La Frontera de la Muerte
La Frontera de la Muerte is a documentary film that was screened recently at Our Lady of Guadelupe Church in Lathrop. It is concerned about the number of people who cross the border illegally from Mexico to the US.
The US Congress took one stab at this back in December. This is when our favorite congressman voted for HR 4437 to build a bigger fence on the border and to make being in the US without proper papers into a felony. Let me remind you that Pombo was the only representative, Democratic or Republican, fromn the San Joaquin Valley to vote this way.
If people are so motivated to come to the United States that they will risk crossing La Frontera de la Muerte, his solution is to build a bigger fence. I assure you that the motivation is not to save lives, becuase it is not a complete fence and it will drive those who would cross into even more dangerous areas, such as the Air Force Gunnery Range East of Yuma, AZ.
Some how, this does not make sense to me. If it is so hard for workers to come to the US that they will risk death to do it, then maybe the solution is not to make it more difficult to cross illegally, but to make it easier to move back and forth across the border legally. But, Pombo seems not to want to do that.
What Pombo appears to want to so is to be everything to everyone. He will talk tough on immigration to one crowd. He will tell the Farm Bureau that he is for a guest worker program on another occasion. He has changed his story on this so many times that I don't think he knows what his position is. But, when it comes time to vote, he always votes one way, just like the Republican Leadership wants him to. That means he voted FOR 4437. It also means that he voted for the little brother of 4437 this last week.
The House has stripped the criminalization language out of 4437 and offered a new bill, H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 that only mandates the building of more fences. Maybe, like the neighbor in Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall, he believes that "Good fences make good neighbors." Yet, Frost had another opinion:
Before I built a wall I'd ask to knowI would guess that Pombo does not care. He seems confident that there are not enough registered Latino voters in the district to make a difference. There are over 100,000 Hispanic residents of San Joaquin County, but less than 15% are registered and turnout has historically been low.
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
There are those who are working hard to turn this around. We have had major voter registration drives aimed at getting more Hispanic voters registered. They have been backed by the SEIU, the Clean Water Action Project and the still active Pete McCloskey along with the Revolt of the Elders Committee.
The Bilingual Weekly has run an OpEd by Pete McCloskey this week. I copy it below, because they don't get the web site updated as often as one likes. However, it did go out in print in both English and Español. The same issue had a paid advertisement from the Revolt of the Elders, also in Español, calling on San Joaquin County Latino's to register and vote. The ad reads:"
"If you like to express yourself, then vote."
Register to vote. Your vote is your voice.
Use the power of your vote to take action and benefit our community.
Education and health. Jobs with fair salaries. Health care. Clean air. Fair Immigration policies.
San Joaquin County has over 100,000 Latinos, but only 12.5% of them are registered.
Call 209.401.9663 for help in registering or to obtain an absentee ballot...
The OpEd from McCloskey is:
Richard Pombo Betrays His Latino Constituents
By Pete McCloskey
In a December 2005 Christmas betrayal of Latinos, Richard Pombo became the only Congressman from the San Joaquin Valley to vote in favor of HR 4437: the disgraceful House immigration bill. This bill would make every undocumented worker in the US a felon, subject to imprisonment and deportation. The bill would also make criminals out of any US citizens that might assist these workers, such as family members, health care workers, or even Catholic priests. This is shameful and insulting to all Americans who value hard work and recognize the importance of keeping our families whole.
The bill also called for the building of an immigration barrier – a wall – along the US-Mexican border totaling nearly 600 miles. Pombo says that this wall, along with deploying troops to our border, is necessary to “protect our national security.” Perhaps he thinks Osama bin Laden is going to try and sneak into the US wearing a sombrero, crossing the desert with the help of a coyote. I see such a wall as causing the cruel and unnecessary deaths of thousands of additional Latinos in their every day struggles to survive and help provide for their families.
Only Richard Pombo would then have the gall, following the large protests organized by Latino community leaders in Stockton against HR4437 in the Spring, to say he DOESN’T support making criminals out of undocumented workers and really favors a “guest worker program” with a way for these workers to someday earn US citizenship - but only after the border is completely secured. Yet his Christmas “present” only months before had been to make criminals out of everyone. I personally find such hypocrisy despicable.
But he didn’t stop there. On June 28, 2006, Richard Pombo voted for an amendment to the Voting Rights Act that had it been approved, would have eliminated bilingual ballots. That’s right, US citizens – not undocumented workers – who have limited English skills would no longer have the option to secure a ballot in Spanish. This effectively treats such citizens as second class, as it deprives them of their right to be well-informed as they seek to effectively exercise their constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote. Pombo’s vote thus has nothing to do with undocumented workers or national security – it is a direct slap at the face of the proud Latino citizens of the US.
I hope you will join me in fighting back and sending a strong message to Pombo on Election Day. Pombo’s Democratic opponent Jerry McNerney, stands with Latinos in support of a humane immigration policy and the right to have bilingual ballots. If you are a US citizen, you can REGISTER TO VOTE BY OCTOBER 23, knowing that YOUR VOTE ON NOVEMBER 7 IS YOUR VOICE. There is much at stake for all of us Californians on Election Day 2006, Latinos and Gringos alike.
To register to vote, call: 209-401-9663
Pete McCloskey is a former US Congressman (1967-1983) from the San Francisco Peninsula. He challenged Mr. Pombo in the June 2006 primary, and proudly marched in the Stockton protests against HR4437.