Immigration activism groups left Valentines at the Governor’s Office on Thursday in response to Gov. Jan Brewer’s denial of driver’s licenses and state identification to deferred action residents and DREAMers.
Living United for Change in Arizona, the group that hosted the demonstration, assists deferred action residents in their efforts to achieve U.S. citizenship or pursue improved quality of life.
In June 2012, President Barack Obama signed a memo that instituted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA grants lawful residence to applicants brought to the U.S. when they were younger than 16 who have pursued education or military service.
Despite the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s assurance that DACA recipients are lawful residents and are able to obtain driver’s licenses and state identification, Brewer will not allow it. Last August, Brewer signed an executive order that prohibited DACA recipients from receiving licenses.
Luis Dominguez, a 26-year-old volunteer for LUCHA, said access to a driver’s license is very important for anyone who wants to obtain a job or safely travel.
“It’s better to have someone be able to drive legally,” Dominguez said. “If you get stopped by the police, how can these people identify themselves?”
Dominguez, a DACA recipient, attended a Summer Bridge program at West campus, but could not afford to continue his education at ASU. He attends Glendale Community College and said he hopes to eventually study engineering at ASU. DACA recipients cannot pay in-state tuition.
“We are trying to make a difference,” he said. “We just want people to be more aware.”
The demonstrators, many of whom were dressed in red, held pink and red balloons and carried Valentines addressed to Brewer. They filed into elevators and rode to the top floor, where Brewer’s office is located. Dominguez helped lead them in chants such as “Let the DREAMers drive!”
“This is a decision that she is making herself,” Dominguez said. “She’s not asking the public. She won’t give a reason.”
This is the third time LUCHA has attempted to reach Brewer, but the group has not been able to elicit a response. In October 2012, LUCHA invited Brewer and members of the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division to a similar demonstration, but both invitations were declined. In December 2012, LUCHA held a demonstration in which they compared Brewer to the Grinch who stole Christmas.
Dominguez said they will not be deterred and will continue to make such efforts.
“We are LUCHA, which means ‘fight’ in Spanish,” he said. “We will keep on fighting.”
Brewer spokesman Matt Benson met the demonstrators and encouraged them to relay their message for the governor through him. Several protestors read letters to the governor and asked her to reconsider her approach to DACA recipients.
In response to Brewer’s August executive order, the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition joined with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and filed a lawsuit against her.
Dulce Matuz, president of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, said the ongoing lawsuit was one reason she was participating in the demonstration. An ASU alumna, she represented the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition and delivered a speech at the demonstration.
“Gov. Brewer is singling out and harassing DREAMers,” Matuz said. “She’s out of touch, and she’s wasting resources.”
Psychology doctoral student German Cadeñas said Brewer is targeting DREAMers so she can sustain her political power.
“She’s choosing to discriminate against a segment of the population,” Cadeñas said. “She’s impacting thousands of people’s lives.”
Cadeñas was accepted into his doctoral program as an illegal immigrant but has since gained permanent residence. He is one of the founders of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition.
“We were hoping to make a strong statement and we knew that we were taking a risk,” Cadeñas said. “That was really empowering to see we weren’t the only ones being discriminated against.”
Also present at the demonstration were members of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, which advocates for gay rights as well as immigration reform.
Molecular bioscience senior Steven Montoya said gay rights are ignored in the issue of illegal immigration.
“I am here for two reasons,” Montoya said. “One, to advocate for marriage equality and two, to oppose Jan Brewer’s decision.”
Currently, illegal immigrants are not able to have civil unions. Even if their partner is a U.S. citizen, they do not have a path to citizenship.
The demonstration ended with every participant releasing a balloon into the air that was tied to a paper replica of an Arizona driver’s license.
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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was surprised on Valentine’s Day with roses and balloons from dreamers who are asking her to open her heart and let deferred action recipient get driver’s licenses.
“We want her to change her heart and let us drive,” said Abril Gallardo, a 22-year-old dreamer and member of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), the group that organized the event.
Gallardo was among the nearly 50 dreamers and activists who crowded Brewer’s office on Thursday to deliver the gifts along with more than 1,000 Valentine’s Day cards. Each card had a message for Brewer. One of the cards was written by a 7-year-old girl who wrote, “Let my big sister drive! I am a 2nd grader!”
The group also requested a meeting with Brewer. This is the third time members of LUCHA have requested a meeting with the governor since she issued an executive order on Aug. 15 barring deferred action recipients from getting driver’s licenses. So far, they haven’t been successful in scheduling a meeting with her.
“We’ve been trying to meet with her to get a real answer from her on why she is denying us driver’s licenses,” Gallardo told VOXXI.
Jan Brewer won’t change her mind
Brewer argues that deferred action recipients are not eligible for driver’s licenses because the federal program doesn’t grant them a lawful status. She says that under Arizona law, only individuals who have a lawful status are able to get driver’s licenses in the state.
But according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona law requires residents to submit proof that their presence in the United States is “authorized under federal law” to be eligible for a driver’s license.
The federal government clarified about a month ago that undocumented youth who have received deferred action are “authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States” and are “considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.”
Still, Brewer announced this week that she is standing by her order to not allow deferred action recipients to get driver’s licenses, making Arizona one of the few states left that still deny this state benefit to deferred action recipients.
Attorney: Deferred action recipients qualify for licenses
Jose Peñalosa, an immigration attorney, said in a statement that Gov. Jan Brewer and her attorneys “know very little about immigration law.” He said deferred action recipients do qualify for driver’s licenses because they are authorized by the federal government to be in the country.
Peñalosa is confident that the plaintiffs in the Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer federal court case, which challenges Brewer’s executive order, will win.
He added that having Brewer issue the executive order on the same day that the federal government began accepting requests for deferred action “really convinces me that her heart is hardened.”
“If her heart is so touched by the Dreamers, you, Governor Brewer, should give the Dreamers a great Valentine’s Day gift and allow them to have licenses,” he said.
“It is absolutely David versus Goliath, me versus all of Bank of America and Fannie Mae.” – Lilly Washington, Phoenix homeowner fighting back against fraudulent foreclosure.
This blog is longer than I normally write, but this story about Lilly Washington and her fight against Bank of America and Fannie Mae is too amazing, astonishing, and inspiring to leave out any detail. It’s simply that impressive. Here’s how she tells it:
“They took my home. Evicted me twice. Helped put me in the hospital six times. Threw everything I owned in the city dump. And when they sold my house out from under me back in 2010, I was in a military hospital in Germany, helping care for my son, who was in a coma from injuries suffered in combat in Afghanistan.
“That’s crazy, right? But I never gave up. After Bank of America sold my home – I was already negotiating with them for a loan modification and they even told me that they would put the negotiations on hold while I cared for my son – I decided I wasn’t leaving and I reoccupied it.”
Click here to stand with Lilly Washington as she fights Bank of America and Fannie Mae to win her title free and clear and get damages for trashing all her belongings and putting her in the hospital six times.
Unfortunately, in a country where Wall Street banks have foreclosed on 4 million households and 12 million homeowners are underwater, stories like Lilly’s, no matter how shocking, are becoming more and more routine.
Here’s what happened to Lilly when she came back from Afghanistan (her son, thankfully, emerged from his coma). She found a ‘for sale’ sign in the yard and a new lock on the front door. Her house had been completely emptied; the furniture acquired over years, the Purple Heart her son had earned when he was shot during an earlier tour in Iraq: all gone. Bank of America had illegally and fraudulently sold her house to Fannie Mae only days after she’d left the country. And, they’d thrown all of her belongings in the city dump.
So like David confronting impossible odds, she stood up and fought. She moved back in, fought the eviction in court, and replaced her furniture with donations from her church. When the Sheriff’s deputies came in January 2012 to evict her, Lilly won a stay of eviction. Then in April she found a judge who finally recognized that she had been robbed by Wall Street bankers and let her legally possess her home again.
“My fight’s not over, though. And it’s cost me. Fighting the Sheriff’s deputies when they tried to evict me made me slip a disk in my back. The stress caused me a heart attack. I went to the hospital six times, I’m facing another surgery, and I’m on disability now.
“What’s worse, though, is that the banks broke the law, stole my house, junked everything I owned, ruined my health and haven’t paid for their crime in any way. It’s just like what they’ve done to the economy and the entire country!
“So I’m still fighting and I need your help. We need to make sure that the banks are held accountable for their crimes. I’ve filed a lawsuit against Bank of America and Fannie Mae to win my title free and clear and win damages for everything they’ve put me through with their illegal actions. I’m meeting with them this week.
Join with me in this fight to make sure the big Wall Street banks pay for what they’ve done to me and millions of other families like mine. Help me demand a fair settlement and take one step towards teaching Wall Street that theft and fraud have consequences.”
We at LUCHA want to let Bank of America and Fannie Mae know that we are watching and that they have stolen too much from our families, our communities, and our country. Criminal actions should have consequences. We are joining with Lilly Washington and 99%ers like her to fight back against Wall Street and demand accountability.
Together, we can win this fight and many more. Sign on to show your support today.
We stood up to Representative Court and his 1%er pals and ... WE WON! They say they'll be back, but so will we. We'll keep on fighting them until every Arizonan makes a living wage. Join us! Sign the pledge to defend the minimum wage here.
Proposal to kill Arizona minimum wage pulled
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 6:12 pm
PHOENIX — Arizona workers at the bottom of the pay scale are going to keep getting raises each year to match inflation, at least for the time being.
House Majority Leader Steve Court said Tuesday he has pulled the plug on his proposal to ask voters to repeal the state’s minimum wage.
The Mesa Republican noted that the change would require voter approval in November. And he said polling by the restaurant industry, which is heavily affected by the law, shows that the measure would be defeated.
That, said Court, made getting the legislative votes to put the issue on the ballot a meaningless exercise.
Steve Chucri, president of the Arizona Restaurant Association, acknowledged that is the case. He said his industry and others with minimum wage workers, like hotels and motels, are instead focusing on a 2014 ballot fight.
But Chucri said the businesses have work to do.
“We need to get our messaging right,’’ he said.
The 2006 initiative set a state minimum wage of $6.75 an hour. At that time the federal minimum wage, which had governed Arizona employers, was just $5.15.
Chucri said the big problem is that the law requires the Industrial Commission to adjust that figure annually to account for inflation. The result is a current state minimum wage of $7.65 an hour, 40 cents more than required under federal law.
He said that’s not right.
“People are going to get increases every single year, without merit,’’ Chucri said.
He said polling shows that the public understands that issue. But what it also showed, Chucri said, is that they were confused over the difference between the state and federal roles.
Chucri said he has no idea how many people now being paid the minimum wage are working full-time jobs at that rate, versus students and others who have part-time work.
Court’s measure would have set the state minimum wage permanently at the current $7.65 an hour or the federal minimum wage, whichever would be higher. That effectively would wipe out the state minimum wage the moment Congress got around to approving a higher figure.
The most recent adjustment to the state minimum wage, which took effect in January, added 30 cents an hour.
The law does allow a employers to claim a $3 an hour “tip credit,’’ meaning they will be able to put just $4.65 an hour into paychecks. But that requires proof that the employees are, in fact, bringing in at least $3 an hour in tips.
Colbert lampoons Arizona-style attacks on the minimum wage in Florida. Change we can believe in?
Learn more about living wage issues in Arizona and around the country at the National Employment Law Project.
Stay tuned for more action alerts!
Lealo en espanol abajo
After years of working to bring Sheriff Joe Arpaio to justice, we here at LUCHA couldn't be more delighted with today's historic developments.
Department of Justice confirms pattern of discrimination against Latino community
The Department of Justice completed their 3-1/2 year investigation into civil rights abuses by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Based on hundreds of interviews and the review of thousands of documents, the findings confirm, objectively and quantitatively, the pattern of discrimination and retaliation that Maricopa County's Latino residents and Arpaio critics have encountered here for years. Arpaio has until January 4th to determine his compliance the DoJ recommendations to fix his department. If he doesn't, a DoJ lawsuit will force him to fall in line with federal law.
Among the alleged Civil Rights violations documented by the DoJ are the following:
- Hispanics were routinely targeted for traffic stops without reasonable cause, and subsequently charged with immigration-related crimes. Legal residents were sometimes treated as if they were illegal immigrants and even jailed.
- Latino inmates with poor or no English proficiency were frequently punished for not understanding English, were required to fill out forms in a language they did not understand or were denied critical services available to English-speaking inmates.
- Community activists and critics who spoke out against the Sheriff's Office's treatment of Hispanics were themselves targeted for retaliation.
- The Justice Department also found that the Sheriff's Office did not adequately train or supervise its personnel to avoid civil rights violations and, in fact, permitted the specialized units to engage in unconstitutional behavior.
- Also, the department found three additional areas of concern that require further review. Investigators allege some sheriff's deputies use excessive force against Latinos; the agency's immigration enforcement programs have caused distrust within the Latino community; and that certain types of criminal cases have been improperly investigated.
Department of Homeland Security: Terminating MCSO's 287(g) Agreement
A short 2 hours after the DoJ press conference, another stunning announcement was made. Condemning the MCSO's pervasive practices of racial discrimination, Secretary Janet Napolitano (and former Arizona governor) announced the immediate termination of the 287(g) jail-based agreement with Arpaio, which for the last several years, has allowed Sheriff Joe to train his own officers to screen each and every inmate in his jails regarding their immigration status and communicate directly with ICE, a practice which has become the cornerstone of his policing and public relations campaign as 'America's Toughest Sheriff.' As quoted in the Arizona Republic, Napolitano said the Department of Homeland Security would continue to enforce immigration laws in Arizona and focus resources on "criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor."
Take Back the Capitol protests at lawmakers' offices
Washington (CNN) -- Dozens of protesters staged sit-ins in front of lawmakers' offices Tuesday and several hundred more camped out on the National Mall as part of a new movement calling itself Take Back the Capitol.
U.S. Capitol Police said one person was arrested for unlawful entry at the office of Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri.
Borrowing language from the Occupy movement and drawing demonstrators "from Occupy sites from coast to coast," the movement says its goal is to affect congressional legislation.
"For far too long, Congress has been catering to the 1% instead of representing the 99%," the movement says on its website, 99indc.org. Protesters will push Congress to renew unemployment insurance and will focus on "other important budget and tax measures," the website says.
"Now more than ever, Congress needs to see us and hear us."
The group is calling its setup The People's Camp.
Organizers said a protest Wednesday on K Street will broadcast the message, "it's time for the 1% to stop interfering with our democracy."
Groups from different states went to lawmakers' offices Tuesday.
About a dozen people were conducting what they called a sit-in outside the office of House Speaker John Boehner. One of them, John Reat from Ohio -- the state Boehner represents -- told CNN, "I've been unemployed for 24 months, and that's why I'm here. And we're not leaving until we talk to the speaker, or they close the building, whichever comes first."
About 25 people visited the office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland. He spoke to the group outside his office and told them he sympathizes with the unemployed.
That group also went to a conference room outside the office of another Maryland Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer, and spoke to his aides.
"I hear you loud and clear," a staffer for Hoyer told the group, assuring them, "We'll take that back to the congressman."
One group of protesters said they planned to conduct a sit-in at the office of Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip.
About 20 people went to Kyl's office saying they wanted a forum to be heard. "All of Arizona is in the dark. We don't know what he's thinking," one said. "We'll stay until he hears us."
Donna Stebbins of Phoenix told CNN the group had not been able to make an appointment to meet with Kyl about President Barack Obama's jobs bill.
Stebbins said she and her husband lost their jobs about 18 months ago.
"Our world has fallen apart," she said. "We lost everything we saved. All of our dreams, the American dream, are gone."
Denee Rodriguez, a former teacher, said her husband is in a union and is fighting to keep bargaining and other rights.
"You take those rights away from us, then we're not a worker anymore," said Rodriguez. "We're an indentured servant."
The Surprise, Arizona, resident said her children were forced to drop out of college because they could not afford the tuition.
Axel Bello, a veteran from Phoenix, said soldiers are making sacrifices to benefit America's thirst for oil and corporations.
Many of the protesters gathering Tuesday in Washington were older than the largely young crowds at many Occupy events.
The protesters include union members.
Take Back the Capitol is, in part, an outgrowth of the movement to protect collective bargaining that started in Wisconsin and Ohio.
The American Dream Movement organized the event, with funding from many sources, including MoveOn.org and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The movement says thousands of people signed up to join the protest, being organized "by a wide variety of community, labor, Occupy, and other groups around the country."
The official website links to SEIU.org, which says SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.
"We're making congressional office visits all this week to make Congress listen to #the99%," SEIU tweeted Tuesday.
The group tweeted about demonstrators going to offices of Sens. Joe Lieberman, Scott Brown, Marco Rubio and other lawmakers.
The event continues through Friday.
CNN's Josh Levs, Eric Fiegel, Laurie Ure and Stacey Samuel contributed to this report.
Thursday, November 17th. Actions from Maine to California, Seattle to Miami, people around the country, celebrating, mobilizing, acting, envisioning an economic and political system that works for all of us, not just the 1%. Over 60,000 of us inspired by those who sat down on Wall Street two months ago.
Here's some coverage of our Phoenix rally, in which 250 folks came together!
Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, and with all the incredible things mothers do, I'm sure you know a mom or two (or three!) who deserve to be celebrated. Well, this year we're making it possible for you to thank all the moms you know with a customizable video announcing them as the star of an upcoming movie.
This short video is a faux movie trailer for "World's Greatest Mom," starring, you guessed it, your favorite mom(s)!You have to see it to believe it. Watch it here: World's Greatest Mom.
Send this video to all your favorite mothers so that they can become the star of their own movie. It’s inspiring, it honors mothers, plus it educates folks about economic issues facing mothers, which is something all mothers will likely appreciate.
Watch it here: World's Greatest Mom
Supporters commemorate health care law’s one-year anniversary
By Yvonne Gonzalez, ASU State Press, March 23, 2011
COMMEMORATING REFORM: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema spoke to supporters of the health care law during a press conference Wednesday commemorating the one-year anniversary of the bill's signing.
Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s signing of the controversial health care bill.
To commemorate the anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, supporters of the law spoke out Wednesday during a press conference at the Arizona Capitol. Lawmakers, retirees, an emergency room doctor and an ASU student led the event by saying the health care law gave much-needed medical aid to Americans.