Things That Matter

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Anti-Immigrant Legacy May Have United Arizona Latinxs

Joe Arpaio touted himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” largely because of his anti-immigrant policies. His strategy worked, Arpaio would become a nationally recognized figure as his xenophobia found him “investigating” President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and supporting Arizona’s SB 1070 in 2010, a set of the country’s most draconian immigration laws which were eventually struck down by the Supreme Court. 

Eventually, Arpaio would be charged with criminal contempt of court, following several federal civil rights lawsuits. Only to be pardoned by Trump. In 2016, Arpaio was unseated by Democrat Paul Penzone. 

Today journalist Fernanda Santos writes, in Politico, there is a new wave of Latinx activists who have emerged in response to Arpaio’s policies. And they’re running for elected office.

Arizona Latinxs are fed up with the anti-immigrant policies. Now they want a seat at the table. 

“This is about stepping into the electoral space and saying, ‘Hey, not only can we put pressure from the outside, but we can infiltrate these systems and do something radically different,’” Lane Santa Cruz told Politico. “It sounds very subversive, but it is not. This is the way through the front door.” 
Tucson City Councilwoman Santa Cruz is one of many newly elected Latinxs in Arizona. Her seat was previously held by Regina Romero, a daughter of Mexican immigrants, who was elected Tucson’s first Latina mayor on Tuesday. 
Many Latinx advocates and organizers were elected in the past 10 months, which could be signaling a new Latinx wave in Arizona that could fundamentally transform the state’s politics.
Raquel Terán, a civic organizer, was elected into the state House of Representatives, Betty Guardado a former housekeeper was elected to the Phoenix City Council and Carlos Garcia, an immigration advocate, was elected to the city council. 

Arizona has not been too kind to its Latinx residents.

History shows Latinxs have always been forced to be at odds with their white Arizona counterparts. 

“Latinos, however, have long struggled for equal access and equal rights in Arizona. Their resistance took shape in the labor unions that opposed legislation in 1914 threatening to ban non-English speakers from working in mines, and then a dual-wage system that paid Mexicans less for doing the same work as Anglos,” Santos writes. 

Joe Arpaio, who has been the subject to multiple federal civil lawsuits, was federally barred from doing “immigration round-ups,” was found to have unfairly targeted Latinxs, and who the U.S. Department of Justice said oversaw the most egregious pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, among numerous other crimes during his 1993-2017 stint as sheriff, appeared to be an extension of this Arizona history. 

Joe Arpaio’s insidious history with immigrants. 

Arpaio decided to take on illegal immigration in the early 2000s ushering him onto the national stage. 

“Arpaio’s deputies started arresting hundreds of illegal immigrants, after entering into a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. The sheriff’s office blew through its budget on immigration efforts while violent crimes, including sex crimes, went uninvestigated,” according to the Washington Post. 

In 2010, SB 1070 took effect, while most provisions were struck down by the Supreme Court, one which allowed police officers of anyone they believed might be undocumented remained in effect until 2016

In 2011, the Justice Department found that Arpaio’s sheriff’s office systematically profiled Latinxs. In 2013, a U.S. district judge determined the same thing and ordered Arpaio to stop detaining people on the basis of racial profiling. In 2017, he was charged with criminal contempt of court for continuing to detain people. Months later, President Trump pardoned him. 

Arizona Latinxs continue to mobilize and fight back.

Just as often Arizona Latinxs are undermined, they have mobilized against racist efforts. Successfully beating segregation in the schools three years before the Supreme Court decided on the matter, and organizing young Latinxs against discriminatory practices like an absence of bilingual classes and overcrowding.

Garcia was born in Cananea Mexico and was undocumented until he was 14. He founded and ran Puente Human Rights Movement, an immigrant’s rights group. But like many of the advocates who have just been elected, Garcia wants to push things further. Five of his family members have been deported since 2009. 

“I got left with no options. And that’s what has pushed someone like me to actually run for office,” he said.  

As the Arpaios of the world made life increasingly difficult for Arizona immigrants, they fought back with increasing resolve.

“What really woke us up as a community were the anti-immigrant laws here in Arizona, and it was Arpaio, and it was Jan Brewer, and it was those anti-immigrant policies that they were pushing—that’s what took us to the streets,” says Romero. “But we also realized that if we wanted to change the systems that have oppressed us, we had to do it from the inside. We had to change the faces of these policymakers in Arizona.”

Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Opens Up About Juggling His Fight For Latinos In His Campaign And Being A Dad

Things That Matter

Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Opens Up About Juggling His Fight For Latinos In His Campaign And Being A Dad

juliancastrotx / Instagram

Julián Castro is a huge underdog in the crowded Democratic field of presidential hopefuls. He knows it and has never shied away from that fact. It’s also the reason that he’s still in the race. From the start of his campaign, Castro, the only Latino in the race, has run on the platform of giving a voice to those Americans who have been counted out, kinda like himself.

“If there is one thing that has distinguished my campaign is that I’ve spoken to the most vulnerable, the often voiceless in this country and I haven’t been afraid to speak up for the poor because too often Democrats talk about the middle class but somewhere along the way we forgot to speak up for the poor,” Castro says. “I’m doing both of those things.”

Castro believes in this and isn’t going to let polls or political pundits stop him from campaigning. Unfortunately for Castro, voters won’t get to see him on the Democratic debate stage in Atlanta this week. This due to the fact that he didn’t reach the polling criteria of 3 percent or higher in four approved polls or 5 percent in two early state polls. 

Despite this, Castro isn’t going away or shutting down his campaign. He’s getting “real” with voters and in recent weeks has called out the Democratic establishment for its primary process.

The former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama has run one of the most progressive campaigns of any Democrat currently in the field. When it’s come to issues like housing, immigration, and even animal cruelty, Castro has released some of the most comprehensive and well-received polices. He says that’s because these plans aren’t just talking points but real problems that Americans across this country are facing. 

“We’re trying to connect the dots with policies that match up with the way people actually live. People don’t live in silos and we shouldn’t make policies that reflect that,” Castro said. “I learned that very early on as a councilman and a mayor and I saw that as Housing Secretary, it’s not enough to address the issue of education, housing or criminal justice reform, you gotta address everything.”

For Castro, that also means addressing issues within his own Democratic establishment. Last week, he criticized the Democratic nominating process, particularly the role of Iowa and New Hampshire in determining the nominee, two states where the electorates are mostly white. 

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

He told MSNBC that the two states are not “reflective of the United States as a whole, certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party, and I believe that other states should have their chance.” While there was some criticism of those comments, Castro did begin an important conversation that he feels needed to be addressed. 

“Democrats know that I’m telling the truth here. We’ve been justifyingly calling out Republicans who have been trying everything they can to suppress the vote of people of color. But at the same time, we start our presidential nomination process in two states that have very little people of color, ” Castro said. “People know that I’m speaking the truth here.”

Castro doesn’t view himself as the “Latino candidate” nor has he ever used his background to gain some votes. He’s says that he’s running the campaign on the basis that someone like him can represent everybody. 

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

While he might not be on the upcoming debate stage or at top of most polls, Castro is being seen and his message of uplifting forgotten communities is being heard. Castro is optimistic about his chances and his supporters are standing by his side through it all. 

“We’re gonna work like crazy to shine a light on the people and the problems that are out there that voters want solved,” Castro said. “I’ve gone to places that few other candidates have gone. I’ve spoken to the homeless, those in jails, I just went into an ICE check-in for a migrant that was seeking asylum. We’re going to keep uplifting the lives of people who have been forgotten.”

Castro finds relief from the perils of a long campaign when he’s back in his home in San Antonio. He is rarely home while campaigning but when he is you can find him hanging out with his family, including his two children, Christian and Carina. It’s those moments he says that puts everything in perspective and in some way serves as a reminder of the importance of continuing his campaign. 

“What I hope that young Latinos and Latinas are seeing in this campaign is that they can compete with anyone, anywhere, on any stage  I haven’t run this campaign on the basis to vote for me because I’m Latino but someone like me can represent everybody.”

READ: It Turns Out The Great Woman Behind Julian Castro Is His Mother, A Woman Who Has Long Carried The Fight For Latinos

A Mexican-American Now Holds One Of The Highest Positions In The US Catholic Church, Could This Be An Anti-Trump Statement?

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A Mexican-American Now Holds One Of The Highest Positions In The US Catholic Church, Could This Be An Anti-Trump Statement?

America The Jesuit Review

The Catholic Church has had a varied position in the political spectrum in contemporary times in the Americas. While in South American countries such as Chile and Argentina it has aligned with conservative governments and those in power, in the United States this centuries-old institution has traditionally been seen as a progressive force that generally innovates when it comes to the inclusion of ethnic minorities (they are, however, still pretty conservative when it comes to gender and sexual diversity, and reproductive rights).

It should not come as a surprise that the conclave of US Catholic bishops just made a pretty big decision by choosing an immigrant archbishop as perhaps the highest ranking priest in the country. He is a defender of migrant rights and can potentially be highly influential with the Latino vote come the 2020 presidential election. 

José Gomez, an immigrant of Mexican heritage was just named the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

In vernacular terms, this is a BFD. Archbishop José Gomez leads the Church in Los Angeles, a key jurisdiction when it comes to important affairs such as immigration, bilateral relations with Mexico and progressive agendas that the Church traditionally opposes, such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Los Angeles is also the largest archdioceses in the country, in part due to the large population of Latinos and Filipinos, who are traditionally born and raised Catholic.

He was elected almost unanimously with 176 votes from his fellow bishops, with just 18 votes going to his opponent, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, who was subsequently voted vice president.

America The Jesuit Review sums up his background: “Archbishop Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, was ordained to the priesthood in the Opus Dei prelature in 1978. In 1980, he received a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of Navarra, in Spain. He served as a priest in Texas from 1987 to 2000”. Even though he comes from one of the most conservative congregations in the Church, the Opus Dei, he has made a career by defending the rights of the marginalized.

He is a defender of migrants and a fierce supporter of DACA, so his election could be read as a political statement.

Credit: America The Jesuit Review

Archbishop José Gomez has long defended migrant rights, which has made him popular among the Latino population of Los Angeles, one of the most multicultural metropolis in the world. Even though he had been serving as vice-president and his election followed tradition, some argue that it is also a sort of unofficial positioning of the Catholic Church against the iron-fisted immigration policies of the Trump administration, which have brought immense suffering to Latinos in the greater Los Angeles area, including forced family separations and deportations by the now despised government agency ICE. 

He doesn’t hold his words back when it comes to border affairs and the human crisis at hand.

Credit: The Intercept

As The New York Times reported, the archbishop said after his election: “We have this situation at the border, which is a tragedy. We are constantly talking about immigration, especially encouraging our elected officials to do something, and to come up with immigration reform that is reasonable and possible”. Traditionally the separation of Church and State has been pretty clear in the United States, but as some Christian Evangelical denominations have become quite tight with the Trump White House and validate its tough policies, perhaps the Catholic Church will be a counterbalance when it comes to political lobbying in defence of migrant rights. 

He was born in Mexico and now defends DACA recipients.

Archbishop Gomez, contrary to many men of the cloth, is very direct when it comes to his political position. In the eve of his election he read a message for DACA recipients from the pulpit, just as the Trump administration is fighting to reverse the program and as the president has called some DACA recipients “criminals” on Twitter.

The message read: “In this great country, we should not have our young people living under the threat of deportation, their lives dependent on the outcome of a court case. So, we pray tonight that our president and Congress will come together, set aside their differences, and provide our young brothers and sisters with a path to legalization and citizenship”.

As we said, he doesn’t hold back. This is an elegant way of opposing the POTUS without being confrontational. He also believes that there is a Latino wave in the Church, given that the Pope is Argentinian: “The fact that the pope is a Latino makes us feel a responsibility for the church. He has been a great blessing for me and for the church. For Latinos, it’s easy to understand some of the wonderful things Pope Francis is doing to reach out to people”.