Monday, March 7, 2011

Egypt and Latinos in America

Twenty-four hour news cycles has not only desensitized Americans, but has caused them to ignore injustice.


Publisher's Note:  This opinion first appeared in Hispanic Ohio.
Unrest leads to protest, and protest can lead to change.  This has not been any more apparent than the events that took place in Egypt.  Middle-East experts are now watching the countries of Yemen and Libya to see how they take shape, but can the revolution spread to the United States?

Raul Ramos y Sanchez has written American Libre and its sequel House Divided, which illustrates a situation in which Hispanics in the United States could have such an uprising.

Sanchez says people seem to bypass events that happen around the world, unless something extreme is done.  Twenty - four hour news cycles combined with the internet providing instant information has not only desensitized Americans, but has caused them to all but ignore injustice.

"Mubarak has been a dictator for 30 years.  Once you have riots and see bleeding on the streets, then people start saying whet's going on.  That's what's going on in American Libre and House Divided," said Sanchez.  "[State governments] are now trying to pass a law changing the 14th amendment"

At least two U.S. senators have experimented with the idea of denying automatic citizenship to U.S. - born children of illegal immigrants.

GOP Senators, David Vitter of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky have introduced a measure to change the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution so that children born in the United States cannot become citizens unless one parent is already a citizen, legal immigrant or active member of the armed forces.

State legislators in Arizona and other states are preparing to challenge the rights to U.S. citizenship, hoping their state-by-state effort will eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently, a child born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen regardless of whether or not their parents are U.S. citizens.

Rep. Knox (R-Montana) has proposed a bill that states a child must have at least one parent who "owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty."

Knox said, "The 14th amendment was never intended to guarantee citizenship to those born here of parents who are not themselves citizens. It was never intended to create a symbolic anchor that allows parents and other family members who are not citizens themselves to pass into the country and access to our many well-intended social services."

Opponents of the bill say the state has no right to interpret the U.S. Constitution, they also state Knox's bill denies Montana citizenship to people who have dual citizenship.

Lawmakers in 40 states, aside from Arizona, are pursuing this bill "to correct the monumental misapplication of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," according to State Legislators for Legal Immigration.

-Ron Gould, a spokesman for SLLI says - "These folks are essentially gaming the system to put themselves ahead of the line,"

The proposed bill to end birthright citizenship suggests that the government creates a specialty birth certificate for babies whose parents can't prove their citizenship.

Sanchez - who lives in Dayton - also argues the contrary that states such as Arizona say undocumented people cost the state billions of dollars.

"They say every day; each American household is paying 100 dollars to support an undocumented person. Then they say we will take all remittances by people sending money out of the country, but those who are undocumented will be afraid to apply"

The Cuban born Sanchez noted while lawmakers are continuing to sponsor anti-Latino legislation, it causes mistrust amongst Latino communities and their representatives, much like what has happened already in Cairo. Egypt.

"Its building: the day may come when there will be a Mubarak moment," Sanchez said...  "They will be in Los Angelos; they will be in Miami etc."

Though Sanchez's novels foresee a future of division, he is optimistic.

"I hope that my novel, American Libre (and House Divided) will illustrate that before it happens," said Sanchez.  "[Politicians} know that the areas of the country that are growing are also areas with high Latino populations."

Reports have suggested the Internet was an important tool used by protesters in Egypt.  Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook were used to organize times, dates, and rallying cries of protest.  Cell phones were used to send text messages, video, and pictures around the world to illustrate what was actually happening in Egypt, despite the messages sent out through state television stations.

However, for an intermediate amount of time during the protest in Cairo, the internet and cell phones were shut down in the attempt to prevent information from leaving the country.

Along with technological censorship, foreign reporters from around the world were not granted access to several locations and had to report from their hotel rooms. State reporters were given ultimatums, either report what the Egyptian government says, or lose their jobs, according to news reports.

"It used to be the first thing they did was shut down the radio and newspapers," said Sanchez who is an advertising executive by trade.

Two-thirds of Hispanics went online in 2010; primary through cell phones according to a Pew Hispanic Research study, released in Feb. 2011

The interior ministry of Egypt was reported saying dissidents "sent messages to citizens to gather in a number of mosques in the provinces during Friday prayers."

The protesters by in large were not poor, they were not malnourished, the protestors were middle class and educated, they afforded cell phones and quality homes.  Their anger was not fueled by poverty, it was fueled by tyranny, it was fueled by the lack of representation of the people.

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