority and immigrant backgrounds and improving the quality of life for all people in our community. Most recently, she has served on the Equity Task Force Committee with Franklin Special School District, volunteered with FUTURO of MTSU, and helped to lead and moderate an equality forum at MTSU known as, “We are Created E.Q.U.A.L.”  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Soto in Germany, TSU hosts Nashville Int'l Cup, Noche Musical, Maestro at Casa Azafran groundbreaking, Winchester celebrates Mexico, Miss TN Latina 2012 named

There's been a backlog of stories at HispanicNashville.com, and these are they. I apologize to those whose events were not announced here in advance. Let me know in the comments what announcement you think should have been made on its own.


Renata Soto
, Executive Director of Nashville's Conexión Américas and board member of the National Council of La Raza ("NCLR"), will speak today in Germany at the Daimler shareholder meeting on behalf of American workers and families in Alabama. Soto's audience will be 8,000 strong and will include all the top Daimler executives; she will call on them to take a corporate stand for repeal of Alabama’s law targeting immigrants, HB56. Soto is the lone speaker of a broader American delegation, including Fred Redmond, International Vice President for the United Steelworkers and member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, and Patty Kupfer, Managing Director for immigrant advocate America’s Voice. Daimler is headquartered in Germany and manufactures Mercedes-Benz cars in Alabama, and Daimler has billed itself as a leader on corporate social responsibility. The company is a founding signer of the United Nations Global Compact, has pledged to uphold universal human rights. Soto will call on Daimler not only to publicly oppose the Alabama law but also all laws that flow from the flawed model that is the basis of HB56. Daimler is familiar with the Alabama law; a German executive was arrested and jailed near its Tuscaloosa plant for not carrying the proper “papers,” even though he was in the United States legally and in the course of conducting business.  Soto's visit has been covered in the German press, and she will be updating her Twitter feed throughout the day at @RenataConexion

Tennessee State University is hosting its annual Cultural Appreciation Week, starting with this Saturday's International Soccer Tournament and Community Family Day on Saturday, April 7 from 8am-5pm at the Indoor Practice Facility. The Nashville International Cup is inviting 12 teams to participate in the International Soccer Tournament taking place at the University. Teams invited to take part include Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, Vanderbilt ISSS, Trevecca Bosnia, Lipscomb University Malagasy, Sudan, Bantu, Burundi, Mexico, Asia and Congo. There will also be activities for the family including face-painting, Easter egg hunt and photos with the Easter bunny, food and music.
For a full list of events, click here.

Join Catholic Charities Saturday, April 14 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Noah Liff Opera Center to celebrate Noche Musical -- a festive evening of Latin musxic featuring the San Rafael Band. Salsa dancing all night along with plenty of margaritas, cerveza and sangria with authentic Mexican cuisine provided by Karla Ruiz. Sister Mary Kay Tyrell D.C. will be honored with the Juan Diego Award for her years of service to the Hispanic community and Catholic Charities. A fabulous silent auction will feature exciting trips, artwork, jewelry and much more! All proceeds benefit Catholic Charities Hispanic Family Services Programs. Tickets $100 Tables $1,000 Sponsorship opportunities from $1,500 to $10,000. For more information, RSVP here, or contact Laura Jumonville at 760-1014 or ljumonville@cctenn.org

The Nashville Spanish Language Meetup conversation group is still going strong.  Their next meeting is next Tuesday, April 10, near the Tennessee Titans football stadium.

Conexión Américas announced a Groundbreaking Event and Open House at the site of Casa Azafrán Community Center, its future headquarters, to be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, at 2195 Nolensville Pike (RSVP to cara@conamericas.com). The event will be a festive community gathering, with music and food trucks and special remarks from Nashville Symphony Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero & Shirley Guerrero, Honorary Capital Campaign Co-Chairs. Conexión Américas purchased the 28,800-square-foot building, at 2195 Nolensville Pike, in December and will share the space with other Nashville-area nonprofits and partners with long histories of good works - United Neighborhood Health Services, Family and Children’s Services, YWCA, and Justice for Our Neighbors ("JFON"). Standing at the gateway to Nashville’s most international and socially diverse district, near I-440 and the state fairgrounds, Casa Azafrán will serve all area residents. It will be a place for education, health services, entrepreneurship training, culinary and artistic expression, volunteerism, community building, events. It also is a smart way for nonprofits to share resources, meeting and training spaces and opportunities. Of the $4.7 million estimated cost, 72% will be funded through the support of private donors and institutions.

On May 3Javier Palomarez, President & CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will speak at a networking lunch of the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce. Networking and Registration at 11am; Program and Lunch from 11:30am-1pm.
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Location TBA. RSVP by May 1 (TLACC members admitted free and RSVP here; non-members pay $35/person and RSVP here).

The City of Winchester, Tennessee will host its eighth annual International Dogwood Festival from May 4-6.  Each year we take the Dogwoods to a different Country and feature that Country in our decorations, food, entertainment, etc. Since Cinco de Mayo falls on the Saturday of this year's event, we are featuring Mexico in 2012.  The festival runs three days and features live entertainment (FREE to the public) all three days.  Festival organizers are still receiving applications for vendors, crafters & street performers.  We dedicate an entire street to the Festival Theme each year.  Vendors on the theme street are not charged to set-up or sell their wares, if they fit the theme.  If you have any interest, please visit our website: winchesterdogwoodfestival.com. We are an award-winning festival and would like to get the word out to the Hispanic members of the Nashville community.

Jessica Paola Abtahi
Miss TN Latina 2012
TSU Senior
Jessica Paola Abtahi of Nashville has been named Miss Tennessee Latina 2012. She is a 22-year-old senior at TSU, majoring in Mass Communications. She speaks English, Spanish, and some Farsi. Her mother is from Colombia. Follow her on Twitter - PersianColombiana at @JessicaPa0la ("It is impossible to love and be wise. Ambitious mind- Entrepreneurial spirit - Mi ♡ esta en Colombia")

Vanderbilt University Press published two new books in its Hispanic Issues SeriesPoiesis and Modernity in the Old and New Worlds, Edited by Anthony J Cascardi and Leah Middlebrook; and Spectacle and Topophilia,
Reading Early Modern and Postmodern Hispanic Cultures, Edited by David R. Castillo and Bradley J. Nelson.

In February, Diana Holland played grandmother Maria Josefa in the play "The House of Bernarda Alba" by Spaniard playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. This version of the play was in English, a collaboration between Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University.

Scarritt-Bennett's Diversity in Dialogue (DID) groups on racism and on immigration are starting up this week. Dialogue Groups are made up of 8-12 diverse individuals. Led by trained facilitators, they provide a forum for people to share their feelings, opinions and thoughts in a non-defensive, non-critical environment. The objective is to help participants understand their own and other's views on racism, diversity and faith to create long-term change.  To date, more than 2,500 people have participated in DID, including groups associated with private businesses, government agencies and universities.  

Raul Regalado, President and CEO of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, announced his retirement effective June 30. Read more about Regalado here in the archives of HispanicNashville.com

The U.S. national men's soccer team played three Olympic-qualifying matches in Nashville in March - against Canada, Cuba, and El Salvador. The Americans fell short and failed to qualify for the quadrennial international games due to a last-minute goal in a 3-3 tie to El Salvador.  A Cuban player defected in Music City.

District 31 Councilman Fabian Bedne added a Spanish-language newsletter to his constituent communication toolbox, which complements his English-language newsletter and frequent use of social media. He also had a nice write-up in the Nashville Scene and penned a guest article about uniformity, with some Argentina perspective, here at HispanicNashville.com

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) held a citizenship workshop this past Sunday to help eligible permanent residents navigate the difficult process of naturalization as part of a broader citizenship campaign by immigrant rights advocacy organizations across the nation. This collaboration of 12 prominent organizations, known collectively as the National Partnership for New Americans, provides outreach into new immigrant communities across the country in an effort to promote a more welcoming democracy in which New Americans achieve equal opportunity and become a powerful and organized constituency. The workshop was the campaign's first of many in Tennessee and driven by the goal of assisting thousands of eligible permanent residents throughout the United States to become citizens. More than 60 New Americans received assistance regarding the naturalization process on Sunday with the help of dozens of allies and volunteers. The workshop was made up of New Americans, law students, faith allies, and various other members of the Nashville community. With more than 8 million permanent residents in the United States eligible for naturalization, it was no surprise that turnout was so high. “We reached our capacity early in the day and had to ask over 40 people to come to the next workshop for assistance,” said Anahi Gutierrez, the Citizenship Coordinator at TIRRC. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of eligible permanent residents interested in applying for citizenship.” As a member of the partnership, TIRRC will organize many citizenship workshops this year and provide information and support for hundreds of New Americans. Prospective volunteers can find TIRRC at tnimmigrant.org

Officer Gilbert Ramirez of the Nashville Police's El Protector program held a seminar for Hispanic members of the Nashville community about gang prevention, at the South Precinct at 5101 Harding Place.  DCS and Youth Service were also present to discuss parents' rights.
Over 100 Middle Tennessee clergy attended the premier screening in January of a documentary on faith and immigration and engaged in dialogue with a panel of bishops about the issue. “Gospel Without Borders,” produced by EthicsDaily.com, made its Nashville debut at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel to more than 125 faith leaders. The event was organized by Clergy for Tolerance.

Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, and Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico who has served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, delivered public lectures at Vanderbilt University in March as part of the university’s annual Impact Symposium. The theme of this year’s lectures was “Rise of the Rest: What is the Future of American Foreign Policy?” The discussion between Fox and Richardson was moderated by Vanderbilt sociologist Katharine Donato.

"Latin Heat and other ballets" were performed by the Dance Theatre of Tennessee at Father Ryan High School in March.

Glencliff High School held an International Celebration of Cultures in March, with booths from over 30 different countries, a fashion show, international dancing, and international foods. The celebration was sponsored by the United Nations Leadership Organization of Glencliff High School. Attendees brought canned food or non-perishable food items for Second Harvest.

The United Methodist Church announced that it had pulled its investments in two private prison companies, including Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. The Rev. V. H. “Sonnye” Dixon, lead pastor of Hobson United Methodist Church in Nashville, applauded the decision. Dixon was cited for the position that incarceration is necessary at times, as opposed to pursuing a profit over possible rehabilitation and reentry. “You want your investment in the pension fund to be placed with companies that are doing well,” Dixon said, “but you don’t want them putting money in companies that are doing well at the expense of the dignity of other people.”

Conexión Américas announced that its free tax preparation services through the IRS-sponsored VITA program will prepare approximately 200 tax forms on behalf of Latino families and individuals in Middle Tennessee in 2012. In 2010, Tennessee received $157.4 million in personal income, property and sales tax paid by families whose heads of household are unauthorized immigrants, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. According to a 2007 Congressional Budget Office report, 50 to 75 percent of undocumented immigrants pay federal, state and local taxes.

An anonymous disciplinary case review officer for Corrections Corporation of America was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "I'm the Supreme Court," in an article about lack of accountability of private prison facilities.

The Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce announced its incoming board President,  Nelson Remus, President of Remar, Inc. Also announced were incoming Vice President Mayra Zimmer, vice president at AGLA; and board members Jesus Cachaya, Imperial Services; Tracee Carpenter, Fifth Third Bank; Trudy Carson, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority; Jessie Garcia Van De Griek, Lipscomb University; Ann Gillespie, ProLingua, Inc.; Marcela Gómez, Hispanic Marketing Group; Shane Merrill-Facio, SunTrust Bank; Raul Miranda, MetLife Southern Financial Group; Alfonso Nieto, Hola TN Newspaper; Adriana Nuñez, Mi Banco; James Threalkill, Skanska; Tera Vazquez, Guy Brown Products; and Peter Woolfolk, Communication Strategies.

Vol State hosted its annual Hispanic Family Night for adults interested in English classes or returning to school, and teenagers just getting ready for college.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New angle in six surprise immigration bills - the Volunteer Rally

Photo of Tennessee Capitol by Casey Fleser. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Two Tennessee state legislators have surprised Legislative Plaza this weekend with half a dozen new bills that are already making waves at the Governor's office because they comprise a completely new, state-level immigration platform.

Veteran State Representative Jason Iris (D) and freshman State Senator Mary Jean Crockett (R) joined together on Saturday morning to tape a single page of newly filed, one-line laws to the office door of each one of their colleagues, calling it the "2012 Volunteer Rally." The proposed legislation is as follows:

The 2012 Volunteer Rally
  • Anyone who during their stay in Tennessee has contributed to the building of a a home or other permanent structure, started a business, completed an academic degree, harvested an agricultural crop, or parented a child who has done any of the above, and who has not been held in violation of any local law, shall be considered a friend of Tennessee and is hereby thanked for their work. ("This is ingrate avoidance," said Crockett.)
  • Anyone who is joined by a Tennessean in making a petition to the United States government for lawful immigration status shall be considered a friend of Tennessee. ("When my neighbor stands up for you, that's a good start," according to both sponsors.)
  • During any statewide sales tax holiday, no-questions-asked gun buyback, or similar event, immigration status or lack of a social security number shall not be the basis for denying a Tennessee resident a Tennessee drivers' license. ("Closes the double standard on new beginnings," said Crockett.)
  • No child shall be simultaneously charged with truancy (absence from school) and trespass (presence in school) ("If you chase a child in the front door and then out the back and then in again - you'll look awful ridiculous - and just plain awful," said Iris.)
  • All privileges enjoyed by newly arrived Cubans to Tennessee shall be enjoyed by all men, women, and children in Tennessee. ("We seem to handle the Cubans just fine, even though they can show up without a visa," Iris told HispanicNashville.com.)
  • Every commercial product or service in Tennessee - from food packaging to office buildings - shall bear an e-Verify seal indicating the portion of the contributing labor whose credentials were checked by the federal government. (Iris and Crockett said, "This has the dual benefit of shining the light on the federal government's presence in the workplace and also on how much of our lives depends on people who aren't being checked.")
The two issued a press release that commemorated the Appalachian Ellis Island bills introduced in the legislature in 2009, and called for immediate passage of the Volunteer Rally.

"It's in our blood as Tennesseans and as people of faith to speak up - and to clean house," the sponsors said. "If there were ever a need for Volunteers to rally, this is it."

If you have read this far, let me remind you it's April Fools' Day. These bills aren't real, unfortunately.

The good news - in real life - is that the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Conexion Americas, Clergy for Tolerance, and others have been meeting with legislators in 2012, in their own ways as proud Volunteers.  Click on the links in these paragraphs to see what they have been doing.

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