Monday, December 6, 2010


Here's a message from our moderator, Ely.
Hey MEChistAs,

Check out this fabulous coverage of the event we co-coordinated this past Saturday through CT Students for a DREAM. 

If you missed the event, you can see the whole thing here

Listen to the stories of our undocumented friend, realize just what the DREAM Act means to them, and make the calls. DREAM Activist makes it easy to do.

It's Reading Week, MEChistAs. Shoot for ten calls a day. It takes 3 minutes to call, and your call could have a tangible and direct impact on peoples' lives, including MEChistAs past and present. Do it for them.

amor y paz,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mixed Media

hey Mecha!
Besides saving the date for our winter conference,
which hopefully you are all coming to,
Check out the rap about Arizona y la lucha:

Enjoy the rest of the week!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Broken System

As a Puerto Rican, my family has benefited from a unique relationship with the United States. As a Floridian, I am used to seeing Cubans arriving on boats and immediately receiving citizenship. As an American citizen, I have witnessed the flaws and hypocrisy in this current immigration system. I have seen the Cuban families who traveled 90 miles to reach Florida while I have also witnessed Haitians travel more than three times that distance only to be turned away. I have heard of the struggles and of the frequent deaths of Latin Americans who cross miles of desert in the pursuit of a better future.

I understand the American political decision to welcome Puerto Ricans and Cubans to the United States; however, I cannot accept their decision to bar others the same opportunities. The lure of a better life in the United States is enough to cause entire families to uproot themselves and then risk their lives in the pursuit of this American Dream. In the case of Puerto Rico, its unique status makes the island an extension of the American Domain. For this reason, inhabitants of the island are considered citizens. In the case of Cuba, the decision to grant amnesty to all asylum seekers is a political stance intended to show American opposition to the Cuban government. I would like to ask, what about the Haitian Government? With the threat of a Cholera epidemic after the terrible 2010 earthquake, will the US now consider opening its doors more widely to this population that is willing to travel across mines of treacherous sea in rickety boats? What about the situation in Mexico? With the Mexican Federal government currently engaged in a war of attrition with Mexican Drug Cartels, this confrontation’s death toll approaches 30,000. The violence varies from region to region with some regions being administered by the drug lords themselves. The lack of a federal presence in these regions coupled with the government’s inability to halt the corruption and violence has caused many to fear that Mexico will become a “failed state”. Will it be at that time that the US will finally consider granting amnesty to this silent population of workers, or will it continue to ignore these masses? Will it require nothing short of a communist takeover of Mexico to get the United States’ attention? Are the lives lost crossing the US-Mexico border any less tragic than the Cuban lives lost at sea? Why do we value the risks and sacrifices of one group more favorable than the rest? It is time for the United States to realize that its current immigration system is broken. It is time that we factor in human lives into our country’s political calculations.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Something Else To Consider...

Hi all,

I know that I wrote yesterday, but I thought I'd add this to the blog instead of sending out another email to the panlist.

I am bringing this article to your attention, because it points out something I find very interesting: the latino vote. In this case, they are looking at Arizona's famous SB 1070, and we see that while 70% of Latinos are said to oppose the laws... there is still that tricky 30%. And we may wonder to ourselves (or at least, I certainly do) why on earth they could want to oppose it... but the article discusses a husband and wife who don't agree on the topic and each of their sides on the matter.

If you consider the reactions of different floods of immigrants over time, you see something very interesting too. Coming from Boston, I'll use my own city as a prime example. Everyone in Boston knows that for a long long time the Irish migrants (many of whom are still very proud residents of South Boston and call themselves "Southies") and the Italian immigrants (they have spread out more, but they still hold a strong presence in the North End) did not get along at all. This is curious, right? They both came over to the US looking for jobs and faced discrimination from the communities already living in Boston... yet instead of joining together to help, they preferred to be very separate and even discriminatory against each other.

Well, let's look at a time line:
The bulk of the Irish in Boston came over between 1830-50, making up about 1/2 of the total migrants coming to the United States in the 1840s. They came looking to escape the famine, looking for work (and were often denied jobs in the mills of Lowell and other areas in the industries of Massachusetts), lived under squalid conditions... etc.

The Italian population increased significantly after the turn of the century, when they too came looking for jobs and found similar conditions.

What does this space in time mean? What changed to make the Irish and other immigrant groups interested in keeping others out, even when they came from similar backgrounds of suffering?

I dont have the perfect answer, but I have a theory.
When you go through the process of becoming an American and accepting some new customs while leaving some of the old behind, you feel more loyalty to this country than you do to other countries, and maybe even to your own. You find yourself in a community who you relate to, and for you, this is what it means to be American. It doesn't matter that my concept of "American" is extremely different from any of my friends from Los Angeles or Missouri.

So, assuming that the Irishmen in South Boston found themselves integrated into the system, found jobs and suitable lifestyles... they become part of the "us" and the foreigners become part of the "them." Then there was also the threat of more competition for jobs, housing, schools etc. to add another problem into the mix... It is also interesting to see where different immigrant groups voted for more restrictive immigration measures after the periods when their fellow countrymen has stopped coming in such high numbers to the U.S.

Admittedly this is not a perfect comparison: we are now talking about Latinos reacting to other groups of Latinos entering the country. But could the process of assimilation really cause people to support a law that would cause them to be questioned for their racial background whenever they seemed just a little bit too "Mexican?" This then becomes a question of National Identity, and whether or not the US can claim that it has just one national identity... and how do we interpret who is outside of that concept to the point that we as individuals can question their citizenship or loyalty to this country?

The husband says that he defends a system of law and order, which is respectable, but what do you do when laws like the one in Florida that gives migrants from Canada and Europe protection under the law that is denied to people from other countries?

Just some food for thought. This isnt a perfect article, it was just my musings after reading the article. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Mexiweekend

Hey all!

So I know that a lot of people have been celebrating halloween since Wednesday here at Yale (and it looks like it has been fun!) but somehow my halloweekend turned into a mexiweekend! I have probably done more traditional stuff in the past few days than I did all of last year... and I love it!!

I'll begin with Friday afternoon. Natalia and I took the bus into Fair Haven for our first trip to C-town. And fell in love. We walked right into the produce section and both died from happiness. Chile Verde! Mangos! Chile de Arbol! Nopales! Chile Poblano! Guayabanas! Pan dulce! So many things! We purchased a lovely mix of thi
ngs for our project today (which I will share with you) as well as some feel good things. (Chocolate Abuelita! Tomatillos (for salsa verde that I made for my party this evening), jugo de maracuya...) It was like being back in a Mexican grocery store in el DF! (except cleaner)

We came back from our expedition, laden with goods and agreed on a time to make dinner this evening. Next I went home, and instead of writing my paper on national identities in Tibet, I painted my face. I was going to be a Kandinsky painting, but found myself inspired earlier this week. The product is below:

I went as a calavera! Just like I used to dress up when I was little! But this time, a little scarier. It was really fun! A lot of people were very startled when they first looked at my face, but a lot of people were then interested by it and asked me what all this was about. (Another moment when I loved Yale! So many people were curious and then very interested in the story of Dia de los Muertos!)

I went out and found 2 other people dressed like people from Dia de los Muertos! Including MEChA's very own Jazzmin!! I have a picture of this somewhere that I can put up later.

Anyway, this afternoon I met up with Jazzmin and Natalia and Karen to make Mole Poblano! We labored in the Davenport kitchen, chopping vegetables, cooking chicken and creating delicious smells that caused people in the davenport underground to ask what we were creating. I also made some salsa verde to go with our delicious locally made tortillas (next time we'll make them ourselves?!) and we shared stories with each other about our summers and times at home cooking these recipes with our families.

If you have a chance, go and ask Natalia about her time in Bolivia this past summer helping collectives of women who had been abused and were trying to help others organize to improve their quality of life. She has done some truly fantastic work, and she is an inspiration to work (and cook!) with. We can thank her too for giving me an idea on what to write on this week!

I have to say that this has been one of my best weekends at Yale. It represents everything I hoped I'd find, but wasnt sure that I ever would. In the United States I grew up in a very white area. You had to search far for things like Chiles and Tomatillos. When you found them, they were purchased in bulk to sustain our addiction to salsas, enchiladas, chilaquiles and other magical things. So instead of cooking but myself, I cooked with MEChistas!!! And yeah, we need to do this as a bonding thing again! Next time we're planning to make Tinga! So let us know if you want to join in on the fun!!

So tonight, I have braided hair, braided flowers into it, found images of patterns to draw on my face this evening, and I am sitting in my common room after introducing my suite mates to Salsa verde and mole. They all seemed to like it! Here's to globalism at its best!! and here's to halloweekend/mexiweekend! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Being Super.

Queridos Mechistas,

You've probably heard about the six recent instances of suicide amongst kids who were queer (or were perceived to be queer). In spite of the tragic nature of these suicides, the reaction from public figures and everyday people alike has astounded me. I am forever grateful to these people who instill hope in me. They are my religion.

Here's sex columnist Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project" (the premise is to get queer people to make videos telling the teenage versions of themselves that it gets better, in spite all the bullying):

Here are some Broadway stars who sang a song about it:

Here's a councilman from Florida urging that political action be taken:

Lastly, here is me telling you that I am writing a screenplay based on the true story of one of the youth who committed suicide. His name was Tyler Clementi. He was a Rutgers freshman who loved music. One day his roommate broadcasted over the Internet Tyler's intimate sexual encounter with another guy. Tyler left a facebook status that read: "Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry."

In my screenplay, Tyler (whom I renamed Zach) turns into a superhero when he tries to kill himself. His enemies are homophobic cyberbullies, his roommate, and most importantly, himself.

So here are some questions (I love lists). Feel free to answer as many or as few as you'd like.
1) What super powers would you endow Zach with?
2) How would you have him confront himself?
3) What/who REALLY killed Tyler Clementi?
4) What super powers would you have if you were a gay superhero?
5) What would you tell your 13 year old self? (You don't have to be queer to answer this question....I'm thinking a lot of us went through rough times when we were I'm really asking you to do an "It Gets Better" video yourself)
6) Who gives you hope?
7) How does this affect us as Mechistas?

Okay, and as a PS....
here's a video of me in high school when I joined a media youth group called SUPAFRIENDS. guessed it, a group for queer youth who invented a superhero identity. My name was flower.CH!Ld and my weapons were flowers/vines that are used like lassos, and daily roses for your average homophobe. My weakness was returning books to the library on time.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Discussion at Indigenous People's Day

As most of us at MEChA know, this past Monday was Indigenous People's day. In writing this post, I knew I wanted to discuss something about the holiday, but as those of us who attended the lively dinner held by our Native American brothers and sister know, it's difficult to choose between the many issues that surround the topic. However, there was a moment that strikes me as particularly interesting, and it occurred before we even started the discussion.
Not unlike many gatherings at Yale, we began by going around the room and introducing ourselves. The procedure, though necessary, was formulaic as always: name, year, college, and subject of study. But probably because of the nature of the event, everyone found it essential to include what kind of not white minority they were. I have personally never seen such personal, political boldness of this kind at Yale. In a way, we were stating quite clearly that any purely white individual would be either quite unwelcome at the event, or at the very least quite uncomfortable. With our statements of minority identity, we shut the room to all majority members who by simple fact of blood would not understand the nature of Indigenous People's day. (Perhaps this is what gave some of us the courage to speak from especially radical, even anarchist, political stances.)
I don't have any analysis of the ethical implications of this act, namely answering whether or not it was right to exclude in the way that we did, but I'd like to hear what you all think of the matter. Don't white people have the right to advocate too? Or is any kind of aid white people provide a form of "neoliberal" (a term thrown around at the table quite a lot) neocolonialism that only reasserts their superiority? If so, what can they do to address the problems? Perhaps address them within their own infrastructures, within the larger, more deeply ingrained systems that created, or at least exacerbated, these situations of inequality in the first place.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I wrote this for a project that someone else is doing, but here is the unedited version (I need to cut it down, but you'll probably run into this again some place else soon)... It's in the general theme of my interests. Well, I'll let you read it and you can see what you think.


This summer I worked in Huixcazdha, Hidalgo, Mexico. It is a village that grew out of a hacienda, and most of the villagers descended from the seven families. I came to teach English and do some development work in a community of 480 people, where most of them work all day long in the fields using farming methods that Americans used during the colonial period. Nearly all of the men from this village had gone to work in the United States for a few years before they returned home with their earnings and built houses for the families they left behind.

I wanted to do something to help, but to be honest, they did more to help me than I could have ever done for them. They are very poor. They have only had electricity for the past 5 years, and clean water is an option once every three days. The families depended on the work of husbands, sons and brothers to feed them each year, but they were happy. They all invited me and the other teachers into their homes and cooked for us. They loaded us with fruit from their gardens when we walked down the cobble stone street by their houses. They offered us places to sit, promises of future meals we could share with them in their houses, and friendship in its purest form. They sent their children to paint murals with me in the public spaces in the village, and soon adults started joining us too, curious to see what we were creating. They came, everyday, to spend 2 hours with us in the dark cement buildings, learning lists of vocabulary that we thought would be useful to them, and repeating the word “thirteen” over and over again.

One day my partner asked them, what do you want to be when you grow up? The kids, all middle school age in this class, stared back at us with blank expressions. The silence was awkward to say the least. Stop. I told her. Stop, I don’t want to hear this answer. But she didn’t. She called on one of the girls, our best student in fact, and she said she didn’t know. A teacher! Of course, Jacqueline will be a teacher! In the tiny school house with the only real teachers in the village. And you? My partner asked one of the boys. Well, what do you think? He replied. Of course I want to be a narco-trafficker. It’s the only way I can make money in this world. And fast too. What could I ever give them to take away this feeling of being trapped and only having this as an option out of their pre-determined paths? I left with a sickening, sinking feeling that day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What it means to be a child of an illegal alien

Daughter of Jesus Caballero and Macrina Colunga-Caballero, I am the product of undocumented migration; the child of an underground network of imaginaries, of dreams, hopes and aspirations, of desires, needs and necessities. As this child, I am the target of a concrete institution that classifies me as a terrorist, an enemy, an anti-American. Through laws, walls, fences, rivers, watchdogs, I am deconstructed fabric-by-fabric and resembled, manipulated and categorized as a political object; as a worthless bare body. While I try to break from the laws that execrate my existence, I delve deeper into the margin of society. It is in this margin where I find guidance and "ganas." In this margin lie my people, immigrants forced to toil in fields, mothers branded as the best home-cleaning machine, children labeled as societies future criminals. Immigration policy digs deep into my constructed margin. It pierces my semi-bronze skin, and bores into my core, into our core. It cuts, burns, and drills itself into our soul. And though at times, living here proves to be more than just an endeavor, much more than just a painful struggle, the margin is my home. Home. It is where home-cooked tortillas and tamales mingle with Anzaldua, Fuentes, and Subcomandante Marcos. Here is where Octavio Paz's cosmopolitan race, lives, thrives, and flourishes. Yo soy la frontera. I am the skin that burns in the Arizona desert, the tears that pour from frightened eyes that search for hope in a long sewage tunnel, the mouth that gasps for air in car trunk. I am the face of the border, I am the margin.

En Unidad


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MEChA Member Brings Important News To Light

MEChA member, Hector Correa, spread the word about this important news:
Latino Harvard Student May Be Deported

(June 14) -- Harvard sophomore Eric Balderas, 19, does not remember Mexico, but he may be deported there anyway. Balderas was only 4 years old when he became an illegal immigrant. But his youth proved no defense when immigration officials arrested the biology major at the San Antonio airport after he tried to board a plane back to Boston without a passport. "They just kept [asking] me if I had any other documents, that they were just trying to help me so that I can get on the plane,'' he told the Boston Globe. "But at that point I realized there was nothing that I could do, that anybody could do."

Harvard student Eric Balderas, 19, a Mexican citizen who was raised in the U.S., is facing deportation to Mexico after being detained by immigration authorities at a Texas airport.

Balderas was on his way back to Harvard last week after a visit to his mother in San Antonio, where he grew up. But sometime during the visit, Balderas lost his Mexican passport and had hoped to board the plane with a consulate card and his student ID.

But that day, luck was not on his side. Balderas was fingerprinted, put in handcuffs and detained for five hours. Finally, authorities let him go, but not without a court date. On July 6, the student has a date with an immigration judge for his first hearing. Balderas, who has a full ride to Harvard, could be deported.

In 2008 alone, the United States deported 369,221 people to their home countries, many of them to Mexico. But Balderas' case is sure to be more high profile than most.

It helps that he has a success story. Balderas says he crossed the border with his mother, who wanted to escape an abusive relationship and give her children a shot at a better life. He told The Globe that his mother worked 12 hours each day packaging biscuits to support the family.

By all measures, Balderas took the opportunity and ran with it. He was valedictorian of his high school and won a full scholarship to Harvard despite his undocumented status. At Harvard, he is studying molecular biology and wants to research cures for cancer.

"I honestly never thought I'd make it into college because of my status, but I just really enjoyed school too much and I gave it a shot,'' he said. "I did strive for this.''

Already, Harvard administrators have expressed public support for Balderas to remain in the United Stated. The university is using his case to push for the adoption of the DREAM Act, federal legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally when they were younger than 16.

"Eric Balderas has already demonstrated the discipline and work ethic required for rigorous university work and has, like so many of our undergraduates, expressed an interest in making a difference in the world,'' Harvard spokeswoman Christine Heenan told The Globe.

"These dedicated young people are vital to our nation's future, and President Faust's support of the DREAM Act reflects Harvard's commitment to access and opportunity for students like Eric."

Last year, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust urged Congress to support the act, along with the heads of other prominent universities.

So far, immigration authorities haven't spoken publicly about the Balderas case. A call for comment this morning to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was not immediately returned. Immigration proceedings are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Balderas' story is likely to intensify the debate over how to deal with cases of illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children.

Mario Rodas, Balderas' Harvard classmate and an immigration activist, said Balderas is proof that such people deserve legal residency.

"He's like an American, but without documents,'' Rodas told The Globe. "These are the kind of people we need in this country, doing research for cancer.''

Rodas created a Facebook page, "Keep Eric Home," to help rally support for Balderas. So far, the page has more than 600 fans.

Balderas' roommate, David Pickerell, wrote a statement to Harvard's college newspaper declaring that Balderas should be allowed to stay.

"He should be allowed to continue his studies at Harvard, as his abilities will one day contribute back to the United States," he wrote in an e-mail to The Harvard Crimson. "He is one of the best minds in this country, his credentials speak for themselves, and we should nurture such talent."

Balderas said he fears the worst. "I'm very worried, to be honest," he told The Globe. "I'm willing to fight this, of course. I'm just hanging in there."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MEChA Summer Reflections

As this summer comes to a close, I would like to invite MEChA and friends to reflect on experiences we've had this summer. In particular, I encourage you to write about how these events have changed you, and how that may affect the perspective you take on issues and events pertinent to MEChA in the coming year. Run with it MEChA... this can be whatever you make it.

The first part of my summer I went on a 5 week trip to Argentina, to take the Latin Poetry and Theatre course in Buenos Aires offered by Yale. Then I came back, and took summer classes back at school. Now I'm at home: New Paltz, NY (This beautiful area with an awesome mountain range and forests on one side, and orchards and fields & a small college and hippie/liberal town on the other).

My trip to Argentina was transformative, mainly in the sense that I became comfortable with who I am, and was able to open myself up to the world so much more because of that. You see, I've been in a perpetual identity-crisis for the past 2 years. I think I finally found the answers I was looking for. The journey was a long and complicated one, so that story can be reserved for another day... but what I will share is the conclusion I came to and how that affects my views and involvement with MEChA.

Question: Who/What am I?
Answer: Mestiza
Explanation: Alright, so do you guys know how Anzaldua says that the Chicano is caught between two worlds, in a borderlands of sorts (as far as identity is concerned)? I kind of find myself doubly so, if that's possible (maybe it's possible in some weird "Inception" sort of way... like a dream inside a dream, jaja). I say this because I can identify with the Chicano struggle of trying to find yourself within the American culture all around you and the Mexican roots that seem distant but run deep. Yet I'm also in ANOTHER borderlands. You see, my dad is Mexican. Straight from Veracruz Mexican. As in, has all his family there, we all visit during the summer and for Christmas, he upholds traditions like Día de Los Muertos, and cooks delicious comida mexicana. My mom is Eastern European (and there's a rich culture there too, with traditional foods, a language, beliefs, and all that). That's why I'm so güera. Anyway, I'll spare you the huge story (as I said before) and just talk about my discovery. My discovery is that I identify more as a Mexicana. Not Chicana. Not Europea. Not Gringa. Yo soy mexicana. Aunque niegan que soy una... lo importante es lo que siento en el alma.

Y pienso que tengo alma mexicana. I say this because the person who I'm closest to in this world is my abuelita. I'm named for her too. We wear the same necklace (she got me a mini of hers when I was a little girl)... which is a buho that she says is for wisdom... but which also just makes me think of her and gives me strength. I'm connected to her by my name and by my spirit too. I love cooking bright and pallet wowing foods, and learned the basics from her. I love listening to all kinds of Latin music... but defer back to rancheras as the core comfort. I love forming and preserving amistades... and I think that's one of the most important things in this world. I love dancing bachatas and salsas, reggaeton and whatever else I can learn. I try to be warm and calm, and to keep a positive outlook. I think I have a Latina soul. Speaking spanish since I was young, my connection with my abuelita, all the visits to my family's pueblito in Mexico, preserving customs here in the US, all the times I went back to study and to volunteer.... I guess that all affected me.

Going to Argentina made me come to this conclusion. The reasons for this are also a long story that I'll save for another time. I'll just say that Argentina was absolutely amazing. The class was great, and I had an awesome home-stay where all these young international people lived. I made lots of friends from all over the world. In addition to the class experience and spending time with cool Yalies, I embarked on a full fledged adventure through the streets of Buenos Aires and beyond- learning about the culture, food, way of life.... all of this came, of course, through meeting amazing friends along the way.

All of this will affect my involvement and view on MEChA in a couple of ways. 1) I'm going to dive into cultural events that I love (like take more charge of Día de Los Muertos and try to lead more Mexican traditional celebrations). 2)I'm going to be more vocal about ideas I have for events we can do that relate to my experiences and interests- be it those related to art, literature, psychology, or traditional Mexican customs. Ok, that was a huge thought... but it was good getting it out there. Hope this blog can be a good space for sharing and growing as a group.

~Anna Flores-Amper~

Friday, April 23, 2010

SB 1070: MEChA brings AZ policies to Yale in mock raid

This morning, I was furious to discover that, following a powerful, inter-group demonstration against a gross violation of civil rights, the Yale Daily News had literally relegated our action to the margins of “Cross Campus,” a column wherein the Yale Daily informs us of the silly antics of everyday Yale life. I was insulted to realize that while the YDN saw fit to devote nearly an entire page to the mystery of the “missing Yale gnome” and photos of drunk costumed a capella taps, it had not even bothered to contact the instigators of the demonstration for so much as a single quote to contextualize the political act. Instead, it trivialized the nature of our action to a single sentence smaller than the photo of the gnome in question. Because the Yale Daily once again failed to inform its readership of such significant legislation, I am writing this article to compensate for the YDN’s negligence.

This week has seen a devastating blow for civil rights in this country. The passage of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 is a chilling threat to the ideals this country rests on, the indivisible human rights the Civil Rights Movement labored so long and hard to bring to reality. On April 13, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that requires any state or local official to make a “reasonable attempt …to determine the immigration status” of any individual they come into contact with, and authorizes police officers to arrest that individual without a warrant on “reasonable suspicion” that the person is undocumented. The law does not specify what exactly constitutes “reasonable suspicion,” but nonetheless implicitly allows citizens [to] bring suit against any official or political entity that enacts policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” Two days after the bill was passed, 800 officers working across nine agencies descended upon four Arizona communities, ostensibly to “rip this thing out by its roots,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton. For all the money, time, helicopters, ski masks and weapons that went into this raid, these enforcers of offensive and demeaning laws arrested 47 people, of whom 17 were undocumented while others were mild mannerly, and I hope apologetically, dismissed to their homes.

Yesterday, members of MEChA, Jews for Justice, Fierce Advocates, and the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, along with other concerned Yale students, staged a mock raid in the Commons dining hall during peak traffic to raise awareness of the urgent seriousness of the issue. At 12:30, we released our “ICE agents,” who hounded unsuspecting students and demanded to see proof of residency. When students failed to procure the proper documents, we handed them an informative citation that explained that, if this were Arizona, they could have been detained. At 12:45, our leading Sheriff stood on top of a chair and shouted into a megaphone, “This is a raid!” Immediately, our agents rushed to the “undocumented students” we had planted throughout the dining hall, handcuffed them, and pushed them to their knees in the center of the dining hall. One by one, we stood and explained our demonstration through a megaphone held up to our lips. We informed the community of the passage of S.B. 1070 and the subsequent multi-agency raid on our communities in Arizona. Finished, we walked handcuffed and surrounded by ICE agents down Commons’ main aisle to disappear through Morse’s closing walls.

I am incredibly proud that, if only for 15 minutes, we were able to demonstrate to the Yale community the lived reality of our nation’s immigration debate. If you were shaken by the demonstration, then I hope that feeling shocked you into action. The dehumanizing nature of raids sweeps up anyone who does not fit the profile of what an “American” looks like to this or that police officer. I am glad that we were able to share that experience with students who, under the auspices of the Yale Corporation and within the sanctuary walls of our Elm City, would otherwise never experience the implications of our nation’s immigration policies. The border region exists as a distinct cultural terrain that, by its very nature defies static conceptions of citizenship. Around the world, people commute across cities to work; along the border, they must do the same. The U.S. has long recognized this special hemispheric relationship in its inter-American relations, as evidenced by the Monroe Doctrine and its subsequent interpretations, but has long done so in a way that prioritizes the movement of capital and resources at the expense of those deemed unworthy of U.S. citizenship.

I am continually dumbfounded and horrified by this country’s efforts to curtail illegal immigration by criminalizing the people who are most affected by this country’s own policies. When the C.I.A. topples democratically elected governments in Latin America and replaces them with U.S.-friendly dictators, where do they expect the people affected by those dictatorships to go[1][2]? When NAFTA and CAFTA and whatever other “special relationships” allow U.S. corporations to move their jobs to where they can pay cents for the hour and work their laborers to the bone, where do we expect those people to go? The United States’ “immigration problem” is symptomatic of forces greater than the people we are now seeking to punish — it has to do with foreign policy choices made by United States throughout history, preferential trade agreements and political situations in many foreign countries — and its resolution will not come until we realize that. Until then, if the Obama administration refuses to muster a serious examination of the policies behind this immigration problem, then we must demand it at least put an end to racist laws that, in seeking to keep immigrants out, serve only to terrorize communities of color. After all, does our President not realize that if he were 17 and in Arizona, he too would be caught up in a raid and very well arrested for his racial profile and name?

We, as Yale students, have the power to demand that Arizona Governor Brewer veto S.B. 1070, and we have the responsibility to do just that. However, the responsibility to end this crisis rests infinitely heavier on our President’s shoulders.

It was a bittersweet victory for me when President Obama was elected, simultaneously a moment to celebrate the advancement of people of color and a moment to mourn the repeal of same-sex equality measures in California and the utter silence on the subject of immigration throughout the campaigns. Nevertheless, I was proud and full of hope. Never did I expect the President I voted for to unleash and sanction the nativist forces of “Homeland Security” onto my communities. This time, anti-immigrant activists have gone too far. We can accept these domestic acts of terrorism no longer. It is time to reclaim our country and return it to the ideals of liberty and justice our Civil Rights predecessors have fought so hard to secure.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[MEChA] YDN Coverage

Members of MEChA, Yale's Chicano student organization, staged a demonstration in Commons today at 12:45 p.m. to protest an Arizona bill that, if signed into law, would require police to take harsh measures to identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Students eating lunch in the dining hall witnessed a “deportation” of illegal immigrants: Starting at around 12:20 p.m., MEChA members wearing shirts with “ICE” (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) walked through Commons, demanding identification from diners and handing out fliers explaining the Arizona bill. Then, a MEChA student stood on a chair, blew a whistle, and shouted into a megaphone, commanding people to “get down” as illegal immigrants were suspected to be eating in the dining hall.

“America is for Americans,” he yelled, as illegal immigrants, also played by members of MEChA, were “arrested” and led out of Commons by other mock-ICE task force members.

The Arizona bill in question, if signed into law, would authorize police officers to pull over, question and detain anyone they believe may not be carrying government-issued proof of legal status.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Semana Chicana 2010: Latinos in Health

While I was unable to attend all of the events for this year's Semana Chicana: Latinos in Health (my first SC!), I can honestly tell you that I really enjoyed all of the events that I did manage to attend.

I think my excitement began when I saw the printed posters designed by our very own Francisco Tamayo. Truly excellent works. I stole some from the poster walls after the events ended for my own collection :) We are really lucky to have him as our resident artist/advertiser.

My first event was the Reproductive Health Workshop. It was really interesting for me as a Latina because I have never been to the women's center here at Yale, and also because I have never really considered reproductive rights and what the means for immigrants in the New Haven area. The speaker was a field organizer from New York, who explained how the organization had been able to improve healthcare access for Latinos living in a more isolated part of Texas by convincing the busing companies to bring regularly running bus routes into the area. This was among many of their other projects to improve access and education for immigrant families, but I found that this particular example led me to think about how basic things like transportation can really inhibit people's abilities to take advantage of public programs... just something to consider.

We were also presented with very chilling facts about the history of reproductive health and experimentation with sterilization in the US. I did not know about the sterilization programs that happened in Puerto Rico beginning in the 1930s, or the options offered to prisoners for temporary sterilization. Interesting that history books, even the ones who do mention sexuality and reproductive rights, decide not to talk about these episodes.

My second event was the Mental Health study break, and I know for a fact that everyone who learned how to dance left the event with much higher levels of endorphins. So clearly that was a successful study break! Alex Gutierrez and I left, completely prepared to appear on Dancing with the Stars... so look for us! (hahahaha)

And the final event that I was able to attend was the Nutrition Day dinner at la Casa on Saturday evening. This brought out a really diverse group of people, which was great to see, including some very nutrition and food/agribusiness oriented alumni. I was pleased to see new faces in the crowd! And besides Jazzmin, I really wanted to thank Francisco (again), Anna and Sandy for helping us make it as much fun as it was! I think that the combination of vegetarian caribbean food and the documentary about eating raw foods as a healthy lifestyle choice has opened up some horizons -- I know a friend of mine left the documentary saying that he was interesting in bringing more raw foods into his diet!

And so we'll see what next year has in store for Semana Chicana, but for now I think MEChA de Yale can rest assured that it was fun and informative on many levels.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Keeping Up With The Neighbors

In recent months, the United States has started to worry more and more about what is going on south of the border. Well, yeah. That took long enough. In all the years I have been living in the East Coast of the United States, I can tell you that not much press coverage happens for the political and social unrest that threatens to tear apart our neighboring country. There have been many tense, late nights in my household -- waiting to hear news from the capital, to see what the latest numbers of deaths were in riots, to hear about operations to reestablish security in various cities across the country, and to hear about how our family is doing.

When press coverage is so... well actually "sketchy" is the best word for it, both here and in the United States, it's hard to tell what is really going on. I encourage you to question it. Was that supposed plane crash with government employees on it really an accident? It's hard to say. I'm not saying that I have the authority or knowledge to tell you one way or another, but all the same... don't accept things at face value when the media gives them to you. That is one thing I have learned from working there.

To give you an idea of current US strategy with the drug wars, have a look:

We've been hearing about the operations around that border for a long time now, but its getting more serious than ever before. During our break, American officials were killed in Cuidad Juarez: And guess what? It will probably only get worse.

Oh wait! It already did!
A few days later Monterrey, thats right, the 3rd largest city in Mexico, was made immobile by operations carried out by the drug lords who currently control Nuevo Leon better than the military in the area can. The North is a mess. And the South? Not much better.

So before you think about taking that vacation in May or June, turn on the news.
The United States has been discouraging people from traveling to the country.
I'm not saying you are doomed, just pay attention.
Even from there, I don't think we'll be able to tell what is really going on in Mexico.
Especially since journalists who have been trying to get the story out of the country have been killed in the line of duty. Information is dangerous. Doesn't this sound familiar?
Argentina. 1970s. Los Desaparecidos.

So where are we going from here?
Probably somewhere totally unpredictable.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pesticides Harming Farm Workers' Children

Posted By: Elizabeth Gonzalez

"Basic social justice is involved here. So is the health of latino/a kids – and adults – in the fields and in their homes. Pesticides hurt everyone they come in contact with. Especially kids. Enough so that the EPA is considering regulations limiting the way pesticides are used in agriculture. We need to pressure them, and MEChA can play an important role..."
-Don McKelvey

"Please help and be part of the solution. Sign our petition urging the EPA to protect farm worker children. And tell your friends to do so too. Join the UFW & our partners in this historic push for change."

Follow this link to sign the petition:

Trail of Dreamers Literally Confront 287g

Posted By: Tatiana Lam Lo

DREAM Act Video: It's not just a Latino issue

Posted By: Francisco Tamayo